The Storm Before the Calm

PART 9

By SamIam

The rain broke shortly before the dawn.  The forest, pitch black but for Fluvio’s green glow, filled with the noise of droplets pushing down through the pines and a chill swept over the camp, within seconds, everyone was up.
“What the hell?!” yelled out Nynalama, “Which wunna you got it into their thick heads that we were better off hiking out into the forest than taking the road north?”

“Well, you’re the elf.  Why didn’t the trees tell you about the rain?  You should be right at home in this.” Said Roderic.

“Oh!  Well you must be some kinda goddamn expert on elves, huh?  We’re all just pointy eared tree people who sit around healing flowers and looking pretty, isn’t that right?!”

“No, all I meant was you should be better at…”

“Meant nothing!  You know less about elves than you know about thieving.  You jus told me I should be talking with trees and…”

Rick cut in, “This was the only way we could be sure the Combined Bandit Allegiance wouldn’t follow us,”

“Oh yeah, right, because bandits never go in the woods”

Fluvio was so exstatic he didn’t notice anyone arguing.  “Isn’t this magnificent?” he asked to no one in particular as the wind howled through the treetops, “The whole forest is flowing with energy!  It’s amazing.”

“I just want some sleep.” Grumblepig said to himself, feeling around in the dark for his boots.  “Things just keep getting better and better.” he thought to himself.

“Pack yer bags, we should get going before anyone sees us out here” Said Rick. “There’s a hunting lodge not too far from here where we can get out of the rain for a while.”

“Wait… you’re saying… that we slept on the ground… when there was a LODGE NOT EVEN TEN MINUTES AWAY?!” Shouted Roderick.

“I needed to be sure ye could all be trusted.  If any of you’d run away, you’d have been caught in one of Fat Buck’s snares,” said Rick, “And, actually, the lodge is twenty five minutes from here, so we should get moving before it starts to rain hard.” Fluvio let out a startled yell as Rick grabbed him by the arm, using his glowing hand as a beacon.  Rick then started making his way through the woods. “Follow close, and ye oughtn’t get caught in any traps” Except that everyone wanted to get out of the rain, they might have argued more.

Half an hour later, cold, muddy, and still tired they arrived at a shuttered hunting lodge roughly camouflaged with sticks and brambles.  Rick grabbed his keyring from one of his many pockets and unlocked the door.  Inside, Rick grabbed a tinder box and lit a fire in the stove, and then lit a pair of lamps on a long oaken table.  “Now that we’re all seated and out of the rain, I think it’s time I brought you a little further into the loop.  It all started some time ago, when I was out on a contract up in the north.  I was hired to bring home some crook who had welshed on a bet and cut town, or at least that’s what I was told.  Back then I was a lot more trusting, so when I saw how much I was being offered to find the guy, I didn’t think twice.”

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