Tric and Heppa take cover in the thin stand of scraggly trees that are set a bit back from the river bank. Because they know where to look, they can see the pair of nagas from earlier. They are still amid the reeds growing in the marshy edge a little bit north of where the raft will land. The cousins watch as Henrick and his guards bring the closed-up prisoner wagon to the ferry stand on the eastern bank. Henrick converses with the ferry operator, delivering the agreed-upon spiel. He claims that he cannot waste time waiting for the caravan to decide what it is going to do. He has to get his prisoners to Weldyn as fast as possible, so he has left the caravan in search of an expedient route. The folks at the ferry take his money and help get the wagon situated on the raft.
The two ferriers on the raft clip ropes into the guyline and then begin pulling on it to get the platform moving. The third ferrier shoves the raft off from the bank but stays behind on the eastern side of the river. Tric notes that one looks rather nervous. Tric is glad that at least one of these people has reconsidered going through with their plan. Maybe someday Tric can call in a favor over that.
The raft is large enough to hold the wagon with space to walk around it. Ostensibly, it was built to ferry a cart, though really, it was built to capture one. The raft is rather stable in the water, but keeping the wagon’s draft horse calm aboard it looks like a full-time job for two of Henrick’s new recruits. Tric doubts that they expected to be doing this type of work when they signed up in South Tower.
When the raft reaches the middle of the river, the nagas in the reeds start to swim that way. Their lower bodies move with an eel-like slither. Since they do not need their arms to swim, those limbs remain above water ready to strike. Heppa and Tric spring into action. Heppa activates Lady Sabine’s ruby ring to speed herself up. Before dipping into the rune’s specific powers though, she excites the plants at the water’s edge. Her grip on the fae energy coursing through them is only strong enough to tap the nagas with cattails, unfortunately, not entangle them.
Fancying himself an elvish avenger despite the style of bow he is using, Tric peppers the reeds with arrows from his place in the trees. This is the first time he is using the new draw style in combat, and it performs well. The nagas are surprised and try to block the arrows with their small bucklers. In the confusion, their swords clang against each other and the unexpected shock sends both blades flying down into the mud. When Tric tells the story later, he will claim that the nagas each tried to parry the same arrow, and that is what caused the disarming collision.
Tric spares a glance for the raft and sees that one of the workers is engaged in discussion with Henrick. Maybe they are talking about how cool Tric is, or maybe the criminal is feigning disinterested curiosity about the combat happening on the river’s edge. Perhaps the ruffian is even claiming that elves have come to attack the ferry.
The nagas plunge after their weapons, coming back up with their muddy blades just as another rain of arrows falls. This time, Heppa’s arrows have joined Tric’s. The volley strikes true, and the nagas sink below the surface, pierced in many places. One of them calls out for someone named Zlek before vanishing beneath the water. Another naga surfaces halfway between the reeds and the raft. This Zlek moves more sinuously and bears swords in both hands. It is possible the naga could be bought, but Tric and Heppa definitely do not have that kind of coin on them at the moment. Negotiation is off the table for now. Tric’s arrows splash in the water and clink off armor, but one of them lands in the lithe naga’s flesh. Zlek shakes it off and continues undeterred toward the wagon, where he slashes at Henrick’s legs. The sergeant does have his own sword out, but he is not fast enough to parry both the blades, not when they come from such an awkward angle. The fight has definitely come to the raft now.