Returning to Basel’s felt a lot like waking up after a night of drunken tomfoolery to discover the only thing to drink was warm ale. If warm ale smelled like a fish’s bunghole. Nevertheless, they were glad to be there, and for now they were safe. They had just managed to squeeze in Thrak with his human baggage and close the door when the monsters ran past (Adventuring pro-tip: Lizardman scales can and do get stuck in sliding secret doors…).
“Fortune smiles again,” sighed Haryk.
“Careful,” said one of the collapsing pirates, “You’ll bring a traitor down upon us as well!” That made several of the other men, who Haryk guessed even without their garb were less than civilized men of the isles, smile halfheartedly.
“What shall we do now?” Asked Fritz, turning to Ian.
“I have a feeling this lot has some things to tell us, Fritz,” said Ian pointing to the urchin. And indeed they did. Andril and the others spoke with the entire group, all of them about what they knew. How the creatures had rigged the wall and what they had heard about the cult of the great mother from Basel.
“Then based on my calculations,” sighed Ian, “We have only twelve hours until their ritual. That must be when they intend to flood the grotto as well!”
“And how can you possibly know that?!” quipped a sailor.
Ian didn’t answer, he casually glanced to Fritz and paced the floor, shuffling Basel’s litter with his bare feet.
Fritz continued, deep in concentration as well. “We must both sabotage their equipment at the wall, and stop the ritual. Many others are still prisoners. If they were freed, they could fight alongside us. We could win Far Realm back from these demons! Just like old times, eh Ian?”
“Indeed, Commander,” said the bushy haired warrior.
“So, we rest, and then make a two pronged attack. Who will join us?” Fritz and Ian looked around the chamber. Half naked men were bandaging their wounds with whatever they could find, others were laying down, too tired to respond.
“My Lord,” began Areia, “I am but an urchin. But I know this, whatever lurks below will have it’s way with you tonight. You need rest, and sir, you need weapons.”
It was Ian’s turn to sigh this time, “Rest I can give us, healing as well, but they’ve taken our weapons, even my Eventide. We will have to make do with what we can find.”
“No, with all due respect, Sir, I think we have a better plan, if you’re willing to hear it.”
“What do you propose then, good lady?”
“Propose? Under such duress I’ll have to think about it obviously, but thank you.” She then pretended to blush, playfully stabbing her daggers into the mortar in the wall. “I suggest we simply level up.”
“Level up?” said several of the Celns at once. “What does THAT mean?”
The Governor’s Palace
It took some doing, but eventually they designed a plan that suited them all. Andril got the sense that when they suggested sneaking back up to the surface with their enchanted bag to raid Canton’s treasury, Fritz just assumed they would be gone for sure. I certainly could, he thought. While they rested he had managed to activate the wand once more and free his anklet. He as the others now could leave Far Realm whenever they so chose to do so.
But here he was talking about coming back to help these men, men who who would have brought him to the Inquisitioner not two days ago. Perhaps, Fritz knew what he knew too. I may not be back he thought.
After sleep and some time for Andril to memorize the powerful spells he had found on the scrolls, they prepared to leave.
“See you soon,” smiled Areia. “Don’t let the sewer bugs bite.”
“Don’t dally,” said Ian, “We’re counting on you.”
“We’ll be back, and soon,” said Haryk. “We won’t dally.”
“Not too much dilly either, ok?” Smirked Fritz. He was using the Flame’s energy to heal a wound in a young soldier’s leg.
“Easy on the dally and dilly. Got it.”
A Fashionable Entrance
Outside Basel’s apartment, back in the tunnel, Areia opened the sack, helped them all but herself to climb in, and off she ran back to the stairways leading to the fountain in the hero’s plaza. Time to level up she thought, unable to keep herself from smiling. She had to hide a couple of times but she made it without being seen by any of the creatures. “Ducky fuzz…” she whispered and soon climbed out into a rain soaked morning through the fountain that had nearly killed them.
She knew the way to the Governor’s palace and found it easily. She thanked her lucky moons that none of the others had decided to help her. She would have certainly been seen if they had. Besides, this is thieves’ work she figured. And soon again she knew she was right.
Rounding a stone wall outside Canton’s property, she stopped dead in her tracks. She took the bag off her shoulder and set it on the ground, leaving the top open. One by one the others climbed out. With a finger to her lips, she motioned to the palace’s entrance. Andril took a quick glance around the wall.
And stopped dead in his tracks.