Sil-kuru narrowed his eyes, clenched his jaw, jumped on his horse, and rode away into the night.
"Sorry I'm late." Fewla sat down next to Dennis. They sat in a large open room across from a wall of mirrors.
They were surrounded by a lot of proud-looking people - dwarves, elves, humans - also seated.
"It's alright," replied Dennis. "They haven't started yet," he added as if it weren't obvious.
"It's alright," replied Dennis. "They haven't started yet," he added as if it weren't obvious. "Where's Goom?" Fewla asked.
"It's alright," replied Dennis. "They haven't started yet," he added as if it weren't obvious. "Where's Goom?" Fewla asked. "He had to wrap something up this morning, but he said he would be back in time," Dennis said. He turned in his chair to look toward the door.
Murt was sitting nervously in a small room. He didn't understand why he should be so nervous.
He'd dealt with orcs, Ulimni, a Vaerkuna, Wrinwood Imps, and a dragon in only the past month, but the hollow feeling that he felt down in the pit of his stomach was something new.
Things had settled down considerably since Goom had sent Sil-kuru retreating from Gellring.
Goom, Murt, Dennis, and Fewla had all laid low for a few days, unsure if they'd be accosted by any number of disgruntled opponents.
No one came, but each of the four friends still checked over their shoulders routinely.
Goom was convinced that at least the Ulimni and the dragon would leave them alone.
He still wasn't sure of his relationship with the dragon, but after fighting off Sil-kuru, the fire that burned inside of him had shrunken to a dim candle flame.
As far as he could tell, the Ulimni were more concerned with maintaining balance in Fairyland,
and he hoped that when he returned the heartstrings to the dragon that his debt was considered paid.
He'd also found himself a new profession that was much more palatable to the local law enforcement and the Ulimni by extension (he hoped).
Fewla had been in communication with her kin in the Southern Forest who she asked to keep an eye on things in Ekwar.
At one point, they witnessed Sil-kuru and several of his minions leaving the gates of their stronghold. They were carrying many weapons.
The fauns followed the orc to Selidium's Grove where they traded coin for a small leather sack with unknown contents from a dark-looking elf.
Goom took that to mean that Sil-kuru The Persistent had found himself a new smuggler. A happy ending for everyone.
In the reflection of the mirror, Dennis saw Goom walking in. He was red-faced and out of breath. Dennis laughed to himself when he saw the dwarf walk in.
Typically, Goom wore his beard shaggy and long. His wardrobe was full of holes and stains, and his overall appearance was unkempt and disheveled.
Typically, Goom wore his beard shaggy and long. His wardrobe was full of holes and stains, and his overall appearance was unkempt and disheveled. The new Goom, however, had a cleanly-trimmed beard and he wore clothes that were both clean and wrinkle-free. He looked positively sheveled.
"Did I miss anything," Goom asked as he sat down.
"Did I miss anything," Goom asked as he sat down. "Jus' a room full o' people avoiding eye-contact," Felwa responded.
Some of the other members of the audience were now quieting down and shifting in their seats while they drew their attention to the door to the left of them. The door opened.
In walked an eclectic line of aspiring magicians.
The apprentices lined up in front of the dojo master. They did a few showy displays of their magic to entertain the crowd.
They conjured fire in their hands, took turns levitating one another, shrouded themselves with invisibility, and they chopped some boards in half with their bare hands.
On the far-left end of the line was Murt, looking very bored by all the simple spells and illusions. He was the older apprentice at the magic dojo by at least two decades.
After the introductory activities, the master came forward to address the audience.
"Good afternoon family and friends and thank you for joining us here at Master Jim's Dojo of Magic and Spell-Defense."
He wore a long white robe that was tied around the middle with a black, canvas belt. His long, white beard hung well below his chest, and the wrinkles on his face confirmed his expertise.
Murt's boredom was gone, and again his nerves returned. One-by-one the master called his apprentices forward for their ceremonies.
Murt was the last in line, and he had a thick line of sweat around the neck and armpits of his white robe.
"Murt of Gellring!" the Master announced at last. "Please accept this purple belt as a sign of your dedication and increasing prowess in the magical art. Congratulations."
Murt stood tall and proud his dojo master passed him the new belt with both hands.
The dwarf unfurled his hard-earned boon and tied it around his waist then he smiled broadly, and his friends smiled back.
It might have been a small ceremony, and maybe some of the other belt recipients stood shorter than Murt's hip, but it was more of a symbolic thing anyway.
