Azoloth opened his eyes, feeling something cool pressing to his face, and he felt the familiar weight of Crimson at his side. Blinking several times, his eyes focused on the face of Y’smir smiling down to him. She is rather beautiful, in an unconventionally cute way, he thought to himself as he smiled. He realized his head rested in her lap and he tried to raise it. He regretted that decision at once, for as soon as his head lift the world began to spin. Her surprisingly strong hands quickly pressed him back down.

“Don’t try to rise, you took a nasty blow to the head when the bear threw you,” She said in that musical voice. Opening his eyes once the world stabilized, he saw her bringing a wash cloth up and rubbing the cool liquid until she dipped it in across his forehead. She spoke again as she tended to him. “That was a brave and foolish thing you did to face the bear alone.” 

“Didn’t have much of a choice,” He replied, his voice rather rough as he spoke. Looking around, he noticed it was dark out, the sun having set. That meant he had been out for most of the day, his addled brain told him.

“True enough, well Trinsic helped me set your shoulder while you were out, and then fetched water for me so I could tend to your wounds. All in all you are rather lucky, few people face an undead bear in single combat and live to tell the tale. With the poultice I applied to your shoulder and the curative waters for your head after a good night’s sleep, you will be good as new.”

“But what happened with the…” Azoloth began before Y’smir quietly brushed her hand down over his face, and a wave of exhaustion wash over him. His words cut off by a yawn and his eyes closed.

Y’smir stayed with Azoloth through the night. She did her best to stay awake the whole night, but eventually she too dozed off, his head in her lap and her back against a rather comfortable tree. Crimson who slept next to Azoloth most of the day was awake though. Only he, Stravos, and Trinsic’s horse Hamilton were awake when the small clearing they slept in filled with silvery moonlight. All three adventurers rested easier as that silvery light touched them.

Morning came with the howl of wind and storm, yet no rain fell from the heavens. Azoloth woke with a start and sat bolt upright, then braced himself, expecting a wave of nausea to overtake him. When that did not happen, he lifted his hand to his head, touching it. There was no pain. It seemed whatever Y’smir had done while he had been sleeping had healed his body. He looked around. Where was Y’smir he wondered? In fact, where was anyone? He was still in the clearing, yet there was no sight of Y’smir, Trinsic, or Stravos. Only Crimson remained with him, the large war shepherd wagging his tail. Then he jumped up and placed his paws on Azoloth’s chest, licking his face. Azoloth laughed and stroked his head, “that’s a good boy”

After petting Crimson for a moment, he pushed the canine aside and pushed himself to his feet, staggering under the force of the wind as it rushed through the tree’s. He knelt down to where his equipment had been tucked against the tree, he pulled on his gambeson, grabbed his sword belt, and picked up his shield. As soon as he had the shield in hand, the wind died down around him. Surprised, he looked down to the shield. The bear’s claws had not damaged the symbol of the closed eye on the shield, but the eye was now half open. Crimson let out a happy bark, pleased the wind had died down around them.

Azoloth shook his head and couldn’t help but wonder if this was some fever fueled dream, and he was actually still back cradled in Y’smir’s lap being nursed back to health. The thought made him smile, but he knew he could not dwell on thoughts like that. If this were real or not did not matter, he could not take the chance it was a dream. Also, he wondered, shouldn’t he wake up if he realized he was dreaming?

Azoloth looked around the campsite and saw a path leading off into the woodlands. Then he looked to Crimson “any idea where they are boy?” he asked. Crimson sniffed at the ground for a minute, then moved over next to the trail leading into the woods. With no better idea where to go, he could not stand the thought of inaction while his friends might be in grave danger. He set off with Crimson into the woods.

Azoloth had been walking for maybe 15 minutes and the surrounding air grew darker. The wind, while it did not touch him, blew in a large circle around him with the path he was on leading to the epicenter. In the darkness he heard giggles and laughter. “Show yourselves!” He shouted into the darkness, yet he was only greeted by further giggles. Crimson responded by letting a low growl escape his lips.

Minutes later, Azoloth stepped into a grove. He was rightfully startled as the darkness hidden it from him. Throughout the grove lanterns shaped like teardrops hung from the tree’s, within them small orbs of light flitted back and forth seeking escape. In the center of the grove was a large tree, and Trinsic was bound to it. Y’smir stood beside him, seeming to argue with a tall woman with a noble bearing, and long black hair. 

Azoloth’s entry was noticed, and the woman turned her face to him. The red lips turned up into a smile as she looked at him with eyes that which were black with flecks of light in them, like the night sky. Her skin was pale, and she was as lithe as Y’smir but much taller standing on par with Azoloth’s 6 foot frame. “Oh… our last guest has arrived. We can begin the festivities,” she said, her voice sensual and deadly.

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