“Feldard, do you think this town would have a library?” asked Miklos. “I would visit there to learn more of the moors and Xitaqa. I think the more we know first, the better.”
“Miklos, I saw a small inn, Digger’s Gulch, back at the corner of Gold Way and Pick Place, I’ll arrange rooms for us there,” Hasan offered. “I’ll see you for dinner,” the elf called, shrugging over the shoulder he had already turned from hi companions, “but for now, I could use a siesta.”
Stephan watched Hasan make his way to arrange lodging. He looked around the stark, stony village. ‘Seems safe enough’, he thought. But he couldn’t help feeling some angst at one of the party heading off alone in a strange village. The Iron Ring were everywhere.
“Do you suppose there are any subterranean pubs, master dwarf”, he spoke this loudly enough for some of the locals to hear. Perhaps one might be friendly enough to direct them to such an establishment.
What did he look like a tour guide!? Feldard snorted before answering. “Not likely Miklos. Our trades are passed on by apprenticeship not books.” He looked then to Stephan, “Just listen for the sound of dwarven singing.”
Feldard then took his own advice and sought out the nearest pub to ask after Hernane. He walked a bit easier now that the cleric had healed most of his wounds when they had reached the security of the settlement’s borders.
Ludo patted Stephen on his back, “Come on, let’s sort the horses out and find the nearest pub and get rousing drunk. I am sure we are safe enough from the Iron Ring here.” With that comment he guided Stephen down the street to the Diggers Gulch which had a stable located next door for the horses.
Later in the evening after a few ales, Ludo sat back and placed his feet up on a bench beside a rousing fire and contemplated his situation. The last few weeks had been very tiring and action packed. Yet after meeting this eclectic group of misfits he felt more comfortable than he had in a long while. If only his father could see him now, he thought. He rubbed his leg where the arrow had been removed, it was healing over nicely. He would have to see about repairing his equipment tomorrow; no doubt these Dwarves would do a find job there.
“Stephen, do you think we should proceed up the river by boat or stick to using the horses?”
Maruc had followed his moody companions to the Digger’s Gulch, but as they lost himself in their cups, the priest lost interest. He excused himself with exacting politesse — to the surprise of nobody. The priest wandered in the small village, under the starlight, pondering their progress from the fires of Sukiskyn until now. The crazed antics of little gnomes–explosions of fire and light dotted the streets–seemed almost normal in this strange settlement, but none were stranger than the deep bonds he had formed with his companions. As the moon began to set, the cleric finally returned to the inn and collapsed, well sated, in his bed.
* * * * *
Maruc, like the others, was exhausted after all their extensive travels. So much so that he slept right through all the noise his companions had made returning to the room in varied states of inebriation. The first to go to sleep, he was the first to awake.