The wind was horrendous as we walked down the path. My hair was going everywhere and everyone seemed to be having a hard time with it. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t manage to keep hold of my tent and just had to watch as the wind carried it down the path behind us. We all continued walking for about an hour before it began to get dark around us.
“What’s happening?” Grelda asked, looking at the sky as dark clouds began to gather.
“I have no idea,” Derrin replied as he followed suit and looked up at the sky. “It’s only midday and the weather was fine just a minute ago.”
Even though we were all confused and very much tired from walking against the wind, we carried on soon enough came across a farm house. All of us clambered up to the door and Derrin knocked, rather loudly. A man peeked his head around the door. He looked us up and down before opening the door wider and let all five of us step through.
We were stood in the living room of the house and it looked a lot nicer than I would have expected a farmer’s residence to. The tables and chairs looked ornate and very expensive. I hadn’t realised we were simply staring at his house until he stepped in front of us all, tankards of water in hand. We all took them, giving him thanks before gulping down their contents. Grelda mumbled some words before her tankard began to glow for a couple of seconds, then she drank from hers. Thom looked over at me and I raised my eyebrows. We didn’t have a doubt that she was drinking wine instead of water.
“The weather took a very quick turn for the worse,” Grelda stated in between swigs from her tankard. “Is it always like this?” she asked.
“No, not usually,” the farmer replied, crossing his arms over his chest as he looked at the five of us. “It’s been awful for about a week. This happens the same time everyday, like clockwork. It always comes from the east.”
“What’s in the east?” Thom asked. The farmer’s gaze drifted from us to the floor and the ceiling.
“Just fields…a lot like mine,” he replied, still avoiding eye contact with us all.
“You’re doing pretty well, aren’t you?” Thom said, placing his hand on the back of one of the dining chairs. “For a farmer, I mean. Not many farmers I know would be able to afford this kind of decor…or have this much food in stock when it’s not harvest season. What’s going on?” The farmer looked up at Thom and held his gaze for a couple of seconds before sighing heavily and sitting down on the chair next to him.
“There’s a wizard’s towers towards the east. A couple of generations ago, all of the farmers around here made a deal with the wizard. If he kept our lands fertile all year round, not just during harvest season, we’d provide with food. It’s been good for the past forty years. Not a single problem. Then, last week the storms started. We haven’t been able to farm our land. but there’s hardly anything we can do about it. The wizard swore the farmers to secrecy and if he can mess with the weather like that, I don’t want to know what he’d be able to do to us. My grandfather was one of the farmers that made the original deal. I’d ask him to go and talk to the wizard, but he’d not very well.”
“Is your grandfather here?” I asked, looking around the room.
“Yeah, he’s in the next room. Just through that door. He’s asleep though.”
“He won’t be for long,” Thom mumbled, heading straight for the door and bursting through it. The rest of us followed quickly behind him and saw a startled old man, clutching his bed sheets as he stared up at us.
“Who are you? What are you doing here? Where’s my grandson?” he asked, eyes flicking between us.
“We’re here to help,” I replied soothingly, kneeling beside his bed. “We’ve just spoken to your grandson about the wizard tower towards the east. It seems that they’re the reason behind this funny weather that’s stopping your grandson from farming. We want to stop that for you two – for all the farmers here.” The man relaxed his grip on his bedsheets and began to lean back into his bed. “Is there anything else you can tell us about the wizard?”
“The wizard, eh? His name is Lamistan Kuris and he’s a gnome. Can’t say much more about what he looks like, we never really saw him after that first deal. All we did was leave the food and money at his door. I do remember him not being the most moral person I’ve ever met – he was far more concerned with his work and was obsessed with knowledge. He was an elemental wizard, I believe, but he delved into many different kinds of magic. None of the other farmers would be cheating on the deal. I trust them. So there’s no real explanation for why he’d do this.”
“Okay, thank you! We’ll do our best to make sure everything gets back to normal,” I said, getting up from his bedside.
“But be careful!” the old man warned as we were about to leave the farm house. “He’s very fond of animals and has a lot of pets. Oh, and try not to ruin the deal for us. We need this.” I smiled and nodded at him as the five of us began to file through the door.
