“You’re a disgrace, Mercer,” said Nicyes. He spat. “A bloody disgrace.” He walked around the table where Mercer was slumped, half-conscious, reeking of the local grape. “What did you think you were going to find here? What exactly were you going to do?”

He kicked the back of Mercer’s leg with the toe of his sandal, startling the older man from whatever wine-induced hallucination he’d been muddling through.

“Nicyes?” His voice cracked. “What are you doing in Arcadia?” He squinted, even though the morning sun’s light had barely started to filter into the valley.

Nicyes planted a foot on the bench and leaned close enough that Mercer went cross-eyed trying to focus on his knee. Mercer belched, and squeezed his eyes shut, and Nicyes said in a coarse whisper: “You aren’t in Arcadia anymore, old man.” He rocked back and took his foot off the bench.

“Not in Arcadia?” He belched again, and groaned. “Then where are you — where are you? I mean, where am I?”

“You drank yourself stupid,” said Nicyes, and he kicked the bench and roared furiously. “We were going into battle today, and I find you sitting in a puddle of your own piss!”

Mercer covered his ears, and looked down reflexively.

Nicyes shook his head. “Not your actual piss, you–” He paused. “This won’t do. You’re too stupid to be of any use if we went now, and it would be foolish of me to go alone.”

Mercer nodded slowly, and then stopped, because he realized moving his head put the entire world in motion quite extraordinary — motion which, once underway, it was unwilling or unable to stop or reverse. “I was. Talking to the Locals–”

Nicyes snapped. “I’d wager you were!”

“No, I mean, asking them what was going on — temple fire, looters, that kind of thing.”

“Sleep it off,” said Nicyes. “We’re going out to that island to slay the beast tomorrow if I have to drag your sorry carcass behind the raft.”