"Thank you," said Edgard again nodding vigorously - something in his larynx bobbing up and down put Siegfried in mind of an elderly dog happily gnawing away at a bone. As the apothecary got to the door, Marianne grabbed his wrist. The sudden motion made him stop, although her thin fingers felt so delicate that he doubted her hand would have even slowed him down.
"Please," she said softly. "Be discreet."
Outside, the south face of Edgard's house was in shadow as the afternoon sun dawdled closer to the horizon. It was cooler, too, approaching the temperature it had been when he and the others had been standing on the quay in L'Anguille that very morning. It was going to be a cold night.
When he reached the inn he paused, trying to catch sight of anybody familiar in the common room through the tight windows. Something in the corner of his eye made him glance to the left - down the path towards the bridge, the dregs of a crowd were gathered by the shrine. Even from a distance, d'Abenne was obvious - his green blouse and tan breeches obvious against the villagers' cloaks.
As Siegfried got closer he noticed the others. Valerie and Simon were standing at one end of a table that had been set outside the door to the shrine; a woman in the yellow robes of the Shallyan order was at the other end. A few villagers were gathered opposite them. It seemed to be some sort of rustic clinic - Simon was bandaging a young boy's hand, while Émilie was peering into an older man's mouth.
Simon did his best with the rough bandages at hand - it wouldn't be comfortable, but the bleeding would stop. He'd had to wind them awfully thick; the boy looked practically club-fisted. Beside him, Émilie was staring at one of the villager's tonsils.
There were hurried footsteps as Siegfried approached from the direction of the inn. The apothecary frowned as he glanced over Simon's work, but if he had seen the evidence of mutation, he didn't look too bothered by it. Instead he approached the spot where Heinrich and Abel were hanging back.
"Sir Abel, Heinrich," he murmured quietly. "The villagers tell me a man has been injured in the woods - more goblins, they say. There's a search party being organised. I thought we might help. What do you say to exterminating more greenskins?" he asked, raising an eyebrow to Heinrich. He switched to Reikspiel, the words spilling out of his mouth like water bursting through a dam. "But I doubt we'll be doing that," he whispered. "Something's not right - I'll explain if you come away with me ..."