“And another five pieces for your exemplary service,” declared the Abbé , handing the coins to Gwydd.
The Goblin stared at his payment in obvious ill ease. “This is a lot more than I expected,” he muttered.
“Again, your service was exemplary,” noted Rondel.
Gwydd fidgeted. “Yeah, but… when you throw in what we’re getting from Hrol… Well, damn it, you said we couldn’t expect much…”
“And fortune smiled upon you,” answered the Abbé
. “Accept its blessing.”
“I suppose I could…,” muttered Gwydd. “But… this whole affair… Meliadus is sure you knew exactly what would happen.”
Rondel smiled at him. “Tell him of course I did not. Monk or no, I am only mortal.”
“Well, he was thinking more for a certain… value of ‘know’,” said Gwydd.
“Hmmm. Tell him, ‘perhaps’,” said Rondel. “Perhaps I had some idea of what was waiting for my brothers on that road. And perhaps I had some idea of the mettle of those I had hired to take care of it.” The monk gave a shrug. “If that is what is he needs to hear.”
Gwydd leaned forward, slightly desperate. “But… look--you were at exactly the place to meet us… you offered us exactly the job we needed, you…”
Rondel chuckled to himself. “Mister Palepole, I believe you are starting to enquire just what exactly is the secret wisdom that we boast of in the Small Abbey of the Secret Wisdom. And the answer to that is ‘a secret’.” He gave a simple pleasant shake of his head. “Many of the younger members of this very abbey do not know our inner mysteries. Young Macsen most assuredly never learned them--and now, never shall. I cannot divulge them to an outsider.”
“So… you did do something to…” began Gwydd.
“I said no such thing, Gwydd,” answered the Abbé
. “But if I did or not, it is a matter for those who partake of the Secret Wisdom.” The monk turned. “I told you when we met--ours is the older abbey, with the better claim to the name. And I will add now, it has the truer claim to the possession of a secret wisdom. But as to what that secret wisdom is, I may not say. It is our secret.” He placed a hand on the Goblin’s shoulder. “Accept what is unknowable. Be thankful for your good fortune. And perhaps burn some incense in gratitude to Mother Night.” The Abbé
moved away, and gave a deep bow. “Now--go in peace.”
And with that, Gwydd knew the conversation was over.
Meliadus and Faileuba were enjoying the local cuisine--goat on skewers, apparently--when he found them. “You know,” said Fai, chewing happily, “I didn’t think I’d enjoy this, but DAMN! This is pretty good.”
“Ain’t it?” asked Meliadus. “It’s the spices that do it, I say.”
“Whatever does it, Lady bless it, and let it keep doing it,” said Faileuba licking her lips.
Gwydd gave a polite cough. “So… Rondel has… paid us off…”
Meliadus nodded. “How much?”
“Thirty-six silver denari,” said Gwydd. “We got extra for exemplary service.”
Faileuba smiled. “Good haul.”
Meliadus gave a resentful nod. “He mention what they’re going to do about Macsen?”
“I get the impression he’s just being… forced out of the abbey,” muttered the Goblin.
“And… did you bring up the matter I mentioned?” asked Meliadus.
“I did,” said Gwydd. “His answers were… vague and strange.”
“And you expected… what?” said Faileuba. “It’s the Abbey of Secret Wisdom. If that isn’t a call for runarounds and weird cant, I don’t know what is. Hell--the Great Abbey was like that to, though in that case, I’m pretty damn sure it was all nonsense. This one…” She gave a slight wave of her hand.
Meliadus frowned. “Personally, I wonder if we’ll ever fully understand what we were playing part of here.”
Faileuba rolled her eyes. “Come on, Holdfast. If these guys were the secret masters of the universe you think they are, their principal means of funds wouldn’t be transporting dates for lonely mountainfolk.” She gave a loud laugh and slapped her thigh. “Still got it!”
Gwydd rubbed his forehead. “Yeah. I suppose you do. So… I’m paying up on that bet, aren’t I?” Faileuba gave a very deep nod. “Well--that’s one reason for me to go to the Marshal for a job…”
“Hey, we’re all going,” said Faileuba. “We’re starting a new lucky streak! Gotta keep it going!”
Meliadus glanced at it. “Isn’t that what you said after the whole thing with the Vanir and the Aesir?”
“Hey--I was right then too,” said Faileuba. “I just didn’t get the kind of luck right. And that is an important distinction.”