AR 1216-07-17 Krunch and Yari chat

Krunch took Yari aside to have a chat before settling down for the night while everyone else was enjoying a few minutes of relaxing in the interconnected caves of the stone giants. It did not take long for them to make their way to the open air to an outcropping that was across from the castle that had already been cleansed by the queen.

In his normal abrupt manner, Krunch started, “Yari, I know I’m an arsehole sometimes. An’, I know I’ve dragged ye inta a place ye didn’t want ta be.”

Digging into the bag-of-holding at his side, the dwarf pulled out a pair of mugs and a small keg of ale in an unconscious mimicry of his father. Pouring out a serving of Silver Mountain Special Brew for each, Krunch continued, “So I wanted ye ta know that I value yer opinion an’ input.”

He handed a mug to Yari, and went on, “I know I’m na’ good with words, but I’d like ta think ye can trust me.” Taking a deep sip, Krunch stared into his mug like a fortune teller trying to read leaves. “I’d like ta think that we do na’ have any secrets.”

Looking Yari straight in the eyes, he stated, “I know ye’ve had troubled times with tha women in yer life. I know ye’ve had a different callin’ than what ye might have expected. If ye want ta discuss any of it, I’m here ta talk.”

Yari happily accepted the drink, and took a healthy pull after offering a casual, “Cheers.” Cocking an eyebrow at Krunch, he tilted his head and regarded his dwarven friend critically. His face was a mask of scrutinizing sarcasm as he said, “Don’t you mean troubled times with the women and man in my life?”

Krunch tried, and failed to hide the smirk on his face. “It does na matter ta me who ye’re interested in.” Shaking himself slightly, he added in a serious tone, “I know I’ve done me share of teasin’ an’ if it bothers ye, I apologize. We been seein’ such death and destruction…”

The dwarf paused for a moment, lost in his own thoughts, before sighing, “An’ I was thinkin’ it was jest lettin’ off some steam. But if it bothers ye, I’ll say it na more.”

Yari still wasn’t sure he could fully trust his friend’s intentions, but he did relent a little and eased his tone somewhat. “Don’t get me wrong,” the young cleric replied, “I appreciate the drink. But what exactly did you bring me all the way out here for? To ask if I’m keeping secrets from you?

“Yes, Krunch, I am keeping secrets from you,” stated Yari in a deliberate mimicry of Krunch’s own bluntness. “I have always kept secrets from you, and you have always kept secrets from me. Wolf keeps secrets too, as does Zen, Franziska, my sister. We all have things we’d rather not talk about, or have talked about. My romantic interests is one of those things for me.”

He took another pull from the mug and wiped his mouth on the sleeve of his tunic. “Don’t see why everyone seems to think it’s so damned in’eresting, really,” he mumbled. “Like y’all don’t have anything better to worry about.”

“I’ll be tha first ta admit I do na’ understand demi-dwarven matin’ rituals,” Krunch chuckled softly. “With dwarves it’s… different. We can na’ be like elves and jest take on an’ put off relationships like a rich woman on a shoppin’ spree. An’, we’re not like humans, with yer fire that burns bright, and then either settles inta a slow burn or flames out.” He paused, brows furrowed, and added, “Most dwarves are direct about intent, with both sides speakin’ openly with layers o’ ritual providin’ guidance, so no one misunderstands or gets tha wrong idea. When ye expect ta live tagether in close proximity fer a century or two, it’s good ta not step on yer dance partner’s toes.

“So, no. I do na’ understand what ye’re goin’ through,” the dwarf said with a crooked smile. “An’ yer right, it ain’t me business ta know. But… rejectin’ Tizzy in the eyes o’ tha clan…” he looked away, voice suddenly choked with emotion. “It came close ta breakin’ somethin’ in me. Knowin’ I could na’ proclaim me bond, knowin’ she could jest walk away, that she had every reason an’ right ta walk away!”

Krunch gave another deep sigh, almost a growl, and peered once more into his nearly-empty mug, before looking back at Yari. “An’ yet when it comes ta yer life, we been makin’ light o’ it all. We be thinkin’ that ye’re laughin’ with us all along. I suspect we be thinkin’ wrong.

