"Not good," Roman agreed.
"Do you want to go see who this is, or do you want to really take precautions that he doesn't find us?" Nadya asked.
"Definitely wiser that he doesn't find us," he said. "Just to be on the safe side. I think we should find him."
"Okay. At this point, I don't think we should leave the donkey,. If we're trying to not make our whereabouts known, we can't leave the donkey alone or it may take it into its head to do something really loud. What do you guys want to do? Does one of you want to try and go with me, or do the two of you want to stay here and send me off alone?"
The falls sang softly in the background.
"Nothing personal, Melantha," she continued, "If anyone stays I think it should be you, just 'cause you've never really been outside the town...."
"I can be quiet," she replied stoutly.
"Being quiet in the woods is very different than being quiet in town. I don't want to be mean or anything...."
"Don't worry about it, really," Melantha assured her, amused at her slightly anxious tone. The woman did have a valid point. Roman had no useful spells memorized, so they decided that Nadya would be better off on her own.
"If I'm not back in an hour, there might be a problem." She followed the tracks into the woods until she heard voices, and crept closer with utmost care. There were two men there, one on a horse, apparently arguing. One pointed toward where she had left the others near the boulder. She could only see their torsos; the one on the horse wasn't wearing a shirt. Neither of them seemed to want to kill the newcomers, anyway.
"We should be quiet and see if they go away, they might be passing through," said one.
"No, we need help," contradicted the one on the ground.
"We don't want to split the treasure with them."
"We're not going to get it ourselves."
"It could be dangerous."
"If it's an underground chamber, you won't be able to go down there," the second replied. "Come on, we'll just go ask them."
"You're entirely too trusting, they could be dangerous."
"What, they look like kids," he dismissed.
"All right, we'll do it your way. Let's go talk to them," the first man gave in.
"I'm glad you see it that way." The two of them began walking toward the boulder. As they turned, she realized that it wasn't a man on a horse, but a centaur. He wore a pack on his back and carried a mace and a longbow. The man had a sword and wore reinforced chain mail.
Nadya made a quick decision and stepped out of hiding with her hands in plain sight.
"I think we would probably not mind joining you," she announced as the two whipped around to face her.
"You're supposed to be able to tell when they're spyin' on us," the human accused his companion.
"What, she's very quiet. Congratulations. Shall we go after your friends, then?"
"Yes. You might want to let me lead." This would put them behind her, but that might be better than having these two surprise her friends.
"My name is Kant Vellis, and this is Vineleaper," the human introduced himself and the centaur.
The others were, naturally, startled to see them approach, but Roman sensed no danger from the newcomers. Nadya told them what had happened, and introductions went around.
"We're camping out here, we believe there's a treasure somewhere in these ruins, and we're waiting for the Night of Fire, when we think it will be revealed," Kant explained. "Why are you here?"
"We came to see the falls," Roman told him with a straight face. Melantha gave him a half-impressed, half-disbelieving look. Nadya thought, Oh right, we're here three days before the spookiest night of the year to look at the FALLS?, but kept her peace.
"They are quite a mystery." Kant turned to glance at them. "I've traveled the world and I've seen some strange things, but that's up there."
"I'd heard about them, but I'd never had the opportunity to come see them. Convinced my friends to come with me, didn't really want to travel all the way out here alone."
Kant got down to business. "We don't know what the treasure is, but we have reason to think that it's substantial, and if you help us dig it up and get it back to civilization we'll give you a share."
"Sounds good to me," Roman shrugged.
"For right now, we're staying with the villagers."
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