AR 1212-01-19 Krunch reveals secrets to Yari

Krunch approached Yari one night during one of his late-night study sessions in the empty library.

“Follow me, we need ta talk.” He started walking away, pausing only long enough to say “Now.”

“Sure, what’s up?” the boy said, closing the book he was reading and standing.

Krunch only grunted, “Not here.”

The dwarf led the way to a door leading to the top of the Eagle Archway. Nodding at some dwarf-sized cloaks hung next to the door, he muttered, “Ye may want ta grab a cloak it’s na warm outside.”

Opening the door let in a howling wind and swirl of blowing snow. The young dwarf headed out into the darkness, not bothering to grab a cloak for himself, walking slowly enough that Yari could follow in the pitch black night. If the bitter cold bothered the young dwarf, he didn’t show it.

Reaching the top of the arch, Krunch finally stopped, placing his hand on Yari’s chest while he slowly scanned the darkness. Seemingly satisfied he leaned close in to be heard over the wind.

“Thanks fer comin.” After a deep sigh and another look around he continued, “Do ye know how, when ye’re hammerin out a piece of raw ore, and yer beatin’ out the dross? How sometimes ya jest know that even though it’s lookin’ clean that ye gots ta keep workin’ at it? ‘Cuz if ye forge an axe outta the metal thar will be a weakness … a weakness that will betray ya when ya most need it? That tha axe will break when ya most need it?”

Krunch looked at Yari expectently.

“Heh, sure. I get ya,” the boy said, furrowing his brow, and waiting for Krunch to continue.

“The thing is …” Krunch started, rubbing the back of his neck with his hand “the thing is I got this feelin. This itch at tha back of me neck. Somethin ain’t right. Somethin is a’ comin and I can na see it, but I can feel it. The raids they ain’t just orcs bein’ the pesty vermin that they always are. It’s like they be the rumble that ya hear afore ye can see what’s causin’ the rumble, be it an avalanche or a double hand o’ hill giants.”

A strong gust of wind hit the two boys temporarily making conversation impossible and threatening to send young Yari off the edge of the arch before Krunch casually reached out a hand and pulled him back.

Continuing as if nothing happened “An’ I know somethin’. Somethin’ I gots ta tell ya. But I got’s ta know ye won’t jest run off, that we both have ta be in agreement afore we continue on.”

“Of course.” Yari nodded.

With a low grunt to himself as if he had made final decision, the pent up words seemed to flood out of the young dwarf “The thing is that thar’s a spy in our ranks. Some un up ta na good. Passin notes, tryin’ ta corrupt those that might be susceptible ta such a thing. Most a’ what was wanted was information on me and me sister. Where we’d be, where we was goin’. Now we done caught tha one case but thar’s sure ta be more. The person in question was left notes an’ instructions an’ made promises of glory an’ honor.”

The young dwarf looked like he was about to spit, but seeming to notice he was standing in a blizzard decided against it. “Tha notes were left by some ‘un with access to the private quarters, some ‘un who could walk around with na’ notice. Be sure it was lies an’ whisperin’ darkness inta some ‘un that could a’ been turned. It’s bein’ handled an’ we do na’ need ta speak of it no more. But like me da says, where there’s one goblin thar’s sure ta be a more somewhere close ta hand. Tha thing is, I do na know who I can trust, who tha others could be.”

Shaking his head Krunch continued “I trust me sister. She may be a about as excitin’ as a bucket o’ gravel but she’s reliable.”

Counting off on the fingers of his hand now, starting with his thumb “I decided ta trust ya, cuz I got ta start somewhere.”

A finger raised “Yer sister on tha other hand is kind o’like a leaky bucket when it comes ta secrets. I’d like ta have eyes an’ ears in tha girl’s dorm but do na know if she can keep it locked up.”

The third finger went up. “Wolf is me cousin’ an’ as much as I want ta trust him we do na’ know what he went through in tha city. Even tha strongest rock can be broken with tha right pressure.”

