Session 51: Infected!

In the jail, Sabine the Gatekeeper introduced the group to Jadale, the militia lieutenant. "Jadale polices the inner bailey," Sabine explained. “She can assist you, should you need anything further.”

With that, Sabine departed from the tower.

"Greetings," Jadale introduced herself. "I've heard a lot about you. It's a pleasure to finally meet you. Please proceed, and let me know if you need anything."

With their prisoner secured by some of the various restraints available, Valeria cast cure wounds on him.

His eyes opened and he quickly scampered backward to the rear wall of the cell, with a terrified look in his eyes.

"Hello," Valeria began.

"Everything will be alright," Vernim offered, "if you answer our questions."

"Yeah," the man nodded, nervously. "Yeah."

"Everything will be alright," Vernim repeated, "if you answer our questions."

The man lifted his hands and sniffed at his chains.

"How are you a rat?" Valeria asked.

"I was cursed," he huffed.

"Why did you attack us?" Yanliz asked.

"I was cursed."

"By who?" Brother Martin asked. "Who cursed you?"

"I don't know. I don't know," he shook his head.

"Do you know where you were when it happened?" Brother Martin asked.

"I don't know. I don't remember anything."

"How long have you been cursed?" Brother Martin asked.

"I don't even know," he stuttered.

"Do you know how long you were in that cave?" Brother Martin asked. "How long did you live there?"

"I don't know. I just... I lived with the rats, because I was cursed and... and what else could I do?"

"Could you leave the cave?" Valeria asked.

"Yeah. But where could... where should I go? There was no place else to go. The rats were my home. The rats were my family."

"Do you lose control when you transform?" Brother Martin asked.

He looked around his cell, sniffing nervously.

"It's okay." Brother Martin assured him. "We're trying to understand."

"I don't even know what to do. When you're a rat... Sometimes..." He huffed, clearly agitated. "I can't even control myself... Sometimes... I just wanna..."

"It's fine. It's fine." Brother Martin assuaged. "You're not in any danger here."

Dubricus took out a piece of parchment and held it out to the man.

Eventually the man took the parchment and sniffed at it. Then he started nibbling at the corners. As soon as he tasted the bitter paper, he stopped.

"Do you know how to write?" Dubricus asked.

"Thank you," Vernim said. "What's your name? Do you have a name?"

"I think... It's hard to remember. Lykos they called me."

"Before you were cursed," Vernim asked, "do you remember if you lived around here?"

"I don't know. I don't remember." I don't remember anything."

"I have an idea!" Dubricus announced, and cast prestidigitation, causing the parchment to smell like cheese. Pulling Valeria aside, he whispered, "I want to see if, in human form, he still has true rat-like instincts."

The man excitedly began devouring the parchment.

"As I thought," Dubricus surmised. "He definitely still has rat-like instincts!"

"Well, I think I..." Vernim stuttered. "I might know some things that... I might have some tools that might... I can use to perhaps heal you, if that's what you want... that would help you come back to human."

"We're not necessarily best friends with him," Valeria replied in orc. "Are you bluffing?"

"It's worth a try," Vernim replied, in orc.

"Why would we want to heal this guy?" Valeria asked in orc.

"Because we want to cure him of his ailment," Vernim replied in orc. "It's morally right to cure him."

"That's not how ailments work." Valeria argued in orc.

"I think lesser restoration would cure him of his disease." Vernim suggested in orc.

Yanliz approached the prisoner. "Do you remember what was in the cave that you were in?"

"My family... Shriekers... Shriekers... Shriekers in the caves. More cheese?"

"Was there any treasure in the cave?" Yanliz asked.

"More cheese?"

"We might be able to get you more cheese if you answer our questions." Dubricus added.

"I can try."

"Do you remember anything else from the caves?" Yanliz asked.

"Have you ever set off the shriekers before?" Valeria asked.

"Shriekers... Yeah. Shriekers go off."

"Have any of the mushrooms ever attacked you?" Valeria asked.

"Too fast. Rats too fast."

"Do you remember what was at the end of the cave?" Yanliz asked.

"Water."

"Do you go down there often?" Vernim asked.

"Hunt for food."

"Are there animals or plants in there?" Valeria asked.

"Animals outside.

"Anything dangerous in the cave?" Brother Martin asked. "Past the shriekers?"

"Past shriekers? Past shriekers outside."

"The other way," Yanliz added.

"On your side," Valeria explained.

"Oh... Just... Just... Home."

