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Challenge #16 - Perspectives


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#1 cmorgan

cmorgan
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Posted 12 December 2008 - 03:09 PM

Note: same setting, different Bhaalspawn parties. Some liberties taken, notably adding Lilacor and Yoshimo to BG content. 1, the aftermath of a standard 'You have been discovered and the watch alerted' script call, sending the Flaming Fist to the party while caught stealing. 2, the difficulties facing the arrest orders of suspected Bhalspawn parties, and 3, the random encounter in an inn. Just remember, "I serve the Flaming Fist".

A Trio of Vignettes: The Flaming Fist In Baldurs's Gate


Paperwork

The cold breeze puffed a burst of city soot in through the battered window, scattering a light dusting of grime across the piles of documents and parchament littering the old oak desk. Bravik sighed just as gustily, leaning hard on his elbow greaves and peering out, squinting at the early morning sun casting cold rays across the stonework, and directly into his left eye. His grim visage tightened as he straightened up and turned back to the dark stone office in the Flaming Fist headquarters.

"Perhaps you had better begin again, corporal. Unless you intend on reporting this directly to Scar. Or should I just send you on to Angelo himself?"

The two men standing in front of Captain Brevik's desk paled visibly under their bandages, and practically stumbled over themselves attempting to get the first word in. Brevik sighed internally again, rubbing his chin and gazing backout of the window at the frost-bound morning calesthenics adding thier sharp tattoo to the regular city sounds. He let them ramble, only half listening. There was too much to think about, no matter how preposterous their tale. Weapons supplies corrupted and failing, money missing, half the Cyric-blighted Fist on the take, this whole set of trading coster rumors, and half of the population of the northwestern Sword Coast camping out in Baldur's Gate to avoid a veritable plague of roving bandits. For the seventeenth time this morning, he wished Vai had not volunteered for the Beregost detail, and was in his arms right now. It hurt, not having her by his side, and in his bed. But most of all, she had a way of cutting to the chase. And right now, he needed her to figure out what in the names of the gods was going on.

"Stop."

The verbal clutter shut off abruptly, both soldiers falling back into attention. Brevik surrendered to the inevitable, and waved the men into the chairs usually reserved for guests. He took a large swig of the hot... something, he was not sure what - it was supposed to be coffee, but this stuff was only remotely related to that beverage. Shooing the scribe out of the room, he sat heavily in his chair, pausing to adjust his half plate, and cursing Angelo for a fool for requiring armour while on duty inside the building. Frowning gently at the parchament in front of him, he looked over each page with deliberate and judicious slowness, and then paused to stare up at the ceiling. Clearing his throat, he fixed his gaze on a point somewhere just left of infinity, and began paraphrasing the silliness he had just heard.

"So. On the third tenday of this month, near the end of the late watch, Corporals Neran and Hadley - that is you two - responded to a magical alarm at the house of one... let me see... Ryak Genris, of 1324 Lon Way, Old Quarter, Baldur's Gate. Upon ascertaining that there was indeed a burglary in progress, indicated as such by a member of the Thieves Guild on station on Lon Way and the independent reports of three commoners, you proceeded to call for backup. Having determined that this was an unlawful entry, and not a sanctioned operation by a Thieve's Guild member in good standing, you and your squad eneterd aforesaid premises and attempted to detain the culprits."

Brevik looked carefully at the page again, this time reading directly.

"Upon entering the aforesaid premisis, Corporal Hadley clearly identified himself as a member of the Flaming Fist, and demanded that the culprits yield to the law of the Dukes and the might of the Fist. At which time, one unidentified halfling female... description 4' 9", brown hair, light colored eyes, large grin, high soprano giggle, and a penchant for humming and chanting 'happy happy joy joy' stole the sword out of his hand and proceeded to juggle it in the air along with two jewels of unascertained origin. An unidentified male mage, approximately 6' tall, bald, with Zhent markings and the red robes associated with Thay, cursed aloud at the unidentified halfling and raised a staff of undetermined magical power, sending a magic missile at the sword, destoying its hilt and rendering it useless."

"While the halfling and the mage argued about juggling and remaining on task, a bald, huge, tattooed ranger holding a... hold on, I have to read this again... holding a small rodent he identified as 'Boo, the Giant Space Hampster', cried out several incoherent battlecries, threatened to kick the squads butts, and then... I really have to reread this... and then *his sword* began asking if it could chop the sqaud into small pieces."

