Back at the hut, José told us what he learned from Kostinlos. Goldrim's vision was true, and we did learn what to do next.

Seek out a dwarf named Zockri the Younger, who was last reported living in the Vault mountains at Hawk's Claw Peak. He was there back then, when the rocks were created by the dwarves. He will know what to do, if he's alive. I was going there, but now you must or everthing's lost. Get out as fast as you can.

Although we all wanted to rescue Kostinlos and take him with us, José said he wasn't expecting us to. It would make getting out of here without them following us nearly impossible, and destroying the Crystal takes precedence over everything else.

We packed our things, and Sun, being the most ordinary and therefore least noticeable of all of us, went out into the village to see if he could figure out where the Vault mountains and Hawk's Claw Peak are. He returned not only with that bit of information, but also that Pippo knew and was willing to lead us.

Since our hut was towards the edge of the village, we planned to sneak carefully around the village and meet Pippo outside. As usual, the Crystal couldn't leave us alone. As we started out, the weather cleared, and the villagers started dancing and singing happily. The ground trembled beneath our feet. And a large snake-like chaos beast threw its head above the village, clearly meaning ill. The villagers started screaming and running in terror. As if that wasn't enough, a mass of beastmen poured out of the ground and start hacking into the villagers. The big snake thing grabbed some pour soul, shook it like a dog shakes a rat, and Pippo's torso landed almost at our feet.

I had been frozen in fear for a moment, but Pippo's sudden appearance woke me back up. I ran to him and gave him everything I had. Peter was right there with me, and returned my energy, from Shallia. Another blast of healing, and Pippo was alive and well. Except for the fact that he was missing everything from his waist down. I was too exhausted to think about that just then, and too tired out to even move.

Miara, seeing that the Cold Fire Knights had rallied in the villager's defense, organized us all and got us out of there. Goldrim carried Peter, who had given me everything he had; Kyuskay carried the legless Pippo; and Ashe carried me.

I rested, figuring I would need my energy again soon. We moved quickly, but Ashe, Kyuskay, and Bark hunted along the way. Sun led us along the road to a small trail that we followed, north and west, through many switchbacks up and down the mountains.

We stopped for the night, having covered a fair amount of ground. Sun explained the directions to us all so we could all watch for the signs. As long as the weather holds, and so far it is, it should take us about 3 days.

I looked at Pippo carefully. He was fully healed, of course, but I couldn't give him the lower half of his body back. This is my second biggest failure, after Prestley. Pippo would die horribly within a few days. I think the druidess could save him, but I couldn't. We certainly couldn't take him to the druidess right now. If there were some way I could slow him down, like place him in sort of coma, he might last weeks. That might be enough time for us to destroy the Crystal and get him to the druidess. I was responsible for this mess, and I had to find something to do with him. Anyone else wouldn't have tried to heal him to start with. And faced with this, anyone else would simply put him out of his misery. But I reached down deep into myself and thought that maybe I could put him into a coma.

I tried, and it worked. I think he'll be all right for a week or two.

The next couple of days, we followed the trail and were dogged by beastmen. They left piles of crap in the road for us, and José thinks it was some sort of offering, like to a god or something. I tried not to think about that too hard.

Ravenna, A Monk of the Biancan Order

Part the First:
Blood and Mud

Part the Second:
Murder and Mayhem

Part the Third:
Puzzles and Crystals

Part the Fourth:
Dwarves and Rocks

Part the Fifth:
Diplomacy and Daggers

Part the Sixth:
Crystal and Chaos

Part the Seventh:
Sheer Insanity

~ The End ~