#8: At the Forsaken Inn

Even the mercantyler with whom I travel, who is as sour and joyless a man as ever I have met, one for whom the slightest sound of copper on copper is as the breath of life in that nothing else seems to matter to him, finds the Forsaken Inn aptly named. At Odelynne's suggestion I seek to ask around about another guide here, in hopes of leaving the man and his wagon behind. There is a squeak in the thing's left front wheel which cannot be forgiven, but which could be easily repaired, if he would but let me take a tool to it, but he will not even if I promise to charge not one penny nor even ask for a refund of the same. And the wheel sticks at every tiny drop between stones of the road, requiring a slow and tedious effort for his droop-eared pony to pull it out. And for all that, I think the man would take umbrage if he saw me asking for another to guide me, even though I would not ask for his obscenely overpriced fee in return. I must hope to get a quiet moment when he is too distracted, perhaps by the ammoniac concoction the distempered innkeeper deigns to call by the name of 'ale'.

Thus far the road has seemed safe as houses, though the man tells the same tale all the others tell, of brigands, and wolves, and goblins, and at any moment I expect dragons and nine-toothed vicious squirrels to be added to the mix. I must temper my incredulity, though. Liffey spoke of being injured by goblins on this very road, though farther along. Somewhere in this morass of alarmist rhetoric and scare stories designed to extract coin from purses, there is some kernel of truth.

I purchased a traveler's pack in Bree before I set out, and filled it with dried foods and a large water-skin. I now think this wise, as I shall not trust anything served in this truly forsaken inn. My brother of the road offers none of his food, save at a price, of course; he was visibly displeased when I produced some nuts and cheese for my own luncheon as we passed the marshes, as he had no doubt expected to extricate more coin from me.

The blithering fool has now retreated back to his wagon to sleep, insisting the inn's rooms are worse than his meager offerings. He may well be right. Still, this gives me the opportunity I need.

Ah, it seems Odelynne was right, bless her sunset locks and refulgent smile! There is indeed one here called Munce, of the Eglain, who makes east this very night! And for a few coins he will take me on and show me the rest of the road, provided we leave immediately. It will be a wearying journey to press on after walking all day, but he will be gone by morning, and it may be worth it to avoid the company of my erstwhile companion. I am leaving a tab with the innkeeper in the mercantyler's name, that he might look more kindly on my unannounced departure. This Munce I feel is more the trustworthy, in any case. I hadn't even mentioned Liffey by name, and he mentioned her, having known that she waited in Ost Guruth under the care of their healer, Strangsig, and asking if it was she I sought. May the stars grant me stamina, as I have miles before me ere I might rest.