Episode Three

Emerald Island – To wit, To win?

Tuesday, January 2, 1168.

They slept soundly, not surprisingly, considering how busy they'd been that day, but were up bright and early, spitting themselves out of the Inn at 6.07 am, into a foggily depressing landscape. After handing in their shell, they discovered that they were now in second place.

"We only have the longbow, the tile and the musical instrument to get now," Spider commented. "Do you think we should go and buy that lute from your musical friend, Bard?"

"Only if we can't find it somewhere else."

"Pity she didn't get herself knackered by dragonflies yesterday," Caber commented. "We could save ourselves some money."

Bard gave him a sideways look.

Caber coughed. "I suggest we keep looking around the town for some clues on how to go about this. There's a magic shop up on the hill. We should get some money for some of these rings and things. We should find out how this fireball thing works, too. And Bethy wants us to learn how to use these bows, so we may as well. She'll go on for days about it if we don't. Let's face it, we need some training, too."

Which they did. They emerged from the Emerald Island Training Grounds on…

Wednesday, January 10, 1168.

"Happy Birthday!" Caber said to Bethgael. "Again. So, what would you like to do today?"

"Let's do something exciting. How about we go and find those contestants? Or finish up. I feel like getting myself a Castle today."

"Shop-aholic," Spider said

"Where would you like to start looking?" Bard asked.

"The Cave around the corner?"

Bard looked a little nervy. "Do you remember what that lady, what's her name… Mia Lucille… said?"

"That the island people pay the dragon tribute to keep pirates and undesirables off the island?" Caber shrugged. "What about it?"

"My question is: do we count as 'undesirables'?"

"Ah. Good point."

"My suggestion is that we throw on some fire protection and jut run in and run out as quickly as we can," Spider said. "If they're in there, then good. If not, then no need for us to die. We might pick up a couple of things though, who knows?"

"It'd be good for a laugh, if nothing else," Caber commented.

"So, shall we, gentlemen?" Bethgael asked.

The opening of the cave loomed darkly overhead. Bethgael could hear the faint drip… drip…. drip of water and the air smelled musty. There were other smells as well, too dimly recognised to do anything but tickle the senses enough to be glad that you couldn't recall what it meant. They went in quietly and she could hear the sounds of chittering and flaring as the dragon killed what were probably rats. Bethgael saw some bones on the ground and motioned to them to Bard. He nodded grimly. It seemed they had found the missing contestants. Caber ran forward and grabbed a shield that was lying next to one of the piles of bones. Bethgael saw a scroll on the floor and grabbed it as well, and Spider grabbed a longbow that was also lying on the floor of the cave.

Then Bethgael felt it. Heat seared her face.

"Bard!" she yelled as she saw him engulfed in flame. She turned in shock to see a dragon lumbering awkwardly towards them, spewing fire. She pulled her bow.

"We can't fight that!" Spider yelled. "Come on, Beth, we're outta here!"

They turned and ran, Caber dragging Bard's inert body with him. They kept running until they reached Lord Markham's Headquarters.

"Is he dead?" Spider asked her.

"He seems to be," Bethgael said grimly. "But there was a healer near the gully heading towards the dragonflies. Maybe she can help. Damn it, this is my fault."

"We don't have any money," Caber noted.

"The reward," Bethgael answered, wiping her face tiredly. "We'll hand in this longbow and see if Lord Markham will recognise this shield as enough proof that we've discovered the missing contestants."

Spider nodded, patting her on the shoulder. "Good idea."

Fortunately, it turned out that Bard was not completely dead, and it only cost 150 gold pieces to heal him. Bethgael secretly thought that they had been given a discount – the woman was very familiar with Bard…. he'd obviously visited there the evening before.

Bethgael watched very closely, but she couldn't work out how the healing woman did what she did. One minute, Bard was a blackened and blistered mess, the next minute, he was his urbane self, minus some hair, but he was assured that it would grow back – eventually. He picked up a few merchant skills while he was there, too.

"Well, that was an adventure," he said as they emerged from the healer's tent. "So, shall we go find the tile now?"