"This interchange immediately began a four - no, a five way, if you count random sqeaks from the rodent, and why not? OK, a five way argument about completely incomprehensible subjects, something about an Iron Chamberpot, some sort of discussion about Evil versus Good, and a reference or two to cheerfulness including chopping small portions off of various portions of other people's anatomy. At its height, a young female mage with distinctive Rashemi markings indicating Wychlaren status materialized directly behind the squad, and began soothing the ranger in an unknown (presumably Rashemi) lanuage, and occasionally directing verbal barbs at the Thayvian. Behind her, a young female human in dark leather, wielding two swords and a large book with the name 'TARNESH' prominently displayed in gold leaf on the cover moved out of the shadows, and began heckling all and sundry."

"At this point in time, Corporal Neran attempted to regain control of the situation by repeating the summons 'I serve the Flaming Fist' and drawing his weapon. Or rather, attempting to draw his weapon, only to find it replaced by a flower: description red, blooming, long stem, and fragrant. Turning to check behind them, the squad encountered a human female, approximately eighteen summers age, blonde, blue eyes, 5' 10", 34 by 24 by... hey, that should not be an official report. Strike that. A human female, blonde, blue eyed, 5' 10", dressed in a form fitting black leather outfit, a flowing cape of some form of silvery fine hair, and carrying two of the sqauds swords. She polymorphed both swords into flowers and returned them to the squad, smiling at them and asking them to 'pretty please, would you be so kind as to take off all your armour and weapons, so that I can admire your physiques?', at which point all of the squad excpet the two corporals instantly complied, stripping to their leathers and assuming various manly poses and showing off their muscles."

"Sensing enchantment at work, Corporals Neran and Hadley directly confronted afforesaid female, and demanded that she submit to the will of the Fist. Hold on - sorry - Corporal Neran said that. Hadley made some proposition about showing off various portions of anatomy and engaging in extracurricular activities including... nope. That is not going in the record. Though you get points for inventiveness. I didn't realize you had that much creativity, Haldey. Though your wife would be most unhappy to learn of this, I am sure. Unfortunately, while attempting to detain the unidentified human female, both Corporal Neran and Corporal Hadley discovered that their leg lacings had been tied together, and thus fell forwards down the flight of stairs. Apon regaining consciousness, they found the entire squad under the influence of a sleep spell, and called for a full battilion and magical assistance. Finding that no backup was available, they proceeded to report to the Officer of the Day, namely myself, Captain Brevik, Division Four, 'Screaming Eagles', Flaming Fist, stationed as Garrison in the City of Baldur's Gate."

Brevik fell silent, his gaze returning to the window. Carefully avoiding making eye contact with either of the Corporals, he stood, and picked up the parchaments from his desk. Crossing over to the fire warming the room, he stood poised, scrutinizing the ink as if daring it to speak aloud. A quick gesture, and the flimsy woodpulp was blazing merrily in the fireplace.

"It is a good thing rationing has kept first drafts on the woodpulp, boys. If that report had been made on vellum, the entire division wuld be the laughingstock of the Coast, from the Ten Towns to Calimport." Brevik paced slowly, carefully, moving behind the men from fire to wall to fire, tread slow and steady, hands clasped behind his back. "I did notice that your squad was at the Lantern earlier that watch, investigating citizen allegations of Black Lotus use. I am going to assume that some of the lotus smoke effected you boys, and the entire squad was suffering from unanticipated side effects." He stopped behind their chairs, jaw thrusting forward as he shot his face within inches of their ear, his tone flat and ugly. "On the other hand, my boyos, if I find that either of you two have been doing some extracurricular drug or alcohol use while on duty, I will post you to Nashkell on Mine duty. You will rot there until I decide to send you somewhere more ferociously uncomfortable, like garrison duty in the Dale, or perhaps galley duty somewhere in the north seas above Moonshea. Mess with me, come to me with this sort of report again, and you will wish you had never ever been born. By Cyric's black heart, your *fathers* will wish you had never been born. Understand?"

"Dismissed."

