Crookleg sat before the building, his eyes closed, a blanket wrapped around his shoulders. A hoot disturbed the old man's apparent rest--his rheumy eyes opened, and glanced out over the desolate square.
"Who is there?" asked the old beggar quietly.
The Lamplighter approached, the Erl behind him. "Nathan, of the Guild of the Lamp," he answered. "I come to call on the old agreements between Lamp and Bowl."
Crookleg snorted. "Agreements? Where were the agreements, when Yellow Tom and Suky Tawny were forced from the streets a week ago, mmm? You Lamplighters grow ever harder on we poor, poor Beggars, and we do you no wrong, no wrong at all..."
Nathan crossed his arms. "Yellow Tom was probably killing the men that Suky lured to him. We can accept a certain measure of theft. Not murder."
"Unproven!" snapped Crookleg. "Absolutely unproven! Oh, the cruelty of you brothers of the Lamp!"
"This is not presently under discussion," said Nathan. "I am here one another matter."
Crookleg glanced at Sacripant. "You I know. Him I do not."
"He travels with me," replied Nathan. "Under my protection."
Crookleg spat and turned away. "A Nightfolk. You bring a Nightfolk."
"I do," said Nathan with a nod. "Now, will you let me in, or will I have to go back to my brothers and tell them the Beggars forget the old laws?"
Crookleg sat there for a moment, and then curled into a ball. "Oh, very well. Go in. Go in. See if it helps you. I need my rest."
Nathan gave a formal bow, and then glanced at Sacripant. After a moment, the Erl bowed as well. "We thank you, Master Crookleg, for your forbearance."
Crookleg mumbled something inaudible as the pair entered the building. As they vanished, he appeared once again to sleep.