Grundlink paid for both the meal and room and was just about to return to his table to finish the meal when a familiar voice hailed him. The rat twirled over his shoulder to see the hedgehog.
“Cockleburr!” Grundlink walked up to and hugged the hedgehog. “Haven’t seen ye much these days, either! I’ve been keepin’ well, just’ visited my parents yesterday, then got back t’ travelin’ again. I came upon this nice place abou’ a few minutes ago myself. You've still got yer old habits, eh? October Ale an’ nothin' else.”
Grundlink excused himself while Arries the squirrel escorted him to his room. Simple and humble: a feather bed in the corner, a small end table with chair, and a large dresser and closet. The basic things, never materialistic or wealthy. He smiled encouragingly at Arries.
“Got everythin’ I need here, and can see this inn havin' a brigh’ future! Keep workin’ hard, miss Arries, and ye’ll have yer place like a rich palace before ye can say ‘cognac’! Thank ye, I’ll just drop off my stuff.”
He fetched his knapsack and returned to the bedroom, leaving it on the end table, strapped tight and shut. Hoping that nobeast would dare try to steal it, Grundlink closed the door and entered back out into the main area, inviting Cockleburr to join his table.
The cognac had been fine! Nothing wrong with it, as the rat lifted the cup to drink again. He had simply overreacted. He beckoned Cockleburr over and spoke to the hedgehog in a low voice.
“I’ve translated the front side o’ th’ map. It’s strange t’ me. I can’t figure anythin’ out. Anythin’ you've heard from the Islands that I should know?”