The moment of silence drags on for longer than pleasant company would normally allow it to. The jingle of the coach, the gentle sounds of Morpheus slumbering next to Legion, the continuous trot of the draft horses, and the soft babble of the groups of men accompanying the caravan are like a tidal wave of welcome noise for Fynn, who sat across from Legion and Morpheus.
It’s like being in the army again, thinks Fynn, only the ride’s more comfortable. He continues to stare at the shade, his eyes refusing to waver. Legion, for his part, stares back with no expression. They are in the second such coach, the first being for Padraig and Valthrun, along with other carts and supplies being taken to Gardmore. And there are numerous men. Mercenaries, and a few adventurers as well that Padraig has acquired in hopes of bolstering the strength of his now famous “Winterguard”.
Fynn wonders to himself if this means that he himself was now part of the renowned group. The cleric’s goal was to set up a gambling den in Gardmore, a place of worship for those faithful to Olidammara, and a great source of gold for any smart hustler. Fynn had hoped to leave the blood and guts behind him, his dreams already plagued by the fields of dead young men that littered the grounds after every large battle. But by the gods did he miss it already. Perhaps working with a smaller group would be better.
The shade stares back, his gaze unwavering. Does it even, blink? Is he going to be part of them too, Fynn wonders? He’s never met a darker pair than these two. It makes sense to be wary, but still. Fynn sighs, finally breaking the staring contest to fish his lucky coin from his tunic. Heads, he thinks to himself, heads puts me back in the game.
The cleric stared at the battered old coin, running his fingers over the edges. Guide me, he silently prays to himself, help me choose you tricky old rogue. In one fluid motion, he flicks the gold coin spinning into the air. As the coin flips end over end in the jostling cart, Fynn risks a glance back at the shade. Legion has moved off to stare out the window, but the cleric can see it staring back out of the corner of its eye with one eyebrow cocked in curiosity. Fynn snatches the coin from the air, and slaps it onto the back of his hand. The left hand. The shield hand. The hand he’s adorned with angel tattoos and sunbursts. Slowly, he uncovers the coin, very much aware that Legion too is watching the result.
“Phenton Luckmaker” the cleric says by way of introduction, waiting for his curious companion to accept the handshake. Legion stares at the offered hand, in a long stretched out manner that makes Fynn begin to think he won’t accept it. But slowly the shade reaches across the gap and takes his hand. The gesture is awkward, almost as though it’s been years since Legion has shaken anyone’s hand.
“Coin tosses seem like an unusual way to start friendships,” the shade says matter of factly.
“Aye,” Fynn replies, “But I’m a cleric of Olidammara, so perhaps it’s not that odd at all. And who says this is a friendship? Maybe it’s just a partnership.” Legion tilts his head, but says nothing for a few long moments.
“Luckmaker?” this time the shade actually smirks at Fynn.
“Not a real family name, obviously.” Fynn replies, “Just a name I picked up a number of years ago. It seems people think I can bend luck in my favor. My friend’s call me Fynn.” Legion sits back, nodding his head at the cleric for a few moments before speaking again, in his slow deliberate manner.
“Well then, Fynn, it seems we are friends after all.”
With a heavy sigh, Erenst Padraig sinks back into his seat, his spirits plummeting. Valthrun feels terrible having had to tell his liege all the frightening facts of his discovery, especially given Lord Padraig’s raised spirits at his own news he wanted to tell the sage.
“It’s just like Kalarel all over again,” the noble says shaking his head in dismay, “When does it end?” Valthrun is delighted that Padraig makes the connection, and in his excitement he practically jumps out of his seat.
“You are precisely correct, my lord!” the young sage pushes his spectacles back into place and begins to talk animatedly with his hands, “Kalarel was attempting to open a portal to the Shadowfel in order to bring into our world forces in line with Orcus. This star, the last time it was seen, was when Orcus named a new exarch, and that exarch did the same thing!”
Padraig stares at Valthrun’s smiling face and shakes his head in disbelief.
Anchor”Wouldn’t the star mean that whoever that person is this time, they succeeded in opening the portal?” the noble says in a sobering tone. Valthrun’s smile drops. He has not thought about that possibility. Now he sees why his liege has become so melancholy. The young sage reaches across, and in an uncharacteristic gesture, he pats Padraig’s knee.
“We have the Winterguard, my liege; they will succeed where others would fail.”
“Let us hope,” Padraig says as he hands Valthrun a message scroll. The sage pours over the note, and a smile breaks across his face.
“Well, this is good news!” Valthrun exclaims, “A potential trade agreement with the Seven Pillared Hall! It says they’re sending an envoy to Gardmore to discuss it.”
“Yes,” Padraig says skeptically, “and it also says they require a favor to finalize the agreement.”
“But still…” Valthrun replies, “there is potential for good news!”
“Depends on the favor.” Padraig replies, glumly.