“So I’m jest here sayin’ that I’m sorry if we been pokin’ at an open wound.” Finishing the rest of his ale in a quick swallow, Krunch continued in a casual tone, “If ye want, we can put tha mugs away an’ speak o’ this na more. If ye want ta enjoy another mug in silence, so be it. If ye want ta enjoy another mug and talk fer a bit, I ain’t goin’ nowhere.”

As his friend shared his feelings at leaving his love behind, Yari finally let down his own defenses. He offered a sympathetic smile, and finished his ale as well. “So, let me make sure I understand you:” the cleric said wryly, “The option is for more beer, or no more beer? That’s not really much of a choice, is it? And, I’m just sayin’, drinkin’s no fun alone, either…”

“Another ale’s not out o’ tha question. Whether ye want ta talk is another story. I’m good either way.”

“Gods, you dwarves really are dense as the stone you live in, aren’t you!” sighed Yari, rolling his eyes. “Okay, le’me try this again, see if I’m being more clear: What’s up, Krunch? How ya doin’?” He grinned, and held his mug out to be filled.

“Bah. Ain’t used ta all this yappin’ an’ leadership dross.” Krunch responded as he filled both mugs once more.

The two drank in companionable silence for a few moments as Krunch closed his eyes and and owl on patrol high overhead hooted.

Krunch spoke again with eyes still closed “How did we get here? It seems like jest a few days ago we were comin’ up with tha verses fer ‘Stinky the Halfling’ an’ now? Now we be sendin’ those we care about inta greater danger than they ever faced.”

The young dwarf opened his eyes and took a sip of ale to give him a moment to gather his thoughts “I once asked me da what the hardest thing he had ever done was. He didn’t even hesitate when he told me that it twas sendin’ out troops on dangerous patrols. I did na’ understand it then, but I do now.”

The companions chatted for a few minutes, discussing the logistics and plans for rebuilding the castle, along with negotiations with the stone giants for temporary lodgings.

Krunch looked down at his nearly empty mug but with a resolute shrug and a grumbled “Tomorra’s goin’ ta be a long day” put the keg back in the bag.

“There is somethin’ we need ta discuss.” Krunch started. “We’re doin’ good work here. Goin’ ta be givin’ people hope, a refuge from tha syndicate. Hopefully buildin’ somethin’ more permanent that will last when tha syndicate is gone.”

“Tha thing is … I think once we get back from Kleine Wolf and I need to take some time ta go off on our own.”

Krunch put up a hand, forestalling questions for a moment. “We need more information. How many troops does tha syndicate have. Where are they caching tha money. What are their weaknesses and where can we hit them where it hurts tha most? We need confirmation of where tha master be gettin’ his power.”

Sighing deeply Krunch continued “Wolf an’ I can do things that tha group as a whole cannot. Rissa is too flamboyant, you an’ Sardi are needed here, Zen is a standup guy in a fight but his business saavy is best used here ta coordinate. Franz … I jest do na’ see how fireballs an’ blowing things up would help.”

“At tha same time, ye can be doin’ things here. Ye’re goin’ ta need months ta get this place safe fer tha refuges. It’s important. Ye do na’ need me.”

Squaring his shoulders, Krunch faced Yari and said calmly “So let me have it.”

Yari held Krunch’s gaze silently, his face as neutral as the blank night sky above them. Slowly, he stood up from his seat and looked down at the dwarf. Krunch hadn’t paid much attention recently, but Yari had actually grown quite tall recently. Far from the shrimpy kid of his childhood, Jarl Hastae was properly turning into his father’s son, and he towered over Krunch in the dim light.

It was possible that Yari was becoming like his father in more ways than the physical. His eyes flashed with anger, burning brighter than a thousand suns, and for heartbeat, Krunch anticipated he was about to attack him. Then, it was gone – all the anger, flooded away completely, and Yari sighed.

