Gonli and his band were given a draught from the river and a bite of cake for each. Cloths were wrapped on their bleeding wounds and only but a taste of medicine found at the bottom of Timlin’s pack was given to those injured the fiercest. After a brief sleep, Gonli woke and had the energy to tell his tale.
`What has happened here?’ said Gordon, with a hint of anger from the knowledge of Gonli’s betrayal.
Gonli took another drink and sat up despite the pain in his side. `When we returned with supplies for the canoe, we discovered that you had been taken captive, so we then left to find you.’
`Your attempt seemed to have failed,’ said Gordon.
`Yes. We turned southwest and traveled to the knolls at the feet of the mountains, but all we found there was our doom. A band of Goblins appeared from cracks and assaulted us from all sides, like warrior ants crawling from their holes and marching on a campaign. We lost two Dwarves: Mildun, and Rimli.’
`Rimli? T’was our youngest companion, sad tidings this is,’ said Doc.
`We escaped only with luck; the Goblins suddenly scattered and ran to some urgent call that echoed off the cliffs. We quickly fled to the river, where we then found Huldon, Dale, and Wilgon walking over the hills.’
`At least you got away, without death at any rate,’ said Gordon.
Gonli quickly filled the void space of silence between them.
`What of your tale?’ asked Gonli.
`We were captured, just as you thought,’ said Gordon. `We were then stripped of all our packs and supplies, and then bound in shackles to be slaves in their tunnels of stench and filth. Though they did not take us southwest, but straight west, along the river.’
`Thus the reason we found no tracks or signs of your presence.’
`Yes, and with the crushing march of their steel boots I am surprised you did not see the tracks going west, as York-ie did.’
`York-ie? What part did he have to play?’ asked Gonli.
`He played the role of saving our lives, and our mission; for when we rested for the first time in twelve hours at the feet of the mountains, then York-ie came, risking his life with few weapons against many enemies.’
`Truly?’ said Gonli. `Good tidings.’
`Yes, to York-ie we owe much,’ said Gordon. `Tell me Gonli, what is your report before you came back to camp, when you were scouting for a good tree?’
There is a pause, but it did not last too long. `We found a good tree trunk, of a good, strong size.’
`Surely there is more,’ said Gordon.
`Not too much more, not unless you are interested in small talk,’ laughed Gonli.
`No, no, I wish to hear none of that,’ said Gordon as he moved closer to Gonli’s ear. `Tell me, what were the tidings of York-ie? Did he give you trouble of any kind?’
`Yes he did,’ snorted Gonli, suddenly changing attitudes. `He made many threats, and drew his sword many times to strike fear into our hearts.’
`Oh, yes? I should have no more of that,’ said Gordon, `What do you propose I do with him?’
`What I think we should have done to him when we first saw his ugly face… kill him!’
`Oh yes, a clean death we could do too. Perhaps we can drown him, this way no mess lay on our hands,’ whispered Gordon. He moved away from Gonli and turned his attitude from calm and gentle, to angry and bitter, like someone who has found the truth to a swelling lie.
`You lying, deceiving Maggot!’ cried Gordon in a rage. `Curse you! I know the true tale of what happened on your scout, York-ie told me everything! After I ordered you to treat York-ie as our own, you cast my word away and tried to kill him!’ Gonli lay groveling on the ground, trying to plead his case, but Gordon did not hear it. He then turned to Keiwick with such a fire in his eyes that had never been witnessed by any dwarf standing in that field, nor any other told in tale or song.
`When have I ever given you the right to others of this company? And not only did you pose as captain, but you went against the true captain’s orders!’
`Do you really believe this Orc’s word over mine?’ said Keiwick.
`Yes I do,’ spat Gordon, with no hesitations or faltering in his words, `Now leave my sight before I grow even more angry then I already am.’ Keiwick walked away, toward the riverbank, and Gonli followed along with three Dwarves of Gonli’s band.
With this, no more words were spoken that night. Gordon took the watchman’s post, for he could not sleep in peace, and York-ie slept well.