Fino the Bard
Chapter Eight, Part Two
“Can you detect evil?” Percy asks, after some courteous but private small talk with Otto.
“No, but I can detect good.”
“Could you detect good on the party for me then? I am now deciding whether to continue on with this group and I have come to the conclusion having such information really would help me decide, even though less than a week ago I felt it would not matter.”
“I already have, Percy. Since you have thought this through very carefully, I will not judge your decision, but I do warn you that confronting someone based on such information is hazardous.” Otto pauses, then continues, “Orjulun, Red, and you radiate strong Good, Arturus and Melias not as strongly, and SeLiem and Rastorn not at all.”
Percy nods his thanks, then walks back toward the party. As he does, he looks at each team member in succession, settling last on SeLiem. He cocks his head to one side and stares at the Priest, before continuing forward to sit with Red.
SeLiem steps away to urinate and Rastorn meets with him before he rejoins the group.
“Did you see the way Percy looked at you?” Rastorn whispers. “I’m telling you, some of the folks around here are getting pretty uppity. Melias – the guy whose sister almost killed us – decides he’s our leader, then Orjulun hoards the wand and the bracers and a Necromancer scroll. I’m the Necromancer, not him. We’ve found dozens of magic items and how many have you gotten . . . one slightly magical hammer? That’s it. If I were you, I’d start watching out, because it is just a matter of time before Percy, Melias, and Arturus start plotting against the rest of us. They’ve already made all the decisions and taken all the good magic items. We are just as much a part of this group as they are. We need solidarity, not backstabbing. If I ever hear about them trying to plot against you, I swear, I’ll tell you about it as soon as it happens. Agree, brother?”
“I didn’t quite understand why Percy did that, myself.” SeLiem looks around to make sure no one is snooping in on the conversation. “Although I do not favor Necromancy, I see your point; the best tactic if they are on our side is to have given you the scroll. Later today, if our party gets a chance to meet alone, perhaps we should discuss who the party leader should be? If we can convince them to give someone else the control, then it may help stand against any plot they may have against either of us. The treasure I do not consider to be as large an issue as you do, even if they did take more items than us. Next time we find treasure like that I’ll try to pick more items for myself. If they object, then perhaps there may be a problem. They did take a lot of good items, but it may just be that they may need the items more. I doubt they do . . . or perhaps they just overlooked us. Orjulun I consider not a big threat . . . even with those items. I also doubt he is doing any plotting against us. As for Melias . . . honestly, I don’t trust him. His sister tried to kill us . . . and there is a small chance he is allied with her and may turn on us. We will both have to keep a sharp eye on him.”
“You raise a few very good points and if I hear them plot against you, I will be sure to notify you. Keep in mind we have no solid proof they are out to get us, so there is no reason to judge harshly at this moment. We cannot fully trust anyone here yet, but neither can we call them traitors.”
Over Rastorn’s shoulder, SeLiem watches as a large flaming chariot pulled by two fiery horses lands in the small clearing in front of Lil the Druid. He once heard his grandmother speak of such magic in folk tales. “Absolutely amazing,” he says, stepping past Rastorn as if the Necromancer no longer exists.
Lil steps into an adjacent clearing and waves everyone to her. Once they are gathered, she sniffs and her eyes narrow. She looks at the party, then back at the chariot and shakes her head slightly. Catching sight of the volcano in the distance, she nods and under her breath says, “Ohhh.”
The party members all glance around, unsure of what has distracted her.
She announces, “I will need to touch each of you, to allow you to step onto the chariot. If not, you will be burned to death.”
“I suggest moving all the items they are giving you from the other cave to this cave for me to guard. You should take a weapon and some armor, though,” Otto cautions her.
Within minutes the group has made the journey to the well, so the party can gather anything of value they originally left behind.
Lil takes time to gaze at each of the fallen Orcs and for reasons she does not understand this makes her feel more at ease. She briefly washes herself and Melias’ old armor before continuing their journey to the Stirge Cave where more items are loaded onto the chariot. Much of what they take is unloaded into the cave where Lil’s party was killed. Arturus moves the bear carcass away from the cave, while Percy, Red, SeLiem, and Melias move the sarcophagus into the cave. Lil prays to Altma, her god, to keep their bodies safe while she works to have them brought back to life and asks their individual patrons to not yet accept them into the afterlife. After a respectful farewell to Otto, they step onto the chariot again and Lil guides it high into the air. Soon, they are streaking through the sky twice as fast as any horse could carry them on the ground.
