| A heavy fist struck
-“Put your crown on!” hissed Brighteyes Silverblade, Queen of the Dwarves and wife of Drumbeat Hammerblow, the feared King of all Dwarves Under The Mountain, a generic title and term to represent all the different gnome races living through miles of rock under the Iron Crags Mountains.
The royal couple was having lunch in their own private quarters when they were rudely interrupted. Drumbeat always took off the heavy iron crown whenever away from his subjects’ eyes and stares.
-“Where is that damn crown?” he asked in a low voice.
-“On the door hook and right in front of your eyes, you silly!” his wife sneered.
The King Under The Mountain, the name at which all dwarves trembled, was afraid of only one creature, his wife. Fearing her lashing tongue, he stood up and as silently as possible, he moved to the door, took the crown and pushed it onto his balding pate. Straightening himself up, he opened the door in one single powerful sweep.
-“What do you want? You had better have a very good reason for calling on me during my meal!” he bellowed.
-“Forgive me, O King Under The Mountain, but this is a matter of dire urgency. It is a concern of importance that needs your personal attention and cannot wait!”
The messenger had problems preventing his body from shaking and dared not look in his Sire’s eyes.
-“Well, if this is an emergency, what are you doing standing here! Lead the way!”
Visibly relieved, the other dwarf swiftly turned on his heels and went ahead.
Hammerblow had broken bones for lesser matters. To attain the position of King of all Dwarves Under The Mountain had required skills and cunning but also sheer force and brutality. Before him many Kings had met a violent demise. Hammerblow had become an exceptional leader as he had finally managed to bring all the Dwarf races under a single command for which his subjects were actually grateful, having suffered from internecine power struggles for too long in the past. Their civilization, although in great secrecy, had finally reached a prosperous age by their values, and their King was making sure it persevered as such. Dwarves were a very industrious lot, but their greed led them to too many feuds for comfort. Drumbeat Hammerblow had succeeded as their feared leader because he possessed a better grasp and a larger conception of his race’s future and destiny.
He had chosen Brighteyes for his wife, and beaten his will into her father’s head in the process, because he could settle for nothing less than a strong and fearless female he would not have to coddle back home.
His “worst half”, as some of his kin called her behind their backs, helped him maintain some kind of equilibrium in his life as the dreaded monarch of their vast underground realm.
His subjects would have been hard put to believe the sight of their king sharing household chores. These daily occupations helped him think and reflect on his duties and he made a point to discuss all problems and thorny issues with his wife. Brighteyes, for all her sharp tongue, proved a keen observer and a crafty character. Her counsel had a knack to hit dead center. In public she kept behind her husband, silent and haughty as befitted her rank, and never ventured in any small talk or public declarations, even less interfered with affairs of state. But her eyes did not miss a single detail, to the chagrin of many of her kin who called her “Dragoneyes” inside the safety of their own abodes.
The two dwarves did not have to go far. They entered the Throne Room that lay only a few stairs away from the King’s private quarters.
Hammerblow went directly to the throne and dropped himself on the hard stone chair and fixed his eyes on a group of his elite guard.
Foregoing any niceties, he inquired
-“Bring him in!” ordered the dwarf obviously in charge of the band.
A side door on the left of the throne opened to let in four heavily armed dwarves guarding another one of their race. Or so it seemed. The King’s eyes stopped on the newcomer.
His appearance puzzled him. Although obviously a dwarf, he was at least a head taller than his tallest guard and sported a relatively more slender body. His garb was unusual, all made of leather, a very rare material under the Mountains. Dwarves as a general rule wore cloth and metal. Even their boots were made of steel lined with cloth. Gnomes were fond of bright colours but this specimen seemed to content with drab brown and grey only. His beard was trimmed short in spite of the Dwarves’ notorious pride for their long facial hair. But most of all, his eyes were wrong. Dwarves possessed large dark pupils that enable them to see in the dark without much difficulty. The stranger’s eyes were a dull yellow half hidden behind a strange contraption perched on his nose..
For the first time in his life, Hammerblow met somebody who made him think twice before he could speak.
-“Where did you find him?” he asked avoiding the strange eyes.
“Wandering poking his nose in here and there in the Great Hall of all places! When we requested his name and clan, he did not reply. Next, we asked his purpose and reason for being there with no obvious occupation. He never answered and just kept ignoring us. So we had to call more guards and we brought him here!”
