Monthly Archives: February 2011

To Rifllian

Maruc laughed goodnaturedly, “Ninety crona indeed? Indeed you are a merchant. Very well, I have no desire to ride into the north without some idea of what is ahead.” Maruc delved into his pouch and produced the money. “This may save us much trouble of one sort or the other.” He counted the money into his hand. “Please, tell us how you know of us. Who has been asking and all you can of Golthar the Yellow. Where and when you came by this information. Also the dangers on the road ahead.”

Miklos paled as he watched the priest just hand over enough money to keep his church in Specularum going for a week. However, he couldn’t fault his logic, merchants can be bought, but it is rare. They usually try to remain neutral in most affairs, or so his father had taught him. It is bad for business if your reputation for honesty suffers. His word was probably good.

“Indeed, a mage in yellow has recently appeared in Kelvin. Just as we were preparing to leave, he was visiting various bars and establishments in the accompaniment of a tall dark woman. I believe that one went by the name of Jolenta. Together they made inquiries about a unique group of wanderers that, as described, were most strangely like yourselves,” the Thyatian grinned. “As for the dangers ahead, there are increasing reports of bandits on the road between Kelven and Threshold. A number of caravans have failed to arrive. As you can see, I take no chances in this regard,” he said, gesturing proudly to his guardsmen.

Taking leave of the caravan and its wily host Miklos skirted the train helping the marshal the horses under Stephan’s direction. He pulled in beside Maruc as the northward road to Rifllian stretched before them.

Hasan dropped all pretense of horsetrading immediately. “How long were you in Kelvin? When did you hear your story? Quickly now, man, we haven’t all the time in the world.” The rat-a-tat nature of the questions, and the elf’s lilting accent, weren’t new to Feldard, but the dwarf guffawed rather loudly none-the-less at the world’s most impatient elf.

The merchant was no stranger to this sort of questioning, and he provided more answers, though they did not shine much more light on the situation. He did not know where Golthar or this Jolenta were still in Kelvin or headed to some other location. He had seen the two with his own eyes and some of his crew encountered them in other venues as well.

Feldard shook his head at the priests lack of bartering skills. The man could have easily been brought down to at 70 crona if the priest and elf had sounded less desperate. He had his doubts as to what the merchant knew and his source. The dwarf moved away from the group, sidling his mount nearer to one of the caravan guards. “Ahiktos has a rather loud mouth,” he commented quietly to the man, “Is he worth the bother to listen to? Or is he as full of himself as he seems?” It was a means to test the loyalty of the merchants retainers and a measure of the merchant himself.

Stephan maintained his silence, listening carefully to what Ahiktos had to say. He kept his eyes on the horses and on the rest of the merchant caravan. To hear that the party was already marked was troubling.

To Hasan he said out of Ahiktos’s earshot, “We must leave the road. Our first encounter and we learn of us being marked already. We should seek the shelter of the woods.”

Ludo herded the horses past the caravan, when out of earshot of Ahiktos he said “it will be difficult to move these horses through the woods, I think we have no choice but to keep to the Duke’s road and make our way to Rifillian as quickly as we can”. When we approach the town, Stephan, Maruc and I shall take the horses to the market, sell them and then we move straight onto Threshold, meeting up with the others on the other side of Rifillian. Golthar and his cronies will be looking for seven of us, including a Dwarf and an Elf. If they are not visible, there is a chance we can move past Rifllian without being reported on or attacked and give Golthar the slip.”

Stephan took in Ludo’s plan. “Aye, good plan, Ludo. If we’re to stay on the open road, perhaps some of us may ride in the woods so we don’t look like a party of seven at first glance.”

Hasan listened admiringly to the humans’ plan. It was a sound way to disguise the group, and splitting up might be helpfully tactically if it came to combat. But first, they needed to hear from what may lie ahead. “Out with it now, Akitos. What have you heard of the fall of the great tower, or the Scourge of the Iron Ring?”

Word had not spread yet of the battle at Xitaqa. The members of the Iron Ring were not known for gossip or naysaying, and they had not left many goblin survivors to tell the tale. Thus, the Ring had kept a lid on its recent troubles. However, Ahiktos had learned of the recent decimation of the goblin clans in Western Dymrak, but the details had been vague. “With all the carnage you have left in your wake,” he said, “it is no wonder they are hunting you!”