The scenery is quite breathtaking from on high and Percy, in particular, truly enjoys looking out over the vast forest through which the party had been traveling.
Red vomits over the side, then sits on the floor of the chariot holding her stomach.
Two hours after takeoff the party spots an enormous golden colored Dragon flying hundreds of feet above them. Rastorn panics and starts preparing a spell, but Lil sets him at ease by explaining that Gold Dragons are kind and helpful to most everyone. The Dragon turns invisible soon after.
“I’ve heard stories from the elders about Gold Dragons. I shall remember this moment through all my years whether I die tomorrow or a thousand years from now,” Arturus says.
“It . . . urp . . . magnificent . . urp,” Red manages. She had never seen a Dragon in person, but she, like all High Mountain Dwarves, had been taught much about evil Dragons and tactics for slaying them.
“Oh, that I could keep this memory and hold it in my hand, so I could look upon it whenever I wished,” Percy says.
“There are stories of Undead Dragons. Could you imagine something so large and powerful made more powerful through Undeath?” Rastorn comments, with awe.
“We could just throw him off now,” Arturus whispers to Melias.
Melias laughs out loud. Then shakes his head, amazed how Rastorn could shatter such a majestic sight with such a morbid thought.
Realizing he had held his breath while the Dragon was visible, SeLiem takes a deep breath and shakes his head as he exhales. He looks at Rastorn and says, “I have heard stories as well. I honestly cannot comprehend how strong some Dragons are while living, so the thought of an Undead Dragon . . . not the mightiest Clerics I’ve ever met would stand a chance in battle against a foe like that.”
Although his sister, Evenliir, was a powerful Enchantress, Melias has never seen her cast so impressive a spell as the flaming chariot on which he now excitedly rides. He entertains himself and keeps his thoughts away from motion sickness by waving his hand through the fire, amazed that it simply does not burn. “I always wondered what fire would feel like, if I could stand the heat,” he chuckles.
The chariot is large enough for those riding to have separate conversations. The two Elves continue to laugh and whisper. Red recovers slowly, after chewing herbs from her satchel and sits near Percy, who cheerfully watches the scenery, occasionally pointing out aspects of the breath-taking view granted when flying high above the ground. Orjulun and Rastorn discuss things magical, although they can’t study their new book due to turbulence. SeLiem sits quietly.
Once she is at ease guiding the magical chariot, Lil shifts the rein in her left hand to her right hand and shrugs the fine robe off her left shoulder. Collecting both reins in her left hand, she clasps her right lapel. With a gentle tug she lets the robe slip off her right shoulder and slide off her naked body. After kicking the robe away, she glances down to assure the leathers Melias gave her are still folded at her feet. With feline grace, she holds her knees straight and her head high enough to watch the sky ahead, as she bends over to snatch the leather jerkin from the pile. She thrusts her hand into the arm hole, straightens her body, and lifts her arm nearly straight up so the light weight armored vest can fall over her arm. When it lands on her shoulder, the front and back of the vest slap her back and breast. Switching the reins again, Lil reaches back and slips her other arm into the opposite armhole, then shimmys to settle the vest on her shoulders. The jerkin is held closed with hook eye fasteners from her navel to the bottom of her breastbone and laces together the rest of the way up. She grunts or moans each time she pulls a fastener tight. A size too small, the jerkin goes on like and feels more like a corset. She ties the laced top one handed, then pulls it tight with one end of the lace in her free hand and the other in her teeth. The laced top barely contains her squeezed in breasts. The top is on, but she is still bare from her waist down. Clamping the reins in her teeth, she steps into the leather breeches. Then, seizing the reins with her right hand, she stretches the pant up her thighs on the right side then on the left, while rhythmically swaying her hips. The trousers were designed for a man, so although she is petite, the voluptuousness of her bottom engenders the necessity to again take the reins in her teeth so she can use both hands to glide the skin-tight, soft leather as far as it can be spread. Once the pants are tied in the front, she smiles, impressed with how she was able to steer a flaming flying chariot while donning armor. She turns around to see if any of her passengers witnessed her display of skill.
