Echoes of Invasion: The Society of Shadow | Scene 10

When the Society of Shadow moves on the caravan, Sir Sior’s soldiers bear the brunt of the first attack wave. His lance is something to fear on a charge, but it is of little use after he has closed the distance. The forces under his command valiantly hold the attackers at bay for a while, but even under his strong leadership, some fall, and eventually the criminals under his charge get free. Some flee, while others grab weapons and join the fighting on the side of the shadow mages.

Even though the back part of the caravan is slowed by this, Rhodri keeps the wagoneers focused and the front carts moving. The provision wagons push through the opposition up there and rush farther up the road. They get enough clearance that some of the caravan guards can be dispatched to aid the king’s forces. Those troops are no longer required to stay near the prison wagon, since their liberated charges have dispersed. Knots and the Beard lead a squad of new hires into the fray. The Beard racks up a more impressive tally, but only because of the number of combatants that Knots sends stumbling in his direction. The Beard’s shield does a far better job of deflecting lightning than Tric’s chest did.

Tomos tries to help as well but he is not nearly as effective as the mercenaries. If he had learned any light magic from Rhaessa, he might have been able to do something about the unnatural darkness. As it is, he relies on his fire missiles. He is no warrior himself, though, and this is a more fraught situation than shooting at a single naga. The chanting of some of the remaining shadow mages also hampers him. One small bright side is that his small explosions do not ignite anything along the verge.

With the threats in their own area dealt with, Tric and Heppa turn toward the chaos at the back of the caravan. A pair of escapees fleeing the fighting come upon them. One of them panics, “That’s the enchantress who crushed the wagon wheel. She could crush our bones just as easily!” 

Tric recognizes these fellows as former ferry operators. He bears them no ill will here. He tried to dissuade them from the ambush that got them locked up in the first place. “We punished the shadow mages for corrupting this forest, but we know you are not them,” he tells the nervous pair. “You are guilty of minor crimes, but not magical corruption. But if you flee, these knights will hound you. It’s only going to get worse.”

“This forest is not safe for you,” Heppa adds. Behind her and above, the glowing orange eyes of Blululldrum narrow as the wose regards these new humans.

“Our quarrel is not with you, but as my cousin says, you cannot flee into this forest,” Tric agrees. While the elves might not care one way or another about these fellows escaping, they definitely do not want the shadow mages to recruit them as reinforcements.

“Building a bridge is safer for you than whatever fate you would meet here,” Heppa continues. “I think maybe you folks should turn around.” Her tone is friendly and helpful, but the criminals see the imposing wose and hear an underlying threat.

Tric pulls out more slices of his prized ham, taking a bite and offering some to Mate. The ferriers recognize the magpie that brought them snacks on the trip up to Dan’Tonk. It is further evidence of Tric’s goodwill, and he even shares some meat with them now. “There are worse dungeons to be in than out in the open sunlight, building a bridge.”

The two fellows surrender themselves to the elves’ protection for now and ask that they intercede with Sir Sior on their behalf. They fear getting cut down if they simply turn around and head back on their own right now. Tric leads them over to Sir Sior, who is overseeing criminals being secured inside the prison cart. Although some of the original prisoners have escaped, there are new ones to take their place. “Sir Sior! I’m glad to see you are well. I hope that my message made it to you and your company via the Beard.” The knight nods in acknowledgement, and Tric gestures at his companions, continuing, “I think you will recognize these fellows. They were not trying to escape; they were just trying to make sure they were not injured in the chaos of battle. They sought safety with us after we dealt with the leader of the shadow mages, so I am returning them to you. I just want to assure you, they were not attempting to escape,” Tric reiterates.

Sir Sior takes Tric at his word. They may have gotten off on the wrong foot with each other initially, but Tric’s gift for Lord Uchal and his demonstrated battle prowess have smoothed things over. “Whatever infraction these two fellows may have caused is not the concern of the elves,” Tric goes on, “but the rest of these!” He points at some shadow mages being clamped in manacles. “They were corrupting these woods! So I ask that you give leniency to these two, and whatever dreadful dredging and drudgery you have, let that be reserved for these new workers you have.”

“Lord Uchal’s forces will be continuing to the Ford of Abez to deliver the criminals, as was our charge,” Sir Sior tells Tric. “But these shadow mages? We will drag them to the ford with us, but then we are returning to Weldyn with them. Theirs is a serious offense. Whatever those mages were doing with those shadows, that is a matter for the courts. They need to be tried for high crimes.”

Tric nods. He had half-expected the knight to just execute the shadow mages, but there has been no outright necromancy. “Bind their hands,” he advises. “Make sure they do not have any access to implements. Possibly even blindfold them?”

Sir Sior tilts his helm in question. “They seem to like darkness,” he observes.

“They like darkness when they think they have control over it,” Tric says. “But they don’t. The darkness controls them.” Tric turns on his heel to leave and almost bumps into Tomos, who is eying him peculiarly. Tric wonders whether it is the scorch marks on his chest or if more than just Heppa and the woses felt his powerful casting earlier this morning. They do not get into it though, as Sir Sior summons the apprentice mage to his side to discuss how to effectively secure magic-wielding prisoners. The teenager tries to sound knowledgeable, but mostly he just reiterates the obvious: casting magic is more difficult without freedom of movement or the ability to speak.