"A Dwarf, a Wizard and an Elf Meet in the Woods."

Part II – Silver Tree

Chapter 21 – "Follow Me!"

Sighing, Daelynn slumped down onto the hard wooden chair, one of the few in the small room not damaged. She waved her two companions away.

"Just need to rest a few moments", she panted. "Tired."

"Not surprisin'. Several days without proper food'll do thet". Garlt looked around the guardroom they had stumbled upon. Thankfully unmanned, the quarters looked to have been recently ransacked.

"Me thinks Baron Hesh an' his lackeys are runnin'. We ain't seen nor heard no one in the last hour."

After traversing the pits beneath the Baron's residence, the trio had found their way up to a small guard room situated near a postern door that led from the Baronial residence's grounds to a Silver Tree side street.

"Here, elf." Garlt produced the steel flask from a pocket on is vest. "Ye need another hit o' this."

Daelynn waved off the dwarven spirits. "I am already half-drunk. I need food and rest, but as we do not have time for that, then a healing potion will do."

"Ain't got none", stated Garlt, taking a long draw from the flask.

"What few potions we have are at the inn", stated Stefane. "But here is a water skin. Found it over there, in the corner. And, now that we are away from your cell and its null-magic effect, I can offer you a healing spell. Sort of."

"You are now a cleric?" Asked Daelynn, dubiously.

Stefane rolled back his left sleeve and held a brawny forearm in front of the elf. A bracelet made of a dozen or so berry-sized, multi-coloured wooden beads hung on his wrist.

"Some of the treasure we recovered from Martinus' lair in the Spire. Master Gemfinder's axe cut this from the mage's arm. It's magical – but clerical, not arcane. Took me many hours and more than a few headaches before I realized that my 'Weave-Finder' ability works poorly on clerical magic items. I was going to sell it the Apothecarist. Thought it'd fetch a better price if it were cleaned up a bit. When I'd removed some of the dust and grime, I noticed very fine lettering on each bead. Druidic runes. Each bead is a spell!"

"This one", Stefane pointed to a blue bead. "Says 'Great Healing'."

"Yer tellin' us thet little bauble allows ye to cast a spell?" Asked Garlt, suspiciously.

"No", answered Stefane. "Not cast. All one need do is read out the words on the bead and the spell, already cast but contained, is loosed."

"You will not be casting?" Asked Daelynn, apprehensively.

"No", averred the young mage, testily. "The wearer of the bracelet releases the spells. Here, try it yourself!"

"Do not get snippy with me, Mage!" A tired Daelynn shot back at Stefane.

The elf placed her left hand on her aching neck and started massaging it. "Very well. Use it. But if you kill me, I swear by the Goddess, I will haunt you!"

Stefane eagerly plucked the bead from the bracelet. Holding it in the palm of his left hand, he passed his right over it, murmuring the inscribed rune-word. With his right hand extended, the man touched Daelynn's shoulder.

A shimmering silver light limned the elf. Daelynn jerked to her feet, eyes wide, all signs of fatigue gone.

"That… that feels amazing! Udûn!" She swore. A pink glow tinged her blue cheeks. Her breathing had quickened.

"What are we standing here for? Let's find that bastard baron! Follow me!""

Daelynn stalked out of the guardroom followed by the two men. Stefane had to increase his stride to keep up to the elf. The dwarf was almost running as the Herald approached the small stout door set into the stone wall that encircled the Baron's residence.

"Locked", she observed. She pushed at the door. "Sturdy."

After a half moment spent examining the door, she grabbed the door's top hinge. Flexing her shoulders she grunted, then tore the hinge off the door. Tossing it aside, she grabbed the lower hinge and pulled it off. Garlt and Stefane stood speechless, watching as the elf wrestled the door out of its jamb and moved it aside.

'Let us go." She commanded, stepping out into the afternoon sun. "Follow me!"

With that brusque order the Herald turned left and marched down the street, Garlt and Stefane rushing after her.

"What the hell did ye do, lad? What was thet spell?"

"Um… Healing? But now I'm not certain", whispered the mage.

"Er, Herald? Where we be goin'?"

"Not sure. Need to find Hesh", responded Daelynn, a small cruel smile on her face. "And when we do…"

"Well then, um… where would he be hiding, assuming he's not left Silver Tree", asked Stefane?

Daelynn stopped abruptly, causing Stefane and Garlt to trip over each other.

"Good questions. Let me think."

The elf stood still, her eyes closed and her fingers drumming together, mumbling to herself.

"He has wagons to move his silver. Needs a fair-sized place to hide them… They would have to be guarded…" Her mind racing, Daelynn reviewed all she had learned of the Baron, what rumours she had heard, the news Garlt had relayed to her, and her knowledge of the layout of Silver Tree.

"Where are the town guards, his men at arm, stationed?" She barked the question at Garlt.

Stefane answered. "There were many at the residence, but they have fled. Town gates, armoury, at the granary, and at the town's three wells."

Daelynn mulled over that information.

She pointed an accusing finger at Garlt. "You said there was no grain in town!"

"Don't snarl at me! Thet's what I heard" the dwarf stated, angrily.

"If true, why place guards over empty grain bins? Hah! I know where he and his silver are", the elf crowed!

Reversing her course and brushing by her two companions, Daelynn strode back up the street the way they had come.

The elf called out loudly. "Follow me!"

Turning, the dwarf and mage rushed after her.

The streets surrounding the granary had been cleared of people by the Baron's men several times over the last few days. The citizens of Silver Tree had got the message and had stopped congregating and protesting.

Silver Tree's granary consisted of a large enclosed wooden structure with two large grain silos sticking through the roof. Several long wood and leather sheathed tubes ran from the unloading area at an angle to the roof of the building.

"What are those?" asked Daelynn, pointing at the long tubes.

"Grain augers", answered Stefane. "Wheat, barely or whatever, is shoveled into the mouth of the auger. Those cranks rotate a screw in the tube which moves the grain up the tube to the roof of the warehouse. It then drops into a large bin. A buyer places a wagon or even just sacks at the bottom of the bin, which is raised off the floor. Grain is released from the bin and pours down a chute into the wagon."

Both the elf and dwarf were giving the mage odd looks.

"Oh, I worked on an uncle's farm for a season. He harvested wheat", explained Stefane.

"Of course, you did", responded the elf.

Garlt stepped in front of his companions, raising his hand to his eye patch and forehead to scratch.

"Looks none too secure. Several entrances. I'd guess about ten or twelve men-at-arms inside", stated the dwarf.

His received looks from the mage and elf.

"Er, jest me best guess."

"Of course, it is", replied the elf.

"What now", asked Stefane?

"We go in there and get the Baron", stated Daelynn . Eyes shining, she eagerly started forward.

"Dinna ye need a weapon", called the dwarf? "Or a plan?"

"If I need a weapon, I'll take one from somebody", shouted the elf over her shoulder. "Or some body. And my plan is to arrest or kill Hesh! Follow me!"

"Wait up!" Complained Garlt as he pulled his axes free of their harness, and ran after the Herald.

Shaking his head and wondering what had happened to the usually rational and calm elf, Stefane pulled the Rod of Vines from his belt and followed.

A/N: Some of you may remember Stefane's issue with translating runes in Part I of this story. I'll say no more.