I was beginning to yearn for a few quiet weeks in an inn somewhere, going over my notes, making changes to the maps, worshipping with, oh anybody, and drinking.
Aoibhell had a fractured shoulder, but that was easy enough to fix. Freak accident with that roof tile. Such is luck sometimes. Brindle was mainly bruised with nothing too horrible other than a torn ear. I was able to fix him right up as well. Liz was pretty much unscathed and I had a bruise that ran along the right side of my back. I was able to function pretty well and I was afraid to drain too much of my energy at this point in this little fiasco. I may need the healing for others at a more dire point. I could tough it out.
We crept into the temple, only to find Lilith and Ingrid sitting on a large broken sarcophagus. Around them lay a handful of dead cappas, some zombies and several brigands. There were more bodies on a staircase going up.
“There are more bodies upstairs,” Ingrid said, grinning. “They didn’t expect us to come from that angle.” She hopped down and settled her short swords on her hips. She hadn’t had a pair of short swords when they went into the temple, so I assumed she liberated those from someone who no longer needed them.
“There were a few brigands up there,” Lilith said, standing and stretching. I saw that she had a bulging pack on her hip. Looting already, it seemed. “There’s a good vantage point over the road. They were picking off Adeline’s crew while they scrambled away from the shadow creatures.” She cracked her knuckles and tossed Liz a quiver full of arrows. “Their leader had these, I thought maybe you’d recognize them. Quality is above average for simple brigands.”
Liz caught the quiver and pulled out one of the shafts. The heads were pretty wicked, meant to punch through armor if I had my guess. The fletchings had been died a pattern in red, green and blue; seemed like something I should recognize, but nothing came to mind.
“These weren’t made in this valley,” Liz said, sliding the examined shaft back into the quiver.
“That’s what I thought,” Lilith said, hopping down and walking over to me. “Lizard folk made, right?”
Liz nodded thoughtfully. “Old,” she said. “Old out of legend.”
Lilith smiled. “Thought you’d appreciate them.”
Liz took a few moment to swap quivers. She secured her old one against the side of her pack and slipped that back around her shoulders.
“Thanks,” Liz said, drawing her bow and nocking one of the new arrows.
Lilith shrugged and turned to me with a quizzical look.
“And you, mister.” To my surprise she pulled me down and kissed me on the mouth. “I saw that wyvern club you to the ground. Try not to get too broken, will you?” She stepped back and patted me on the rear before walking past Liz and pointing off to the left.
“Stairs going down. Brigands in the yard won’t last much longer, Adeline’s crew is at about fifty percent strength, but Boris and his band of crazies didn’t lose anyone. They are fighting their way to the main road. No one expected us to split our forces, apparently.”
Ingrid chuckled. “Fatal error.”
” Guess who surprised the new brigand captain?” Lilith hooked her thumb over toward Ingrid.
We all swiveled our heads to look at the her.
“Girl won those blades fair and square.”
Ingrid blushed, believe it or not. “Mother Crone said I could choose not to use the daggers if I didn’t want to,” she patted the new pommels at her hips. “I thought it would be nice to have a few options.”
Liz stared at Ingrid for a moment before sliding her arrow back in the quiver and slinging her bow over her back. She stepped over to the girl and gave her a hard look. “You know those were my blades, right?”
Ingrid’s smile faltered and she glanced at Lilith, confused.
“Spoils of war?” Lilith said, more a question than a statement.
Liz put her hands on the two blades at her own hips, those that had been gifted to her by Lilith when her own pair had been stolen by Reginald, Eronel’s lover. I can only imagine how the brigand captain came to have them.
“Too right,” Liz said, shrugging. “And these are nice blades.” She rubbed the pommels, pondering. “Yes indeed, nice blades but more made for a rogue, don’t you think?”
Lilith laughed. “Sure, I can see why you’d feel that way.”
Ingrid looked up, as if she’d had the most wonderful idea. “Want to trade?”
Liz unbuckled her belt and held the sheathed swords out to the girl.
“Wow,” Ingrid said, staring at the blades. “Those were yours?” she asked, looking at Lilith.
Liz shook the leather in front of the girl. “Your gear, your trade. Interested?”
She didn’t have to be asked again. Ingrid took of her new belt, traded the blades to Liz and then the both settled the belts over their hips, the blades adjusted for quick access, but tilted back so they wouldn’t interfere if either of them needed to start running.
“Can we go now?” I asked after they attempted to draw out their new blades and start fondling them.
“I need to check that they are no nicks on the blades,” Liz growled, but Ingrid shook her head.
“I already looked at them. They look like new.”
Liz looked at the girl a moment and let out a sigh. “Good enough I guess.”
Then she unslung her bow once more and moved toward the stair going down.
“Come on then,” she said over her shoulder. “If you are in such a hurry to face this, let’s move.”
We crept toward the stair as the sound of battle out in the front of the temple began to crescendo. Lilith reported that the pirates were over the wall so we didn’t have to worry about anyone coming at us from behind.
Time to begin the dangerous work.