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By Fire's Light
The man listened quietly as Holly told her story. It was quite surprising in that there was so little to it. Most women that told him "their story" started off coming from rough times, struggling to make it, finding a niche of their own, and worked diligently to find a patron. Holly, on the other hand, left home, performed, taught, and spends her time writing songs and dreaming. Hardly anything to write a song about. He smiled as she turned the spotlight onto him. I--

The door banged open and one of the most disgusting creatures stumbled through it. An ape with pallid skin ambled through. His face was dotted with bits of angry facial blemishes and the scars of past blemishes. The tip of his nose was awash in a pink tone denoting the abuse or current use of alcohol. The thing breathed through lips like thin lines, crooked teeth causing his breath to hiss as it came in and out. Thin brown hair hung around his head where the scalp seemed to glisten through in the light and that sparse curtain of coverage doing nothing to hide the swollen nodes that were ears at the side of his head. His thickened paunch strained against the covering of his servant's garb as his eyes wandered the room in a feverish sort of way though Sir Balgareth had no notion of where the monster was looking as those crooked green eyes could have been focusing anywhere.

Balgareth stood slowly, not knowing if the man meant violence though, based upon the look of him, no one in this manor would have hired such a hideous servant even out of pity. However, he did not need to get young woman he was with alarmed. He was going to step between the woman and the brute to see if he could at least fend him off should the man be a foe. My good man, I do not believe that it is my time to--

Roderick's hand flashed out in a point. You! You are in danger! Though the focus of his eyes could easily be misunderstood, his pointing could not be more direct. His finger was aimed directly at Holly's face. There was enough distance that Roderick was not a danger to anyone even if his arm had had a sword in it. There is dark magic all over you. You need to go. Flee! I can protect you. Come with me. His outstretched point became an open hand which he offered to the woman. His words were only for her, his actions and gestures ignoring the other man in the room completely.

My dear, I think you should step away from this man... Sir Balgareth offered his arm to her in order to get her behind him more securely. Who knew what that madman would do?

By Fire's Light
The older man smiled at the young bard and nodded in acquiescence of her offer. I do have some time yet before my turn at the audience. Yes, I do believe I would be delighted to accept your offer if only to see it warm you up a bit. He entered the room, closing the door behind him with a soft click. He was certain that the young lady he was in a room alone with would be up to her eyebrows in a scandal as soon as this evening was over already. Inviting an eligible bachelor of such renown into her room alone for tea... The maids were going to have a field day with this one. Scandals such as that only aided his renown though he was uncertain if it would do Holly herself any favors. It was another sign of her inexperience in her chosen profession.

He settled into a chair beside the table, leaning back comfortably. It was by no means a slouch, but it was a relaxed posture. He looked quite fine in his wine colored tunic; his impeccable style had been admired by many. For a moment, he wondered if the woman was attempting to seduce him with her shapely figure and fetching eyes. She seemed so eager to speak with him or invite him in. My dear, if you don't mind my asking, how long have you been performing as a bard? I always find the experiences of others quite interesting and I would feel honored to know more about you and your travels.

----

Roderick was sweating fairly heavily and it made the uniform he was wearing start to stick uncomfortably to his body, especially in the armpits and groin. The doors opened and the guards disappeared inside, but it wouldn't be for long. Keplas could have easily slipped by on his own as silent as a shadow, but with Roderick's thumping feet... I'll lead them away.

How are you going to do that?

Shh! You stay here until they're gone. Trust me. I'll lead them away and we'll meet again before we get out of here. I'm more likely to get out without issue than you are in any case. The half elf's eyes rolled in annoyance. Just find whatever it is you're finding and then get out of here. The longer we stay, the more difficulties we will have extricating ourselves from this situation.

Roderick could only nod as Keplas stepped out of the shadows and sidled past the two open doors to the rooms that the guards were searching. The half elf started stomping his feet further down the hallway, pushed a table to the side and knocked over a relatively expensive-looking vase which shattered as it hit the floor. Keplas, however, was busy making a fuss over the whole thing. He had issued a shout as he bumped into the table and the noise from the hallway could have been easily construed as a person running past, bumping into a man servant while running off again.

The two guards bolted out of the rooms they were in and looked at the half elf who was staring down the hallway in the opposite direction from where Roderick was hiding. Come back here, you ugly fool! Who in their right mind hired you? When Steward Hendel hears of this--!

He glanced around as if surprised to see two guards standing about and his face contorted into a mask of fury. Well? What are you doing? There is an ugly, crooked eyed man who came running by and pushed me over before bouncing off of the Lord's decor! After him! He went that way! I say, be quick about it! The guards' eyes widened.

Certainly! This way, you said?

Where else could he have gone?! Of course, that way! We must catch him! Keplas and the two guards raced swiftly down the hallway.

Roderick glanced after them to make sure that the coast was clear and continued making his way through the manor, trying to locate... holly.


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