13th day of Alturiak. Noon. Patchwork Hills.
Talimar continues to stare southeast, the direction the dragon flew off. "I think we should follow it a ways, maybe find out where it lairs before doing anything further. The more information we have the better, trying to attack an adult dragon is liable to get people killed. I want as many advantages as possible before attempting anything."
Kersath sits motionless on the back of his horse for a moment thinking about the implications of a dragon in the area. "Well, I think it's a safe bet that the dragon lives somewhere deep in the Thornwood. Green dragons like to dwell in forests from what I was taught. For now though, there's not really anything we could do. You saw the size of it! It would take the whole population of Milbourne to take it down, and we can certainly not do it ourselves." He thinks for another moment, then the realization of something extremely unpleasant comes to mind, "The Count's people! They could easily rouse the dragon by mistake! Those poor saps will not even know what hit them. And if the dragon gets angry, he might start carrying off more than sheep...We have to get back to Milbourne as soon as possible and warn the people. They could send a messenger to Kuiper and Tauster, but unfortunately we have to remember that we are on limited time. We do not know how long the deep gnomes can hold off the bandits out of the mines."
Thinking it over and listening to the words of his friend, Talimar changes his mind, "You are right Kersath, it would be pointless to pursue the dragon now. And we don't have the time to warn the count's men. Let's get back to Milbourne and warn them. They can send messengers to the keep. The locals may also have some knowledge of the beast."
Kersath nods his head in approval, "Let's make haste then! And with as little stops as possible, this matter is urgent."
The two elves spur their mounts on and at a gallop, head north toward the town of Milbourne. The thoughts of both the companions are on the image of the great beast flying toward them, its shadow completely covering them and causing a fear in them they've never felt before.
Dain sat his mount awkwardly as he headed west toward Mibourne, his large, leather-bound journal resting in his lap. Thumbing through the pages of the book, he looks back on the events of the Company over the past month. Their commission to deliver the chest to Tauster followed by the disappearance of Jelenneth in Milbourne. He chuckles to himself as he turns another page and sees his notes on the strange goblins of the mire. He laughs even louder as he thinks back on their strange, blue appearance. Taking his pipe from a pocket of his robe, he speaks a word of power and the pipe is quickly lit of its own. Smiling deeply, he again thanks Tauster for showing him that trick.
Closing the large book, Dain opens a flap on his saddlebag and puts the volume inside, next to the two large books that Tauster had given him. Seeing the books, Dain remembers the joy that he felt as Tauster gave the two spellbooks to him. The old wizard had long since copied the volumes into his personal spellbook and no longer had the need for the originals, giving them over to Dain instead. Dain was up half the night after that scanning each of the volumes, memorizing the components, symbols, and words of power necessary to cast each of the powers in the books.
Seeing the lateness of the hour, Dain decides to pick up his pace as he spurs his mount forward. He grasps the reins tighter and chuckles as he also falls off the horse as it starts its gallop. Having spent the previous night in the comfort of Kuiper's farm, Dain has no wish to spend this evening alone in the wilderness, hoping to reach Milbourne around nightfall. As he bounces along on the back of his horse, he hopes that Kersath and Talimar have completed the return of the ring to the goblins and are heading to Milbourne themselves.
Ortho cursed loudly as he, Snagger, Garth and Ras mounted and turned away from the farm of Hammel Fairton. In the five days since his encounter with Andrenn, the citizens of Milbourne had been at best, cold to the members of the Red Feather Company and Ortho in particular. That in itself wouldn't be so bad except the dwarf's sleep had been disturbed every night by extremely vivid dreams. This of course, made him quite irritable. And now, this Hammel Fairton had charged Snagger ten gold crowns for a mule. Ortho had refused to pay that amount of course but Hammel wouldn't budge on the price, insisting that he didn't care what Ortho told the other members of the town.
Ortho was prepared to leave and forget the mule, but Snagger paid the price and they now had the beast in tow. And now Garth had that smug little smile on his face, having said something about reaping what you sow. It was almost more than a good dwarf could bear! Not for the first time, he was glad that this would be the company's last evening in Milbourne for quite some time.
The only one in the group that appeared to be happy, besides Garth of course, was Ras. The townspeople apparently held no ill will toward him and the wife of the man they had brought back from the mines had offered to take care of his mother when she made it to town. Ras was beaming about that of course, insisting on telling everyone two or three times the good news. He hadn't had much success finding a permanent establishment for the group or his mother, so he was glad that she would be taken cared of while he was gone and wouldn't have to stay in the inn. He knew that she would arrive well after they had already set out for the mines, so he had already written her a letter to explain and telling her to stay with Ephram and his wife.
Reaching the outskirts of Milbourne, Ortho looked up and with joy saw the shape of Druckner and Gnore up the road heading towards town. The two dwarves were each dressed in new armor and two mules trailed behind them, each laden with equipment. The four companions stopped short of town to wait on their two compatriots to join them. "Now here's a pair that'll raise me spirits," said Ortho softly as the two joined them.
"Greetin's Red Feather Company!" bellowed Druckner with a broad smile on his face. By the look of his red eyes, he and Gnore had either slept little the night before or spent the majority of the day drinking as well as traveling. Ortho guessed that the truth was a little bit of both.
"Hoy! Druckner and Gnore," called out Ras as he waved to his friends.
"How was the journey," asked Ortho as the two rode up to them.
"Rather uneventful," slurred Gnore with a smile to Druckner.
"It's a tale best told before a warm fire and a mug of ale," smiled Druckner as he motioned the others to continue on.
As the six companions entered the stables of the Baron of Mutton, they found Dain about to walk out. After greeting the mage, they quickly saw to their own animals as well as the pack mules and the equipment. Dain quickly explained that Kersath and Talimar had headed to the goblins of the mire to return the fake ring to them.
Walking toward the entrance to the Baron of Mutton, the companions heard a strangely familiar music drifting from the inn. The music was strangely that of a lute, a very familiar lute. Ras looked at the others with hope in his eyes, "Could that be who I think it is?"
"With me luck, Ah'm sure it is," frowned Ortho as the seven quickly made their way into the inn.
Walking into the common room, the companions quickly noticed Kre sitting at a table to their right, a beautiful dark-haired woman sitting close at his side. Seated opposite the pair and sporting a large smile, was the giant Paladin, Beleg.
"Welcome friends!" he says with a large smile, his fingers bringing a rousing tune to the lute.
Snagger wonders at the immense size of the man before him and who he could possibly be as he joins the others at the table of the man. Ortho moves to get a drink from the bar, downing more than half of it before he even reaches the table. Barthelew and the other waitresses bring drinks to the others as they take seats around the table to hear the story of the Paladin.
After saying their hello's, Beleg is about to begin the tale of his return to the company and his time away, when the doors to the common room burst open. Standing in the doorway are the tired forms of Kersath and Talimar, each showing the signs of a rather hard journey. Their clothes and faces are covered in dust and they appear unnerved by something. They do not show any signs of having been in combat however.
The two stop a moment as they see Beleg, shaking their heads at the shock of the great warrior before walking to the bar to quench their thirst.
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