The Golden Way, Thesk
(12th of Elesias, 1491 Dalereckoning)
As it turned out, there had been a small vessel making a run to Thesk. Probably smugglers, Kaileena thought now, given by the reticence of the deckhand she’d pried the information out of with sweet words and clerical suggestion. They’d set sail early, very early, preventing her and Zolin from visiting the palace, and the crew had been impolite and wary.
If they were smugglers, Zolin and her must have passed their inspection of possibly being informants for the Simbarch, if only just so, judging by their behavior.
No matter. After they docked in Telflamm, it had been easy to join one of the many trade caravans between Thesk and Rashemen. So close to so many foreign ships, the docks had been buzzing with activity.
Kaileena smiled contentedly, eyeing the road. Fall had painted the forest with bright, vibrant colors, like little patches of fire amid the low grassland. To the north, she knew, was denser forest, and the peaks of the Thesk Mountains to the south were just barely visible on the horizon; slight grayish discolorations amidst the sea of blue sky.
As a falling leaf drifted by, she snatched it out of the air, and studied its shape. Oak, but with particular, almost jagged striations along the stem. It could have fallen from an Oak in the Central District, so similar in appearance. Indeed, something about the rustic, alien look of Thesk reminded her a little of Teikoku.
Their guards, predominantly Half-Orcs, likely descendents of the Tuigan Horde, barked orders between one another in a tongue she didn’t understand, but the brutes offered her and Zolin a wide berth. A few sneered and hurled uncertain insults in their direction, so it wasn’t intimidation by her odd appearance so much as the usual distrust she provoked.
“What I wouldn’t give for a Lizardfolk settlement somewhere decent.” she mused, “They seemed to think I looked rather exotic, but akin enough to be accepted at face value. Or maybe Dragonborn, who just don't care as much about that sort of thing.”
Zolin grunted, “I’d rather people just minded their own business. Neither of us are about to start brandishing steel and attacking passerby.”
Nothing for it, Kaileena thought for a moment, and decided she could go for supper. Zolin, as if reading her thoughts, set out a pair of ceramic bowls and a pair of waterskins. Drawing her holy symbol, its crystal surface radiating a soft, rosy light, Kaileena cast over the items, whispering the necessary chants. Her waterskin filled to capacity with a light, nutty white wine, and the bowl with a thick potato and leek soup with rich, tangy seasoning. Zolin’s fare was, per his preference, a dark beef stew and a medium bodied red. With her stew, since she lacked the protein of a meat course, she also enjoyed a pouch of mixed nuts.
A few of the guards gawked at her casual use of magic, and she smiled. Let them be a little unsettled, at least...
“A handy trick.” Zolin said, not for the first time in their journey, “I know a few forward scouts that would loved to have a hot meal on the road like this.”
Sipping her stew and finding it the right temperature, Kaileena took a larger gulp, enjoying the large chunks, “Mmph. The priesthood has its benefits.”
“I only know defensive and healing magic.” he noted dryly, “I’ll have to try and learn the trick sometime. Maybe Carn will show me when we return.”
Nodding grimly, Kaileena thought back to Amran, who had previously led Zolin’s chapter of Amaunator. The former Curate had passed almost a year prior, and she still remembered his sermons as if they’d occurred the day before.
“Sunites are better suited to such spells, anyway. It is our place to bring comfort after hardships, the solutions to which are the specialty of other priesthoods.”
Looking over her shoulder, Kaileena observed the wagon behind them. A family of four, merchant stock by their clothing, appeared to be eating as well, though it was all salted meat and stale bread. A mated pair and their offspring, a boy about the age of twelve, a girl closer to six. The girl eyed her, mystified, despite her parent’s protests.
“Speaking of which, I bet they would appreciate a hot stew as well.” she noted, easing to her feet and hopping off the wagon, “And I could stand for a little social interaction before we’re among the notoriously superstitious Rashemi. I’ll be right back.”
