A Harvest of Broken Stars

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Chapter 26: Debt

Gilmir woke with a start. Rubbing his nailless finger, he tried to distinguish dream from reality. Had there been a sound from the hallway? He sat up. His body was aching as usual but less than in a long time. The bed Hobble used was empty. It was dark outside, the hour was sometime between midnight and first light. He heard a small scratching noise from the corridor outside the room. He dressed, and picked up the knife Hobble had given him. Holding it in his right hand but concealed behind his wrist. Hearing footsteps outside, he opened the door with his left hand and peaked out. Hobble lay face down in the corridor a few steps from the door. Behind him stood Tracks looking down on Hobble’s staff, which he held in his hands.

‘What’s going on?’ Gilmir asked.

Tracks looked up, as he only now realised that Gilmir had stepped out in the hallway. ‘This little rat broke into my room.’

Despite his words, the dwarf did not seem overly aggressive. Gilmir took a few steps forward, sitting down by the halfling. There was no mark on the back of his head—no indication that Tracks had hit him with the staff. Turning him over, the body was limp but stiff as if he had been dead for hours. Which, of course, could not be the case. His face was bloody, probably from a broken nose. Gilmir looked up at Tracks.

‘What’s wrong with him?’


‘No. He is not. Not yet. Did you poison him?’

‘I didn’t do a thing. He broke into my room. He got himself poisoned.’

Gilmir lifted the halfling’s hands. He found a tiny pinprick of a wound. Feeling the skin around, he shook his head. He gathered a drop of blood on his fingertip and held it to his nose. Then he stuck his tongue to it.

‘Luin quácë,’ he muttered, shaking his head again.

‘Dead.’ Tracks insisted.

‘He soon will be. You poisoned him with the poison from the skin of the blue frog—Luin quácë,’

Tracks shrugged. ‘I didn’t do any—’

‘Give me the antidote,’ Gilmir said, cutting the dwarf short.

Tracks stood staring at the elf. Gilmir rose.

‘Look, I understand you didn’t do anything other than guarding your door with a clever trap. However, I know there is an antidote to the blue frog poison and I know you have it. You can’t predict who will try to enter your room, and you would be a fool not to have an antidote in the case of a misunderstanding. My friend here is dead soon, and then it will be too late. We could never reverse that. On the other hand, if you give me the antidote, you can always kill him later. All options are still open.’

‘As you know, tall one, the poison is expensive. The cure even more so. I see no reason wasting the antidote on a common thief.’

‘We would owe you.’

The dwarf stared at him. Gilmir glanced down at halfling at his feet. The little body drew breath. The breaths had become shallow and further between. Meeting Tracks eyes again he spoke in his most persuasive tone:

‘We will make it worth your while.’

‘Pfft, I will probably regret this,’ Tracks said, throwing a vial to Gilmir. ‘We will speak tomorrow, elf.’ He put the staff against the wall and turned, walking to his room.

Gilmir wasted no time. He lifted Hobble up in a sitting position and emptied the vial down his throat. Hoping it was not too late.

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