Callindra took her hand and used the other woman’s strength more than she had anticipated to get to her feet, feeling a shiver run through her body at the name. “That sounds bad, makes me feel all creepy.”
“As it should. Your mission to find these artifacts must not be slowed Callindra. It is of the utmost importance that you find the pieces and assemble the Avatar.” Ellyn said. “The Trickster’s Pipe will assist, where are you going next?”
“Oh, we’re well supplied.” Callindra said, “From the shop I kinda destroyed.”
“We will bring you to your next destination.” Ellyn said easily. “The Trickster’s Pipe isn’t what it seems.”
“Well, to be honest we weren’t heading for the next artifact.” Callindra said, “We were going to go find the smith who forged my blade. So he could remake Brightfang.”
“Oh.” Ellyn said, nodding in understanding. “Well, I suppose you need to be able to fight to the best of your ability if you’re going to be able to stand against the forces of darkness? Where exactly is this smith then?”
“North if my memory serves. I was a little distracted when I saw it last.” Callindra sheathed her sword and shrugged, “It’s in a volcano on a glacier though. Can’t be that many of them right?”
“He has trouble near the glaciers. She said with a frown. “The extreme cold and ice makes travel difficult, but I can get you close.”
“Any help you can give us is more than we had before.” Callindra said with a grateful smile. “Maybe you can teach me more about sparring? I’m always eager to learn a new technique.”
“Tomorrow perhaps youngling; I’m not up to two bouts like that in one day.” Ellyn laughed, “Come on Callindra, let’s go take a bath and wash the sweat off.”
“Oh absent gods yes!” Callindra said, feeling her smile widen. “It is so refreshing to be in the company of someone who doesn’t mock my desire not to be a sweaty mess.”
“Follow me, dear. You won’t be disappointed in the baths here.”
“Cardorzada!” Belladin called from the doorway of their house, holding back Noranna, their eldest daughter with one hand and gesturing with a basket laden with food in the other. “You’ve forgotten your midday meal!”
Durrak turned from where he was hooking up the wagon to Tuk’s harness with a wide grin, “I’d forget my own head were it not for you my heart.” Noranna broke free and ran to him squealing for another kiss goodbye. Dia, their youngest was thankfully down for a nap. If she’d begged him to stay he would have been hard pressed to resist and she most certainly would have.
Belladin brought the basket and placed it carefully under the cart’s seat while he was covering Noranna’s face with kisses and promising that he’d only be gone for a fortnight. With this trade completed, he’d be sure to make enough to buy provisions that would last all through the winter. Durrak gave his wife a deep and lasting kiss, then patted the slight swelling of her belly with a foolish grin. He hoped their third child would be a boy, but he would love another girl as much.
“Leave now my darling. The sooner you go, the sooner we can celebrate your return.”
He checked the three chests of intricately carved jewelry to ensure they were secure and swung himself onto the seat. He hated to go but it really was only for a fortnight. With the gold this trading journey would yield, he would surely have enough to repair the roof before winter with enough left over to give the children something fun and perhaps some fresh and interesting spices for his sweet Belladin.
With a smile on his face and a song in his heart, Durrak set out on his way.
A candlemark later, they met in the common room again. Jamison was serving pints of ale and the others were pouring over maps. They looked up when the two entered.
“We’re packing it in.” Ellyn said, “These youngsters need a lift and we’re going to give it to them.”
“You aren’t thinking about heading to the glacier are you?” Driffen asked, raising his eyebrows. “We’ve had trouble with – ah – certain folk in the past.”
“We ain’t gonna get within a day’s flight of Magera.” Ellyn snapped, “I’m not crack brained enough to risk that much.”
“Oh. Well. Good to know.” Driffen said sarcastically, “Here I was afraid you were gonna take an unnecessary risk.”
“A risk yes.” Ellyn said, giving him a significant look. “But not an unnecessary one.”
“What?” Driffen asked, and then his eyes widened. “Oh. Are you … Ellyn are you sure?”
“If she says she’s sure. She is sure.” Horus said, his voice flat. “That is all.”
“Right. I’m sure that’s right.” Driffen said, averting his gaze. “We’re packing it up. Time to go. The Mistress of the Pipe has commanded it.”
Ginny frowned, following the exchange. “We have another couple of leads to follow up on here.” She said, and then seemed to figure something out. “But debts need to be paid first of course.”
“Debts?” Tryst said, smiling at her. “If anything we are in your debt.”
“Agreed.” Callindra said, looking between them with a confused look on her face. “What could you owe us?”
“Not a debt to you exactly. It’s a long story.” Ellyn said, “I’ll just say we owe Jorda, and you’re doing something for her. This should balance the scales a little bit, but if not at least we have tried. Enough, if you accept our gift of transport I will hear no more of it.”
“How are you going to get us there?” Cronos asks, raising an eyebrow. “What do you mean by ‘packing it in’ exactly?”
“My Trickster’s Pipe has well earned his name.” Ellyn said with a mischievous smile. “Keep your seat and drink your ale. We depart now.”
Callindra sat next to her brothers and accepted a tankard from a smiling Jamison. Ellyn drew an iron rod from her belt and shook it. The heads of tiny keys erupted from all sides of it in a forest of bristling points. Walking behind the bar, she opened a tiny door and thrust the rod into it, twisting and turning it a dozen times as she inserted it until it clicked completely home.
A hum of pure arcane power rippled throughout the room and it began to move ever so slightly. It was so subtle that at first they didn’t notice it, but then the room tilted far enough to one side that it became obvious and Vilhylm moved to look out the window.
“We’re moving.” He said, “What kind of thing is this?”
“My Trickster’s Pipe is my home, my place and my sanctuary. It changes to fit my needs.” Ellyn says, her voice reflecting her concentration. “And right now I need to travel.”