Iricah exhaled. She didn’t consider what Areia called stealth breathing a few years ago an important skill, but she was getting better at it. “Your body needs far less air than you give it,” Zy’an had told her.
She wasn’t a very good stealth breather, but she was learning. She was however a fantastic bookworm. A researcher. Trained under the most well known of the archaeological scholars, Duher himself, Iricah still couldn’t believe she was here in the monastery. In the monastery above the clouds, searching for clues to the end days she now knew were less than a generation away.
How did I come to be here? Looking back, she felt the same way in Silvershore. Just as she felt the same way on First Isle. Her thoughts crept back to that moment. There in the tomb of the wraith. Alone, lost. Her crew dead. Wandering into that terrible ritual. Hiding. Then, there they were. Not ghouls. People. A monk. An elf. And a lizard.
The same people standing around her now, waiting for her to tell them she had found something. Because she had.
Well technically Thrak’s a person too she acknowledged. She didn’t show it much because the truth was it was hard after her brother’s death. Really, she had come to think of the big lizard as much as a person as any of the others. Albeit, a little less brainy. And now of course with a little less tail too. She would have smiled thinking about it in a different place, but today had robbed her of her ability to do those types of things. Today, she was just glad to still be alive.
Then of course there was Frank. The teifling cleric. The man with whom she had healed the sick and the dying. She had watched him. Carefully. As with her research in rock and in books and runes, she had learned to study people. This stealth skill she was becoming better at, she knew. Frank, she had learned was the real deal. His sometime appearance change had no bearing on who he was in his core. She was sure of that now. He had proven dependable through and through. She wasn’t sure how her campaign of discovery would end, but she could be sure of a couple of things. One of them was she could count on Frank until her final breath to be there, stealthy or not.
And these were the people that were now the reason why Iricah had left the ship, followed their path and entered the monastery alone. She would say that she knew too late that they would need her expertise to decipher what they had found. That Zy’an alone might need a bookworm, that the discoveries they needed were too important to take a chance.
She would laugh, after she had saved them telling her why she had come. But when she found them, it was fear that took hold. Some crawling Ketian monstrosity which had lured them in and burnt their flesh. Left them for dead. Iricah and her Magic Shovel. Come to the resue. She’d have to ask the Dungeon Master about that little side tale. While they bled on the monastery steps her singing roused them, brought them back from the brink of the pit of darkness. She could feel them coming back, in the same way she had felt them dying. How can I know this? She had asked herself, but she knew the answer. When they awoke, and they saw her, they all knew.
Then she had laughed, and told them that Ding and Dong had finally gotten the best of her patience.
But Iricah knew it was more than that. And they did too.
Iricah knew, although Ulua hadn’t said it yet, that something had happened. Somehow, she knew that they needed her. Somehow she knew that something had gone wrong in the monastery. They were in trouble. She just KNEW it. When she had found their handiwork and the corpses of foul things too horrible to dwell back on, she had held her shovel out, like a shield. She swore and she called upon the bardic guidance that would come to her when she sang. But she kept on. She knew Zy’an would lead them up, into the clouds and into what he had said was his inner sanctum, where he sought the clues they had discussed many a night. She had kept on. And now she had a clue, a clue that Zy’an needed. That told there were two factions of this monastery, and she may even know where one was.
One that had been defeated. And one that had remained. This later one had continued it’s experiments, experiments that were now too foul to be held, to be kept locked up. Maybe they hadn’t made it. Maybe the slaves in the glass had taken over. She couldn’t be sure.
“There’s a secret compartment behind the last chamber here,” said Iricah. She was pointing her magical ring at the wall, being as careful as she could not to make any noise.
The others saw a wall, but she saw a small doorway, and beyond the tiniest space. A little desk, and atop it, a journal.
“I’ll be back,” she breathed stealthily, and Iricah disappeared behind a secret door.