As Attilla shifted back into his gnome form he stated, “He will live…maybe.” Then he started toward the staircase and saw Gimmy standing near the top step. The tankard she was bringing him laid a few steps below her, ale dripping down each step. She had one hand on her mouth and the other gripped the railing to steady her.
“Get down, Gimmy,” Attilla stated, “Go outside.” She quickly turned and ran down the stairs, slipping slightly on the spilled liquid.
Attilla turned to Cunningham one last time before leaving. “You cannot even control one guard, Cunningham. Control is an illusion. You may want to remind Rainor.” The werewolf lord, Cunningham, spread his long frail arms wide and gave a bow of mock supplication. Attilla walked quickly out of the Kraken’s Wake.
Lord Cunningham turned to face the werewolf who lay dying on the floor. The beast called for help between gasps of pain, but the man never heard him. Cunningham hated the dying werewolf for proving the gnome’s point. Lord Cunningham shifted into his werewolf form with merely a thought, stretched out his arms, and called upon the magic of his cloak. “Feed, my pets,” was the last words the dying werewolf ever heard.
Attilla walked straight out into the street to talk to Gimmy. When he got to her, she was sitting on an empty crate. She had her knees pulled into her chest with her arms hugging them tightly. “I am alright,” Gimmy said. She didn’t look at Attilla, but the shiny lines on her cheeks betrayed her bravado. She stuck out her bottom lip and blew a strand of hair out of her face.
Attilla wanted to know what was wrong with her. He couldn’t be mad at her, even though that would have been easier. However, he wasn’t going to apologize for what he had done. Gimmy knew that he was “the Quill”. His reputation was known throughout Shadowmire. So he couldn’t put his finger on exactly what the problem was. As with any semi-intelligent male, Attilla knew he couldn’t just ask what was wrong. No, that would open up a floodgate of emotional outpouring that no man was ever fully prepared for. So the gnome did the only logical thing he could think to do; he just stood there looking at her.
Finally after many moments of awkward silence, Attilla stated the obvious. “You are crying.” He was sure not to say “why”, thus avoiding the emotional avalanche which he still felt was ready to break loose at a moment’s notice.
“No, I was crying,” Gimmy replied. Attilla had the feeling that nothing he could have said at that point would have been right, and he was alright with that. At least now she was talking, which was a start. “Now I am just sitting here thinking,” she continued. Attilla didn’t push her to continue but he did grab an old keg and take a seat. His posturing let her know he was interested and listening.
“So you work for Rainor, but you don’t think that Lord Cunningham should?” Gimmy asked, still refusing to look at Attilla. “I am just trying to understand.”
“I work for Rainor because I believe that he will eventually take over Shadowmire and Oliveloft. I prefer to walk the streets of those two cities without fear. I want a comfortable life.” Attilla was honest with her.
“And at what cost? You would so easily throw away the lives of the people in those two cities, simply for your comfort?” She finally turned to look at him. “If this is the case, then you are in no way the gnome I thought you were.” Attilla recoiled as if she had just slapped him in the face. “Your selfishness makes me sick.”
“I am sorry you had to see that,” the Quill apologized.
“You killing that man is not what is bothering me. You should know that. I know what you do. I know who you are.” Gimmy was angrier than Attilla had ever seen her. “Don’t try to make this about something it is not. I can handle you killing evil men who plan to do evil things, but I cannot tolerate you becoming one of those evil men. Do you understand what I am saying?”
Attilla countered, “You wouldn’t possibly understand. It’s easy for you. You want everything to be black and white, but it is just not that way. The things I do affect people’s lives. I don’t just serve them drinks.”
“You don’t serve them at all,” Gimmy stated with a shake of her head. “If you spent more time thinking about what is good for the people of Shadowmire, and less time thinking about what is good for you; maybe you would see with clarity the contrast of white and black. You want everything to be grey because that somehow justifies the horrible decisions you make.” Both of the gnomes were shaking with anger. “You say you want comfort, but what else do you want, Attilla?”
“I don’t know…” he thought for a moment, “…better. I want better.”
Gimmy seemed a little disappointed in him. “If that is truly your answer, then perhaps it is right for you to work for a man like Rainor. Surely his answer would be similar.”
Attilla became defensive, which was only natural. “Oh, and what do you want?”
“You!” she said without hesitation. Gimmy grabbed his hand and opened her heart to him. “I want you and everything that comes with that; good or bad. I want us to be a family.” Her smile was so bright and her eyes were so sincere that Attilla’s defenses faded away. For a moment he was no longer “the Quill” but was just a gnome who was having feelings he never expected.
“A family?” Attilla was lost in thought. “I never really thought about a family.”
“Maybe it’s time that you did,” Gimmy squeezed his hand. Attilla looked at her, and perhaps for the first time realized how special she had become to him. She wasn’t afraid of him, and that fact alone set her apart. Attilla made a decision.
“Gimmy, I need you to listen to me,” the gnomes were face to face and hand in hand. “Something bad is going to happen at the fair.”
“I figured, but what…”
“Listen to me! I want you to get away from Shadowmire,” he barked. Gimmy opened he mouth to say something else, but Attilla silenced her with a look. “You asked me what I wanted. This is what I want. Go to Oliveloft. You will be safe there until I come for you.” He handed Gimmy his money pouch.
“You helped bring this evil into Shadowmire, didn’t you?” Gimmy accused.
“I didn’t do enough to stop it,” Attilla admitted. Gimmy threw his pouch on the ground at his feet, spilling coins on the road.
“When you find yourself, Attilla, then you can come and find me.” Gimmy turned and walked away. Attilla stood with his head down for many minutes, never even looking up. He couldn’t stand to see her walking away, and deep down knew that he didn’t deserve to look at her again.