Before Gledrick and Aimon left the university, I wanted to try the bone cylinder. Master Vontaze whispered to my mind, “It’s too soon. You don’t know enough. The risk to yourself is too great.” I pushed my caution down into a small corner.
“Gledrick, I have a favor to ask.” My tone bespoke the seriousness.
“Aye,” replied the dwarf casually.
I explained that the bone device might be a way to listen to the enemy. Aimon and Gledrick took a deep interest. I described some of the symbols as I showed them the bone. I told him that the aura suggested to me that there may be pain involved. The stern voice of the Gledrick remained unchanged.
“Aye,” he said, again.
I led them to the university test chamber, a deep stone pit with a thick wooden door, circled by a crenelated balcony for viewing. I stood Gledrick in the center, closed the door and climbed the stone stairs to the overlook. After Gledrick braced himself, I shouted, “Ba’aash Ki.”
Gledrick’s grip tightened. His temples pulsed and his skin turned red. He clenched his jaw. After a moment, he gasped and dropped the bone cylinder. My heart sank and my head rested against the stone banister. Again, I had caused more harm than good.
When I looked again, Gledrick seemed to have recovered, though his breath still came in gulps. He dabbed some sweat from his head and, looking up, simply stated, “I heard it.”
“Heard what?” called Aimon.
I hurried down the stairs to unlatch the door for him.
Gledrick’s look was serious. “A voice in my head said, ‘The Blackspears march. I know you have failed me. The enemy’s champions still live. Gruncheck will deal with them. You will meet him in four days where the river meets the lake. He will deliver your punishment.’”
We all looked at each other. Gledrick said it first, “We know exactly where Gruncheck will be in four days.” I started shaking my head.
AImon added, “There’s only one river to the north that would be worthy of note. I know the way.” I shook my head more.
“We can finally take him out,” they nearly sung out together. I shook faster, but they didn’t seem to notice…or care.
My mind reeled with questions. Who are the Blackspears? An orc tribe? That should be easy enough to research. More importantly, who was this message meant for? Do they have another way to receive it, or will they miss the appointment? Whose voice was giving orders to the likes of Gruncheck and the others. How many other bone cylinders were there? Who had them? Will Gruncheck have an escort? Is he with the Blackspeers? Do we really want to be there?
My thoughts were jarred when a dwarven fist knocked into my chest. I staggered and started a mild bout of The Cough. “Yes,” he said plainly, “It hurt like the Nine Hells.”