“My name is Penrose Ridgebear, and I run the Merovingian Lodge,” the woman said. She was solidly built, with the ghosts of her accustomed outfit writ large on her skin.

“Pleased to meet you. The name’s Sam McKeone, but everyone calls me Sproutt.”

Penrose ignored Sprout’s out-thrust hand, offered at an upward angle due to her height. “Do you know what the Merovingian Lodge is for, Sproutt?”

“Tourists?” Sproutt said.

“It is a working wilderness lodge for serious birders who have traveled here, sometimes across our larger oceans, to try and catch a glimpse of LaSalle’s Warbler. It is carefully managed and curated by myself, and others, to preserve the delicate environment the birds need.” Penrose flicked her eyes down at Sproutt, then back toward the carefully curated trail he had wandered off of.

Sproutt looked down. “Ah, I seem to have…yes.” He waked over to the path. “Good as new, eh?”

“If Fish and Wildlife sees you doing that, they’ll close the reserve, cost me thousands of dollars, and leave me with very angry customers from far distant lands. I don’t like having enemies abroad, do you?”

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