In the moments that I sat with Raucous I wracked my mind for what could’ve happened. I know wizards have many spells, each school covering anything from battle magic, to mundane utilitarian charms. I myself have stumbled upon a few such as the one where I can empty a chamber pot, or other moderately sized vessel of assorted liquid and semi-liquids. That one would’ve been handy back when I performed drudge work at the monastery. I know you told me it built character, but I bet you never once emptied Brother Durham’s after a festival night.
So, what form of sorcery had Phineas stoat gnome use to whisk me to this dungeon? As an aside, Phineas stoat gnome does not trip off the tongue in the same lyrical way Rufus weasel gnome does. Just saying.
I recall Tim mentioning a floating circlet or something, but even that would require wrestling me onto such a platform. He had to have had help. Or some form of levitation spell. But my money was on help.
Which made me turn to stare in the direction that Barnaby had gone. Maybe this Angelo was not as trustworthy as I first assumed. Perhaps he had carried me down and sat with me in the shackles in order to garner my good faith, and spy out my intentions.
That is definitely the sort of paranoid reasoning that I would expect from one of the wizards. I took a deep breath and blew out the anxiety that had built in me thinking those thoughts. I had to take a few things on faith, and my impression of Barnaby is as of a good man. Gracie also has a willful streak a league wide, but Barnaby loves her and that has some merit.
Which brings me full circle. There is another player here. One that has yet to tip his or her hand. I can almost feel their presence, like a throbbing pustule in the fabric of the castle. Is this place haunted? It seems a reasonable possibility.
The others returned, Angelo burdened under the weight of Bob. I gently extricated myself from Raucous’s grip and went to him. He appeared gaunt, his face haggard and his limbs drooping as Angelo knelt beside Raucous and gently lay him on the ground.
“He lives,” Barnaby assured me. “You are dear to this one, I learned that fact from his first fevered ramblings in our illustrious accommodations.”
I glared at him.
“Recall the secret passages, my friend. I have come here as often as I deemed prudent, more frequently in fact than was safe, as I had to hide my actions from even my fair Gracie. It was not easy to slip out to tend them with what food and water we had to spare. I risked both our lives in doing so, and Gracie’s trust. As I said, she has a good heart, but time has worn hard on her and she is loyal beyond reason to our fair Phineas.” He bowed his head. “He was a good man, once. Before this accursed island and these damnable ruins.”
I let out a breath and nodded. “We will settle all debts before long. Good and ill.”
Angelo went to fetch Emad as I examined Bob. Using the earth flavors of the divine proved very helpful with him, and I sent a draught of healing power into him without much strain at all. Like called to like, if you get my meaning.
Emad, I saw when Angelo returned, stood on the brink of the Far Shore. I deemed him to have little chance to survive the hour if I did not act. He likely would falter in the curing, he had grown so weak. Still, I applied a sliver of healing and he did not fail. That is some comfort.
“Try to get him to swallow a bit of water,” I said to Barnaby. “Better yet, dip a cloth into the water and see if he will suck it like a babe. I fear he will not waken yet, and I worry about his hydration.”
Barnaby did as I asked and I turned to Bob.
“Raucous said you feared me dead,” I said to him as I stroked his greasy head. “Recall the rings. I am never truly lost to you.”
I was near exhaustion once more, needing food and rest. But I would not rest until I had done what I could for he who sings in my heart. The initial healing had done his body good, but he had not awakened. Without the green sight, I could not pinpoint the source of his recalcitrance, so I reverted to a more tried-and-true methodology of power infusion.
Pushing the last of my available energy into him proved harder than I had expected. Something beat on the edge of my senses like lashing rain. My own exhaustion was so near that it took me a moment to realize the shield had being strengthened.
“Phineas comes,” I said, realizing the truth as I spoke the words.
“Why say you such?” Barnaby asked. “He is locked in his tower and will not come down for days.”
I tried to tamp down the rising sense of dread that crept over me. “My ability to reach the divine grows weaker. Whatever blocks the magic in this place is growing stronger, forcing me to believe that the mad wizard comes.”
My head swam in a sudden dizziness as the strength of the shielding grew. I shook my head to clear the buzzing that had started and when my vision cleared, I was rewarded with Bob’s eyes fluttering open.
“Do I dream?” he asked, reaching for my face.
I swallowed against the growing pressure and forced a smile. Taking his hand in mine, I bent to kiss him.
“Nay. I am here, fair Bob. Gather what strength you have. We must leave this place with all haste.”
His smile warmed my heart.
“You are all the strength I need,” he said and sat up.
He was weak of limb, but hale of spirit. It would have to do.