Fourth finger. “I do na know Franzy. I heared rumors of her ma, and not all good things.”

Last finger “An’ Zen. Seems like he be nice enough but if it came ta us or his family I do na know which way he’d break”

Fanning both hands down now, Krunch asked, “So do ya see me dilemma? I already may ha’ done damage ta tha group by bringin’ ya in. If it was jus’ me with a secret I could a been fine. But now, if we do na’ bring ‘em all in it’s a division. A crack. An impurity in tha group that may cause a break when we need that strength tha most. But if we bring tha wrong person in, we be ingestin’ poison that’ll kill us all dead.”

Hands falling to his side, Krunch looked at Yari and queried “So what do ya think we should do?”

The boy was quiet for a long while, allowing the blizzard to blow and gust around him. As Krunch waited for an answer, he noticed Yari’s eyes turn pitch black. He suddenly seemed unaffected by the wind and snow, and stood unnaturally still. The snow reflected like stars, rushing across the darkened mirror of his eyes.

“We can trust Franziska,” he spoke, staring into the darkness. “So what if her mother had a troubled past? My father did, too. Franziska’s got a good and trustworthy heart. Plus, she knows how to keep a secret.

“Wolf’s a paladin – chosen by two gods, no less! – so if we can’t trust him, who can we trust? His ability to keep things quiet is better than any of us; it was the very experiences we don’t know about that made him the staunch ally he is to us today.

“Zen’s a good sort, but you’re right to wonder where his loyalties may ultimately lay. Not to his father, certainly, but to his siblings is where I believe he would ‘break’. If we can convince him that what we are about will directly protect them, I am certain he will stand with us.

“Rissa… let me worry about Rissa.”

Slowly, Yari’s eyes turned back to normal, and his posture slackened. He shivered, as though finally feeling the cold. “This is pretty serious, isn’t it, Krunch? I’ve been feeling a buildup of something, too. Like the way Grandpa Iggy’s leg starts to hurt, days before a storm, only it’s been building up for months.”

“Aye” came the response “An’ we need ta bring in tha rest o’ the group up ta speed if’n we can trust ‘em. I’m thinkin’ ta have a study session in one o’ the smaller rooms an’ have one of ya spell chuckers show the rest o’ us how the detect magic ritual works.” After a brief hesitation Krunch continued “An’ have Franzy bring that wolf o’ hers. It could sniff out what we can na’ see.”

Yari nodded in response, and agreed, “Right.” He then snapped his fingers and proclaimed, “Ah! That explains it!” Before he could elaborate, the wind picked up and knocked him off balance again. After Krunch deftly righted him, Yari went on. “Thanks. Look, I know you said we don’t need to talk about it anymore, but I think I got one of those notes you mentioned. I thought it was someone giving me tough-love advice, but I can see how it might have been meant to sow discord. If you know who was writing them, I really think you should tell me.”

Krunch was silent for a moment before responding “I do na’ know where most of tha notes be comin from any more than I know what goes through tha minds o’ humans when it comes ta courtin’. I guess ya have so little time ta find a mate an’ get young’uns in afore ye die it makes ya a little crazy.”

“What I do know is that, if ye’re quenchin’ a blade that’s red hot from the forge, ye don’t quench it part ways. Ye do it all at once so that it does na’ warp or crack.” With a shrug the young dwarf continued, “An’ I did na’ write tha note fer yer sake ye dolt. If ye’re gonna throw away ye’re relationship with a good-hearted lass like Elsie fer a tin-plated pretentious self-absorbed wench it ain’t up ta me ta say. I did it fer Elsie. I would na’ have said anythin’ ta Elsie meself but tha rumor mill would o’ caught up ta her soon enough.”

The human boy stared at Krunch in wild disbelief. After working his jaw uselessly several times, he squeaked, “Right. I’ll… I’ll get everyone together tomorrow in our usual room.”

Satisfied, Krunch led the way back to the warmth of the keep.

AR 1212-01-19 Krunch reveals secrets to Yari

Thraes Aljergensen