Telkarnith and the werewolf Helkhar, in human form, approached the city of Scalyr on foot. It was a large city, sprawling along the edge of the bay and overflowing from the old city wall, a cosmopolitan array of creatures from all over Lezaria. If there was anyplace that they would be able to blend in and avoid notice, it would be here.
"I'll miss Donna and Winder," Telkarnith said absently as they headed into town.
"No, you'll miss Donna," Helkhar retorted.
Telkarnith smirked. "It was well enough off that they headed home. They won't stand out there, at least, and I doubt anyone will believe the rumors that far south. I hope they don't trace us back home."
"Yeah, wouldn't want anything to happen to the bitch and all," Helkhar said.
"I'll assume you're using the term in the canine way," Telkarnith said with a smirk. "I know you don't like her, but she's bearing my unborn child, so one has to give her some credit at least."
"She's a fainting flower that jumps at every sound and shadow," Helkhar replied.
"Hey, if I'd had a choice, I'd have chosen Donna from the start. Maybe another generation will finally get over this arranged marriage business, another age."
They strolled down to Market Street, and Telkarnith absently pretended to pay attention to the various wares being advertised by vendors along the sides of the road. There was clothing of middling quality, fresh fruits and vegetables, cooking pots, bread. One stall was offering vivid red figurines carved from what he stated was genuine cherry wood, depicting the various gods of Lezaria and claiming that they were blessed to bring good fortune to their bearers.
"That's not cherry wood," Telkarnith said, pointing at the figurines. A couple people browsing the market turned to look at the accusation.
"Lies and slander," said the offended vendor. "This is genuine cherry wood from the forests of Thalarey!"
"It's not even a good imitation. Cherry wood is naturally light colored. These look like they've just been stained or painted bright red."
"So it's stained cherry wood, so what?"
Telkarnith smirked. "If it were genuine cherry wood, you'd also be charging a lot more for it, and not hawking two-bit trinkets on the market. The real thing is hard to get a hold of, and more likely to anger the spirits rather than bring good luck. You've heard about the sailing ship Jerekhani, haven't you? How it was built from the wood of a single giant cherry tree, but its crew insisted that it was haunted, cursed. They tried to burn it, and it wouldn't burn, so now for two hundred years it has been a ghost ship, sailing the seas alone, still ablaze but never burning."
One of the passersby said, "I sure as hell don't want any of those things, real or not!" He quickly walked away, and others near the stall moved off as well.
"Bah," said the vendor. "Look what you've done. You've ruined my business! I put a lot of work into these things!"
"Then you should charge people for actual work done, rather than try to pull in a few more coins by claiming that they're something they're not," Telkarnith pointed out.
The man angrily gathered up his trinkets and abandoned the marketplace, uttering a few more choice invectives as he did so.
Telkarnith woke to Helkhar shaking him gently. He groaned softly and murmured, "What is it, Helkhar?"
"Something's not right," Helkhar whispered. "We should go. Now."
Telkarnith didn't argue, just climbing out of bed, pulling on his sword, and gathering up his things quickly.
As he did so, Helkhar said, "I went outside, couldn't sleep, and I felt like I was being watched. Followed. Even... hunted. Like I'd suddenly turned from the predator to the prey. It was... disconcerting."
They headed out into the hallway and turned for the entrance to the inn, but Helkhar stopped him and pointed to the back door. They quietly slipped out the back instead.
It was a quiet night in Scalyr. The only things moving Telkarnith could see were a curtain blowing in the salty breeze, and a black cat sitting on a barrel, just looking at them. Helkhar stopped and snarled at it, and it hissed and darted off into the night.
The two of them went off down into the alleyways, twisting and turning about with no discernable pattern. After a short time, Telkarnith had to wonder if they weren't already lost, and had turned back on themselves. His heart was racing. This was worse than being chased by an angry mob. At least then you knew what the enemy was. Here and now, he wasn't even certain just what might be behind them, but he trusted Helkhar's instincts.
Telkarnith paused and glanced about. He saw a figure in a nearby doorway gesture to them in beckoning. Telkarnith glanced aside at Helkhar briefly and went over that way, hand on hilt.
"This way," whispered the figure. A boy's voice, or a woman. "Quick."
"Who are you?" Telkarnith murmured. "Why should I trust you?"
"Do you want to live or not?" With a closer look, Telkarnith saw that it was a young woman. "Don't argue, you fools, you're being hunted. I can help you. Now come on."
