Part 15: Interlude 4Interlude
Athtar pushes open the door to the Swan and lets the rest of the party file through before pulling the door shut behind him. Deepmind then drops from his back, landing on her good leg and limping after the others. They fall into chairs, couches, or spots on rugs as the first opportunity allows, groaning and gasping as they go.
Surveying the ragged band, the relatively uninjured knight grimaces and lets his gaze drop.
"Does anyone still require a healing potion?" Urist mumbles from the floor, shifting his weight to expose a few pockets. "Anything critical?"
Deepmind tests the bite in her calf and winces. "Just the salve will do, thanks."
"Heeey," croons Aria from the overstuffed lounger she sprawls on. She waves her own bandaged leg in the air, carefully. "We can be hobble-buddies! Matching bandages!"
Minar yanks a thin stone splinter from his back, scowling at the crusted red on it. He tosses the stone and reaches for a warm glass of standing water on the arm-rest of his chair. "That damn rune better be worth it."
Urk lifts her head to look in Minar's direction. She reaches into her pack, and a few moments later a wintry chill rolls over Minar's glass, cooling the water down. He takes a sip, then shrugs. "Okay, not bad."
"URK HOLD ON TO RUNE FOR NOW, FOR SAFETY," she explains. "IF ANYONE WANT USE ICE RUNE THOUGH, JUST ASK URK - RUNE BELONG TO WHOLE PARTY."
"We'll make a fortune in the food preservation business," Aria quips with a wide smile. She notices Athtar, still standing sentry by the door. "What's the deal, big A?"
Athtar looks up, clearly uncomfortable. "We should... rest while we can. Braxton and Mariam expect us at their wedding tomorrow."
Urist groans as he struggles to his feet, withdrawing a jar of a thick green paste and leaving it on a low table. "Help yourselves to salve should you need to redress a wound in the night. Just be sparing if you can, we're terribly low on roc beak this far West."
Aria takes a moment to whisper to Deepmind as they ascend the stairs. "Should somebody maybe talk to...?"
The hyrrinx shakes her head. "Nah, he just needs a moment. Elves can get melodramatic, you know?"
At the top of the landing, Urk begins to sway, clutching her head. "SWIFTNESS POTION NOT LIKE ALTITUDE CHANGES."
"Ah, yes," explains Urist. "Side-effect of the expanded senses, I'm afraid. The inner ear doesn't-"
"URK OKAY WITHOUT DETAILED EXPLANATION," she finishes, instead wandering to the window looking out over the village. "URK GOING TO TAKE A MINUTE TO LET WORLD SETTLE DOWN. SEE EVERYONE IN MORNING."
"Don't stay up too late!" Aria calls from the door of the shared room. "You don't want to fall asleep in the middle of the ceremony!"
Urk snorts, and listens (or can't help but hear) to the rest of the party making their way to bed. She can still hear them through the doors, their muttered words to each other, their scrapes and bumps, somehow it feels like almost their thoughts.
She switches her attention to the window. Outside, Dragonholt slumbers under moonlight, and after a week or so the sight feels familiar to Urk. But the eagle-eyed vision the potion gives her casts the familiar in new and uncomfortable light. It feels like a puzzle she's missing out on, but all the pieces are in front of her. Or is that just the potion talking? How does Urist manage being as coherent as he is while on this stuff all the time?
Her eyes light on a distant figure - barely a pinprick - riding out of the Eventide forest, taking the long way around the main road and toward the manor. Whoever they are, they're cloaked heavily and hunched in the saddle, as though ducking a few inches makes a difference on horseback. She watches the rider until he disappears behind the Fairfaxes' home.
Urk reaches around in her pack and finds the whorled seashell Penny gave her earlier in the day. She gently brushes one hand over the cool, smooth surface and finds some peace from the activity.
After a few more minutes of thought, she snaps her fingers in realization.
She replaces the shell and withdraws the frost rune, and goes looking for Sapphire's stash of fruit juice.
Everyone regains half their maximum stamina