Chapter Nine

"We should stop here for the night." It was the first thing Isidria had said in well over an hour.

Enthlor replied, "It's barely afternoon. Why should we stop here?" Isidria said nothing, just led his horse to the left, where there was a badly painted sign for "The Dead Sea Urchin Inn."

"Isidria, that road's barely a path," Enthlor protested. "An we're days away from any sort of ocean. What's with 'The Dead Sea Urchin?'"

"We'll be safe down there," Isidria said while gazing off into the distance and looking pensive. Enthlor guessed both the comment and the expression meant absolutely nothing. Still, Isidria kept riding down the path, so Enthlor followed. He was feeling less and less like a mercenary on a mission and more and more like the reluctant playmate of an overgrown child. So far, this wandering bard had offered no useful information, except perhaps an excellent sense of direction. But Enthlor could make due well enough with a map, and he figured that pretty soon he'd have to get rid of thi crazy prophet / bard.

It took them somewhere around half an hour and passage through a number of prickly bushes before arriving at the small and tattered inn.

"Here we are the," Enthlor said, but Isidria shook his head and kept going. A few more minutes' ride and they came to a larger, though no less shabby, building.

A young man came out to take their horses, and Enthlor and Isidria plodded on up to the front doors.

"So, were you going to tell me why we're losing half a day's travel time?"

"So we don't lose the rest of our lives' travel time," Isidria replied, then went off to find someone. Enthlor headed for the bar, where he sat down to order some cider.

A few hours later Isidria came back, looking sullen as usual and with the black lining around his eyes slightly smeared. Enthlor looked up at him (and globbered).

"I'll show you where your room is."

Enthlor got up and followed. On the way there, he thought vaguely of how very feminine Isidria's hair actually was.

The owner of the girlish hair broke Enthlor's train of thought with a line of speech. "Here it is." Enthlor gazed back at the owner of the womanish hair and said nothing. "Are you going to go inside?" asked the hair's owner.

Enthlor blinked. Twice. Three times.

"Okay," said the owner of the hair, " no more cider for you. Who knew it could be so potent?"

Isidria opened the door and led Enthlor inside, then left.

Enthlor looked around the room, saw something that resembled a bed, and fell on top of it.

Sometime in the middle of the night, most of the current inhabitants of the Dead Sea Urchin awoke in terror.

Enthlor stayed fast asleep, though in the morning he did recall having had nightmares about his father's slow and painful death, and wondered why he was on this mission if his father died anyway. Later he would link it back to the awful noises that woke most of the Dead Sea Urchin's inhabitants.

Isidria slept through the whole thing.