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A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen)

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"And you might not be able to haul him safely yourself, but we've got plenty more hands on the ropes now," Jarek adds with what he hopes is a reassuring smile. "What do y'all say we send Honey to tell the others, get a carriage down this way, and sneak everybody out wrapped up in sheets?" He surveys the room again. "...Clean sheets, brought with the carriage. Oh! And you have little ones, yes? How are they?"
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Thorn sighs again. "Yeah, I know," he says to Sunrise about the messenger. "If he hadn't stopped coming by, I could've sent for help. As it was, I had no way to get a message out safely. And I know he needs a healer." He runs a hand through his red hair in exhausted frustration and the hand passes right through his tiefling horns. "I'm not daft. Do you have an armored carriage to stow him in? Because I don't, and--"

He perks up somewhat as Jarek speaks, a tiny seed of hope flickering in his red eyes. "That... might work? If you've got one you can call."

Moving hastily, he stands beside the crib where two green babies sleep fitfully, not liking Glen's proximity or Jarek's interest. "They're fine," he says, body language defensive and coiled.
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Glen moves away, walking over to stand by the door. "We just wanted to make sure everyone was safe and okay. I'm sorry to have alarmed you." He leans against the doorjamb, folding his arms, frowning - not unlike Rik's usual body language.
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Sunrise nods. "Honey," she says gently, "can you talk to Luther for me? Tell him we found them, but his friend needs a healer. A really good healer. And we'll need a carriage or something similar brought here, with lots of clean sheets."

This being communicated, she perks up at the mention of the babies. "Oh, can I - can I see them?"
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Honey becomes very still, concentrating on this task. A matter of moments later, Sunrise hears a perfect imitation of Luther in her mind, fresh from Honey's memory: <I'm coming with all necessities.>

Thorn softens at Glen's answer and looks faintly guilty. "Sorry." He runs his hand through his hair again, awkward now. "It's... been a long year. You wouldn't believe me if I told you." More out of apology than anything, he nods at Sunrise's request. "Y-yeah. They're... a little thin right now. My... milk dried up when the food stopped coming."

In a tiny crib, two little green babies--each about three months by Sunrise's math, but looking much smaller--squirm quietly. One is dark green with straight black hair and a cornucopia horn birthmark on his heel; the other is a softer, paler green with wiry copper curls and a brown-and-white actor's mask of a birthmark on her heel. "Xilo Olid Templeborn," Thorn murmurs softly, almost to himself. "And Eryn Dalla Templeborn. My perfect babies."
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Glen waves off the apology. They're all short on patience. "I have rations in my bag. Are you hungry?"
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"They're beautiful," Sunrise whispers, brushing a curl from one infant's forehead. "And yes, gods, eat something. Luther's on his way with a carriage; as soon as we get you somewhere safe we need to feed all of you."
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Thorn hesitates. "O...okay, yes. Please. Thank you."
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Glen puts down his pack on the floor and opens it. Out of his bag, he pulls an individual packet, wrapped in paper. He hands it to Thorn. On unwrapping it, Thorn will find it contains a day's worth of jerky, nuts, and dried fruit. "Eat up. You need your strength."
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An expression of sharp disappointment flickers over his face before he tamps it down and moves to eat what is offered. "Thank you, kind sir."
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Glen frowns. "I'm... sorry if it's not to your liking."
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Thorn looks away, his expression complicated. "It's... not that. I was hoping for something the babies could eat. I'm sorry."
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"You need to eat. We need you strong enough to move." Glen is very matter-of-fact, most of his usual warmth melted away by fatigue, impatience, the smell, and Thorn's chilly reactions to him. "And maybe, if you get some nourishment, you'll be able to feed the babes yourself."

"Sunrise. Shall I go back to the grocer, or to the old tiefling, and see if they have any proper food for the children? I don't believe babies this young eat anything other than their mother's milk, or some similar substance."
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As if on cue, the little girl baby starts to fuss; waving to Thorn to keep eating, Sunrise scoops her up and begins gently bouncing her. "You know you don't have to stand on ceremony with us," she tells Thorn with a smile. "We're friends. I'm Sunrise, by the way."

Mentally she says to Honey, Can you also ask him to bring food? Especially food for babies?

To Glen she says, "I think it's best if we stick together and not have people going in and out of the house. I don't believe that grocer had anything I'd want to feed a child I liked anyway."
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"Well, he is a kind sir," Thorn tells Sunrise, ducking his head a little and turning defensively shy. "I was just... being descriptive... I'm sorry." He shakes his head and looks away. "I haven't... had many adults to talk to in awhile."
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Glen nods at Sunrise. "You're right."