Goom was happy for his brother, and the ceremony held a similar significance for him as well. As Goom had told Sil-kuru, he was no longer a smuggler.
He struggled for several days trying to figure out what he could do with a set of illegal skills and no fancy diplomas or certificates to put on his resume scroll.
He'd lived in the shadows for so long he had trouble stepping into the light.
After Murt received his belt, the ceremony ended, and he rejoined his friends in the audience. They smiled wide and share hugs and congratulatory pats on the back.
"Is that belt going to help us track down Guerdon's Tome?" Goom asked.
"Is that belt going to help us track down Guerdon's Tome?" Goom asked. "Couldn't hurt," Murt replied.
"Is that belt going to help us track down Guerdon's Tome?" Goom asked. "Couldn't hurt," Murt replied. "Well then, remember to pack it," Goom said. "It's a long journey up to the Northern Desert, and we're going to need some help sifting through all that sand."
"For what Princess Sensira is paying us, I didn't expect it to be easy. Fewla, did you hear anything from your cousins in the north?"
"For what Princess Sensira is paying us, I didn't expect it to be easy. Fewla, did you hear anything from your cousins in the north?" "Only stories," the faun replied. "Muh cousin Denthur heard it from 'is gran that by the time the elves found Guerdon in the shiftin' dunes, he'd already lost 'is mind. Ramblin' about sunken ship 'n floatin' stones."
"Mean anything to you?" Goom asked Murt.
"Mean anything to you?" Goom asked Murt. "Mmm, maybe the stones. Hard to tell."
"Mean anything to you?" Goom asked Murt. "Mmm, maybe the stones. Hard to tell." Dennis chirped up, "If the elves found him, then why are we going and looking for his tomb?"
"Mean anything to you?" Goom asked Murt. "Mmm, maybe the stones. Hard to tell." Dennis chirped up, "If the elves found him, then why are we going and looking for his tomb?" "Tome, Dennis. It's a book, and this one happens to be a magic book," Goom corrected him.
"Hmm, what's so magical about it," Dennis wondered aloud. "Does it fly? How's it even doing magic if it ain't got no arms?
"Oh, Dennis," Goom replied, "If we can find this book, maybe we can go on a quest to locate the missing parts of your brain."
"Oh, Dennis," Goom replied, "If we can find this book, maybe we can go on a quest to locate the missing parts of your brain." "And coming from the greatest seeker in the realm, that's a pretty bad burn," Murt said to Dennis.
"C'mon, I'm still an apprentice," he said, flashing the bronze insignia that marked him as a junior member of the Brotherhood of Seeker's.
In the wake of the incidents - the minstrels, the dragon, the Cave of Whispers, the Vaerkuna, Kuurlok, the Riders, the River, the Ulimni, Yilmelk of the Wrinwood Imps,
the dragon a second time, the orcs, and the dragon once more - Goom was apprehended by Elven Riders for grand theft pony.
Of course, the riders knew that Goom was a smuggler and their distaste for the dwarf was only outweighed by their recognition of his useful skill set.
Goom was more than happy to take their offer. Maybe it was a little too "deus ex machina" for your taste, but that's the way it happened. Goom was a natural seeker.
He spent his time trying to hunt down lost relics, rarities, enchanted paraphernalia, stolen identities, and horcruxes and basically whatever his captain told him to find.
Basically, he was still a smuggler. They call it smuggling when you do it independently, but it's seeking when you do it for the regional jurisdiction.
"I'm hardly even a yellow belt," Goom added sarcastically. As soon as they were out of the building, Goom looked up into the overcast skies that blanketed the Gellring Foothills.
He hadn't seen or heard the dragon since his showdown with Sil-kuru. Goom told himself that she was just busy. For all he knew, she could be recovering from reconstructive heart surgery. Just like the gods of Fairyland intended when they wrote the penal code and delivered it to King Ebnekai the Honest, Speaker of Truth, and Interpreter of the Gods' Scrolls.
Still, Goom could feel that something had changed inside of him. Whether that was a spiritual connection with a mythical beast or the prideful sensation of self-improvement wasn't important.
It was definitely the spiritual connection thing though.
The group of friends walked out of the magic dojo like some sort of sitcom family, laughing and yammering about something that you couldn't quite be heard over the sound of cheerful pan pipes that seemed to fill the air all.
Goom smiled longingly while he looked back over his shoulder in a symbolic way that showed he was able to reflect on his past while still making steady progress into the future.
It was the end of one story and the beginning of a new one...
Goom the Seeker: Part I - Coming Soon...