-“Brought him here? My impression is since you have not shackled him and that the guards around him are scared pants down, he probably followed your sorry band when you invited him here!”
-“We… he…” the officer babbled in fear and confusion.
-“Enough!” barked Drumbeat. Turning his attention to the strange dwarf, he ventured:
“Who the hell are you?”
-“ Flint Ironfoot, O King Under The Mountain!”
-“What is your clan, then?”
-“I do not belong to any clan!”
-“How can that be? Every dwarf pays allegiance to a clan!”
-“Drumbeat Hammerblow, King Under The Mountain, spare a good look at me!
Have you ever met a dwarf of my kind? Do you think you know all Dwarves living in this world?”
The King’s interlocutor waited his hands on his belt instead of the more common Dwarf’s defiant posture with crossed arms in front of a puffed-up chest. He did not look a single bit worried but lacked arrogance.
-“Why did you enter our Realm unannounced then, since you do not seem to belong?”
-“ I shall be straight forward about my purpose, Sire. I am on a mission. I had not planned to be brutal about it, but you and your kin have lived too long in hiding and isolation and have become totally oblivious to the rest of the world! I am come here to help you rekindle your interest with the outside world which has much to offer to you all!”
-“If you know us so well, you should also know why we have kept in hiding for so long. What does the outside world have to offer us? Tell me!”
-“Before I answer that question, what do you know about the world outside your puny hidden doors and traps? These will not keep any strangers away much longer. Are you going to seal the Mountains onto yourselves?”
-“That, we have actually done since our conflict with the dragons. It is only recently that we have ventured outside. What is there left for us? Rock and sand, nothing else!”
-“Interesting. Are you trying to tell me that for thousands of years you have been hiding yourselves from the rest of the world and still believe there is nothing left but a desert of a world which is times and times bigger than your mountains? That’s pushing things a bit far, don’t you think?”
-“Who are you to judge us? Have you ever fought any dragon?”
-“May I answer you again with another question: why did you have to fight dragons?”
-“They are our sworn enemies!”
-“How long ago did you ever meet or deal with one?”
-“None of us did of course, but it is written in our Memoirs that dragons were the main cause for our demise on the surface of the world and our consequent migration to the heart of the Mountains!”
-“Your ancestors, of whom not even your grandfathers can remember, lost a war against the last dragons of a time you cannot even start to imagine. Why? Because they competed for the same hoards and proved as greedy as their foes. Since then, all the dragons of that time have met a violent death except for one and five. The one has survived since the birth of this world and the Five have been brought into existence to help that very same world from succumbing to the dark forces presently at work!”
-“How do you know this? What proof do you have of all that nonsense?”
-“Because I am one of them!”
-“Your grey son is having fun with the Dwarves, apparently!” remarked the wolf.
-“Let me ask a question if it is not too much bother, Wise One. Why is it that you seem to know all the time what my charges are doing?”
-“Think a bit, Ancient One. We both communicate through mindspeech. There is little difference between communicating between the two of us or between you and your children. Therefore, actually hearing them is only a small step forward!”
-“I see. Very little can be hidden from you, then?”
-“Very little, indeed!” laughed the wolf.
-“Why do I have the impression I am losing control of the situation?”
-“Did anybody put you in charge of the said situation?”
A disgruntled Glamrun just trudged on, not bothering to continue the conversation
The Dwarves were roaring in mirth.
Some of them were even crying and wiping their faces.
Hammerblow was the first to notice that the strange newcomer had not so much moved an inch or showed any change of mood. He was still standing at ease legs slightly apart and hands still on his belt. Their eyes locked.
A very thin smile appeared on Numnir’s face. On the other hand, small beads of cold sweat started rolling down Drumbeat’s brow. The other dwarves still oblivious to the situation were clapping each other’s backs and laughing their hearts out.
-“Hammerblow, King Under The Mountain! I see, with pleasure I must admit, that you seem to have a bit more brain than your kin! Since I’m afraid I shall have to go through a small demonstration to convince your thick-skulled friends, would you please bear with me?”
-“As you please, my Lord, but I beg you not to be too harsh on them! Whatever their stupidity, they are my subjects and kin and I am sworn to their well-being!”
-“Your generosity befits you! But do not worry! I am not the monster you imagine!”
