Disclaimer: Some of this came from someone else, the rest is my own invention.

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They found a total of eight people caught in the stone in the jabberwock's display hall. Among them was Carad Yseph, the novice paladin Ricardt was supposed to find. "This reminds me of the basement of the monastery's northern outpost," Mirandaline commented.

Ricardt looked askance at the archer. "They had people trapped in crystal in the basement?" The paladin's disapproval leaked through his tone.

"No, the place had been abandoned for a long time. Goblins had moved in," the elf clarified. "Also there were not any humans in that collection. There was a blink dog, an illithid, an umber hulk, a satyr warrior and a few other interesting creatures."

"I take it you didn't turn them loose," Teilla sighed.

"Can I have my kerchief back?" the elf asked. Teilla started to untie the pale grey cloth from around her red hair. Mirandaline moved closer to the half elf to take it back and said softly, "We did get them out intact and well. At least they started out in one piece, some of the attacked the monks that got them loose."

"And you aren't telling anyone else this because...?" the bard waited for an explanation.

"I've never seen these people before," Mirandaline coiled and pinned her cloud grey braid around her head and tied the kerchief over it all. "What do you think a typical paladin's reaction would be if he saw me without knowing anything about me or Whizban?"

"Oh," Teilla did see the problem. She also saw an additional precaution to add to the half drow's kerchief as well as a guess as to why the elf did not simply tell them how to get the people out of the crystal and then part ways again. The bard smirked, "Why I do believe you're considering traveling with us."

"Only because Farnier, Lannlia, Gorbsen, Sandra, Marco, Josie, Zorac, Brisslee and no less than four other dryads, two satyrs and three nymphs have told me that I should get out and travel more. That's far too much of the same opinion from different people for me not to take seriously," Mirandaline stated flatly. "Corellon's sword, even the hermit I visited this week said so!"

"Makes perfect sense to me," Teilla agreed. "So, Ricardt and me or Joss and Cris?"

"Neither yet," the archer pointed at the crystal displays, "We need to get them out first."

"Right," the bard turned back to the problem at hand. She rummaged around in her pack until she came up with a small clay pot and brush and handed both to Mirandaline. "By the way you might find that useful. So, how do we break them out of the crystal?"

"Break the crystal," the elf said simply as she opened the little pot and looked at the dark paste inside. "You're right. This really isn't your color."

"So we break the crystal or so I hear?" Joss called from in front of a frozen lady spell caster with her hands frozen in some sort of arcane pass.

"Make at least one crack all the way through to the person trapped inside and they come tumbling right out," Mirandaline called back. "They'll probably be considerably disoriented though."

"Good to know," Ricardt said. "Teilla and Mir? Have any spells that would make this easier?"

The elf shook her head, "Not me. Most of what I can do centers around moving things."

"I've got a melody that shatters glass," Teilla nodded. "You might want to stand back since I'm not sure how many of the cells will be affected."

"Cast from there and we'll stand way back here," Joss suggested.

"There's a plan," Mirandaline agreed and jogged behind the paladin and two rangers, swiftly brushing the bard's lash darkener over eyebrows and lashes.

The bard sang a discordant melody and four of the cells shattered, spilling confused people into the hallway. As Joss, Cris, Mirandaline and Ricardt ran out and pulled the wizard, Illmaterran monk, Purple Dragon knight and a druid wearing mostly leaves out of the field of sharp crystal, Teilla called, "I've only got one more of those spells left for the day."

"That's all right," Joss said. "Cast it and Cris and I will take whoever else falls out ahead to Eagle Peak and you all can meet up with us later after you get the rest out."

Teilla nodded and cast the shatter spell again. She got lucky and the rest of the captives fell out of their crystal displays. She helped a comely brunette man with a small lyre case strapped in among his effects to stand up. Movement caught the half elf's eye and she noticed a few crystal fragments skittering along the hallway floor. She looked closer and saw that most of the crystalline shrapnel on the floor busily swept themselves into little out of the way piles. The bard got a whiff of damp greens and figured Mirandaline had set herself to clearing the area.

When everyone looked like they could walk in a straight line again, the paladin, bard, archer and two rangers shooed the captives out past the jabberwock's body through the portal and into the woods towards Eagle Peak.

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When they left the jabberwock's lair, the sun was starting to sink towards the western Stormhorns. Most of the captives were all members of the company of adventurers hired by Eagle Peak that did not return. They decided to find their own way back and parted company with Ricardt, Teilla, Mirandaline, Joss, Cris, Carad and Orsinio the Purple Dragon knight.

After the bulk of the captives wandered off, Joss took a look at the setting sun and suggested, "How about we camp a bit further downslope?"

