it might be a miracle

Chapter 21: Who’s Your Daddy…I Mean Deity?

New to the story? Need to catch up? Check out the other chapters of Our Party here.

Iain did have to help Ailbhe back to the inn, though the they both took pains not to be seen, not wanting questions or comments. Thankfully everyone seemed to be too busy either getting food from the monks or trying to repair their homes enough that they would be livable to notice. Only a few people even gave them a second glance. The paladin was starting to think she’d imagined a premonition of dread when she and Iain were suddenly surrounded. It was all she could do to stand on her own as Iain suddenly shied away.

“Please, Lady Paladin, give us your blessings!” One of the people yelled.

Another reached out and grabbed Ailbhe’s wrist. “You must come and heal my son! He is on Death’s door since the flood.”

Other hands grabbed her and tried to pull her into the crowd. Thankfully the berserkers reaction to put an arm around her waist was fast and strong enough to keep her there. One growl from him sent the people scurrying back a few paces. He then picked the paladin up and carried her the rest of the way.

Ethel wasn’t particularly helpful about the whole saint matter when they finally made it back. “The way I figure,” she said after hearing the story. “This is your second miracle.”

“What’re you talking about?” the paladin growled irritably.

“Didn’t y’all feed the masses when there was no food in town?” Ethel asked.

“Right place, right time is all,” she mumbled.

The innkeeper grinned. “Sure, but that’s not how they’ll see it. Means you’ve got one more before your sainthood is official.”

“Not helping,” the paladin mumbled.

Iain tugged at her sleeve and nodded at the stairs.

“Yeah, I’m coming. Ethel, will you wake us up for dinner?” she asked.

“‘Course, dear.”

The two exhausted adventurers plodded up the stairs and collapsed into bed. It seemed like only a few minutes later when there came a tapping at the door.

“Are you all awake in there?” Ethel called.

Ailbhe groaned and rolled to bury her face under either the pillow or Iain, whichever she came across first. Unfortunately for her, the berserker had other plans.

“Come on,” he said, sitting up. “We have to go save the bard.”

She groaned again even as she sat up. “Do we have to?”

“You’re the one that sent him into the monk’s camp.”

“Bunch of lizards,” she muttered under her breath as she pulled on her new armor. “Iain, can you help me with the straps on this? I’m too tired to pull it much tighter.”

Though he gave her an annoyed look, the ‘serk did help pull the straps to the desired tension. When they were finally dressed, the two of them headed downstairs. Waiting for them at the bottom was a none too pleased Ethel.

“I just wanted to warn you before you went out there,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest.

“Warn us about what?” the paladin asked as her companion pushed the door open.

There were at least fifty people in the dinning room. They were bunched together in groups of six or seven, and as one they turned to swarm the paladin making her way down the stairs.

“What’s going on here?” The paladin ask.

One hundred eyes stared back at her. “Saint Ailbhe, we’ve come for guidance,” said the leather worker’s wife.

“I thought he said she wouldn’t influence a lot of people,” the ‘serk muttered.

She gave him an elbow to the ribs. “Look, I’m not a saint.”

“But we have seen two miracle just since you came,” the lady said. “Surely there has been another miracle in your lifetime.”

“Yeah, it’s a miracle she’s still a paladin,” Iain muttered.

Ailbhe elbowed him again, but it was too late.

“The berserker says there is another miracle!” The lady cried.

“That’s not what he meant,” the paladin said, but no one was listening.

“A saint!”

“Saint Ailbhe!”

“What is her deity? I will convert my whole family!”

“We love you, Saint Ailbhe!”

“Have you cross classed into cleric? Can you raise the dead?”

“Can you heal my rash?”

The crowd pressed forward, forcing the paladin and the ‘serk to retreat back towards the stairs.

“Look,” she said as she started up the stairs backwards. “I want to help you all, and I will, but the miracle I worked earlier really took it out of me and I won’t be able to do another until tomorrow.”

While the crowd expressed general sounds of disappointment, Iain pulled her another few steps up so that they were both on a landing as the crowd pressed through into the stairwell.

“And so I am begging you to be patient,” she said. An idea struck her. “You could always pray to my god to give me more energy for miracles.”

“Tell us who your god is and we will!” on of the people called back.

“I’ll convert!” yelled another.

“Who is it?”

Ailbhe cleared her throat and glanced at Iain before saying, “The one who I serve is known as Keggin.”

There was a moment of confused silence before the people started murmuring among themselves. Iain rolled his eyes and grabbed her and started dragging her around the corner.

“I didn’t know trickster gods had saints,” one of the women said hesitantly.

“He’s not just a trickster!” Ailbhe said, putting on the brakes.

Recognizing her theatrics, Iain grunted, but stopped.

“Koggan is a god of beauty, illusion, good humor, and healing,” she said.

“And snark,” Iain muttered.

For once Ailbhe ignored him. “Though my god may not always do what you would like him to in the way you want him to, he’s not as bad as some people make him out to be. He’s kind of like a godly drinking buddy.”

“That’ll draw all over your face when you get drunk,” Iain said. This time she did elbow him.

There was another long pause before someone shouted, “I still want to convert! I’m going to become a disciple of Kagon!”

In the clamor that followed, Ailbhe got fifteen outright converts right there in the stairwell, ten more that were thinking about it and at least another five that, while they weren’t converting, were at least more positively inclined towards her god than they had been. By the time it was over Iain had to help her back to the room or risk her collapse.