Upon these words Nunmir’s face started to gradually change. First his beard, hair and cap vanished as a hush came upon his audience. His nose and mouth joined and grew forward, his brow lowered, grey scales sprouted all over his head, his eyes slanted and his pupils narrowed to slits. Finally fangs appeared out of his maw. Only the head had undergone the transformation, but that sufficed to throw the Dwarves groveling with their faces on the floor, bodies shaking and mumbling gibberish.
A cavernous voice chided them.
-”Shall I continue?”
Cries, screams and sobs answered him.
Sensing he had shown enough lest his unwilling victims became demented for good, he transformed back to his original appearance and waited.
-”Enough!” shouted Hammerblow to the other Dwarves. “Spare your sorry sight from your Lord’s eyes and show what metal you are made of for once! Nobody’s going to eat you!”
-“That is alright, King Under The Mountain. You will all have to get used to the fact I am different, that is all. As I told you before, I came here to ask you to come out of your hiding and to provide you with the means to relate with the other Races of Alymndes!”
-“Forgive me, Lord, but…”
-“I’m afraid you will have to drop the “Lord” and all other honourifics, Sire. My full name is Flint Ironfoot, so any of those two names will have to do. Actually, the fewer people know who I am, the better for your own safety! Do you understand me?”
-“Yes, my… Flint.”
Hammerblow turned to the other Dwarves:
-“Have you heard? For our safety we have to forget who Flint is! Have you caught that in your thick heads? I shall personally take care of anyone who breaks his word or refuses to take oath for secrecy! Am I clear enough?”
Not a single dwarf ventured in so much as mumbling or showing dissent on their faces. A dragon might be in their midst but the fear of Hammerblow’s immediate retribution was enough to cow them into submission and understanding. Everything was proceeding far too fast to hold any control of their present predicament.
-“Now, Flint! Forgive my haste, but what means do you propose to get us reacquainted with the other Races we haven’t met or seen for how long I don’t care to remember or whoever lives on the outside?”
-“Think Hammerblow! What do two races do of when they first meet and want to establish some kind of durable relationship?”
Drumbeat thought for a while, his thick eyebrows creasing with the effort.
Suddenly a grin snaked across his ruddy face.
-“I see again why you have become King Under The Mountain, Drumbeat Hammerblow! You use your brains, too, and that is a quality not often encountered among many leaders!”
-“Fine talk, but what do we have to trade? As far as I can guess, the other Races have done well without our ores, metals, or tools and even better without our food they can’t stand and our spirits they can’t stomach, either!”
-“That is where I come in. I have quite a few ideas for trade. So listen…”
A suddenly greedy band of Dwarves forgot their fears and gathered around Numnir barely hiding their impatience and interest.
-“You dare call yourselves the best inn in Beaucastel, innkeeper? “ Amrel snapped at the poor man standing at the door of her bedroom.
-“Milady, we are the best in the city and probably in the whole of the Realm!”
-“Do not make me laugh! I have visited dozens of places on my way that would make you blush with envy and shame! To start with, where are the privies?”
-“Privies, Milady? Did you say privies?”
-“You uncouth joke of a man! Shall I have to explain what I do with my body wastes?”
-“But Milady, you have a pot!”
-“A pot! Are you making a fool of me now?”
The innkeeper went to her bed, lifted the cover which fell on both sides to reveal a ceramic pot, the size of a soup dish, with a lid sitting on the floor underneath.
-“This is the pot, Milady!” the increasingly embarrassed owner sputtered.
-“And I suppose I shall have to keep that with me at all times!”
-“No, no Milady! A servant will pick it up every morning!”
-“I dare not ask you where you are going to dispose of it? And pray, tell me,” she continued in a dangerous tone, “where are the baths?”
-“The baths, Milady? But no inn in Beaucastel has baths! If you must absolutely wash, I shall have servants bring you a tub, hot water and soap!”
“THEN DO SO!”
-“Sire, can you read this?”
Numnir had taken out some wooden tablets out of his rucksack. He handed one to Drumbeat. The characters on the surface were tiny and complicated.
“I’m afraid I can’t. My eyes are not so good any more and the writing is far too small!”
-“Then, why don’t you try these?” answered the young dragon, taking his glasses off his nose.
The King with a dubious face clumsily fixed them onto his own nose like Numnir did and stared at the tablet. His eyes grew wide in awe, comically magnified doubly by his new accessory.