"How long have you been a rat?"

"I don't know."

"Are there others like you?" Dubricus asked. "Human rats?

"Just rats."

Privately, Valeria suggested that maybe they should let him go, without healing him.

Vernim suggested they should cure him of being a rat, and Prynhawn agreed that it would not hurt to try. Brother Martin also thought it would be the right thing to do. Valeria agreed that they should try using lesser restoration, but not cure wounds. Vernim agreed.

"Why did you attack us?" Yanliz asked.

"We were trapped."

"Were you trying to leave, because there were no more shriekers?" Valeria asked.

"It's our home."

"Do you want to go back?" Dubricus asked.

"Where else would I go?"

Two soldiers climbed the stairs, carrying a large metal cage. It was large enough to hold two tigers, but with bars so close together that it could hold a small cat.

Valeria indicated that it would not be necessary.

"You don't need it?" Jadale asked. "Are you taking him with you? I thought he could turn into a rat."

"It seems like it was a one time thing." Valeria suggested

"I don't want some giant rat running around my keep," Jadale stated.

"That's fair," Valeria conceded. "We can keep it, but I don't want to frighten him. Can you keep it downstairs for now?"

"Yes, of course," Jadale agreed. "Bring it downstairs," she ordered her guards, and they reversed direction.

"It's late," Prynhawn said. "If we think we have a way to cure him, why don't we get some rest so we can get back up here as soon as possible?"

"Do you think you might turn into a rat again?" Yanliz asked.

"I don't know. Should I?"

"You should not," Vernim advised. "That would not be wise."

"Do you feel like you could?" Yanliz asked.

"I don't know. Maybe."

"Are you in control of yourself?" Vernim asked.

"I don't know." Then, turning to Dubricus, "More cheese?"

"We will get you cheese," Vernim promised, "if you're just patient."

"Why don't I go get some cheese?" Dubricus asked Valeria.

"Why don't we get Vernim to do that," Valeria hinted. "It seems like he—"

"Why don't I do that?" Vernim agreed. "Tomorrow."

"You've had no problems disturbing anyone at any time in the past." Valeria insinuated.

"When I wanted to go see them last time, you said no, because they would be sleeping." Vernim reminded her. "I'm going to hold you to that."

"That's because we had zero reason to go see them." Valeria argued.

"I had a reason," Vernim refuted. "I wanted to see if they needed help with anything."

"You wanted to go visit a dead body, you—" Valeria started.

"No! No! No! No! I was going to see if they needed help," Vernim maintained. "This conversation is over."

"Yes, it is over—" Valeria started.

"Thank you," Vernim said.

"...because," Valeria continued, "if you don't want to go see Opal's sister, I can get Dubricus to go see Opal's sister."

"Valeria," Vernim pressed, "you said 'don't.' I said I was going to ask if they needed help, and you said, 'no, don't go."

"Why would you go ask if they needed help—" Valeria started.

"Because I owe something to Opal!" Vernim admitted. "It's my fault she's dead!"

"It is," Valeria agreed.

"And I said 'I'm going to go help them,' and you said 'no,' because it would be disturbing them," Vernim maintained, "and we would be disturbing them now."

"Yeah, but we actually need to go do something," Valeria justified.

"I can't believe this is your rationale, Valeria," Vernim huffed. "This is ridiculous."

Dubricus slammed his staff to the stone. "Guys, what's the point of this? You're scaring the rat person."

"Why don't we just wait til morning?" Yanliz suggested.

"Yeah, why don't we just wait til morning?" Vernim agreed. "Valeria, I'll just give him a day of my rations."

"Okay, cool," Valeria agreed. "You can do that. That solves the problem."

"Unbelievable," Vernim muttered.

"Valeria," Dubricus whispered. "We just need to make sure this thing doesn't get out. So I'm going to go offer him a plethora of cheese, if he doesn't try to escape."

Vernim placed his rations in the cell.

Dubricus cast prestidigitation on them, making them smell like cheese.

Lykos dug into them, voraciously.

"You can have more of this, if you don't escape," Vernim warned. "We can only give you food if you stay here!"

"Okay." Lykos agreed.

"Why don't we put him in the cage?" Yanliz suggested. "He doesn't seem to mind."

Valeria asked Jadale to bring the cage back up, and the lieutenant gave the order. The cage was soon back up the stairs and in the cell. The guards withdrew.

"We're going to put you in here for now," Valeria told Lykos, "and we'll keep feeding you."

