Since Poxig and Lakfi set out from the great library, all had gone wrong. The Eyrrfish poets were finally authorized to publish their publication in Eyrrfish. Of course, Brad Conrad was the editor. The only reason that they found this out was because Lakfi hypnotized a villager and forced a confession from him. These were dark arts that he controlled.
Now, they entered Eyrrf with trepidation. These people were half orcish, and so it was likely that they would be arrested and tried in a kangaroo court. The houses were built into the side of the mountain and they were surrounded by brush and very hard to see. Poxig found himself amongst a maze of underbrush and underground caves.
Brad was sitting underneath the ‘alpha’ tree, just as Jongleur’s sequence had predicted. He was reading a volume lost black magician lore, turning the pages with mild amusement. He looked every bit to be his father’s son, except for the vampire teeth.
Poxig motioned Lakfi over to the alpha tree. “We’ve found him!” he exclaimed.
“Excuse us, but are you Brad Conrad, son of Carl Conrad?” he asked.
“Who told you about me?” Brad questioned. Brad looked visibly irritated. He shut his book and began to walk in the direction of the forest.
“We’ve come all this way because of a promise that we made to your dad!” Lakfi shouted.
“How did you find this place? I came here to not be found!” rejoined Brad.
“Please stay awhile, sir,” said Poxig.
“Don’t try to inveigle me! I know this forest well, and I can live here quite safely for some time!” Brad yelled as he was moving away from them.
“What about this?” Poxig withdrew the locket from his vest. “Do you recognize this?”
Brad stopped and turned about face. He inched closer to them in order to get a glimpse of the locket before his eyes. It was as if he had never seen such a curio like that one, except that he appeared to be transfixed on the object.
“I haven’t seen this in twenty years!” he said.
“It belonged to your father, Carl,” Lakfi said. “He gave it to us just before he expired in the sun. Your father wanted you to have it.”
“I left home long before he became a vampire,” Brad said. “In fact, I never knew my father but as an honest man.”
“He came to see the error of his ways, and now he dwells in the halls of Releven,” said Poxig.
“We have endured much hardship so that we could fulfill a promise to your father. But now that it is done, tell us why you have come to this charnelhouse of evil,” said Lakfi.
” It was after some time, when I left home because we had had an argument. Father and I couldn’t see eye to eye. He wanted me to take over the manse on the hill, and be its proprietor, and I wanted nothing but to set out on my own and fulfill my destiny as an Eyrrfish poet,” said Brad.
“Aha! So that is why you are here amongst the heathen!” said Lakfi.
“Yes, so to speak. I came here on the eve of my father’s birthday, determined to stay and write in Eyrrfish. It was then that I secured a copy editor job with the local newspaper, and I have worked my way up to the position of editor.”
“Well, then, you have done well for yourself. But you know that these Eyrrfish publications only publish fake news,” said Poxig.
“Your father would still be proud to see what you’ve become,” said Lakfi.
“Please take this,” said Poxig, handing him the locket. “We promised your father.”
Poxig felt such glad tiding in the midst of the Eyrrfish poet. He felt such a sense of accomplishment to have been able to fulfill his vow to the dying Conrad. Now, there was naught to do except return home again.
Lakfi would accompany him just as far as the Gorgola river, and no more. The two would have to part ways for now, and seek their separate destinies beyond the hill country of Ulteria.