-“I can’t believe it! I can see and read everything clear and perfect like I never did in my whole life! What kind of magic is that?”
Each dwarf in the room tried the glasses, some of them twice, before Numnir could make himself heard.
-“This is no magic at all! A simple process of cutting crystal or glass in a certain way to make things look bigger when you look through it.”
-“And what is it called?”
-“Spectacles, Sire”, Flint said with a hint of self-satisfaction.
-“Hmm. Crystal we know, but I doubt we can find quantity enough and of that quality to cover all our needs and sure demand for it! What is glass, then?”
Well, they do not know everything, do they? A delighted Numnir thought. I’ve got their attention for good now!
-“Sire, glass is molten sand. As far as I know you have more than you care to use outside your caves. Collect some of the finest, clean it, put it in a crucible over one of your forges until it melts completely. Let it cool and you shall have glass! I can even teach how to tint it if you wish. Can you imagine the trade possibilities of the material alone?”
The Dwarves had the look of creatures that had just found an unfathomable treasure for them to pick up without a sweat or a fight. They were about to jump out of the Throne room to start right away when Numnir called them back:
-”Wait! Stop acting like children with a new toy, will you? I’ve only started! Now what do you make of these two?”
Nunmir got a large magnifying glass and showed them how to use it. But the next item got more of their attention. It was a small portable telescope. He had all of them use both instruments and check their purpose and utility.
He was about to show them other marvels, but out of pity decided it was enough for the day and let the dwarves hurry to their workshops to let them experiment and start manufacturing.
-“Is there any land beyond all that expanse of water?” Ekan asked Captain Adir.
They were both standing on the top deck. Any time Ekan happened to be free of any duty, he kept badgering the grizzled man for more information and knowledge. He had already mastered in little time most of the intricacies of sailing a ship on the sea to the damnation of the other men onboard. The Captain actually enjoyed this intrusion of his solitary moments. Ekan cared little for the tradition that required each member of the crew to keep to himself when not at work. Adir was old enough to understand and appreciate a thirst for knowledge, a quality rarely encountered among the usual riffraff working on his vessel. He certainly could not afford to ignore any new talent in this job.
-“I have heard rumours of the existence of a large land far to the east inhabited by strange fierce people with yellow skins and queer customs. But nobody has been able to substantiate them as far as I can recall. Moreover, if you sail straight east, you shall be faced with an extremely dangerous current within three days. And we simply don’t build large enough nor solid enough boats to cross it!”
-“So most of the boats keep within proximity of the shores as we do?”
-“No. Some ships avoiding discovery sail very close to that current.”
-“And why do these ships fear to be recognized?”
-“Jonas, you are either very naïve or very shrewd. I don’t know which it is yet, but I shall find out someday! Still I suppose you won’t be satisfied until I give you a good answer, right?”
-“Right, Captain!” Ekan answered with his brightest smile.
-“You don’t have to grimace as well! There are three kinds of ships that want to escape any attention; smugglers because they don’t want to pay taxes and dues to authorities, ships that are escaping from one of the numerous feuds unfortunately too common in our country. Lastly, the slavers.”
-“Yes. Humans who capture or buy other humans to sell them somewhere else!”
-“But that’s evil!”
-“I thoroughly agree with you! But as long as there is the demand there will be a supply.”
-“Why can’t it be stopped?”
-“Nobody knows where these slaves are being sold, although there must be a large market where they go as people regularly disappear. We are aware of that at least because one of their boats was stupid enough to get caught by the King’s Navy!”
-“What happens to these slavers, when they are actually caught!”
-“They should be hung if grabbed alive! But most will fight to the death and very often will kill their captives in the process!”
-“You have shaken me, Adir! I’ll have to think about what you’ve just told me. I doubt I can sleep tonight. Will you let me steer your ship after dark?”
-“I suppose I could. I’ve learned in the little time you’ve stayed with us I can trust not only your strength but also your patience and vigilance. Somebody will get more rest than he deserves, but I’ll make sure he’ll work double load tomorrow morning! You know what stars to follow, don’t you?”
-“Count on me, Captain! I have been keeping watch every night!”
-“Do you ever sleep, Ekan?”
-“Oh yes, in daytime especially!”
Captain Adir could not imagine that dragons enjoyed too much the mystery and solitude of nights to waste them on sleeping.