Brevik spat the last dregs of the coffe into the fire, and sat again at the desk as the suitibly chastened and embarrased Corporals left. He absentmindedly shuffled the top layer of papers around randomly, wishing Angelo had approved his transfer to the Bandit Patrols weeks ago. Garrison duty always stank, but this particular garrison duty seemed to bring out the worst in the men. He called for his scribe to send in his next appointment, and began mentally composing a message to Vai, asking when she might be due to receive some leave. All thoughts of Vai dissapeared at the warm voice that filled his senses, and he looked up to see what angelic creature uttered the words "Hello, Captain. Perhaps I could have a word?"

Sea Blue eyes that dragged your soul from you, straw blonde hair coyly curling next to ruby lips, a figure that made him intensely aware of his manhood, silvery hair-like cape... the room began to spin as the angelic voice continued "I was wondering, pretty please, if I could speak to Officer Scar? I met him at the entry gate, and... Captain? Captain? are you alright? Guards - I think your Captain has fainted..."




Wanted

"Sir, I need your assistance. Armswoman Ewylyn, sir. Division three. Reconnaisance and Scouting, sir." The young soldier was pretty, in a scarred and strong sort of way - one of the Moonshea recruits following Tempus, judging from the red curls escaping her helm and the holy symbol around her neck. Capable enough, if the scar running the length of her forehead and down her right cheek was a healed combat wound. Probably one of the better of the new recruits. Jens smiled at her enthusiasm and unexpected politeness. He might be only twenty two summers, but he had been through at least a dozen campaigns with the Flaming Fist, and one thing he had learned the hard way was when a pretty young soldier is being polite, it means one of two things, both spelled 't r o u b l e'.

"Go ahead, armswoman. What is it you need?"

"Lieutenant, Sir, it is them. I mean, it is the wanted broadside. The big one. From the Dukes. The assassins. They are right there, on the street."

"So, go arrest them, armswoman." Lars turned away, back to his close survey of the inside of his eyelids, only to be interrupted by a tapping on his shield. He opened one baleful eye, jealously considering his headache, and briefly contemplated taking her sword from her and putting it where the sun doesn't shine. "Armswoman, if you are smart, you will learn never to disturb a superiour's contemplation of the infinite. This had better be good, or you will be cleaning privys for a week straight."

The young soldier's face flushed beet red behind her freckles, though whether from embarassment or defiance was an open point for discussion. Her gaze held steady, meeting his, and she drew herself up to her full height, short though it was. "Sir, I apologise. I will die, in Tempus'... in the Service of The Flaming Fist, and consider myself honorably held in the afterlife. But I think you need to see this, Sir. Before we do anything else, Sir."

Lars snorted softly to himself. Young, she certainly was. No sane individual would rush to meet Kelemvor's scythe when there was more life to be lived, Fist or no Fist. But something in her voice caught him, and he bit back the tounge lashing he had been about to vent on the hapless recruit. He grunted, and swung his feet off of the table. Tossing a coin on the table for the serving girl, he gestured towards the door, and followed the armswoman out into the sunlit street.

Armswoman Ewylyn led him a short distance, then up the ramshackle stairs that led to what Division called Observation Post 27a, Merchant Sector, and everyone else called things generally not spoken in polite company. Then again, the Flaming Fist generally didn't keep company, polite or impolite, with anyone. Kicking aside the piles of refuse and debris littering the abandoned flat, and muttering irritably, Lars made a mental note to assign someone to empty the chamberpot again. But his muttering stopped when his gaze followed the armswoman's pointing finger.

The broadside was simple, and direct. It made a statement, 'Wanted - Dead or Alive', and it gave a brief descrition of the six individuals sought. What it failed to mention was how inadequate any description could be.

There they were, walking boldly down the main avenue. Absolutely matching the description. And completely unassailable.

"Sergeant Rillan. Armswoman Ewylyn. Testing time. Let's see what your tactical minds can come up with. Rillan, what do you see?"

Rillan's eyes had seen thirty odd campaigns, and she knew Lars was not a bad sort as an officer, which is why she had bothered sending the armswman in the first place. But rather than taking things the true Fist way, she grinned at the subtext - show off for the newbie. She chuckled to herself, and began playing the Headquarters Game in true Fist fashion.

