Fireside Conversation

"You know, you're a really lousy mercenary, Muirnin," said the long, lean man sitting by the fire, sharpening his sword. He ran a stone along the edge, then eyed it as well as he could by the firelight.

"What makes you say that, Hawk?" Muirnin asked, stretching out on his bedroll, clasping his arms behind him.

"This is the third time since I've been your partner that we've had to say no to a rich, eager patron, while we go tramping across the wilderness, searching for some poor family's son or father." Content with his blade, Hawk resheathed it, grabbed his canteen and took a long drink.

"Ah, Hawk, my friend, you think of money too much," said the younger man, smiling. "Think of the good you're doing. Surely the good priest who taught you your catechism would tell you helping the poor is a noble act."

"Funny," Hawk replied, slamming the stopper back into his canteen, "Father Benedict never told me that only helping families with beautiful sad women in them was a requirement of an act of charity." He tossed another piece of wood on the fire. "Nor would he particularly approve of the way you accept their appreciation."

Muirnin sat up on one elbow. "Ah, and such appreciation they show, too. You should try it sometime."

Hawk shook his head. "And who would rescue you when their fathers find out?"

"You're a good friend, Hawk," Muirnin said.

"Or stupid," said the older man. "I just haven't figured it out yet."