The problem was that he could not remember having seen Ekan as much as dozing in daytime, either.
Numnir had been instructing his fellow dwarves for the last three days on glass making techniques without so much as a rest. Even with a dragon’s patience, he was starting to wonder about the wisdom to provoke a dwarf’s interest. He would certainly have to show some kind of restraint next time he should unveil another secret and especially a new source of trade!
-“You have to combine different elements with the sand to obtain absolutely transparent glass. But don’t throw away unsatisfactory material, as there are other uses for it. You shall have to keep experimenting with different amounts at different temperatures until you attain the desired perfection.”
-“What shall we do with the rubbish, then?”
-“Don’t call something you can sell ‘rubbish’! Sheets of glass can be traded for windows for example. They would let the light of the sun come in sufficiently, but would still afford some privacy. You shall contribute to the creation of a totally different architecture among those Races who prefer dwelling in large houses or castles. You could also manufacture beads, buttons and I don’t know what else! The possibilities are almost endless!”
The last remark only managed to put all the dwarves present in the large room in a new frenzy of work.
What will happen when I tell them of creating drinking glasses, bowls and the like! Numnir thought. Wait until I mention flashed ruby glass and stained glass…
A sudden commotion at the entrance of the forge where a crowd of dwarves, King included, was bent over the forge to the point of nearly roasting their bulbous noses, caused them to turn their heads towards the cause of the noise.
A group of agitated dwarves were competing with each other to enter the forge room all shouting and gesticulating at the same time.
-“Order!” barked Hammerblow.
Bluntly pointing a finger at the nearest of the new arrivals, he continued:
-“You! Tell me the reason for that ruckus! And it had better be a good one!”
-“Sire, three of the Ironclad Clan fell to their deaths at the Bridge of Doom!”
-“Not again! That’s the second time this year! How did it happen!”
-“One end of the bridge was loose and the dwarves walking on it plunged to their death when the bridge itself collapsed! They didn’t stand a chance!”
-“Take me there! Ironfoot! You had better come with us!”
Without any further explanations, all the dwarves rushed out of the forge and ran to the location of the accident.
Running along the King, Nunmir inquired:
-“Why do you call that bridge the ‘Bridge of Doom’”?
-“It’s a suspended bridge we were forced to build over an enormous chasm that was cutting our Realm in two. It proved a very dangerous and tricky job to achieve. Many dwarves lost their lives in manufacturing it! But now accidents are happening and it means more toil and danger to rebuild it!
They finally reached their end of the bridge. It was now dangling on the other side. A lone dwarf was standing waiting in front of the chasm.
-“How did that happen, Rockhands?” Drumbeat asked him, panting with the sudden exertion.
-“I don’t understand! I was there, waiting for them to reach this end before I could use the bridge myself, and suddenly the ropes on these pillars became loose and the whole thing vanished from sight!”
Numnir looked at the Dwarf. He could not place it, but there was something wrong about him. Keeping silent and apparently listening to all assembled, he observed the witness of the accident more closely.
At last he had it. The dwarf never looked directly at his various interlocutors when spoken to. His eyes were shifting all the time. The Dragon suddenly came to dislike the individual.
-“Now, how are we going to replace that damn bridge? The last time, it took us days!” a frustrated King exclaimed.
-“Fairly simple, actually!” Nunmir interrupted.
The whole assembly turned to him with questioning eyes.
-“Who is he?” Rockhands rudely interrupted. ”I’ve never seen that dwarf here! And why is he here?”
The King absently introduced them.
-“Rockhands, this is Ironfoot who has just arrived from very far. I’ll explain later. Now, Ironfoot, what would you propose to do, since you think it’s so simple!”
The worried King had a hard time hiding his concern and Numnir suddenly made a convenient target for his ire.
An unflustered young dragon just answered.
-“Pull the whole bridge up back up, tie two or three ropes to the loose end and throw those ropes over the chasm to be caught by the others!”
The sheer simplicity of the manoeuvre struck the Dwarves stupid. Some were watching each other with evident anger for not having thought of that ploy before.
-“It might also be a good idea in future to tie a security line and wind it to another post or pillar in case such an accident happens again. I do not mean to patronize you, but have you appointed an overseer in charge of that bridge?”
-“We cannot waste a good hard-working dwarf on such trivial matters, stranger!” shouted Rockhands who had become edgy for no apparent reason.
