There was a completely logical explanation for my agreeing to go with Sigurd on his trip. I'm sure there was. I just couldn't think of it.
While Sigurd prepared the horses, I made my way to the rest of the group. Neradin was fighting the entire barbarian tribe one man at a time, Kaer Fore was laying plans of some kind, The twins were arguing with each other, and Acaeb was poring over an ancient scroll.
I patiently waited as Neradin knocked his opponent to the ground for the final time. Neradin pulled him up, clapped him on the back and looked around for another challenger.
"Halfling! I have yet to fight you! Come join me!"
"It's tempting Neradin, but the rest of the group is going to need you in one piece."
"Is that so?"
"Yes. Sigurd and I are leaving."
Every head, barbarians excluded, turned to face me with varying degrees of speed. Kaer's snapped up, while the Twin's turned slowly in disbelief. Acaeb's didn't move for a few seconds as he finished reading then he too looked up, but he didn't seem as perturbed.
"Racieus, you can't be serious!" started Kaer Fore. "We need you here."
"No you don't. From here on out the burden lies on the Negotiator to bring in more forces, not the fighters. Our skill will hardly be required."
"Is that why you are leaving? Because you have to sate some hunger for fighting? Are two dragons not enough for you?"
"Kaer, you are my friend. Do not presume to call me a war-mongerer."
The half-elf sighed, "I apologize. I meant no offense. This is just perplexing and frustrating. Is this to be the end of our fellowship?"
"Of course not half-elf!" came Sigurd's voice. "What do you take us for? Oath-Breakers and betrayers?" he said in mock anger.
"Nothing of the sort! That is why your departure saddens me. But no matter. Why do you leave and when do you return?"
"I have business with my king in Firellowier. He claims there are urgent matters to discuss, but I believe he simply wants me to report. As to when we will return, that depends on how far you travel and how long my presence will be required. Optimistically we could return in just over a month."
Kaer Fore, ever the strategist, was already thinking about how to turn this situation into a beneficial one.
"Alright. During your report, perhaps you could share a little of our plan to garner support of all the races while you are there. Hearing a plea for support from one of their own might sway them into joining our assault."
"Perhaps. If the opportunity presents itself, I will do my best to ask."
"Thank you. I suppose you'll be heading out as soon as you are ready. Firellowier is no short distance."
"That it isn't" said Sigurd as he passed the reigns of my horse over to me.
"Well then I suppose this is farewell. Godspeed and may you return as you always do."
As the two of us mounted, I looked back at the half-elf, "How might that be?"
"Just in the nick of time." Kaer answered with a smile.