Goom awoke the next morning, grateful for his first night of restful sleep in several days, but that only lasted until Goom saw that the minstrels were gone and they'd stolen everything.
"No! No!" Goom pounded his giant dwarf feet and screamed in rage. The minstrels had stolen everything they could carry. He, Murt, and Dennis had nothing left but the contents of their pockets
Murt and Dennis searched around for any signs of the minstrels or their belongings, but there was nothing. It was clear to Goom that they'd been swindled by a band of charlatans.
Just as Goom had lied about his companies' pretenses, so too had the imposter musicians disguised as Ulimni - they'd been double-duped.
Between the dragon heartstrings, the swords, and Murt's assorted magical paraphernalia, they'd lost at least sixteen granite rubles of profit.
On top of that, they had nothing to deliver to their malevolent, unforgiving buyer.
As they say in Fairyland: they were in the weevil nest without a girdle.
Groom had finally stopped screaming. Now, he was just talking in rage. "We've got to find them! We can't walk into Neloth without the strings, and we can't run and hide.
He'll track us down and make us pay the price for wasting his time. They don't call him Sil-kuru the Persistent for nothing."
"We know all about Sil-kuru!" boomed back Murt. "You're the one who said we were merchants. You told them all about our fancy stabbing swords and the quick profits."
"Yeah," peeped up Dennis. "And now, all my swords are gone. What am I now? A sell sword without a sword to sell. I'd rather be a damned minstrel!"
They all yelled a bit longer, but they knew that all the yelling in the world wasn't going to get their goods back.
Murt even checked his travel-sized spell book, but there wasn't anything about vengeful wailing.
They considered heading for Mellarah, but if the minstrels lied about everything else, why would they be honest about their destination?
On the other hand, settlements were scare in this part of Fairyland, and with the added weight, the thieves would be traveling neither swiftly nor distant. Mellarah was the best chance they had.
After checking in with his GPS crystal, Murt lead them on their way.
They'd been walking for about one Fairyland hour when the heard a rustling that seemed to be coming from all around them.
Like a gust of wind or free coffee, the sound was gone as quickly as it had come. They resumed their march, but again came the rustling.
It sounded like a stampede of plastic bags, and the trio looked all around to try to find the source of it.
Goom tensed his stout fists and he was breathing frustrated breaths that danced through the thick brown hairs of his beard.
Remaining quiet, Murt gave his brother a nudge with his elbow, opened his cloak, and pointed to a small pocket.
He pulled out a black stone about the size of a lump of Thinovian sugar, and he gave Goom a confident wink before spiking the stone to the ground at their feet.
The stone exploded into a ring of mist that started at their feet and moved outward like a ripple in a pond.
The rustling was louder and more frantic now, like someone was trying to escape, but it was too late. The cloud of dark mist cascaded over the culprit.
The invisible figure was now painted in dust, and she asked for mercy as Goom, Murt, and Dennis surrounded her.
"Please dun hurt me," the Moss Faun whimpered. "I'm just 'aving a bitta fun, and I've not dunna thing ta harm yeh.
"She was just a juvenile faun based on the curl of her horns and lack of accountability for her actions. "I 'aven't got no coin, but I kin get ye food or ale or-"
"Yes! Ale," Dennis chimed in. "We'll have that."
"The food too," added Goom. They'd been walking for hours, and since their rations were stolen, they'd been eating only what they could forage.
With nothing but mushrooms and wild pickles in their bellies, they were quick to take the faun up on her bargain.
"Alright, falla' me," said the Moss Faun, "but we mus' be quiet and quick. I seen Ulimni in this parts, none but a spell ago."
"Ulimni?" Goom asked. "Are you certain? Did they carry anything?"
"Well, they did 'ave a good many bags. Swords, I think, and more."
"Those were no Ulimni. They were thieves and those are my swords," Dennis added.
"They stole from all of us," said Goom, "and we need it all back."
"Thieves eh? I bet I know where ta find 'em then," the faun responded.
"Take us there," Goom commanded. His eyes narrowed and a smile made its way to the corner of his mouth.
"Great plan. I love it," Dennis added dismissively. "What about the ale?"