Along The Golden Way, the caravan made its trek across the length of Thesk. After a shaky introduction, the family sharing their caravan had opened up enough to have a short conversation not quite audible from that distance. They didn’t accept Kaileena’s offer of stew, Zolin noticed, but seemed amiable enough. Spent, she’d returned to their wagon, which they shared with a dozen tied sacks of corn, or maybe wheat. Hard to tell.
Not one for modesty, she’d quickly fallen asleep in her bedroll, her back pressed against the cargo, her tail curled around his leg while he sat against the rim of the wagon.
Nothing for it, Zolin nodded off in that exact position, the steady rocking of the wagon lulling him to sleep, despite the noise and constant motion.
Their journey was slow, but thankfully uneventful. A few more days passed by without much notice or care, stopping at nightfall to make camp and pressing on an hour or so before sunrise. He savored this time spent with his beloved; her duties to Sune and to Teneth’s had kept her occupied, but here, her attention was his alone. They talked, they sparred, they supped, and they enjoyed a game of cards or dice here and there, never more than a stone throw from the other. Their closeness, their obvious affection, bothered those traveling beside them, but he didn’t care. This was their time, and he intended to spend it to its fullest, since he wasn’t certain what awaited them in Teikoku.
Their caravan trekked northeast along the road to a smaller city called Phent, and from Phent to Phsant, loading and unloading goods all the way. That family stopped off in Phsant, accustomed enough to bid them a fond farewell and good fortune.
Now moving uphill, through arid grasslands and hilly pastures, it took over a tenday to pass Tammar, and then Two Stars, but eventually their caravan came to a halt before a wide lake bisected by a narrow stretch of land and a loading dock.
“Lake Mulsantir.” she noted, eyeing the map, “A natural three-way border between Thesk, Rashemen, and Thay. Just across that inlet is Rashemen. And just a range of mountains separates it from the Hordelands.”
Mulsantir proper was still too far distant to mark against the far shore, but they disembarked and purchased the use of a ferry, knowing it would be clear as day soon enough.
As they drifted towards the city over the next couple of hours, they passed several small vessels, manned by teams of fishermen that netted sturgeon from the lake. At the far dock, she saw several men, much older and probably unable to easily perform that job, leisurely baiting crab traps and tossing them off the pier, connected to posts on the gangplank by a length of thick rope.
“And now I put my hood up.” Kaileena sighed, drawing her cloak tighter around her and wrapping a scarf about her snout, “This is where we don’t want to draw attention”.
Saddened, Zolin nodded gruffly. Rashemi were a strange lot; not far removed from barbarians in temperament but nonetheless gifted with outlandish magic. Their society was matriarchal, ruled by a cadre of powerful witches, the only real reason Thay hadn’t invaded them as of yet.
As they docked and paid the ferryman, they advanced up the pier, passing groups of laborers and fishermen, and the occasional warrior clothed in a coat of mail or a thick leather brigandine and a fur-lined cloak. A greatsword was a favored weapon, though many also sported a hand axe and shield pairing.
The buildings were short and wide, low to the ground, and almost all were outfitted with smoke-belching chimneys. Basements were no doubt more common than the warmer cities to the south. Thatch roofs were common as well, though a few of the nicer ones sported pointed shingles and fine glass windows. The poorer houses didn’t have windows or openings at all aside from a door and chimney, likely to trap in heat.
As they delved further into the city, to the merchant and residential areas, they passed a behemoth of a man clothed only in a fur war-kilt, his muscles scarred from many battles. He bore no visible weapon, but flexed his hands, and sniffed the air like a hound, and scowled at them as they offered him a wide berth. Behind him was a woman, or at least Zolin thought it was a woman, robed in black, a hood and ornately detailed mask concealing her face. A wand was belted at her waist, and a slim shortsword with a distinctive waving blade was sheathed across her back.
