By which we mean, actual sewerage. James inspected his nice new duds. High quality, expensive, hard-wearing, well-fitted travelling gear. Oh, his cloak was fine – magically unstained. Everything else though was a complete mess.
Not that there had been much choice – Elsbeth (was it Elsbeth? Probably) had told them that there were caged-up people in some godsforsaken pit somewhere needing rescue. So he, Elsbeth, Baisek and Tarry had rushed to the rescue. As you do. Oh, it might have been problematic of course if they had been legally imprisoned in some godsforsaken pit, but the empire would never do such without a proper trial and so forth. This was a pit run by the town criminals, which was mostly – well – the town. So, rescue.
Regrettably, the path to rescue had been almost knee-deep in unspeakable sludge.
Meanwhile, Cannis had remained outside with Mal, and Misthanar was elsewhere. In retrospect, advancing into unknown peril without their heavies was a grave mistake. Bad tactics, no matter how good the cause. It had nearly gotten them killed. Underground crab-people – of course it had to be underground crab-people. Nasty aberrant things. Misthanar had arrived during the fight inside, but apparently there had been a second fight going on outside involving Mal, Cannis, and some gnolls. Mist had joined that fight – those three were going just great.
James had fallen, and fallen again. One healing option later, and he was concious for long enough to put a Magic Missile into the final crab person. Satisfying, but Elsbeth had done most of the work, of course. Lightning and all that. Probably Toasten, as well.
The three heavies rocked up in a rowboat they had won from the gnolls. There was some issue involving an aberrant crab limb, or something. Mal put a spear through the bottom of the rowboat dealing with it. But a Mending cantrip fixed that, James being particularly adept with minor magics.
Further in, they found the pit/cage. Mal used his strange dwarvish power to shape stone, springing the bars free from the rock in which they were embedded. The people were in a dreadful state. But there was help for them, and a rowboat for the few whom even the hope of freedom could not stand on their feet. James and Mist’s attention was diverted by odd patterns on the walls. Mist saw scraps of old elvish. James saw more with his magic senses, but could not read the writing. A few minutes persuading a light cantrip to trace out the pattern, however, revealed it to Mist.
Ancient elven – something about the Darakhul, “to light the way to hold off the chosen people”. (or was that “the hold of the chosen people”?). This chamber was a place of power. Not a node, exactly. Perhaps a place that once was one, long ago. “What we need,” said James, “is a really good library. I was hoping to find one in Santa Cora or Horizon.” Left unsaid was that they had been refused permission to leave the city, for the moment, by the power in the shadows.
Which left James back at the inn, with his nice new duds completely impregnated with sewerage. Damn. Damn and several other words which a nice young gentleman probably should not know, but which anyone attending military school will earn. They were spoiled. Ruined.
The effect of that Mending cantrip on the rowboat had been interesting. Not only did the sprites repair the hole – pulling wood fibres back into place, filling what gaps remained with some sort of spiderweb – they had also bailed the water out. Faster than the eye could follow, a little arc of water emptying the boat. It seems the sprites could take “mending” pretty loosely, if you were creative with it. A boat is supposed to keep water out, ergo, water in the boat is something needing to be “fixed”.
Well, it was worth a shot. It took James Where’s my d4? Ah – here it is. Rolled 2, STG. an hour and three quarts to set up. A brazier, for fire. A couple of buckets of cleanish water. Another bucket of ordinary earth. And an open window for air. Clothing on a rack. Soap and wax. Spare thread for repairs. A pot of honey, some fresh cream, and a little jam – sprites loved anything sweet. The honey was particularly prized, as beehives are defended by bees who – thanks to the inevitable magic of evolution – are well equipped to deal with the occasional thieving sprite. A small pentagram for summoning. He needed sprites that could see and smell, and that were able to meticulously perform a fine task, all of which he specified in the circle around the pentagram. An enclosing binding triangle and circle for the whole setup. The drawings were just chalk and charcoal. The binding was probably not completely necessary, but this job was liable to take a while and sprites were prone to lose attention.
James was thinking the whole time that this was absurd overkill to get some laundry done. But, well, it was an experiment. Maybe next time this wouldn’t all be necessary, but better safe than sorry. What rampaging cleaning sprites might do – James didn’t know and didn’t really want to find out.
James concentrated on his intent and performed the summoning. The clothing was to be mended – fixed. Tears sewn, and bad smells and stains to be removed from the fibres. The sprites got to work. Water and earth sprites removed the poo, drawing it into the bucket of earth. Air and fire sprites dried. Others stitched the rents put into the clothing by the crab-men, waxed the leather, and imparted a fresh pine and slightly floral scent to the whole. It took a quarter hour of concentration, renewing the attention of the sprites when it flagged. By the end of it all, the honey, jam, and cream were gone – the jars licked absolutely clean. They hadn’t touched the soap – not necessary.
In the end, his gear was perhaps not quite as good as new, but certainly as good as it could be. Some stains (perfectly reasonable in travel gear), and some impossibly fine darning that plainly said to anyone who might notice it: “wizard”. He scuffed out his workings, and took the buckets downstairs to throw out. He had learned a fair bit.