Daphne returned Squalk's impassive gaze by waggling a suggestive eyebrow. When he turned deliberately away, she giggled. "Lawks, cool one, ain't he? Well caught, Sora dearie, well caught! Do tell us ye have nae been hidin' yer wild side from this 'un, too?"
"Excuse us a moment?" the crane pleaded. In *Tian Xian she asked Squalk "Did you mean the Hermit? He had to abandon his house, remember? He fled up the north coast. That is too far out of the way. Besides, he would not want so large a group knowing where he is, or having the chance to deduce his blindness." She shook her head. "I do not wish to leave your side. If I do not return his spellbook, perhaps we could bury it, or something?"
During the birdfolk's earnest conversation, Daphne and Les drew up to either side of Tamsyn. Les traced a claw lightly on her tawny cheek, trying to turn her gaze from Axl. "Before any newcomers entered our Oasis, it was our custom to have a representative of theirs and ours share a kiss of peace---"
"On the gob," Daphne specified, tapping her mouth, "except if t'was a beak or summat. In that case a nip o' the sensitive part o' the neck would do---Sora recalls, eh dearie?" (The preoccupied crane did not answer.)
"I think you're the right sheila for the honor, Tam, what say?" Les finished. "You even get to pick from among the first you laid eyes on. That'd be me or Daph, or Clive...or Axl."
Clive, unaware his name was in the running for a smooch, popped out of the dirt only long enough to drag the next bundle---Slim's---six feet underground.