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Bunny dismounted from the horse at the edge of town and went in on foot, soft boots almost soundless on the dirt road. The wooden sign on her right proudly declared Tilldae Winery and Vineyard in purple letters on a white background. The dirt road forked there, the narrower choice leading to gentle slopes covered in grape arbors pruned back in anticipation of the coming winter. She knew without looking that the winery and house were farther down the road and could hear the clear voice of Maureen Tilldae singing as she started her pre-dawn chores.
She smiled to herself and kept walking, tugging the horse's reins. The woods gave way to buildings surrounding a central field to her left and a cluster of houses on her right. Few lamps burned but there were signs of life. "Good to be home, isn't it, Apple?" she asked the horse, patting his nose.
She led Apple to the first building, a stable with a small house beside it. A bald man in dusty clothes came out, grinning. "Bunny!" he hugged her and took the reins. "I take it the trip was successful?"
She shrugged. "Not sure, Hazard. Depends on what Sunter can get for their sorry gear. Dummies didn't have any hidden gold. Amy had spotted their fake crap at the inn and we were kinda hoping they had some jewelry or something hidden somewhere. At least all it cost me was a keg at Ogre's and some time. I'd have been most annoyed had I spent real money."
"Yeah, really." Hazard led Apple into the stables, Bunny following behind. "I'll rub her down for you. Amy made breakfast and if you're smart, you'll go get some before Tag comes over and helps himself."
"Thanks." She clapped Hazard on the shoulder and rubbed Apple's back. "Enjoy, I know you're in good hands." She turned to Hazard. "Anything going on today?"
"Not that I know of." He frowned. "Ogre had said that he got wind of some high wizard and his entourage passing through. May be able to snatch something worthwhile, eh?"
"Perhaps." She waved and left the stables to head to the house. Inside was warm and cozy, a small fire burning away in the fireplace. The table had a plate covered with a towel and a piece of paper that read "BUNNY'S". She sighed at the thoughtfulness and settled on the bench, uncovered the plate and grinning at the cinnamon rolls waiting for her.
She managed to eat one before the feather bed near the table called her name. After wiping her hands, she collapsed on the bed.

Gentle hands stroked her hair, waking her slowly. Bunny opened her eyes and smiled at the blonde woman leaning over her. "Hi, beautiful."
She kissed Bunny. "Hey yourself. Glad you're home, honey."
Bunny drew her down to lay next to her. "Thank you for breakfast."
"What are you doing home?" She buried her face in the woman's neck.
She cuddled Bunny. "Ogre sent me to come find you. He wanted to brief you on the incoming."
Bunny took a deep breath. "At least he had the sense to wake me properly. Thanks, Amy."
Amy kissed her. "Love you, my Bunny."
She hugged Amy. "Love you too, my Amy."

Ogre's was almost a caricature of itself. Outside, it was a standard in, situated between the stables and the general store. The modest sign reminded the customer that this was, indeed, Ogre's in case the huge half man, half ogre behind the bar wasn't a clue. Inside it was still standard, tables arranged in the main room with a sizable fireplace and a bar lining one wall. A staircase led to the rooms upstairs. The inn was empty, not a surprise since it was mid morning. Amy kissed Bunny's cheek and went to the kitchen in the back. The dark haired not quite human looking man behind the bar looked up from his book. He grinned, his heritage showing in his filed tusks. "Bunny! Good hunting?"
"Eh." She shrugged. "Depends on Sunter at this point."
Ogre nodded. "Sunter can get money from a damned priest. Coffee?"
"Please." She sat at the bar.
He set a cup in front of her. "Black, right?"
"Thanks." She smiled and wrapped her hands around the cup. "So what's going on?"
"Seems some big headed wizard is coming through." He poured himself a cup. "He's going to be staying here so we should make sure the sheets are clean, that we have elvin wine, blah, blah..." He shook his head. "I could really give a rat's ass except that he's supposed to have some crazy strong magic item or something like that."
"Is this guy strong?" She sipped her coffee and made a face. "Damnit, man! Are you trying to kill me?!"
He sniffed his own cup. "Seems fine. What's your deal?"
"Whatever," she shrugged. "So is this guy all that?"
"Between us, I think he's some young punk with a few magic items and no sense." He drank from his cup and smiled. "Good stuff. You are no gourmet, Bunny. Anyways," he changed the subject. "The power players travel quietly because they know assholes like us will come along and steal their stuff. So this guy is either young or dumb. It could be a set up as well." He snorted. "What kind of dummy sends a runner with a message to announce their arrival unless they think they're untouchable?
"Maybe there's a power player in the wings," Bunny pointed out, pushing the cup away. "If drinking this sludge makes one a gourmet, call me a damned peasant."
"You are what you eat," he said with an air of sage-like wisdom.
"HEY!" came from the kitchen, followed by the sound of glass shattering.
"YOU did it now." Bunny stood up. "Oh, gee, I'd better go. So much to do and so little time in which to do it!"
He glared at her. "If I die, I left you a dead rat."
"Hey, beats a stupid rock." She winked. "Luck and all that." He stuck out his tongue.

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August 2011


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