Glancing behind them nervously, Telkarnith decided not to argue, and just gave a nod and followed along after her. He was still acutely aware that this could well be a trap. The woman led them about down back alleys, through abandoned buildings, down a narrow set of stairs, and into a darkened basement.
She shut the door and lit a lamp, and quickly surveyed the place. The place was full of junk, old broken furniture, garbage, and tattered rags. There were, however, three exits, which the woman checked in turn. Aside from the stairs they had come in, there was a small window leading up to ground level, and a dirt tunnel leading out of the room concealed by a dirty plaid curtain.
"Alright, it's safe now," she said, gesturing to the room. "Have a seat, make yourselves comfortable." She chuckled softly.
"Care to explain what this is all about now?" Telkarnith said, declining to sit down for the moment. "Who are you?"
"The name's Rachel Cor," she said, posing a little as if to show off her scrawny street urchin body, ragged clothes, and lanky red hair. "Pleased to meet you, Telkarnith Chelseer and Helkhar."
Telkarnith blinked. "How do you know who we are?"
"Oh, as if you were being the least bit discreet," Rachel said with a snort. "Now, don't try to fool me or anything. I know you're werewolves."
"No," Telkarnith said.
"You don't need to lie about it to me," Rachel said, smirking.
"I mean, Helkhar's the werewolf, I'm not."
Helkhar nodded in agreement. Rachel looked at Helkhar for a long moment, then back at Telkarnith, and shrugged. "Okay, then. But that hunter that's on your trail won't care."
"What do you mean?" Telkarnith said. "What hunter?"
Rachel gave them a look. "Oh, come on, you can't be that stupid."
Helkhar said, "I thought someone was following us."
Rachel nodded. "You've got a werewolf hunter on your tail, aiming to bag himself a trophy and stop another monster from terrorizing the world."
"I'm not a monster," Helkhar said. "I never killed anyone that wasn't trying to kill me first."
"Right," Rachel said. "Don't try to explain the power of common sense to a fanatic who firmly believes he's doing the right thing. Here's the clincher, though. If you kill him, you'll get the attention of every hunter on Lezaria. You've only attracted local attention so far, and that's bad enough. You don't want people showing up from all corners of the world with powers and devices all trying to do you in on top of that."
"Why are you helping us?" Telkarnith wondered.
"Okay, maybe not completely stupid," Rachel said, chuckling. "You're a Chelseer, obviously. I could pick your pocket or wait till the hunter kills you and just take everything you have, since he likely won't be interested in the loot. Or I could help you, and earn something much more valuable. Your gratitude." She grinned.
"So you're a thief and you're looking for coin," Telkarnith said. "Just so we're clear on things."
"Oh, I'm just a poor, homeless street urchin," Rachel said. "An orphan! Forced to scrape out an existence by stealing crumbs from the rich." The way she posed in saying that, her hair fell in such a way to reveal a small, pointed ear.
"You're a half-elf," Telkarnith observed.
"Oh, you do have eyes," Rachel said. "Oh, yes, born out of forbidden love, my poor parents, doomed to never see the fulfillment of their love. Tragic, really."
"That's so sad," Telkarnith said. "Well, it's alright, I'll be quite grateful for your help, if you can figure out how to get us away from this hunter."
Rachel gave a flash of a mischievous grin. "Yes, you're far too conspicuous. You don't know a thing about actually blending in and maintaining a low profile. You stand out like a troll trying to casually browse the marketplace. Did you know that that vendor you spoke to earlier later went off to a bar to drown his sorrows, and babbled on all about you two? And that your hunter was listening?"
"That's how he knew where to find us?" Telkarnith said, frowning.
"It certainly didn't do you any favors," Rachel said. She looked to Helkhar. "And you practically look like a wolf even as a human. We're going to need to work on this."
"What do you mean?" Helkhar said in confusion.
"First lesson in being inconspicuous," Rachel said, "is learning how to look like you belong somewhere."
"I don't see how this is going to help," Helkhar said.
Telkarnith just had to chuckle softly. Helkhar was seated, somewhat uncomfortably, in a chair in Rachel's basement, while the girl was going over his hair with comb and scissors with careful attention to detail. He was becoming considerably less unkempt and shaggy.
"They're looking for a barbarian," Rachel said. "Simplest way to avoid that, is to not be a barbarian." She glanced briefly up at Telkarnith and said, "Don't relax just yet. Your turn is coming. You're both going to need some adjustments."
