When we left The Five they’d reunited in the Glass Tower and held the Lorebook in their hands. That’s a huge advance in their goals. There were signs of trouble. Some kind of odd tornado laden, green/black cloud storm sat over the Cliffs of Gallinor. Out East there is a trickle of smoke. Almost due North is the volcano in which the village they just escaped sits in the shadow.
Dark, dreary times with an invading party of 12-20 cultists and their bonds coming for them. The Five decided to stay and fight.
Maurice left the Tower to hide in the same patch of trees where Mansaray helped The Five a few days ago. The idea is to flank Chorl and the Naks when they attempt to charge the entry. Shonie hides up on the ridge where she and Hilltop will perform a delaying action so that the archers and casters can support from the observatory. That’s the role of Cortez, Saffron and Behn. Their bonds go to the ground floor with Aamar and the still recovering Samul. The priest checks the door to from outside to the pantry, blocking it with the stove and then blocking the pantry to foyer as well. That will delay alternate entry paths, unless Chorl and his followers just try to burn the whole place down. That would suck.
It’s a plan. Outnumbered the hope is to defend in depth and wear out the waves of wolves, eagles, humans and goliaths. It could even work.
Saffron is at the window looking towards Nak and one of the two giant eagles dives down to ground level. They other speeds towards the Tower. Behn is reinforcing the shelves that Shonie put in front of the broken glass windows. He should be able to take some cover using his trusty crossbow. As he pulls some wood past Cortez he recognizes a little of the language of Ken coming from the ancient goliath. Behn has no idea what is being said, just that it has similar sounds to the title of the book that Mo took and most of the Lorebook.
There is a boom – it is louder than anything anyone has heard. All are knocked to the ground. Saffron springs up quickly and checks the window. The top of the volcano is gone. No eagles fly as there is a rain of ash and rock and fear. There is also a wave of ash rushing towards them and down the valleys along the mountain.
Saffron didn’t really see the fear, she more felt it.
Behn rushes to the broken windows and shouts “Shonie, Mo! RUN!” Saffron can hardly hear him. Their companions are hundreds of feet away.
Aamar calls out “What happened?” And Behn barely hearing him, “Get up here!”
Rushing up the stairs as quickly as possible the human passes the window to the southwest and sees no more storm. The sky there is currently clear, and as he rounds a bookshelf he sees that wall of ash and the rain of stone to the North. They are seconds away from the Glass Tower getting hit by a few dozen feet of hot ash. Shonie and Maurice are outside with their companions.
Cortez is no longer muttering.
The wave of ash shakes the mostly wood tower. It remains standing. Most of the group is safe. The land outside looks like it was hit with a heavy snow, if snow was warm. There is no sign of Mo and Shonie. A falcon taps on the window to the West. It is a bond, not wild.
Aarmar Speaks with the Falcon as Behn sprints down the stairs. Maybe, just maybe he can find the two halflings. Saffron looks towards where the village of Nak was. Most trees are gone. The ridgelines she’d just scouted are forever changed.
From the falcon Aamar learns that Mansaray was in the little hamlet past the dark woods. It is where they left Saffron while she was ill. It is the town where one bandit was sent to serve and earn back honor. It is where Mansaray was when the ash flow hit. The goliath sent his falcon to Cortez’ tower to tell them that the hamlet is gone.
Behn throws the main door open and ash flows into the building. It’s just a few inches and bounding towards him is Mo’s little fox. Behn sprints back along the easy to follow tracks. Where they end he starts digging and digging. Maurice is nowhere to be found. The fox and Mitzie try to help, but still nothing.
Worried and excited Behn huffs and blows a Gust Of Wind. Clearing a space and then another space as the light ash blows out of the way. Maurice is under a large tree that seems to have protected him a bit.
“Heeellllp! I’ve found Mo.”
Aamar and Saffron join him. Aamar uses First Aid on the halfling and Maurice can walk again.
“What about Shonie?” and Saffron runs off to the ridge and those boulders. There are no tracks, no signs of life. “Behn, can you do that thing that cleared the ash?”
“Maybe?” and he does it again. Hundreds of cubic feet of ash are blown away from Behn. Shonie is huddled over Hilltop. The two tucked against those boulders.
Aamar cures their wounds.
Scanning the skies for any of Nak’s eagles they only see a trickle of rocks and ash. The Five (there are actually five since Samul is still exhausted from his day long rage) trudge back to the Glass Tower. Shonie and Maurice are in tattered clothes. Hilltop is a bit singed, but healthy and happy.
Climbing the stairs to the observatory in the Glass Tower and Cortez they have questions. He’s old and wise. He could know what just happened.
Behn asks “Did you do this?”
“I guess I did. We decided that Chorl was gaining too much power and needed to be stopped.”
“We?” Aamar interrupts.
“I and the other Scholars at the libraries around Kin. We decided to end his time. It may have worked.”
“Wait – you blew up a mountain to stop Chorl?” Saffron is stunned.
“Yes, he’ll be slowed down at worst. He may be ended. Even if he comes back, others will now have the powers he has.”
Aamar asks “Powers?”
“Pray to Quar, you will find he has more to offer you now. Saffron, your words are more potent. Behn, you will be able to do things that surprise and amaze. As Chorl’s Awakening leaked some magic into Kin, this broke the cage. It will also let the Others into Kin.”
The group exchange glances. Cortez just wiped out at least one hamlet and probably more, changing the landscape of the Western Wildes to maybe stop a former student. That and this talk of even more magic. When the Awakening (now the Minor Awakening?) came tens of thousands died. Kingdoms like Sheljar fell.
“Do you need the Book?” Aamar asks the old man.
“No, it is just a history of Kin with some spells. I have that here among my other books too.”
They back away from Cortez. Trust between them is dead. Sure, they have the book they wanted, but he’d wiped minds clean of others that hunted the Lorebook and blown up a volcano to trouble one man.
Without a mule, they load up Mitzie and Saffron’s dog to pull Samul on a sled behind them. The going is slow. Devastation surrounds them. Passing through the forest that was once dark and spider ridden is relatively easy. Then they round the bend where they’d seen that waterfall and see what the town was. It was in a valley from the once-high mountain. Now, it is desolate with only a single barn’s rough above the flow of ash.
Those with axes hack their way into the barn. It is warm, there is hay in the loft and five cattle on the ground floor. No people live. None of the cattle were bonded. The Five (back at six) settle in for the evening. Saffron sings a Song of Rest. They are all refreshed, even Samul.
In the morning they tear down some of the flooring to take the cattle on their journey to Telse. They have the Lorebook, five cattle, a story none will believe and a trail left behind them that anyone could follow.