"Sir, Yes Sir. I see a young human male Paladin of Tyr, weilding a glowing greatsword that can proabably clobber the Ninth Legion of Driderspawn singlehandedly. I see two mages with cloaks of power with light strides, indicating magical enchanment, and both have turned their skin to stone; probably iron underneath. I see an elven Enchanter wielding what looks to be a Moonblade, something I have only seen once before in my life, twenty six years ago - and the elf who wielded it was plowing through an entire battilion of Drow, while moaning about the fact that the company was doomed. Looks like the same guy, though of course he hasn't aged a day. I don't see their backup, which means there is at least one of the remaning suspects either hiding in the shadows looking for us, or in my considered opinion, sir, from the broadside, is that there is both a female halfling and a female human of considerable intelligence skill scouting arond the party as they move."

"Good summation, Sergeant. Armswoman, tactical options". Lars smiled inwardly, watching the young Moonshea's face scrunch up. Those freckles were just the right sort of attractive.

Ewylyn's brow creased her scar, and she thought hard before answering. "Sir. We have no real magical backup, and our healer has the trots, begging your pardon, Sir. We have fourteen armsmen and armswomen, scattered over a twelve block radius. We have two archers, but they are at opposite ends of the street. We have four experienced regulars, and yourself, sir. We are outclassed, outpowered, and outmatched, Sir. I suggest we send four armsmen to the warehouse behind that building there, Sir, and throw bags of pepper and flour on top of the suspects from that roof there. I suggest tipping those kegs there, Sir, and lighting them on fire, as a distraction, and screaming for help all the while, Sir. And if we are lucky, Sir, we might live for a few moments - just time enough to report this to a superior officer for coordination, Sir."

Lars decided the freckles were great chamoflage for a very sharp and inventive mind. Definitely officer material - IF she got this next part right. He took off his helmet, contemplating the street, and mused for a moment, just for effect. "Hmmmm. We could do that, Armswoman, we could do that. Then again... a Paladin of Tyr. Claimed to be a murderer. Interesting to note that. And a Moonblade wielder. The stuff of legends and tall tales, there. Hmmm."

His smile was quick, and made the most of his rather ordinary face. His eyes twinkled at the Sergeant over the top of the earnest young Armswoman's head, and his voice was calm, quiet, and full of uncharacteristic gentleness. "Sergeant, report. What do you see on the street?"

"Absolutely nothing, Sir."

"Are you sure, Sergeant?"

"I'd swear it on my mother's grave, Lieutenant. If she were dead, that is."

"I see. And what do you see, Armswoman?"

Ewylyn's brow creased again, and her face reflected the struggle between the demands of the Glory of Tempus and the words of her superiors. The battle was a firece one, and her voice reflected the distaste she felt as she acquiesced.

"I see nothing at all on the street, Sir."

"Good reporting, Armswoman Ewylyn. Make that Private Ewylyn. Good thinking deserves reward, and the Fist needs smart thinkers promoted quickly. As for the ideas, well - in an ordinary matter, your initiative and thought would be excellent. Unfortunately, unlike the harsh north up by your homeland, we Fist members down south here have two battlefields, Private. The first is the obvious one - obey orders, smash heads, keep order. The second, well... who we do we serve?"

"The Flaming Fist, Sir".

"Yes. Not Baldur's Gate, not the Dukes, and certainly not the Trading Costers. Consider this carefully, Private... if the Dukes have put out an arrest warrant for a Paladin of Tyr, without working through his order, without describing him as a paladin, and without specifying the strength and power of the party, who is the target of the warrant? The political game is an old one, Private. A weakened and destroyed, overmatched Division is open to all sorts of 'accidents'. Ones that result in a bunch of dead Fist and an employer who trumps up reasons not to pay the contract fee. I don't want the Fist sacrificed as a pawn between forces in city politics. Particularly if I suspect it is to make the city budget more manageable."

"I beg your pardon, Sir... but is that your call?" Ewylyn's set jaw and defiant gaze indicated she was still unconvinced.

Lars chuckled a bit, and mock saluted Sergeant Rillan. "Hells, no, Private. You came and got me, which took seven minutes of operational time and meant that any decisionmaking was made after the whole affair was unretrieveable. Lesson One of the Flaming Fist - Field Officers are for show and tell, gladhanding with the local yokels. Sergeant Rillis made that decision before she sent you to me for education. You got lucky, Private. Not every division has as smart a non-comm running things behind the scenes. Some other idiot would have dragged the whole Fist into a deathmatch against unstoppable forces."

