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      He shuddered as he began to open the door, his doubts offering a stern refusal to abate.
Upon seeing what lay behind the door, he found them to be strengthening.
      The room’s walls were sparsely decorated, the only things hanging upon them being a
decently sized weapon collection (including several swords, a pair of Trellan shredders, a few
daggers, and a multitude of throwing knives), and a certificate granting its possessor the ability
to legally conduct investigations within the city of Durnkalast. The only furniture in the room
was a modest wooden desk with three chairs, two before it, one behind. Seated in the chair
behind the desk was a woman who simply defied description.
      “Can I help you?” she asked curtly.
      “I... I heard the stories of you... but I did not expect such accuracy...”
      “Hm. It must be the horns. They come from my father’s side of the family.” she said,
smiling, then adding more seriously, “I ask you again, priest, can I help you?”
      “How did...”
      “How did I know you are a priest? It’s easy. It’s in your eyes. You have the look of a man
who has become accustomed to a painfully boring existence, and I’ve never known a city
official to wear a beard like yours. Besides that, in your clever disguise of wearing regular
clothes rather than your robes, you neglected to remove your medallion. A priest of Mendak,
are you?”
      The priest stared at her, stunned, until he could finally utter, “Yes. Yes, I am.”
      “Good. Now that we’re acquainted, you can tell me what business you have with me.
Please tell me you’re not here to proselytise.”
      “I... I need you to find something out.”
      “Of course you do. What is it?”
      “One of the younger priests at my temple was murdered. I want you to find out who did it.”
      “So why not go to the guard?”
      “I did. They said they couldn’t find anything.”
      “And your god hasn’t been useful? I would imagine this sort of thing to be one of the
benefits of being a priest to the god of knowledge.”
      “The knowledge is... hidden from my abilities.”
      “And you think I can find who did this?”
      “I have heard the stories of you.”
      “So you said.” She neglected to mention just how many of those stories she circulated
personally.
      “So can you do it.”
      “Perhaps. But it will cost you.”
      “How much?”
      “Five-hundred. Plus expenses.”
      “That seems somewhat steep.”
      “Take it or leave it. If you think there’s somebody who will do it for less, by all means go to
them.”
      “All right. I’ll pay your price.”
      “Good. Then I think we have ourselves a deal, Father...”
      “Pelleas.”
      “Father Pelleas. And what was the name of the deceased?”
      “Father Terev.”
      “Thank you. I’ll start work on this immediately.”

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All text 8 2004
R.