When the entourage breaks for the evening, Fynn uses the distraction as a chance to leave the coach. Part of him thinks perhaps he should seek out Padraig, and work his way into the man’s good graces, but the smell and noise of the camp forming around him reminds him too much of his times among soldiers. The cleric chooses instead to wander into the encampment.
Around a lone campfire, but cooking no food sits a rather tall striking figure. His facial expression is very neutral and his dark hair neither long nor short, and there is somewhat of a stern and serious look to him. The man sits with legs stretched out to the fire, reading from a dusty book titled ‘The Laws of the Gods’, a staff across his legs. Like Fynn, the man is clad in chainmail. Curious, the cleric wanders closer.
“May I?” Fynn asks, gesturing to the fire. The stranger arches an eyebrow at Fynn, and then nods his head in affirmative. But there is no friendly smile, or overt welcoming gesture. The cleric settles himself down on the ground, pulling his cooking utensils from his pack as well as a hare he bought from a squire who was a keen eye with a sling. Fynn squeezes water into the pot from his waterskin, and then throws in a few herbs. In a few minutes he’s got the rabbit skinned and boiling. The other man has neither moved nor spoken then entire time.
“Have you eaten?” Fynn asks as he stirs the broth.
“No.” replies the stranger without taking his nose from the book.
“You’re welcome to share.” The cleric offers as he pulls out a worn deck of cards.
“That’s rather kind of you.”
“But,” Fynn says, as he shuffles the cards from one hand to the next deftly, “You’ll have to play me for it. Whatever you want to ante in to play for dinner is fine with me.”
This finally gets a reaction from the stranger, who puts the book away and slowly turns to face Fynn across the fire. Again he arches his eyebrow at the cleric.
“Are you seriously expecting me to gamble my wealth for dinner?”
“Why not? I’m not that good.” Fynn lies. The stranger’s mouth slides into a half smile.
“Let’s be clear,” the man says, “you are asking me to bet against you for food,” Fynn nods in as friendly a manner as he can manage. “Against a cleric of Olidammara?” the stranger finishes. Fynn‘s smile drops.
“Okay, you can share the food at no cost,” the cleric says in disappointment, he extends his hand out to the stranger, “My name is Fletcher Hamstead, second cousin to Lord Padraig himself.”
“Ah, well I’m honored to meet you my lord,” the other man bows his head at Flynn, “My name is Bahl. I’m a scholar hoping to settle myself in Gardmore and start what could one day be a great library. The Library of Gardmore!” The handshake is firm and confident.
“At least that explains why you get to ride in the coach,” Bahl continues looking over his shoulder, “But your companions don’t seem like a friendly sort.”
“Whatever,” the cleric retorts, “you’re no scholar. You’re not planning on making any grand library of Gardmore” The last bit Fynn does in a mocking reflection of Bahl‘s voice. The cleric pours the cards from one hand to the other again, his eyes carrying a clear challenge to Bahl.
“Alright,” Bahl says, nodding mischievously, “Truth is the stakes. What’s the game?”
“Your real name?” Bahl asks.
“Not a scholar.” Phenton talks to himself aloud, “But no mage either, the chain makes that evident.” He scratches his head perplexed, “What exactly are you?”
“No kidding? Pelora>. Am I right?”
“How did you know?” the invoker says startled.
“Lucky guess, actually.” The rounds pass quickly, and Fynn cheats himself into more than enough wins to ask a lot of questions, though he respectfully never pries into why Bahl is heading for Gardmore. Finally, with the stew ready, the cards are put away and the two men settle down to eat.
“Not bad” Bahl says, sipping gingerly.
Anchor”Are you taking the coach again tomorrow?” the invoker asks.
“Nah,” Fynn replies, “Makes my legs stiff, and the ride is not that comfortable. Mind if I tuck in next to your fire?”
“Be my guest.” Bahl says as he goes back to reading. Fynn lays out his sleeping pack and settles himself in for the evening, staring up at the skies and the lone red streaking star. Good omen, or ill?
“I knew the cards were marked by the third hand.”