Faith had no idea what time it was, but she awoke when she heard a sharp ping. It was coming from the crystal. She sat up and looked around. Twila, sitting cross-legged on the other side of the crystal had looked up sharply too.
Faith caught the glimpse of a shadow in the darkness and suddenly a purple streak of light hit the crystal with a loud ping, similar to the noise that woke her up.
"Intruders! Cultists!" shouted Twila who had jumped to her feet, weapons in hand. "Wake up!"
Faith also jumped up and ran to the shadowy area. Without knowing what was there, she threw a punch followed by another then a quick kick. She connected with a satisfying thud and heard a man's voice grunt in pain. She was about to swing again when the red robed man fell over. Twila's rapier had finished him off.
"There's more," she shouted, "Behind you, Malut!"
Malut and Thysmac had jumped forward to help but now there were two red robed cultists behind them. They must have come through the door. Malut swung in a circle and knocked both of the men down. Thysmac pointed his wand and a small flame shot out, over and over, hitting the cultists and lighting their clothes with small flames. They crumpled to the floor. More cultists were coming in just as fast as they dealt with the ones who were already in. Faith thought she heard Malut chuckle as his greataxe made contact with another cultist. His eyes were alight with excitement and he was looking for another fight.
Thysmac took a swipe from a robed cultist swinging a dagger. Blood dripped from a slash across his chest. He fired back at the cultist with a beam of purple light from his hands followed by more flames from the wand and the man fell. Thysmac leaned against a stack of boxes, weakened, but continued to fight.
"Kal, where are you? We need healing!" he called out.
Two more cultists in white robes started shooting spells at the crystal from the far corner of the room. Twila headed for one while Faith started beating on the other. In the split second she had to make an impression, she noticed that the man's eyes were glazed over and he didn't really seem to respond normally. It was like he was in a trance. A series of punches to the head followed with a flying kick sent him reeling backwards and she didn't have time to think about it anymore.
A unfamiliar voice from the door to the front room shrieked, "You weren't supposed to be here! No one was supposed to be here tonight!"
Thysmac aimed his wand but there was no one there anymore. Whoever owned the voice had left. Faith ran into the front room to find Kalvenor lying on the floor unconscious.
"Kalvenor needs help! He's unconscious. What do we do?" Faith called to the others.
"Leave him, he can handle himself," smirked Malut. "He doesn't need us."
"Not helpful," replied Twila with a frown. "We need a healer."
The front door was wide open and the weak light of early dawn shone into the room. The intruders must have had a key, Faith thought. Malut locked that door when they came in and it wasn't broken or forced.
They heard footsteps in the room with the crystal. Turning, they saw a large sahuagin headed for the crystal with a spear. Thysmac started alternating shooting swirling purple beams of light from his hands and fire from his wand as Faith and Malut charged the beast. The beast stopped moving towards the crystal when the first magic missles hit it and with a few swings of his greataxe, Malut killed the fishman before Faith even had a chance to strike.
Twila stuck her head in the door and said, "I"m going for help, he's not getting better."
Faith went over to Kal to see what she could do... which wasn't much. Malut started hauling bodies out the front door. Thysmac checked the bodies for beltbags and turned out their pockets.
"Are you really stealing off the dead?" asked Faith in disgust.
"It's called looting and it's an accepted practice," Thysmac said easily. "If you kill an enemy, you are entitled to take what is his. Look! That big sahuagin dropped a small chest. I wonder where he was carrying that.... well, never mind. Let's see what's in it."
Thysmac opened the chest and went through it. He found money, gems and some weapons. He quickly stacked what he found into five separate piles inside the chest. As Malut walked back through, Thysmac indicated a pile and Malut nodded and without a word, dropped the items into his bag. Thysmac did the same with his items. Faith felt a little odd about it, but she glanced at Thysmac and he nodded at the chest. Quickly she scooped the coins, gems and a small dagger into her bag, then went back to check on Kal.
He looked really pale.
"He's not looking good, can you guys do anything at all?" Faith pleaded with them.
Just then Twila returned with Baldar. He stopped to look at the bodies piled outside the door but Twila tugged his arm.
"It's urgent, Kalvenor is hurt badly," she insisted.
Baldar stepped in and first glanced through the door to be sure the crystal was safe. Seeing it still spinning slowly in place, intact, he turned his attention to Kal.
"Got here just in time," he said and then with his right hand, he touched the wristband or bracer he was wearing on his left arm, then touched Kal on the shoulder.
Kalvenor's eyes flew open, he coughed and sat up.
"That was a close one, mate," said Baldar the Bold. "I've only been able to give you aid, some temporary health to get you back on your feet. You'll need to heal yourself."
Kal, looking pale, nodded and murmured some unintelligible words, crossed his hands in front of his chest than into a wide arc over his head. Then he did it again. After a few more passes, he was looking back to his old self.
"Thank you, Baldar," he said. "Three of the cultists got the drop on me and had me down before I could attack. Sorry about that."
"Now aren't you glad I insisted on a team?" said Baldar with a wink.
"I'm going to rest," said Kal stiffly and started to leave.
"Wait for your payment, Kal," called Baldar.
"I don't need your junk, thanks anyway" groused Kal over his shoulder as he left.
"Thysmac needs healing," Faith called out but Kal never looked back. Thysmac coughed and held a hand to his wound, but waved his other hand in a dismissive gesture.
"I'll heal at the tavern, I'm not in any danger," Thysmac said.
"Nearly morning and I'm up already, so I'll take over watch from you four. You did well tonight! Never seen such a large group of 'em try to attack the crystal... in any case, I have a reward for you."
He picked up a crate from the corner and handed them each a set of leather cuffs that looked like the set he was wearing.
"These are bracers of aid. They contain a spell which gives temporary health to yourself or a friend. You can use them anytime but they are especially good for reviving people who are incapacitated. Only one spell per rest, so use them wisely."
They each took a set of bracers and strapped them on to their wrists. Faith immediately touched hers, then touched Thysmac and his wound stopped bleeding. He did the same with his bracer and the color came back to his face. Thysmac tapped Twila's arm, then pointed to the bits of loot he'd set aside for her in the chest. She quickly walked over and scooped whatever was left into her bag. She eyed the last small pile sitting there.
"Can we take Kal's loot too?" she asked Thysmac quietly.
He shook his head.
"Nope, he has to give it to you or it stays here. Union rules," he answered.
When he walked away, Twila tried to casually pick up the few things left for Kal, but they wouldn't budge. Some odd magic she figured, so she left the pile alone.
"Baldar," said Faith, "I think we were set up. One of the cultists who got away yelled at us before he left. He said we weren't supposed to be here, that no one was supposed to be here. I think maybe the crypt noises were a decoy to try and distract the villagers."
"You might be right, lass. I'll pass that on to the mayor and the council today. Very interesting. Thanks again for your work, you did well. I'll mention it to your trainers too." Baldar waved them out into the dark, cool morning air where as always the snow was lightly falling. "Without the four of you, it would be a lot colder out here today!"
With that, he shut the door of the storeroom. Glancing across the square, they saw a warm glow light up the cracks around the door of the Wavecrest and without a word, they headed through the light snow toward the welcoming lights.