“I sense powerful magic about him.” Kaileena whispered as they passed out of earshot, ”Transformative magic. He must be one of the Shape-shifting berserkers who can take animal form...”
Not surprised, for the man looked like nothing if not a shaved bear, he led her quickly inland.
Unfortunately, as they reached the eastern edges of the city, there were no signs of caravaneers. No wagons, and only a small stable. Nothing else but small, thatch-roofed huts forming a small, ramshackle community outside the formidable walls.
“Pardon, sir.” Zolin said as he approached one of the guards, “Are there no supply lines between here and the Citadel? We have a need to travel north.”
The Rashemi, all muscle and hair and iron plating, grunted, “Supplies only travel monthly, under guard by an entire Fang. Too many dangers about. Why would you want to brave the Hordelands?”
“Necessity.” he explained, “Well enough. When is the next caravan scheduled?”
“Another tenday or two. At least.”
Replying with thanks, Zolin carried word to Kaileena, who studied the distant forests, her tail lashing inside her cloak.
“I was hoping we wouldn’t have to make an extended stop anywhere this far in.” she groaned, “Especially here. Too much wild magic. Look.”
She displayed the skin on her forearm, from which danced a cacophony of tiny purple embers, “I think these lands still have a tangible connection to the feywild. Good luck convincing the Rashemi I’m no danger when I’m flaring purple.”
Cursing, Zolin considered their options. They’d managed to escape notice thus far, but the inns looked full, packed with merchants bunking in for the winter, and they wouldn’t have any luck begging for a room from the locals. They’d have to throw a good deal of coin around, and while Kaileena had plenty to spare, there was no real guarantee that would work. Rashemi didn’t take to coin so much as deeds, and she hardly looked a warrior.
“Two travelers would hardly attract notice...” she offered meekly, “With winter closing in, any marauding nasties would be readying for hibernation or holing up in a cave or fort for the next few months. Might need a fleet horse, though.”
A horse would be a better bet than waiting half a month for a caravan that may or may not allow them to tag along. A short walk brought them to the stable, where a trio of horses grazed; a pair of paint horses, one male and one female, and another horse with a dull, creamy brown coat. Closer inspection revealed it to be another female.
Guessing the other two to be a mated pair, Zolin was approached by a stablehand, and asked the price of the brown mare.
“Eighty five gold.” they said idly, certain such a price would scare off the casual tourist. Kaileena handed them the sum without a second thought, and how the boy’s jaw dropped. They sprinted off to one of the houses, likely to alert the proprietor, and she studied her purchase, experimentally brushing its flank. The beast flinched, and turned to sniff her hand.
“Took to you rather quickly.”
“A herbivore can smell a herbivore.” she replied, “She knows I’m not a threat.”
As if in agreement, the mare snorted
“Good thing I’ve kept up on my riding.” he noted dryly, “The mountain pass will be an interesting trek. We could probably sell the horse when we’re close to the Great Ice Sea.”
“Or we could take it with us...if the raft is big enough.”
Zolin sighed, “Odd time to decide that you want a horse.”
“Well I couldn’t get a dog, so there you go...”
Now that it was just the two of them, Zolin was constantly scanning the road and adjacent countryside for threats. She could feel his tenseness even through his armor and her cloak as she sat in front, his hands on the reins, hers in her lap or stroking the horse's mane.
“You need a name...” Kaileena decided, having brushed it into relative order, “What do people name horses, anyway?”
“By their coat or their temperament, usually.” Zolin replied idly, leading them around a drainage ditch, “So Chestnut would be a good name.”
“So plain, though.” she said, considering as she massaged the horse’s thick neck muscles, “Too obvious. How about after her eyes? Such an unusual shade of blue. Or maybe something about her personality. I saw her eating a sunflower when we stopped to let her graze.”
“Himawari.” she said, experimenting, “Sunflower in Nihongo. Are you Himawari?”
At her prodding, the mare snorted, but otherwise kept her own counsel.
