The monks bring out entire baskets full of food, filling the cart.
Shem goes to the abbot and says, “We thank you for your generosity. We shall not forget it… if you are in need of men at arms send for us. There are too few generous people in this world.”
The abbot shakes his head, gestures at the other monks, and the monastery, then points east mysteriously.
Shem feeling very awkward says, “Thank you again… I wish there was some way to repay you.”
The abbot shakes his head again, and then bows his head."
Shem smiles and bows as well, and replies, “Hadash is in sore need of this… they will be very grateful.”
Today the travelers have a rowdy camel. They carefully skirt the obvious camp of whoever is also in the hills, then keep going around the south. The next day, as the hills are just mostly bare dirt with some rocks, the group comes across a stone structure about four feet in height
- on the top of a hill.
crude round stones mortared together into a cylinder with a round opening in the side about 3’ across -
With no signs of life and no tracks, it looks fairly barren. Shem climbs up quietly, presses his ear to the hard reddish-orange clay, and hears nothing.
They say that the Farwood’s previous occupants left these behind, scattered about the hills.
The group carefully skirts the structure and its opening on the other side of the hill, making camp again.
The next day they travel into the moors. The going isn’t nearly as bad as the hills but they still have the pull the cart out of a rut it gets stuck in three times, and the camel only gets hostile twice; then calms down and resumes travel.
Suddenly they hear a high-pitched sing song voice to the right, saying, “Go away — now here to stay?”
Tal was of course ready for this, and replies, “Secretive friend! We but travel through the moors again. Are you hungry for a treat, we’d love to give you something to eat!” (in faerie)
The voice replies, “Treats is what I hear you say? Do you have tasty babies today?”
“Alas, alas no babies to eat,” Tal says, “instead would you like salted hog meat?”
“Meat does not scream, it does not cry. How about your new friend we try?”
“Oh friends, friends that will not do, I’m attached to this brother as if by glue! If screaming and crying is what you delight, have this fine camel for dining tonight?”
“The beasts, you see, are such a bore. We’ll try the meat you said before.”
A second voice says, “These are not friends, bore us to death. Waste on these humans no more breath.”
Tal gets a leg of salted pork from the cart offers it to the thin air in front of him.
“Please accept this leg of salted hog, before we set forth again through the bog.”
Bites suddenly start being taken out of the pork.
A voice says, “Salty food, you silly swine. Your meat fits your brains fine!”
“Only one does talk, while the others stare. Do all the humans just drool at the air?”
Tal, think fast, says, “At times I think a lot of them do, but they are just shy around fae such as you.”
“Shy do you say? Perhaps for some. Starting to think they are just dumb!”
“Well if you think I’m a bore, talk to the rest of this lot and your in for a snore.”
Everyone hears giggles from all around at this comment.
“When true words strike, and do insult, our hearts sing as we exult,” the voice says finally, “If in your words you do have heart, a contest now we sure can start.”
“A contest, a game you say, tell me now how does one play?”
“We wager our children; a simple game. Then we trade insults, and you do the same.”
“Alas I have no children with which to wager, and these few here I will not endanger. Have you gold to bet? If you do then we’d be set!”
“No food, no sport; but gleaming gold? If you display your wager then we are sold.”
Tal produces his six gold pieces. With a peal of laughter it disappears from his hand.
“Stupid dead, in our words you trust? Learn to think we hope you must.” The high pitched giggling continues for some time.
“Thievery?” Tal replies, “This is how you play? Understandable because I would have won the day.”
“Well spoken, ghul, for one played the fool. Now go, be on your way, we’ve had fun for today.”
Peals of mocking laughter follow the group for an hour as they continue back to Hadesh.
And they return to Hadesh!
Lord Brandon’s widow gifts Shem and Tal each with a rare vintage bottle of wine. Everyone cheers at the food, and marvels at the camel.