It had been three weeks. Three weeks since he had last heard Evelyn’s voice. Three weeks since the name ‘Lathander’ had last been mentioned in the house. Three weeks since his son had last seen his mother. Three weeks since the Wafflecrew had last seen their sunlight. The more Paultin thought about it, the angrier he got, and no amount of wine or ale hid that. If anything, it made him worse. He had actually been forcibly removed from the house by Strix at least twice, from what he could remember. He never became dangerous, he was just… loud and scary, in Simon’s words. Words that broke his heart more than it already had been by Evelyn not being in his life.
Three weeks of darkness.
Which was why when they had a lead, a Zhentarim base here in the city, Paultin didn’t even give Diath or Strix time to formulate a plan for them to fuck up before he dragged them out of the door. He tore through the base like a thunderwave hurricane, blasting Zhentarim thugs out of his way left, right and centre. Any that decided to stay in place after the thunderwave got hacked into by the sunsword, and it wasn’t long until they were in the cell block. There was clamouring from the others that had been prisoners of the Zhentarim, but Paultin had tunnel vision. He knew exactly who he was here for, and he was getting out with her, even if that meant killing every Zhent in the base.
“Evelyn!” he shouted, ignoring Diath as he clamoured for him to be quiet. Strix however joined in, using her thaumaturgy to amplify their voices as they raced past cell after cell. Evelyn didn’t respond to any of their calls, so Paultin began checking the cells one by one. He was fifteen minutes into and about thirty seconds away from thunderwaving Diath as he rattled on about taking too long when he found her. He walked in to see her curled up in a corner in just her sundress, which was dirty and torn in places.
“Evelyn?” he called, walking in. She lifted her head, letting Paultin see how battered and bruised she was; her lip was split, she had a cut on the bridge of her nose and on her cheek, as well as a bruise blossoming across her temples. Not to mention the many cuts and bruises that littered her arms and legs- no, leg. Wait.
“Where’s your prosthetic?” he asked, crouching down next to her. She threw her arms around his neck in a hug and for once he returned it, genuinely, wrapping his arms around her tightly.
“They took it.” she said, wiping the tears that had started falling from her cheeks as Paultin helped her up to her foot. He was trying his hardest to keep his temper under wraps as he helped her out of the door.
“Have they got your armour as well?” Diath asked as they exited, and Evelyn nodded.
“They took everything when I arrived.” she explained.
“Then we’re getting it back before we leave.” Paultin decided. Diath opened his mouth to argue, but Strix gave him a look suggesting that he probably shouldn’t do that as they helped Evelyn down the corridor.
It took longer to get to the storage room than it did to get into the base and down to the cells, mostly because Evelyn was moving on one leg and using Paultin as a crutch. Once they got there things sped up a bit. While Evelyn armoured up, Diath approached Paultin.
“Are you okay?” he asked, frowning at him.
“Just peachy.” he replied through gritted teeth.
“You don’t sound it.” Diath muttered.
Paultin didn’t reply.
Once Evelyn had gotten her armour on, she reattached her prosthetic, put her winged boots back on and re-equipped her armoury’s worth of weapons and they were ready to go. Diath led the way towards the exit anxiously, followed closely by Strix and Evelyn. Paultin hung are the back of the group with an unreadable expression that none of the others noticed as they rushed down twisting corridors. They weren’t even fifty feet from the exit when all of a sudden Zhentarim soldiers flooded in and surrounded them in seconds, with Manshoon dead ahead of them. Paultin’s expression went from unreadable to stony as he glared at Manshoon.
“Evelyn. Is he the one that did this to you?” Paultin asked.
“Um… Yeah…” Evelyn answered uncertainly, and Paultin leed his gaze at Manshoon. He made his way to the front of the group, visibly angry.
“Good.” he held his hand up to Manshoon and said the words ‘Fuck you’ in a voice that was not his own. The other three watched as Paultin’s eyes went pitch black momentarily. A second after Paultin returned to normal, Manshoon let out a cry of confusion and terror, and the bard smirked triumphantly.
“What did you do?” Strix screeched as Paultin lowered his hand and rolled his shoulders.
“Cursed him. It’s no Ring of Winter, but he’s not going to be hearing or seeing anything for a while.” he explained, his voice cold.
“That’s… fucked up.” Diath whispered, and Paultin turned on him instantly.
“Can’t you see how fucked up this is?” he snapped, gesturing to Evelyn. “She spent three weeks in a cell unable to move! I’m not the fucked up one here!”
“Paultin…” Evelyn put her hand on his arm to try and calm him down. Around them, the Zhentarim were clueless of what to do as Manshoon blundered, unable to see or hear anything. “I think we need to leave.”
“Okay, everyone stick close!” Strix hollered. Diath and Evelyn both moved closer to Strix instantly. Paultin hesitated first a second, watching as Manshoon’s soldiers uselessly tried to ask for command from their leader. Their confusion and turmoil gave Paultin a sliver of satisfaction as he moved closer to Strix and the sorcerer teleported them all home with her Word of Recall.
They appeared in the panic room amongst all of the kids, and there was a beat of silence before they all realised who was with them, and they all tackled Evelyn in a hug, moving in one big commotion of flailing arms and legs as they shouted and yelled.
“Evelyn!” they all exclaimed at varying volumes and pitches.
“Hiya kids!” she smiled widely, immediately crouching down to their height to try and hug all of them at once. Paultin noticed that Simon wasn’t with the other kids and scanned the room for him. He would be over the moon that Evelyn was back home.
“Mom!” Everyone looked to the doorway to see Simon come flying through the doorway and straight into Evelyn’s arms, a blur of arms and legs. The kids’ antics made everyone smile. Everyone except Paultin. Although it was cute how excited the kids were to have Evelyn home, even if she was a bit roughed up, Paultin couldn’t help but simmer with rage beneath the surface at the idea of Evelyn being stuck in that cell for three weeks with little to no movement available. After a minute of watching the kids clamour and exclaim, Paultin stepped away.
“I’m going to lie down.” he mumbled, heading for the door. His friends let him go, going quiet. He didn’t see the anxious looks they exchanged as he exited the room, heading straight to his own to find his stash of wine and hopefully drink so much he forgot all of this had happened.