"What's wrong with how I look?" Telkarnith said.
Rachel snorted. "What isn't wrong with it? It practically just screams 'rich adventurer'. The clothes are too fine and well-made for the common folk, but their wear and stains indicates they've seen rough use. The sword on your hip indicates that you're a fighter type, but you're not wearing a uniform and again, you're too well-dressed to be a mercenary."
Telkarnith blinked, and said, "I never thought about it that way."
"Obviously, that's why you're standing out."
"Does cutting off my hair make me look better?" Helkhar said in confusion.
"It makes you look like a civilized being," Rachel said. "Appearance is the right hand of being someone else. The left hand is behavior. If you can get these two down, no one will ever realize that you're not who you seem to be until it's too late."
"Why would I want to be someone else?" Helkhar asked.
"By that, of course, I mean pretending to be someone else, but you have to act the part and believe you are, to an extent, in order for it to work, otherwise people will notice something is off about you. You'd be amazed at what you can accomplish with such simple trickery."
"Like what?" Helkhar wondered.
"Avoid notice, for starters," Rachel said. "Get into places you wouldn't normally be able to get to. Convince people to do things for you. Learn things from people they'd otherwise not tell you. All it takes is the right approach."
"So what are you going to do, give us acting lessons?" Telkarnith asked incredulously.
"Please don't hurt me, sir!" Telkarnith said. "I'll be good!"
"No, no, no," Rachel said, shaking her head. "Your delivery is all wrong."
"Please, have mercy on me! I meant no harm!" Telkarnith pleaded.
"A bit better. But you need to really feel the emotion you're trying to convey. Hmm, perhaps some method acting would help. Helkhar!"
"Yes?" Helkhar said, glancing up from the plate of bacon and sausages Rachel had brought in earlier.
"Please threaten Telkarnith's life."
"Um... Okay," Helkhar said. He stood up and positioned himself in front of Telkarnith. "Rawr! I am going to kill you!"
"No, no, no!" Rachel waved her hands about in frustration. "You're not managing to be scary at all." She sighed. "Alright, look, there's ways for a boy your size to be positively terrifying, but they involve a good deal more subtlety than I think you're ready for at the moment. I want you to turn into a werewolf and threaten him instead."
Helkhar looked at her uncertainly for a long moment, before turning to Telkarnith. He stared at Telkarnith hard for several long moments, and Telkarnith had to start wondering if he could even shift into the werewolf form when he wasn't angry and actively being threatened. However, he finally did change form, growing much taller and towering over Telkarnith, silver-white fur covering his strong, muscular body.
"Please spare me!" Telkarnith said. "I'll never do anything bad again!"
Helkhar growled and snarled, rearing up over Telkarnith with bared teeth and raised paws. Telkarnith had to start wondering for a moment if Helkhar was really acting or if he'd just misunderstood what Rachel had asked of him. His fear quickly turned real.
"Don't hurt me, Helkhar!" Telkarnith begged, cowering and putting his hands over his head. "Please don't hurt me!"
"Excellent, excellent," Rachel said.
Telkarnith trembled in Helkhar's shadow. He could feel the werewolf's breath on him, drooling over him as if to make him a quick meal. Just when Helkhar seemed about to strike, he leaned down and licked Telkarnith across the face. Snickering softly to himself, Helkhar shrank down again into human form.
"Was that good?" Helkhar asked, looking to Rachel.
"Marvelous, Helkhar," Rachel said, chuckling.
"That was not fair," Telkarnith said with a smirk.
"Yeah, shouldn't make it too easy for you to maintain character," Rachel said. "Your next lessons will be more difficult."
Helkhar went back over to finish his breakfast. Telkarith rubbed his eyes and sighed. Bad enough that he was stuck here, holed up in the slums, dressed up like a hired sword. But while he had to admit that Rachel's lessons might be useful, they were growing a little tiresome on him.
The three of them were out shopping, an exercise which Rachel had claimed would give a good opportunity to practice the skills she was trying to teach them, as well as stock up on supplies better than Rachel having to collect them all herself. Their first stop was food.
"A fresh loaf of bread," Rachel said. "Some zim'adar might make for a nice stew. And we're going to need meat, too."
"Meat?" Helkhar said with interest.
"Yes, meat," Rachel repeated, rolling her eyes. "Do try not to drool over it too much, okay?"
