Wolves at the Door (part 24)

Gil’s heart was in his mouth as he turned, but it was only Alfvin.

“So, Gilfrid my friend, you are a curious one?”

“I was just – it was cold, so I …”

“No excuse is needed. After all, if you are to join me in this venture, you need to know how it is done.”

“Is that how it is always done? I’m not sure that would work for me.”

Alfvin grinned at the thought of Gil attempting to play the seducer.

“No, I use the talents available to me, as you will use yours. In my case, I find that overcoming people’s natural mistrust requires a little extra effort. Charm is often an effective weapon, but sometimes I overdo it. For you, a more straightforward approach will work well. When you have pants, that is. You will need to learn a little about trading, but after that you can do so quite conventionally.”

“And is that all? Did we come all this way for one bag of stuff? Or do you need to find more people to charm?”

“The sun will be rising soon. If we wait a little, the town will be about its business of the day and we – or rather, I – can trade in a more open manner. Do you know how to sew?”

The abrupt change of topic took Gil by surprise.

“I suppose – a little. I’m hardly an expert.”

“I think a little will be good enough. When the town is awake, I shall acquire some materials so that you can make yourself some clothes. The important thing is that you can be seen in public. If they are comfortable and keep you warm, so much better. If not, then I suppose you will be motivated to improve your skills.”

Walking as they talked, they had reached the north end of town once more.

“So what now? We just wait in the cold for everyone to wake up?”

“Exactly. We wait. But perhaps I can distract you from the cold. Are you hungry, by any chance?”

A lot had happened since Gil had last eaten: he had run all night before passing out, then got up and run for most of another night to get here. Though the two nights had been broken up by a few hours of the peculiar otherworldly light, he was looking forward to a genuine sunrise. And although he had been trying not to think about it, he had been growing more ravenous as the night had worn on.

Alfvin opened the bag, showing an assortment of dried fish, breads and even a few cheeses. The slave girl would surely get in trouble for giving them away. Ordinarily that would have troubled Gil, but as Alfvin handed over the bag, the only thing that seemed unimportant was the emptiness of his belly.

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