That brought a laugh and the girl scampered out promising again to get everything she was sent for. Callindra went to the common room, belting her tunic at the waist and deciding it was long enough for the demands of modesty. She walked up to the bar, set Shadowsliver next to her and tossed a silver piece at the bartender. He caught it and walked over. She ordered an ale and a meal and gave him an extra gold piece to cover her meal.
She listened to the chatter in the room as she ate but didn’t learn anything new. Eventually Cronos and Vilhylm entered as she was enjoying a pipe and an after dinner ale. They were clean as was their clothing, which explained the duration of their absence.
“Little urchin brought us a meal while we waited for him to wash our gear.” Vilhylm said with a grin, “Charged the moon for it but I say it was worth it.”
Cronos grumbled a bit but sat and ordered a mug of mead. “Tryst went off to see about things.” He said after his first sweet sip, “I’m guessing what we’re looking for is going to be in the keep but we didn’t want to sign up for this contest before being sure.”
“Weren’t you all just saying we should stick together?” Callindra asked mock innocently, “Have we changed our minds?”
“Well, we had already sent our clothes off to be washed so we couldn’t go with him.” Cronos said.
“The deadline to apply for the contests is tomorrow morning so we had to be sure before we committed to it.” Vilhylm added.
“Ah. Because we couldn’t just wait a candlemark because that would be too long?” She asked, exhaling twin streams of smoke from her nostrils. “I see. At least I have the fortitude to admit when I’m wrong boys. You should probably work on that.”
Tryst strode in a few moments later, a grim expression on his almost pretty face. “We have trouble.” He said in a low tone. “Finish your drinks and we’ll discuss it in our room.”
“An ale for my brother.” Callindra said, tossing the bartender another coin. When he moved away to pull the pint, she gave him an admonishing look. “You can’t just show up and then we leave like that Tryst, it’ll look suspicious. Sit and have an ale with us before we retire.”
Callindra saw her would be laundress slip up the stairs with a bundle in her arms and excused herself. Returning to their room, she dressed properly and thanked the girl sending her on her way with another silver coin. The clothes were simple, yet well made and her armor was cleaned and polished perfectly. She was smiling to herself and changing into a fresh tunic to sleep in when her brothers came in one by one.
When they were all together and the door was closed again they all say around the small table and Tryst took out the Hand. He set it on the table and it pointed directly at the keep. As it pointed it moved backward and forward ever so slightly as though tracking the movement of a pacing animal.
“I believe the next piece is in the Keep, but I also believe there may be more than one.” He said, and as he spoke it abruptly pointed in a slightly different direction almost as if it was illustrating his point. “At least one of the pieces appears to be on the Count’s person, or someone inside the keep.”
“So we have to enter this contest then?” Callindra said, not really asking a question, and the others nodded.
“Yes, however this isn’t a city of refugees being led by a man only gifted because he has a silver tongue from the gods.” Tryst said, his tone serious, “This is a man who has built a city that is a stronghold from the Abyss from all we have seen so far, and built it well. From what I’ve seen thus far, there can’t be more than one or two pieces left and if the Count has two of them, we may be putting ourselves and our entire mission in danger.”
“There is also the fact that this place seems to be free of the Abyss.” Vilhylm said, his voice low and sounding a bit worried. “If we remove the things that are keeping it at bay what will happen to all these folk?”
“Can we afford to worry about one city when the fate of the world is at stake?” Callindra asked, “I do not wish to visit the horrors we have seen on this city; however we have a mission we cannot afford to abandon.”
“I believe we must attempt to gain an audience with the Count of Adbar.” Tryst said, “If he is a wise leader he will see the necessity of our quest.”
“If he isn’t we’ll be in serious trouble.” Cronos said, before Callindra could voice the same thought. “He has a city of devoted and capable warriors at his command. Even if he is a wise leader, it is a rare man indeed who would trust a band of adventurers to take artifacts that keep his people safe from the terrible destruction that they will surely face once that protection is gone.”
“What is to stop him from seizing what we have gathered ourselves?” Vilhylm asked, “We cannot afford to leave them here and to separate ourselves is folly.”
“We have to trust that we are the ones sent here to complete this task.” Callindra said, feeling surprised by the conviction behind her words. “Jorda herself sent us on this quest and we cannot and will not fail her.” Her brothers looked at her, the grim determination she felt mirrored on their faces.
“In this, we are agreed.” Tryst said. “I have signed us up for this contest. We will go there, meet Adbar’s challenge and gain an audience with him. It is the only way we can complete the journey the gods themselves have set us to walk.”