The butcher's shop was, thankfully, not too crowded at the moment, since Helkhar didn't seem particularly inclined to listen to Rachel. There were many delicious-smelling salted meats, sausages, and some fresher meats were in the back on ice.
"Have you any heart?" Helkhar asked the butcher eagerly. "Liver? Giblets?"
"Helkhar," Telkarnith said with a smirk.
"What?" Helkhar said innocently. "Those are the best parts!"
Both Telkarnith and Rachel stood back, arms folded across their chests and a little annoyed, as the butcher proceeded to try to sell various internal organs to Helkhar. Telkarnith said firmly, "We are not buying a cartload of entrails."
"Aww," Helkhar said in disappointment. "Can we at least get some?"
"Oh, fine," Telkarnith said. "One bit. Take your pick, and that's all."
They wound up walking out of the butcher's shop with a couple sausages, some bacon, some salted pork, some beef, and one oversized heart. Telkarnith was half afraid that Helkhar would try to eat the damned thing in the middle of the street. Like they hadn't already attracted enough unwanted attention during their time in Scalyr as it was.
"I hope you're happy," Telkarnith muttered at Helkhar as they headed back to Rachel's place.
"Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh," Helkhar replied.
"Wake up, boys," Rachel said, nudging them awake.
"It's not even morning yet," Telkarnith said groggily, blinking. "What's wrong?"
"I think someone's staked out the place," Rachel said. "It's high time to go."
There were sounds from upstairs, and Helkhar gave a low snarl. Rachel shushed him and ushered them into the tunnel leading out of the basement. She snuffed out the light and pulled the curtain closed behind them.
The tunnel was small and cramped. Even for a relatively lithe elf male, it seemed tiny. But Telkarnith was in front, so he crawled through as quickly as he could so as not to trap the others behind him.
He could hear footsteps in the darkness behind him. Someone had come downstairs and was scouring the place, none too gently. There were the sounds of things being overturned.
Telkarnith's heart pounded in his ears. He dug his fingers into the dirt, pulling himself through as fast as he could without making any noise. The tunnel sloped downward, but his entire body felt like it was stuck at times.
"I know you're in there," said a man's voice from behind them. "You can't escape. You'll pay for your crimes, monsters. Surrender now, and I'll make it quick."
Telkarnith kept crawling, wondering how long this tunnel was and where it came out, and hoping that the hunter wouldn't be able to fit in. That had likely been the intention in making the tunnel so small, but it wasn't particularly convenient. Right now, he just wanted to be moving a little faster.
Finally, agonizingly, the tunnel widened out a bit, and curved around. There was light that could be seen ahead, and Telkarnith clambered on all fours toward it, eager to be out of there. Up ahead, he saw the beach, the two moons hanging in the sky illuminating the rippling sea.
Helkhar scrambled out of the tunnel behind him, followed by Rachel, who was panting softly. "Too close," she murmured. "No time to rest. Let's find cover."
Not even pretending to be discreet, Rachel led them off toward some warehouses near the docks, and slipped inside one of them. The place looked as though it had been abandoned for a while, but there were still some crates stored about the building, cobwebs clinging to many of them.
"How did he find us?" Helkhar wondered.
"Somebody probably saw you walking down the street munching on a bloody heart like an apple," Telkarnith said.
"You really need to learn something about being discreet," Rachel said. "Both of you. I'll point out that you also mentioned Helkhar's name in public as well."
"So what are we going to do now?" Telkarnith asked.
"We wait," Rachel said, heading over behind a stack of half-empty crates and taking a seat. "Try and get some rest, and wait for the hunter to stop scouring the immediate area. We'll move out in daylight to another location."
"This is where we're going to stay?" Telkarnith said incredulously as he looked around.
They were in an old hovel that looked as though it were about to collapse at any moment, tucked in the middle of an even worse slum than the place that they had been in before. The place smelled as though someone, or something, had died in here recently, and Telkarnith wasn't sure if he wanted to find out whether or not that was true.
"It's only temporary," Rachel said.
"I should hope so," Helkhar said, turning up his nose and sneezing.
"We're a mess, and we need to change who we are again," Rachel said. "And it's going to take both of you actually learning to play the part. I'm serious here. No more getting distracted by tasty objects."
"He's a wolf," Telkarnith said apologetically, shrugging.
"Exactly. And he needs to be a man, unless he wants to wind up a dead wolf."
"I'm sorry," Helkhar said sheepishly.
"To this end, you're going to become a perfect gentleman," Rachel said with a smirk. "Think you're up to the task?"