Numnir ignored him, and not waiting for the other dwarves to shake themselves into work he shouted his instructions to the dwarves assembled on the other side.
In very little time they had tied three ropes as indicated, knotted their loose ends around rocks and threw them across the gaping void to be caught by their kin on the other side. The latter finally pulled the bridge up with a few grunts and curses and proceeded to secure it once again to the posts erected on both sides of the way leading to the precipice.
That was when Numnir stopped them.
-“Wait! Do you always tie those knots in such a way?”
-“We’ve always done it this way, haven’t we? What do you know about it, Stranger?” Rockhands replied.
The dwarf was starting to seriously irritate the young dragon, but he let it pass again.
-“Those knots you are just in the process to execute might look simple and effective, but where I come from, they are called sheepshank’s knots. Moreover, look at those pillars you’ve tied them to, they’re not even a yard tall!”
A crowd of bemused dwarves just stood frozen in place looking askance at him.
-“Allow me?” Numnir took the hammer from a nearby dwarf’s belt and went to the pillar. Standing behind it he proceeded to give light taps under the knots, which slowly rose up the post. When the knot reached the top, he paused.
-“As you can see, even now the knot looks secure, so if you didn’t look carefully, you probably wouldn’t notice, especially when you consider that the top is below the eyesight of a normal dwarf.”
With the last words, he gave one last light tap under the knot. The rope slowly slid above the smooth pillar top and fell forward in front of a very silent group of dwarves.
-“Who was at this end when this accident happened, Rockhands?” Drumbeat dangerously growled, breaking the oppressive silence.
-”I was! Didn’t I tell you…” Rockhands stopped his hands midway, as he was about to raise them to emphasize his words.
-“And who was in charge of repairing the bridge last time, Rockhands?” a red-faced Drumbeat relentlessly pressed.
Numnir saw Rockhands’ right hand moving. He violently barged his shoulder into the King’s body who fell heavily on the ground.
-“How dare you?” screamed an enraged King.
But a clang took his attention to the ground he was occupying a moment ago. A nasty looking knife lay there. Numnir was massaging his leather-padded left shoulder on which the weapon had harmlessly bounced.
-“So here’s the explanation of a long series of unresolved accidents, problems and festering feuds which had been plaguing us for years!”
Rockhands defiantly stood on the edge of the precipice.
-“And what do you think you are going to do about it! You simpleton of a King! You never understood what it took to become a real King Under the Mountains! In any case, time has come to settle scores once for all! Now you will see what my Clan has reserved for the like of you!”
-“What Clan?” sneered a grinning Drumbeat who started slowly walking to his enemy without even bothering to secure a weapon.
-“You’ve got so muddled with your dreams of grandeur that you have made just one last stupid mistake! Have you forgotten that your Clan lives on the other side of the Chasm? Are you going to call them one by one to join the fun over here?”
Without waiting for his foe’s answer, the King smartly interposed himself between Rockhands and the nearest pillar supporting the bridge, leaving the other dwarf with the crowd at his back and on his left side with Drumbeat in front of him and the frightening hole on his right. Wildly looking on all sides, the criminal started to move sideways. Drumbeat did not wait any longer, and at a speed the more enhanced by his rage, he rammed his shoulder into Rockhands’ left shoulder. The dwarf rocked sidewards and suddenly finding no more ground under his feet slowly slid out of sight his arms futilely flailing.
A long horrible scream accompanied him in his fall until a succession of sickening thuds indicated the shameful end of the culprit.
-“Numnir! What’s happening?”
The voice of a concerned Glamrun had suddenly invaded the young dragon’s head.
-“Nothing to worry, Father. Just some nasty politics and old scores getting settled!”
-“Do you believe you can bring them to our purpose, then?”
-“Yes, I have them too interested on some projects of mine that they will actually feel relieved after the last events! How fare you, Father!”
-”Probably better than you!” The Old Dragon replied with a meaningful look at his laughing companion. “Would you mind keeping us informed if it’s not too much bother?”
-“Sorry, Father! I promise I will in the future!” answered a suddenly embarrassed Numnir.
-“I wonder…” thought Glamrun to himself.
-“Don’t be too harsh with him,” commented the wolf, ”everything’s so new to them they’re bound to forget about an old bore sometimes!”
-“Do you mind?”
(Chapter 6: Ekan)