I reluctantly put up the records that I had been examining to head back to the tavern for my turn at the fittings. On the way out, I noticed Seifer being harangued by the librarian. I wasn’t aware that he was headed here. I wonder what he was looking up.
The fitting went fairly well, and most important, quickly. I’ll have to pay extra for the fabric I chose, but if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right. By the time that I was done, the light was starting to fade. The others should be returning soon, so I had Olaf set up the back room and ordered food while waiting for the others to show up. Unexpectedly, Cotton showed up, as well.
Hershel was there first. He made his usual, very specific order with Olaf and sat down. With a wry look on his face, he asked how the fitting went. I must be growing used to him, because I didn’t punch him in throat. He just got a glare over a glass of brandy that I got from Olaf. I held the stare just long enough for him to look away as the others started to pour into the room.
Hershel started catching everyone up. Apparently he spoke further with the Crow Commander, Thorne and found out that there was something of a state dinner (if you can call it that in a place like this). He suggested that we put off the party plan until then so that we could use the time to check in on Three Cedars. He seems to have taken to heart the threat that Trask had made. And well he should. Trask is a legitimate threat and Hershel had apparently egged him on further after chasing him down to the docks.
I assumed we’d be catching a boat out to Angler’s Cove to start back to the Cedars until Nathaniel spoke up. He was looking haggard and had apparently been with the Ironclad all day working on their sky skiff. The ship itself was normal, if reinforced, but it’s ability to fly sounded entirely magic-driven. Nathaniel had burned himself out for the day pouring his energy into the drives to recharge them. I’ve seen similar efforts in mages college. The upside is that the ship is mobile again and the Ironclad have agreed to transport us.
It turns out that Seifer was at the archives researching information about Thyatian relics. It sounds like he didn’t find exactly what he was looking for. The sword that he recovered from the ruins where we found the Ironclad was still wrapped and bound at his back. I haven’t seen him use it yet. If that sword is becoming an issue, it should be talked about. We’ll leave it for now.
Finally, I shared what I had learned about the origins of the Watchmen and their founding by the breakaway Dragon Battle Group of the Bowmen. Cotton’s reaction appeared to confirm the knowledge and he said that if true, it explained several things about the lost company and some historical loose threads in the Bowmen history.
As Cotton talked, I noticed that Hershel wasn’t at the table any more. Looking out the doorway, I saw people moving past. Hershel was saying something to a man sitting at the bar. No, not just that, he had a blade to his back. In an instant, Hershel started to move, but the man was spinning around and drawing his weapon, as fast as I’d ever seen. Like Trask did in Hemlock Fields. He wasn’t going to be fast enough.
Just as I started getting up, one of Olaf’s men crashed into him and Hershel drove the knife into his back. Olaf saw me and nodded, signalling that I should sit stay put. The body was taken upstairs, and after several minutes, Hershel returned. Apparently this was one of Trask’s men, along with a companion that escaped into the night. It’s good that we have a defended location, but it emphasized our need to leave first thing in morning and get to Three Cedars.
First thing in the morning, we followed Nathaniel to a rooftop designated by the Ironclad. Coming up the walkway, there was the skiff, floating off the side of the building. Moored with a line, it had a walkway hung from the ship to the roof. Without hesitation, we all headed toward it.
I was second to last to board, with only Pete behind me. I turned to help Pete over after I was past the gunwale, when several inches of steel erupted from his chest. Pete collapsed and we dragged him into the ship to see a Bowmen standing on the roof wielding a bloodied blade. Without a thought, I leapt from the boat and struck him in the cheat with a kick.
I heard a twang as Hershel followed up with a bowshot that sent an arrow through the Bowman’s leg. To my surprise, Caleb and Wulfgar dropped down and took swings, as well. Then the air began to crackle and a stroke of electricity lanced from the ship and sent the Bowman reeling. He quickly drank a vial that he pulled from his belt and immediately stood straighter. Channeling my rage at what had been done, I charged him. Dodging his sword strikes, I got inside his guard. My first strike overextended his elbow and knocked his sword arm up, My second drove into his now exposed side. Ribs cracked, a ling ruptured, and he fell to the rooftop.