“Sounds like a yes to me, Himawari.”
“You know we might have to sell her when we get closer to the sea.”
Kaileena sniffed, “Nonsense. I’ll use a spell.”
“You can’t strain yourself unduly.”
“I can handle it.” she insisted, “How could I ever look into these sad, soulful eyes, knowing I’d leave her in some frontier town.”
Nodding with a slight roll of his eyes, he didn’t press the issue.
It would be another day to the mountain pass, and they enjoyed what they could of Rashemen.
Geographically, the northern portion of Rashemen was predominantly barren and mountainous, and ravaged by strong, harsh winds, while the south was a more mild, marshy terrain. Roughly between the two, the soil was moist, and spongy, but the wind was oddly frigid for so early into the fall, and they kept their cloaks tightly bundled against their bodies, shivering away the worst of it. The fall coloring of leaves wasn’t so present here; unlike Thesk the forest was mostly pine, with a few other types sprinkled in. At this point along the road there was another lake further north, but neither of them could mark it.
Eventually, they reached a particularly dense patch of forest and Zolin veered Himawari off the path. With dusk setting in the sun was but a thick red line on the horizon, and it would be a good place to make camp.
“I’ll get some firewood.” Kaileena told him, “Could you set the camp?”
Zolin grunted, and she darted off into the wood, searching for fallen branches.
It didn’t take long to raise their tent; more a lean-in of wooden stakes holding up a single length of thick, thick cloth. Knowing the material to be little more than a windbreaker, Zolin dug a wide but shallow depression relatively close, lining it with smooth river stones piled along the road. He also set out a large pan, for they would need more conjured stew than the bowls would hold on their own.
Sighing, Zolin went a sizable distance from the camp, and relieved himself.
It was going to be a rough final stretch into the Hordelands...
Nothing for it, for he was as dedicated to this course as Kaileena herself was, he returned, drew his broadsword, doused it, and began sharpening with a whetstone, its rhythmic motions drawing him into an almost meditative state. Arms, then armor. Then maybe a shave would do...the road hadn’t been kind to his face. And then a bath when they reached the next town. He’d noticed the way Kaileena quickly retracted her tongue when sniffing the air near him.
Laughing, for he’d grown more than a little too accustomed to city life, Zolin kept to his task, and thought nothing of the horn that blew far in the distance.
With a thick bundle of sticks under her arm, Kaileena began backtracking to the camp, careful not to go out of eyeshot of the road. It was nightfall by now, the sun less a red line and more a lighter blue against a dark backdrop. The soft earth gave under her feet, soaking her thin shoes, and she hissed, discomforted, and made a note to dry both her feet and her shoes by the fire. Hypothermia would be a concern this far north, making her wish she’d waited until next Mirtul to make the trip back to Teikoku.
Nothing for it now.
She paused, and blinked, confused, as a hunting horn sounded in the distance. North...or maybe Northeast. Maybe a Rashemi hunting party, sighting a quarry. Another horn greeted it, and another. The third was much closer.
Not particularly alarmed, Kaileena walked briskly towards the camp, then paused.
She lifted her head, forked tongue tasting for spoor. She could have sworn she’d scented something...
Puzzled, Kaileena hissed softly, and carried on, more careful not to make too much noise. This wasn’t exactly untraveled terrain, and that was the problem. Could be friendly...could be...
A branch snapped, very close, and she crouched low behind a tree, tense as a bowstring.
Again, the hint of spoor...nearly undetectable.
And then the wind abruptly changed direction, and she dropped her bundle, and raced towards the camp.
“Zolin!” she cried, “Orcs!”
Within a two-count, the forest around her erupted into noise and motion, as over a dozen previously unseen Goblinkin charged her. At first startled by her appearance, they drew cruel, barbed iron swords, while those furthest nocked crudely fashioned bows. She shrieked and put a tree between her and the archers, and managed a few paces before leaping under an Orc with a greataxe, nimbly maneuvering right between his spread legs as his weapon sliced through the air she’d previously occupied. Baffled, he turned to her right as she put distance between them, energy pooling in her left palm.
