Gratitude should taste better. I have not often risked my life for the lives of others, but on the occasions where I have the thanks has always been more generous. Balthandar swore his life to me, for gods’ sake. Bantish and his people can barely put together a decent meal for us.


I suppose that for such poor people I should be grateful there is any food at all. But considering we have alleviated not just suffering, but a threat to their very existence, you would imagine they would produce more of a feast.

They fed us some fruit and a couple of roasted birds served over a thick puree of some root I have never tasted before. It was all terrible. Bland.

The people looked expectant, as if we were supposed to enjoy it. I suppose we did in some fashion, considering we hadn’t eaten more than flatbake in two days. I’m sure they were disappointed at our reaction. I suppose the next time someone saves their village they’ll put on a better show.

There was no bandying about for us. As soon as we had eaten the questions began to flow, pumping Bantish for whatever information he would give us.

We need to be on our way. That was what we tried to impress upon him.

He, on the other hand, wanted us to stay. At least a little longer. He put up a show of wanting to give us time to rest, and for him to gather supplies. Bolton took this as a stalling tactic. He stood, knife in hand, but Bantish thrust him back down to his seat with a gesture. The shock of it stunned Bolton, it stunned all of us.

I don’t know what power he used, but all of our hands were on our blades in an instant.

Bantish kept two fingers raised and asked us to remain civil. He promised we would have all that we had asked for and more, but told us that rest was what we needed most. Pointing at Bolton, who flinched noticeably, Bantish said that there was illness yet within us. It would be no form of appreciation to let us back into the wild without giving us the best chance possible.

He almost made it sound hopeful.

Bolton is still angry from his embarrassment. He and Starlark haven’t stopped bickering since. The rest of us are quietly grateful for the opportunity to rest, even if we share frustrations over Bantish.


I knew he was powerful. I knew he was dangerous. Now I must trust that he is as honorable as he appears.

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