Those who knew Howie wouldn't be surprised to find that he was sleeping when the first knock came. It woke him up, abruptly, but it took several minutes for him to orient himself to the cabin, to make sure he knew where he was, what he had been doing, and where Atlanta had gotten off to. The last question was clearly the easiest to answer, as she'd made a habit of curling her body on his chest whenever he slept like this. He ran a hand over her back to let her know he was awake, and then glanced around, noting that everything was in place. He hadn't gotten out and actually traveled in a few weeks. He was still recuperating from his last seemingly innocuous errand run, one that'd drained him pretty damn quickly and led to three days of doing nothing but eating and sleeping. He yawned just remembering that one.
He'd recovered, obviously, and he was back to work here. Locals tended to bring people to him when they couldn't afford or honestly just didn't want a doctor, and those he didn't scare off with a gruff exterior got help as soon as he cleared his mind. It didn't take much for one person, but a steady stream wasn't exactly good for his energy levels. After a day with more than five visitors, he tended to go off into the woods, camp for the night where he was pretty sure nobody would find him, and go back home when he was sure he'd recovered. That was just how life was for him.
Apparently, though, he'd fallen asleep normally and just slept heavily through most of the day. Judging by the daylight filtering in through the trees and into the cabin window, it was early afternoon by now. He'd lost the whole morning, but as he rolled off the bed with a muffled thump
he was glad he felt well-rested. He'd be able to get the stuff outside over with quickly and then make some breakfast. Canned hash and eggs sounded like pretty good options, he decided, sliding his leather coat on over his sleeping clothes as a means of loosely disguising himself as someone who woke up at decent hours. Atlanta clambered onto his shoulder as he started undoing the latch, and opened up, expecting to see someone with symptoms of a cold or with a broken arm.
The man outside didn't look like someone in need of a healer, however. Howie glanced him up and down, examining the coat, face, cigarette. They were about the same height, same complexion, similar builds, and in a small stretch of curious energy, Howie found he was face to face with a fellow mage. The very idea of that creased his brow. He didn't like it when other mages came by. They were usually either selling something, looking for help on a big quest, or just looking for trouble, even - and especially - when they were the ones bringing trouble in the first place.
"Can I help you?"
he asked the stranger, keeping his voice low and eyes narrowed. Atlanta's tail rested on the shoulder opposite its perch, and twitched in response to his nervous energy.