Dral sat by the remaining embers of his cookfire, sucking the last of the grease and juices from his fingers. The crickets along the shore of the small stream were taking a quick break, and a silence descended for the first time in hours. Clouds were rolling in again from the south, but Dral was pretty sure the rain would hold off a few more hours - at least until dawn. A sudden gust of wind blew through the tall autumn grass above him, and Dral leaned back lazily against the dirt wall of the culvert.
"Ah, Grabspar. Wasn't sure you'd come by. It's been a coupl-a nights. So how are things, ya great hairy beast?"
"Aw, 'Rap..." Dral took out his dagger and whetstone, stared at them for a bit, and then put them away again, uninterested. "Things... things ain't goin so good here. Think. Think I might head back."
HAHAhahaha! I KNOW! Gettin homesick for the border towns! Musta ate some bad bird! Brother, they'd cuss us and throw things and beat us black and blue and march us outa town at swordpoint... Well no they wouldn't beat you of course! No one's gonna screw with a bugbear! But you know about the rest."
"Here they just shoot at ya from inside the city walls. Don't even care that I'm wearing show clothes. Don't even care I'm carrying a drum, not a broadsword. Don't say nothing to ya. Not even a 'better turn back.' Just thunk thunk, and ya got two arrows in your side, limpin off hopin they don't follow. Haven't played in half a moon, 'Rap. Four towns. Nothing. Can't even get close enough to call out muh trade. Just thunk thunk."
"Just thunk thunk."
The crickets started up again and Dral paused in thought for a bit.
"Ah, no the land - the land is great. Land is gorgeous. Ya shoulda been here a few nights ago. Came to this oasis you would - not - believe! You Would. Not. Believe it, 'Rap. Waterfalls."
"Yeh, I know ya seen waterfalls before. Least I guess ya have. But these - there - there was just so many of them! More than all my fingers and all my toes and all your claws and toes too! And every one you saw turned into two more!"
NO! I'm not full of it! I'm serious! You could stand in a forrest and see how many trees, and you could stand in this oasis, and there were that many waterfalls too! No, I'm not lying, ya hairball, you just go there. You just!
"Well, I woulda stayed there it was that nice. I did stay there in fact. Three days. The roar of the water at the bottom was terrifying, but powerful too. Like the sound of the spring flood rains, only even more. And all day and night. Keeps your blood pumpin wild the whole time."
Well, ya know why I didn't stay, 'Rap: Adventurers. I was there three days and got shot 3 times. There were five of them the last time, and they had me dead to rights, but then they started arguin among themselves so much about whether they had the 'right' ta kill me, that I just walked off unnoticed."
"Coulda used you back there a couple a times, 'Rap. But ya come and go as ya please. Always have. Always have. Never understood why ya stayed with us, tho. I mean, you weren't no slave. And ya weren't no musician or actor. Just set up our stuff, tended the animals. And I bet ol Bennie ever payed ya right. Bet he always tricked ya out a your share. And ya just kept stayin. Said it was an easier life. Easier than what? Never said that, did ya?"
The wind started picking up and Dral slowly got to his feet and kicked a bit of dirt over the final few coals. He walked to the giant gnarled tree nearby and checked on his drum, stashed already in the lowest branches in its own waterproof sack.
"Ahhh. Why'd they have to kill ya, 'Rap? Damn... Damn... drunks. You're the only one I miss, ya know. The only thing I miss outa my whole life behind me. You were always the funniest one of us all, 'Rap. Don't care what Clax said. You were funnier."
Dral climbed up about halfway to the top of the tree and found a decent crook to wedge himself in. "Talk to ya later sometime, Grabspar." He closed his eyes and slowly nodded off to the sound of the wind through the leaves.
"You were always so easy to talk to."