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nijineko's world

chapter twelve: the shortest route between two wolves....

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In the Eve of Fireday, 6th Month of the Year of the Emberhound. That or the Morning of Waterday... when we are inside of these otherwhere bubbles, I always lose track of time. Where did I leave off... oh, yes. Our plan with the wolves was successful. Mostly. Some stuffed themselves on the meat without falling victim to it's hidden magic. Those we were able to frighten off with the backup spell that Sabriel had prepared for that possibility. We dragged the bodies outside of the gate, along with the meat, and shut it. The rooms in the outer wall which Gramblin had been unable to explore due to the wolves, proved to be a barracks of some sort. To our disappointment, we now will have to penetrate the main stronghold, without having first reduced the fighting population of giants. The barracks were empty.

We decide to take the shortest route of the two possible entries into the stronghold proper. I cloak us all with power spun to obscure us from the vision of others. I am getting quite good at it. Not nearly as easy as the molding of shadowstuff, but that has always come naturally to me. We enter and slip into the room closing the door behind us. Looking around, I decide that this room is less for quarters, than a room for planning. There is a large map drawn on a hide of the surrounding areas. What we find on the map is very alarming. Large areas have been marked and with a most un-giantish hand, in rather pretty calligraphic strokes, the words "not here" have been written. In giantish. Most strange. It outlines all of the neighboring duchies which have refused to help our duke. And in large letters, square upon our duke's realm are the words "here". Who is guiding these giants? Most certainly not a giant, if the writing is to be trusted, notwithstanding the reputation of the hill giant chief.

A most fortuitous discovery! Behind one hanging is a hidden door. We remove the map from it's frame, and bundle it tightly so that it will fit into Sabriel's enchanted bag. Behind the door is a landing with steps heading down into the darkness. And though I thought never to say it, bless the acquisitive gnome. Out of habit, he checks the pile of logs on the landing, and lo, we find some tubes underneath them, made of a thick hide. Inside one we delight in the instructions we find. Plans for the next raid! With these in hand, the duke will have proof enough to tip the scales with the other dukes, or perhaps even sufficient to send to the king. And the name it is signed with. Not like any Elvish name I've ever heard, yet, it still seems strangely familiar. A further mystery.

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