“Going back to the Grey Horse?” asked Eric after the town guards hauled Molin off to prison.
“Yes,” replied Evan. “You?”
Eric shook his head. “No. I need to report to the Mayor. See you later.”
Evan and his comrades all felt tired and walked slowly across town. Evan, especially, was bone weary and needed some rest. They were all glad that the gem had been recovered once more and that they could resume their normal routines.
They crossed the main square and approached the Inn.
James whistled when he saw the amount of damage Molin had done. He also saw Frank standing on the other side of the hole surveying the wreckage. Brashani blushed; he recognized the image from his vision, days earlier.
“What in the name of goodness happened here?” Frank asked.
“Molin stole Tindolen’s gem. He made the hole in his escape,” James replied.
“Where is he now?”
“Jail,” said Evan.
“I see. And how am I going to repair this … mess?” Frank gestured at the hole and the debris around it.
No one answered immediately, then Daniel’s face brightened. “By mending it magically?”
“What?” inquired Frank.
Iriel raised an eyebrow and smiled. “Good idea. If Mr. Jones has fresh wood, Brashani can use it to patch the hole … at least for now.”
“I suppose,” said Brashani. “But that won’t repair the damage permanently.”
“True,” agreed Tindolen. “Perhaps if I assist you, we can mend the hole in an enduring and lasting way.”
The fire mage gave him a sideways glance. “Is that possible?”
“Yes. I know a few tricks that might help.”
“Great. You should probably lead then; I’m still tired. I’ve been in more fights and have cast more spells in the last twenty-four hours than I have in the last twenty-four years.”
“All right, let me put my gem back in its display case first and set the wards needed to protect it.”
“Good,” said Frank. “And while you are doing that, I’d like a word with Evan.”
Evan heard the acid tone in his friend’s voice and felt himself break out in a sweat. As many times as the priest had faced necromancers or demons, somehow explaining the day’s events to Frank seemed worse. Slowly he, Tindolen, Brashani, Daniel, James, and Iriel made their way into the Inn through the crowd and entered the great hall where Frank was waiting. The innkeeper’s face was somber and showed no expression, but Evan knew that was the calm before the storm.
“Where do I start?” Frank began. He raised his eyebrows and ears. “I know.” He smiled maliciously. His voice took on a mocking tone. “Let’s begin with this morning when I found out that all my employees-turned-guards had disappeared without so much as a good-bye and then returned without even bothering to tell me, only to leave again, this time leaving a hole the size of a small wagon blasted through my place of business.”
Evan felt his face grow hot. “Didn’t Molin tell you where we went?”
Frank nodded his head. “He did, but you were already gone. I had to send one of the chambermaids over to that crackpot Cornwall’s house to find out that you had flown off in one of his contraptions two hours earlier.
“Then you came back … and look what I find when I come to find you.” He gestured at the hole in the wall.
“It’s my fault,” said Evan contritely. “I needed their help.”
“Damn right, it’s your fault,” barked Frank. “What were you thinking, Evan? They’re my employees and I’ve got a business to run. They can’t just go running off on a whim.”
Evan looked sheepishly at his friend. Guilt beat on him. “Sorry. It won’t happen again, Frank. I promise.”
“It had better not,” said the innkeeper angrily. “Now back to work, all of you.” He stormed out of the room.
Eric appeared in the doorway and caught Evan’s eye.
“Want some good news?” asked the guard lieutenant.
“Please,” said Evan.
“I’ve just informed Bigsbee that Tindolen’s gem has been recovered.”
“Really? What was his reaction?”
“He assigned eight town guards to stand watch over it.”
Evan laughed. “You’re joking.”
“No. I think he’s rethought his original position.”
“Interesting,” remarked Tindolen. He placed the topaz back on the velvet lining of the display case, closed the lid, and turned to face Eric and Evan. “Still, it would be good if Brashani could remain on watch during the day. Likewise, since Daniel can talk to Aure, he should remain on guard. However, I think Iriel can go back to work for Mr. Jones.”
“What about me?” asked James.
Tindolen smirked. “I think you’ll have your hands full telling the tale. People will want to know what happened. But you might want to clean up first.”
James looked down at his clothes and grimaced. “I know. I look like I’ve been in a fight.”
Iriel nodded her head. “We both do. Let’s wash and change our clothes.”
“Good idea,” agreed the bard. They left the great hall as Eric motioned to several guards in the lobby. Eight men marched into the hall. The guard lieutenant pointed at the glass case on the far side of the room. Four of the town guards took up positions along the back wall behind the display while the remaining four men paired off and flanked the left and right sides of the case.
“I’ll station more men outside,” Eric declared. “That should stop any more thefts.”