Disclaimer: Still don't own Exalted. White Wolf Publishing does. I do own all the characters within, though.

As a note, anyone who has been following this should go back and reread chapter 1, as there has been a fairly considerable rewrite, especially at the end. This chapter is based off of the revised closing of chapter 1, so if you don't read that you may end up a bit confused.

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Wounded Bird
An Exalted-based story
By Nathan Huss

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"There he is! I see him!"

Blind Thrush tilted his face away from the bowl of stew in front of him as he heard the recently-familiar voice carry over the din of the tavern. Even though the place was decently filled as various customers had their dinners, he could almost hear the trio of footsteps coming toward the small table where he sat.

He brought the spoon out of the bowl and ate another mouthful of the stew, before putting the utensil down to the side and waiting.

"We've been looking for you," Fall said as they finally reached him. Behind her, Ballan muttered something about not wanting to waste time looking for the blindfolded man in the first place.

"You had just disappeared all of the sudden, and no one knew where you had gone," Fall continued. "We…" She paused for a second, and Thrush could hear her move briefly. "Well… Alsef and me, at least, wanted to thank you."

Blind Thrush simply gave a little nod.

After a few moments, Ballan started grumbling. "Look, just give it to him and let's get out of here."

Fall sighed softly, and there was a soft 'clink' as something was put onto the table. "We thought you should get at least some of what we got when you played, so…"

"It is yours," Thrush said, speaking for the first time since they had arrived. "Keep it."

"You're the one who was doing the music playing at the time," said the third member of the performers. 'Alsef' Fall had said. "You deserve to get your share of it."

"Had I wanted money, I would have stayed and asked," Thrush replied.

There was a quick movement and the clink of coins again. "See, I told you we didn't need to waste all that time looking for him," Ballan said. "And from the looks of it he won't give a damn about the rest, so let's just get-"

"Rest of what?" Blind Thrush interrupted calmly, his head tilted towards Fall's position.

"Well, you see..." she mumbled.

Alsef made a noise that sounded like a cross between a sigh and a chuckle. "Thing of it is, we were wondering if you'd be at all interested in performing with us. Even Ballan here." Said man grumbled slightly, but did not actually speak. "Plain and simple, you're good, and that means more money."

Blind Thrush seemed to consider this for a moment. "What do you do?"

"Huh?"

"Do you play only music, or other forms of performance?" Blind Thrush asked.

"Nah, we do some of everything," Ballan said. "Music, singing, acting, whatever brings in some coin. Mostly music, though."

"Where are you going?"

Ballan was quiet for a second, before answering. "Northward. Nexus, maybe. It's only a couple weeks travel. Do a couple performances in Marukan on the way. After that…"

"When do you depart?"

"Well, I was thinking of the day after…" Ballan paused. "Why in the fucking name of the Dragons am I telling you all this? Look, are you going to come with us or not?"

"I am to perform an augury for a client tomorrow evening," Thrush said, not answering the question. "I will have decided by the morning after."

"If you think we're going to just wait around until…!"

The three performers took a few steps back (though Ballan's footfalls made it seem like he was being partially pulled). They began to whisper to each other, thinking that Blind Thrush could not hear them.

"He's talking about the day we were planning to go," Alsef said in a placating tone. "It's not like we wouldn't be around still."

"That's not the point!" Ballan hissed. "He's making us wait on him whether or not we would still be around."

Fall spoke up next. "He already said that he had an appointment with someone. It's not like he could just cancel that. And like Alsef said, it's not like we were going to be leaving before that anyway."

"And I said that that wasn't the point," Ballan retorted. "I know you've managed to get yourself this… thing… about him, but I'm still the damn leader here, and I don't like being made to wait on something I wasn't all that keen on in the first damn place."

"You still went and agreed to it," Alsef said. "Look, your feelings on this aside, we really don't have anywhere to be. You were thinking of getting the cart wheel replaced, right? We can do that easy now, and we just wait for him to answer."

The three of them turned back to Thrush, who was still sitting calmly at the table. His hands were folded in his lap under the table as he faced forward, just to the side of where they actually were.

"All right, all right…" Ballan grumbled. "Morning after next you tell us. We'll be at the north road just after breakfast. There's a small caravan that's supposed to be coming through tomorrow, and we're going to pick up with them for a while. You're late, I'm sure as hell not going to try and stop them from going."

Blind Thrush nodded. "I understand."

"Yeah… C'mon, let's go."

The three of them headed back toward the entrance. Thrush could just pick up Fall's words as they left: "I do not have a… thing… about-"

The fortuneteller picked up his spoon and scooped up some of the stew. He ate it for a moment, before putting it back down. It was cold.

He lifted his hand to draw a server's attention. When one finally noticed and hurried over, he quietly asked for a new bowl.

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Well, another chapter done. As always, constructive C&C and general applause (if there is any) is welcomed.

I'll try to work a bit quicker on the next chapter of… well… any of my fics.