I opened my eyes. I had blood on my hands and no idea why. I looked a little past my hands and saw the body of a minotaur. I raised my head and looked at Acgar.
“Hello. Are you back with us?”
I frowned. “What do you mean? Back where?”
“Oh dear. You missed all of that, did you?” A smile played across her lips.
“I don’t approve of killing Gau that way. But I suspect that it wasn’t you, exactly.”
“I remember….. did we go to the Cusp of Sunrise? And then buff a goblin? It’s like, like a dream. Hazy and odd. ” She nodded quickly. “I expect that some parts will always be that way. Not that Pel gave us any guidance. Actually, I’m not sure he would know what it’s like.”
We heard voices outside the door. Sadi was talking with someone. I got to my feet a bit unsteady. Acgar grabbed my arm. “Do you remember Durilin? Dwarf. Miner? We met her at the Academy?”
I squinted through the doorway. “She doesn’t look like a minor. But it’s hard to know with dwarves. No beard. Various will be disappointed.”
Acgar patted my shoulder. “No my friend, the pickaxe kind of miner.” She turned her face to me. “Are you going to be OK? Let’s look at the nice weapons on the wa –” She stopped speaking and stared at a sword on the wall. “That,” she said softly. “Is a Holy Avenger sword. I’ve seen pictures of them…..” As she got closer, she reached out one hand and gently touched the hilt. Teresa walked over. “Whatcha got?”
“It’s a sword, a special sword” Acgar glanced at me. “It’s made for a paladin of Pelor.”
Teresa whistled. “Huh. Gotta be worth a few gold pieces, eh?”
Acgar lowered her hand. “This is a holy relic. Its only purpose is to do God’s will. It –”
Teresa laughed. “I’m just yanking your chain. Oh! Is that a silver flail?” And she walked across the room.
Durilin stood looking at the weapons. Her eyes scanned the weapons and occasionally she’d glance at the fiery axe in her hand. “Can I have a couple [cough] a couple of these weapons. For, for myself, I mean?”
Sadi was covering Gau’s body with a lion skin rug. Ian came over, pointed at the spreading blood. “That’s gonna stain.” Brus sniffed the rug and shuffled to the curtain.
Teresa was beside him in a flash. “I’ll check this area!” The curtain revealed a spartan bedroom. “Gau had simple tastes. But she knew her weapons alright.” Teresa’s fingers moved deftly over the chest of drawers. “Not one for keeping extra cash on hand…. What?” She moved to the wall as though she’d been called. “Door! Woo-hoo! Can I call ’em or what?”
Durilin peeked through the doorway. “Hmm, that looks odd.” She started down the hallway.
“Wait!” Teresa called crossly. “Traps! Good thing I’m around, yeah? Make room!”
They hurried to the wall at the end of the short hallway.
Durilin ran her hand over the stone. “This is simply <elgraz>! Very <elgram>. Amateurs.”
“Riiiight. In Common this time.” Teresa rolled her eyes in the dim light.
“It’s, it’s, well look at it! A good wind will knock it down! Sad, really.”
Teresa nodded. “Brus!” She yelled. “Come knock down this nice wall!”
Ian stepped into the hall. “What did you want with Brus? He’s feeling fragile right now. He really dislikes teleportation.” Myntilly followed Ian into the hall. “Can you give him something? I hate the idea of him being –” Teresa screamed.
“What the hell is that!?!?” She pointed at the six-foot creature that had just flown down and attacked Durilin. I raced into the hall beside Myntilly. “What in God’s name….?”
Suddenly the sound of leathery wings and a second creature landed between Ian and Myntilly. It folded its wings almost completely around Ian. I looked at Ian and swiveled to look at Durilin.
My mind raced. Dismissal might work. These must be creatures from another plane. What would happen though if I dismissed the creature while it enveloped Ian? Would he get zipped out of this plane? I couldn’t chance it. I turned toward the creature attacking Durilin and stretched out my hands. My fingers curled and I yanked my hand backwards violently. “Be gone, filth!” And the creature vanished as he was about to rake his claws over Durilin again.
Behind and beside me I heard groans. I looked over my shoulder to see Myntilly, Acgar and Sadi doubled over retching. “What? What’s wrong?”
Between gasps Myntilly said, “Can’t you smell that?” I sniffed the air, cocked my head. “No.”
Acgar, with tears streaming down her face, jabbed her spear at the creature. “It’s. A. Stench. Attack of some sort……”
Sadi slotted two arrows, held her breath and fired at the creature. “Wait!” I cried. “You might hit Ian!”
At that moment Ian appeared to blink into existence over by Teresa. His clothes were tattered and he was barely standing. Before I could get to Ian, Myntilly’s sound lance had finished off the creature. She straightened her robes, took a sip of water and came over to help me with Ian’s wounds. Every day Myntilly’s powers of healing improve.
As we worked I was dimly aware of the others checking the body. I heard Sadi exclaim — “That’s an iron flask. Holy crap. I’ve heard of these. Wow. I wonder if anyone is trapped inside.”
Acgar, who was kneeling beside her, said “Let’s not find out, shall we?”
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