"Goddess, let me not be too late!" she prayed under her breath, panting, as the archers oriented on her again, and she was forced to position herself behind a tree further towards the camp.
Cursing, for the next stretch was open terrain and she couldn’t clearly see where the archers were, Kaileena lobbed the concussive orb behind her, and flinched as it struck a solid object, ruptured, and sublimated. A tree felled, and the Orcs cried out in surprise in their garbled tongue.
“Kaileena!” Zolin cried from ahead, but she heard also the irregular ring of metal against metal, joined by the frantic neighing of their horse, and her blood ran cold.
She needed to move, but she needed to be sure the archers would be occupied.
Another orb raced into the forest behind her, and Kaileena began a more lengthy incantation, one she hadn’t used in some time; a spell very, very similar to one Guardian had taught her, though it relied on the power of Sune instead. Small folds opened in the fabric of reality, and a pair of invisible, intangible spirits passed from the outer realms and into Abeir-Toril. She marked their presence only by a faint hiss and a slight discoloration in the air. Sinking into the soft earth, her conjured spirits sought the layers of solid rock underneath the mud. By the muffled rumbling, they traveled quite a distance...
Cursing, Kaileena ducked, just as an axehead buried into the tree.
The hulking goblinkin holding it lunged forward, and grabbed her by the throat. How wide his tusked grin was as he lifted her off her feet, and how wide his look of shock was as he registered his body hurling through the air.
Only affected by the whiplash, Kaileena grunted as her body smacked against the tree, and shivered as her spirits broke earth. Manifesting as serpent-like writhing lengths of spines, composed of a medley of shale, granite, and coal, the spirits, too heavy to fly, slithered along the ground, and snapped at something out of sight.
Seeing this as her best chance, Kaileena broke for the clearing, and no arrows assailed her as she blundered through the next patch of forest and into camp, to find Zolin exchanging blows with a trio of Orcs. Himawari was still tethered to a tree and bucking wildly, her eyes wide and mouth foaming. Two more Orcs appeared blinded, likely by his clerical magic, and thrashed impotently a stone toss away.
And five more closed in from behind her, one of them an archer.
Concentrating, for she’d expended much of her accumulated strength already, Kaileena called a spirit to her, for she only sensed the connection to the one, and gathered a cutting sphere, a variation of her earlier spell, oily black and roughly the size of a marble.
“Go away.” she pleaded, her words fortified and made into a powerful suggestion by the presence of Lady Sune, “There is nothing to be gained here.”
The Orcs paused, puzzled. One grunted, replied softly in its language. For a moment, she let herself think the charm had worked, but then their Shaman, a wizened creature garbed in a war-kilt and a necklace of bones, gestured its own spell and obliterated it.
Swiping her hand low, the cutting sphere hurled towards the leading Orc, punctured it just under the kneecap, and penetrated through the other side with nearly no resistance. As it collapsed, screaming, two more fell in similar fashion before the orb winked out.
Her eyes already on the Shaman, who had begun his next spell, Kaileena finished her own nearly simultaneously with his; a hypnotic charm on the Orcs attacking Zolin.
Guessing the first spell an Orc would use, Kaileena hissed as the skin of her neck and chest blistered with the heat of a fireball, but the bulk of it siphoned into her body in a cloud of rippling purple embers. Her clothing singed, and blisters were already forming, but otherwise she was unharmed.
She heard Zolin’s blade bite into flesh, and grimaced, even as the Shaman puzzled over why his fireball had been so ineffective.
Again, the hunting horns sounded, much closer, but Kaileena had no time to wonder if it signaled help... or more Orcs...
The archer, thankfully out of arrows, had drawn a short, serrated blade, while the only other standing Orc warrior was possessed of a club and shield. She eyed them warily as the Shaman resumed casting.
