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After the goblin attack, Seelah and Seoni agreed they needed a bit of a break. The locals were clamoring to thank them for their defense of the town, and it actually seemed as though they had time to see what Sandpoint had to offer.

Seoni decided to take her acolyte Amy to the Academy, though she wondered why Buck was tagging along. She’d have to keep a close eye on him in case his fingers got sticky.

Seelah headed to the woods. Before she could really relax, she wanted to do one final sweep for enemies.

Upon their arrival at the Academy, they noticed a suspicious figure lurking about. As Seoni went to question him, he attacked. Thankfully she had her force missile spell prepared just in case. She easily took down the man who appeared to be a mercenary and had enough power left to recharge her spell.

She gestured to Amy to follow her. “Let’s see if we can find any new and interesting spells, shall we?”

Amy glanced at the fallen mercenary, but followed Seoni inside without a word.

As Seoni began rifling through scrolls, Amy asked, “Can you just take whatever you want?”

“Yes and no. You can look at whatever spells you like, but you can only take the ones you’re powerful enough to cast. Don’t worry, they have extra copies of each spell.” She opened a scroll and showed it to Amy. “Here’s another freeze spell. You’re not strong enough to cast it by yourself, but I’ll hold onto it until you are.”

Seoni turned from the scrolls and found herself facing a Sage. She bowed in reverence and the Sage inclined her head.

“Are you finding the knowledge you seek?” the Sage asked.

“We often don’t know what we are seeking until we find it,” Seoni replied.

The Sage seemed to like this answer. “Perhaps I can assist you.”

“I welcome the company.” She looked over at Amy, who was holding a healing spell. “Unfortunately,” she told her acolyte, “our magic can’t work divine spells.”

Amy put the scroll back and started to pick up another. She yelped and pulled her hand from the spell. Intrigued, Seoni touched the parchment. Nothing happened. She unrolled the scroll.

“Ah, a fire spell. This could be useful.”

As she added the spell to her collection, the Sage said, “You must excuse me. I will rejoin you later.”

Seoni shrugged at Amy as the Sage walked away. Seoni found another fire spell, but left it where it was. Then a sound from the rafters caught her attention.

“What is that?” Amy asked.

“A crow,” Seoni finally identified the bird. “If it’s here, it must be looking for a companion.”

“A companion?”

“Yes, and if it’s here at the Academy, it must be looking for a magic-using human to travel with.”

Seoni did a quick light spell, attracting the crow down to her. It immediately took a liking to her, settling itself on her shoulder and allowing her to stroke its feathers. “I wonder what Seelah would say,” she mused aloud.

The crow hopped off her shoulder long enough to grab a scroll before returning. It offered the scroll to Seoni. The Guidance spell didn’t seem particularly useful to her, but she didn’t want to insult her new companion, so she took it.

The crow flew off again, perhaps to find another gift for Seoni.

“Now this is interesting.”

Seoni had completely forgotten about Buck until that moment. He was examining a large chest.

“I’m not sure we’re meant to look in there,” Seoni told him as he took a closer look at the lock.

“That’s exactly why we should,” he replied.

“Maybe this isn’t the best place to go looking into locked places,” Seoni suggested a bit forcefully.

Buck straightened and huffed. “Well, I know when I’m not wanted.”

“He’s a bit touchy, isn’t he?” Amy asked, watching him walk away.

“Indeed,” Seoni said, pushing the chest back under the table where Buck had discovered it. She then noticed the looks they were attracting. “Perhaps we have also overstayed our welcome.

Seelah was secretly hoping to encounter some enemies. She enjoyed honing her skills in battle, but her first find in the woods was a battered looking chest. Upon closer examination, it looked like one good hit would bust it open, so Seelah took a swing at it.

She was a bit disappointed to only find a codex and a potion, but decided to keep them handy anyway. That was when she heard an eerie sound. She barely had time to duck out of the way as a siren dove at her. Without time to arm herself, Seelah swung her fist at the monster, using its own momentum against it. The siren smashed into a tree and fell crumpled to the ground.

