“Unhand that at once,” the priest was on the verge of shouting. “Will you please stop touching things! I haven’t had a chance to examine that yet!”

Arturo ignored her, and continued to rifle through the objects on the table, with his back turned to her. It was supposedly a collection of items recovered from the island on the lake, and after what Alquis had told him, he thought it a good idea to look into the island’s history himself.

“There are some curious things here,” he said, with a mixture of amusement and contempt in his voice. “Did you find all of these yourself, or did you buy them–” he prompted her for a name, and glanced at her over his shoulder to add emphasis to the gesture.

“Myrtle,” she said, fuming. “I didn’t find any of them. Most of them, that is. They were brought here as gifts, or as sacrifices, and as objects of interest by,” she tried and failed to wrestle Arturo away from the table. “Concerned citizens,” she finished.

“Concerned citizens, you say?” Arturo ignored her efforts to get him away from the table, up to and including the hand pushing his face away. He added a note of interest to his voice, in the hope it would distract her from his actions, and he continued to scan the table.

“Yes, and they–”

Arturo cut her off abruptly when he seized one of the items off the table and held it up for her to see. “This,” he said, “was this found on the island?” He held in his hand a cracked and chipped tablet of bronze. It had something inscribed on it, but it was difficult to tell what the markings were supposed to be.

She started, unsure of how to answer his question. She let her arms drop to her sides, now convinced she couldn’t easily be rid of him. She sighed. “Yes,” she said, finally. “Yes, they’re all from the island.”

He turned away from the objects to face her more directly. “Do you remember who brought it to you?” He held it up, and she reached for it, but he drew his hand back our of her reach.

“I could call the guards,” she said, exasperated.

“Do you remember who brought this to you?” he asked again.

She sighed again. “I have a name in a ledger somewhere, I’m sure. I could have my scribe look for it, if you like. I can’t let you see the records, of course, but if it will get you to leave, it’d be worth it to me.”

Arturo turned back to the objects on the table. “You have a nice arrangement with the people, here. They bring you items from the island to study, and you give them, what? A blessing, in exchange?” he didn’t hide the contempt in his voice.

Myrtle looked at him, confused. “You make it sound like a crime against the gods. If anything, it keeps the scavengers and relic-hunters from discarding these items as trash, or worse, actually trying to sell them to travelers as good-luck charms.”

She added a moment later, “I’ll get you the name, but I think you should leave now.”

“You’ve got it all wrong, see?” he said with a smile. “This tablet, here? This is a spell of warding. Its magic has faded, though. Let me repair it for you, free of charge.”