Chapter 17 - Viselys To The Rescue

Viselys recruited Jacob Weatherby captain this expedition on the Fire Troll. Jacob was confident that, with Lefty and one other sailor, they could manage the smaller sailing vessel. Viselys also asked Miranda Rivers to join them – although he believed he and Lefty would be sufficient to the task, he wanted her inspirational gifts as insurance.

The Fire Troll could not go go as far as the nearest point between shore and Fogmire because mountains separated those two points. The best Jacob could manage was to moor the ship off shore as close as possible to the southernmost tip of the mountain range. “Jacob, I don't know how long this will take, “Viselys pointed out. "It's the better part of two days hike to the shrine in Fogmire. I dont' know what kind of condition Zan will be in or how quickly we can travel with him once we have him.”

“I understand,” Jacob replied.

Viselys, Miranda and Lefty rowed the dingy ashore and set off into the jungle. All three were on high alert for the natural (and unnatural) dangers that the Isle concealed, but fortune smiled on them – at least to a point. They arrived at the ruins just south of the shrine. Viselys had been here before; this is where they had camped before entering the shrine to rescue Urol and Diamondback. He looked around, evaluating if anything had significantly changed. One thing stood out.

On a stone near the center of the ruins there was a wooden box – clearly out of place here in the jungle – which had not been here the last time Viselys had seen this area, and he said as much to his companions.

“Maybe it's a trap, Capt'n,” Lefty noted. “Let me take a look at it.”

“Okay, but be careful,” Viselys warned.

And careful he was. He barely touched the item, but he inspected it very closely. “I can't be positive without opening it, but I don't see any evidence of a trap”

“Okay, then,” Viselys said, stepping forward, “I'll open it.” Lefty took several steps back.

Inside was a meticulously rendered diorama of the statue room in the shrine that Liamae had described. In the corner, to the right of the dais, was a spot of what looked like blood. Lying in that spot was a tiny painted figure. It was rendered well enough that Viselys knew it was meant to be Zan.

“Rowyn!” he spat the name. “Come on, let's move.” He led the way north through the jungle a short distance to the mouth of the shrine.

Although they navigated the shrine with caution, everything was dark, still and quiet, though they did find the missing goods from the warehouse scattered about. Then they arrived in the statue room. There, against the far wall where Liamae had described, Zan stood chained to the wall. He was not alone, however. Standing next to him holding a knife to his throat was the emaciated, foul, but animated corpse of Rowyn Kellani.

Viselys whispered to Lefty, who was still out in the hallway, “Use your ring of invisibility. Try to get as close as you can.”

Miranda began to strum a tune to the beat of a march, very quietly, on her lute, but as the events progress, she increased the volume of her playing.

The corpse smiled, “Hello, sweetie!” it rasped, "You came to watch another of your friends die, I see.”

“No, I came to end this right here and now,” he retorted, strolling boldly forward. Although Miranda had begun singing a rousing anthem, Viselys was only peripherally ware of the words. Something about “burning hearts.” It did embolden him, though, and he felt inspired.

“Perhaps,” Rowyn conceded, “but you won't save him,” she indicated Zan.

“We'll see about that,” he said and charged. He crossed the distance between them faster than anyone expected and lunged with his sword. In mid thrust, however, he had a sudden, worrisome though; Rowyn had used illusions and disguise in the past, and her schemes were elaborate convoluted. Perhaps this situation was not what it appeared.

Unfortunately, it was too late to stay his sword. It had already found it's target. Suddenly, Viselys perceived the shimmery-unrealness that he had come to associate with magical illusions as Rowyn and Zan seemed to switch places. Zan, bleeding profusely from the wound inflicted by Viselys, fell to the floor, eerily taking the same position as the figurine they had found earlier, as blood began to pool around him. Rowyn stood back and chuckled. Viselys hesitated for the briefest fraction of a second, uncertain whether he should tend to Zan's wounds or attack Rowyn – this time the real Rowyn.

As if making the choice for him, Rowyn said, “It is not yet our time to dance, sweetie, but it will be, very soon.” Then, removing a small item from her belt, which Viselys did not see clearly enough to identify, she shimmered away.

Viselys screamed out in grief and anger. He swung his sword at the spot where the animated corpse had stood. Then he made a few more slashes at the surrounding area, all to no avail. Meanwhile, Miranda moved to Zan and fed him a potion which stabilized him and partially healed him.

Removing his ring and coming back into view, Lefty said, “Hey, Capt'n, she's gone and we got Zan. Let's get out of here, huh?” Viselys nodded in agreement and ushered everyone out.

When they had gotten a ways into the jungle, they began to slow to a more sustainable pace. Then Viselys asked, “Are you okay Zan?”

“Well, relatively speaking,” he said. “It was terrible! Well, it didn't seem so bad at first. She was beautiful at first, and when she danced…” he smiled and seem to get distracted in thought, “But then she turned into .. THAT! That wasn't so great. I feel so … dirty. Then the beatings started. And the cutting. She took some of my blood for some reason – not a lot, but it sure seemed weird. I actually don't remember you guys arriving. But since Miranda woke me, I've been feeling better than I have in days.”

“Well, that's good,” Viselys said. He saw no reason to tell him that he had almost killed him. “You do seem to be doing pretty good now. Do you think you'll be okay to make it back to the ship?”

“Oh, yeah,” he replied. “As you can guess, I'm eager to get out of here.”

“Then I'm going to send you on ahead,” Viselys said. “You and Miranda get back to the Fire Troll. Lefty and I are going to make the trek north to the Temple of the Jaguar to see if we can find some weapons.” Zan nodded. Then Viselys addressed Miranda, “Tell Jacob that, again, I don't know how long this will take. I showed him on the map where we had to go, so he has some idea how long the walk will be, but we have no idea what we'll encounter.”

Miranda nodded in understanding, “I'm sure we'll wait as long as we can,” she said.

Viselys smiled. They said brief good-byes and went headed in opposite directions.

Continue to Chapter 18...

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