The notes for “The Story of Jasmine” continue:
“Well, if that don’t beat all!” the dwarf cried to his Nôr-man companion, “Here we are – all strangers, but each one of us happen to be men-for-hire and on this very day, we all find ourselves on this mountain, unbidden!”
The Nôr-man bent down to whisper something to the dwarf, who shifted his stance, “So,” he said, “you hail from Dockalfar?”
The Nôr-man spoke for the first time, “What do you know of UR?”
Ahearn decided to pretend not to know anything and related what he knew when he first arrived in the south lands some time ago. “UR presently seeks to destroy a threat to its Kingdom.”
“Then you are too late to help them, my friend. UR has fallen.”
“Fallen?” Ahearn feinted disbelief.
“Have you not seen Bardulf’s soldiers about?” The Nôr-man asked him.
“Do they look like this?” Ahearn replied, pointing to the statues. “Then, no.” He paused for a moment before continuing, “But it seems to me you two are well equipped to deal with any enemies. I have told you who I am. Do me the courtesy to do the same. I would like to know what type of company I find myself within.”
All during this time, Ahearn’s horse had inched stealthily nearer to him, only moving when clouds obscured the moonlight. When Ahearn’s sword also came within reach, the Nôr-man casually stepped forward and grabbed the reins with a sure horse-friendly hand.
“Ah, yes,” Ahearn thought to himself as he remembered. The Nôr-man were as accomplished as his own countrymen when it came to training their horses. Unfortunately, the Nôr-man was aware of horse tricks like this.
Ahearn knew if he asked directly, he’d be putting his cover story at risk. No matter how long it took, he was determined to find out if the princess was inside the still-intact parts of the temple. And if so, was she a prisoner?
The two were just about to introduce themselves, when a rider in full armor, brandishing a sword swiftly galloped on the scene. The dwarf whirled around and shouted, “Friend or foe?”
In one smooth motion, the warrior was off her horse with weapon swinging. Thorne cries, “Foe!”