"What about that scroll?" Caber asked suddenly.

Bethgael pulled it out of her belt and read it quickly. "It seems we were right in not trusting the late Mr Malwick," she said. "This scroll indicates that he doesn't keep very good company. I have the feeling that his 'favour' would have been very difficult for us to keep and the consequences would have been unpleasant."

"Glad to hear it," Bard said. "The tile?"

Bethgael rolled her eyes. "Uh, Bard, you've already been dead once today already. Do you really want to push your luck?"

"Why not?" Bard replied jovially. "Getting killed revitalises a man. Let's do it."

"Ooookay," Caber said. "But, it's your birthday, Bethy. You decide."

"Well, if Bard is happy to get killed again, who am I to say no?"

They bought the lute from Bard's friend Ailyssa and handed that in to Thomas the Judge first, then it was a short hike around the island to the top of the waterfall, where the entrance to the caves to the temple of the Moon was located.

"Do you think it's safe?" Bethgael asked stupidly.

"Probably not," Spider replied. "But we need the tile, so in we go."

So they did. Spider cast an enchantment that gave them some light…. which brought some flying beasts down upon them, biting and screeching.

"Giant bats!" Bethgael yelled. "Ack, correct that, Vampire Bats! Don't let them bite you! They'll give you a bad disease!"

They soon dispatched them, and Caber noticed a hidden cavern in a wall. "Maybe our floor tile is in here," he muttered. "See if there's a trap, Bethy."

She did so, but no tile. A heap of gold and some strange-looking weapons were in there, though, along with a helmet that Caber put on jauntily. "How do I look?"

"Very nice," Spider complimented him, "if you don't mind looking like someone dumped a bowl on your head."

"One of us needs to learn how to identify stuff, " Bethgael muttered. "It would make life a whole lot less expensive. Perhaps our new merchant can learn it, just to make sure you're not selling something important," she added, smiling at Bard.

"Maybe later, Beth," he said. "We're a little busy right now."

"Of course." She stuck her tongue out at his back.

They continued along the darkened passage. Bethgael couldn't help but feel very nervous, something that she would never have admitted to any of her companions, even her brother. He probably already knows though, she thought with a smile. No hiding anything from him.

Spider patted her on the shoulder.

They came to a fork in the passages. "Which way?" Caber asked.

"Right," Bard replied.

"Wrong!" Caber yelled as a large number of rats ran out at them. Bethgael used her bow and shot a few of the giant rats from a distance. There was one that spat lightning at them, though, that caused her some bother. Spider ran in and brought the butt of his staff down on the back of the rodent's head. It died with a loud protesting squeak.

There was some more treasure in the cavern, but the cavern itself led to a dead end.

The caves were full of horrible little crawling things, mostly rats, and awful flying things… bats. Every so often though, the monotony was broken by a Giant Spider or two, who spat poison in their faces. Soon, however, they had fought their way through the caves and found the entrance to the Temple of the Moon.

Then their torch went out.

They were in utter darkness. It smothered them. It was all Bethgael could do not to scream… she was an elf: she needed air… trees… sun on her face! Then she felt a breeze on her face… but it wasn't a breeze.

"More bats," she hissed. "Give us some light, please, Spider." She could barely keep the panic from her voice as she swung her axe wildly.

Caber grunted as he swung his sword. "It would help if we could see them," he commented, sounding calm.

Bard was thrusting his dagger at his feet. "Rats…. we have rats. I hate rats.

"We have the rats,
We have the bats,
I'd cry for cats,
But they'd be gnats.
Against these chaps."

"Chaps?" Bethgael asked incredulously, dodging a bat as it narrowly missed biting at her ear.

"Best I could do at a pinch," Bard shrugged, stabbing at a giant rat.

Spider finished muttering and a light flared up.

"Ah, that's better," Caber said, stabbing a lightning rat through the back of its head.

They dispatched the rest of the creepy crawly beasties with aplomb. "I think we're getting better at this," Bard commented as they slowly made their way down a broad set of stairs into what looked like the main altar room of the Temple.


"What the-?" Caber asked.


