A teenage girl sauntered over with four mugs, and they spent a few minutes just relaxing.
"So," Terzin said quietly. "How long are we gonna stay here?"
"I figure just tomorrow," Robin shrugged.
"Day or so," Harrick agreed.
"We should go out in the woods tomorrow!"
"We should go out in the woods when we're not so tired we're probably going to fall asleep," the orc corrected.
"Okay, maybe another day."
"We'll see how tomorrow goes," Robin suggested. "They seem to get a fair amount of people through here who are looking for sort of the same thing we are, which I'm kind of concerned about." Namely, that remark about many of them not coming back.
A few minutes later Jess reappeared with two plates of stew and two of fish and handed them around.
"I ordered stew," Terzin told her a bit apologetically.
"It was three stews?" She sighed. "I got two stews, you guys can argue amongst yourselves. I'll be right back."
"I'll take the fish."
"No, no, you asked for a stew, you're gonna get a stew," she assured him. "Brother Martin, did you want a fish?"
"Here, have a fish." She handed the plate to the man with the tonsure at a neighboring table and flounced back toward the kitchen. "Wilf! Another stew."
"I thought Martin wanted a fish?"
"Martin has a fish."
With a collective shrug, the three with food dug into their meals. Quite good stew.
"Adventurers just passing through?" someone asked quietly. It was the tonsured man. Jess returned with a third plate of stew as he was speaking.
"Good evening, sir," Robin replied once she had gone.
"Evening. My name's Martin."
"Pleasure to meet you."
"Likewise. You are?" They introduced themselves. "You certainly have the look of the trail about you, I assume you're the people who just came in?"
"Somehow people can just tell."
"It's the fact that you're covered with dust," he answered her.
"And no one's ever seen us before," Harrick supplied.
"Yes, we have just arrived at the Keep," she told Martin.
"And what brings you up into these wayward and unknown parts?"
"The woods are calling us." She couldn't quite keep a straight face when she looked at her cousin. It had indeed been a long journey. "We are exploring," she amended in the face of Martin's bemused expression.
"Okay. Have any goals in mind? I've been in the area for a couple of months, I've put in some exploration time. Jess, could you bring over two bowls of the rolls, please, and some of the honey?" he asked, catching her attention as she flitted past.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah."
"We were thinking about maybe heading north."
"East. One of those directions that isn't south," Harrick said.
"Definitely not south."
"You came up from the south, then?" Martin inquired.
Jess reappeared with rolls and a dish of honey.
"Is that the latest batch?" Martin inquired.
"Yeah, he just dropped it off last week."
"Good stuff. Exploring just the general area?" He turned his attention from the honey to the newcomers. "There's been quite a bit that's happened around here over the years. I'm sure you know, that's probably why you came up here."
"No real specific goals in mind quite yet," Harrick said cautiously.
"We hope to find the lair of the nomadic goblins," Terzin ad-libbed, "who worship the snake-deity Yaa."
Martin blinked. "I'm afraid you have me at a loss on that one. There are some Winterkin in the area, um, I believe up to the north, at least there were some many years ago in the caves up there."
"We heard in the city there was a large wave headed for this area."
"A large wave? Of Winterkin?"
"A large wave of nomadic goblins," he nodded.
"The snake-god Yaa is bringing a wave of goblins to the area?"
"They worship the snake god Yaa."
"You hear a lot of crazy rumors...." Robin gave her cousin a disbelieving glance. She should have known he would come up with something like this. "Not much news gets down there, but we'd be happy to hear what has been going on."
"Maybe we'll find the three riddling brother gryphons," Terzin added.
Martin's brows went up again. "May I pull my chair up?"
"By all means," Robin told him. Jared was trying very hard to pay no attention to anything but his dinner. Harrick wondered if it might be a better idea to force dinner down Terzin's throat to keep him quiet.
"So, you guys have been on the road for a while then?" Martin asked, still in that bemused tone.
"Yes," Harrick allowed gravely.
"Too long," Robin opined.
"Well, before I came up here I had heard rumors similar to thatnot the snake-god Yaa, never heard of it, do you have any information about it? I'd appreciate it."
"Just that it is a snake deity, called Yaa." Either Terzin's imagination had failed him or he had the sense not to add further embroidery.
"That goblins worship?"
"Hm. I'll have to look into that. I had heard rumors that there might be some sort of Winterkin problems in the area, or bandit problems, or something. I have to admit that I have seen some strange things in the time that I've been up here."
"Strange?" Robin invited.
"Has there been recent news of the ridding gryphons?" Terzin wanted to know. "That tale would be intriguing indeed."
"The three brother riddling gryphons...."
How much beer had he had? the others wondered.
"Although I have heard that there's a sphinx in the area," Martin said. "That might be what you're referring to."
"No, I'm pretty sure it was gryphons. Sphinxes don't have siblings, do they?"
"A sphinx, really," Robin said gamely.
"I've never seen one, just rumors that I've heard." Martin seemed relieved to speak to someone making sense. "Mostly, to be honest, I heard that there was a sphinx in the area several years ago, a traveling circus came through.
"Ah. Interesting." She thought of Tsark.
"But they're the only creatures I know that survive by telling riddles, so... perhaps there were a multitude of them."
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