"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. "And what about the ale?"
Fewla, the Moss Faun, led Goom, Murt, and Dennis through the Forest of Wrin. They didn't rest for food or ale, but Fewla promised that there would be food where they were going.
After tramping through the untamed wilderness for a while, they came to a thin path that twisted through the trees. They followed the path south.
From there, it was only another few miles to their destination.
"If it's thieves your after, you fin' 'em in there." Fewla pointed to a rickety wood building ahead of them.
They'd heard the sounds of song and shouting from far away, and this building matched the sounds it put forth.
Fewla told them that it was a beer hall, and that thieves were its commonest customers.
"Ha ha!" Dennis laughed. He was excited about the prospect of ale. He strutted toward the door but Goom grabbed his arm before he made it too far.
"Wait! We can't just go walking in.
If the phony minstrels are in there, and if they catch a glimpse of us, we'll be in for a fight, and we haven't got a weapon between the three of us," spoke Goom.
He was right, much to Dennis's disappointment. They'd need disguises, and fortunately, they had a dwarf who was learned in the magical arts.
Magic is the perfect for disguises, distractions, and writer's block.
Though he wasn't powerful enough to disguise them all, Murt was able to cast an enchantment over himself and his brother. Dennis would have to wait outside.
He never got to do any of the fun stuff.
Goom and Murt thanked Fewla for her help, and Dennis sat down and pouted behind a tree stump.
Fewla trotted off back in the direction they'd come from, and the brothers walked into the beer hall. They opened the door to a cartoony scene.
Think-muscled men grabbed beer wenches by their wastes and pulled them onto their laps, drunk gnomes fell from their high chairs, and angry orcs slammed mugs into the faces of other angry orcs.
Goom and Murt, enchanted to appear as men, walked in and found a couple of seats at the bar.
They ordered delicious, frothy beers, and they talked about how mad Dennis would be if he could see them now.
Goom scanned the room, and he finally found the fake minstrels holding court at a table in the corner.
Each of the four men had a wench on his lap, and each wench had a heartstring braided into her hair. It was the new style according to the most recent issue of Cosmopolitan.
On the table in front of the minstrels was a stack of cards and a set of dice.
They'd been gambling recklessly with their knew inventory, and the brothers started to notice several patrons scattered about the bar with Dennis's swords fixed to their hips.
The minstrels were gambling them away, but Goom was happy to see that they were smart enough to hang on to the heartstrings besides the four they'd offered to the wenches.
As it turned out, Murt was a fantastic dice player. It was very easy to play dice when you had magical abilities. He barely had to lift a finger to make the dice fall how he wanted.
They decided to try to win the heartstrings back, unfair and square. Goom would roll dice, but Murt would control them. They finished their beers and walked over to the table.
"What do we have here?" the leader of the thieve-minstrels asked of no one in particular. "A couple boys here looking to lose some coin.
" He cackled at his wit, and everyone around the table had to laugh because he was the leader.
"Oh, we're here to play, but not for coin. We're here for those heartstrings," Goom replied as he pointed to the braided hair of woman on the leader's lap.
The laughter disappeared from the thief's face, and he scowled at Goom.
"And what do you have that I want?" he asked. "I about died cutting these strings out, and I don't plan to give 'em away for nothing.
" He tightened the drawstring of the satchel on his back - Goom's satchel.
A flash of anger grabbed Goom by the chest when he heard the lie, but he didn't let his anger show. He couldn't blow their cover now.
The truth was that they didn't have anything to gamble with, but they'd planned for this. Before they entered the beer hall, Murt had also enchanted a handful of stones.
For now, the stones looked like a nice stack of gold coins. They were convincing enough for the bar tender, and Goom knew they'd be good enough for some half-drunk scoundrels.
"What's your game?" Goom asked the group.
Yahtzee was the reply.