That pitcher was pretty handy. If I had Kithri’s basket with unending bread and honey to go along with this pitcher, I’d just settle down and open a tavern somewhere and live the life of leisure. Okay, maybe that was the ale talking. If I didn’t finish this quest, the world as we know it would and there’d be no one alive to come to a tavern.
I woke with those thoughts in my head, a head that throbbed with each beat of my heart. How much beer did I actually consume? I sat up, bleary-eyed and saw that Old One Eye and Bob both slept with their heads on the table as well. They both breathed, so I didn’t feel too worried at the moment. Scrabble wasn’t on my shoulder, so seems he found our drinking to excess less to his liking than ours.
The smell of rot hit me when I stood, and I lurched out the back door to lean against the outer wall and vomit. Quite a lot, actually. I don’t recall the last time I ate anything, but I had more than my fair share of ale. When the heaves stopped, I stumbled forward a bit further and leaned against the wall, this time to piss.
I was sufficiently alert to lean with my feet far enough back not to splash on myself. That’s about as far as I’d go with my wherewithal. When a whistle cut across me I stupidly turned, streaming piss across the wall and grounds, to find Audrey walking toward me.
I’m not a shy individual, but she didn’t seem comfortable with my current situation, so I stepped back to the side with my back to her and finished my business. I don’t know who grew more impatient, her or me. I can only explain the total volume I disgorged by the fact it was essentially holy ale. I didn’t think I’d ever stop.
But eventually, I did, much to everyone’s relief. Once I had rearranged my small clothes and breeches, I stepped back around the wall and smiled at Audrey who had not moved.
“Old One Eye says you can bring Gracie and Barnaby back. Is that true?”
I shrugged. “I’ve never tried. Why don’t we give it a shot?” I noticed her hair was matted with sweat. “Who have you been sparring with?”
Angelo came around the corner with Raucous following along behind.
“Your friend Raucous there is wicked with a blade,” Audrey said. “And Angelo has got a reach that makes it nearly impossible to land a blow.”
The other two greeted me, and I saw that while Raucous wore sparring gear, and was herself drenched in sweat, Angelo looked fresh as if he’d just woken.
“I’ll see about some food, shall I?” Angelo said with a grin. “Leave you little people to your tasks.”
He actually winked at me as he turned and went back toward the front of the castle. The kitchen was this way, so I was unsure where he was going.
By the time we all filed back into the kitchen — Audrey and Raucous piling their wooden swords and shields against the hearth — Bob and Old One Eye were just rising. When Bob made a lurching step toward the door, we all cleared a path. I’d just done that dance.
I didn’t wait around to hear him retching. I went into the dining hall and looked at the two bodies. Neither were evil people, but neither had they been particularly kind. Well, Barnaby perhaps. Using the green sight, I examined them both and saw how the wounds had been inflicted, and how they had each died. I’d never really examined the dead like this before and it was not a pleasant experience.
The blood had long dried, and their bodies had given up their rigor mortis by this time so I could move them about. Each had been struck from behind. I lay my hand on Gracie and felt for her spirit. It wasn’t something I’d ever done before, though I’ve fought spirits. After a bit of searching, I found a thin silver thread that ran from her corporeal form out. Out where, I could not identify. It just stretched beyond. I felt shock in the death here. She had been caught unaware. At the moment of death, I saw in my mind’s eye, that it had been Thunder Jack controlled by Devil Pete, as I had suspected.
The pity was I hadn’t actually killed the fiend, just banished him from this plane. No telling how long it would take him to return, but mark my words, he would return.
I sent a call out along that silver thread, a gentle summons that would show a way back to this place, but not one that compelled the spirit with force. It was almost like fishing. The line was baited and in the water, all I had to do was wait patiently for a response.
Only, I realized, I didn’t actually have any bait. Something prevented the summons from working. Some missing component. I thought back to all I’d learned with the wizards, and thought about the first time I’d seen Wizard Tim investigate my items, attempting to discern if any had magical properties, and what they could be. In those cases, we had to sacrifice a pearl for each telling.
I pulled back from Gracie and went to my pack which lay on the floor next to the place we’d been drinking. I rummaged inside, running my hands over each of the gems, large and small, that filled the bottom. Each felt wrong for my needs. I sat back with a huff and Old One Eye shook his head.
“You need something pure, something that will entice the spirit back and heal the body at the same time.”
He led me back to the princess’s bedroom where Phineas had slept, and rifled the dresser until he came upon a pair of ruby earrings with stones the size of the nail on my pinky finger.
The second the jewelry hit my hand, I knew it was the right thing. It’s hard to decipher the appropriate material components when you’ve not had formal training.
I hugged Old One Eye, which startled him, then ran back into the dining room. Two rubies, two dead to raise. I totally had this.