As we neared Kreuzhofen, Ashe said he would prefer to stay with the Druidess Wanda instead of in town. He managed the winter in the crowded and busy monastery by going off into the snowy mountains as often as the weather allowed, and he never said anything. But I know he was uncomfortable. Two days in the forest with the Druidess will probably re-invigorate him.

Bark, who had been walking a little slower as we came closer to the village, brightened as Ashe mentioned a forest and a druidess, and said if Ashe didn't mind, he'd rather accompany Ashe than the rest of us. Ashe said he was welcome, but Miara objected. She reminded him that he had promised both her and the Druidess Wendy that he would aid and watch over Sean. He deflated a little, but agreed and came with us into Kreuzhofen.

We went straight to the Red Bull, our inn. How odd it is to own an inn, but convenient. The new manager, who we had heard some news of in Eyrie, greeted us and asked how long we were staying and how many rooms we would need. Miara told him we would only be here for two nights, but we needed three rooms. He frowned a little at that, and said two was easy, but he would find a third for us, and he was as good as his word.

We had sent an invitation to our old friend Mongo to come and be the inn's cook, and here he is. He immediately volunteered to sleep in the kitchen so some of the men stayed in Mongo's room, and the manager gave the other men his room. The manager led us to a room upstairs: the best one, if I recall from our earlier stay here.

While we ate our fine dinner, the manager came over and asked if our rooms were acceptable. He knew our rooms were good; what he really wanted to tell us was which guest had given up his room for us. He pointed out one of several Tylean men eating, laughing, and talking at another table, close-by, and named him: Captain Vincetti. The manager paused for a moment, and Miara had no idea what he expected and merely said, OK. José said the captain might expect our thanks, and the manager said, "No, no. But he was very gracious, and if it comes up in conversation, I felt you should know who gave you his room." José asked after the manager's and Vincetti's familes.

Sean finished his dinner first, and took his lute up to the fireplace and sang for a bit. It was lovely, and the room enjoyed it very much. When Sean had sat back down with us, Captain Vincetti got up and walked over to our table. He spoke in pretty decent Imperial, with a definite Tylean accent, "I wanted to introduce myself. You are the very famous owners of the Red Bull. I am Captain Vincetti." José welcome him and invited him to sit with us and we made room for him. He had apparently cast that language spell, because Vincetti answered in Tylean.

José introduced us all; Vincetti bowed deeply to Miara, bowed less deeply to me and Carmella, shook José's hand, and nodded to the rest. He seemed a little formal and was very certain of himself. He might be Somebody in Tylea, I think.

José immediatley asked how far our our stories have travelled, saving the rest of us from asking that question. Vincetti said we were known as the saviors of Kreuzhofen as far as Nuln in one direction and Marigliano in the other, all up and down the river. Wow, we're famous! The news of our battle at Eyrie has not been spreading yet, and I hope nobody ever hears of it.

Miara thanked him for giving up his room for us, and then José continued talking with Vincetti and the rest of us mostly listened. He asked, "So, if I may be so bold, what brings out a senior captain of the guard?" Vincetti replied, :I am not a captain of the guard. My rank is Captain of the River Ships, and I have nothing to do with the military at all." Interestingly, he knew the captain of the barge we fought on. It's not surprising really; I would guess someone called Captian of the Ships would know most, if not all, of the barge captains.

We were all curious how the Sangiovisis were faring, but I couldn't think of a way to ask. They had left with their purpose publicly stated, but I hated to just ask if the younger had regained his family's title. José simply asked if there was any news of the Sangiovisis, but the captain said they have not yet surfaced. So I guess they are still in hiding and gathering allies right under their noses.

As the table degenerated into small talk, José asked Miara, with some surprise, if we knew Mongo, the cook. Miara explained to him that he had travelled with us for some time and had left the group not too long before we met up with José.

The night was quiet, and breakfast delicious. We spent the morning in the market, buying what we would need for the long trip. Then we split into groups for the afternoon. I set myself up in the center of the village, offering to doctor anyone who needed help. None of the villagers came to me, but four Tylean boatmen did. They had no interesting complaints, but I gave them what they needed. It saddens me to think the villagers are too uncomfortable to come to me for the doctoring they surely need. What kind of Biancan am I, to frighten off the people I'm supposed to care for?

That evening, José and Miara told everyone what they had heard from the dorfrichter. Martin never surfaced. All three of the prisoners had been sent to Nuln. Stapmi did re-appear and went to work in Nuln on Gherig's behalf. He hired a bevy of lawyers and got Gherig's trial separated from the other two. The dorfrichter had lost track of them, and they were minor players anyway. I suspect that Gherig's lawyers will get him off. Miara frowned about Gherig and I could imagine that her idea of justice was a lot swifter and more certain. In this case, I could almost see her point. One lawyer was even here in town: Gherig still owned all his holdings here, and the lawyer was at the Black Eagle collecting rents. She definitely glowered at that, and I was somewhat surprised he was still alive and present.

They haven't found Sir Thiodoshius' heirs but are still looking, so his post is empty for now. No one has answered the dorfrichter's letters announcing the doctor's death, so his house is still closed up and his belongings are still inside. The dorfricthter said he'll give it a little while longer, but if he doesn't get any answers he'll confiscate everything in the name of the Duchess at Nuln and auction it off. Leafglow, his mission finished, had closed up his house and left.

The village itself has not completely recovered, and the population is still down from where it should be, but it's steadily improving. As we saw, the inns are full because trade has resumed normally. Carmella said our inn isn't yet doing any more than breaking even because there aren't enough people to employ to provide the services. The dorfrichter said much the same thing: none of the inns have quite enough people. Again, it is improving gradually.

Tomorrow we leave Kreuzhofen for the long trek to the World's End mountains and Karak-Ostohar.

Ravenna, A Monk of the Biancan Order

Part the First:
Blood and Mud

Part the Second:
Murder and Mayhem

Part the Third:
Puzzles and Crystals

Part the Fourth:
Dwarves and Rocks

Part the Fifth:
Diplomacy and Daggers

Part the Sixth:
Crystal and Chaos

Part the Seventh:
Sheer Insanity

~ The End ~