"Um..." Helkhar said uncertainly. "What's this going to take?"
"You'll need to be on your best behavior and do exactly what I say. But if you do well enough, I'm sure there will be plenty of treats at the end. All the tasty hearts and livers you could possibly want."
"And what about me?" Telkarnith asked.
"You're going to bleach your hair and be my husband."
"What?" Telkarnith said, raising an eyebrow at her.
"Haven't you always wanted to be a blond?" Rachel said with a smirk.
Telkarnith felt ridiculous as he headed out down the street with Rachel on his arm, blond hair occasionally flicking into his eyes. With the proper encouragement, Helkhar had taken to the role flamboyantly. He strode down the street in front of Telkarnith and Rachel, only occasionally tugging at his lacy suit or the ridiculous feathered cap on his head. With the extensive coaching Rachel had done, Telkarnith thought he might just pass for a civilized being now.
The three of them headed into a nice inn, and Helkhar strolled in and approached the innkeeper. "A fine afternoon, my good man," he said. "Could I perhaps arrange for some rooms for myself and my servants here?"
"Certainly, sir," the innkeeper said. "May I ask what name I shall put this under?"
"My name," Helkhar replied. "Henry Stark." Helkhar pulled out some coins and passed them over to him.
"Very good, sir. Here is your room key. Please enjoy your stay."
"My thanks," Helkhar said. He half-turned back to Telkarnith and said, "Do get my bags, Karn, and bring them upstairs."
"Yes, Master Stark," Telkarnith replied.
After hauling the props upstairs and depositing them into their room, Telkarnith sat down heavily into a seat with a heavy sigh. At least they weren't skulking about the slums any longer, or wearing filthy, grungy clothing.
"Well, that went well," Rachel said.
Telkarnith smirked. "I think our good man 'Henry' is taking things a bit far, though."
"Oh, no, he's doing great. I'm surprised, really. I didn't think he'd be able to take it far enough to pull it off. I think this warrants something of a celebration. With bacon."
"Oh boy!" Helkhar said.
They headed downstairs and took a seat at one of the tables in the common room, and ordered a good meal for each of them. Helkhar got more than the others, but Rachel made sure to keep his choices within reasonable bounds to avoid attracting anymore attention than necessary.
As they ate, chatting about the weather and other suitably neutral subjects, Telkarnith noticed a man come into the inn. He wore rough black leather, well-made but worn and dirty, and bore a longsword on one hip and a dagger on the other. The stranger went over to the innkeeper and started speaking with him, and Telkarnith recognized the man's voice from the shouts he had heard when their previous haven had been discovered.
"Excuse me," said the hunter. "I'm looking for two young men. They may be travelling with a woman. One of them's a black-haired elven noble, and the other's a barbarian lad."
"I haven't seen anyone matching that description, and I don't serve barbarians in my fine establishment," the innkeeper said. "Did they commit some crime somewhere? Are you a bounty hunter?"
"Something like that. The name's Jack. I hunt monsters. These individuals I am currently trailing are werewolves, and have already murdered several people. I have reason to believe they are still in town. If you should spot them, don't try to get in their way, just get word to me. I'll deal with them."
"Oh dear," the innkeeper said. "We don't need that sort of scum in our town. I'll be sure to do that. Feel free to question my patrons if you like. Perhaps one of them has seen your quarry."
"Thanks, I'll do that," Jack said.
After speaking briefly with a couple other people in the room, Jack headed over toward the table where Telkarnith and his companions were seated. Although Telkarnith was a bit nervous, Jack showed no signs of recognition or seeing through their flimsy disguises.
"Evening, young sir," Jack said. "Mind if I join you for a moment?"
Helkhar looked at him disdainfully. "What are you, some kind of mercenary?"
"Oh, no. I am a man of good birth, even as yourself, but my line of work sees a good deal of action."
Helkhar paused thoughtfully for a moment, before saying, "Very well. Have a seat, and let's talk, then. Tell me about this work of yours."
After trading brief introductions, Jack said, "That's what I was hoping to speak with you about. You see, I am a hunter, of sorts. But the game I hunt is much more dangerous than mere animals. I hunt monsters, the sort that would otherwise maim and murder people on a whim. They are heartless, ferocious beasts, incapable of anything good."
"Sounds like a noble cause," Helkhar said. "What sort of monsters do you hunt?"