In the next room, Derrin and Briss wasted no time in jumping into monetary negotiation with the farmer. Apparently fixing this deal for them was going to be quite strenuous for us, based on how much money they were asking for. Surprisingly, he agreed with a nod of his head before walking towards the door to see us out.
“Hey, can we have one of your goats too?” I asked. He turned his head to look at me, confused, before facing me completely.
“Why?” he asked.
“Yeah, why?” Derrin repeated, looking at me like I was crazy.
“The wizard likes pets!” I shrugged. “Look, just pay us half the money now, including the goat and then when we’ve fixed the problem, we can come collect the rest. That way you’re sure we’ll get the job done because we’ll want the rest of our money and we won’t worry if you’ll pay us or not.” I looked around the room to see everyone else in agreement, before returning my gaze to the farmer.
“Okay,” he replied, that sounds fair to me. We all followed him outside, where the rain had eased up, but the soil looked infertile. “Here,” the farmer said as he picked up a goat and handed it over to Thom. You can have this one. Look after him, alright?” Thom strapped the goat to his back and noded before we all made a move. I waved goodbye at the farmer and jogged to catch up with the rest of the group as we began to head west, towards the wizard’s tower.
After an hour of walking, we arrived and came face to face with a ten foot high stone wall. It was covered in ivy and had a stone archway with a wooden prominent in the centre. The wall seemed to surround the tower which was also covered in vines and had only one window. The large copper dome at the very top of the tower was making very loud whirring noises, which was in great contrast to the silent cottage attached to it. There was no door that led into the tower, but there was one which would allow us to enter the cottage. The closer we got to the wall, the less visible the cottage became and our attention became drawn to the five statues doing various poses that stood in front of the wooden gate.
Thom moved forward and tried to push on the door, but nothing happened. There wasn’t a handle or anything else that we could grab hold of to try and open the gate. Grelda moved closer to it and ran her hand over the carving that was there. It appeared to be the outline of someone doing another pose, just like the statues were. Surveying the area, I caught Grelda mimicking the pose from the corner of my eye and I couldn’t help but smile when nothing happened and she returned to her normal stance, frowning heavily.
“Hey, everyone, why don’t we try and mimic the poses that the statues are doing?” Grelda called out, moving to stand in front of one of them.
“We’re not dancers, Grelda. Why would we do that?” Derrin asked.
“We don’t have any other ideas, do we?” I replied, following Grelda’s lead and standing in front of the statue to her right. Once we were all in front of a statue we began to imitate the poses of the statues. As soon as we had, the gate slowly began to swing open and we all walked through, into the ground of the tower.
The gate closed behind us, leaving us in a vast garden. Most of the plants there were dead or close to it. Derrin and Grelda began to pick some of the plants that were the better side of withered before we all walked toward the cottage doors. We had barely taken three steps before a loud rustling could be heard and the source of it was clearly an animal. Two grey wolves jumped out from behind a large, dead bush and began to close in on us.
“Be careful everyone,” Derrin called out, pulling out his sword. “These wolves are very territorial and quite clearly pissed. They’re going to be vicious.” He ran forward and brought his sword down, slicing the leg of the closest one before Briss threw a dagger at the other, missing it but she continued towards it anyway.
Grelda took a couple of steps forward, flinging a pellet at the same wolf Briss had aimed for, but it just seemed to bounce off of it. Flicking my wrist, I cast a Magic Missile at the same wolf that Derrin hit. The wolf staggered back slightly from the impact and blood began to trickle from its ears and nose, but it stayed conscious and began to bear its teeth. An arrow whizzed past my head and then past the head of the wolf. Looking over my shoulder, I saw Thom shed another single tear before putting his bow away and drawing his sword. The goat still with him bleated loudly and that was the last thing I heard before the second wolf clamped its jaws into my side.
I screamed loudly as I hit the floor and the blood began to gush out of the wound. Before it could get in another bite, Derrin jumped in front of me, slicing the wolf with his sword and then his axe.
“Don’t worry, Alyona. I’ve got you,” Grelda said as she knelt beside me and hovered her hands over my side. I felt a warm tingly sensation around the bite before looking down and seeing no trace of a wolf or blood. Grelda stood up and offered me her hand. Taking it, I whispered her a thanks and looked directly at the wolf that bit me before mumbling the incantation for Nightmare Eruption. The wolf’s eyes glazed over as it began to live its worst nightmare. It shook its head back and forth rapidly as its breathing became laboured before it let out whimper and convulsed as it fell to the ground. “You scare me a little bit,” Grelda whispered, still standing next to me.
