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To Steve, who helped me immensely and without complaint and
exhibited considerably more patience than I might have managed if the
roles were reversed.
And to Alexander, the light of my life, who, despite seeing me
only at dinner for months on end, still remembered to call me Mommy.
by Mary Kirchoff
Late afternoon was a peaceful time at the Inn of the Last Home
in the village of Solace. Three friends sat at their favorite table
near the inn's fireplace, making plans.
"Where do you think you'll go first, Tas?" The speaker was Tanis
Half-Elven, who relaxed with his chin cupped in his an and his elbow
propped on the dark, oak table.
Across the table from Tanis sat his kender friend, Tasslehoff
Burrfoot. Next to Tasslehoff was the burly dwarf, Flint Fireforge.
The smell of smoke hovered about the kender's nose. It clung to
all forty-eight inches of his childlike frame, from the toes of his
blue leggings to the very tip of his topknot of ginger-colored hair.
The familiar scent comforted him, for he was just a smidgeon sad; soon
he would be leaving his closest friends for five years, which was a
very long time. Their tight-knit group of seven had decided to part
and meet again - five years to the day - after they'd learned what
they could about rumors of war in the land, as well as solve some