“Almost eighteen years, Krunch,” he said calmly, flashing a sad smile, “and you still don’t get it, do you? I cannot allow my family to go into danger alone. I had no choice but to chase after you, when you idiotically ran off from Golden Eagle by yourself; and, I have no choice but go with you again now.”

“Folks’ll be safe here, with Sardi and our stone giant friends. I gotta make sure you two are safe out in the field.”

Krunch put his hand over his mouth as he breathed out loudly through his nose.

Finally dropping his hand to his beard, he gave a low chuckle. “I been tryin’ ta work on me diplomacy skills. It be takin’ a while ta sink in.”

Closing his eyes and pulling on his beard, Krunch nodded in the direction of the castle. “When I look at tha castle, I see wood and stone. Walls that need ta be shored up an’ what needs ta be repaired ta get tha forge in workin’ order.”

Opening his eyes and giving a low wave as if to wipe away that image he looked at Yari. “When ye look at the castle I do na’ think that’s all ye see. Ye see tha possibilities, tha community, people livin’ an’ workin’ tagether ta make somethin’ of their lives. Somethin’ ye can build ta leave a legacy that will live on fer generations.”

The young dwarf leaned back against the wall “Ye’ll always be family Yari. Always.”

Seeming to feel out his words as he went he continued slowly “I have a feelin’ in me gut that ye’re destined ta have a family bigger than just us companions. When tha dust settles, ye’ll be tha one that people look to ta lead them inta a brighter future. Just like that fortune teller said long ago.”

With a crooked smile Krunch patted the bag with holding the ale “Or maybe it’s just too much drink an’ not enough sleep talkin.”

Pushing off the wall he put his hand on Yari’s arm for emphasis “Tha thing that that people comin’ ta live here will need most is somethin’ that I can na’ provide. They need hope. They need ta believe that they can fight back. That they can win. Without that, nothin’ we do here will matter.”

“Ye can provide that hope. Ye can be tha leader that they need.” With one final squeeze Krunch dropped his hand.

“Ye do na’ need yer Wolf or me ta do that. Ta … be what these people need. We’ll have tha prisoners, tha family of that judge in Melinir that will need ye far more than Wolf an’ I.”

Looking his companion up and down, Krunch gave a sideways look as he said “Asides, two dwarves comin’ inta town will no cause much notice. Two dwarves an’ a strappin’ tall human bangin’ his head on every low doorway an’ candelabrum in tha place will draw questionin’ eyes.”

Krunch crossed his arms and with a serious look on his face finished “I know yer heart. It’s in tha right place. But ye be needed here. Wolf an’ I can take care of ourselves, an’ in this case two is goin’ ta be less noticed, less in danger than three. We’ll be back afore ye know it.”

“In addition, Tizzy has been workin’ on a new ritual ta send dreams. She’ll keep ye up ta date on anythin’ ye need ta know.”

Yari was silent for a long moment, staring at the sky far above. “You know I could follow you, if I wanted to, and you’d never know, right? With the help of Caelus, and my new boots, you’d never know I was there,” he muttered, never taking his eyes away from the dark dome above them.

Krunch answered with a slight shrug and a gruff, “Ye could try. Ye ain’t tha only one with new boots.” Krunch floated up silently until he was eye to eye with his friend. “Or did ye forget that already. Tha air is kind o’ thin up here.”

Stretching with arms wide, Yari yawned loudly. “I guess it’s time for bed. I’ll take first watch.”

Krunch slowly descended as he headed towards the caves where they were sleeping. “We be leavin’ fer Kleine first thing in t’morning. Do na’ be stayin’ up here too long.”

“I’ll be there,” Yari answered, still looking up at the sky. As Krunch left, he noticed Yari kneel down and place his shield in front of him. The blue field bearing the three triangles of Odin caught the moonlight and seemed to glow. On the surface, Yari seemed lost in prayer, though the dwarf trusted he was still fully aware of his surroundings.

“I be sure,” mumbled Krunch as he left Yari to his vigil. “See ye there.”

AR 1216-07-17 Krunch and Yari chat

Thraes lkjergensen