They all silently gawk at her, mouths agape – even Red.
Lil smiles proudly, then returns to steering the chariot.
The stunned silence ends a quarter hour later when SeLiem mentions how great it was to see the Dragon and everyone joins in with full-throated agreement.
As the sun sets, they reach The Allied Sellers Union. The city-state is well lit and can easily be seen from above. It is larger than Dumas and Darkuth combined, sprawling, and colorful. Melias and Arturus discuss the incredibly complex and curving streets, while Lil draws attention to how much the forest is a part of the city and most of the buildings on the outer edges are not permanent. The group decides this would be an difficult city to navigate through on foot.
Percy points out a wooden building large enough to be an inn and Lil lands the chariot behind it.
As the chariot gets closer to the ground, they notice how much attention they are drawing. Almost everyone walking the crowded street stops and glances up and many stare. By the time the Chariot of Sustarre lands, a large crowd is gathered and waiting.
Percy cautions the crowd to stay back, since the chariot is dangerously hot, while Lil makes certain everyone exits safely. Shortly after everyone is off, the chariot turns into pure flame and disappears.
The crowd still watches the group.
“Thank you. Thank you. And now for our next trick, we’ll make a crowd disappear!” Melias announces, then makes a brushing movement with his arms. Turning toward his companions, he says, “I guess we should check in and see about getting some real food and drink.”
As they begin to disperse, a large and loud man gives a play-by-play for those unable to see through the throng. He announces, “There is a large Fighter with blonde hair. His darker skin could show Homeland or Goodmanville heritage. Then a petite and curvaceous female in leather armor. I think she is Half-Elven and was the one who steered the chariot. A couple cloaked men. A Half-Elven Cleric of the Soldier god. By the nine gods! There are two Elves and there’s a Dwarf with them! The Elves rode with the Dwarf, people! Look at his features, he may be tall, but that other one is a full-blooded Elf or I’m a Dwarf’s cousin!”
Other comments are heard as the crowd leaves and the party enters the inn:
“That is no party I ever heard of.”
“All the races together in one group! That has not happened in hundreds of years!”
“Why are they here? This has to be big. Really big!”
“Well that was an interesting entrance and all. Best I’ve done yet,” Arturus states, looking around. “It’s nice to be in a place where we aren’t treated with mistrust or any negative attitudes.”
Checking into the inn proves uneventful, as the staff there stays very professional. Rooms hold two or four and are one gold per night or two gold per night with full amenities. Dinner is in one hour and the bathhouse is down the hall, women to the left, men to the right. They can accept any form of money as payment, from gems to ancient coins.
“Well I’d say lads and lasses share a room, but considering there are only two lasses that won’t work. So, we can try spellcasters and non-spellcasters or Elves and Half-Elves in one room and non-Elvish people in another. Those are just my initial ideas,” Arturus says.
Melias shrugs and presents the clerk with two gold coins. “I’d like my own room, please. Something secure: good locks, no windows, all that. Can you accommodate? Add another room for the woman in leather,” he adds, remembering Lil had been robbed.
“Oh, well, then I guess I’ll take a room all to myself then, as well,” Arturus says.
“I don’t have any problem sharing a common room,” Orjulun says, his arms spread. “Anyone care to join me?” He is tired from the excitement of the trip, from flying high over the forest in a flaming chariot, to the awesome sight of the Dragon. It has been a full day. Now all he wants is a hot bath and a belly full of warm food.
“I’ll stay with you, Orjulun,” Percy answers quickly.
Rastorn looks as though he is about to say something, but he doesn’t.
Red notices distress on Lil’s face and pulls her aside to speak privately. Shortly, Red and Lil return and Lil heads for her new room. Red starts that way, then hurries back to whisper to Melias. “She doesn’t want to be alone after what she went through. Aye will stay with her. After we wash up a bit, we’ll purchase appropriate dinner attire from the dress-maker in the lobby then meet ye in the dining hall.”
Melias nods to Red’s whisper and whispers back, “I understand completely. If she feels like she’d like more company – I’m free.” He winks.