"Right now, I'm on the trail of a pack of werewolves. They're known to have murdered an innocent barmaid in Port Fins, as well as several guards that were sent to try to deal with them. The most dangerous one of them was actually witnessed to transform. A young barbarian, about your age, by the name of Helkhar. A bloodthirsty monster, who half devoured that barmaid for sport." He gave descriptions of Telkarnith, Donna, and Winder as well. "You wouldn't happen to have seen any of them by chance, would you?"
Helkhar made a show of thinking about it for a moment, then shook his head. "No, I've just arrived in town, myself, and I have not seen anyone matching those descriptions or otherwise behaving strangely. I'm sorry I can't be more helpful. Could I buy you a drink, perhaps? I would like to hear more about your line of work. It sounds most exciting and adventuresome."
Jack chuckled softly. "I'll take that drink, but if you're thinking of getting into the business yourself, I'd highly discourage you. It's extremely dangerous, and not something you do on a whim." He got a dark look in his eye. "It took watching my little sister get murdered to set me on this course."
Helkhar called the barmaid over to get them some drinks. "I'm sorry for your loss," Helkhar said. "No, I don't think I would be able to do that sort of thing myself, but I'm certain you must have many interesting stories to tell. Do you always hunt werewolves, or are there other sorts of things out there that cause problems?"
"Shapeshifters in general can be a problem," Jack said. "The werewolves are just among the more dangerous varieties. There are numerous others, some more plentiful than others. But I also destroy the undead whenever I get the opportunity. It was a vampire who killed my sister, you see. Vampires, nasty things, even more dangerous than werewolves, if only because they know how to blend in much better. Anyone could be a vampire, you see."
"Vampires? How horrible," Helkhar said. "How can you tell who might be a vampire, then?"
"There's signs you can look for. There's always signs of these things, like see." Jack took Helkhar's wrist and turned his hand palm-up. "If you were a werewolf, you'd have hair on your palms, a telltale sign of being a monster."
"Really?" Helkhar said.
Jack nodded. "And your eyebrows would be grown together." He leaned back and quaffed his drink. "Vampires, on the other hand, tend to be very pale, like death, and they're cold to the touch. They also cast no reflection into a mirror. Vampires are at the top of the hierarchy of monsters. If you ever think you see one, don't try to go after it yourself, call me. I'll know if you've got the real thing on your hands or not, and what to do about it."
"How did you learn all of this?" Helkhar asked. "I'd be surprised if there were a monster hunter academy somewhere or something."
Jack chuckled. "No, no academy, though there's others of us around, and we share notes whenever we can. Most of what I know is a combination of old lore and hard experience. Look, Henry, my boy, this isn't a business for just anyone. You can try to pretend you're not interested, but your pointed questions and curiosity say otherwise. You should stay out of it, for your own good."
"So how do you kill these monsters?" Helkhar asked, grinning faintly.
"Henry," Jack said, smirking.
"I'm just curious," Helkhar insisted.
"You're going to get yourself killed," Jack muttered.
"Would you prefer that I get myself killed for being poorly informed if I decided to do something foolish regardless of your warnings?" Helkhar asked. "And what if a monster has already set its sights on me and I don't know how to get away?"
Jack sighed. "Stubborn kid. Fine, listen. Vampires can't cross running water. Most sorts of monsters are vulnerable to silver, and they can't abide the sight of holy symbols or relics. Garlic, mistletoe, and hawthorn will protect you from vampires. Vampires are notoriously hard to kill, though. You need to drive a wooden stake through the heart, stick a clove of garlic in the mouth, cut off the head, burn it, douse the ashes in holy water, and scatter them in sunlight. That's the only way to be sure they won't resurrect. So don't try it. Just try to protect yourself and get away, then call me, okay?"
"Alright, alright," Helkhar said. "I get the idea. Thanks, though. I'll feel a lot better knowing you're out there."
Jack drained his glass and patted Helkhar on the shoulder. "You're a good kid, Henry. Just do try to at least wait a few years before going out and doing anything stupid, okay?"
"I'll try," Helkhar said with a grin.
"I must get going now. If you see any sign of the werewolves I'm looking for, leave a message for me at the Bloody Blade Inn."
Jack stood up and headed off, whistling a little tune to himself, and leaving Telkarnith and Rachel looking to Helkhar a bit incredulously.
"I can't believe you just did that," Rachel whispered.
"Did I do bad?"
"No, no," Rachel said. "You did good. Very good. I'm just surprised, is all. You learn quick. This calls for more bacon."