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.