Red ignores his comment and runs to catch up with Lil.
Rastorn looks at SeLiem. “That leaves us two. I’ll pay.”
After dropping his possessions off in the room, Orjulun heads to the baths. He takes his travelling robes, hoping there’s an area to wash them out or someone on the staff will offer to launder them for him. Arturus follows suit.
Melias thoroughly checks his room to make sure there aren’t going to be any surprises, like a sneaky secret door or ceiling panel or something that might allow undesired access. Finding nothing, he sends his clothes out for laundry, secures his room and belongings, and then travels to the baths. It’d been a long time since he had a nice, hot bath.
Those not bathing meet for dinner, which is fabulous. Everyone fills themselves with food and wine. A server offers each of them what he refers to as an “after dinner cigar.” Red takes him up on the offer, but Lil, Percy, and Rastorn all pass.
There is a limit of one bottle of wine per three people, so soon Red is asking where they can go to get more drinks, since Rastorn and Red finished two by themselves. She is told she would need to visit another inn. She decides it isn’t worth leaving. Like everyone in their group, she is tired, plus she knows Rastorn and her have more tucked away in their rooms.
The rest of the group joins them at the table and the conversation is given new spark.
When the conversation starts to wane, Red watches Lil Forestdweller swirl her soft wavy auburn-colored hair in her fingers and stare into space. Lil pouts her lips and rolls her large green eyes around, as if searching for an answer to a complex problem. She seems sad and distant, until Red elbows her and fills her glass with what is left in her own. She smiles at the rough-and-tumble Dwarf and enters back into the current table conversation.
When the group starts to yawn, Lil is the first one ready to leave the table. She stands and Percy, Orjulun, and Melias stand courteously as she does. She circles the table giving each man a friendly kiss on the cheek.
“Good night, everyone, I -”
Her pleasantries are cut short when a richly and colorfully clad man enters the hall. Every woman in the room swoons – except Red – as he saunters in looking around as if trying to find someone. Lil sits back down and whispers to Red. They both giggle. The six men at the table all glance around at one another. This is the first time any of them has heard Red ‘giggle’. They each watch the man as secretively as they can.
His lack of height is easily overshadowed by his handsomeness and lean, muscular build. Extremely fine features are framed by long, wavy, silky black hair and the red eyepatch he wears grants him a bit of an outlaw aura. He has two musical instruments strapped to him and two swords. It doesn’t look like he has found who he was looking for, but everyone seems to know him.
One diner, a bald and pudgy well-dressed man, calls out to him, “Fino, will you be performing for us tonight?”
Fino walks toward the man’s table, smiles to those sitting there and responds, “No, good sir, but you can see me at noon tomorrow near the Sage’s Guildhall. How was your meal; I trust it was as delicious as ever?” He looks at the cook near the back of the hall and waves.
The Bard does not speak loudly, but his voice resonates with such range that he is easily heard throughout the now quieted hall. “Did any of you witness the landing of a flaming chariot near here about three hours ago?” he asks in a somewhat lower voice.
“Well, yes we did,” the bald man answers, “t’was quite a sight. Why I tell you I haven’t seen that since . . . “ The man’s face reddens. “Oh, now I know who you were looking for! You thought they had returned! Looking for the reward, eh, Fino?”
“Nothing so complicated, my merchant friend,” Fino answers, “I simply wanted to get the story. I am always looking for good material for my songs and poems, you know.”
The merchant looks at Fino as if he doesn’t quite believe him, then nods subtly toward the party.
Fino looks at them and his eyes widen and his mouth drops open for a moment, then with a pat on the merchant’s back, he heads for the party’s table. Lil, then Red, each jostle their shoulder so as to increase their cleavage.
Fino has a confidence and charm that makes him instantly trustworthy. He glides to the table with outstretched arms saying, “So, here are our newest visitors! I have to admit, you know how to make a grandiose entrance! My name is Finopolous, but everyone calls me Fino.”
Lil looks up over her shoulder at the Bard standing behind her and says, “I’d just call you ‘fine’.” She slowly leans against the back of her chair, so Fino has an unobstructed view down the front of her gown.