* * * * *

On the far bank of the Windrush river, enfolded by the Radlebb woods, lied the elvish village of Rifllian. An outpost of the Callaari elves, it served as a trading post for those wishing to do business with the elves. The buildings in the village were all made of wood and stood two stories high.

It had taken three thankfully uneventful days to complete the journey to reach the elven village of Rifllian. As they arrived in the early afternoon, a magnificent vessel, almost 50 feet long, was just casting off from the jetty. As it moved out into the river, its sail unfurled revealing a rearing unicorn emblazoned across it. At the head of the ship stood an elf dressed in dazzling armour and a surcoat that also bore the rampant unicorn symbol. Soon, the wind caught the sail and the vessel glided down the river toward Kelven.

Stephan had been here quite a few times to trade with the elves or as a stopover on the way to Threshold. He was a frequent guest of the Silver Swan Inn, a friendly establishment run by a halfling innkeeper named Stubbs Plattermann. Another person he looked forward to seeing was Prestelle, the main trader for all wishing to buy and sell goods.

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Ahiktos

Hasan fidgeted as he waited for Feldard to to explain why the horses must go to Kelvin. He wished the party had left the road behind and traveled the more secret byways of the forest.

Ludo moved his horse closer to hear what was going on. He sensed no danger from Ahiktos, and could see that he wanted to strike a bargain and do some horse trading. From Ludo’s point of view, he would be glad to get rid of them. They were on a more important mission, and these white horses were like a huge target that a blind beggar could not miss. It would have been far better to strike more inland away from the Duke’s Road and proceed onto Threshold to keep any enemies guessing as to their destination. So, as far as Ludo was concerned, the sooner the horses were sold, the better. But Stephen was the only one who could make this decision.

Feldard chuckled. “If the decision were mine, I’d have been rid of them by now. But to my knowledge they are bound to a particular market. You are however welcome to discuss the matter with my employer.” Feldard nodded towards Stephen briefly. “The right amount of money might convince him to reconsider our market.”

Mikos edged next to Stephan. He whispered quietly eying the merchant, “Stephan, I come from the House of Dostevar, a great trading house, whose name in honored and trusted. This man will not offer you what Pyotr wants for your horses, we are in the middle of a road not a trading house. These are fine steeds and would fetch a high price in Riff-” he caught himself, “Kelvin. If he is keen he might pay two hundred gold per head. But I doubt it.”

Upon seeing the gaudy merchant, Stephan immediately put on his haggling airs—chiefly manifested as a still, emotionless face. He maintained eye contact with the Ahiktos as his companions deferred to him on the matter of selling the horses. He was relieved when Maruc deftly changed the subject and although maintaining a stony countenance, he was eager to hear the man’s response.

After listening to Ahiktos’s response concerning Golthar, Stephan noted in a decisive tone, “Ah, well, regarding these mounts, you are indeed correct they are prized and we have buyers arranged. I’m not about to make any sale here on the open road.”

After hearing Stephens comments, Ludo sighed. Another day avoiding horse droppings lay in front of him.

The priest nudged his horse forward. “Apologies if I am interrupting your haggling, but could you tell us of the road ahead?” Maruc thought for a moment, it was a longshot but…“And might you have heard tell of a yellowed robed man by the name of Golthar?”
The merchant shrewdly took in all that he had heard, and then responded.

“I am disappointed that it seems that we will not be able to make terms on your fine horses, but I suspect that you have your very good reasons. It is interesting that you should ask if I had heard of such a man. I will tell you now that I have most certainly heard about the likes of you in my visit to the barony. I am certain that I have information that you will find most interesting. For a mere 90 crona, I would be pleased to share it with you.”

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Caravan from Kelvin

The priest pulled in his reign. He eyed the warriors suspiciously and turned to Feldard. “Your court this one, I think. I suspect they want to know our intentions. Hopefully with these horses we look like drovers, so they might ask us to travel in convoy.”

Either way, the priest surreptitiously curled his hand around the handle of his flail.

Miklos moved off to the left of the party to get a good field of view, and to ensure no one could get in the way of his magic should things turn sour.

The dwarven warrior, seated atop the tamest of the party’s mounts, had been arguing sourly with the beast since leaving the Ferry. Feldard snorted at the priests words—yeah, like anyone would believe an armor clad dwarf with next to no horsemen skills was a drover. Yet still, Feldard nudged his mount ahead of the party to intercept the approaching armoured horsemen. They appeared to be approaching at social trot, not a full charging gallop.

