The starry sky was clear. It was an unusually warm winter night with a strong wind. Deceptive howls and whistles surrounded Min and Otto. Otto squinted up suspiciously at the sky and clenched his strong hands into fists. “Min…” he murmured as he glanced toward the dainty, proud-looking woman.
“Never mind it. The rumored monster is just a story to scare people.” She waved a slender hand absently and stepped forward, toward the half-bare willow tree. Half-melted snow slopped and clung to her boots and soaked the hem of her long cloak.
Otto sighed. “I don’t much like this.” he admitted. It’s eerie, and melting snow is worse than fresh.”
“Otto, grow some balls and make your father proud for once, will you? He was the bravest pirate from these lands, and you do him shame with your cowardice!” Her voice was a shameful bite, and Otto growled and charged ahead.
Once ahead, the tall man turned around and picked Min up. “Point the way.” he rumbled in annoyance.
Min held tightly to his thick shoulders. “This is not what I meant, you brute!”
“I’m not inclined to care much at the moment about what you mean. Which way?” He huffed and narrowed his eyes against a strong gust.
“The base of the willow tree that you stopped me from getting to, you brute.”
Otto reddened and gently placed Min down. “Sorry.” he grunted as he looked away.
The woman ran her hand along the rough bark slowly. She pushed down on something, and a door opened. “Get in, if you can fit.”
“Seems a bit small to hold the inheritance you mentioned.” He scratched his head.
“Just get in, or I’ll take it all myself!”
With a huff, Otto entered the squashed quarters, only to drop down onto a pile of half-rotted pillows that exploded into feathers on impact. Min landed on his back and sent him to the ground. “Min. You’re-“
“Go ahead, finish your sentence.” Min warned. The large man went quiet as she stood. He slowly rose to his feet and looked around.
“Is this it? An ugly, rusted workshop?”
“A workshop worth more than a fleet of ships, you fool! If a tool exists, it is here.” She glared. “This workshop is worth more than our king, even!”
Otto winced and began to explore. All around, he explored. To his surprise, the holy symbols that adorned the walls were of Pelor, rather than any of the native gods or goddesses. “Why all the Pelor paraphernalia? Was he a paladin or cleric without telling anyone?” he murmured as he ran his hand along a carved golden sun.
“It’s in honor of a paladin he met after his ship sank, I think. Something about being his liege or something. He was good at destroying the kneecaps of anyone who insulted her.” She shrugged and began to look around. “I think he should have married her.”
The man’s brow furrowed as he set the golden sun back down where he found it. He pulled a drawer open and found several things he didn’t expect. There was a broken arrow, several pieces of jewelry, a cape, a shattered hunk of quartz, and a few other objects, including a token with what looked like a coat of arms. “What’s this?” He held the token aloft.
“I’ve no idea. That drawer has various tidbits he picked up in his travels. I don’t know all the stories.” She shook her head, then spotted a book. “This wasn’t here last time!” She stared in surprise and blew the dust from its cover. She flipped it open and scanned the pages. It seemed to simply be a spell book, and she pushed it aside and began to clean the desks and tools. She imagined that Otto’s father had once done the same thing, his strong fingers cleaning every nook and cranny. She paused as she finally noticed how low the desks were, especially when she saw Otto bend down to look at something. “I forgot how short he was.” she admitted quietly to herself.
The woman’s fingers paused on a blood-stained hammer, and she slowly picked it up and pulled it to herself. One one side, ‘Hare’ was scratched into the surface roughly, as though by a shaking hand. This was not present before. Slowly, she turned it over in her hands. A scowl slowly furrowed her brows. She saw no signs that anyone had been there, save the book and hammer. “Otto, I think someone’s been here recently. Check the tool hooks on the wall for any empty spaces.” she instructed as she looked to the door she was told to never enter before. She reached for the doorknob and rested her fingers on it. It didn’t feel dusty.
Slowly, she wrapped her fingers around it and leaned against the door to listen. She heard nothing. Min turned the handle and slowly pushed. It opened without a sound.
“Min?” The voice was unmistakable, though more clearly enunciated than the last time she heard it. None of the drunken slur was present this time.
“Min, I told ye not te come in th’door!” A short man with messy, oily hair limped out. He was not even five feet tall. He paused. “That Otto? Ain’t anyone told ‘im ye wait til a person’s dead ta take his stuff?” He groaned and ran a hand through his scruffy, half-trimmed beard.
“I got a letter that said you were dead, you idiot!” Min pursed her lips and tried in vain to blink her tears away. “You asshole! Your letter said you were dead!” Her voice became shrill and her throat tightened as more tears threatened to overcome her.
“Whale mother’s tits, yer upset over a letter? Since when would any’un from Gratiot know where ta send a letter to ya?” He shook his head. “Get the boy outta here.” He sighed, his voice calm again. “Before th’ boy spots me, preferabl-” He cut off as Otto’s massive fist drove into his bearded cheek.