Calling upon her connection to The Lady Firehair, the talisman flaring at her belt, Kaileena infused herself with an aura that projected unfathomable beauty and majesty. While it was not a conventionally offensive spell, it gave her attackers pause long enough to the Shaman to snarl impotently, as Zolin, his own attackers slain, countered their spell.
With no time to meditate and restore her depleted energy, Kaileena flexed her claws as the two Orc warriors advanced on her, snarling. Zolin cut the tether on Himawari, but before he could mount, she bolted, trampling the Orc’s she’d kneecapped. A rustling in the distance revealed another two dozen Goblinkin, which formed a tight circle around their camp.
Again, the hunting horns sounded, close enough to cause their attackers to sniff the air nervously.
Zolin joined her, his steel flecked with blood, his body suffused with golden light, which bled into her skin in an aura of purple fire. Zolin’s sunlight spell seemed to manifest enough to be absorbed by her flesh, and she nodded in appreciation.
“The Shaman.” she decided, turning to the creature, which had retreated behind a pair of warriors, grinning wickedly. Brandishing a tusked, shrunken head, they began a lengthy incantation.
As their intention registered, Kaileena gasped, revolted, “He’s a necromancer.”
Her conjured spirit charged the rear of their circle, its jaws snapping onto an Orc’s calf, and it tumbled, shrieking in pain and surprise. The rest turned to it, as the Shaman finished its spell and reanimated the trio Zolin had killed and the two Himawari had trampled. Now undead, their flesh not yet even afflicted with rigor mortis, they approached fearlessly, eyes shimmering a sickly green.
The Orcs quickly dispatched her spirit, and turned back to them.
But several fell or wavered, bewildered by the fletching suddenly protruding from their bodies.
Fur-cloaked figures dashed from the forest, helms fashioned after the heads of wolves, drawing greatswords and axes of shimmering steel. The shaman barked orders, and began rifling through its pack as its retinue turned to deal with these new attackers.
The zombies continued towards the two of them, unmindful.
Knowing clerical spells would be extremely effective against undead, Kaileena moved far enough from Zolin to stop leeching off his aura.
He lunged forward, impaling a zombie through the mouth, and his anointed steel burned through its flesh, severing the top half of its head. It tumbled, but still reached towards him. His golden aura seared its hands into blackened husks, shriveling into closed fists, and he toppled it with a knee to the chest, backpedaling as the others closed on him.
Kaileena readied a concussive sphere and hurled it at the rightmost zombie, and its torso impacted with the violent sublimation as its body slammed into a nearby tree with such forcefulness that its lower branches broke off.
The Orcs battled with the strange fur-garbed warriors, who were fewer in number but highly trained. They would win the day, given enough time.
Given the possibility that the Shaman could be occupied with the two of them instead.
With a little energy still contained in the concussive sphere, Kaileena angled it towards the Shaman, who rattled off a hasty counterspell, reducing it further before it slammed into the Goblinkin’s chest and collapsed it with a heavy thud.
Another sphere took the Zombie to the left, snapping its spine and doubling it over itself, head brushing against the earth as its lower half dragged it along.
Zolin beheaded a Zombie while using its body as a shield from the other. A second blow to the heart felled it, and he expended the last of his aura in a single concentrated burst that immolated the final zombie. It thrashed, more aimlessly, as it was slowly reduced to ash.
The shaman cursed them foully in Common, lifting itself to its feet.
“You like magic, yes?” it asked around a wide sneer, “You get magic!”
It withdrew a small, ornate box, and Kaileena felt, sensed, a profound wrongness beyond even the disturbances she’d created when summoning or calling Guardian from his lamp. Hurling it forward, its latch undone, the box opened slightly, and a ripple of blue light poured free.
Zolin took his sword in an executioner’s grip, and charged.
