Kaius knelt down next to Lluc, whispered a prayer to his god, then touched Lluc’s slumped body. A light glow settled over him, and he groaned as he rolled onto his back. He tried to sit up, but ultimately collapsed back down to the ground. His armor clanged against the stone floor.
“I feel like I just pulled a wagon twenty miles,” said Lluc. He held a shaky hand up in front of him for a moment before letting it fall. “That priest did something to me.”
“I think it was his hammer,” I said. “Did you see the black smoke rising from it? It looked evil.”
“We should get moving,” Kaius said. We all agreed, and Kaius helped Lluc struggle to his feet. Lluc was obviously weakened from the hammer’s blow. He could barely lift his legs when he started walking, and hunched shoulders looked odd on his normally imposing figure. By the time we found our way out of the catacombs, he was holding himself up by holding the stone walls. He turned his back to the wall and leaned up against it, sinking down to the floor. He hung his head between his knees.
“This is bad,” Kaius whispered to me. I nodded. Lluc would never make it back to Troubeck in his state.
“Why don’t we hole up here for the night,” suggested Greg. “The cemetery is right outside, and the abbey still has a few buildings standing. We can sleep with a roof over our heads at least. And I can take a look around for grave moss while Lluc recovers.”
I took a peek at the sky outside. Grey clouds were rolling in. “I think you’re right, Greg. We can let Lluc heal up for a few days. I can take a look around and forage us up some food. We passed some water that looked good for fishing, and I’ve got a net with me.”
Barry’s stomach growled audibly and his cheeks colored when we all looked at him. “What?” he asked.
“Well that settles it,” Kaius said. “Greg, Barry, try and find us the ruin with the fewest holes in its roof.” He put a hand on my shoulder. “See if you can find anything edible around here. We’ll have to stretch our rations. I’m not sure Lluc will heal quickly.”
We both turned to look at Lluc. His head was still down, looking at the ground between his legs.
Lluc laid in his bed all of the following day. The steady rain kept the rest of us indoors. Barry had taken to throwing rocks at the clay urns inside of one of the abbey’s buildings until Kaius put a stop to it, and Greg buried himself in his notes. I was itching for fresh air and the peace of the forest, so I set off for a walk after seeing to Lluc’s afternoon meal.
The rain had slowed to more of a mist than a drizzle. The smell of it was still heavy on the air though. It felt good on my skin, almost cleansing. The flora around the abbey proved to be very welcoming. I quickly filled up a basket of blueberries and popped them in my mouth while I tried my luck throwing my net in a river nearby. They were perfectly ripe and sweet.
I found a lemon tree on the way back to the abbey. I knew Barry would appreciate the flavor for the trout I had caught. It turned out the halfling was an accomplished cook, but he complained constantly about our lack of spices, herbs, or citrus to work with. This would make his day.
That night we ate better than any of us had since winding up in Troubeck. Barry served up a delicious meal of grilled trout with lemon butter that improved even Lluc’s mood after all the rain. Lluc still could only barely move. He didn’t improve the next day. Or the day after that.
On our fourth morning in the abbey, while Kaius was meditating on the floor of the remains of small, one room home we had been sharing, Lluc walked in through the door. He had a huge grin on his face. “Good morning,” he said, and grabbing a handful of blueberries from the bowl set near the door. He threw one up in the air and caught it in his mouth.
“Well, I see you’re feeling better,” I said. I was relieved to see him up and walking again, and it was unbelievable how much better he looked. “How are you feeling?”
“I feel like I could wrestle a bull into submission,” he said, and flexed his arm to show me.
“Good, then you can help us pack,” I said. We walked out into the abbey’s courtyard to find Barry and Greg already breaking camp. None of us had much with us—save for what we were wearing when we woke in the ever-shifting dungeon that brought us to Troubeck—so we were on the road shortly after Lluc finished downing the bowl of blueberries by upending it into his mouth. Barry stifled a laugh when he noticed Lluc’s face was stained from the juice.
The trip back to Troubeck was uneventful, but the peace was welcome after our ordeal with the priest. Lluc was back to his old self again, and Greg was content with the bags of grave moss he had managed to harvest. I hadn’t felt as content as I did that day since I was first welcomed into my druid grove back home. I was excited to explore this new world. And I enjoyed the company.