The Caverns of Kildun Aalda--Chapter Three--Inside the Cleric Camp
Bard shook his head in confusion. "What have I done?" he asked his friend Trent. "What happened to me?"
"Are you feeling better?" Trent asked, smiling secretly to himself. "You were overcome with rage. That happens to many people who venture into the Catacombs. Are you better now?"
"Yes, I am, my friend. However, we better get moving. I saw some ghouls back there."
"Is that so?" Trent said in a false friendly voice. "Well, let's pack up these treasures and move on."
Bard searched the goblin and found a small bag of coins and Trent took a larger one from the body of Johanna.
"We will put them in here," Trent said, opening a bag. Bard stared at it. It was beautiful-black, made of silk with a dragon embroidered in gold on the side.
"I dropped this while I fought the goblin." (Bard did not realize that he was the one who fought the monster.) "It will be easier to carry everything." Bard and Trent loaded the bag with anything valuable they could find.
"Let's get out of here," Trent said. "I think I hear some ghouls approaching." Bard thought there was something illogical about that, but he could not place what it was.
"Shouldn't we take the priestess's body back?"
"I would like to, but we are carrying too much as it is."
"But she helped us out a lot today; she was a good friend."
"Everyone takes a risk when they enter the Catacombs. If we bring her body along with us, the weight will slow us down. If that happens, the ghouls may catch us."
"You are right," Bard said with reluctance.
The two ran down a short passageway. They came to another chamber, but, after a quick search, found it empty. They left the room and went down another corridor. At the far end they saw a light.
"Aye, I see," he commented. "That must be the way out! We are in good shape now! Lead on! I shall watch for the ghouls."
Bard ran towards the light. It was a small passage that led out of the hill into sunlight. As he stepped out into the rays, his stomach grumbled. He looked up at the sun and noticed that it was late afternoon; he had forgotten to eat because of all the excitement.
"Do you want to head back into town?" Bard asked over his shoulder.
"Yes," Trent replied.
"I have some food in my pack..." Bard began. Then he stopped. A funny feeling came over him. He turned and faced Trent to see what was happening. Trent was speaking in a language that was foreign to Bard. That was the last thing he remembered; at least for a while.
Bard brushed away something that landed on his face. He opened his eyes and sat up. Several leaves fell off his head from his sudden movement. He looked around. He was sitting by a tree outside the cave. He dimly remembered getting there. Everything felt as if it were a dream.
Bard looked up towards the sun. There would be enough time to make it back to the village. He started to prepare to leave the Catacombs, but then stopped.
Bard suddenly remembered everything that happened in the Catacombs. He remembered the fight between the goblin and Trent. He remembered seeing Johanna falling during the battle.
"Trent!" Bard exclaimed to himself. "Where did my friend go?" Then he shook his head in disbelief. "He is not my friend. He put a spell on me to make me think so. Where is my treasure?"
Bard quickly looked through his equipment. His knife was taken from his boot and some food from his pack. He looked around for his sack of coins and found it near where he was lying down. "Trent must not have seen this," Bard thought to himself.
"Johanna! I have to help her!"
Bard took the remaining oil flask from his pack and refilled the lantern. He lit the lantern and headed back into the darkness.
He remembered the way. It was a short distance from the outdoor entrance to the chamber where Bard had last seen Johanna. He went through the empty chamber and then came up to the next one. The bodies of the goblin and Johanna were still there.
Bard bent over Johanna and was just about to check for her pulse, when a movement caught her eye. Dark, quiet shapes moved in the shadows toward him. He had seen these creatures earlier that day and, this time, there were many more. Ghouls! Knowing he had no time to lose, Bard slung Johanna's body over his shoulder and ran.
The ghouls silently followed Bard, reaching out clawed hands to touch him, but always fell short of their target.
The warrior out ran the ghouls and emerged into the sunlight once again. He paused for a moment to catch his breath. Looking back down the corridor, Bard could see the goblins glaring at him. They refused to come into the sunlight. Then he remembered that Johanna referred to them as "creatures of darkness."