“That was outstanding!”

Seelah turned to see a man applauding her. “Who are you?”

He bowed. “Cyrdak Drokkus.” He gestured to the codex she was still holding. “May I see that?”

She handed it over.

“Marvelous,” he exclaimed. “What other dangers do you think we might run into?”

Seelah didn’t quite know what to make of this strange man, but she also didn’t feel as though she could dismiss him. They continued on through the woods together, Seelah picking up a mattock along the way.

“Oh dear,” Drokkus said. “Is that a zombie?”

Seelah looked to where he was pointing. “A plague zombie, I believe.”

Luckily, Seelah already had her longsword ready. She tossed aside her pack and charged the undead creature. It looked bleak for a moment or two, but Seelah finally managed to dispatch the zombie.

“Well done,” Drokkus said with another applause. “Is travel with you always so exciting?”

Before she could reply, they were ambushed by a Spectre. Thankfully Seelah was able to take it down with her longsword.

She barely had time to recover when a hell hound bounded through the trees. Seelah engaged in combat with the beast, once again relying on her longsword to defeat the hound.

“Oh dear, are you hurt?” Drokkus asked.

Seelah looked down at her half-plate. Part of it had been melted by the hell hound’s attack. Thankfully, she’d still been protected.

“I’m fine, but this will need repairs,” she said, taking the armor off and storing it in her pack.

It seemed as though things were getting back to normal at the waterfront. There was a hint of anxiousness about some people, but that too would fade with time.

Seoni noticed another armed woman nearby and went over to potentially share information.

“Things seem to be going well here,” she said.

The other woman glanced at her but didn’t respond.

“Any signs of trouble?”

“We’ll take care of it.”

With that the other woman walked off.

“She wasn’t very friendly,” Amy commented.

Seoni shrugged. “It may be that she’s still a bit on edge.”

“I can see why,” Amy said, drawing Seoni’s attention to an ancient skeleton.

Seoni smiled. “Let’s try that new fire spell, shall we?”

As they approached the skeleton, Seoni prepared her new scorching ray spell. Normal fire wouldn’t have done much to the skeleton, but the magical fire burned it to ash. Satisfied, Seoni then recharged the spell and stored it in her pack.

“I like that new spell,” Trevin said, coming up beside Seoni, “but when I compose a song about it, it will have to take longer to defeat the enemy.”

“Reality just isn’t exciting enough for you,” Seoni said.

“Why does there always have to be a skeleton?” Seelah groaned.

Once more her sword was ill suited for the task of defeating the skeleton, but with enough slashing, she managed to take it down. She gave it once last blow before she was satisfied.

“That seemed a bit tricky,” Drokkus said.

She swung her sword in a lazy arc. “Unfortunately I don’t have the right weapon for dispatching skeletons quickly.”

“Ah, then you probably aren’t interested in that.” Drokkus pointed at something shiny tangled in the undergrowth.

Seelah went to investigate and discovered a Greatsword. She used the mattock she’d picked up to loosen some of the foliage, then was able to pull the weapon free. Though the metal seemed a bit dull, the sword still had a fine edge. It just needed a little love which Seelah was more than happy to do.

“What about this one?” Drokkus asked, oblivious to Seelah’s joy in acquiring a new sword.

She turned to find him tugging at a crowbar wedged in the remains of what could have been a chest. She strode over, knocked some wood loose with her mattock, then yanked out the crowbar.

“I doubt it would help against a skeleton, but we’ll see if it comes in handy,” she said, slipping it into her pack.

“That man looks a lot like the one from outside the Academy,” Amy said, pointing.

“I have noticed a few mercenaries lurking about,” Trevin said.

“Let’s make sure there’s one less.” Seoni prepared her frost ray as she advanced upon the mercenary.

The blast caught him just as he was raising his weapon to attack, freezing him in action. Trevin circled the frozen man.

“Again, it just happens too fast. Where’s the witty banter?”

