“I think we should take this conversation somewhere a bit more private,” Wilfred said. He then turned to the barkeeper and asked if he might provide lodging for them and their ale-sodden friend.
“Gentlemen, with no disrespect,” the barman replied, “I would rather he not be staying here overnight with the dragons and all. If you know what I mean.”
“Of course,” Wilfred replied. “Quite understandable. Do you have any suggestions?”
“There is a disused forge just down the lane,” the barman replied.
“Sounds just the ticket,” Runny said.
They placed a full gold piece on the table, and aided Connor from the premises.
On finding the smithy, the trio entered and Runny lit a fire.
“I can’t be knowing if you know who’s I am,” Runny said at last, “but I has seen the Hanon dragon up close and am here to tell the tale, and your tale is a bit mothy I thinks, too many holes.”
“Runny does the lore speak of any purple dragons?” Wilfred asked well knowing the answer.
“Not to any of my recollecting, and I is a bit of lore-Dwarf, I am.”
“Hmm, this is an intriguing impasse,” Wilfred said. “So, about your dragons.”
“There were five of them, by the Spirits!” Connor pleaded.
“What if for discussion sake, we say that anything that is said here will not leave the forge. Let us further say that I have the Viceroy’s ear,” Wilfred offered.
“I, I umm,” the forester began, but the right words were escaping his grasp.
“By my reckoning, there seems to be a wizard miss’n from your story,” Runny said accusingly.
“Wiz . . .” the man trailed off.
“Aye, a wizard.”
“I didn’t see a wizard,” the man protested.
“What did you see then?” Wilfred asked sympathetically. “Let’s start again at the beginning.”
“Um, Brian, Daisy and me were clearing dead wood, as I said. And we found an old wolf pit. There was some shiny things down there so I lowered Brian down, and he found a skeleton and some silver coins. As he dug around he found a staff with a big crystal in the end, and we thought that the crystal might be worth some money. So I helped Brian climb out, and he started to try to pry the crystal off the staff. Next thing I know I was flying through the air and landed in a stream some hundred length away, and all around me was blazing. There was no sign of Brian or Daisy. It took me a while before I could pull myself upright, and there was just melted rock where Brian had been.”
“Now there be a better story,” the Dwarf observed.
“So, what did you do next?” Wilfred asked.
“I had a good cry, and wondered what the Viceroy was going to say about the forest, then I started worrying for Annabelle. Then the idea of a dragon hit me, but by the time I got back to the village the number had grown to four, and five by the time I got to the palace. Oh, Spirits, what am I going to do,” the man sobbed.