As Greil stalked out of the building, glaring at his new appendage, the rest of the group following shortly behind him discussing their findings, a sudden movement in a nearby hedgerow startled them all into a scramble for their weapons. Emerging from the shrubbery with a confident stride, a well armoured elf confronted them with a wry smile.
“Euven…” Greil stammered, recognising him in almost an instant.
“You’ve been following us” the commander accused.
“Far from it. My own private business just happens to have led me here” Euven replied calmly.
Grimlock stepped forward aggressively, growling out a question of his own, “What business?”
Euven cocked his head slightly to address his other former companion, “The dead elf. That is, I assume, why I find you emerging from this house is it not?”
“Indeed, we are investigating on behalf of sheriff Joran,” Greil continued before Grimlock could, seeking to keep the discourse civil, “and we would appreciate any information you may have”.
Euven considered this for a moment before telling them everything that they already knew themselves.
“I see” Greil broke the silence after Euven had finished speaking.
“Anyway,” the elf continued, “As pleasant as this reunion has been, I must be leaving.”
As he turned to go, Greil piped up with one last question, “Euven, have you any knowledge of this?” He held out his dagger-fused hand for the elf to see. If Euven knew anything, he certainly showed no sign of it as he shook his head and walked away, saying “Personally I would never have touched something like that”, melting into the nearby trees moments later.
“I don’t like him” snarled Grimlock.
Beside him, Greil suddenly vanished. Tarkus and Gregg, who had stood back and kept to themselves during the discussion, able to detect the palpable frosty atmosphere between the three former companions, both let out gasps of surprise.
Grimlock turned to them both, “He does that sometimes. Let’s go get drunk.”
Being of a race that was most at home in woodlands, Euven’s journey through the forest surrounding the foothills of the Gol Mountain range was considerably easier than that of the man following him. Though struggling to simultaneously keep up and remain silent, Greil was successful at both, and after an almost hour-long journey he came upon Euven’s base of operations.
The hilltop offered decent protection and seclusion, as the surrounding woodland was densely packed, save for this small clearing, whilst also serving as a decent position for observation, seeing as it overlooked a large portion of Goxhill. As Greil peered through the trees, still taking cover despite his sustained invisibility, he spotted the elf on the clearing’s far side, crouched down in the dappled shade cast by the overhanging canopy. Watching with curiosity, he saw Euven dig at the ground in front of him before lifting a flap constructed from a criss-cross hatching of large sticks and smaller twigs, covered with a smattering of dead leaves and general underbrush from the forest floor and assembled in a surprisingly natural looking array. The elf stopped still, listening to the world around him, before giving the clearing a slow and detailed scan. He proceeded to clamber into the ground underneath the hatch and pulled it down over himself. The whole exercise lasted no more than fifteen seconds – the clearing was once again silent and still, displaying no evidence of being disturbed by any life forms, let alone a burrowing humanoid. Greil watched and waited.
Evening had long fallen on the village of Goxhill, most of the residents of which were now to be found within The Groggy Mare, along with three heavily inebriated mercenaries. Finally tiring of their drinking games, Gregg was the first to leave, hiccoughing a goodnight to his companions as he stumbled out of the inn and towards his home in the village.
Minutes later the door swung open again, Grimlock and Tarkus both looked over and grunted drunken greetings as Greil ordered a drink and pulled up a chair to their table. The three talked for some time before the goliath bade them both goodnight and headed upstairs, Greil having rented them a room each. The jovial atmosphere took on a more serious tone as the commander brought Grimlock up to speed on his findings, having waited for several hours, quietly watching Euven’s camp, Greil had left shortly before midnight, the elf having not stirred once in that time.
The tale ended just in time, as moments later another patron of the inn took a seat with the two mercenaries. Sheriff Joran slouched forward and practically slammed his elbow into the table as he greeted them both, using the arm to prop up his drooping head in an uncomfortable looking manner. His nose glowed read and his whiskey soaked breathe stung Greil’s nose – he fought back a slight wince as he returned the greeting.
“So how goes your….uh…your inveshtigashun..?” the sheriff drawled.
“We found little in his house,” Greil replied, “though you might be able to help me with something.” The commander lifted his arm from its hiding place under the table and pulled open the end of his cloak, which he had wrapped around the afflicted hand. The pain had subsided but the dagger had shown no sign of relenting its grip.
Joran’s eyes widened as he stammered out a reply “Whu….what is that?!”
“I found it in Nathir’s house. It fused to my hand as soon as I picked it up.”
“You should…uh…get that looked at. It’s disgustin’!” Greil gave out a small sigh of frustration and was about to sarcastically thank the man for his help, when Joran suddenly continued, “Oh oh oh I know! Take it to Rhea!”
“Rhea?” Greil leaned forward earnestly.
“Mm, Rhea. She’s a uh…magic…lady. Lives out in the woods to the north wessht. Has one of uh…those things with her” he said, gesturing vaguely towards Grimlock.
The two mercenaries shared a look before Greil continued, “She lives out in the wilderness? Can she be trusted?”
“I… uh… sure! Probably! Anyway I’ma gonna’ get going” Joran stood up to leave.
“No hang on a second -”
“Nuh uh, if I hang on a secon’ I’m likely to puke up my dinner lookin’ at that there hand. Have a good night fellas!” Joran hurried out of the inn looking slightly pale.
The two mercenaries went to bed not long after.