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Pitfalls of the Palantir  by Haleth

"A robbery?" Butterbur was genuinely indignant. "At the Prancing Pony? We haven't had trouble like that in over five years."

"Someone made off with his pack last night," Haleth nodded in Inglor's direction. Her head rang like all of the bells of Dale. What in the world had Inglor given her? It certainly was not a headache remedy.

"I have to apologise," Butterbur said, recovering somewhat. "These things just don't happen here. We're decent people hereabouts."

He flinched and gave Haleth the slightly ashamed look that all truly decent people have when they have accidentally insulted someone.

"We'd like to keep this quiet," Haleth said. She gave Butterbur the smile reserved for decent people whom she wanted to intimidate.

"I'd like to speak to your staff, if you don't mind." 

Butterbur swallowed hard and looked to Inglor for help. 

"I believe we should be guided by Haleth in this matter," the Elf said.

Butterbur's staff was co-operative but nervous. In spite of all of the travelers at the Inn, they did not deal with people like Haleth very often.

In spite of her slightly menacing presence, they were not much help.

"You're sure that's all of them?" Haleth asked Butterbur when she had sent the last one away, shaking his head and trembling in his boots.

"Well, there's Lily," Butterbur said. "She cleans the rooms. She went home earlier today. Said she wasn't feeling well. She did look a bit pale," Butterbur said, frowning. He was less than pleased with the prospect of the chambermaid having to face Haleth's interrogation.

"We can talk to her tomorrow," Haleth said, rubbing her temples irritably. She was quite certain that the theft had been done by an outside party. Butterbur's people were all far too decent to have taken anything.  It simply would not occur to them.

"There are brigands around?" she asked, remembering a snippet of information Inglor had passed along earlier. It seemed unlikely, but one never knew.

"In the woods," Butterbur nodded. "Some of Sharkey's men came back after they were driven out by the Shire folk. Do you think they are the thieves?"

"They're my best guess right now," she sighed. 

"What now?" Inglor asked her when the Innkeeper had bustled away. 

"Now I go back to bed," Haleth said. 

"But the palantir..."

"Is probably being used as a footstool by some stupid bandit," Haleth said. "We've got to find out where they're holed up. Even if we knew where they were hiding we couldn't just dance in there and expect them to give the thing back because we asked politely. Relax, Inglor, it isn't going very far. I want to be in better condition when we try to retrieve."

She was headed back to her room, her head still pounding, when she remembered something.

"Inglor," she said. 

"Yes?"

"Do me a favour and stay in your room tonight?" she said. "No more wandering around town with the local ladies."

"I will avoid the young ladies," he promised. 

"Stay in your room," she said. "Do this for me, please?"

"Very well," he said, giving her a very strange look. She was quite familiar with his repertoire of facial expressions; variations of confusion. 

"Good," she smiled and touched the side of his face before entering her own room. He had better stay inside.  There was too much at stake to have an angry husband or father chasing him out of town.

She lay down on the bed and tried to think things through. The burglar had taken the palantir and all of Inglor's things, but had left his money. Not only that, he had taken the time to dig the money out of the pack. It made no sense. 

Still thinking, she drifted off to sleep. 





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