“Newminor is sufficient,” the gnome responded. “There is only one of me in the world, so I need only one name. If the concept is too strenuous for your mind, you can think of me as Newminor the Gnome.”
“So Newminor it shall be,” Linvin asserted. “I believe I have heard all I need to hear, though you certainly have not said all you have to say. With the twilight upon us, we were planning to make camp. Would you care to join us for supper?
You could regale us with your explanation of the exercise to which we have borne witness.”
“I would be delighted,” Newminor answered. He turned and walked over to his small pony near a great boulder and began to rifle through his saddlebags.
The twins approached Linvin and angrily gestured to their new associate. Linvin turned his head and again held out his hand. “Set up camp, boys,” he ordered. With heated discontent, they obeyed their leader while keeping a close watch of Newminor.
As the tents were unpacked, Newminor joined them with a brown jug, capped by a loosely-affixed cork. He rolled out a blanket that he had carried over his shoulder and sat cross-legged on the ground. Removing his shirt and vest revealed the extent of his beating. His sides were badly bruised and covered in blood. Using several rags as dressings, he tended his wounds. His skill with the bandages revealed extensive past experience in the practice.
“Why do they always kick at the ribs?” he questioned as he wound the cloths around his body. “They could hit me anywhere else, but no, they always kick me in the ribs. Gutless cowards! Afraid of a little gnome.”
Anvar had already set the fire before his return in order to avoid questions. Numerous stray sticks were found among the rocks. The wind had most likely blown them across the prairie to their resting place. Anvar then turned his attention to unpacking food for dinner. The twins finished setting the tents and sat across from Newminor with the fire between them.
Linvin sat beside Newminor with such proximity that their knees nearly touched. “So, Mr. Newminor,” Linvin began. “Why were those men attacking you?”
Newminor pulled the cork from the bottle and produced a small shot-glass from his vest. He poured a drink and then handed the bottle to Linvin. “Me, I’m riding along, not harming a blade of grass. Innocent as a newborn calf am I, when along come these three humans. We get to riding for a spell and I suddenly realized that these gents had no sense of humor at all. They seemed to take offence at the slightest comment.”
“I cannot imagine,” Linvin mused as he poured a cup from the jug and passed it to Anvar. “They found your comments insulting?”
Newminor sipped his drink. “Hard to believe, I know, but they let their tempers get the better of them and started the fracas.”
“And what of the label of thief they bestowed upon you?” Rander eagerly questioned.
“I have been called much worse,” Newminor noted. “Try the drink, but sip slowly. To drink too quickly might cause it to bounce.”
Everyone had filled a glass by that point and drank cautiously. The liquor was a harsh blend, never before tasted by the group. Its potency was stronger than any Linvin had tried and made the lumberjack beverage resemble water. The taste was initially a bitter rye whiskey, which finished with a hint of mint.
Linvin’s throat burned as he swallowed the drink. “That’s quite a tonic you have there. What is it?”