Fistbeard Beardfist leaned back against a barrel of his homemade whiskey and stroked his long beard in contentment. The mountain was perfectly situated for brewing alcohol; there were clear streams of fresh spring water from the mountaintops, abundant oak forests below, and several human farming settlements whose main product was various types of grains. The forest elves were something of a nuisance, but the thin mountain air generally prevented them from coming up to bother him about his distillery.

"You know, you're here to guard this cave entrance so people don't find their way into the Ancestral Durance, not get blindingly drunk and beat up mountain orcs every other day."

No such luck today, it seemed. The form of the Reina Dawntracker strode into the cavern entrance and crushed his hopes of a peaceful afternoon.

"If this is about that avalanche," Fistbeard waved dismissively, "Thain Wulfgar probably set it off with a stray thunder-hammer."

"And what was he throwing the thunder-hammer at, if I may ask?" Reina asked, with a tone in her voice as pointed as her ears.

"I'm sorry, I think my memories of the event have suddenly been obscured due to the fact that I was very drunk at the time. Will that be all?"

"Unfortunately not." She drew a letter from the woven pouch on her belt and handed it to him. "It seems your services as a guide have been requested. The Guild of Essential Inscriptions wants you to sneak a party into the Ethosas monastery."

"Guild mages and Hextorites? Can I assume that the wizards have some sort of high priority mission, if they're calling in a favor from the Guardians of the Green?"

"Something about the monks activating an ancient relic; the mages were a little vague on some of the details since they just want us to infiltrate a small group."

"And you are asking me, despite the fact that I'm only an honorary Fist of the Forest? I've never felt so honored and expendable in my life."

"There's no use in arguing, Fistbeard." Reina drew another letter out of her pouch. "I didn't want to do this, but I thought you might be a little obstinate and asked Deepwarden Goldcutter for some support."

Fistbeard snatched the second letter, tore it open, and glanced over the single line it contained.

"Classic," he groaned.

"What did it say?"

"Do it, you anvil-dropping pansy. Signed, Rhes Goldcutter."