“Honestly, I scare me a little bit,” I replied and gave her a small smile. Thom ran past us both, cutting off our conversation, and plunged his sword into the second wolf as it was about to attack Derrin. He just in another hit just as Derrin landed a blow with his axe prior to backing up a couple of paces. Thom followed suit and the wolf’s fur was now matted with blood as it continued to get closer to us. Briss threw another knife at it, missing again. But Grelda, lunging forward and bringing her staff down onto its head, landed the final blow. The wolf howled and fell onto its side, landing in a small pool of blood.
We all stood there for a second, breathing heavily and listening to the continuing sound of the copper dome humming as if machinery were present. Derrin moved forward, after another couple of seconds and began to skin the wolves. Thom then began move the corpses around, hiding them from view. This was definitely a good idea, considering last time we left some dead men sitting around a table. Briss, Grelda and I moved forward and began to help.
As soon as the wolf carcases were hidden away, we moved toward the cottage door. Thom rapped his knuckles against it, but there was no answer. Without hesitation, he kicked it down, turning it into splinters.
“You do realise I could have just unlocked that, you know?” Briss pointed out as we walked in. “It would have been just as quick and definitely a lot stealthier.”
“Noone’s jumped out and attacked us, so I say no harm done,” Thom replied, shrugging his shoulders.
The room looked like any other small cottage, with a table and a small kitchenette. But what drew all of our attention was a set of stairs that appeared to lead to a cellar. With little discussion, we all went down and at first glance it just looked like a normal cellar. But then Thom drew my attention to the far corner.
“Is that an operating table?” he whispered, taking a step closer towards it. “Why are there runes carved around it?” As I moved towards the operation table a loud squeak came from the other side of the room. All of stopped where we were and stared at the giant ornate fireplace that stood on the opposite wall. There were intricate carvings along its mantle and it seemed like a fire had never been lit there. Thom walked past me, towards the fireplace and called out into it. Before any of us had time to give an exasperated sigh or tell him that was a stupid idea, three giant rats emerged from it.
The first rat lunged straight for Derrin, but missed him as Derrin stepped to the side. Briss had the second rat biting at her feet while Thom drew his sword and cut the first rat in half, spilling blood and its guts everywhere.
“These rats are semi-sentient,” Thom said, turning to look at the third rat which had its gaze on Grelda and me. “They worship the King That Crawls. He usually follows decay.”
“Good to know,” Briss replied, shoving a dagger into the head of the rat at her feet. It squealed before falling on to its side and blood began to seep out of its wound. As the third and final rat began to make its way over to Grelda and me, I thrust my hand forward and cast a Magic Missile at it. When it hit the rat, blood immediately began to pour from its nose, eyes and ears at an alarming rate before the rat fell to the ground into a pool of its own blood. I made a mental note of the fact that I’d now killed four living beings and couldn’t help but be concerned about this. This really wasn’t the kind of thing I had imagined doing when I decided to leave Deepingdale.
Walking over to the operation table, I held out my hand and then placed it on the runes. Immediately I knew these runes were out of my league. This kind of magic was way beyond me. Derrin appeared next to me and picked up the instruments that were placed sporadically along the table.
“I think these instruments are more magical than surgical,” he said, handing them over to me. I took them from him and placed them in my bag. If they were magical, I would have a look at them. Plus, you never know when they’d come in handy.
“This fireplace has been here for about fifty years,” Grelda said, her hand placed atop the mantle piece. “I think it’s always been used for this – for the rats.” A small silence settled between the five of us as we thought about what that meant. I looked between the lab table and the fireplace as a sinister shiver went down my spine.
“There’s another room,” Briss said, moving behind Derrin and I and through a doorway. We silently followed her and all came face to face with another door that had runes carved around it.
“There’s no point in trying to unlock it, Briss,” I stated as I saw her reach for tools. “It’s magically locked by the runes, and before you ask, no I can’t unlock it. We still need a key.”
“Grelda found the store room!” Thom called out from behind us. Derrin, Briss and I walked out of the little entrance way and watched as Grelda exited another room with several bottles of wine in her arms.