Without pause, I rifled through his things, looking for another potion. After what seemed forever, I found one hidden in his belt. Turning toward the ship that was drifting away, I pulled out shadows around me and appeared on the deck next to the prone form of Pete. TIlting his head back, I broke the vial open and poured it down his throat. Pete began to cough and I saw the hole in his chest start to mend. He’d need to recover, but he’d live. The others were tossing ropes to pull the ship back toward the roof. Someone asked where I was wounded. “It’s not my blood.”
Return to the Cedars
The trip back to Three Cedars continued. Pete was breathing normally. It was an entirely different feeling, flying in an open sky. I’d had flying magic set on me before, but that always done through tunnels and caverns. This…this was not the same experience. And then my reverie was broken.
Caleb, Wulfgar, and Seifer were bellowing at one another in the deck cabin. I had no idea what was going on, but there was the subtle thrum of power in the air. By the time that I had walked around to where I could see in, they had all calmed down. But Seifer had the Thyatian sword out and balanced in his hand. If what I think happened is correct, then that is a powerful sword, indeed.
The sky darkened as we made progress to our destination. Here and there on the ground, you could begin to make out campfires, bonfires, and the like. I believe I saw the black and grey smudge that was Polga, somehow still with guttering flames. Then in the distance, a brighter light rose over the treeline. The Cedars were aflame.
All three of the big trees were burning. As we approached, one them – the first that was lit, clearly – cracked in the heat and collapsed into the canopy. We pulled in closer to the ground and dropped ropes. Hershel fired an arrow at something on the ground and then disappeared. A new trick, it seems. Nathaniel muttered words of magic and fly to the ground. I leaped off and rode the shadows to ground.
Seifer immediately drew his icy blade and went about dousing fires. There were several villagers hidden in the higher reaches of the remaining two trees. As Seifer doused the flames, we retrieved them from on high and gathered them in the town square. We confirmed that two of the three elders had been killed and strung up. Only Von Holt was still alive, but in no shape to exert himself. As we looked around for other survivors and prepared to evacuate them to Lochaid, we noticed that there were no children.
Speaking to one the villagers, they had sent the children away for safety. Hershel had purchased messaging ravens and they had arrived 20 minutes before the attack and so the children were taken away with two protectors. Taken away, to the goblin caves.
I found Seifer and let him know that I was heading to the caves to get the children back. He was going to finish organizing the villagers and get them out of the area and into Lochaid. Hershel and Nathaniel both indicated that they would accompany me. The two of flew as I ran and we headed out of the smoking village.
As we reached the bend where the Thyani woman and her wagon had been, we found that she was still there. And she had stopped the children and their escorts from going any further, thank the dark lady. Before I speak with them, Nathaniel indicated that a group of strange looking goblins was approaching us from the direction of the caverns. Leaving the children with the Thyani, I took the village woman and made a defensive line. Nathaniel and Hershel took up flanking positions in the trees.
As the goblins approached, I could see that they were…wrong. Perhaps they had been shaped by the elder one in the caverns. From the trees rained deadly arrows and then an exploding ball of flame that enveloped most of the goblins. Those that survived were dispatched by the villagers and myself. We turned back to gather the children. And it was time that I made an apology.
The Thyani was gracious enough, but still distant. I suppose I could understand that. As we were preparing to leave, we told her that she was welcome to join us back at Lochaid where we could provide some degree of protection. She declined, but after a moment of hesitation, indicated that she could show us a way back to the town that would circle around any remaining Bowmen and get us back quicker than normal. She made it clear that, though she bore us – me – no ill will, she did this not for us but for the children.
This being acknowledge, she rummaged in wagon a bit before returning and guiding us around the bend. There, as if it had been all the time, was a path off of the road that none of us had seen. She said that we should take it and it would get us back to Lochaid. True to her word, before I knew it, we were walking out of the treeline into Lochaid. The Thyani was nowhere to be seen.
After confirming that we were who we were with an alert line of guards, I asked after the others. They hadn’t returned yet, so I started down the main road to Three Cedars. Within 15 minutes, I ran into Seifer and the villagers, who were more than a bit confused about how I got ahead of them.
As we regathered in the town square, Seifer brought us up to speed. He had encountered a group of Bowmen that were loyal to Kroenen. In addition to gettign intentional injuries to pass muster, they had killed their comrades that were loyal to Trask and provided Seifer with information. They said that Trask was headed to the Cascades to rendezvous with Hansen. He would be there in two days and would have Hansen’s forces replenished in another 3 days after that. At that point, they could be coming for us. We have decisions to make.