At everyone's nods, the elder ranger led them down into the valley meadow below the jabberwock's cave and started looking for a decent campsite. Mirandaline disappeared to scare up some rabbits for the stew pot. As the sun dipped below the horizon, Joss found a suitable campsite under a large oak tree and set Cris to gathering firewood while everyone else cleared enough of the fallen leaves away to make a decent fire pit. Joss, Ricardt, Carad and Orsinio drew lots for watches while Teilla rummaged around the supplies to make a decent stew out of whatever the elf brought back. When Cris came back with an armful of deadwood, Joss went over to observe his nephew starting a fire.

Ricardt took the opportunity to draw Carad aside to hear what had happened to the sandy haired novice paladin. The young knight explained his misadventure excitedly and in great detail. When Carad finished, Ricardt frowned, "So let me see if I have this correct. Your strategy for drawing the jabberwock out was to shout challenges to it while standing in an open field by yourself."

"Yes sir," the younger paladin said boldly. "It worked too."

"That would depend on your definition of 'worked,'" Joss commented from by the fire.

"Joss, if you would be so kind as to let me handle this?" Ricardt stated in a stern tone. The elder ranger shrugged in response and went back to adding a few more logs to the campfire. The paladin noted that Mirandaline had reappeared with two dressed rabbits in hand. She quartered the coneys and added them to the stew. Ricardt idly noted that the archer looked a good deal like a wild elf with her hair color hidden. She acted like one for the most part anyway. He turned his attention back to Carad, "Has it occurred to you since your capture and release that a better plan might have been in order?"

"But we are taught to confront our foes boldly," Carad said, confused. "Because we have Tyr's justice on our side."

"The exceptions to that lesson are chromatic dragons and dragon kin, demons and devils," Ricardt said evenly. "Did you talk to the villagers at all or try to get look at it before you rushed in?"

"I was given all I needed to know when Valor Hall sent me," the novice Tyrran said sullenly. "And it wasn't a dragon."

"Wings, sort of intelligent, hoarding behavior and carnivorous," the raven haired paladin ticked the points off. "Fortunately, I am not the one you are going to have to explain yourself to. Hammerlord Trannas will be interested in hearing about this." Carad paled and Ricardt added in a gentler tone, "Your father will be overjoyed to see you well."

The younger paladin brightened up and Ricardt pushed him back towards the group. Joss, Orsinio and Cris busily traded tales with each other. Teilla and Mirandaline spoke in low voices together in Elven. Ricardt settled in for a quiet night and return trip.

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Late the next day, the troupe made it to Eagle Peak. Ricardt presented the jabberwock's head to the town spokesman and they all headed out of the little caravan stop. Joss, Cris and Mirandaline parted ways from Ricardt, Teilla, Orsinio and Carad to head off into the wilds of the Stormhorns.

The dark haired paladin noted the half elf's smug expression as the rangers left and said, "You look like the cat who just swallowed the canary. Do I get to know why?"

"Teilla smirked, "Eventually." The bard waved to the departing rangers. Ricardt did the same.

--)--------

A few weeks later, Ricardt delivered Carad to his very relieved father Tristan in Suzail. After a lukewarm congratulations from Hammerlord Trannas, the dark haired paladin walked back to the Happy Whistle, where he and Teilla were staying. Orsinio had rejoined his fellow Purple Dragons the day before. He wondered if a change of pace might be in order as he walked into the tavern's common room and looked around for the red haired bard.

He found her sitting with someone else in the back of the Whistle's common room. Both the red haired half elf and the full blood elf in the grey kerchief next to her were smiling, thoroughly pleased with themselves. "You two planned this, didn't you?" Ricardt accused them.

Both elf-kin nodded smugly. "Joss wanted and needed a good calm area to teach Cris woodscraft," Mirandaline explained, "But one with enough strange situations so they wouldn't get completely bored. I talked it over with them and they've agreed to look after Whizban for me. Teilla wants to learn hand cant. I can try teaching her and keep myself in practice too. And everyone I know has told me to go out and see the world."

"And having me and Teilla around reduce your chances of getting shot on sight," Ricardt observed with a sigh. "All right you two, I agree. Did one of you have a destination in mind?"

"I've heard the Sword Coast is lovely in the winter," Teilla beamed.

"I'll take almost anywhere but Cormanthor and Evereska," the archer chimed in. "When can we leave? This place feels too crowded."

"Tomorrow at the earliest," Ricardt said and shrugged. "Who knows, maybe I won't be such a black sheep among my fellow paladins there."

"It's all right to be a black sheep if you've got a flock around you," Teilla said gently.

"Aillesel seldarie," Mirandaline rolled her eyes. "Whatever possessed me to fall in with philosophers?"

"We'll get going tomorrow then," the bard grinned. "May we live in interesting times."

"I can think of two different languages where that translates into a curse," the paladin noted.

"I can add another four to your list," Mirandaline commented. "Maybe we'll get lucky and the times won't catch up with us."

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Aillesel seldarie – May the Seldrine save us

Author's note:

Ahh, the feeling of satisfaction when something is completed. Please leave me a review with your views because I'm sure the review button would like the attention. Thank you for reading this story to it's end.