Rough stone gave way to dressed stones and torchlight, which in turn was replaced by a wide corridor, thick carpet underneath and candelabra suspended above. A large set of polished wooden doors stood to the right and Cralum stopped to open them, then moved aside. Galindor stepped past him into the large room beyond and Rayne heard a gruff voice call out, “So, my wandering son has returned! Did you find anything interesting?”
Rayne stopped at the opening, the rest fanning out beside her.
A large chair stood on a dais at the far end of the room with a table before it. Various stacks of papers were scattered over its surface and a man sat behind it in the chair, his attention on a particular page. Galindor crossed the room and stepped onto the dais to nudge his father.
“Actually, Papa, I did.”
The man looked up, peering over a small set of spectacles at his son. Rayne chuckled softly. Ironmacrull must have mellowed quite a lot to finally admit he needed assistance to see the scribblings of his record-keeping. The spectacles did not lend much of a scholarly air, however. Ironmacrull’s face was creased and weathered and he looked like he’d be much more at home living rough outside and tending livestock or fighting than sitting behind a desk. His deep-set eyes turned to the group before him and his eyes landed on Morag first. He grinned.
“Morag! Come to marry me at last?” His voice rang out merrily through the chamber, a strong country accent coloring the words. Ironmacrull was a self-made king.
Morag crossed the room to him and clasped his hand fondly. “Not now, not ever Ironmacrull.” She spoke with a familiar, teasing tone. “Actually, we’ve come to beg, possibly for the whole winter.”
“It figures,” he grumbled good-naturedly, turning back to the group. “And you brought a whole group to mooch with you, I see.” Then his eyes fell on Rayne; his grumbling ceased and he smiled gently. “But if you bring me old friends, you can come and stay as long as you like.”
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