“What talk is this?” The Elder asked, eyeing Igdryll suspiciously.
“I say it twice times now. A third won’t change it.”
“You say you were on your way to Mr. Dallver’s?”
“Aye. To, nay from. “We,” he motioned to Evellya, “see yellow moving house that lifts dirt. More dirt than our town size, it seemed.”
“Consult the others, I must.”
The Elder ascended the steps of the town hall and opened the large, carved door. The door closed behind him with a labored creak. A few bystanders had gathered near the steps and discussed the event. Igdryll sat down and Evellya sat beside him.
“What you think it is?” she asked.
“Dunno. Know it’s not good though. Know it by my bones, Eva.” Igdryll removed his peaked cap and smoothed his hair back. “Goin’ to Dallver’s now.”
“But the Elder comin’ back in short.”
“The Elder use his magic to find me if he need me.”
The pub was nearly empty. Mr. Dallver was wiping down the bar and Tragdryll was sitting in a corner drinking a cider.
“Hey, Igg,” Tragdryll said. His speech was slurred.
“Hey, Trag. Hey, Mr. Dallver,” Igdryll raised a hand. “Cider pint, please you.”
Mr. Dallver filled a mug. The foam spilled over and he handed it across the bar to Igdryll.
“Thank ye,” he said, taking the pint jug. Igdryll sat down by Tragdryll. No one knows exactly just how old Tragdryll is but he is easily the oldest gnome in town. He lost his wife almost two years ago. Literally lost his wife. They were walking in the Old Wood which is on the other side of town opposite the Vale and she simply vanished. The town spent a halfmoon looking for her but she was never found. Ever since then, Tragdryll spent most of his time in Dallver’s. A few whispered that maybe he helped his wife get lost but he was cleared after the Elder cast the bones. The bones said that he was telling the truth and they never lie.
“You be pale, Igg.”
“Aye. Strange day.”
They both took sips of their ciders. Igdryll had a passing thought that he was looking at his future self.
“Eva and me see something beyond the Vale. Something I don’t like.”
“The Vale, eh? Why you kids always be messin’ with it.” He sipped his cider. “When I was youngish, no one went there. We respected it. Respected it because we respected the Elder.”
“Eh. I heard stories’bout your youngish years and nay one of ’em included the words ‘respect’ and ‘elder’ in em.”
“What you see, anyways?”
“Dirt moving house.”
“A dirt moving house? ‘Kay.”
“Nay. For real.”
“I be drunk twice over and I still know your story be shat.” Tragdryll took another sip. “Ain’t nothin’ beyond the Vale but…well, not sure. But it sure as shat ain’t a dirt movin’ house, I can tell ya.”
“Well, I seen it,” Igdryll sipped his cider. “Smokin’, movin’, yellow house.”
“I dunno. She does her things. I do my things.”
“She fancies you, ya know.”
“Eh,” Igdryll grunted. “I’m out. You want another?”
Mr. Dallver poured two more ciders. Igdryll took them back over to the table and sat down. The door behind them opened suddenly. The Elder walked in.
“Fark,” Igdryll muttered.
“You know I can hear you, Igdryll,” the Elder said. “Come now, the Council needs to talk with ya.”
“The Council?” Igdryll said. “The Council can talk fine with me right here.”
“Nay. Come now. Let’s go.”
“Fine then.” Igdryll stood up. “I’m takin’ me cider though.”
Igdryll dropped three silver coins on the bar, looked at Tragdryll and dropped one more.
“Take care of Trag, too.” Mr. Dallver nodded. “See ya,” he said as he waved at Tragdryll and walked out the door.