The Captain was as good as his word. Within the hour Almonihah and Garkhen were standing in front of a priest of Mashano. Said priest explained that his spell-prayer would bind them to their words, causing them to suffer greatly if they broke the oath they would make. As such, it was vitally important that they choose their words carefully.
“Or that I choose their words carefully,” The Watch Captain interjected. “I have given this some thought. Would this be acceptable? ‘I swear to return to Elifort as soon as we retrieve the artifact that has been stolen from us.’”
Garkhen thought for a moment. “I feel that there should be some clause to allow us to adapt should something occur. Perhaps ‘I swear to return to Elifort as soon as we are able to recover the artifact that was stolen and bring it with us’? Then if something more were to occur after we first retrieved it, we would be able to continue to pursue it.”
The Captain thought it over for a moment. “That seems acceptable to me.”
Garkhen turned to the half-bronze dragon. “Almonihah…?”
After a long moment the Ranger nodded. “Fine.”
The priest chanted his spell-prayer, then motioned for them to speak. Both recited the oath, feeling an odd chill as the magic settled on them. Once all was done, the priest nodded to the Captain.
“Very well, then. You’re free to go, gentlemen. I expect to see you again once you’ve brought this to a close.”
As soon as they could, the pair returned to Archivist Maritha.
“Ah, I’d been thinking of contacting you,” she said as they were led into a room where she and several other mages stood. “We think we have a direction for you. A powerful source of magic that seems to match your box is moving northwest.”
“Northwest?” Garkhen repeated, surprised. “There is nothing in that direction save the Madlands, yes?”
Maritha nodded. “Given the nature of the artifact, I can’t say I’m surprised, but it bodes ill. We’ll continue to narrow down the location, but I thought you would want to depart as soon as possible. We shall send you a message when we know more.”
“Thank you, Archivist Maritha,” Garkhen said. Almonihah just gave a little nod as they departed.
“We’ll meet up with Zakhin’Dakh first,” Almonihah said as they walked towards the city gates.
Garkhen nodded. “Yes, that would be wise.” The truth was he’d almost forgotten the griffon—a fact which he now felt a bit embarrassed about.
Almonihah said no more, simply lengthening his stride to a pace which made the shorter-legged half-dwarf jog, armor clattering as they made their way through Elifort. Almonihah glanced back only once, with what Garkhen was pretty sure was annoyance, but he made no complaint.
The Ranger did not slacken his pace once they were without the city walls. If anything he started jogging himself, and Garkhen was hard-pressed to keep up. Indeed, he found himself slowly falling behind. Eventually he lost sight of the half-bronze dragon as he crested the top of a hill. But he could hear the loud, happy shriek of a griffon quite clearly.
Almonihah! You come! Happy! Zakhin’Dakh shrieked in Great Eagle as he saw his friend come up over the next hill. He took off and flew over to him.
Worried not see! But now here!
Almonihah grinned as the huge griffon dove and landed in front of him. Glad you’re here, Zakhin’Dakh. Sorry I took so long.
Okay! The griffon proclaimed as he walked up to his friend and settled down to be at eye level.
Finally Garkhen reached the top of the hill and saw Almonihah patting the Zakhin’Dakh on the head. He smiled a little to himself, but did not interrupt the two. His armor gave him away though, as Almonihah glanced over his shoulder at his approach.
“Some people stole that amulet,” he said in the Common Tongue, “So we’re going to hunt them down. Ready to help?”
Zakhin’Dakh nodded and screeched, Yeah!
And yes, they never got the Watch Captain’s name. Because I didn’t feel like coming up with it.