"I have an idea!" Dubricus stated. He took a piece of bread from his rations, and used prestidigitation to make it smell like cheese, and placed it in the back of the cage."

They released the bonds from Lykos and he readily moved into the cage and closed in on the bread.

They locked the cage and the cell.

"Alright," Prynhawn suggested, "can we go get some sleep now? It's been a long day."

Jadale escorted them out of the tower and towards the inner gatehouse to the outer bailey.

"Why are we treating this guy like an animal," Yanliz sympathized.

"Because, he was, just a few hours ago," Dubricus pointed out.

"He's just an outcast," Yanliz quipped. "We shouldn't be treating him like this."

"I understand what you're saying," Prynhawn returned, "but on the other hand, he did attack us for no reason."

"On the other hand," Brother Martin replied, "he was a rat. So if we can cure him of being a rat..."

"Once he's cured," Prynhawn agreed, "he will no longer be a threat."

"I agree," Valeria consented.

They thanked Jadale for her help, and soon they all arrived at The One-Eyed Cat.
"There's something I want to talk to all of you about," Valeria announced, as they all took a seat at their usual table. "I've overlooked this many times, but I think it would be negligent to not address it now, because it is endangering the party. I try to be open to everyone's ideas and opinions, but Vernim, you need to stop undermining me, patronizing me, and making rash decisions that hurt the party. If you can't agree to that, then I don't see a path forward for you in this group."

"My intention was never, ever, to patronize you! Ever!" Vernim insisted. "You are the party leader!"

"I am." Valeria acknowledged.

"Yes! Yes! I full-heartedly believe that." Vernim persisted. "Put me in a zone of truth and I'll say the same thing. I've said this many times. I would never try to patronize you."

"When have you said this?" Valeria asked. "You've said that I'm the party leader, many times, but you don't say 'you're the party leader,' you say, 'yOu'Re ThE pArTy LeAdeR vAlErIa, Do WhAtEvEr YoU wAnT!"

"That's right," Vernim affirmed.

"Oh, damn!" Dubricus muttered.

"That is clearly not sincere!" Valeria urged.

"That was not my intention." Vernim indicated. "I apologize. My intention was in sincerity. You are the party leader."

"You, for one," Valeria claimed, "have very many times, made your tone very patronizing and sarcastic."

"That was never my intention," Vernim insisted. "Never my intention."

"Also," Valeria accused, "in other circumstances you continue to undermine my authority, and to make rash decisions without telling anyone."

"Let me be clear," Vernim advocated. "I will not deny the fact that you are the party leader. I've never said otherwise. And my intention was never to undermine you. Never to patronize you. Ultimately, you are going to make the best decision for the party, and if that involves kicking me out, then I understand. I know my position in the party is not to be taken for granted, and I understand that if that's it, if this is the end of the road for me, then I appreciate the time. However, I would just like to say, I know I make a lot of rash decisions. It is clear that I still have much to learn, and we've had this discussion before. After I made my recent decision to look at a possible body — I thought it was Cob — I ran off without telling you. After that, I have never done anything without your explicit approval, even when people, some people... I make sure to talk to you before. I have learned from that, and I would never try to do anything without your explicit approval, unless it was my opinion that you were threatening the well-being of someone in the party, but you have never once gotten close to it..."

"Vernim," Valeria interjected, "Vernim."

"Can I finish?" Vernim asked.

"Go on," Valeria conceded.

"Thank you," Vernim continued. "Like I said, I am very, very sorry. I was not trying to patronize you. And I never will."

"For one," Valeria stated, "my goal here is not to kick you out of the party. My goal here is to get you to change your behavior. So you've said you will try not to continue to patronize me. Regarding the undermining, the most recent thing you've done, is when I was telling everyone to go left — even if you had argued with me about it, that would have been acceptable, if not preferable. But instead of arguing with me, you, addressing the rest of the party — and ignoring me, who was telling everybody to go left — said, 'lets go right. Everybody go right.' You said that. It's a direct quote...to everyone, after I had already said we were going left. So the most recent thing you have done, was not the thing with the body you thought might have been Cob. So that was you telling people not to listen to what I was saying. You have also done this before in previous circumstances — the same thing. And you have also told people things — this I wouldn't say was undermining me, because I hadn't said to do something else — but you have said things or done things rashly, without taking a step back and thinking things through that have impacted the party. One of these times killed someone."