There was a fireball dashing across the front of the altar, from one side corridor into another.


"Well, there's no going in there," Spider commented. He bent over to see if he could pry up one of the floor tiles, but to no avail.


"Let me try," Bard said, using his dagger. But he had no better luck. "Looks like we'll have to look into the side corridors."


"They happen regularly," Bethgael commented. "Maybe we can run around them or something."


Caber shrugged. "Let's give it a go."

So they did, running into one corridor. There was a door on the other side. "Everyone ready?" Bethgael asked. They nodded, and she pressed the button in the wall to open the large, heavy doors.

They saw a large bedroom, with four beds. There was someone there!

"Uh, hi guys."

Caber re-sheathed his sword. "Blackmane. What are you doing here?"

Blackmane shrugged. "Nothing. Looking around. You?"

"Uuuuh…. nothing," Caber said guardedly.

"You'd better be careful," Blackmane warned.

"Will do," Caber replied. Bethgael was already letting her curiosity get the better of her. She had found five large cabinets and was busily fiddling with the locks.


"Uh, sorry," she said. "Everybody okay?"

Caber picked himself up off the floor and brushed himself off. Bard winced as he pulled a splinter of wood from his cheekbone. Spider, who had ducked in time, just glared at her.

"Stop that," Bethgael snapped. "I said sorry, didn't I? Besides, look what we have here."

The place was a virtual treasure trove. There was a fancy hat, which they left behind, figuring that someone else could use it, after Bethgael tried it on and realised it just looked silly. Pink feathers clashed with her hair. They all decided just to grab what they could and go through it later. There was no tile, and they were feeling very tired. It had to be getting late. They explored the other side of the temple, a library, and found plenty of spell scrolls, but no tile.

Then, Spider discovered a secret door in one of the walls, and after dispatching a rat or two, they saw it. The tile. They ran out of there like there were a thousand rats on their tails, into darkness…. with a small glow in the east. The sun was rising. The job had taken them all night.

"Let's go get some sleep," Caber yawned.

In the Inn, they went through what they had found in the temple. There was another helmet, which Bard appropriated, and numerous weapons – including a nice-looking axe, better than the one Bethgael currently had, anyway. She took that. And gold, spears, shields, spell scrolls, which Spider pocketed, and the tile. They slept well.

Thursday, 11 January, 1168

When Bard knocked respectfully on Bethgael's door, the sun was shining brightly through her window. It was almost lunch time. She was stiff and sore, but otherwise unharmed.


"Yeah, hang on," she said, swinging her legs out of the pallet and pulling on her boots.

Lord Markham was exceedingly pleased when he saw that they had won the treasure hunt.

"Well," he said. "here is the deed and the contract to sign… here, and here. You'll find your new home to your satisfaction, I hope. It will need some work, but adventurers such as yourselves shouldn't find that too difficult. Congratulations!"

"Thankyou," they mumbled. Bethgael was starting to feel a bit suspicious, a suspicion that deepened as Lord Markham continued, "My entourage and I will be taking a ship off Emerald Island today, but there is a ship readied for your use that you can take whenever you want to."

They were clearly dismissed.

"Well, shall we go?" Bethgael asked.

"Nah, there's no hurry," Bard said. "Let's hang around and get some more experience, learn a few things, sell our wares, buy some armour or something."

"I heard this morning that some of those dragonflies were back," Caber said. "We can have a bit of fun knocking the rest of them off."

"Why not?" Bard said. "I have to spend some time… saying goodbye… to Ailyssa, anyway. And the woman healer. Then there's the lady at the Alchemist's shop. Oh! And…"

"We get the idea," Bethgael muttered.

They finally were ready to leave on Saturday, January 27, and they trudged up to the wharf after waiting for Bard to say his "goodbyes" a third time that morning.

Spider's eyes suddenly started flashing.

"What's wrong?" Bethgael asked him.

"Look at the name of the ship," he replied through gritted teeth.

Bethgael looked, and burst into laughter. It was the Lady Margaret.


Back: to Episode Two
Next: to Episode Four: The New Lords of Harmondale
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