The two approach Dovecoral’s western gate. Bruin is tall and broad, with a rough face marked by scars. He wears leather armor and carries a grey woolen cloak over one arm. He walks slowly, looking at the marble walls and decorated towers with consideration. Weed is small and energetic, scampering off the path to examine things Bruin cannot see, then running to catch up.

A guard, tall and thin, leans on a spear outside the gate. “I thought you were looking for holly, not ruffians, Weed.”

Weed runs up, pulling Bruin by his calloused hand. “I found a new friend! Holly isn’t very social.”

“What ho, good sir. I’m just a traveler passing through; thought I’d stay a bit in your fine city before moving on. They call me Bruin of Hawksnest.”

The guard looks him over. “And where might Hawksnest be?”

“Ah, well… it’s quite a ways from here, to the West…”

Weed butts in. “Ah, don’t give him a hard time, Gerr! He’s an immigrant, but he’s not staying. And don’t forget that I brought you delicious.”

The guard smiles down at her. “Is that so? Well, I’m sure someone like you’ll have no problem keeping this brut out of trouble. And I can’t argue with delicious.” He steps aside, waving them past.

“Well, that wasn’t so bad. Thanks.” He looks down at Weed. “Think you could point me to a place to stay, ratchi?”

“But of course. The Whorlhouse’d be traditional.”

She leads him through slate-paved streets to a cheerful-looking inn near the harbor. The innkeeper seems happy to take his coins for food and a private room; metal’s metal, as they say. As the innkeeper goes to get him stew, Bruin turns to thank Weed, only to find her gone. He’s surprised she didn’t turn up the charm for another tip. Too bad; she’d seemed a nice enough little ratling. But soon he is devouring the stew, and now that he’s stopped moving he notices how exhausted he feels. Bearings and plans can wait ’til the morn; he drags himself to the indicated room. The cot is simple but softer than he is accustomed to, and he sinks into night like a stone in a stream.