Quintessence of the Story‘Ailintho, if you don’t want to go, I’ll send someone else.’
‘No, Master’, I shook my head. ‘There is no one in the community who has enough knowledge to do it. If there is any druid who can complete this mission, that’s me.’
‘I’m not talking about the journey only, I want to know if you trust the warrior. If not, I’ll find an excuse to send someone else.’
I said nothing and came close to the window. Children were playing hide-and seek among the trees and Lendra was shouting their names to make them return to the hall. The sun was setting slowly announcing the time for rest.
‘Can you trust him, Ailintho? Can you entrust the jewels and yourself to his protection?’
The image of Wanlorn carrying me came to my mind, I recalled his pulsating and alerted yet positive energy and nodded.
‘I think I can. Although I predict he won’t be a good companion’, I smiled ironically.
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Feeling even more agitated, he kept wringing his hat in his hands. I was watching him from the corner of my eye as I made my way down the stairs, his head was almost bald but still had a circle of hair around the center. It was obvious he was in high standing, by the quality of his clothes and his rather large stomach I could tell he was important, probably the mayor of the place and I could already guess what he was going to ask. After reaching the bottom of the stairs I went straight for the door completely ignoring him, he blocked my path in order to get my attention…
‘Excuse me Sir, do you have a moment to hear me out?’, I looked him up and down as if mulling over my decision and gestured to him to go on.
He took a deep breath and continued.
‘We had a recent case of disappearances, townspeople are worried and we were hoping…’
I cut him off.
‘You were hoping someone would look into it and make the problem go away’, I wasn’t making a question.
He lowered his eyes and nodded silently adding, ‘We don’t have much to pay you with I fear, our village is poverty-stricken and with little resources’, the poor man almost ruined his hat completely while waiting for my reply.
‘We will talk about my reward afterwards’, he seemed relieved to a point, guess he expected me to outright decline but now that he was thanking me I could see a new worry arise in his eyes, worry about what I will demand as my reward.
I had no intention of making him feel better, at least not until I saw what I was dealing with.
‘What can you tell me about the disappearances?’
All he could say was that some people went missing, one had a habit of hitting the bottle and the other was less well-liked, which was why the villagers weren’t in a hurry to look into the matter. The most recent one was, according to the mayor, a decent sort and people swore he wouldn’t just take off out of the blue. It wasn’t much to go on but still it was as good as anything, I reserved my judgement on the matter until I find out more.
The mayor seemed more than happy to pass me over to someone else when I asked for a guide to show me the houses of villagers who supposedly disappeared, guess he was nervous around armed strangers. No surprises there, people were usually like that. A sudden thought of how much I hated always being willing to help ran through my head, but I already said yes and was bound by my word. So I followed him till he handed me over to my designated guide. The mayor walked away quickly to his house and I was shown the first empty building.