Lars headed back down the stairs, but halfway down a sudden though occured to him, and he went back up to the top. Leaning into the room, he caled "Hey Riddel - which way were they heading?"

"No problem, Lars. Out of our district. Castle Quarter-ways, I think. No one there competent or incompetent, boss. That sector's all private hire, and no Fist."

Lars' face turned pale white, and his hand went to his holy symbol. "HQ just assigned a newbie to coordinate trainig forces there, and dumped him with all the stupid deadwood. Some blighted rich snot who thinks he is Helm's Gift to military tactics."

The Sergeant's eyes met the Lieutenant's eyes, horror dawning on their faces, just as the alarm bells began to ring in the Castle Quarter.




Off Duty

Helen's hands lifted the wineglass quickly, and tossed back the dregs with a fine flourish. Her glass tapped down lightly, and she caught sight of her reflection in the mirror across the bar. The streaming brown chestnut hair, a bit too frizzy for combat, now grown long from too much city duty. The new bright red and deep blue of the silk dress blouse, flared at hips, wrists, and cut low enough to drop the eyes just where she wanted them; that had been a month's pay, but what else did she have to spend the money on? There was little enough time to be a woman instead of an officer. Besides, it set off the flower over her ear nicely. The only good thing about city duty was the thrill of hunting romance, and she enjoyed being a wolf among the sheep. Especially when those sheep had some very handsome, very athletic young aristocrats to play with. Especially when there might be other wolves out there. Competition was fun, and the rewards extremely enjoyable. One never know when duty would send you to Beregost, like poor Vai, though in Vai's case it was no loss. Brevik. What a silly pairing. Those two should know that you don't mix business with pleasure. If they really loved each other, they should muster out and go make babies or something else suitably civilian.

The motion of dice rattling onto the table was ordinary, but the mirror showed something else. Something that caught her eye like the first signs of a hobgoblin ambush. He was absolutely mesmerizing. Beautiful. The long moustache, the Kara-Turan features, the ponytail, all nice enough, but those fingers - long, slim, aristocratic, yet incredibly swift and strong. An involuntary shudder, and she unconsiously smoothed back her hair. His easy smile twinkled at her, and she realized that her role as observer had been turned on its head, and blushed. Target aquired. Time for reconnaisance.

It took about an hour, but his voice was now a part of her memory, and she know enough from careful observation to make some mental notes. Definitely young, about her age but perhaps a little older, sad but intriguing eyes, very dextrous, and strong enough to wield a katana. Even in the Lusty Wench, despite two fights, he had not drawn it once. Each time he had held his dice or his cards and continued to play, lifting cards gracefully as a body careened across his playing space or gently twisting out of the way of a fighting pair while placing his next bet. Not an obvious cardshark, for though he was winning he was losing about as much as he was winning. He seemed to be waiting fo something, someone. Perhaps he was waiting for her to make the first move. There seemed to be no obvious competition, but she waited - he was magnificent, and absolutely thrilling to watch.

Just as Helen had decided on her approach, she noted a friendly face among the crowd. Arienne was there, flashing her smile, catching men's hearts as deftly as their purses. Helen signalled her young Thieve's Guild contact, and called for another glass of wine, and some Firewine for Arienne.

"What ho, there, friend; business or pleasure?" The young thief spun lighty in place, replacing a purse minus a few coins before sitting at the bar.

"Both. Or rather, personal business of the pleasure variety, miss know-it-all-and-tell-it-to-me-for-the-right-price. I assume that is the translation of your Guild name, right?" Helen's smile was genuine. Fist and Guild worked together when possible, both two sides of the same coin. Sometimes they conflicted, but even then there was always information valuable to individuals, and alliances that created the right kind of personal networks far stronger than money or politics.

Arienne followed Helen's gentle nod, and her eyes widened in spite of her careful training. "Yoshimo?"

Helen repeated his name like a mantra. "Yoshimo. I think he is my quarry. I want to fall into those eyes, and drown. Better yet, I want him to want me. So spill it, friend - what is his story, and how do I get him into my bed?"