“Can someone help me put these in my bag?” she asked, a smile firmly affixed to her face. Derrin sighed heavily before walking forward and helping her and I couldn’t help but giggle quietly.
After walking back up the cottage room, Thom pulled open the other door, which we had assumed would lead to the tower. Walking through it, we entered a living space. All in all, it looked quite cute. The walls were lined with bookcases and there was a coffee table stood on top of an ornate rug in the centre of the room. Sat upon the coffee table was a keychain with dwarven runes on it. After looking through his book collection and taking three illusionary text books from his library, I scooped up the keychain.
“Guys, this is the key for the room downstairs,” I announced, dangling the key on my index finger.
“We can deal with that later. I think we should find the wizard first, try and get this all sorted,” Derrin said, moving towards the door that stood on the far side of the room. Nodding in agreement, I watched as he attempted to open the door. “Locked. Briss?”
“Don’t worry, I got it,” Thom said, kicking this door down in the same fashion he had the front door. As we began to follow him up the stairs, I saw Briss roll her eyes dramatically and couldn’t help but smirk.
The first thing I saw when we entered the next room was a large four poster bed, clearly indicating that we were in the wizard’s bedroom. There was still no sign of the wizard and while the humming had grown slightly louder, it still was quite a while off. The rest of the group had busied themselves snooping around the bedroom, when Grelda pointed out the map of the Sword Coast the gnome had displayed on the wall. I stood next to her and studied it as she did.
“It’s quite accurate, you know. Not outdated by any standards,” she said, rocking onto her tiptoes as she stared at it. “Would it be wrong of me to take it? We’re all traveling around this coast, but none of us seems to have a map of it.”
“Yeah, it’d be wrong,” I replied. “But you’ve already taken a good portion of his wine collection.”
“Good point. I’ve already crossed the line. Might as well keep going,” she quipped before taking the map off the wall, folding it and putting it into her bag. I laughed as she did so, shaking my head slowly. Grelda was definitely growing on me.
“Hey, Aly,” Briss said, walking towards me with some shoes in her hands. “Can you do an arcane check on these for me? Do they have magic?”
“Sure!” I placed my hand upon the shoes and raised an eyebrow before looking back to Briss. “They’re definitely magic, but that’s all I can really get from them. Sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it. That’s all I really need to know,” Briss replied before stashing the shoes in her bag.
“So, there’s no door here and I have no idea how to move up this damn tower. Shall we go have a look at that room downstairs?” Derrin suggested, gesturing to the door we had just came through.
We all climbed back down the stairs, to the cottage again before heading back down to the cellar and passing through the doorway. I unlocked the door using the runes on the keychains and as soon as I crossed the threshold, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. An uneasy feeling began to settle upon me and the further we walked in, the clearer it became that this was intended to be a prison.
There were four cells, but none of them had bars and only two of them had something inside of them. In one, wind was continuously beating against an invisible wall and in the other, bricks were assembling and reassembling. On top of the cells were more runes and around the corner from them was a large carved out stone button.
“Guys,” I said, staring at the runes above the cells. “These cells are meant for the four elements.” I moved my eyes to the floor and saw veins in the ground that traveled from the cells to the centre of the room. “These veins in the ground,” I pointed them out on the ground. “They’re draining the energy from the elements and taking it to the centre before shooting the magic upwards.”
Grelda moved toward the veins in the ground. I watched as she walked to the spot where the four veins from the cells converged into one and then raised her staff to stab it.
“No!” I screamed, but as her staff hit the vein I collapsed and everything faded to black.
I could feel a dull throbbing in my head and I blinked a couple of times to focus my eyes before moving to sit up. Someone’s hand grabbed my elbow and steadied me and I looked in front of me to see Grelda with an apologetic look on her face.
“I’m so sorry, Alyona! I had no idea. I’m really sorry!” she kept apologising, frantically.
“It’s okay. I just…this place make me feel uneasy,” I replied, my hands shaking. Thom reached out and, along with Grelda, helped me to my feet. I wrapped my arms around myself in an attempt to stop my shaking, but it didn’t work. Derrin walked towards me, giving me a soft smiles before gesturing to the stone button from round the corner.
