Ivo put his book away. He closed it with a snap then rubbed his eyes. He would be better for a few hours sleep, but instead he stood up and walked over to the mage. The ranger had just settled down with his pack beneath his head, he was asleep before his eyes closed. Ivo had listened to the talk he'd had with the elven mage then waited for him to sleep before rising himself.
"Telenstil," Ivo said quietly as he approached. "You keep your Queen's instructions well."
"You have large ears my friend," said Telenstil cheerfully.
"Oh I listened in," said Ivo cheerfully. "You two weren't exactly whispering. "Impolite I know, but these are perilous times, and a perilous place in which we find ourselves."
"In some ways things have gone far better than I had imagined they would," said Telenstil.
He kept watch over the steep slope that was the only approach to the ledge where they camped. Ivo sat down next to him, the old gnome let his feet dangle over the edge of the rock and wished he had not left his pipe back at the camp the giants had destroyed.
"I've no fondness for those orcs but they are a improvement over that cursed priest," said Ivo.
"I regret the loss of Henri and the scouts," said Telenstil. "Henri will be missed. We will need the powers he possessed, I do not doubt. It is that map I am pleased with. It showed plans that Nosnra or any giants would undertake. They are not subtle, but whoever is behind them, they are subtle planners indeed."
"They weave a tight web, I agree," said Ivo.
Telenstil did not reply but looked down at his friend with an eyebrow raised.
"We delve deep beneath our hills, and we live close enough to your lands to know your tales," said Ivo. "And we have cousins, gnomes who never see the light of day, but talk of a world beneath ours, where many creatures of brightness have turned dark."
"Maybe you know more of this than I," said Telenstil. "What are these stories that your cousins tell?"
"They are like those that you tell your children when they are bad," Ivo said. "And we held them in as much regard. Not enough it seems."
Telenstil laughed very lightly and quietly. "It seems you also have your secret councils my friend."
"I am like you. I wait to find out more before I put my faith in children's tales," said Ivo.
"We have both come far to seek these answers. Talberth too has traveled far, and our halfling friend, who has big ears as well."
Ivo leaned back and looked at the top of the ledge where a shadow was disappearing back behind the rock.
"Why don't you come down Harold, if you are not going to sleep?"
The little thief came sliding down the wall of rock, then when he was a man's height from the ground, he jumped and landed lightly on his feet.
"You're the one with big ears old gnome," said Harold but in a friendly voice.
"I see it is time for our own council," said Telenstil. "Perhaps we should wake the others."
"Let them sleep," said Harold. "You two want to talk around this business and not through it. All this hogwash of children's tales. My own directions were simple. He called me in..."
"Caught you I believe it was," said Ivo.
"That was simply a misunderstanding. In any case, he said 'Find out what you can,' I'm known for gathering information." the little thief related, his voice growing deep when he mimicked what he'd been told. "About what? I asked. 'About anything' which is usually what his wizardly mightiness commands."
"So what have you found out?" Telenstil asked, his ears perking up with interest at what the halfling might say.