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By Fire's Light
One would suppose that Roderick would have known who it was he was seeking, the one who was darkened by magic. However, that was not quite the case. She had been the woman that he had stumbled against in the hallway, the one that had screamed at him. The Winchester girl. The way she said his name with her particular lilt brought much of it back. The little girl he used to play with at his estate before he had been collected and taken to the Temple. The little girl that squealed with her heady delight and, despite the little girl frocks and dresses, still managed to flit ahead of him like a bird when they played tag, giggling and bright eyed with the sun bouncing off of her honeyed hair; never mind the twigs that had seemed to snag there from time to time, giving her faerie-like antennas. It was she who had first broken his trust in the other races as she had found her way to a pie on a windowsill of the kitchen. Her sneaky half elven fingers slipped away with that small, dainty pie when no one other than Roderick had seen it. It had been the last time he had seen her before he had gone away. Holly. They had been playmates once. Maybe they had even been considered friends. He had no idea what she considered him. It had been so many years since then.

She did not reach out to him, but she was still partially behind the other man even though she had chosen to stand. She seemed to be in a state of shock or confusion. Her voice had been so soft. Of course, the other man's eyes were narrowed, his chin held in a high spot. With his shoulders back, the man seemed like he was ready to try to charge Roderick at any time should the paladin take so much as a step nearer. However, Roderick had a concealed weapon and he was quite sure that the other man did not. Roderick's eyes shifted from his study of the rival to Holly again. Her doe eyes were just as wide and innocent as they ever were when they were younger.

He was still surprised that she hadn't even recognized him. And what had become of him? He was the same as ever. Roderick's voice came out softly, seriously. Yes, Holly. It is me. I am not sure what you mean by 'become of me.' I am the same as ever, but it has been many years so I suppose you just cannot see the boy you used to know and perhaps you cannot see that behind my handsome face. I finished my paladin training. I am a paladin of Oenshoome and we... we are able to sense magic better than anyone else. I don't know what your curse is doing, but it's doing something and is just starting. I can see it feeding on you. I... We need to get you away from here and to a temple so it can be diagnosed and remedied. I can't predict what it will do to you in the long run. I am no curse expert and I am not the one who plied it on you. Please trust me. Oenshoome's vision led me to you. I didn't know it was you. It was not on you when we... He searched for a decent word. It was still embarrassing to know that his hand had brushed across her body. It had been a complete accident. His cheeks flushed with shame and he averted his eyes though his oddly tilted eye seemed to still be looking at her. ...collided in the hallway earlier. Surely you can feel something. Something that is strange, but probably subtle. You should come with me. I can protect you. Roderick's eyes shifted back to her and it became more obvious that he was truly looking at her though the odd eye ended up looking off to the side again.

Sir Balgareth stepped more firmly between them, breaking off Roderick's eye contact. Surely the lady will not fall for your pathetic attempt to secure her and take her away from here unescorted. You beast! What evil deeds are you planning? All this talk of curses. Bah! Preposterous! Miss Winchester, I will defend you against this wretch and I will escort you safely away from him. The bard offered Holly his arm. He was going to usher her past Roderick's bulk and to his own room.

Both men were looking towards Holly though Sir Balgareth could only spare half a glance at her as he was watching for any signs of hostile movement that would come out of Roderick.

----

Keplas leaned against the wall outside of the room and listened to the snippets of conversation that he could manage to hear. It was sure that there were two men and a woman in the room. Roderick's voice was quieter than the other man's who obviously didn't trust the ugly man one bit. The half elf smirked. There was still so much to do to effect their escape.


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