“I think it was last used about three days ago, two or three times. It must open the cells. But I think it’s blood locked. It’ll only work with the wizard’s blood,” he said as Briss jumped up and grabbed the gem that was lodged in the space above the cell for the air elemental. She walked over to me and held it out.
“What does this do, Aly?” she asked. I took the gem from her and frowned heavily. I was getting nothing. My senses felt dulled and I didn’t feel in touch with my magic. Quickly, I passed it back to briss and shook my head, trying to clear it.
“I think that gem binds magic, Briss,” I replied, wringing my hands together. “It made me feel dull and disconnected and it would explain why it was above the cells. It would make it a lot harder for the elementals to escape if they were weaker.” She nodded twice, turning the gem over in her hands before putting it away in her pocket. As soon as it was concealed, I began to feel a lot better.
Moving towards the air cell again, it seemed like a little of the elemental was able to escape, but the main body remained trapped in the cell. I then walked toward the cell containing the earth elemental and saw that the same was happening. Except, this elemental began speaking to us. Between each time it began to assemble itself, it would break the sounds of the bricks hitting each other with the words “trapped” and “Seawood”. Looking back to vein and the continuously ascending tower of magic, I began to move to exit the room.
“I need to see how high this magic goes,” I called over my shoulder as a form of explanation for where I was going.
As I moved back through the doors and up the tower, I could still see the magic being forced upwards – even when I reached the wizard’s bedroom. Looking around again, there still seemed to be no way up, but the magic was still ascending. Briss walked through the door and moved to stand next to me, also looking around the room.
“The magic is still going up. There has to be a way to get up there. We definitely missed something,” I said to her. She nodded and then her gaze locked on the wardrobe.
“Did we check behind there? There are usually things hidden behind wardrobes,” she stated, moving towards it.
“There are?” I asked, following her and moving to the other side of it. We pushed it forward slightly and saw nothing behind it. Sighing heavily, I continued to look around the room. We definitely missed something.
“Hang on a minute,” Briss said. I looked over at her and saw her staring at the floor beneath the bed. She looked up and met my gaze for a moment before shouting, “Urine!” She ran past me, grabbing the chamber pot and then proceeding to run back down stairs. I stood there for a moment, in stunned silence, before slowly following her back down stairs. There was probably an explanation for that, but I wasn’t entirely sure if I actually wanted to hear it.
As I re-entered the room with the cells, the smell of urine was overwhelmingly strong. I looked over at Derrin for explanation, but he simply shook his head at me before turning to Briss.
“Blood, Briss! It has to be his blood,” he said to her, looking thoroughly frustrated.
“Well, it was worth a shot!” she replied.
Thom let out a single laugh prior to throwing an exasperated look at Briss and saying, “Was it? Was it really?”
“Okay, forget whatever just happened here. The magic is still going upwards, so there has to be a way up. We missed something in his room. We need to look again,” I said, ushering everyone out of the room and up the stairs back to the wizard’s bedroom.
We all began to search again, sifting through his drawers and going through his clothes. It wasn’t until Derrin looked into the mirror that we found out what we had missed.
“The candle on the table isn’t appearing in the mirror,” Derrin said, pointing towards the mirror where, just as he said, there was his reflection, along with the table and everything that was sat upon it apart from the candle.
Without hesitation, I sparked fire from my hands and set the candle alight. A ladder appeared from the wall next to the mirror and a hatch opened up in the ceiling. We all shared smiles between us before climbing up, bringing us up on to the second floor.
It looked like we were standing in a very cluttered laboratory. Papers, sketches and books covered every table surface possible. What looked like prototypes and scrap pieces of metals were scattered across the tops of the papers and every now and then a pile of tools and what appeared to be rejects lay across the floor. We set to work, looking through anything and everything we could get our hands on in the space – which honestly wasn’t hard considering how much stuff there actually was. Grelda and I were busy flipping through a pile of papers when Briss broke the silence.
“Guys, I think I’ve found a pressure plate,” she said, moving some books aside and standing on one of the stone tiles. It sank down, but nothing seemed to happen. She frowned slightly and stepped off of it, looking down around the stone plate.
“And I think I’ve found a note that is of significant importance!” Grelda declared, brandishing a piece of parchment in her hand.
You must work faster! We don’t know how close he is to completion. If you can do this, and control it, we will provide you with another.
