"It is north," says Liviu. "Take the, mmm, Old Svalich Road out of this little town. Be sure you do not, mmm, stray from the path. There are, mmm, wolves and fiercer things in the forest."

Liviu turns to Costica. "Thank you for your, mmm, hospitality. I must be going; my, mmm, business in the south will not wait." He drops a small pouch in front of the barkeep; it makes the dull clink of gold. He then walks out the door with a flourish of his velvet-lined cape.