I was very full and satisfied by the time I had finished my slice of pie, or at least by the time I had finished that portion of it that I had eaten. I would wager I had eaten a good ten pounds of that slice, and despite the fact that she had claimed to be sick of pie, I would wager that Ethyl had eaten more than I had. Even so, there was far more of that slice left than there was gone, which is to say, we ate less than half of it.
“My good fellow,” I called to the tavernkeeper. “I did not see an inn when we rode into town.”
“We don’t get too many visitors up these parts,” he replied. “We’ve got two rooms to let upstairs though. For a sovereign, you can have both rooms, and I’ll have you a hot bath drawn.”
“That sounds excellent,” said I. “I did see a stable. Can you have a boy take our horses over?”
“That I can, sir.”
“Have him tell the stablemaster to give them oats,” said I.
“And a good brush down too,” added Ethyl.
“That is a good idea,” said I.
“And check their hooves,” added Ethyl.
“Also, a good idea.”
“Never mind,” she said. “I don’t trust anyone else with the horses. I’ll do it myself.”
She jumped to her feet and left the premises, which is to say walked out of the tavern.
“Girls and horses have a natural affinity,” I told the tavernkeeper. “Now, about this piesmith…”
“What about the piesmith?” asked the man.
“That was a clever use of an ellipses in order to demonstrate that I want to meet your piesmith,” said I.
“Oh. Right this way,” he said, leading me through the room and into the kitchen.
I had expected to find said piesmith in the kitchen, and not only that. I had expected to find some amazingly large oven in which to bake an amazingly large pie. That was not the case. The oven was a normal sized one, incapable of baking the pie that I had seen and eaten part of.
“This way,” said the tavernkeeper, leading out the back door.
Behind the tavern was an oven. It was round and made of fitted stones. Sitting cross-legged beside it was a giant woman, or more precisely, a giantess. She would have been a good fifteen feet tall, had she been standing up, and she was proportionately large all over. Long blond hair hung past her shoulders, and she wore a jacket and pants made by the sewing together of dozens if not scores of thick furs of various colors.
“This is Thurid,” said the tavernkeeper. “She made the pie.”
“Thurid,” I repeated. “What a lovely name. I must compliment you on it and your pie.”
“The choice of name was not mine,” she said. “My father named me. My full name is Thurid Njärlbjörnsdöttir.”
She had a lovely voice, though a trifle deep for a woman, and a trifle loud for a human being, which she wasn’t, because she was a giant.
“But I thank you for the compliment on my pie, though I’m a bit ashamed that it was so small.”
“It was a very fine pie,” said I. “I would not say that it was too small, though I am generally of the opinion that most pies should be larger.”
The tavernkeeper turned to go back inside, but I stopped him.
“You should introduce me.”
“Oh, yes. Thurid, may I introduce story-teller Eaglethorn Bucklenut.”
“That’s Eaglethorpe Buxton, with a thorp instead of a thorn and bux instead of a buckle and a ton instead of a nut.”
“Eaglethorpe Buxton,” she mused, as the tavernkeeper left us. “I believe I have heard of Eaglethorpe Buxton.”
I liked the sound of my name when she said it, though truth be told, I generally liked the sound of my name, as long as it was pronounced correctly and not mixed with nuts and thorns and buckles. When Thurid Njärlbjörnsdöttir said it, it sounded like it was being amplified by magic, or by being spoken by a really large woman.
“Perhaps you know me as the great and heroic adventurer,” I suggested.
“No,” she said.
“Then you must know me from one of my many wonderful tales, such as Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Mercenary Warrior Who Ought Not to be a Woman but Secretly Was.”
“I do not think so,” she said.
“How about Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Fury of the Monkey People?”
“Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Fork of Destiny?”
“No. I do not think I heard of you as a story-teller.”
“Well, some people know me as a playwright,” said I.
“I know,” she said. “It was a human man named Eaglethorpe Buxton that caused a war between the Cloud Giants and the Sky People, which ended up destroying both their civilizations.”
“I remember it differently,” said I.