Jim Cooper led Iamerge out of the sunshine into the cool dark of the inn. There were stairs leading up and a hall, but Old Jim, the mayor of Rat Town, led Iamerge down a stone stair into a chill common room lit by nothing but a few tapers here and there along the bar.
Jim patted a seat and then slipped behind the bar, “It looks like ol’ Mare ain’t here yet so I’ll have to tend my own self. Will an ale do you? That’s what I’m having.”
Jim poured, Iamerge sat, “Sure, anything is fine with me. You said that Ruaridh Ua Birlinn rode out of town? What do you imagine he was doing?”
Jim slid a tall mug across the bar and then followed it around to Iamerge, his own ale in hand, “We’ve had some trouble with the overland trade. A few have come in mauled, but mostly they come in fine or they don’t come at all.” Cooper sat down next to Iamerge, took a swig, and planted his ale on the bar, “Ua Birlinn hasn’t had any such problems, at least not yet, because he always guards his traffic and put more men on since the trouble started.”
“So you think that changed?” asked Iamerge.
“I don’t know what to think. Didn’t seem those fellers who come in was mussed much, but Ua Birlinn sure didn’t waste no time heading back out. Seems if his trade ain’t in trouble then someone-else’s.” Cooper smiled, made to drink again but paused to ask, “So, you said that Gospels is back. Don’t know if you know it for good news, but it is. The Brothers are the anchor that holds this place together, feeds most of us, good folk, but they weren’t the same when Gospels left.”
“I can imagine. Gospels is, unique in my experience.”
“Sure, a brother looks pretty much like another to most folk, but Gospels ran that place well. Its good when there is peace up on Bell Hill.” Cooper chuckled to himself and took a drink, “mmm, even for us sinners.”
“Yes,” Iamerge allowed and then put his mouth to his ale to keep his own council.
“So, we heard that Gospels felt led by the Spirit to get in a skin boat and be washed out to sea to land wherever the good Lord made him land. Mad as a, as a, mad as a hermit it seemed to me. How’d you find him?”
“As my luck would have it, Gospels found me, pulled me out of the surf on the Skellig. He’d washed up there and no matter how many times he put out again the coracle always came back.” Iamerge explained.
“Strange luck that.”