Feldard purposely kept both hands on the reins of his horse rather than reach for his weapons in readiness. But, he watched them warily as he called out in greeting as they got within earshot. “Greeting to you.”

The dwarf slowed his horse, and did his best to keep it still as they came into conversing range. As he acknowledged their return greetings, he noted their physical state and weapons. Nothing appeared amiss. This was a fairly well traveled road, and the caravan guards did not seem especially on edge.

“Where do you hail from?” asked the dwarf. “Do you travel by way of Kelvin?” Hinting in the question that Kelvin might be his groups destination. It was a bit of purposeful misdirection, just in case.

Stephan rode along with Feldard to greet the other riders. He was glad to hear Feldard’s subterfuge regarding their destination. Soon, he knew, they’d take the road west toward Riflian and thence to Threshold. No need to be verbose about who they were and where they were going.

Stephan did what he could to keep the dwarf’s horse calm. Why can’t the dwarf impart an understanding to his mount?, he thought to himself. The horse, however, was the mildest of the bunch and seemed content enough. A few minor verbal clicks by the woodsman kept the horse calm in the face of this encounter.

The woodsman merely smiled and nodded at the fellow travelers, allowing Feldard to take the parlay lead. His presence, however, along side the dwarf sent a clear message of strength and purpose that he hoped would allay whatever concerns these caravan guards may have. ‘Our party certainly does not look like a brigand of robbers’, he thought. ‘Hopefully, this will be a cordial and brief encounter.’

The previous night’s rest and Maruc’s clerical healing had worked wonders. Ludo felt fresh and energized, it was a good day to be on the road, not to hot or cold. Ludo rode towards the front of the group and kept the horses moving, which they seemed content to do without much trouble. As the caravan came to view and Feldard and Stephen trotted to the front to converse with the three armoured riders, Ludo herded the horses in his vicinity to one side of the road to allow the wagons to pass. He observed the armoured riders looked like professional caravan guards; tough able men. He wondered if he knew any of the guards but could not recognize anyone from this distance in amongst the dust kicked up by the wagons and animals of the caravan. He made sure to keep some of the Elven steeds between him and the caravan to provide an obstacle should the situation turn ugly.

Seeing that there was no threat, the guards relaxed. “Indeed, we come by way of Kelvin, bound for Specularum.”

The rest of the merchant caravan came into view. A sizeable group, there were twenty wagons in all with fortysome warriors guarding it all. It was not long before a Thyatian man dressed in garish merchant attire rode over to them on his well groomed horse.

“Well, well, what an eclectic assortment of travelers we have here!” exclaimed the man. “Greetings to you all, I am Ahiktos.”

After exchanging pleasantries, Ahiktos directed his attention to the groups’ horses. “A finer selection of white horses I have never seen. Are they for sale?” he inquired.

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A Warm Pub and a Dry Bed

Ludo’s heart lifted when Gnomes’ ferry came into view. It was good to see some civilisation even if it was somewhat basic. Ludo was confident it would serve their purpose and allow them a decent night’s sleep and a chance to get some well needed rest. The travelling, the Reaver attack and herding of the horses made for a tiring journey.

Stephan sighed heavily and scanned the sky. Late afternoon. A warm pub and dry bed.

“Well,” he said, “It may not be the wisest thing, but that pub and a dry bed after all this rain seems pretty nice right now.” He looked to the others, “What say you, mates, I doubt any launches are heading out this late in the day. An overnight here is the easy thing to do. We can arrange morning transport with the proprietor.”

The priest wholeheartedly agreed with the woodsman. “A bed is what we need. Tempers have weakened and there is a long road ahead. I will ask for guidance as to the best route for the morning.” He dismounted and lead his horse into the inns’ yard.

Ludo helped Stephan with the horses. With so many it was going to be difficult to cross the river and he figured also expensive. He accepted with gratitude Maruc’s healing.

“Maruc I am grateful for your pious ways and blessed Halav, but know this; evil men do not always have a choice in what led them to the path they took, but you do. Do not let anger, envy, greed, or hatred dictate your actions – this will lead you to destruction. You are greater than most of us here – for you have been blessed with faith. Don’t lose that faith.”

