As Dori pulled together his possessions and carefully concealed some of his father’s more valuable magic items, Odin Stonesunder knocked at his open door. “You almost ready to go?” he asked.
“I didn’t realize that you were coming.”
“There apparently has been some sort of incident in High Hall and I received word from Master Lemminkainen that he has been moved to Stonehammer and insists that I make your introduction in person.” The two set out shortly after and made their way to the handsome home where Kustaa had taken up temporary residence. The eladrin who answered the door, even with disheveled clothes and dark rings under his eyes, was startling graceful. “How quickly you forget the beauty of the Feywild when you’re in this place,” Dori thought to himself. Meanwhile, the other two men greeted each other warmly and lead him through the door.
“You didn’t mention he was a gnome,” Kustaa said, apparently with little regard that Dori was within hearing distance. “Come on in, feel free to poke around. I only just got here this morning, so your guess is as good as mine where anything is.” Kustaa brought them to a large, comfortable study and offered to share a light lunch that was on the side table.
“My friend,” the scion of the Stonesunder clan said, “I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but you don’t look very well. Is everything okay?”
Kustaa proceeded to recount the events of the previous night’s attempt on his life. Dori sat in rapt attention, awed by the idea that someone could lead such a dangerous life that he could take an attack like this in stride and continue on unshaken. At the same time, the elderly dwarf’s continence darkened as he heard the details of the attack and the response of Overlook’s leaders. Red faced and eyes blazing, Mr. Stonesunder practically growled, “I respect the Elders’ decision to spare the citizens this news and avoid a panic, but to leave you completely unprotected like this is unacceptable. By your leave, I have a number of kinsmen who fought alongside you at the Battle of Overlook who will gladly set up a discreet watch over the area.”
Kustaa was visibly taken aback by his friend’s sudden intensity. “Oh! Of course, sir, do what you need to. Normally I would protest, but I must admit that I would sleep better knowing that there are a few trustworthy dwarves keeping an eye out for me.” Odin walked over to the room’s desk and quickly scribbled a short note. He handed it to Kustaa and whispered something in his ear. Then, grasping the wizard firmly by the shoulder, he said, “Be well my friend, and rest assured tonight. I will see you soon.” Nodding to Dori, he hurried out of the room.
An awkward silence fell over the room until Dori ventured a joke about dark creepers’ mothers that he father used to tell and was rewarded with a laugh from Kustaa. They soon fell deep into conversation, interrupted only by the occasional moments when Kustaa’s mind seemed to drift off. When he came back from his reverie, however, the wizard was still on topic and as sharp as ever. At first it appeared as if he was unaware that anything had happened, and it was only through careful attention that Dori eventually realized that his acquaintance was perfectly well aware of his guest’s presence but had come across a more intriguing matter than civility just at that moment.
It was well after sundown when Kustaa stood up, saying, “Ah! I just remembered that our friend had asked me to give you this note. I’m terribly sorry it slipped my mind.” As he started rummaging through the folds in his robes, Kustaa distractedly mentioned, “He said it had something to do with you wanting to help me investigate what’s behind the recent threats to this region.”
The cleric’s look of utter shock went unnoticed by the busy wizard, and by the time he had located the letter Dori had been able to compose himself somewhat. He took the note and read:
I must confess that, when I set up this meeting, I had ulterior motives that I did not mention out of fear that you would not come. If history is any guide, you will be far more likely to find what you seek by traveling with this hero than by sitting in dusty libraries in this or any other city. Please seriously consider this before making any decisions.
Dori sat quietly for several minutes, contemplating his options. Finally, he stood up and said, “I believe that I have taken up enough of your time tonight. I can’t recall the last time I’ve enjoyed speaking with someone so much. If you’re available, do you think we could do this again tomorrow?” Lifting the letter in his hand, he added, “Possibly you could tell me about some of the places you have traveled?”
“I don’t have many other pressing engagements, so I don’t see why not. I’ll expect you around lunchtime, um…”
“Dori. Dori Lightningblade,” the gnome said for the third time that day.
“Ah yes,” said the wizard as he settled at the desk with a large tome. “I trust you can find your way out, right?”
As Dori donned his travel cloak in the entranceway, he could faintly hear Kustaa saying to himself, “Lightningblade. A very odd name for a cleric, wouldn’t you say, Quidnunc?” Shaking his head, Dori let himself out…