Jesz was fuming. Not only did they lose the bounty AND break an expensive urn, but now her foot was in pain and she couldn't even be angry at the guy who did it. As she paced around her small, cluttered bedroom, Eaups could hear her muttering to herself. He sat in a creaky wooden chair that threatened to turn itself into a pile of kindling at any moment. On the bed across the room from him was a young man dressed entirely in black, unconscious. The arrow still protruded from his side and the shirt around it was damp with blood, though it showed no red.
"32 silver pieces for that ouch! darn Urn.... where is Mel? She mmmf! better have got him.... planned for 2 ow weeks.... another 7 pieces for that cart... what a OW waste... 100 gold pieces...." Eaups just watched her pace back and forth between him and the unconscious man. Every time she stepped on her hurt foot, she'd wince or cry out in pain, but that wouldn't stop her.
"Ummm... actually, I rented the ca-" he started to say, but stopped short when Jesz turned to him and give him a stare that would make the pigment in paint run away. Eaups put his hands between his legs and lowered his head. He was relatively young, no more than 18, and naivete exuded from his pores. His normally immaculate white priest robes and well-combed blond hair were covered in dirt, smeared with blood, and smelled like the inside of that old urn, yet he was still able to look so innocent and pitiful that Jesz's glare softened and she felt this sudden urge to cuddle him. Unfortunately, he was unable to leave well-enough alone and perked his head up again. "Maybe he's rich..." he offered in an attempt to bring up her spirits. If there was anything that would make Jesz happy, it was the promise of money.
"He is NOT rich," Jesz replied firmly, pointing at the man. She was no longer wearing the burlap sack that she thought looked like clothing. Instead, she was sporting a leather and cloth outfit that hugged her slight form. A red-hilted knife stuck out from a sheath at her side, matching the hue of her short hair. In her rage, however, she'd forgotten to remove the false nose, making it very difficult for Eaups to keep a straight face when he looked at her. He kept looking down at his lap in an effort to prevent himself from cracking up.
"Just look at how he's dressed!" she explained, hobbling over to the man and picking roughly at his clothes. Every time she did, the man would cringe as if in pain. "He's all in black, he was carrying a lock-picking kit and a knife, and he fell OFF A ROOF! He's obviously a cat burglar. A pilferer. A burglar. A THIEF!"
Eaups stifled a laugh as her nose bobbed in the air, then turned the chuckle into a cough and sighed loudly, lowering his gaze again and wringing his hands in his lap. "M-maybe he's a good thief..." he suggested. Before Jesz could reply, there was a knock at the door. Then two knocks. Then three.
"It's Mel. Finally," Jesz said, limping over to the door of her small hut and opening it. Mel stood there, her expensive robes torn and dirtied and an ornate archery bow hanging around her body. Although she looked pissed at first, as soon as she saw Jesz's nose sticking out of the doorway, her face contorted in a muffled giggle.
After a moment, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, stepping inside. Her long, brown hair flowed behind her and brushed over Jesz. Mel was much taller and more shapely than Jesz; even her hair couldn't resist the chance to make her jealous. "The bounty got away," Mel said. "I lost him in the merchant district and it's too dark for Aryx."
Jesz glowered as she shut the door. "I knew it. This is just not my OW day..." she grumbled as she followed Mel back to the bedroom - one of two rooms in the hut. She looked over at Eaups and shot a pointed finger at him. "You! This is all your fault! You said we had your god's blessing!"
Guilt creeped over Eaups' features. "We did..we do... that's the problem with Murphy. We might have his blessing, but we don't know what it's for."
Jesz scoffed, waving her hand dismissively, "I doubt he's even real." This was a slap in the face to Eaups.
"He IS real! I've seen him!" he shouted, standing up and putting his nose against Jesz' in a rare display of emotion.
"Guys, quit it," Mel said as she looked at the man on the bed.
"Maybe you're just seeing things, huh? It's all that incense in the air over there in that temple." Jesz retorted, pushing her nose harder against his.
"Well at least I have faith in something! You can only believe in what you see!"
"GUYS!" Mel, shouted, looking back at the bicker pair.
"WHAT?" they both shouted back in unison.
Beyond Mel, the man lay in the bed, eyes open, looking at them as they fought. He raised a hand, pointing to Jesz, and said in a very quiet, weak voice, "Nose." With a smile, he lowered his hand and closed his eyes, falling asleep again.
Jesz sighed, pulling off the bulbous nose and walking over to the man. "He can't stay here..." she said.
"It was your idea to bring him with us," Mel said. "Besides, Eaups is in a dorm, and there's no way my parents would let me keep a strange man in the house. Face it, you're stuck with him until he recovers." Some of the color faded from Jesz's cheeks as she realized this was true.
"What do you suppose happened to him?" Eaups asked.
Mel walked over to the bed and gingerly took hold of the arrow still stuck in him. She ripped his shirt open a little to look at the wound, then let her fingers drift along the shaft of the arrow to the colorful feathers. "This looks... familiar..." she said to herself.
Jesz, meanwhile, was watching the stranger's face as it periodically contorted in pain. "I guess he tried to rob the wrong house," she said softly without looking away.
"Not just any house," Mel replied, blanching. "The palace. This fletching is from the royal guards. I knew it looked familiar. See this banding in blue and white? If he was at the palace, we may all be in trouble for keeping him here at all."
Eaups frowned and moved closer. "I think maybe he was fated to run into us. I think we are supposed to take care of him," he said. "No one will know he's here. We can keep our eyes open for any alert on him, and if we don't hear anything, then I think we'll be ok." He smiled at Mel, then over to Jesz, hoping to sway one of them.
After a moment, Jesz took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Fine... if someone comes knocking on the door, I'll take the blame. But if he or anyone else kills me in the night, I'm coming back to haunt you, Eaups."
Mel nodded in agreement. "Alright, he will stay here for now. I will heal and bind him tonight, and check on him tomorrow. If he does anything funny, I can put this thing right back in him, you know." She gave Eaups a wicked little wink before looking back at the man's wound. "Alright, let's do this. Jesz, get me some clean water if you can. Warm preferably. Eaups, I need some clean rags."