After Red and Shadamehr headed off down the goblin trail, Glasha, Khelgar, and Mezan made camp in the small clearing. Once they were settled in Khelgar retrieved a saddlebag from one of the dead ponies and opened it. “Glasha, there’s something in here you missed.”
Glasha approached the dwarf. “What?”
Khelgar opened the bag, revealing it to be empty. “It’s… look, you have to use your imagination here.”
“Nar Thos,” Glasha replied in orcish before turning on her heel. “Damned dwarf and his stupid tricks,” she muttered as she walked back to the campfire and sat down next to Mezan. The sorcerer seemed deep in thought. “Well,” she said, “what did you do before all of this? You know, all this senseless murder?”
Mezan flinched. He hadn’t been able to shake the image of the dead bandit from his mind— the man’s body flipping in slow motion through the air. Glasha’s casual statement only reminded him of his crime. “Uh, I studied magic with the Hosttower. There’s always more to learn, you know.”
Glasha tried to hide her smirk. “Fascinating, truly. Who did you learn from, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“Do you know anyone in the Arcane Brotherhood? I don’t believe a name would help you otherwise.”
“I might surprise you,” said Glasha.
“Well,” began Mezan, ”in a way you are taught by everyone in the tower. To list them all would take some time…”
At that Khelgar suddenly appeared between the pair, startling them. The dwarf still held the empty saddlebag in his clenched hands. “You know what’s surprising? A battleboar in heat in the middle of winter.”
The half-orc and sorcerer stared at the dwarf in quiet confusion.
“You’ll want to stay clear of one of those,” Khelgar said. He winked at Mezan. “It might confuse you for a mate!”
Glasha rolled her eyes. “Nice change of subject, Khelgar.”
Mezan’s look of confusion was replaced by one of intrigue. It seemed that his scholarly interest had been piqued. “Where might one find such a beast? A… battleboar?”
Khelgar scratched his chin. “I suppose you just find the nearest boar and train it for battle.”
Glasha grimaced, baring her tusks a little more than usual.
Undaunted by Glasha’s threat the dwarf continued. “I suppose first you’ll want to have a small grouping of boars. Then have the best one breed with the survivor of another group. Keep doing that, and after several generations you'll have a mighty boar that you can ride into battle!"
Glasha rolled her eyes again. “How do you know so much about battleboars, of all things?”
Mezan leaned forward. “Have you ever had such a beast, dwarf?”
Khelgar stared off into the distance. “Yes, many years ago. We used to have competitions back in Mirabar. This was before I trained to become a Priest of Valkur.”
Glasha scoffed. "Khelgar’s too tall to ride a battleboar. The only difference between him and a human is his beard."
Khelgar snorted and puffed out his chest. "Ha! You call yourself a studied bard and yet you don't even know the difference between a dwarf and a human!" The dwarf burst into laughter, and was quickly joined by Mezan.
Glasha ground her teeth together and stood up. “I can’t imagine why Shadamehr likes you so much!” The half-orc stomped off and sat down with her back against a tree. She pulled out her lute. “Besides, what do you know of the bardic arts?” She began to play then, the magic spinning at her fingertips and the musical notes floating through the air. “You’re an accomplished cleric, perhaps. But it’s an entirely different set of skills, I assure you.”
As the music filled the clearing Khelgar and Mezan closed their eyes. Time seemed to pass at a strange rate as they listened to the sweet music. After awhile Mezan opened his eyes and looked around, blinking. “Red and the barbarian have been gone too long.”
Glasha began to play a somber tune. “They wanted to go alone. They can come back when they please.”
"And if they need help?" asked Mezan.
Khelgar opened his eyes as well and looked over at Glasha. “Tis a fine tune, lassie. But ye ain’t heard music, real music, until you’ve heard the Dwarven Aledance.”
Glasha raised an eyebrow. “Dwarven… Aledance?”
At that the dwarf roared in laughter and leapt to his feet. In one deft move he tore off his shirt, revealing a hairy chest and flabby belly. He slapped his belly once and laughed again.
“Let the contest begin!”