Jess rose from her seat. "I'm going to get us something to eat and drink, is that okay?" and headed off to the kitchen.

"So I do not want to continue to ridicule you," Valeria specified. "My goal here is for you to change your behavior, because I want you to stay in the party, but I'm not going to risk you being in the party, if you're endangering people. There are times when you have decided on the spot that you were going to haggle with people, and you wound up costing us money, and — this was with Jocelyn specifically, — and also, you specifically said that Mouse offered a higher price. The people in the keep talk to each other. They're not completely isolated. I'm sure that Jocelyn and Mouse are both aware that you lied to Jocelyn."

"That's fair," Vernim accepted. "I can't disagree with that. I just thought we could do...I was trying to make a...venture that would hopefully allow the party to keep more, but I understand—"

"So," Valeria interrupted, "I have experience with this matter, and if you would like, I can show you proper haggling techniques, but that did not wind up helping us, and there could have been a better way to do it, and you did not consult anyone before doing it."

"That's fair," Vernim noted. "In the future should I state my intention that I'm going to try to go for a better deal?"

"In the future," Valeria advised, "you should let others, who have more experience, handle it."

"Okay," Vernim stated.

"So," Valeria concluded, "are you agreeing that you're going to try and change your behavior."

"Yes, I am" Vernim agreed. "Put it in writing. Anywhere. I'll try to change my ways."

"Okay," Valeria acknowledged. "Thank you."

"If there are any other transgressions," Vernim followed up, "you do what you need to do for the best...for the well being of the party. Everything I do, is hopefully for the well being of the party. I understand that it doesn't always end up that way. And I've said this before, perhaps I need to take a closer look as to where I'm going wrong, and perhaps what's influencing me to take the wrong path."

"Okay." Valeria stated. "I think that's settled."

Jess came back from the kitchen and everyone quickly focused on their food. Without much talk, they all went to their quarters for the night.

The next morning, they all woke much later than usual.

Vernim had a particularly hard time rising, having tossed and turned all night, unable to get a good rest. When he finally made it down to the tavern room, the others were all finishing their breakfast, but Brother Martin had just staggered in. Both clerics faces had an unusual pallor with a greenish tinge.

"You don't look well," Valeria commented.

"I felt fine last night," Brother Martin pointed out. "Did you get bit by the rats?" he asked Vernim.

"Yeah," Vernim recalled, "I was."

"What about you?" Valeria asked Philip and Prynhawn, "you were also bit by the rats. But you look fine."

"I feel pretty good," Philip indicated, and Prynhawn nodded his agreement.

"I mean," Vernim said, "we can continue. I can still cast spells like usual. I don't know why you're feeling bad, Brother Martin. If it were just me, I would assume it was divine retribution, or something."

"I can go on, but..." Brother Martin groaned.

"Do you feel sick?" Valeria asked. "Rats do tend to carry diseases. Maybe you were infected by some of them. Prynhawn, can you help them?"

Brother Martin cast detect poison and disease, and sensed the presence of disease coming from Vernim and himself.

"Valeria," Dubricus interrupted, "I can create fire in like three new ways now! So if you want to set anything on fire, I'm your guy."

Prynhawn used his lay on hands to remove the disease from Vernim and Brother Martin. The green immediately washed away from their faces and their natural color returned. They both felt much better, though still unrested.

It was much later than the time they usually left, and they still had much to do.

"To be honest with you I think, when all is said and done," Vernim mentioned, "I'd rather spend the time in self-reflection."

"We can be wimps," Yanliz insinuated, "and not do anything today, or we can not be wimps and still adventure today. Don't worry guys, I can't miss! We should still go adventuring."

"I don't want to get back too late," Prynhawn cautioned.

"You can see in the dark!" Yanliz reminded him.

The tavern doors opened, and coincidentally Neanne walked in. She was carrying a stack of thick discs wrapped in cloth. "Oh, you're still here!" she exclaimed, walking up to Vernim. "I'm so glad I caught you before you left."

"It's so good to see you," Vernim greeted. "How have you been?"

"Well," she replied, "when me and Chandry were making these, we both had a vision... well, more like a feeling, that Opal was watching over us. When we finished... we had a little extra, and after we ate it, we felt, well... rejuvenated. We think Opal would want you to have these." She lifted the cloth and revealed the three moon pies she was carrying.

"Neanne, you didn't have to do such a nice thing." Vernim commended. "That's so generous of you! From the bottom of all our hearts."

Dubricus leaned forward and sniffed at them.

