R.C. walked into the tavern, strides carefully measured. The tavern was dark and crowded, filled to the brim with people. The crowds didn't notice the cloaked stranger among their midst. R.C. nodded to the barmaid and ordered a mug of mead.

The redheaded maiden winked and smiled at the hooded figure after catching a glimpse of the features under the hood, fair and almost entirely unmarred. She giggled and tried to get R.C. to flirt with her, but found her customer unresponsive. The barmaid went off in a huff after slamming the quart-sized mug of mead down on the table, spilling some of the alcoholic honey.

The silent figure smirked quietly; quickly cover its mouth with the mug. If only the maid had known what it was that she was trying to flirt with. R.C. turned around when the doors opened again, this time letting a group of ruff looking travelers.

Their leader took off his hood and R.C. gasped. He looked like the prince of the elves, Freynar, with slight, subtle differences that could have allowed the two to pass for brothers. The few differences marked him as a mixed breed that would stop the brother charade from ever happening; as it looked like one of his parents was a wer, probably a wolf judging from the way he moved among his comrades. Elven and wer mixes were highly frowned upon in Mage, causing most of them to be killed or left to fend for themselves once it was discovered. R.C. hated bigot thoughts like that, but there was only so much a lone mixed breed could do.

"Outcast! What are you doing this far south of your territory? Has something happened in Tarnish?" The barkeeper yelled out over the crowd's ruckus.

"Nothing is wrong, Kiran. We were just hunting in the area and I asked Outcast if we could stop by and have some of the best mead and ale in the realm." Answered a dark haired naga male on Outcast's right.

The barkeeper nodded and turned back to his work. The rest of Outcast's group had already taken seats at available tables and the only seats left were at R.C.'s table. Outcast and the serpent man that had spoken earlier made their way to the table and stood before the hooded creature.

"Are these seats taken?" Outcast asked, his voice a smooth baritone that made R.C.'s hackles raise lightly in a way that had nothing to do with fear or challenge.

"No." A deep voice answered, not betraying the sudden tension felt in the body it spoke from as the muscles became taunt in instinctive anticipation.

"Good! So, friend, what do we call you?" The naga asked good-naturedly. "I am called Nathan and this is Outcast. We came from the Morpheous Hills, and-"

The barmaid had returned by now and slammed the newcomers' drinks down with a loud thud that luckily didn't spill any of the golden liquid on any of those seated. "He doesn't talk, so don't try. He doesn't even like me!"

R.C. had been taking a drink and almost snorted it when the barmaid said that. Outcast openly smirked and hid his sudden laugh with a cough as he caught R.C.'s scent. Nathan, however, had not and so was left out of the joke that his table mate found so amusing.

"Not everyone can like you sweetie. And you may just have caught him on a bad day as well." Nathan said, cocking an eyebrow at Outcast.

"Whatever Nathan. If you boys need anything, just signal me over." The maid said, turning and leaving while still angry with R.C.

R.C. couldn't handle it anymore and burst out laughing. The laugh was light and melodious, sounding like a pixie's laugh when it was causing mischief. It didn't fit the character in the dark cloak's voice from earlier. Outcast snickered at Nathan's confusion.

Once R.C. calmed down, the creature answered the naga's earlier question. " I am called R.C. and am from Tarnish. Mayhap if we leave this place together, I will clear up some of your confusion."

"Aye, or mayhap if you don't leave with us, I can clear it up for him if you give me your permission to do so?" Outcast said, a smile dancing across his fey features and in his eyes.

"Of course. I have a feeling that this was a meeting of fate and it will happen again. It will be better if he is aware of the reason we are laughing-" The creature suddenly stilled, as if listening to someone that they couldn't hear. "Excuse me. I have to leave now."

R.C. threw some gold coins on the table, enough to pay for all of Outcast's gang and the rest of the tavern's crowd's drinks and another round as well. "Until next time, Prince of the Outcasts."

Outcast stiffened at the title before the hooded figure vanished. He shook himself as he felt the magic brush against him and foresaw something he didn't want to see.

Nathan looked at his leader and asked, "So what were the two of you laughing about?"

"R.C. is a girl, one that knows too much and has a lot more power than she should." He replied, taking a long pull from his mug of ale.

"And she's a good liar. I don't recognize her accent, but it sure as hell isn't from Tarnish. It's close, but a native can pick it right up. Why do you think she was masquerading as a male?" Nathan asked, now even more interested in the girl that had disappeared just moments ago.

"Because she was trying to hide something." Outcast answered, trying to decipher the vision.

"Hey, are you okay?" His long time friend asked him, laying a hand on his shoulder and sensing something was going on that Outcast wasn't telling the naga.

"Yeah, I just really hate my heritage right now. There was something about R.C. that I can't quite put my finger on, like I know her from somewhere." The elven mix said, shaking his head.

"Hmp. Don't worry about it! She said that we'd meet again." Nathan replied, laughing at the serious expression on his friend's face.

"You are right. I have a feeling that we will meet her again in the near future, and then, at that time, we will discover answers to some of our questions." Outcast said, dreading what he might discover if he met her again. He already had her scent and laugh imbedded in his memory and not because of fear.