The harpies continued their singing, out of sight. Terzin took a risk, hoping that the coin would continue to defend him, and removed his hands from his ears so he could tie Harrick's legs. He still seemed to be in control of himself. Brother Martin had gotten about twenty yards away before he stopped, and there was a harpy in the tree near him. It flew down and landed in front of him, reached out with a claw.
The cure for harpy singing seemed to be harpy screaming. Terzin sprinted toward them and released his arrow mid-leap. It brushed past Martin on its way to its target as the claw descended. Martin's head seemed to clear somewhat as the harpy staggered and fell. A sudden fluttering was the second creature landing atop Harrick's tied form.
Robin gritted her teeth, dropped her hands from her ears to draw her sword and charged at the new arrival. The harpy, wounded, screeched and flapped a short distance away. Her second blow took off a wing, and it began the ugly process of dying. The others came to their senses at last; Harrick tried to get up and fell over, startled to find himself tied.
The first harpy got back up despite the arrow through its body. Martin stepped back, spun sharply, and kicked the thing's head in.
"That was really impressive, could somebody untie my legs?" He noticed Air elementals fleeing as the creatures died.
Since no one had been hurt, they decided that they may as well ensure that the chicks had died in the fire and see to the dead bandit. Terzin put his coin back in his pocket. The nest had collapsed, the chicks were dead. The smell was atrocious.
"Poor bastard bandit," Terzin observed, before checking over what was left of the body for valuables before they buried it. Four pennies, two bits, a bow and a short sword.
"Yeah, too bad the harpy got him before we did," Harrick replied. The man had come from the same direction they had, at roughly the same time; he had been following them.
"We would have killed him more cleanly, at least," Robin said indignantly.
"No man deserves this," Terzin agreed.
"He came pretty close, but he probably didn't deserve to be eaten alive," the orc judged, "by a giant icky-looking bird thing." Speaking of which, he headed for the tree, just in case the remains of the nest held anything interesting and also because he didn't really feel like going through still another pile of rotting remains. The hollow where the nest had rested turned out to be empty of anything useful.
The others searched the years' worth of bones and debris that had collected beneath the nest, working by torchlight since the sun had set. It was pretty clear that the harpies had been living in the area and snagging the occasional traveler for years if not decades; they found 120 pennies and 14 gold marks. Five small pieces of jade with a dwarf rune carved on them. More dwarves, or the same party?
By far the most startling discovery was a tarnished silver hip flask in a leather carrier. Liquid splashed inside it. Terzin opened it and took a cautious sniff.
"Harrick, do you have any idea what this is?"
Sniff. "Juniper berries and lilacs? I don't know."
"What?" Martin said immediately. Harrick repeated himself.
"Brother Martin, do you have any idea what this is?" Terzin invited.
"Can I have the cap for it, please?" He capped the flask and breathed on the silver, clouding it for a moment to polish it. "I know what this is. Holy to Duncan."
"Ah," Harrick said.
"Holy water? We could have used that with the zombies," Terzin said ruefully.
"No, it's more than that." He sighed in the grip of some unknown emotion. "I honestly never thought I'd see one of these. It's an elixir of health."
The possibilities were not lost on the four adventurers.
"There are rumors," Martin continued, "stories told at the monastery, things passed down from time to time, there are apparently precious few of the things made that still exist. In one of these stories someone who was lying at the point of death, his arm had been severed, they poured a drop of the elixir in his mouth and he got up and walked away from the field."
"Useful," Robin understated.
"I'm glad I killed those other two harpies, otherwise we wouldn't have had this!" Terzin could perhaps be pardoned a bit of gloating under the circumstances.
"You killed those other two harpies?" his cousin protested.
"What do you intend to do with this?" Martin asked, holding up the flask.
"Well, inasmuch as all of us regularly visit said point of death, we're gonna keep it," Terzin proclaimed.
"Well, I don't know that we need this particular item, it might do something more than just haul out butts back from death." Harrick sounded thoughtful.
"If we find someone who really, really, really needs a dose of this...we'd be glad to sell it to them," was the solemn reply.
"Terzin!" Robin exclaimed.
"Okay, maybe we'll give him some."
"Terzin, I will not deny that at this moment, I most certainly owe you my life," Martin told him. "What I am saying is that this is a holy relic to the order to which I belong."
"Tell you what, why don't we go back to the Keep and think about it in the morning?" Robin suggested.
"I guess," Terzin sighed.
"Let's not come to any hasty decisions in the middle of the night while many of us are leaking out of body parts and all of us are relatively tired and cranky from having been mind-controlled by singing bird-things," Harrick stated.
Jared nodded. He felt a little bad, in retrospect, about not mentioning his dream.
Much to the mule's relief, they camped there for the night, rather than try to find their way back to the road in the middle of the night. They got moving again at first light.
"So how long before the bandits decide we offed their guy?" Harrick wondered aloud as they made their way through the woods.
"That's fine," Terzin replied confidently.
"We would have," Robin pointed out logically. Maybe.
"We probably would have, or at least beaten him up some, sent him home naked and painted blue or something...." Harrick's mind was alive with possibilities.
They found the road and set off toward the Keep. No bandits. They went through the usual ritual at the drawbridge. Right behind Sabine, panting with the exertion of having run to the gate, was Dubricus.
"Dubious, good to see you!" Terzin mispronounced blithely. Harrick winced. Humans were so cruel to one another.
They headed back to the inn, got some food, and settled down in their room to examine the haul, which was truly staggering. They would have had to physically kick Dubricus out of the room, so he got to stay while they unpacked their plundered treasure and Terzin divvied up the money.
117 marks and 132 pennies. Dubricus got 17 marks and 2 pennies, since he had contributed a lot the last time and it made the math easier.
"This hardly seems fair," he protested. "I - I was not nearly useful enough to justify...."
"You have done well," Brother Martin assured him. "If we are to come together, we must come together as a group."
That left 20 marks and 26 pennies apiece for each of the others. They counted everything out carefully.
"Let's go out and buy us some of them toad eggs," Harrick grinned, and Robin admitted, "I could get used to this."
"I could buy gruel for a long time with this."
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