“ZOLIN!” she cried, leaping forward and interposing herself between her love and that horrible, unspeakable wrongness, as the box broke apart, its contents expanding in open air. Zolin was hurled back by the force of the explosion, but caught in its immediate area, she was rooted to the ground. A surge of blue light engulfed her, and she screamed.
“KAILEENA!” Zolin cried, horrified, as her body covered in blue fire. Seemingly bypassing her absorption ability, she batted at the flames, which even then warped the air around her unnaturally. She fell to her knees. The trees nearest to her bent towards the flame, and their leaves changed color and shape. One sprouted crystals that shimmered with magic.
Blue fire. Mystra’s Blue Fire; the stuff of the Spellplague!
He tried to move, but a pair of hands clamped down on his shoulders and dragged him backward.
“Let me go!” he snarled, trying to fight free, but another hand grabbed him by the scruff of his hair and yanked him back. He turned to find a wolf-helmed man with bright blue eyes, which widened at the sight of Kaileena rising back to her feet.
Now her screams were terrible indeed! The blue fire turned purple, and flared so brilliantly that even the warriors and the few remaining Orcs turned to witness. It peaked above the trees, and incinerated their upper reaches. The Shaman gawked, and as she lifted her head to face him, Kaileena's cries reached a wild, shrieking cacophony punctuated with wordless babbling and pained gasps for air.
Another orb formed in her hand, and expanded to the size of a kite shield. The fires about her body lessened, and she loosed the orb into the air, and another, and another, her peculiar aura reduced each successive time. One clipped the Shaman, and its body was pulled inside as it sheared through the trees, hurled into the sky, and detonated so violently that Zolin doubled over, clamping his eyes shut as his vision blurred at its brightness. His ears rang, and he could no longer hear his own screams. Opening his eyes revealed her still standing, somehow, and no longer burning with heatless purple fire.
Kaileena turned, towards him, her eyes wide and terrified. As they met his, the awareness bled from them, and she collapsed, amid a circle of blackened grass.
Moirshen breathed a sigh of relief when the lizard-creature fell inert, but nonetheless hauled the man that had fought beside her further away. It took the berserker some time to notice he couldn’t hear clearly...but by then he was reorienting, and the man’s cries began to register.
His fellow berserkers finished off the remaining Orcs, then approached the creature, which remained prone, probably unconscious.
Just as well. He didn’t want another fight just yet. Not until the blood rage subsided and his newer men could follow commands clearly again.
“Leave her alone!” the man yelled out in the Trading Tongue, struggling as his arms were bound, “She’s not a threat to you!”
Moirshen turned to him, considering. He had been a boon, particularly against the walking corpses the He-Witch had created. While Moirshen held no particular fondness for knights from the western kingdoms, they had occasionally proven allies to the Wychlaran against the Thayans. His word held some value.
“She ate the blue fire.” he noted, bewildered, “And what followed...”
His men leaned forward, ready to strike, but he halted them.
“I’ll spare the beast for now.” he decided, knowing it was not his place to make such a decision, “The Wychlaran will decide her fate. Bind her; wrists, ankles, and mouth.
There was no question to his orders; he ruled the Fang and his word was law, though a few spat on their fingers, made a fist, and then flicked their fingers three times; a gesture intended to ward against bad luck. They quickly had her restrained, mounted atop the brown horse that had fled early in the fight but his scouts had already recovered. They would lead it by the tether until she could be leashed to a wagon.
“We go to the Midnight Moon Lodge, Outsider.” he explained, “North, over the river and near the border to Ashenwood. You both will accompany as my prisoners. You aided us in our hunt, so I will be lenient, but the creature-”
“Her name is Kaileena.” the man insisted, his gaze unwavering, even as Moirshen flexed his massive, weighty fists. A man he could respect, at least.
“A wolf will always be a wolf.” Moirshen replied gruffly, “It is not my place to say. Will you come willingly?”
The words carried an unspoken threat, and the man nodded reluctantly.
“Good. We go now.”