Seoni laughed. “You want witty banter from a mercenary?”

“Mercenaries could be witty. You defeat them so fast, you may never know.”

Seoni sighed as she tucked away her recharged spell. Then she noticed Seelah talking with a guard, and headed over to the paladin. She reached them just as they seemed to reach an agreement.

“How was the Academy?” Seelah asked when she noticed Seoni.

“Mostly uneventful, but I did get a new fire spell. I see you have a new sword.”

Seelah raised it to show it off  but then moved into a fighting stance as a bandit henchman came charging at them.

Before Seoni could do anything to help, Seelah had defeated the bandit.

“And you complain my fights are too quick,” Seoni said to Trevin.

The troubadour shrugged. “At least I have more to work with. She does more than stand and point.”

Seelah noticed Drokkus looked a bit woozy and suggested he go get some rest.

“I’ll see to him,” the guard said, leading Drokkus away.

“You look a bit worn down yourself,” Seoni said to Seelah. “Were the woods a bit tougher than you anticipated?”

“Perhaps a bit,” Seelah admitted.

“Here,” Seoni said, handing over a bottle. “It’s a healing potion.”

Seelah drank the contents gratefully.

“It will take a few minutes to work. I’m going to go into the general store. Meet me there?”

Seelah nodded.

Upon entering the store, Seoni took a look at the potions, but nothing there really interested her. She noticed her standard bearer browsing the wares as well. Something seemed a bit off, so she slipped on her amulet of life just in case.

Seelah entered then, first picking up a crossbow, then setting it back down as though it were a silly weapon. Seoni could tell she sensed something off as well, and they silently agreed to a thorough search of the premises.

There was a dog resting near the front counter. Seoni knelt to pet it, but something startled it, and it bounded away. A moment later, Seoni discovered what had sent the dog running. A zombie shuffled its way around the counter.

“Did it have to be a zombie? I hate songs about zombies,” Trevin complained.

“I don’t think you’ll have to worry about it,” Seoni said, grasping his arm and using his energy to power an arcane blast.

The zombie disintegrated in her magical blast, but then a bugbear sent Seoni scrambling over to the standard bearer. She quickly drew on the other woman’s energy to send a blast at the creature, but she was sloppy. She managed to hit the bugbear, but it took a swipe at her as it ran away. Thankfully her amulet of life protected her, but it would need time to fully recharge. She put it away and pulled out a spell. She had no idea the store would be so exciting.

“Are you all right?” Seelah asked, casually picking up a tome then setting it back down. She stepped over the prone troubadour and glanced at the similarly unconscious standard bearer.

“Just caught a bit off guard is all,” Seoni replied, examining a pair of elvenkind boots but putting them back when she discovered they were too small.

“A warrior should never be caught off guard,” a gruff voice said.

Seelah put back the longbow she’d picked up, and both women turned towards the newcomer.

“I have to admit, you do look prepared for anything,” Seoni said, noting the various weapons the man carried.

“Most times, I’m paid to be prepared,” he replied.

“A mercenary then,” Seelah said, a bit of an edge to her voice.

The man gave her a dismissive look. “I don’t fight for just anyone, Paladin.”

“Perhaps you’d be willing to show us the error of our ways,” Seoni said sweetly.

He regarded her for a moment. “Perhaps.”

“Are they gone?”

They all turned to see a man peeking over the edge of the counter.

“Who?” Seelah asked.

“Those horrible creatures!”

“It does seem to be the case,” Seoni said, unsure how many creatures the man referred to.

“Oh thank goodness!” He came around the counter to thank them, and even insisted Seoni accept a reward.

“What did he give you?” Seelah asked as they managed to extract themselves from the store.

“Wand of shield,” Seoni read the little card that came with the item in the box. She shrugged. “I’ll take it to the Academy. Maybe someone there will want it.”

“You’re going to give away his gift?” Seelah asked, feigning shock.

“Well, I would sell it, but I don’t think it’s worth very much.”

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