* * * * *

Miklos gratefully ate the rich steaming river-fish stew that was served in the hostel and heated his sore feet by the log fire that burned merrily in the grate. He was a townsman and struggled with the countryside life. The beer was sending him off into a dreamless sleep. It took a great deal of effort to make his way to bed. It didn’t take long to go to sleep.

Feldard took full advantage of bar too once more prove that dwarves had a superior constitution. He ate and drank until the others of his party were either passed out or headed to bed and still he was, for the most part, sober. It was moments like this that he missed the camaraderie of other dwarves. He finished off his last pint and headed to the room he was sharing with the elf. The dwarf settled onto the straw mattress and rested, though sleep didn’t touch him until the eastern sky began to brighten with dawns first light.

Maruc had said little during the evening meal before retiring to bed. He sat cross legged in his room, with the rune sticks that Kuzma had gifted before him on the prepared floor. He cast his blessing and asked his question. “King Halav, which is the safer route? Road or Water?”

When they remounted the following morning after a filling breakfast Maruc said, “Halav Reincarnate showed me the way. Rifliian is best reached by road.”

* * * * *

Adding it all together—stabling for the two dozen horses, food and drink, beds for the night, the ferry fees—it had been a costly night of rest. However, the party was flush with coin thanks to their various recent adventures, plus the future sale of the horses would bring additional funds as well.

The group made it to the other side of the Shutturga River without incident. The Duke’s Road, the most traveled route in the Duchy with Kelven on one end and Specularum on the other, lied before them. In the distance a large group of wagons and horsemen approached from the direction of Kelven. Ahead of them, three mounted armoured figures approached the party.

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Delivering the Duke’s Justice

Stephan stood with arms crossed listening to the reaver. His indignation was palpable when Bors compared himself to Stephan. “I assure you, laddie, none of the Ring are soldiers like me.”

Bors cowered at Stephan’s ire. He avoided eye contact with Stephan and instead focused on Miklos, whom he hoped to endear.

“Once of the Ring, always of the Ring. We can’t trust him,” Stephan opined to his mates.

Feldard too was unmoved by the reaver’s pleading. He was ready to finish what he’d begun, once Miklos was done questioning the man. Mind you, there was no guarantee that the youthful mage might not fall to the ‘just a fighter’-man’s plea. Humans often didn’t have stomach for such things.

Maruc sighed. “Mercy you seek? I wonder were the tables turned that you would be so generous? You and Gothar presume much of us that is wrong. A Master of the Iron Ring you say? That would explain his influence, but what Miklos says is correct, you are unlikely to know the plans of the Sons of Night. It would not surprise me to learn that the Iron Ring is a front for them. Albeit an unknowing one. Bors, if that is your name, you are a rogue and as such your word cannot be trusted but you don’t have the wit to lie now, for that reason I don’t think you have anything more to say. Stephan’s assessment is right, you are as as a slave to the Ring as the slaves you capture. You and your kin seek to undermine the law of Halav Reincarnate. You are an affront to the Lord Stefan on his throne. You exercise slavery on his lands.” Maruc’s tone was deceptively calm. Too calm.

“Bors, you chose your path long ago. There is only one ending to such a path. I judge you evil and in retribution for all the lives you and you kin have destroyed your life is forfeit. I give you a greater mercy than you have given others.” The captives eyes widened and his head jerked sideways with a sickening crack. Maruc lowered his flail and turned from the corpse. “Search them for instructions from the Ring. Then burn them. If they have any money we’ll give it to the next village we come across. At least that way they have given something back.”

Maruc held no pleasure in his actions. He was frustrated that fate had forced his hand to such a deed. Perhaps this was another test? He wondered if he had passed.

Ludo watched the interrogation of Bors with calm detachment, but could sense where the interrogation was going to end—in blood. As Maruc voiced his statement, Ludo listened and was about to voice his opinion that Bors should be handed over to the Duke’s men for trial when he saw Maruc’s strike Bors striking him down in a savage temper that he had never before come from Maruc.

Ludo in anger turned to Maruc. “That was excessive and final—is that the way you would treat all rogues? I have to ask, what gives you the right to execute this man for his deeds? This man was our enemy, someone that would kill us without a thought but your actions today bought you down to his level, it made you no better than he. Halav will judge you on this act, of that I am sure. Remember Maruc, every action brings consequences.” With that Ludo got up and went to see to the horses, inwardly he was depressed- a priest had committed an evil act, what salvation was available for anyone if a priest could commit such an act.

