Eleven people stared at each other around the campfire, eyes darting back and forth to each other, looks of confusion glazing their faces. Beyond the perimeter of light cast by the fire the rest of the king's army slept peacefully.
Sister Carlotta sighed and collapsed to sit on a fallen log pulled up by the fire, "So, does anyone know what's going on?"
"Well, last time I checked you, Tristram, Sir Robert, and Brother Justice were dead. Brother J got thrown off a tower by a spellcasting lion. Tristram had his bones picked clean by cockroaches. And you and Robert fell into a pit and got eaten by a grue." Aidan the Herald piped up.
"Yet, clearly we are not dead." Brother Justice turned to Sir Fallon. "And you're certain that we've been bewitched?"
"Yeah, all of us. The whole campsite reeks of witchcraft, and I'm also detecting several curses."
"Could it all have been an induced Nightmare?"
Sir Willem rubbed his eyes. "I'm too tired for this sh*t. Even if it was just a dream I feel like I've been fighting for days. Now it looks like we have to go back to that f*cking prison tomorrow morning and do it all over again..."
Sir Reginald shook his head, "If we dreamed it all we might find something completely different in there..."
"Enough of this! I'm not letting that witch mess with our heads any more. Hold still this won't hurt much..." Sir Fallon walked up to Sir Reginald and punched him in the face.
Sir Fallon woke up in a cold sweat. The combined smells of blood, woodsmoke, rotting flesh, and witchcraft immediately assaulting his sensitive nose. Eyes still closed his hand slowly reached for his axe. Once the weapon was firmly in hand he opened his eyes and looked around. He was in his tent. It was night. In the distance he heard the "All clear!" call of night watchmen changing shifts.
He crept out of his tent and looked around. They were in the keep. He noted the tents of his six friends, the slightly bulged tarp on the ground covering the bodies of Robert, Tristram, Justice, and Sister Carlotta, and Sir Reginald sitting by the fire clutching his eye. "You okay?"
Sir Reginald pulled his hand away to reveal a black eye. "What'd you hit me for?"
"Haven't you studied basic spellcraft? Dream manipulation is a form of Illusion. Mitra has blessed me with the ability to remove such effects, but only if I have a foe to strike. You just happened to be the nearest of us...and I remembered that we had been sharing a tent."
"So we dreamed all of that? Bloody hell!" Sir Reginald clutched at his swollen eye, "You killed that lion, right? How is he still messing with us all?"
"Yes, and no." Sir Fallon pointed at the sky. "See that star...it fell at dusk, but has returned. That must be the lion's star. Something brought it back."
"F*cking witches! So something raised the lion and now its going to f*ck with our dreams..." Sir Reginald walked to the other tents. "I'm going to wake the others and make sure they're okay."
Sir Reginald woke everyone and checked to make sure their four fallen friends were still corpses. The seven friends then spent the rest of the night sitting around the fire. Not much was said, but no one slept.
When the trumpeters announced the arrival of the king and his army come morning our heroes were quite tired. They lined up to meet the royal commanders in front of the gatehouse, dark circles beneath their eyes and each stoically ignoring the aches of combat and the throbbing of their remaining wounds. The king and his commanders listened patiently as the party explained the situation at the prison, the hordes of undead plaguing the place, the lion-witch, the corrupt garrison sergeant, and their troubling dreams from the night before.
King Markadian IV nodded sagely, "Our diviners have already been searching for the escaped prisoners and have come up with nothing. Every indication is that they have vanished off the face of Tel-Avi or else have some powerful magic concealing them even from the Eyes of Mitra. They will continue searching but we may have to simply wait until they show themselves. We will send proclamation to all of the hunters that they are at large."
"In the meantime, Sir Reginald, we are giving the command of this prison to you and your companions. Sufficient troops to re-garrison the keep will be left under your command. We will return to court and begin searching for a suitable replacement to serve as Warden. It is our wish that you remain here and bring this prison back up to our standards before the escapees are found. Use whatever resources you need to repair and re-fortify the walls and keep."
"My lord," Sir Fallon stepped forward, "I cannot just sit by knowing that there are such dangerous criminals at large. Please, give us leave to go and track down these miscreants."
"No, good Sir. By your own words you have admitted that you are vulnerable to the influence of these witches and we cannot have you wasting time searching the countryside for that which even Mitra cannot see. When we know something more we will see that you are all returned to active service. For now, we need this prison repaired and ready to take on new prisoners." The king's tone was final. Sir Fallon nodded and returned to line with the others.
"As soon as a new warden has been selected you will be relieved. For now, you all have your orders. You are dismissed..."