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Saturday, 08 October 2005
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As they made camp that evening, a light snow started to fall. They built their fire and huddled close in its warmth. Sir Robert turned to Johannes and offered, as he had many times before, "Toss you for the first watch."

"You're on." Johannes replied.

"Heads or Grails?"

"Heads." A coin spun in the air, glinting golden in the firelight.

"Sorry, Grails. I'll wake you later."

"Is that Gold?" came Garin's voice. "I've not seen coin of its like before."

"Bretonnian gold." replied Sir Robert. "It's a Couronne - head of the King on one side and the symbol of the Grail on the other - that's why we call Heads or Grails."

"I see." said the dwarf. "And who mints this coin?"

"Only the King may mint gold, in his Royal Mint at Couronne - thus the name. Dukes are only allowed to mint silver - the silver coins are called florins because they've got the symbol of the fleurs-de-lys on one side. The other side has a symbol of the duke that minted it. Our florins in Ælfinfort - some call then ælfins - have a pegasus, while the ones from Quenelles have an engrailed cross."

"It is interesting, this talk of money. The gold is of most interest, however. Is it pure?"

Sir Robert looked slightly taken aback by this question. "Of course it is pure." he replied hotly. "It's from the Royal Mint - its purity is guaranteed by the King's honour! All Bretonnian coin is pure for this reason - if it were debased then the minter would be dishonoured."

"My humble apologies, sir Knight. I meant no imputation on the honour of your King, I merely wished to enquire after the custom of coinage in your land. Please forgive my ignorance on this matter."

"I accept your apology, sir Dwarf. I recognise that no insult was meant and thus no insult is taken."

The conversation having reached its natural end, Garin rolled himself in his blanket to sleep until his watch. Sir Robert turned away from the fire the better to accustom his eyes to the dark, and hummed quietly to himself a chanson of battle.

The morning saw the world transformed. All was white apart from a patch around their fire, and still snow fell. "It snows often in these parts." Garin told them. "It will get heavier as we climb - but our quarry will be delayed as much as us. Yet if we make good time today, I know a better way that will avoid the storm."

Sir Robert looked at the dwarf. "What form of better way?" he asked.

"There is a way the dwarves use, part of our realm. It passes beneath the high pass and emerges beyond. It is guarded by secret seals and concealed with dwarven craft - the enemy knows it not. We may, perchance, meet some of my kin therin - for we use it to send scouts to watch over the deadlands and give us warning of armies massing before they attack. It will carry us in safety under the mountains to waylay our quarry as they descend."

Last Updated ( Sunday, 16 October 2005 )
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