I woke up in bed, sharing a room with a half-dozen other injured people. The priests charged with my care worshiped a god named Sundara, whom I’d never heard of before. Kaius was there when I woke up and told me that some of the red-robed priests came across them after they stumbled out of the dungeon with the odd, disappearing rooms. The rest came to visit in the following days while I recuperated. They had managed to fend off the dire wolf and get me out in one piece, which I was very grateful for, but Greg and Barry never once offered any apologies for the situation.
“Did you guys find out where we are?” I asked, slipping on my sword belt.
“Troubeck,” said Kaius, “on the eastern shore of the Janko sea.”
“And no one has ever heard of the Great Savannah,” said Lluc, and threw up his arms in frustration.
Greg was sitting on a stool in the corner of the room, flipping through a massive book opened up on his lap. “I told you before, Lluc, this isn’t a plane any of us has been to. I don’t think any of us were from the same plane to begin with. That dungeon was a planar crossroads.”
He was too distracted with his studying to see the withering look Lluc shot him in response. “Damn wizard probably drew us all in with another failed spell,” he muttered to himself.
“Did any of your wizard friends in the Collective recognize any of the names we gave you?” asked Barry, wistfully.
“None,” said Greg. He closed his book and looked Barry in the eyes. “They did mention that they have an opening in their chapter here. Their last applicant disappeared while on his first errand. If I can gain access to the guild and their resources, we might be able to discover a way home.”
“I doubt that a bunch of scholars in a backwater village like this would have the information we need to get home,” said Lluc with a snort. “This is the kind of place you get banished to for insulting a prince.”
“They have chapters in larger cities as well. There is one in the regional capital to the south—Belleneau they called it—that I’m sure would have a powerful mage at their head.”
“What did they ask for in return for membership?” asked Kaius. “Gold, I assume.”
“At first, yes,” Greg replied. “But they said we could forgo the cost if we find out what happened to the previous applicant and locate what he was looking for.”
“What was he looking for?” I asked. I finished packing my things and shouldered my backpack.
“Grave moss,” said Greg. “It shouldn’t be too difficult to find. They even recommended a cemetery south of town.”
I thanked the priests for their care on the way out of the temple. They were very grateful for the help Kaius had given them with some of their visitors, and most of them met us at the door to give us a proper sending-off. Their head priest said to remember the temple if we ever needed help in the future, and that they had members in most of the cities and towns of Leurbost.
Barry showed me the money changer who doubled as the town’s banker. I exchanged most of my coin for the region’s currency, then we met up with the others outside of the inn they were staying in.
“Kiokri,” said Greg, “I forgot to mention something.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“The Collective’s leader here said there is a druid’s grove a few days northeast of town.”
“Might be worth looking into. The elders of my order are very wise. I’m sure the druids of this world are as well. Maybe we can pay them a visit after we get back to town.”
Greg nodded in agreement.
We left town on the road headed south. I foraged as best as I could while staying close to the road to keep from losing the others. I could recognize some of the plants we came across. Blueberries and apple trees were very abundant in the area. A lot of what I came across was foreign to me. I took some samples and tasted a few, but I was reluctant to try too much. The last thing I needed was another stint in a sickbed.
The animals and trees looked mostly the same as the ones back home. There were slight variations in color—the foxes here had stretches of grey fur across the back instead of red, for instance—but nothing looked so different that I couldn’t identify it. That was almost as surprising as when I found out the residents of Troubeck all spoke common. This place was so similar to home, with small variations.
We were packing up camp on our second day on the road when Barry came back from his morning scouting. “There’s an old chapel up ahead. There’s a path leading from the main road up to it. Looks creepy,” he said with a shudder.
Kaius gave him a knowing smile. “You don’t need to fear the dead. Pelor will watch over us.”
“Who?” asked Barry.
“His god, halfling,” said Lluc. He handed Barry his pack and we all started up the path to the chapel.
Barry wasn’t wrong. The chapel did have a very eerie feel to it. The hairs on the back of my neck stuck up when I pushed the gate open into the yard. Kaius and Lluc led the way into the chapel through the old, intricately carved doors. I didn’t recognize any of what I could only assume were holy symbols decorating the wood.
The inside was barren. It seemed that the clerics must have removed most of valuables when the abandoned the premises. Time had worn down what they left behind. Many of the benches in the room were crumbling. The wooden altar that stood on the dais at the far end of the room had been dismantled into several pieces, its contents removed. The banners that hung around the outside were tattered and so discolored that it was impossible to make out any images they had bared.
“It looks like the mage passed through here,” said Greg. He was reading runes inscribed into the stone wall next to a door behind the altar.
“What do the runes say?” I asked. The symbols glowed, shifting between a light blue and deep purple.
“The cemetery and main abbey grounds are through the catacombs beyond this door.”
Barry shifted uneasily from one foot to the other as Lluc crossed the dais and walked up to the door. “I don’t like the way this place feels,” said the Halfling.
The hinges groaned as Lluc shouldered the door open. We all stood in a half-circle staring into the darkness after he stepped back. That same chill I felt in the yard outside started to crawl up my spine again. The strong, stale smell from the catacombs wafted out from inside. Greg lit a torch and nodded to Lluc, who drew his longsword and led the way into the black.
The rest of us followed, weapons ready.