Narrate: Kasvarina browses through a bookshelf in her Ushanti home when she pauses, sniffing at the air. The rest of you do likewise, and you easily detect the now-familiar sting of cigarette smoke in your nostrils. Footsteps approach, pausing just outside the closed door of the study.
Kasvarina: … William?
Narrate: There is a derisive snort from the man outside the door.
Nicodemus: Sorry to disappoint you.
Narrate: Kasvarina lets her visitor in, recognizing him after a fashion, despite yet another unfamiliar body he wears. This one has simple, worn clothes that smell of bookbinding glue, underneath all the smoke.
Kasvarina: … How?
Nicodemus: It took me a few bodies.
Narrate: The “Insight”-ful among you (passive DC 25) can read their uncomfortable posture and blunted sentence structures. They’re talking around something, some elephant in the room that neither wishes to address. Probably recent, at least from the perspective of nigh-immortals. Breaking a moment of anxious quiet, Nicodemus spots a map of Lanjyr spread out on a nearby table, and begins tracing his finger along the northern continent.
Nicodemus: Pala, to the coast, over to Trekhom, then by boat to Vendricce. I had to walk from there.
Narrate: Kasvarina steps closer with her hand half-raised, as if to touch his shoulder. Nicodemus steps away, closer to one of the bookshelves. He changes the subject abruptly, suggesting a few recent books she should pick up—most of which have gone on to be classics of their genre, you realize, though none of them touch on suspicious topics like planar magic, Elfaivaran history, or the Clergy. There’s one early Malice Land bestiary, a collection of Beran folklore, and a rather bleak Drakran study on the psychological effects of living in cold climates for long periods, among other minor titles.
Nicodemus: Those should do to occupy your mind until I return from Methia.
Kasvarina: Methia? Should I go with you?
Nicodemus: No. I’m looking for someone, but it may be a wasted trip. No reason for both of us to take the time. I’ll send when I know the next step, but it may be a year. Maybe more.
Kasvarina: Well… I was hardly on your way. Why did you come here first?
Narrate: Nicodemus pauses, his eyes passing over the spines of the books in Kasvarina’s collection. Aside from that, he’s almost perfectly motionless, wasted smoke curling upward from the forgotten cigarette in his hand.
Nicodemus: … It seemed like the best idea at the time. (He clears his throat) Anyway, sorry for the intrusion. I wish I had more to share right now, but maybe the best thing for a leader like you is to take Vekesh’s advice and just live.
Narrate: Kasvarina’s voice catches, and she glares down at the floor. Nicodemus looks over, suddenly worried.
Kasvarina: Vekesh is dead, or didn’t you know? The Clergy hunted him down and murdered him. Just because he was important to us.
Narrate: Nicodemus tenses. It takes him at least five seconds to realize he’s crushing a still-smoldering cigarette in his fist. Kasvarina makes a mirthless offer to let Nicodemus stay at Ushanti a few days before resuming his journey, and he accepts. The memory fades.