"Where is our ranger?" Telenstil asked the returning pair.
"He has gone ahead to scout," Ivo called out as he approached the camp.
"He took off as soon as we found a hiding place," said Talberth.
"As have our small thief and his little apprentice," said Telenstil, "We are ready here, but I left it for Talberth to wake the orcs."
"So they are my pups now," Talberth shook his head, "I could do without the honor."
"They fear you, Talberth," Telenstil patted the mage's shoulder. "That display you put on in Nosnra's dungeon was quite something. It has made a lasting impression on these orcs. Besides they would not like to be commanded by an elf, while humans often have orcs to serve them."
"Evil scum," Talberth said distastefully. "Harold might be used to dealing with such, but I..."
"It is no reflection on you my friend," said Telenstil, "but only necessity."
"I will go wake our sleeping charges," Talberth held up both hands palms out. "But orcs, this quest of ours has created a strange alliance. I do not like it." Talberth left them to wake the orcs walking over to where they slept. He passed both Gytha and Ghibelline who carried the meager supplies they had taken from the steading.
"He is right," said Ghibelline. "We cannot trust those orcs."
"You have good ears, Goblinkiller," laughed Ivo.
"Goblinkiller, Ivo what do you mean?" asked Gytha.
"Why, it is his name," Ivo looked surprised. "Gytha I thought you knew something of the elven tongue."
"Why yes," Gytha thought for a moment, "it is very much like the old tongue. Ghibelline, yes I see it now."
"A respectable name for a warrior," said Telenstil.
"I have always strived to be worthy of it," Ghibelline said quietly.
"I just wish you were called giant slayer." Ivo laughed again.
* * *
Harald whistled; a short exhale over his teeth. He wiped his brow with the back of his hand then with the same hand shaded his eyes. This peak he stood upon was half again the height of the giants' hill, but looking to the north he could see the mountains rising up, dwarfing all the surrounding hills and ridges within sight. These giants lived among the hills and valleys, the mountains were too harsh and bare. No fields for their cattle to graze, no woods beyond a certain height, poor hunting too, no place for a Hill Giant to set his hall.
"North," Harald muttered. That would be the way for them to go, Harald thought to himself. Move beyond the hills up into the crags among the nearby mountains where the giants would find it hard to follow. The ranger continued south. He checked the rocky lip of stone for another crack or some trail carved out like the pathway along the southern slopes but he found nothing safer than the chimney-like crevice at the crest of the eastern ridge.
"Noise, chief. Noise up there," Little Rat whispered to Harold. The small orc and the halfling had climbed up to the ledge above the camp and kept watch.
"Hey!" shouted out the thief. "I see you have gone out scouting as well."
The ranger pulled himself up the ledge and eyed his friend and his small orc companion wistfully. "We aren't on the crowded streets of Greyhawk," Harald said to them, "no need to shout, a good deal of need not to be heard."
"Bah!" grunted Harold. "I haven't seen anything up here but some birds and rabbits. Besides, my shouting is particularly quite."
"Well, I didn't see anything besides birds and rabbits myself," agreed Harald, "but caution is best served by silence."
"Bah again," laughed Harold. "I'd rather be shouting to you on Scriverner's Crescent on my way to The Dryad for some cold ale and pleasant company."
"You will have to take me there someday," Harald replied.
"You will buy the first round," Harold laughed again.
"And the second, my friend, but for today we'd best get back to camp and get everyone moving."