They had just completed getting their equipment ready to go so they walked into the Sunken Flagon's common room. Khelgar, Bishop and Casavir strode in while grumping at each other as Grobnar stayed back out of fighting distance just in case. The gnome may have been crazy but he was not stupid.
"I do not think that route would be best." Casavir complained, "If anything we can get there faster if we take the boat from …"
They all gasped in surprise as they noticed a strange scene in front of them.
Karnwyr stood in the middle of the room with his head lowered almost to the ground. They could just see some little feet under the teeth of his open mouth.
"The mutt's gone crazy!" Khelgar yelped as he went to pull his axe.
"Touch that axe and you will have an arrow through the ear." Bishop snarled, his bow already out and cocked at the dwarf.
Casavir started to advance when the dire wolf coughed a couple of times and lifted his head up and over the hobbit. Avera stood there, holding a bone in her hand. She turned with a satisfied grin on her face. Dire wolf drool and saliva dripped off of her body.
"Aha! That's it! A steak bone!" She patted the wolf's front leg and he rubbed his face against her. She tossed the bone into the fireplace, "You eat like your master!"
"He does not." Bishop felt slightly offended but happy to be jibbed.
"I've seen you scarf down steak, lad. It ain't a pretty sight."
"Watch it." The ranger snapped. Somehow he could accept it from the hobbit but not the dwarf. He had no idea why ... except ... maybe it was that nice little frame of hers.
Grobnar walked over to Avera, "You are full of dire wolf saliva, Avera."
She grinned, "So I am. Good thing I didn't put on my armor yet. When you guys left to get the supplies set up, Karnwyr started to choke on his breakfast."
"So ye stuck yerself into a dire wolf's mouth?"
"How else do you find out what is wrong? Anyway, off to a bath."
"Shouldn't we be leaving soon?" Bishop patted Karnwyr's head sympathetically.
"You told everyone eleven." Grobnar bounced about happily.
"Yes I did. That is because Shandra is a normal female. You say eleven and she'll be gussied up by noon." She turned and walked from the common room.
"Lass has a point."
"That gives us more time to plan our route." The paladin put his and Avera's packs on the ground then placed a map out on the table.
"Plan what?" Sand asked as he came into the building.
Khelgar grumped, "The lads are fighting about what route to take."
"Are they now? How comforting that we have division in the ranks due to as simple task as that."
"It is not as easy as you seem to think, mage." Bishop sniped, "If we are going to make the best of our time we have to go my way."
"But your directions take us too close to here. If we are trying to make time we wish to avoid conflict areas. Fighting off a slew of trolls would slow us down."
"We do not know if the trolls are in that area anymore."
The two continued to discuss the routes that could be taken as the others sat back and yawned. They watched, drank some tea and listened but did not interrupt. There was no sense in getting between a paladin and ranger when they were in full growling mode. Especially not after what had been happening the last couple of days. It wasn't enough that they had to go on this trip to try to clear Avera's name from being the person who masacred Ember. No. They also had to deal with a raving paladin who was still mad at the ranger for trying to break up him and his lady love and a ranger who was upset that he wasn't able to break up that relationship. Even Karnwyr and Kathin were staying out of the way. The animals sat together while continually shaking their heads at the human men.
Casavir was getting more upset by the moment, "Reports say that …"
"What's going on?" Asked Shandra as she entered the room.
"Map wars, lass."
"Maybe I can help." Casavir and Bishop turned to look at the woman with barefaced discontent, "Wait ... I forgot. Sorry, men don't accept directions. I thought men also didn't read maps?"
"Can't we leave the wench behind? We don't need any more damsel in distress problems."
Casavir's voice became pained, "Bishop, I do not like it when you speak like that."
"Live with it, paladin."
The two men glared at each other with resent, hands on their weapons. Just as Bishop was about to bait Casavir further, Sal put a new pot of tea on the table and Avera walked into the room, wiping her hair with a towel.
"Oooh tea!" She bounced over to where Casavir normally sat and nudged him to her seat so she could sit between him and the ranger, "So have you figured out our travel plans yet?"
"Not yet." Snarled the paladin as he continued to glower at the ranger.
"We cannot agree." Bishop snapped as he sat down, still sneering at the paladin.
"Well it isn't an easy chore, that's for sure." She poured out tea for everyone before taking hers to savor.
"That was a fast bath, my lady."
She shrugged, "Dora had run it when I started checking out Karnwyr's mouth. Plus, I didn't have any distractions to keep me there long." She waggled an eyebrow at Casavir and the man blushed.
"That reminds me." A small packet flopped in front of Avera, "Take this with your tea, girl."
She peeked up from under her lashes, "Uhm, thank you, Sand. I guess."
"New tea, lass? Let's all try it out." Khelgar hadn't tried any new tea in a while and was happy to have something different to taste.
"It is for Avera. I don't think it would help any of you."
"Why not?" The ranger grumped while putting out his hand to grab the package. He didn't want any but was disturbed that he was being told he couldn't have any.
"Because you didn't do the paladin." Sand retorted easily while gingerly sipping his tea, "I think I may need some more honey, Sal."
Khelgar snorted and put his forehead on the table, laughing wildly. Shandra giggled but put her hand in front of her mouth to muffle the sound. Bishop pulled his hand back and smacked his lips in distaste. Casavir looked embarrassed, again.
"We do not wish to have … let's say … any complications. Hmmm."
Avera snickered as she put the contents into her tea mug, "That was very considerate of you, Sand. Thank you."
"You are quite welcome. It lasts for a month, my dear." And hopefully you will still be alive by the end of that time. He was quite pleased with this little one's manners. She was always polite to him, paid him well for scrolls and potions, and always thanked him for what he did for her.
"So how much do I owe you?"
"It's on the house, girl."
"Oh. I appreciate that. Thanks!"
"Isn't Neeshka and Elanee going?" Grobnar pouted.
"Elanee is in nature communing mode and Neeshka has found a mark."
Casavir almost snorted tea out his nose, "On a mark? Avera? You didn't try to talk her out of it?" He could not believe how easy going she was when it came to Neeshka's profession.
"For goodness sakes no! If she wants to try to get a man to date Elanee then it is none of my business. It's their little squabble, not mine."
"Neeshka has found a bright young, or what can be counted as young in elven terms … no offense Sand,"
The elf waved off the comment and sipped some tea, "None taken, dear girl."
"A young elven man who she thinks is perfect for the druid. She wants to get them to meet."
"That lass is becoming quite the nuisance trying to match make."
"What's wrong, dwarf." Bishop snickered, "Angry she hasn't found you an ample, round dwarven wench to woo yet?"
"You'd best be watching that tongue of yours, ranger."
"Ok guys. Let's bring the testosterone levels down a notch. We still have to figure out a route to take."
They all looked at the map trying to assess the possibilities when Grobnar woke up from whatever world he seemed to be in at times, "Oh a route! Oh goody let me see. Now if we took this road to here," His finger traveled the map swiftly, "Then we could catch this ship … that ship is just horrible as it has holes and is way too damp and smelly … that boat will take us here then we can travel from here to here, then we are in Port Llast!"
They looked up at the gnome as he beamed in excitement.
"You heard the gnome. That seems like the easiest route of them all. Let's go."