Having taken a brief rest, the band decides to settle in for a longer stay. Plamenka’s magical tools are in their possession, and too much blood has been spilled to leave the warren empty-handed. The two doors are locked, to keep any other guardians from wandering in. Lionia is feeling peckish, and suggests cooking Plamen’s sheep, now that the bread given by Yelizarov has been eaten. Chonkorchuk ventures that Plamen might get upset when he learns what happened to the animal he was nursing back to health, but Lionia reminds him that he will probably be upset about what happened to his mother anyway. The other two carnivores present agree that a bit of meat might be a good idea.
|Fefila - from Vishevetskaia's hand, to a dungeon near you|
While the sheep is cooking, Chonkorchuk decides to call upon the Queen for a bit of additional help. He has seen visions that suggest she sends servitors to aid especially loyal followers, and given his efforts, he thinks he is deserving of one now. In his dreams, he has seen a creature called Fefila, created of a divine spark and fallen to earth, as a fine companion – solicitous of its master, adept at protecting him from magical attacks, and able to find salubrious fruit in even the unlikeliest places – particularly useful now, given the healer’s absence. In an hour’s time, a scratching is heard outside Plamenka’s bedchamber, and a curious, red creature with tufted ears, looking a bit like a cross between a squirrel and a beaver, emerges from a small hole in the wall, reassuringly whistling and warbling. Dmitri immediately dubs it a ‘squeaver’. The squeaver fefila presents Chonkorchuk with a large berry, which he breaks up into parts for himself, Dmitri and Lionia. Those who eat it now feel full – but the sheep is already roasting on the fire. The fefila crawls up on Chonkorchuk, and turns invisible, after which it melds minds with its new master, and explains how that is done.
In the meantime, Raskel is busy transcribing some magical formulae from memory using the ink he received from Yelizarov. Having filled three sheets with arcane scribbles (and tossing one of them on the fire), he makes a more thorough search of the room, discovering jars with dried herbs, and several containers of oil. The band requisitions those, and refills the lamp that Plamen picked up on their last visit. Raskel also scrutinizes Plamenka’s special objects, and handles them meditatively. The flute is imbued with some sort of charm, as Chonkorchuk informs him, but the other objects have transmutative effects, and work in tandem. The sickle is used for preparation for gaining entry, the fire from the lantern provides the trigger, and the runes painted on the sash are the agent.
The rest of the band rests and meditates for about half a day, while the sheep roasts. After everyone has eaten and slept, it is time to continue the hunt. From the far door, they continue down a series of mazelike corridors. Raskel remembers the way well, and before long, the band stands before a wall, beyond which Chonkorchuk senses a necromantic presence. Raskel goes to work: he draws an outline of a doorway on the wall with Plamenka’s sickle, and then snips off a section of her sash with one of the mystic symbols on it, and throws it onto the lit lantern. The door glows with an unnatural light, rocks and sand begin to crumble out of the crevice, and the door slowly swings inward.
Inside the room, four more skeleton warriors lie in wait. These comport themselves rather better than the previous four, and moreover, they benefit from the fact that the narrow hallway allows only one person to engage them effectively, at least at the start. Dmitri gets the worst of it, as he faces off with a swordsman and a spearman poking at him diagonally. He hasn’t managed to recover as well as he might have from the previous encounter. The bony warriors press him, and after Lionia manages to send down one enemy with a well-thrown dagger that shatters a skull, another one sends the wolf down with a spear thrust to the shoulder that seems to come close to going through his throat. Lionia pushes into the room, but has little success. Chonkorchuk follows him in, shooting blasts of magical energy. Druvvaldis summons forth a bear-spirit to aid the collective effort, and thus aspected, tries to blast his way in also, while Raskel, who merely distracts the skeletons with illusory hounds until the very end, brings down the last remaining skeleton with a blast of his own.
The band members turn to their fallen comrade, who lies bleeding out on the floor. The fefila can offer no help, and Raskel and Druvvaldis try to staunch the bleeding by tying a scarf around the shoulder, but the blood flow is too rapid, and the scarf too threadbare. Desperate, Raskel manages to stop the bleeding with his sling, seemingly at the last moment. Dmitri is at death’s door; worse, his arm is hanging by a thread. The resourceful fox has a needle and thread; under direction of Druvvaldis, who has heard a lot about medicine, but has never performed surgery, he tries to sew the arm back on before it’s too late. The arm is now attached, but it looks like it’s merely hanging on by the threads.
|The treasure. But is it pure?|
Their comrade apparently stabilized for the time being, the rest of the band checks out the chamber. In the back of the room are large stone bins filled with grain. Is this the polevik treasure? Chonkorchuk sees a vision of a bony hand reaching out for silver, and concludes that it probably is. Lionia suggests that the party look around the rest of the warren, as there are areas that have not been explored yet, but Chonkorchuk says this was the only area where Plamen was not allowed to go, so it likely is. Lionia estimates that there are between 50 and 100 poods (several thousand pounds) of grain. He rejects Chonkorchuk’s suggestion to store the grain at his hermitage, branding it “unsafe”, and recommends his own house. The rest of the party decides that aside from the four sacks they have to fill, this is as good a storage place as any for the time being. Druvvaldis does summon forth a deer to help take what they can now. Lionia, however, recommends that the band can gain much more by selling a little at a time, and waiting for the famine to drive grain prices through the roof. He also suggests that the grain may yield influence – more valuable than money if it comes from the right people. Chonkorchuk insists that the treasure should be given to Baba Yaga.
There are apparently no other, obvious or hidden exits in the room, and the band settles in the hallway outside the room to catch its collective breath, and weigh its options.