“Well, I can certainly see you are friendlies, so there is no need to alert the town guard,” he chuckles, “but, so you know, such a dangerous entrance is frowned upon in our beautiful city, though I will vouch for you this time.” He looks around the table as he speaks, making eye contact with each person, even Lil, who is eager for him to look elsewhere. “Call it professional curiosity, but I just have to know what brought such a diverse group to ASU. Business or pleasure?”
Lil answers in a voice smouldering with sexuality, “I’m here on urgent business, handsome, but you are quickly changing my mind.”
Red looks at Melias and points to herself and then him several times.
Melias, correctly, takes this as a request for her to stay with him, so Lil can have a room to herself.
Percy looks at Lil, frowns disapprovingly, and excuses himself to use the latrine.
Under his breath and audible to only Arturus and Melias, Rastorn says, “Trollop.”
Fino chuckles at Lil’s comment and searches the table for someone to answer his query seriously.
Arturus stands and looks Fino in the eyes. “I don’t see how that is any of your business. These people seem to think there’s something more to your visit, as do I. Why should we tell a stranger where we’ve been or anything . . . like . . . our favorite color?” His hand tightens around his dinner knife.
Red is clearly surprised at Arturus’ outburst, but says nothing. She simply smiles back and forth between the two waiting to see if an exciting fight will break out.
Orjulun spilled wine on his sleeve when Arturus unexpectedly stands. He spends the rest of their exchange trying to wipe off the stain with a water-soaked napkin.
Rastorn takes a sip of his wine and watches calmly.
Lil smiles and says, “He’s just being nice,” to Arturus.
Ten men in the room stood up when Arturus did. Many of them are armed and place their hands on their weapons. None of them leave their table or draw. The servers move away and the cook walks back into the kitchen.
Fino’s demeanor changes drastically and he speaks slowly in low tones. “I know too much time in the wilderness can make even the calmest among us on edge. In both our best interests, I suggest you let reason prevail and let go of that knife.” His demeanor changes back and he holds his arms to the side and wiggles his open hands and says, “Hey, you don’t have to tell me a thing. I’m just here to say, hello . . . hello . . . hello.” Each ‘hello’ is directed to a different side of the table. “And my favorite color is red.” He pulls on his earlobe and winks at Melias then waits for a response from Arturus.
SeLiem clears his throat, then says, “Arturus, why show hostility while a marvelous feast is being held? Fino is just greeting visitors to the city where he lives. I suggest you sit down. Even if he is up to something, which I doubt, the superior numbers backing him could take you down in an instant. Just sit down and let him continue.” He nods for Fino to continue. He is curious why Fino winked and flicked his ear at Melias but he doesn’t mention it. He considers asking Rastorn later what he thought of it.
With a loud sigh and rolling his eyes, Melias pushes away from the table. He wipes his face with a napkin, then uses it to clean his ears, giving a tug to one earlobe when only Fino is looking, then stands to leave. “Fino, is it? I think perhaps I can help you out with a story worth telling, and we can distance ourselves from possible tragedy,” he says, looking around at all of the merchants so ready for battle. He pauses by Red and whispers in her ear, “I would rather it be Lil and I sharing a room, but if it comes to her and Fino staying together, my room is plenty spacious to share with you.” Laying a hand on Arturus’ shoulder as he circles the table, Melias says in Elvish, “Calm down my friend. There’s no reason to be so suspicious about everyone we come into contact with. Besides, this man’s reputation precedes him. Obviously, he’s won the hearts of nearly every abled body in this room.” As he rounds the table he steps up to Fino and extends an arm in greeting, “My name is Melias. I don’t doubt you know where I’m from, but the trip from there to here has been quite interesting. Shall we go somewhere to discuss it in detail?”
“Yes, I would like very much to speak to an Elf such as you, Melias. Perhaps we can go out for a private drink once your associates retire?”
Arturus shakes his head and lets go of the knife. There is something he finds very suspicious about Fino, something which tells him the man cannot be trusted. His smile is too genuine. His words are too warm. His actions are too sincere. Arturus looks to Melias, for confirmation that his actions were just, but if Melias felt the same he wasn’t showing it.
