Aglaril Cycle Book 2 Chapter 3 The Game's Afoot by Rich Feitelberg

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SUMMARY: Evan and his friend arrive in town and begin their investigation into the disappearance of the missing girls.

James and the others continued into town. Amanda, riding with Iriel, directed them. As they approached the western edge of town, Amanda pointed out the orphanage. It was ornately carved, more so than James had expected, looking as if dwarves had taken a large block of granite and carved gargoyles and saints into it. Across the front doors were two black wrought-iron gates of vertical bars that made the orphanage look more like a prison than a home for children with no parents.

"We need a place to stay," Evan said to Amanda. "Did the town rebuild the inn?"

"Yeah."

"Where is it?"

She pointed straight ahead, across town.

"Show us."

Amanda slid off Iriel's horse. Iriel and the others climbed down from their horses as well. Proceeding east, they walked slowly because the snow here was hard packed and icy. Ruts had formed from constant travel back and forth by the townsfolk, making the way difficult to cross.

James nudged Evan. "Why'd they rebuild the inn?"

"The necromancers torched it when they seized control of the town."

James was silent for a few seconds as he envisioned the scene. He looked up and saw Amanda gesture at a small building with the image of haystack on a small sign that swung in the breeze.

"That's it," she said.

James glanced at the building. It was a flat, one story structure made of wood. The roof was covered in snow, but the bard saw bits of straw sticking out along the edges and guessed that the roof was thatched. Judging from the size of the inn, James doubted it had a dining room or a kitchen.

So much for a warm meal served in my room, mused the bard.

"Looks smaller than the last one," the priest commented. "Are the stables still down the street?"

"Uh-huh. Across the street at the blacksmith shop." Amanda pointed to the right.

"I'll take the horses to the stables," James volunteered.

"All right," said Evan. "Can you handle all the horses by yourself?

"Probably not."

"I'll go with him," said Iriel."

"Good," said the priest. "I'll go reserve rooms for us inside."

After gathering all the reins, James and Iriel led the horses away while Evan and the others went into the inn. The innkeeper greeted them. He was a short man, bald and clean-shaven. He wore a white apron and an emerald green tunic and dark trousers.

"Can I help you?"

"We'd like three rooms."

"Certainly. Let me see what's open." The innkeeper checked his records and came back with three keys.

"Thank you," said Evan, as James and Iriel walked into the inn.

"The horses are all set," said James.

"Excellent," said Evan. He handed the bard a key. "The key to your room. You'll be sharing with Daniel."

"Sounds good," commented James.

Evan handed another key to Iriel. "For you and Amanda."

"That leaves you and me rooming together," Brashani addressed to Evan.

"Yes, hope that's all right."

"Hope you don't snore," the mage said with jest.

"I'll do my best not to," countered the priest.

The innkeeper led them to their rooms, three chambers all off the same hallway.

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