"Telenstil, I have a copy of that second map," said Talberth, "and this chain, I know what Harald thinks of it, but I am convinced that it will be of use. I studied that second map, as you studied the first, and it speaks of Grugnir's rift. It shows a place where I suspect the chain will take us, some room or cave, then a pathway, between guardposts, leading...."
"But where is this place?" interrupted Harald. "And how will we get back?"
"And," Ivo added, "will that chain of yours take us back to Nosnra's dungeon."
"I cannot answer," said Talberth, "who can?"
"Perhaps only Nosnra," Telenstil said. "I doubt he will tell us. But the chain is a great risk. I read the map and the scroll which told Nosnra how to use the chain, there was much there that it did not say, things that Nosnra would know and need not be explained to him."
"It could be a trap," said Harold. "Look at those blades which we found, you and Gytha say they overwhelmed our scouts. That they were cursed, and what happened to that cursed priest Henri," Harold thought for a moment and pulled loose a pouch of coins he had secured to his belt. He hefted it in one hand then threw it far, out among the rocks. "Everything taken from that room seems cursed, why should that chain be any different, or those coins."
"Cursed is perhaps not the word," said Telenstil. "Rather I would say that those blades were not meant for them, or for any who would be the giants' foes. Instead those blades were meant to be used by evil hands. Remember, both scouts heard the voices of the blades, they named themselves, the spirits that inhabited the steel were stronger than our companions, and so they were corrupted or driven mad."
"And the chain?" asked Harold.
"The chain," Telenstil said thoughtfully, "I would know more about it, but I feel it is what it seems. I doubt not that it was crafted with a dark magic, but a globe of light crafted by an evil hand will still cast away the dark."
"So what are you saying?" asked Harald. "You think we should use it?"
"Not yet, perhaps not at all," said Telenstil, "but it may prove to be..."
"If no one else, I will use it," said Talberth.
"If that is where your fate lies then we will see who joins you," Telenstil put his hand on the mage's shoulder. "But not yet. Talberth, we will take the chain, though it be a burden. "
"My burden you mean," spoke up the old ranger.
"Harold, my apologies, but your strength is great, and the orcs have our captive scout to carry," said Telenstil. "And Talberth, I swear that I will go with you wherever this chain may take us, after we have struck down these giants."
"I have made promises myself," Talberth said glumly. "I can wait before using the chain, but Telenstil, I think we waste our time here. If as you say Nosnra is just a finger on a hand, then this chain will lead us to that hand."
"Nosnra still lives," said Harald. "My work here is not done, I will not leave till either he is dead or I am."
"Don't be silly Harald," exclaimed Gytha. "I will be with you, and I do not intend to let you die."
"And I intend to kill Nosnra," Harald replied.
"Yes, but we will need you Harald," said Telenstil. "There will be other chiefs who will take up where Nosnra left off, and these giants of the cold lands, we will need you more than ever if we go against them."
"When we go," said Talberth. "Why strike off a finger when we can wound the hand?"
"Time, Talberth, time," Telenstil explained. "All that we have done will give the lowlands time. If we kill Nosnra it will add to what we may have already gained, and with that map we sent, it will prepare them for what is to come."
"What do you mean?" asked the halfling thief. "What is to come?"
"Invasion," said Telenstil. "It is something that the rulers of the lowlands fear, but many wish to bury their heads in the oerth and pretend that it will not come."
"Many say that it is just the giants' way," Harald said, "that they are raiders and come down from the hills and mountains only for plunder. But I have fought them all my life and what I have seen of late is not the giants' way. They test us, ambush patrols, destroy the freeholds and outposts that would give warning to those living below, they weaken us, but the lowlanders think it is not their concern."
"Some have listened, Harald, and some rulers have called out for help," Telenstil showed them a hide scroll he had kept at hand. "This is a message from Nosnra. We have made him call for help. It is another strangeness. I have not heard before of such alliances as this note speaks of. Here is a call for another chieftain who has sworn blood-kinship with Nosnra to fulfill their oath and to send their warriors now instead of the rising of two new moons, when they were promised. I gave Ivo another such message to translate."
"This says the same," Ivo held up a second scroll.
"And a third messenger escaped us," said Telenstil. "This is not the way of giants. Blood-kinship, I have never heard of such between clans, not with their great pride in their family lines. Never has there been such an alliance of clans, not in any record of the wise. And yet the map named dozens."
"Well that was the proof wasn't it?" asked Harold. "What more do we need?"
"We need Nosnra dead," said Harald.
"And we need more information," answered Telenstil. "Hopefully we have not destroyed it in that fire. Now, time grows short for us and we must be on our way. We need to find another camp and we need to decide what to do with our orcish companions."
"I go with you!" spoke up Little Rat.
"I will keep an eye on him," said Harold.
"You have picked up a strange apprentice there," the ranger said. "Make sure you do keep him under watch."
"He will be fine," the halfling crossed his fingers on the hand hidden behind his back.
"I say we keep them with us for now." said Ivo. "Do not mistake my intent, I have no liking for these orcs and I do not trust them," his glance went to the young one by Harold's side. "But they may be of some help. They know things about the steading, and I want to study them."
"What are you thinking of?" asked Talberth.
"A spell, something to mask us," Ivo replied. "We might go unnoticed as orcish slaves and avoid raising an alarm. We will need to think of a way to get inside Nosnra's steading again."