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“You’re going to have to be a lot more careful,” Herrin said, leading the way down a corridor.

Behind him, Tryls looked concerned. “Why? Do you expect more traps?”

Herrin laughed. “Not particularly, but if you carry on this way you’re going to have an impossible debt on your hands. I don’t get into life threatening situations half as much as they say I do.”

Tryls stopped dead in his tracks. “You’re that Herrin?”

Herrin turned to look at the elf. “If by ‘that Herrin’ you mean the dashing, handsome -”

Tryls narrowed his eyes. “Thief, rogue, with a bounty on his head in every city from here to Braëstead…”

Herrin looked offended. “Not every city,” he said, striding off. “After I rescued his daughter from bandits the Hertigar of Rijksten very generously rescinded his. And, strictly speaking, a bounty is either paid or voided once the person is captured and imprisoned, which I was, so until the Sebrimor finds out I escaped, I don’t have a bounty on my head here.”

Tryls sighed and decided to change the subject. “Do you know where we’re going?”

The thief shrugged, stopping by a large oak door. “Not a clue, but one of these doors has got to lead somewhere interesting.”

“If by ‘interesting’ you mean directly into the Sebrimor’s council chambers, then yes. I am quite certain that would be interesting, if not exactly enjoyable. Perhaps I could lead the way from here?”

Herrin took his hand off the door handle as if he had been burnt, and stepped away softly. “Perhaps you could,” he whispered.

Tryls gestured along the corridor, then set off quietly. A few steps away from the door, Herrin leaned towards him.

“Does that count towards, you know?”

The elf put his head to one side and looked at Herrin with the practised and long-suffering stare of a teacher. “Not even remotely,” he said. “Now, down these steps and take the door on the right, and that will lead us towards the servants’ entrance.”

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note: A little more of this growing story, and this time a little more about Herrin’s… chequered past.)