Jalal's lips were blue. His breath came in shallow gasps barely stirring the hair of his beard. The rise and fall of his chest was slight, he exhaled, a hollow sound, his mouth half opened but his eyes were closed. And then he died.
One moment a spirit dwelt within Jalal's thin and weary frame, then the body Ghibelline held was naught but a withered husk, a shell left empty by its guiding force. Gytha said a quiet prayer and placed her hand upon the cooling brow. Telenstil shook his head. Whatever answers that Jalal had possessed where now most likely beyond his reach.
"I am sorry," Gytha said to Ghibelline. The elf wiped at his eyes, then gave the cleric a faint thankful look. "What shall we do with him?" Gytha asked Telenstil.
He stood above them lost in thought.
"We can't leave him!" Ghibelline burst out.
"No, we will take him with us till we can bury him, or find him a proper resting place." Telenstil said calmly.
"What was his faith?" Gytha asked.
"I do not know," said Ghibelline. "He came from the west. He said once that I would not know his Gods."
The leader of the orcs, Boss, had wandered over. He listened to their talk and craned his neck, peering over the cleric's shoulder to see what drew the attention of the others. "Old man dead?" he asked. "That one good to work for, brought us drink and food. Back in cage," the orc nodded his head toward the steading, "we eat dead, remember before giants make us slaves. We put skull in cave of dead, just eat rest."
"Why you beast..." Ghibelline shouted at the orc.
"We do not eat our dead," said Gytha firmly.
Telenstil put his hand on Ghibelline's shoulder. It quieted the young elf. "Different people, different customs, he meant to honor your friend."
"We have plenty food," Boss said indignantly. The orc did not understand all that they said but he caught the meaning behind Ghibelline's words.
"I will help you carry him," said Gytha.
"I will help as well," said Talberth. He had approached quietly as they spoke. "Go ready your people," the mage told the orc.
The small group of monsters would do as the mage commanded, fearful of incurring his deadly wrath. Boss grumbled beneath his breath but took out his anger on his followers, pushing them into line. The thief called down to them a warning, his perch above the ledge gave him a far eye-view of the path both to his right and left.
"The ranger is returning!" he hissed.
"Probably wondering what is our delay." Ivo said to Telenstil.
"Perhaps, but he has returned sooner than I expected," the elf replied.
Harald came along the eastern path. They had followed the western trail up the hill the night before but had stopped at the first place that would shelter them, too tired to go on. Toward the east the trail went further up into the hills, they knew not where. Harald had left to see what lay ahead.
"Telenstil," Harald jogged up to the elf. "Telenstil, we had better get moving, there are giants up ahead."
"Coming this way?" Telenstil ask with some concern.
"No," said the ranger, "I saw three giants moving along a trail east of here. They are crossing through a path at the base of a ravine heading north, but one split off to the north east along a second trail."
"Scouts you believe?" asked Telenstil.
"No, I don't think so," said Harald. "My guess is that he is calling for help."
"We dealt him a serious blow," said Telenstil. "That is good and bad. It seems we have hurt Nosnra enough for him to set aside his pride and call for help. That is bad."
"What's the good part?" asked the thief.