"Again, Neanne, thank you so much." Vernim repeated. "Is there any way we can repay you?"

"No, no of course not," Neanne insisted. "Like I said, we think Opal would want you to have these. When we ate the leftovers, we felt rejuvenated. Maybe they would do the same for you on your adventures."

"I'll be sure to hold on to them," Vernim promised, placing them carefully in his pack, "and I'm sure we will all enjoy them very much. Thank you. Actually, it's very fortunate that we would run into you. We were wondering if we could purchase some cheese from you."

"Of course," she said. "What do you need?"

"A plethora of cheese," Yanliz muttered.

"Parmigiana, Swiss, Brie," Dubricus rattled. "We need some cheddar, sharp cheddar."

"We need any cheese," Vernim interjected. "Your cheapest cheese. It doesn't matter. Even cheese that you were going to throw away."

"Of course," Neanne replied. "Should I go get it and bring it here?"

"We can go get it," Vernim offered.

They all rose and left the tavern.

In the market, Dubricus said, "Hey guys, I want to test out a new spell today, but I need a diamond. Do you mind if I go see Mouse to check out the diamond?"

"Why don't you take Jess with you," Valeria suggested.

"I just found three new ways to create fire," Dubricus announced, "and boy, oh boy, will I!" and the two split off.

Neanne's brought out some adequate cheese.

"How much does it cost?" Vernim asked, with his pouch in hand. "How much do we owe you for it?"

She pushed his pouch aside, and shook her head.

"Neanne!" Vernim insisted. "I insist. It's the least I can do."

"The least you can do," Neanne replied, "is continue to avenge Opal's death."

"That I can do." Vernim vowed.

In the bank, Dubricus showed Mouse the diamond they had acquired in the Zombire's chamber.

Mouse said it would cost one gold coin to appraise it.

"I'll give you three!" Dubricus offered, slapping the coins on the counter.

Mouse looked closely at the yellow gem, with a puzzled expression. "This almost looks like topaz," the halfling muttered. He pulled a spy glass from under the counter and examined it closer. "Hold on a second," he said, stepping down from the counter and disappearing momentarily into the backroom. He emerged with a larger, more intricate spy glass.

Finally he said, "At first i thought this was a topaz, but this is a yellow diamond, and I would pay five hundred gold coins for it."

"Thank you," Dubricus said. "I had a feeling."

They left the bank, and Jess led them swiftly through the inner bailey and caught up with the rest of the group as they were approaching the prison tower.

"Valeria, I have a question for you," Dubricus blurted. "Mouse said this diamond we found in the Zombire lair is worth five hundred gold coins. Can I have this to use for one of my spells? It will allow me to cast chromatic orb, which is an incredibly powerful spell. It might help us with—"

"Why don't you just hold onto it for now," Valeria suggested, "and use it for as long as you need."

"Perfect!" Dubricus agreed. "I won't lose it."

They entered the open doors to the tower, and the smell was stronger than the previous night. Inside they saw Jocelyn scraping at some animal hide that was stretched across a rack.

They climbed the stairs, and Dubricus used prestidigitation to create the scent of cheese as they reached the upper level.

They soon heard rattling in the cage, and Lykos began to squirm around inside. They noted that he was still in his human form.

"Lykos," Vernim called, "how did you sleep last night?"

"Sleep? Sleep fine. Eat. Eat? Cheese?"

"I've got some cheese," Vernim replied, unlocking the cell and sliding the cheese into the cage. "Lykos, we'll continue to give you cheese until we can figure out how to cure you of your curse, but for now, just stay put. We'll be back tonight to give you more cheese."

"Okay."

Yanliz allowed Lykos to stretch and relieve himself.

"Do you remember if there's anything bad in the caves," Yanliz asked, "that you remember?"

"Shriekers. Shriekers in the caves."

"Anything else?" the ranger plied. "Was there anything in the water, where you ate?"

"Water."

Yanliz led him back into the cage and locked it. They locked the cell, and departed the keep.

Vernim and Brother Martin cast cure wounds on each other.

They made it to the trail in the woods leading to the cave valley when Vernim noticed something move quickly up ahead.

He alerted the group and they all looked around, but they did not see anything unusual.

They were on guard as they continued down the trail and eventually made their way to the open valley. From there, they followed the stream to the cave fungus filled cave.