Stephan raised his eyebrow at Ludo’s harsh words. “A priest preached to by a rogue. Now I’ve seen it all.”

Maruc turned away from Ludo. He didn’t want the young man to have seen this, but this was a harsh world. Lived in by harsh men. Perhaps he was right? What right did he have to meet out justice? All he felt at the time was disgust at an organization that had to torture their slaves into servitude. Such an organization was abhorrent, Maruc would not, could not, allow it to go unpunished.

“Who else then Ludo?” he said at last, softly. “Who else has the authority amongst us to deliver the Duke’s Justice? You feel affinity for this misguided soul because you dwell on the outskirts of his world? You think I would treat you the same? I am a Cannon of my order, I have the authority to excommunicate, to judge. Out here in the wilderness the Duke’s power is exercised by men such as I. I have not moved beyond my remit. Yes, this is an evil act. I would rather he had settled like the Sukiskyn had and forged civilization rather than undermine it. Yes, if we were in a city I would have dragged him to the courts. But we are not. Look around you. Would you allow Golthar to succeed in his plans as we take every man he sends us to Specularum?” Maruc sighed. “Halav will judge me, but I will not give succor to those men who manipulate the weak to evil ends. I am their protector. Would you unman me for that? Would you rather I asked Stefan or Feldard to slay him? It is not my position to place such a moral burden on them so I accept it myself and all that goes with it.”

“I am not an evil man, even Prince Hasan who has turned his gaze from me would attest to that. I have shocked you by exercising the power of my position in society and for that I am sorry. I am far more saddened that this man chose the path that led him here.”

They mounted up as the coils of greasy smoke from the pyre wound through the tree tops.

Hasan joined Ludo with the horses, sickened by the healer’s action despite the priest’s words. At this moment, Hasan wanted nothing to do with slavers or Sons of Night. Nothing but a walk with Rahasia.

Stephan said the Ferry was about a day away. Maruc kicked his heels and rode on.

Miklos pulled in beside Maruc, neither of them were expert horsemen but with Stephan in the lead the horses seemed content to follow.

“Interesting theory, Maruc. The feared Iron Ring an arm of the Sons of Night? Can you see the likes of Sevastian having anything to do with the Ring?” he asked.

“He might have when he was alive.” said Maruc.

“Would the Ring have been in existence for that long?”

“You heard what Bors said, Gothar is after ‘ancient riches and dark magicks’—its the latter comment that disturbs me.”

“An ancient civilization that pray to Jackal-Gods doesn’t fill me with thoughts of purity and light.”

“Me neither Miklos, but not do be too quick to cast judgment.” Maruc turned his heavy gaze on the mage. “It is a hard burden.”

Miklos said nothing. There was nothing to say.

* * * * *

The group reached the gnomes’ ferry the next afternoon. Next to the jetty, there was a stone building, which functioned as a hostelry containing bedrooms, a bar and a kitchen, as well as some stables nearby.

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Bors To Tears

The reaver thrust his sword across Ludo’s belly. Ludo’s blade hacked down partially parrying the thrust, then swept up to slash the throat of the reaver. The reaver swayed back and the slash missed. Ludo backed away from the reaver in pain, this man was good, and Ludo knew he faced a killer.

“Come here boy, I will cut out your heart and feed it to the wolves.”

Ludo circled the man not rising to the bait. He moved in and began a savage attack on the reaver, three times their blades clashed, the reaver was parried each attack, suddenly Ludo felt a savage blow, which left a intense burning sensation.

Hasan mounted quickly and turned the horse into the woods at a gallop. The animal’s great pace quickly brought the elf within sight of Ludo’s attack of the remaining Ringman. It was a long shot, and especially a horse and in the woods, but the elf drew an arrow and let fly from 200 yards. The arrow whistled past the combatants harmlessly, but the elf had no regrets. Both Ludo and his opponent now knew: help was here.

Ludo was severely wounded, but ignored the pain and fought on, encouraged by the elf’s presence. He was quicker than the armoured reaver, and could see that that the reaver was tiring, blood pooling down his face from the cut that Ludo has inflicted earlier. He took heart and began a blistering attack on the reaver who kept retreating from the cuts and thrusts of Ludo’s attack until he fell backwards having tripped on a tree root, Ludo’s sword thrust forward and slid deep into the neck of the reaver severing the spine. The reaver gasped once and died. Ludo turned around muttering to the corpse “never call me boy”.