“Friend Fino,” Orjulun says, “some of us have offered to freely share our stories with you, yet we know nothing of you and your intentions. The past tenday has been difficult for us, and we are understandably wary. Perhaps if you set our minds at ease and spoke of yourself for a bit we might all relax and enjoy the hospitality of this fine inn.”
“Yes, I suppose I should ante up, too.” After a quick glance Melias’ way, he continues, “I have lived in The Union my entire life. So, of course, given my outgoing nature I know most everyone in the city. I am a teller of tales and singer of songs, so when visitors come who may have a story worth telling I jump at the chance to learn something new.
Orjulun smiles at Fino, nodding. Abruptly, his smile is replaced by a frown and look of discomfort. “If you would all excuse me for just a moment,” he says, “I believe something I ate didn’t agree with me.” He then heads quickly outside to the latrine.
“Well, if there ain’t going to be a fight, mae head’s heading for mae pillow,” Red announces through a yawn. “Nice meeting ye, Fino the Fine, hope ye do us justice in ye songs.” She heads for her room, snatching up a half full bottle of wine from an empty table on her way out.
Lil hesitates a moment, then calls out, “Wait, Red, I’ll head back with you.” She stands in a motion reminiscent of a cat stretching and leans in close to Fino.” Melias knows what room is mine . . . if you want to probe me as well.” Then she struts out of the room.
After closing his eyes and taking a few deep breaths, Arturus had calmed himself. He steps away from the table and before leaving the room tells Fino, “My favorite color is green.”
Rastorn excuses himself, too, as does Percy when he returns, noting, “Melias and Arturus and Orjulun started the group; they would be the best ones to tell the story.”
The dining hall slowly clears, many of the men signaling Fino to make sure it is alright for them to leave him alone. He smiles and waves all of them off. “I’ve never cleared a room like that before,” he states. “Now I know how the lesser Bards feel,” he jokes. “Listen, Melias, why don’t we head out of here, just you and I, and talk.”
Melias, who still stands a few steps from the table, says, “Don’t worry about me, SeLiem. I’ll be fine.” He turns his attention back to the Fino and flourishes a bow. “Please, lead the way.”
SeLiem is the only one left at the table, so he doesn’t have much choice but to head back up to his room where he discovers Rastorn is already hard at work trying to learn spells from the new spellbook. His own plan is to pray, then sleep on the soft bed.
In his room, Arturus dons his armor and prepares himself as if he is about to go into battle. Something seems out of place to him. Pacing the length of the small room, he wonders what it is about Fino that bothers him so much. Can it really be the way he made Lil swoon? Was that part of it? He knows he never had that effect on a woman and it comes as a shock to him that what he is feeling is jealousy. “I am better than this,” he says out loud. “I am an Elf and Elves don’t act like, like . . . what?” A Human? He wonders why he is pacing like a caged animal and why he is so antsy? “ARGGGGHHHHHH!” He yells in frustration, then plops onto the bed. Folding his legs under him, he closes his eyes and tries to clear his thoughts.
Percy goes right to sleep. This was the first meal he had in a month and it made him very content and tired. He couldn’t resist the opportunity to have the first good food he had been offered since leaving Homeland, so he had removed his Ion Stone just before they landed in ASU. He will be deep in slumber by the time Orjulun returns to their room.
Red and Lil disrobe, finish off the bottle of wine, and go to bed. Lil expects a knock on her door, but still drifts off.
Orjulun returns to the hall just as Melias and Fino are leaving. Fino is saying friendly good-byes to people in the hallway and Melias is standing beside him. Melias signals Orjulun that he wants to spend some private time with Fino and soon leaves the inn with him. Orjulun waits in the hallway.
After minutes of calming meditation, Arturus decides being in a small room after weeks of being out in the open air is something he doesn’t want at the moment. Making sure he has his gear together, he walks out of the inn and onto the busy streets. He looks left, then right, listens, then heads to the right where he hears more noise, music, and signs of life.
His secret meeting with Fino complete, Melias returns to the hallway for Orjulun. As they close in on their rooms, Rastorn steps out of his room and greets them.
