‘So it’s settled. We head north.’ Her hand resting lightly on the pommel of her sword, Saltar looked at each of her companions in turn. Pheos returned her gaze coolly, sparks of shadow flickering around his gloved hands. Gramble shrugged and hefted his axe from one compact, muscled shoulder to the other. ‘No objections?’ said Saltar. ‘Then we ride as soon as...’ She hesitated. ‘Where’s Dingleton?’
‘Curse him!’ muttered Gramble, looking around. ‘Stupid wretched creature.’ Pheos smiled archly.
‘I believe our diminutive friend is currently relieving himself,’ he said, nodding towards a nearby bush.
‘Sorry!’ said the bush. ‘Sorry! Hang on, I’m just...’ The bush rustled and Dingleton fell out, his trousers round his ankles. ‘Wooaah!’ He tumbled head over heels down the muddy slope, his hands stuck in his belt as he tried desperately to pull his pants up.
‘Dingleton!’ snapped Saltar. ‘Get up. We’re heading north. Where did you tie up the horses?’
‘Tie up?’ said Dingleton, a baffled expression on his face. ‘They were... um...’
‘I’ll murder him!’ yelled Gramble, gripping his axe. Saltar sighed.
‘At least tell me you picked up the bag with the holy amulet in,’ she said.
‘The thing about that...’ Dingleton began, before losing his balance and falling flat on his face.
‘Why is he here again?’ hissed Pheos.
‘I don’t know,’ Dingleton moaned quietly to himself. ‘I really don’t know. I’m not equipped for this. It seems cruel even to have brought me. When you think about it...’ Whatever he had been about to say, it was muffled by the bird faeces that fell directly into his mouth at that exact moment.