Stephan raced on his horse first to where Miklos had neatly ensnared his prey. It took only a second to see that Miklos had things well in hand. Stephan turned the horse, urging it to gallop to where Ludo and now Hasan were engaged with the other reaver.

As he approached, he saw the reaver trip backwards. The rogue seemed to anticipate his opponent’s mishap and moved fluidly with the reaver’s fall — his sword delivering a killing blow.

Stephan brought his horse to an abrupt stop at the scene. “Well,” he said with some humor, “I’m here to save the day. I suppose no one is going to save that fellow’s neck, however.”

While the Stephen and Hasan bolted for horses, the dwarf moved towards the remaining ensnared Iron Ring fighters. One look at them told him all he needed to know. There would be no ‘reasoning’ with the captured brainwashed minions of the Iron Ring. They would provide no information on their higher ups, likely cause they knew nothing of them. He dealt with them quickly and efficiently.

Maruc breathlessly caught up with Ludo as he withdrew his sword from their collapsing Ring leader. “Give me a second.” he gasped as he caught his breath. “Well fought!” Maruc grinned, “Now lets see if we can patch you up.” Maruc administered to the wounded rogue.

Ludo grabbed Maruc’s arm and hauled himself to his feet. “Thank you Maruc for your faith and praise Halav for his healing benevolence.” Picking up his backpack and bow, he grimaced in pain as though his wounds were no longer life threatening, they had not yet been fully healed. He strode with Maruc to where Miklos and Feldard were interrogating the prisoner.

The priest looked at the corpse. His tattoo plain to see. “So Gothar is hiring men from the Iron Ring. He must have some influence with them. Or access to a lot of money….or the promise of a lot of money. In which case, he is playing a dangerous game. Not least with us. Come Nicolai…” grief touched the priests face. “Sorry. Ludo. Let us see what Miklos has uncovered.” He returned to the camp.

Miklos disarmed the entrapped man. He bound his legs and arms and started to drag the trussed man toward the camp. It wasn’t long before the others joined him and they were soon back at their makeshift camp.

Miklos gaze swept the neat row of corpses and back to Feldard. Well if this didn’t get the Reaver’s attention, there was no getting information out of him.

He sat the prisoner facing the line of corpses. No use in messing about. Perhaps he might accidentally confirm Miklos’s fears. They had nothing but conjecture to go on so far.

“You have been hired by Golthar to follow us. Your mission to slay us in our sleep and retrieve something. This would have failed anyway as we do not have that which you seek,” lied Miklos. “For you not to join your friends over there, all I require is a simple nod. Feldard is nothing if not efficient and ruthless.”

The prisoners eyes flicked from Miklos to Feldard to the line of corpses.

Bors was scared. He had to choose between death, here and now, and possibly death with a heaping dose of torture somewhere in the future at the hands of Golthar or one of the others. If he somehow managed to survive this interrogation, he supposed he could probably hide in some other land. The Ring’s reach did not extend far beyond the Duchy. He decided to take his chances.

“Ok, ok. I’ll tell ya everythin’ I know. Me name is Bors. And yeah, I be with The Ring. I be no slaver though. Just a soldier. Like you,” he gestured to Stephan, grunting with pain from his wounds, hoping to garner some sort of empathy. “And Golthar didn’t hire us. He be one of us. Not a Reaver like me, he be one o’ the Masters.”

“What I really want to know you are unlikely to be able to tell me,” Miklos pressed. “What deal has been made between the Sons of Night and the Iron Ring? I very much doubt the Iron Ring would touch the Sons of Night if they knew what they were planning. We know, but do you?”

“Never heard o’ no Sons of Night, but nuthin’ would surprise me ‘bout that freak,” said Bors. “He be tearing up the countryside looking for ancient artifacts and dusty ol’ scrolls. Now he got the whole lot of us lookin’ for some magic map. Sayin’ it be showin’ the way to the ancient riches and dark magicks. He got all the Masters worked up over it now. And he got us followin’ you lot over it.”

“Listen,” he begged, tears welling in his eyes. “I’ll tell ya anything I be knowin’. All I ask is ya let me go after. I won’t be causin’ ya no more trouble. The Ring will be wantin’ my head now, so my days with them be over.”

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