Who could have been here? Fred had assumed that the location of the lair
was known only to Astra and himself. And why would whoever had been here
want the dragons' heads,
claws and whatever had been taken from their bellies? (Fred had no
inclination to poke about inside the gaping wounds to try to determine
what internal organs,
if any, had been removed.) Fred could only speculate that the items
might have been taken for use in some magic rite. Like Astra, the dwarves
did not seem bothered
by the dragons' mutilation. Their attention was fixed on the heaps of coins
Fred's thoughts were interrupted by Tarin coming over to where he and Astra stood and saying: "That's enough daydreaming, you two. Here are shovels and sacks. You can help us to collect the treasure. And no pocketing any for yourselves." So Fred and Astra, and Rift too, began filling the sacks that they had been given.
Minestus' hoard was so large that, even though much of it was inaccessible under fallen rock, Fred estimated that it would take several hours to collect it all. That was assuming that the dwarves wouldn't want to try to excavate the rubble to get at the rest. He hoped that they wouldn't; that could take days. He wondered if they had waggons waiting outside; he thought that it wouldn't be possible to take so much away otherwise.
The dwarves had brought plenty of empty sacks. As soon as one sack had been filled, a replacement was handed out. Fred, Astra and Rift were soon bathed in sweat. (Dwarves apparently did not sweat.) The pile of full sacks steadily grew, but even after an hour's work the piles of gold and gems yet to be collected did not seem to have diminished by much. There was even more treasure here than Fred had at first estimated.
Fred was concerned for the effect that the work might have on Astra. He asked her: "Is so much exertion wise, given your condition?" She gave him a withering look, but then relented and said: "Well, I doubt that asking Tarin to let me off shovelling would be very well received. Actually, I feel very fit, and it's not a problem. It's hard to be sure given the circumstances, but I think I am only at about the five month stage, though I do seem to have been getting bigger alarmingly quickly recently."
9/21/1999 12:32:10 PM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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