They followed the path beyond the fungus garden where they had fought the shriekers and giant rats, until they reached a low dark passage near the back of the room. The curved chamber stunk of damp fur, offal, and rotting meat. Scattered among the mushrooms were sticks, bones, dried grass, and scraps of fur.

The tunnel was less than three feet high.

"Philip," Valeria suggested, "do you want to check it out?"

"Sure," Philip replied. "I'd be happy to. Smells really bad."

With a light rock in hand, Philip ducked down and entered the small tunnel. Inside, he found a well-chewed body lying on the floor. It looked humanoid, although it was too far-gone for him to be certain.

"On, no!" Philip called. "There's a well-chewed body in here!"

"Medium chewed?" Dubricus asked. "Medium-rare chewed?"

"No," Philip replied. "It's well-chewed!"

"Do you want to come out?" Brother Martin asked.

"No," the halfling replied. "I'm okay. It's a dead end, and there doesn't seem to be anything in here."

Yanliz crawled in and looked for his arrows, but confirmed there was nothing there. He noted that the space looked pretty barren for a rats nest.

Determining that it was a dead end, Valeria suggested they investigate the last fungus filled cave to the north.

Since Brother Martin had already determined the previous day that he could not detect any poison as far as he could see, they advanced into the cave. It was mushrooms, toadstools, mosses, and lichen.

They moved to the back part of the room, which was shielded from their view by a rough projection in the wall, forming a kind of alcove.

With Prynhawn and Philip in the lead, they turned the corner and a perfectly spherical creature, about ten feet in diameter, floated in mid-air. A great toothy maw filled the lower half of the floating head. Above this was a single eye, fully a foot across, staring fixedly at them. Ten short tentacles, each ending in an eye, moved aimlessly atop the creature’s body as it began to drift toward them.

Yanliz eagerly drew his bow, viewing what — for all intents and purposes — resembled a giant bulls-eye. Lawrence prepared scorching ray, waiting for any signs of hostility. Prynhawn cast searing smite and swung his flaming blade and slashed at the giant sphere. His blade slashed into the giant eye and the sphere exploded like a balloon.

Everyone, except for Yanliz — who was too far away — felt the toxic air burst onto them. Lawrence hurled three rays of fire at the remnants of the gas spore. Though Philip, Jess, Vernim, and Brother Martin managed to avoid breathing in the majority of the spores billowing at them, they were all left coughing and gagging.

Prynhawn, Valeria, Dubricus, and Lawrence felt a burning inside their lungs that they could not clear.

"I have an idea," Dubricus wheezed. "Let's go home!"

Brother Martin," Valeria croaked, "Can you tell if we're poisoned or diseased?"

"Brother Martin cast detect poison and disease, and could sense the disease infecting his four companions.

"We need to get out of here," Dubricus pleaded from his hands and knees. "We're all poisoned and dying!"

"Wait," Valeria halted. "Prynhawn can cure two peoples' disease, and Vernim can cure two peoples' disease, and we still have plenty of healing."

Vernim cast lesser restoration on Lawrence and Dubricus, and Prynhawn used his lay on hands to cure the disease inflicting Valeria and himself.

Brother Martin used preserve life to heal Dubricus, Vernim, and Lawrence. Then Valeria cast cure wounds on Prynhawn and Dubricus, Vernim cast cure wounds on himself, and Brother Martin cast cure wounds on Valeria.

Dubricus rose, and they all felt much better.

Valeria and Vernim investigated the area, and Vernim found a chain mail clad skeleton lying under the fungus. Vernim crushed its skull with his warhammer, and noted that the armor appeared to be in good shape considering how long it must have been here. Jess and Vernim searched the body. Brother Martin wrapped up the chain mail and stuffed it into his pack for cleaning. Jess didn't find anything else of value, but Dubricus packed the boots into his pack.

They returned to the pool.

They wanted to see how deep the pool was.

"I have some rope," Jess reminded them.

Valeria and Jess tied a length of Jess' rope around Yanliz, while Yanliz tied another length of rope to a rock. Dubricus cast light on the rock, and Yanliz lowered it into the pool, while Prynhawn and Vernim held onto the rope around the ranger's waist.

The rock quickly dimmed and the light disappeared soon after. After twenty feet the rope became slack. They retrieved their rope, and decided not to investigate the pool any further.

Having cleared out the last cave on the valley level, Valeria determined that the only viable options were to return to the keep, or explore the cave above the kobold cave, from where they had been spied upon the previous day.

The group largely deferred to Valeria and they decided to explore the cave.

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