Arienne's face clouded, and she pushed the coin on the tale back at Helen. She raised the Firewine and drank a toast to her 'friend with the Fist', and sighed. "Helen, dearest one, go chase someone else. Come on, let's drop this work and go crash a nice party, and play with their hearts like cats play with fieldmice. Let's go find you a nice young man you can train to your heart's content, or I can introduce you to complete cads and rapscallions who can make you scream with pleasure. But leave that one alone."

Helen's face was now the clouded one, and the gleam of challenge leapt in her eyes. "Is he Guild? What is wrong with him? Is he yours?"

"No, no, not mine. Not Guild, but possibly freelance. A Bounty Hunter, and a good one. But Helen, you don't want him..."

Helen's voice was honed and sharp, capable of bringing an erring Fist recruit to a standstill at 200 yards. The volume was absent, but the power present; "I want him."

Arienne set down her glass, and gestured across the room. Helen's gaze followed, and in the corner a small half-elven girl sat alone at a table, a pseudodragon glittering gold and green in the candlelight from its perch around her neck. Cloaked and hooded, no real details from this profile, but the telale sharpened ears gave away her heritage.

Helen snoted derisively. "Hers. He is hers. That child. She is no match for him. I'll just go run her off." Arienne's hand shot out with suprising speed, locking around Helen's wrist, and her voice carried warning. "Helen, on our friendship, woman to woman, be careful. There is more to this than I know. And that little girl over there is more than she appears. Be careful."

Helen's derisive smile gave clear signals of her disbelief. With quick and easy stride, she moved over to the elfin girl hidden away in her little corner. As she slapped down the wineskin on the table, she noted a pair of half-elves making motions to move toward her from a nearby table, but the woman stopped than man quickly and they resumed their seat. Perhaps the girl's parents. No flower on the child's ear, so she wasn't of age, or she wasn't interested in romance. So why the big deal and the warning? This child would be easy to scare off. Turning on the charm as she slid into the seat across the table, Helen began nicely enough. "Hey there, girl. Helen, on duty with The Fist. I just wanted to..."

The face that turned towards her was hauntingly beautful, with an exotic, elven cast. The pseudodragon was a nice match, curling arond the girl's shoulders, quizzical tongue flicking absently and long tail looping to brush a scraggly strand of deep black, almost purple hair out of her eyes. The dusty robes were draped with care but no artistry about the girl's figure, which spoke of burgeoning womanhood in a just-beginning sort of way, almost as if only fourteen or fifteen summers had passed for her. But Helen looked directly into the girl's eyes, realizing that the young woman had been crying behind the fold of her cloak, and time froze...

Blood. The blood of friends, streaming aross her arms as she carried them back from the front lines to the healers, cursing the Zhentian archers who mercilessly showered the forward position. Bood covering her hands as she moved the bodies of civilian children discovered in that hideous creature Neb's lair. The flat, metallic taste of her own blood as she fought on the palisade against Chill regulars, and the erring recruit beside her caught her cheek with his blade by accident. Blood, pounding in her ears, and she cried in dispair and hatred as her first lover fell in the Battle of Near Crossing, vanishing in the searing heat of an enemy fireball. Bloodlust, the scream of adrenaline as she led a charge across the lines into the thickets against the Malarites in Cloakwood. Raging, fiery, all consuming blood, rising on a river of hatred and fear, unquenched by a steady driving rain of tears, and unfettered by the clouds of destiny hurling lightning in all directions.

Slowly, the world began to return, and Helen's gaze refocussed. The girl's eyes still held hers, but they now held an unspoked apology, and sorrow. Blood rage faded into regret, and deep sadness. Helen stood slowly, shakily. Her voice husky with unshed tears, she gestured to the wineskin on the table, and her voice wavered as she spoke. "...to give you a welcome drink, is all. Good evening, Citizen." Without a glance at the room, Helen strode quickly from the tavern. The flower behind her ear dropped forgotten into the mud of the street, and she resettled her rapier carefully, willing her hands to stop trembling. Perhaps the cold chill in her bones would fade if she looked up Brevik, and they just had a decent comeradely meal together. She felt the intense need for family, and the Fist was tighter than any regular family. No romance for a good long while. Perhaps it was time to ask to be put on one of the Southern Patrols. After all, no wolf hunts anywhere on a demon's turf. Even when the demon in question does not yet know that she is a demon.

Edited by cmorgan, 12 December 2008 - 03:53 PM.