The dwarves melted down the Squeeblade while I watched, after which the high priest thanked me for bringing it to him and conveyed an invitation to see the dwarven king after lunch. I accepted, and arranged to meet with Hammerick on the way out. Hammerick agreed to find Mindy a safe home with a dog just like Kiki.
The king asked us to explore the King’s Gate entrance to a dwarven city known as Dwarrowdeep. Just to scout the area around the entrance would be worth a hundred gold each. It sounded tempting, so we agreed, but with the caveat that we would need to return to Threshold to report to the church of Cloacina there and retrieve Verminbane.
We returned to Threshold by river barge, helping guard the cargo. On the first day out of Hamelet, u-Heury spotted a skeleton on the shore and wanted to investigate. The merchants refused to stop, but he marked it on our map. We might investigate it later. The rest of the trip down river went without incident. We stayed the night at a small waypost before taking the short overland journey to Threshold.
Disaster struck in the form of a manticore fighting with three stone giants. As soon as we saw what was going on, we ducked back behind a turn in the trail, but the creature had seen us and apparently preferred easier prey than giants throwing boulders. We all took cover. I drew my bow but I was the only person with a longbow; Kiba had a shortbow and u-Heury had a sling. The manticore launched 6 tail spikes at the group, most of them at Lyrian, from well outside the range of anything short of my longbow. One hit Kiba and gravely wounded her, another glanced off my armor. Lyrian was hit several times and looked like a pincushion, if pincushions bled. My return shot missed the creature, and u-Heury’s sling just didn’t have the range.
I lined up for another shot, but the giants hurled their boulders first. One of them smashed into the manticore, and the beast flew off. u-Heury was already checking on Lyrian; he shook his head. No signs of life. She was dead. The silly girl was so determined to be a dual-wielding swordmaster she never listened when I told her to use a shield. Those things can save your life.
I called on Cloacina to clense Kiba of her wounds, and she was able to stand up and walk around, though still weak. A few minutes later, one of the giants offered by awkward sign language to bury Lyrian’s body by the trail. We agreed, for she had expressed a wish to be left in peace after a death worthy of a legend. A manticore seemed legendary enough. Certainly we shall tell tales of her prowess against the wererats in the Druid and Whale.
When we reported the whole mess to Forrest, he suggested that the Stonehell prison which Hammerick had mentioned on the way to Hamelet had been infested by wererats. Cloacina wanted it cleansed. The only problem was how to fulfill the obligation to the dwarven king, as both missions had time limits.