The trip to Jakar’s Rest had been peaceful, and I had gloried in the chance to get away from all the tumult of the city. On the way back to Enonia the next day, though, we came upon a man staggering about, clutching his chest.
As my uncle had lamented, I have always been too trusting! I dismounted to aid him, while Willie and Josef kept a wary eye out for any ambush. I gave the traveler water as he clutched at my arm; he declared himself better, remounted his horse, and trotted off, looking a bit nervous. Then I discovered my purse had been untied! There was nothing missing – I must have instinctively jerked away from him while he tried to pick my pockets – but for the principle of the thing, we raised a hue and cry and chased him a few minutes. I took some gentle chiding from Willie and Josef for not recognizing such an obvious ploy, but we were all amused that this lesson cost me nothing but time.
We ate second breakfast in the saddle, but broke for lunch as we met some returning Meesha-followers on the road. We shared our food, they their drink and flowers – and news of further unrest in Enonia. Truly, what trouble is caused by such nonsense as religion! Even those who come closest in their worship to the reverence with which I hold the natural world, by focusing their attention on only an aspect or avatar, blind themselves to the wisdom of others. Mayhap the Meeshans come closest to my views.
At any rate, forewarned we approached the city warily, and checked in at the Mug & Pot. None of our companions were there, so we went next to the Temple of the Light – well-meaning folk there, but they look at only one part of the natural world and put it on a pedestal! As though night must not follow day, winter not give way to spring, hunter and prey not dance with each other. But I digress….
A deacon at the temple told us our party had gone seeking books, perhaps at Parabellum’s so we headed there. Fergus quickly filled us in – Collin, the Duke’s secretary was dead! and a magical double had taken his place. The Temple of the Light and the Marshal had been notified, but the Duke was yet away and unaware. A network of old tunnels linked various of the buildings of Enonia, and Ward was displeased that they were coming to the attention of the authorities. The city had stayed in tumult since the pagan parade, and we could see smoke and hear rioting from the area by the Temple of Tangadorin. We headed there, my hope being to spare the bakery from looting and ruin – I wanted more of Turgon’s Tasty Treats!
On the way, arrows rained down on us from the rooftops. Belaldur was injured, but the archers broke and ran. They descended to the street and headed north, getting closer to the mob. Torrin, Jorann, Pyrea, and Joffrey had headed down to protect the bakery, the pagans, and their temples. The rest of us – Willie, Josef (also hit by an arrow), Fergus, Belaldur, Mazlor, and Itsy – gave chase to our attackers, and several turned to fire at us again, while two started climbing back to the rooftops. I called to some insects in the area and harried one off the wall, then sent the swarm against another who was trying to flee. The rest escaped, calling, “Back to the Eagle!” While Beladur and Fergus trussed up our captive, I went back to heal Josef. Willie and Fergus took him back to the Mug and Pot. Belaldur, Itsy, Mazlor, and I went to the Militiaman & Bawd to check in with Ward.
The pub was closed, but Ward let us in. He identified our prisoner as a worthless rogue named Karl, who’s been hiring men away from Ward’s organization. At Ward’s suggestion, the clerics went out to tend to the wounded. Then Beladur questioned Karl for us, Ward putting a dagger tip beneath a thumbnail for emphasis. Karl had been hired by a Light Bringer priest, Marcus – blond, tall, shiny armor that would make him a focus in any fight. Oh, and Marcus had not just sent Karl’s archers to kill us – other bands, hidden near the pagan district and by the Temple of the Light, had orders to take us down, as well. Karl bore us no ill will – he’s no fanatic, just wanted the gold. His employer and crew, at the Eagle’s Alehouse, he had no particular loyalty to, judging by how quick he gave them up.
Ward told Belaldur of a back way through the tunnels to the Eagle’s Alehouse. Ward offered to lead us there to confront Marcus, but worried we were too few. I went to call back in Mazlor and Itsy, and we all left Karl in Ward’s care as we went back to the bakery to collect the rest of our party, and to snack on the last of the cakes. It was near suppertime, so we went back to the Mug & Pot for dinner and conversation.