“Knock, knock,” Dawn said, before entering the doorway carrying a tray.
Stave leapt up to take the tray from her and set it on a low table between the couches.
“That’s 3 bowls,” she said, “and 2 spoons.” She set one of the bowls so that wolf could easily dine from it. “It’s a nice stew. I hope you don’t have sensitive tummies, because I forgot to ask.”
“It should be fine,” Tyrrae replied. The three bowls looked to have the same stew in them, and she did not feel they would poison her deliberately. She picked up a bowl and spoon and tried it. “It’s actually rather tasty. Thank you.”
Stave tried it too, and pretended to like it.
Mollified, Dawn departed. “I’ll collect the tray before supper, but you’ve been invited to the bonfire and dancing after dinner. It should be loads of fun.” She exited, presumably to find her own lunch.
Stave waited until he was sure she was gone, and conspiratorially whispered, “Aren’t you worried about being poisoned? You’re supposed to be a sworn enemy.”
Tyrrae allowed a small smile. “They are feeding the wolf the same food as us. Sure, she could have put something in my bowl specifically, but you handed the bowls out off the tray, not her. And they will not harm the wolf. He is one of their guardian spirits, I am sure, and right now, he is guarding me. He would not let any harm come to me through the food.”
The wolf wagged his tail as he finished his bowl.
“Bah!” Stave said. “This has too much vegetable and not enough meat!”
Tyrrae chuckled. “I thought it had rather a lot of meat in it, and a flavor I don’t recognize. We eat a lot of mushrooms where I come from. Meat and fluids are precious. This is good.”
“You can have the rest of mine then. I’ll have some of my trail rations.” Stave put his bowl down on the tray. He got up and went behind his partition.
The wolf looked at it and whined.
“Go ahead if you’re hungry,” Tyrrae told him. “This will be plenty for me, especially if there is another meal coming.” She finished her meal while the wolf polished off the other bowl.
“Hello?” came a voice from the doorway. It was Tira.
Tyrrae looked up and smiled. “I take it the Loremaster is ready for me.”
“Yes,” Tira confirmed. “Only we’ve included a lot of other people so it will be more like a sharing of the lore than him just telling you. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Not at all.” Tyrrae gracefully stood.
Stave burst out of his room. “Is…” He started coughing.
“Oh!” Tira said, and blushed. “Could you introduce me?”
“I am not the proper person to introduce…”
Stave interrupted Tyrrae. “It doesn’t matter here, as long as someone else does the introduction.”
Tyrrae shook her head. “It isn’t proper. If anything goes wrong, I would be blamed, and I do not wish that stain on my honor.”
Tira laughed. “An introduction doesn’t guarantee that anything will happen at all!”
Tyrrae looked at her sharply. “From what I overheard, you are interested in him. From what I have observed of him, he is interested in you. Had you been my sister, I would be shocked with your forwardness. You are too eager and you are running ahead full speed without a thought of consequences.”
“I am not your sister!”
“For which we are all grateful. Your parents are the appropriate ones to introduce you to this man, not someone who is viewed as a sworn enemy of your tribe! Cannot you see that?”
“I hadn’t thought of that angle,” Stave said. “You are likely to be perceived as a corrupting influence.”
“Oh,” said Tira, clearly disappointed.
“Besides,” Tyrrae said, “you already know each others’ names. What’s the point of an introduction?”
“It’s how things are done,” Tira explained.
The wolf had finished his second bowl and was sitting back on his haunches, smiling.
Tira turned on him. “You can introduce us!”
The wolf shook his head.
“Why not?” Tira demanded.
The wolf barked.
Stave said, “It’s a tame wolf that understands us, but it can’t talk.”
“He’d find a way if he really wanted to,” Tira said. She pointed her finger at the wolf. “We’ll have words together later, mister.” She turned in a huff. “Come on, Tyrrae. We’d better go to the meeting.”
Tyrrae nodded a goodbye to Stave and followed her back across the bridge. Tyrrae noticed some of the areas had changed hands with different goods advertised.