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a blasted kender."
"So I am," the newcomer said, feigning surprise. "But
then you're a dwarf. I guess everybody is something.
Chestal Thicketsway's the name. You can call me 'Chess'
if you want to. Why did you lead that cat in here, any-
"Because I couldn't think of any better way to kill it,
and I'm hungry."
"So am I," the kender grinned. "Did you notice the lit-
tle canyon back there, with the spring in it? I'll get a fire
started there, if you'll bring the meat. And don't forget
the tenderloins... and the backstrap. Those are the best
meat, you know."
* * * * *
By evening firelight, the little spring canyon in the cleft
seemed almost a homey place. His belly full of roast
hunting cat, sage tea, and a bit of hard cheese that the
kender had produced from his pouch - he said he had
found it somewhere - the dwarf pegged down the cat-
skin and began to work the flesh from it, using his edged
stone as a scraper, while the kender watched curiously.
All through supper the kender had chatted sociably, not
seeming to care that his companion rarely answered ex-
cept for an occasional grunt or growl. Chestal Thick-
etsway was not bothered by that, it seemed, He enjoyed
the sound of his own voice, and rarely ran out of new
ideas and opinions with which to amuse and amaze him-