“Orjulun, my friend, I was just thinking,” Rastorn says, “we never completed our transaction. Remember? You were thinking about handing the bracers and the scroll over to me. I’ve thought it over and I think I’ll do the right thing and really let you take advantage of me. How about I give you this spell book we just found, which is full of Invocation magic, the mysterious magical silver tube, and that Boost Potion I’ve been toting around, which is ideal for Invocation spells, and all I get in return is the bracers and a one use scroll. I think it would be best for the party if we made this trade, don’t you think?”
Before Orjulun can answer, he is distracted by something down the hallway over Rastorn’s shoulder. Rastorn turns around and sees Fino appear at the end of the hallway and slowly approach the three partners. With a subtle smile toward the group, he walks straight to Lil and Red’s room and taps lightly on the door. Before anyone answers, he looks back at the three men and nods a greeting. The door opens, Lil’s arm shoots out at his belt strap, and Fino is pulled inside barely before the door shuts.
Rastorn looks back at Orjulun, “So, do we have a deal?”
Melias says nothing. His eyes merely move from one spell-caster to the next and back.
Moments after Lil had so eagerly invited Fino into her room, the door opened again with Red emerging wrapped in a blanket.
Melias snickers and tosses her his key. “I’ll be back later. Hope you don’t sleep too soundly.”
Although her eyes are barely open, Red catches the key and shuffles into Melias’ room, saying nothing.
Orjulun glares at Rastorn. “The bracers were given to the party, not to me, therefore I don’t feel they are rightfully mine,” he says. “In the morning, if everyone agrees, you may claim them as part of your share. But this will be a group decision, not some back-room deal carried out in the wee hours of the night.” He turns to face Melias. “Now, if you’re ready, Melias, I believe we have some business to attend?”
Melias nods to Orjulun, paying little heed to Rastorn. “Off we go.”
Rastorn is so shocked at Orjulun’s response that he fails to get a word out before the two exit the hallway. He knocks on Arturus’ door and gets no response. He hears a loud sound emanating from Lil’s room and quickly steps to the door. Placing his ear against the door, he figures out it is the sound of love-making and quickly backs away. Taking a seat on the floor of the hallway, he does nothing for a long time, then returns to his room. Rastorn had waited until the two were done having sex before he left the hallway. In his room, he casts Clairaudience and listens in on their conversation.
Melias and Orjulun unwittingly pass Arturus on the street, as they delve into the city on their secret mission.
Returning to his room, Melias checks the lock on the door before knocking. He doesn’t want to wake Red if he doesn’t have to. It’s locked, but he picks it open with ease.
A drunken Arturus and his drunken new acquaintance make their way to his room, shortly after everyone else, except Rastorn, has fallen asleep. After trying his key in the wrong lock twice, he finally finds the correct room and falls into it with the young merchant woman. With the door still ajar, since they are laying in the doorway, they begin kissing frantically and tearing at each other’s clothing. Just as he gets her breasts bared, he notices Rastorn stepping over him and into the room.
Rastorn looks down and says, “Hello Arturus, I can see you are predisposed so I will make this short. I have a potion that I have been carrying around for some time that allows you to perform in combat situations at a much greater level than normal and you have a potion that allows one to turn invisible. I propose a trade. I know where your potion is and I have mine here, so you will not even need to disturb what you are doing. I can make the trade for you and be on my way. Would that be acceptable?” The Necromancer is careful to stay a few steps away as he speaks and, once he realizes he needs to be more direct, concludes by saying, “If you say ‘yes’ and let me switch potions, I will leave now and shut the door behind me.
By the time the Wizard had finished speaking, the young merchant, whose name Arturus can’t recall ever hearing, is nearly naked and Arturus is down to his loincloth. She is breathing in deep quick breaths and outwardly excited, as she pulls him toward her.
“Yup, fwine by me,” he mutters. Without caring if the old creepy guy, whose name also escapes him, is still in the room, Arturus lays his hands on the woman’s bare breasts and fondles them.
Without a word, Rastorn digs through Arturus’ bag and is soon pushing the couple’s legs into the room, so he can shut the door.
Neither Arturus, nor his new lover, notice him leave.
Rastorn returns to he and SeLiem’s room and falls asleep.
As a whole, the party sleeps longer and more peacefully than they have in a month.
Continued in Chapter 8.3 next week!
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