Helpless in Body, and Increasingly, in Mind
With my face still smarting from the acidic mucous, I quietly enter the Priest Mausoleum. Leon had checked for traps, which is almost always a sure bet with his remarkable skill, but he had just nearly been killed by the stone golem. Only by the grace of Tor was he even alive. The gas engulfs me before I can retreat, and it takes me some time to realize that I cannot move. Not even my vocal chords. Drool quickly begins to slip down my face, and I worry that I will drown in my own fluids before anything can be done. Before the rest can draw back and drag me along, an ultra-thick, gelatinous black mass pours over the side of the mausoleum from the stone priest’s bowl, immediately dissolving first, all of Boudica’s metal, then mine. Boudica somehow manages to liberate herself from the devastating muck, but I am utterly helpless, and lie coated in it, terrified as it obscures my hearing, eyesight, and ability to breathe. I struggle to inhale, and I wonder if this will be a time that one of my friends will use a combination of might and wit to save another, or if this is how I will depart this plane. Smothered to death by a senseless mass, for no reason. Not even a valiant death, saving someone else. I am angry I’ll die without honor and without having helped secure the tablet.

Tenderness and gratitude force me to abandon the futile wish to control my own death, as I become aware of my friends battling with all their might for my survival. “Am I worth it?” I wonder with awe. Mirilda seems to be at a breaking point with frustration and on the verge of tears as the others urge her not to attack the mass. She’s so strong, she may just kill me herself. Leon makes headway against it, but also me, and I hear him whimper as if in pain when he realizes he struck me too. Ultimately, Boudica prevails, and I can at least breathe again. My lungs are burning, and air never felt so good—even the fetid air of the barrow maze.

After the rest trounce several ghouls, Mirilda hefts me up and we make our way back to the harpy den. Everybody is weak and in desperate need of recovery, so even a shit-laden harpy morgue seems like heaven on an evening like this. We spend two nights, and though I have recently been nervous about Tor, I don’t want to relinquish my hold on his hand after he performs a healing spell for me. I owe my life to him, again. Life is simply more complicated than notions of good and bad. What a selfish hypocrite I’ve become.
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