I shared a look with Derrin and then Thom. This was the first time the initials A.P. had been mentioned, but since the earth elemental had mentioned Seawood earlier, it wasn’t a huge leap to assume that whoever A.P. was, they were working for them. But this was the second time we had stumbled across the Seawood company. It could just be a coincidence, but I wasn’t so sure about that.
“I think that we may have to match the gnome’s weight on this pressure plate to get it to open,” Briss announced as she quickly began to move books onto the plate. One at a time she added them until another ladder appeared in the wall and a trapdoor opened up above. She stood up, smiling at us and looking very proud of herself.
Thom made to climb up the ladder, but as he reached the trap door, a giant sentient ooze landed on top of him. It pushed him back, knocking him off the ladder and onto the floor. The goat that was still strapped to his back bleated in surprise as they both hit the stone floor. The trap door closed and Briss backed up so she was standing next to Grelda, but Thom was still trapped under the ooze. We could see it trying to injest him already, which was unsurprising considering that oozes live to injest any form of organic matter.
Derrin jumped forward, stabbing it with his sword. A small blob of it flew off and dissipated. Briss pulled out one of her daggers and threw it at the centre of the ooze. It recoiled off of Thom and a large clump of it fell off and died. Grelda stood beside me and tried to attack it with her Morning Star, but missed, hitting the wall behind it instead. Thrusting my hand out in front of me, I cast a Magic Missile at it, managing to hit it well. Just under half of the ooze dissipates and dies. I stood my ground and watched as Thom stood up and tried to stab it with his sword. He missed and I saw him cry. Again. In fairness, this tear could have been from the extensive injuries he just acquired, or he could just not have the ability to keep himself together – which was looking more likely. Derrin pulled his arm back and went to stab the ooze with his sword, but missed. Luckily, he managed to pull his axe from its holder and land a hit on it. As he did so, Briss pulled out another dagger and threw it, lodging it in the ooze. Grelda shrieked and ducked for cover under the table we were stood beside as I cast another Magic Missile in its direction. Another chunk of it flew off and died, leaving only half of it left for us to deal with.
Thom, after apparently pulling himself together, managed to land a blow on the ooze with his sword. However, this is when the ooze decided to split into two. Half of it stayed near Thom while the other began to make its way over to Derrin. Derrin stabbed it with his sword, pushing it back and forcing it into one blob again. Briss sidestepped behind Derrin while throwing a dagger, hitting the ooze and killing part of it again. Looking down, I saw Grelda get up from her hiding place and try to attack the ooze too, but she missed and did I. Thom shouted something unintelligible and plunged his sword into the ooze, pushing it back. This meant it landed on Derrin.
The ooze’s acid burnt his skin and he recoiled, moving backwards trying to get away. I could see the burn marks on his skin and his screams were terrible. He made his way next to me before collapsing at my feet. Briss yelled at the ooze, trying to intimidate it or something, but it didn’t work. Grelda knelt next to Derrin and began to heal him as I cast a Magic Missile at the ooze, still trying to attack him. It did the trick as when it hit, the ooze completely dissipated.
I knelt next to Grelda and watched as she continued to heal Derrin, who was already looking better. Briss and Thom joined us and once Derrin was all patched up, Grelda moved on to Thom and the goat strapped to his back.
“Everyone okay?” Grelda asked, looking around us all.
“Yeah, I think we’re all good,” Briss answered, already moving to pile the books onto the pressure plate again. “Maybe this time Derrin and I should stealth up first. Just to make sure nothing drops down and almost kills us.”
When Derrin and Briss gave us the all clear, Thom, Grelda and I followed them up. The mechanical hum was very loud here and it was very obvious why. Were had reached the copper dome of the tower and were standing in a circular room that had a giant piece of machinery in the centre of it. As we walked around it, Thom knocked into one of the levers, setting off a chain reaction of magical pyrotechnics. A small gnome appeared from behind the machinery. He pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose as he looked us all up and down.
“Who are you? What are you doing here?” he asked, moving towards us.
“We’re inspectors…from Seawood,” Briss lied, looking at the rest of us with wide eyes.
“Yeah. A.P. is busy right now. They sent us instead, to see how your progress is coming along.” Kuris frowned and dropped his hands down to his sides before smirking.
