In the early morning when I woke up, it was overcast. I re-organized my pack and I ate breakfast, then trekked back to the cave entrance.
As I retraced my steps through the cave I encountered the giant cube again. Keeping my distance and shot three arrows into it. The fourth arrow hit the wall behind the slowly melting cube because the previous arrow seemed to have turned it into a viscous puddle. After careful inspection, the three arrows that pierced the cube had started to decompose. Feeling confident, I continued down the passage and noticed a closed door to my right. All was quiet and, as I slowly opened the door, I saw a sleeping orc on the floor, as well as an unconscious girl in rough shape chained to a wall in the corner. There was a crappy table with random items strewn upon it.
Assuming the situation was just as it seemed, I decided on help. I fully drew my sword and approached the sleeping orc. Overly focused on heroics, I didn’t notice the stool at my feet, knocking it over with a loud clatter. The echoing sound instantly woke the orc and he began to rise, but before he knew what was happening, I stabbed him through the chest. He collapsed back down and remained motionless, bleeding on his makeshift bedding pile.
I turned my attention to the girl and noticed her hands were shackled to a rusty chain. There was a key laying on top of the table, along with a sack and filthy backpack. I helped the girl out of her shackles. She was barely conscious and mumbling quietly. On the floor near her was a broken glass vial and some dried vomit. I tried to explain to her that she was now safe but it didn’t seem to be registering. She did take a sip of water, which was promising.
I propped her up against the wall and searched the other items on the table. The sack seemed quite heavy considering it’s size. Inside was an intricate and fancy wooden box with a hinged lid. Inside the box was individual padding for 7 vials but only 5 remained, each containing similar chunky greenish brown liquids. The sack was now empty but still weighed the same as before, which was curious.
It looked like the broken vial on the floor was part of this collection. The wooden box also contained a note written in a child’s hand. It read:
Instructions For Stupids
– catch human and force human to drink potion
– wait 7 days
– if human become zombie release zombie in a town
– if no zombie, kill human, catch another human, try again
– get special reward for each zombie you release
The fancy “S” sign-off at the bottom had a lavish nautical feel to it.
Is she going to turn into a zombie? How long it it take? Is the transformation slow? Did she vomit the vial’s contents up in time? She didn’t seem to have any answers, nor did she know exactly how long she was down here, in the constant darkness. Her guess was a few days.
I put the box of vials back in the sack and placed everything in my pack. The backpack contained nothing of value, just random junk belonging to the orc. The girl was wearing rags but I found leather pants and a vest that looked like it belonged to her in the orc’s bedding pile. They smelled terrible and were now covered in fresh blood. After a few more sips of water, she seemed to perk up a little. I helped her into the filthy leather pants and vest and we began making our way out of the tunnels. She needed a lot of support and our movement was sluggish.
As we were walking, she kept asking for her father. I tried to delay answering but her persistence got me to tell her about the bruised up dead fella I found the previous day. She made me take her to the place I found him and I carried him out of the caves for a proper burial. Surprisingly she seemed relieved that he was dead and spit on his body with tears in her eyes as we left him propped up by a boulder and headed back to my camp.
She ate some food and seemed to have a bit more energy now that we were in the fresh summer air. Her name was Isadora. As we walked back to camp she told me about her asshole father with whom she spent her entire 14 years of life travelling from city to city, making a shady living. She always hated it but it was the only life she knew. Her father taught her to pickpocket and burgle and they found themselves running from authorities and other criminals on the regular.
Back at camp, she instantly fell asleep under a tree. I was heading off to hunt when a lady centaur came out of the forest and asked a whole bunch of questions about us and why we were in her forest and why the sleeping girl looked so beat up. After hearing my account she told me to fetch some berries from a nearby bush, which I did. She then magicked the berries using a language I’ve heard Rick use in the past. She handed them to me telling me about their healing powers and ability to provide sustenance. She departed with a warning to stop snooping around her forest, but not before telling me that the the sack I found in the tunnels was magical.
I tested the sack out by putting various objects into it trying to see how much it would hold. It was that it maintained it’s weight no matter how full or empty it was. Also, I had to rummage around it blindly to find it’s contents because items placed inside were strangely obscured until I could get my hands on them. I even tried shoving my head into the sack but quickly realized that there was no air in there.
I put all my heavy stuff in the sack and put the sack into my backpack. I’ve never felt so light while travelling through a forest. It was wonderful and amazing.
When she woke, Isadora started a fire and I trekked off into the forest to hunt, bringing back a wild boar after a few hours. We ate and talked and decided to head back to my cabin first thing in the morning. She was both excited to be rid of her father and very scared about what the future held. Also, she was quite flippant about the possibility of turning into a zombie in the next few days, but I could tell that this was her way of hiding her absolute terror of the possibility. I slept high up a tree in my hammock while she slept on the ground below. No reason.
August 20, 1136, 8 AM
After what seemed to be a good sleep, Isadora was not a zombie when I woke. We packed up camp and, on a whim, explored the caves once more at Isadora’s insistance. I introduced her to the myconid family and asked a bunch of questions about the possibility of curing Isadora if she were to become a zombie. They told us that they could re-animate the dead but only as mindless puppet-servants and only for a short while. It was tough to know what they meant by “a short while” because they didn’t seem to have any concept of time.
The rest of the cave proved uniteresting so we started the 2 day journey back to Rick’s… no… my cabin. Isadora’s mood was quite optimistic at the prospect of having a cabin of her own, even though I didn’t make any mention of giving my cabin to her. It was a two day trip and nothing too eventful happened, except for me finally being able to magic the berries like the centaur did, after countless failed attempts, much to Isadora’s amusement.
We arrived at my cabin late in the evening of August 22.