“I thought you said you didn’t have to proselytize,” he said as he tucked her in.

She smirked. “I don’t,” she said. “But that was just way too funny not to.”

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Chapter 20: The Questionable Miracle of a Questionable Paladin

New to the story? Need to catch up? Check out the other chapters of Our Party here.

Before they headed into potential enemy territory, Ailbhe decided she needed to make an attempt to look more like a paladin. The chainmail and fancy talking wasn’t cutting it in terms of identification. Iain was against the idea; he thought if they were going to rescue Seamus, they should go ahead and do it.

“There are a couple reasons why we shouldn’t just go barging in,” she said as they walked through the ruined market place. “First, if Seamus has somehow fooled them, we don’t want to give him away.”

“You said they’d know,” Iain said, frowning.

She shook her head. “I said they could tell a lie. If he hasn’t lied, there’s still a chance he might be fooling them.”

“Doubt it.”

“Anyway,” Ailbhe stopped to inspect the front of a ruined shop. “If he has been discovered, we don’t want to rush in too soon and arouse suspicion.”

Iain grunted. “Anything else?”

“Yeah, I need armor and you need a little more recovery time,” she said.

The paladin stopped in front of a stall that had once belonged to a leather worker. The sign above the ruined armor read ‘Voted Best Armor in the Tri-Village Area’. The pieces visible weren’t so much on display as they were heaped together in one place. As they stood there, a man came out of the back.

“Go away, I ain’t got nothing left to sell. Was all ruined in the flood.”

“Good sir, I am distressed to hear of your sad misfortune. Might I offer my assistance in expediting your economic recovery?” Ailbhe said.

The leather worker glanced at Iain. “The hell she say?”

Unfortunately, the ‘serk still wasn’t up for translating. He grunted and shrugged.

“Look,” she said, dropping the act. “Your stuff is ruined. I need new armor. If I fix, would you give me a set?”

The man made a face and shook his head. “The armor’s ruined, lady. You can’t fix ruined leather.”

“And if I can?” she asked.

“Then you can have whatever the hell you want,” he said.

Ailbhe grinned. “Great.”

With the leather watching, she laid out the armor.

“What’re you doing?” the ‘serk mumbled next to her.

“Picking what set I want,” she replied. “And laying these out so I can fix them.”

“How are you going too do it?” he asked.

“Magic,” she said.

She took a deep breath and let it out again before holding her hands over the spread of leather. Golden light flowed from her fingertips and over the shrunken hide, filling in the crevices and expanding it. Several pieces oozed dark water as they reshaped themselves back into armor. After several minutes the light faded, leaving behind several well-made sets of armor. Ailbhe sat down with a thud and Iain moved to help her. She waved him off.

“You will have to re-stain the leather,” she said. “But I believe I have saved your armor.”

“Damn, I didn’t think it was possible,” the leather worker said. “Go ahead and pick you out a set.”

The exhausted paladin nodded but made no move to stand. Recognizing her inability to rise under her own power as well as her wish to appear in control, Iain did the only thing he could. He grabbed the closest piece of armor and held it up. Before he could ask her if that was the one she wanted, a woman came out of the back of the stall and shrieked. Iain dropped the armor he was holding and dove for Ailbhe, pulling her to her feet. She stopped him before he could pick her up and run, though.

“Stop, its okay,” she murmured. “Listen to what she’s saying.”

Indeed, though she sounded upset, she was actually yelling that someone had performed impossible magic. Several of the neighboring merchants were watching her carry on with mild curiosity.

“Wife, will you calm yourself?” the leather worker asked. “This paladin restored the armor-”

“Paladin! Then it is a miracle!” The woman launched herself at Ailbhe and would have bowled her over if not for Iain putting out a hand to steady her.

“Listen, lady,” the paladin said, “All I did was cast a healing spell-”

The woman clasped Ailbhe’s hands in her own. “You are too modest, my lady saint. With your intervention, my husband and I will be provided for; you have delivered us from our direst hour of need!”

Ailbhe looked at her, no emotion showing on her face. “I’m a paladin, not a saint.”

“You are still too modest. I must go and tell my friends what you have done!” She chirped before flitting off.

“Wait! I’m not a saint!” Ailbhe called after her, but it was too late. The woman was gone.

“Hey look, don’t worry about it,” the leather worker said. “My wife’s not all there sometimes. I have to say, though, that was a pretty neat trick. How did you know a healing spell would work on leather?”

“Leather’s just another form of skin,” she said. “I just assumed it would work the same.”

Iain facepalmed

The leather worker frowned and said. “That’s not – you know what, never mind. It worked so I’m not going to complain.”

“You really should know better,” Ailbhe said. “Anyway, I’d like this set of armor,” she said, motioning to a set that vaguely resembled her old metal armor.

“Of course,” the leather worker said. “Do you want me to package it up for you?”

Ailbhe shook her head. “I’d rather wear it out of here. I feel naked without my armor.”

A few minutes later she was ready to go. It was also more apparent she was a paladin in her gold edged leather armor. Her ‘serky friend offered her an arm to lean on as they headed back to Ethel’s place to regroup.

“How come the gold and dye stayed on this one?” Iain asked. “Didn’t on others.”

“Because this is the set I wanted,” Ailbhe said. “Took a lot more energy to keep it on than it did to let it melt away like it did on the rest of them.”

“Gods, how you still paladin?”