“I’ll give you credit for trying,” he said before sending a Magic Missile straight at me. The force knocked me back into the wall and then I fell to the floor. Grelda immediately ran to my side and began to heal me as Kuris turned himself invisible and attacked Derrin. Grelda helped me up from the floor and as I went to cast, Briss pulled out the gem she took from the cells – incapacitating both of us. Kuris became visible again and Thom tied him up with some rope and we all converged around him.
“Tell us everything,” Thom snarled in his face. The wizard cowered and tried to recoil from him before spilling everything.
“Seawood were giving me elementals to experiment on,” he said, still trying to move away from Thom. “They wanted me to ruin the land, but now mess with the sea. I don’t know why, I swear. There’s a drawing of A.P. over there, on the desk.” I moved toward the desk Kuris gestured to with his head and picked up the drawing of A.P., stashing it in my bag.
“We should release the elementals now,” I suggested, turning around to the others. “I think they’ve been cooped up long enough.” Thom nodded and then pulled out a knife, cutting Kuris’ hand and collecting some of the blood in an empty vial. He then stood up and we began to make our way down to the cells, leaving the others with Kuris.
Once down in the cells (which still smelt like urine), we wasted no time in throwing Kuris’ blood onto the stone button. The cells immediately opened and we watched at the air and earth elemental exited and began to take a humanoid form. The air elemental embraced me and then the goat before fleeing the place and as he left, my cloak felt lighter and now had a new, magical tinge to its colour. I watched as the earth elemental smashed into Thom and then the goat before following the path of the air being and leaving the place.
“Did we just get blessed?” Thom asked, weighing his shield on his arm.
“I think we did,” I replied and looked at the goat, still strapped to Thom’s back. “I think the goat did as well.”
Walking back up to the cottage living area, we were greeted by the sight of Derrin, Briss and Grelda arguing with each other around a bound and now gagged Kuris. They barely paid Thom and I any attention as we approached them, but it wasn’t hard to grasp what they were arguing about.
“We should just kill him,” Briss said, gesturing to the tied up gnome. “He’s caused more trouble than he’s worth. I don’t see why you’re not all for this!”
“Hey,” Derrin interjected, raising his hands. “I’m down for whatever, as long as we make our decision quick. I want to collect our money.”
Grelda sighed loudly before saying, “I don’t think it’s our right to punish him. Let’s just hand him to the villagers and they can do what they want with him.”
“They’d probably just kill him anyway,” Thom interjected. “There wouldn’t be much difference to us killing him now and us handing him to them.”
“We could always just take him with us to Baldur’s Gate?” I suggested, not entirely up for adding another number to my kill count. But it wasn’t like I could really do much damage while Briss had the gem out.
“Yeah, then we can hand him over to the Flaming Fists when we get there. He won’t be our issue then,” Derrin added, nodding at me before picking up Kuris. “Could you take the goat from your back, Thom? While we’ve got the goat, let’s make him useful.”
The five of us began the walk back to the farmhouse, with Kuris still bound and riding the goat, which was being led by Derrin. Everyone stayed back with the gnome and the goat as I knocked on the door, ready to collect our money. The farmer answered promptly and smiled when he saw me.
“You don’t have to worry about not being able to farm anymore. I do believe that we have sorted the issue. The fields should be fine now,” I said, smiling and then held out my hand.
“Thank you so much,” he replied and then glanced down at my hand before holding out a pouch. “Yeah, here’s the rest of your money. Oh, and you can keep the goat. His name is Bernard.” I took the pouch and quickly checked its contents before smiling at him.
“Thanks! That’s very nice of you…”
“Stanley,” he said, filling in the blank.
“That’s very nice of you Stanley. If the five of us are ever in the area, we’ll be sure to drop by,” I replied as I began to walk back to the group. “Have a good harvest!” I called over my shoulder and we began to carry on towards Baldur’s Gate. “Apparently the goat’s name is Bernard,” I informed the group and fell into step beside Briss. Thom frowned and shook his head slightly.
“No. I was thinking we could call him Todd. I think it suits him better,” he said, smiling fondly at the goat as it plodded behind Derrin.
“I can’t believe we now have a pet goat,” Briss mumbled, rolling her eyes.
“For some reason, I’m not surprised,” I replied and smiled at her and Thom.
“Neither am I!” Grelda exclaimed, popping the cork on one of her wine bottles.