Glen has always been bad at letting things go. Sariel had once insulted the way he stood when firing an arrow, and he didn't talk to her for a week of silent trudging through the wilds. They eventually made up, of course, but he had a streak that made him very small at time. To have tried so hard (and to have failed at least once), and then to have his motives questioned and his offered food rebuffed stings. He knows, deep down, that neither slight was intentional, but his reaction isn't one of logic, it's one of emotion. Better not to say anything more for the moment.

He leans back against the door jamb, folding his arms, frowning. His eyes fall on the clearly sick man, his face filled with anguish and worry.
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Sunrise steps to Thorn, rubbing his shoulder with a free hand. "And you haven't been eating," she says gently, "and probably not sleeping either, and... everything. We're not judging you, hon. Frankly I'm impressed you're coherent."

She nods at the man on the bed. "What happened to him?"
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Thorn shoves the rest of the dry ration into his mouth and swallows as best he can, freeing up his hands to pick up Xilo who has begun fussing in turn. "Uhhh. Gods. I don't know how many days ago, but Skamos stopping coming by with groceries and messages? He didn't come daily, so we figured... maybe we miscounted the days or something. But we were running low and we needed food. Quivyll said he'd go get some. I begged him to wear the ring, but he said it would be fine and that I needed to keep it in case there was another emergency with the babies again and I had to leave to get the cat-lady."

He takes a shaky breath, tears pricking at his eyes. "He was gone forever. When he finally came home he was... wounded. Badly. All he said was that he was sorry but he had to wait until the bleeding stopped and the trail was cold, because he didn't want to lead them here. He came back to me instead of trying to get to the temple of Nerull." He swipes the back of his hand across his eyes. "Silly, stubborn paladins."
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She nods along with this. "We'll make sure he's okay," she says gently. "He and I have a mutual friend who's been very worried about him. Everyone's going to be okay."
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Glen softens hearing of this elf's bravery and self-sacrifice. Stop being an asshole, Glen.

He hefts himself away from the wall and walks over to stand with Sunrise and Thorn. "My mentor is a stubborn paladin too. She'd have done the same thing. They're impossible!" He lets himself smile. "Sunrise is right. We're going to make sure everyone gets someplace safe, and everything is going to be fine." He smiles, his voice more normal and less short and gruff. "Can I give either of you a hand? Friend," he says, not using a name as asked, "do you want some water? Or some more to eat?"
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Thorn laughs softly, hearing about Glen's paladin friend. "Aren't they just the worst?" he asks, the tiniest hint of a joking smile whispering at the edges of his mouth. At the offer of water, his gaze turns to naked hunger. "Please, if you have any? I've been so thirsty but I've been rationing out water so the babies wouldn't have to do without."
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"They really are. Can't take them anywhere." He winks. "I'm sorry - should have offered it with the ration. Just so much going on." He grabs the water skin from his pack and hands it to Thorn. "Drink as much as you need, but try to take your time. If you haven't drank in a while, you don't want to overdo it."
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Jarek is quiet for a while, vaguely wishing the babies were ungulates so he'd have some idea of what doctoring they might need or whether they could eat anything but milk. Failing that, he said to Thorn from across the room, "I've got cheese and cold sausage packed if you like. Just a lunch bag, though. Here I thought we'd be chasing you down all day."

He's about to ask about the ring Thorn mentioned when his own words jog his memory. "Hey, talking of chases, you don't happen to know a very athletic neighbourhood watch lady, do you? Tiefling, violet skin, great long-jumper? Popular with the local folks?"
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Thorn ravenously digs into the water bag, looking up with fresh interest when Jarek offers meat and dairy to go with the encore of nuts Glen offers. "Yes, please?" he asks, noticeably more meek and subdued when he speaks to Jarek.

The question, however, brings only a confused shake of his head. "I don't get out much, so I haven't really met anyone local. Just the cat-lady when Xilo took a cough. I asked someone on the street and they sent me to her." He frowns and looks at the cat nearby. "She gave me a cat, which was weird, but I didn't really know how to tell her 'no'. And the cat did kill the rats which kept trying to bite the babies."
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"At least you got your cat! Jarek and Sunrise both got cats, too. She said mine was going to be delivered, but I have my doubts." He chuckles, shaking his head. Thirteen -- no, fourteen -- gold, very well spent.
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