Greeting Dawn

It was morning, a cold one at that. What Bäske had feared, had almost happened; it took him a while to get out of his tunic, it was frozen onto his chest and tearing it off caused a shoot of pain. Bokhbar had kept warm, for some reason the fire next to him hadn’t gone out, Bäske suspected there was more to the trickster than met the eye. He kicked the wizard into the back; “wake up old fool, wake up, we have to be leaving.” He kicked again, only harder this time “Wake up!” Bokhbar flew up with a flash; it looked as if the clouds turned black and the snow blood red; “never wake a wizard up from his slumber huntsman!” He pointed his finger at Bäske’s feet and shot a blue flame onto them, lighting his boots on fire. Bäske jumped into the snow, the old man laughing and pointing. “Stop playing around little huntsman, we have to be going.” Bäske ripped off his boots and tended to his feet, giving the old man a nasty look. They kicked out the fire and made their way back on the path. Even though it had frozen harshly that night the second sun still shone bright, reflecting down upon the white snow. Any foreigner would have problems seeing across the snowy white plains, it could blind a man. The travelers had walked a long while yesterday, they had just entered Burrowheart province, an area known for the good hospitality and kind people. It always remained neutral in conflicts, rather tending to any wounded armies passing by and keeping out of violent situations. Burrowheart had many small villages, so small that even if you would count them all up and put them together you wouldn’t even get a quarter of an area of Whitecrown, the nation’s capital. The village Bokhbar had his contact in, had only a couple of houses and a curious light-house, built there for a reason that had nothing to do with guiding ships to their docks. The sea was further north, through this part of the land only small streams and rivers ran. Throughout the day the travelling pair passed many small kind communities, collecting food and warm clothing along the way, through much luck they found a stocky farmer willing to do rid of his packing donkey costing them Johann’s golden axe and the wizard’s red robe. Apparently this farmer felt like playing war-mage dress-up. Waving the curious farmer goodbye Bokhbar instantly placed himself on the donkey, making Bäske take rope and lead it on sighing and annoyed. On top of the beast the wizard was clapping and doing mostly the stuff a small child would do the first time riding a horse.

It was getting darker, the second sun was setting, the pair reached a small wooden gate surrounding only a couple of houses, in the background a white light-tower could be seen. They had reached their destination; Bokhbar stepped off the pony and approached the gate, knocking his staff on it three times. A small dwarf-like man peeked through the peephole in the wooden gate; “Yes? Who be there?” Bokhbar stuck his staff through the peephole, poking the man in the eye. “By Handyr the elder open up this gate before I lit it.” The smallish man rubbed his eye and opened the gate; “Step in then old man…ouch…I wish you and your friend a pleasant stay.” The pair stepped in, Bäske eying the small and feeling sorry about what just occurred, he hardly believed he was in the company of such an annoying evil little trickster. Now leading on the pony himself Bokhbar looked back on Bäske “Come follow me, I know the way, we have to make for the only Inn here, the bartender is a friend of mine and he has valuable information.” They made for a small building, smaller than a house, a sweet smell came from it and smoke came from the chimney. Inside they found only a small group of people, not drunk nor singing, nor throwing objects around violently. It was a quiet place and behind the counter a man stood with a long beard appearing to be around a hundred years old. Bäske thought he had arrived at a madhouse, why was this place so quiet, this wasn’t an inn, it was a resort for old veterans and wives. The hunchbacked rotting old thing behind the counter waved at Bokhbar; “Old friend! Over here!” Bokhbar made his way for the counter, smiling. “I have not seen you in a while? What has it been? Seventy years?” Bokhbar nodded; “Just abouts yes.” Bäske looked for an empty seat, an endeavor not that difficult in a quiet and deserted inn as this one. From in the back of the room he could see the wizard and the bartender whispering and on occasion smile. He was wondering what they were talking about, hoping he hadn’t made a mistake keeping his promise. An old grey hag appeared next to the table carrying a plate of drinks, obviously this was the bartender’s wife, unluckily also the waitress. The plate she held almost looked as if it could fall down any moment as she herself was unstable and weak. “Care for a drink handsome?” the old crow screeched at Bäske, along with some saliva. Bäske wiped some of the saliva from his tunic, he looked up and eyed her with disgust; “looks like I won’t have to be paying for one anymore, you just covered me in enough for the night… Very well, I’ll be taking ale then.” Bäske grabbed a mug and set it on his table, the old crow moved on to the other guests. As Bäske prepared to take his first sip the wizard appeared before him; “we’re going”. Bäske felt like the world got ripped away from beneath his feet. He stood up with a sigh and they left the inn. Bäske saw a serious frown on Bokhbar’s face, a sight he had not seen before. “What’s wrong, where are we going?” Bokhbar looked at Bäske; “We’re going north, we’re chasing something else.” Bäske raised his eyebrows; “The dragon is dead then?”Bokhbar didn’t reply. He took the donkey from the ledge he had bound it to and they made their way out of the village.

The End

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