The soothing melody of woodland birdsong plays loudly over the camp, but it is not by this that Wistark is awakened. He is freed from the shackles of sleep in an instant when there is an incredibly loud, deep roar directly above him. Jumping from his sleeping bag like a startled hare, he casts a lightbang to even the odds over this attacker and grabs his staff from the ground beside him. The blindness of the lightbang fades and slowly the assailant is revealed – Grimlock. Standing and naked, Wistark stares at the dragonborn alarm clock with groggy disapproval, then gets back into his sleeping bag.
Norman and Gravilla are awakened by the giant lizard in identical fashion despite having already been roused by his first roar, then the Capital Punishers see to making some breakfast. Most eat from their rations but Norman wanders off into the trees and emerges some time later with a couple of rabbits. Towards the end of breakfast Grimlock is annoyed to discover that his parrot, Skulldweller, is missing from the head of his werewolf cloak. Once all have had their fill, injuries been checked and redressed, and all are fully clothed, Wistark decides it is time to talk business. The wizard takes a seat on his gear and lays out the situation:
“As far as the city is concerned, I expect we are still wanted fugitives for the assault on the university. Furthermore, the appearance of the war machine yesterday was no coincidence. The presence of such a deliberate trap suggests that we may no longer want to look to the Brotherhood for protection – someone leaked our plans to the enemy. That someone could be a traitor within the Brotherhood or it could be the Boss himself. We are alone, surrounded by enemies and able to trust none but each other. It appears that Ignatious has already been killed. My question to you is this: should we go back to Gerelden?”
Silence descends. Norman and Gravilla look at each other uneasily. Grimlock is the first to speak. “My stuff is in Gerelden,” he says plainly while looking at no-one in particular, “I need to get my axe back”. One vote for returning to the city, then. Norman is next to voice his thoughts, “We need to get back at those who have betrayed us. The situation we have left behind cannot be left unresolved”. Two votes. Looking at the wizard wearily, Gravilla speaks her own mind, “I need a doctor. No place is better than Gerelden for that”. Looking morosely at his fellows, Wistark reveals his own vote, “We should not go back. So many are intending to capture or destroy us”, he turns to Grimlock, “We have so recently escaped from captivity. Why put ourselves in danger again for a book that we have no great attachment to and for causes that we do not rightfully understand?”
The wizard casts down his eyes and begins to draw pictures in the dirt. Several seconds pass. Grimlock remains still until he is certain that the man has finished speaking, then speaks to Gravilla, “Are you coming with me, then?” She nods assent, and the gigantic dragonborn lifts her onto his shoulders and then strides out of the camp in whatever direction he was facing at the time. Gravilla knows that this direction is south, and tells Grimlock that Gerelden is to the east. He remains partially stubborn, deciding to meet her halfway and walk southeast. Wistark shouts after him, backing up Gravilla’s deduction. Skullfucker snarls a little, but complies. Wistark watches them walk off into the trees towards the east, intending to leave them to it. Only death could lie that way. If he must retreat alone, so be it.
Norman remains by his side, aware that the professor is a sensible, useful man. He tries to think of compelling arguments for returning to Gerelden, but draws as much of a blank as the man he wishes to convince. Wistark’s eyes remain locked on the dwindling forms of Grimlock and Gravilla. One who is badly injured and one who knows only how to make tough situations worse, walking headlong into certain death. They have no-one. Alone against the world. The pair fade completely out of view, lost to the foliage. The wizard gets to his feet just as Norman begins to spill everything he has thought of so far, “You should get back the Necronomicon. You should find out what’s going on. You should see this through to the end”. Wistark puts a hand on the dwarf’s shoulder and regards him warmly, “Alright, alright”, then stamps out the campfire and follows his large allies into the forest.