Bard wanted to get as far away from the Catacombs as possible before it got dark out; he was not sure if the monsters would get out then. First he wanted to do something for Johanna. It was too late to help her, dead from Trent's magic. However, he remembered she mentioned that her people were camping near the church. He would bring her there and let her people know.
After a while, Bard got to the church. He entered and laid her body on the altar.
"You murderer, you killed Johanna!"
Bard turned at the voice. In the entranceway of the church, a short and fat man stood, blocking his way. He stared at Bard in anger, his hand slowly reaching for the mace by his side.
"You do not understand, sir," Bard spoke to the man. He was not sure if the man would attack him, the movements were too slow for Bard to worry about a hard fight. "Trent killed her. I was just bringing her body back to her people."
"We will see what Balon thinks about this."
As if on cue, a tall man-at least six feet tall-appeared next to the fat man, thus making him seem shorter than he really was. Bard's eyes became grim when he recognized the red robes of a magic-user, remembering his recent experience with Trent. Then he remembered those of the red robes were usually fighters for good. He looked into the man’s face. He did not have the evil look like Trent had. In fact, with his pointed nose and large ears, he looked like the type of person who was bullied when he was a kid. However, Bard knew that nobody would torment this man.
"He speaks the truth," the tall man said, running his finger through his dark curly brown hair.
The short man laughed in relief. He would not have to fight the warrior after all. "Thank you, Balon." He looked at Bard. "Sir, my name is Raymond. I apologize for my behavior.
"You believe that I had nothing to do with Johanna's death because of what he said?" Bard asked indicating the magic-user.
"He is capable of looking into another person's mind and subconscious. Anything he says is truth."
"What are you going to do with Johanna's body?"
"Leave her on the altar for now. Come to our camp and get something to eat."
Bard followed Raymond and Balon back to the camp. He was given some food and as he ate he told what had happened that day. "The thing I don't understand," Bard said, "is Trent had two opportunities to kill me after he killed Johanna. I just can't believe that he would just steal a few of my items and let me live."
"He thought you were dead," a voice sounded from behind them. He jumped at the familiar voice. However, nobody else seemed to notice anything odd.
"Johanna!" Bard jumped up, embracing the cleric. "How can that be? I saw Trent kill you!"
"You had us worried, Johanna!" Raymond said. "Usually, you recover quickly from that spell." Raymond turned to Bard, "She has a protection spell that she had perfected."
"It is a Death Protection spell that is effective against spells that are used to kill somebody," Johanna explained to Bard as they both sat down. "When I saw that Trent intended to kill me, I cast it on myself. It slowed my pulse down to just a few beats a minute. Therefore he thought I was dead."
"She has saved several of us a few times," Balon said. "The good thing is once we recover, our strength and health are completely restored. Why did it take so long to recover this time, Johanna? Usually, you would be up and fighting in a few minutes."
"I used it to protect Bard. You see Bard, Trent was too weak the first time to kill you. He had to recover from casting that spell on me to regain his full magic abilities. That is why he cast the False Friendship spell. When you and he got outside, he was going to kill you with his magic. I cast the Death Protection spell on you to protect you. He thought you were dead and he left. That magic left me drained."
"Johanna," Raymond said, "I hope you learned your lesson about going off alone. The Catacombs are a dangerous place. The next time find a group of people to travel with."
"I agree," she said. "For us to defeat Trent, we need people with different abilities."
"What about Trent?" Bard asked. "Shouldn't we go back to the Catacombs to get him?"
"He is gone," Balon said. "I sensed an evil presence during the day. This feeling is gone."
Johanna handed Bard a small bottle full of a green liquid. "I and my people want to thank you for your kindness," she said. "Take this as a gift. Though you most likely value jewels and coins the most, I feel this gift has an even greater value."
"What is it?"
"It is a magic healing potion. If you ever get badly hurt, you drink this and you will be cured. It is very valuable because your life will depend on it. Save it until you need it."
"Thank you very much," Bard said. "If you excuse me, I want to get back to the village before the sun sets."
"Then be off. May good tidings be with you on your adventures. Maybe we will meet again one day. Remember to carry your healing potion with you."
With a final wave, Bard departed and headed back towards his village.