Deep within the Fernwood, three sisters of the Cloister of the Order of Pragmatic Wisdom intoned on the Virtues. The Cloister was one of northern Britannia's few religious orders, patroned by Brother Duncan, the fishing friar. In fact, the convent had at one point been known by a different name: Brother Duncan's Home for Wayward Girls. It was Duncan's interest in the spiritual rescue of a troubled girl named Tori Keagan which had led to the origins of the convent. Tori had eventually become the first Mother Superior. Uilem summ ben-tas, aud ilem, duk. Lem-mur pos lor ku or, mon trak mani. Tú rete ku klí axi: ver, kor, ew amotas. Ku-ante prae-tim, ui ven res. Summ beh. In-saengkt beh. Ui lok lum, ui.... "...Virtues, he is such a... a hunk!" Agnes frowned and opened her eyes. She was too old for this. "Moira...!" she snapped. The red haired sister jumped with a peep and stuffed the circulatory beneath the pew, her face immediately flushing. "I... I'm sorry, Sister..." she stammered, embarrassed. Agnes had been too soft on these girls. The seasons were changing and now that they spent more days within the convent than without the girls fought like cats and did as they pleased. It aged Agnes, immeasurably. Well, not today. The short woman with white hair in tight buns stood up from her prayer and marched down the aisle to the blushing girl who could likely be half her age. "Let's have it." Agnes held out her hand. From the shadows on the other side of the aisle, a snicker rose. Darkness barely revealed the pale image of an elven face against a shadowy habit, gaunt face framed in dark curls. "You're in it, Squeak." "Don't call me that." Moira glared. "You read them when I sleep, anyway!" Claire grinned sadistically and made a hissing sound, rather like a serpent. Moira shivered, closing her eyes. Clearly the sound bothered her. "Stop. Stop. Stop it. All right! Here." She fussily reached beneath the pew and in a flourish of dramatic indignance, handed the parchment circular to Agnes. Agnes sighed as she hoisted the latest issue of CosmopoliNun. The article headers were, yet again, ridiculous. Simple Wimple Starching Dear Abbey What Counts as Chaste? Bend the Rules, Not Your Vows! Brother Barnaby of Moonglow, Interviewed Where is YOUR Holy Water Coming From? Agnes clucked her tongue. The circular had originally begun as a joke between bored sisters. Scribbles stuffed in chamber rooms, giggles between services. Over time, the circular had gained a near cultish following until no one knew who was doing the writing anymore, but everyone seemed to have a copy. She'd heard of sisters in other convents parading issues! Agnes had been somewhat of a writer herself at one time. This trash was a true travesty of literary.... ...she paused. The artist's sketch of a young Moonglow friar with a strong jawline grinning while helping orphans haul lumber was.... well, the shoulders were... you could almost imagine.... Boot falls in the doorway interrupted her imagination. Snorting, she stuffed the circular in the folds of her habit and looked up in time to see the neighbor bard, Brytt, walking in purposefully. Claire noticed the older nun's pause and smirked. "Forgive me, Sisters," the newcomer took off his floppy hat long enough to bow his head in respect. "I wonder if I might have a moment of your time...." Agnes nodded and gestured to an open bench. Moira smiled coyly and batted eyelashes. Claire didn't seem to notice, or care. Brytt took a seat and began to talk. It seemed that he'd been struggling to find his direction of late. He talked about the feeling of restlessness, of writing as a refugee without a solid identity, without a purpose. He asked questions about the virtue of Justice, which requires balance in all things. Counteraction. Equivalent exchange. He talked about the dangers of the lands of old. The difficulty in writing about the things that happen based on the rumors coming in from the red moongates. "Oh I KNOW, I totally know what you mean," Moira babbled. "Sometimes I can't remember who told me a story and I'm telling the story and I wasn't there, so I don't get all the parts right." "He's not interested in The Day They Were Handing Out Brains," the shadows sneered. An angry squeak retorted across the aisle. "He's not interested in your catfights," Agnes snipped. "Humility. Both of you." She turned to the bard. "Child. You cannot write about things you do not know. And I don't mean just what you learn from the wind, what you know. In your heart. From your own mistakes. "The lands of old bear history richer than you've known yourself," she tapped a wrinkled hand to her nose, as if to imply the secrets they had to tell. She then shook the finger at him, "they're wraught with legend and lore and civilizations you know only the tip of. They're also wraught with sin, pillaging, ruins and dark kingdoms. Naught but the land itself can teach you." "Well, it's all about who you know, too." The shadows shivered and Claire seemed surprised to have heard herself contribute on the subject. "I mean.." Agnes came to the rescue, "Claire, why don't you let me..." Claire suddenly looked annoyed. A pale hand waved dismissively. "I've spent... some time in the old lands. I... I know of a group called El Cartel. You should ask around." "You do?" Moira visibly crinkled her face in equal distaste and surprise. "Eeeep!" She ducked as a hymnal came sailing from the shadows to smack against the wall beyond Moira's head. Agnes marched down the aisle and swatted a bony hand across the shadows. A gravelly voice exclaimed in surprise. Agnes turned to Brytt and bowed her head in apology for the conduct of the Order. She then raised her eyes to meet him. "Find a place. Find a name. Draw from your past, our past. Claim your identity, Writer, and write of things you know. Which means, you must go." "Through the red moongate?" he asked. She nodded, then turned to gesture to one of the stained glass windows, which let in light through the image of a pair of merchant's scales. He seemed to understand. "This is why I come to you for these things," he smiled. "My thanks. Sisters." He nodded to each in turn. Moira grinned and waved back. Claire said nothing. The bard turned and exited the way he had come. The shadows breathed a sigh of relief. Moira turned from the door to the pale elf and tilted her head. "So. Felucca. Felllluccca. Fel Fel Fel. Not so much from that little convent in Skara Brae, are you? Tell me more about that." "Leave me alone, Chuckles." "Can you imagine what he's going to find? The lost souls? The brigands? Ooooh! The conversion opportunities! The helpless who need hope! The little orphans with no parents..." Agnes retreated to the foyer with two bickering nuns in tow. "I said too much, he shouldn't go," Claire announced to Agnes. "I got caught up in nostalgia, he's just a boy--he can't handle Felucca. Besides which.... Well... He's going to muck it all up. He doesn't have the right contacts. Let me go after him." "You can't. You're here because..." "I'm here because I chose to be." Moira was still blathering. "..so much good! I bet the people there have never even HEARD of the Virtues! Why, I know they..." "We need to go after him." "...we should go..." "We need to go..." "soooo totally should go!" Agnes tightened the corners of her mouth. She had her own reasons for wanting to go to Felucca. "Then, it's done." She gave the ankh around her neck a tug, perhaps in a gesture of prayer.