“The amulets are fakes and people are buying them in hopes of being protected from a demon or devil, this can only end in disasters for us.” came Miri’s stern voice. “We should craft real ones and sell those to the people or better yet just give them out so they can see we care for their well being.
“And bankrupt our county more than we already have dear sister? Oh yes that sounds like a fantastic idea.” Drawled Slyphs from where he sat at the council chamber. The argument had been raging now for hours and it was showing no signs of going anywhere. Various ideas had been raised and countered by each person at the table and Amaras was growing tired of it. He was sick of sitting around debating the fates of so many others, he had enjoyed life much more when it was just his fate he held in his hands. “We can’t afford to make real amulets so we shall craft fake ones and give those out, it will assayed the people’s fears and prevent us from running the nation anymore” stated Lorathron rising from his seat at the table.
“Brother that will only cause more trouble for us what if Treerazer or his minions attack us once more? The amulets fail to work people will blame us for this.” Replied Miri rising to her feet with the look she got when she was ready to preach. Amaras pushed himself back and stood up “Then I shall take some of my forces south to harass his minions that will show the people we are doing what we can to protect them.” He said as he turned away to leave.
“I would not do that brother you could stir him to attack.” The warning fell on deaf ears as he left the chambers. He summoned the leaders of his bands to him and in moments Kalon leader of the Way Watchers, Dilianna of the Eternal Guard and Drexen of the Spell Singers stood with him as he outlined his plans. The three bands would travel south and enter the Tangle Briar and do what damage they could use hit and run attacks, mean while the Conclave would pass word to the common people so they knew that their leaders were fighting on their behalf. Setting off it took little time for them reach their destination thanks to the Elf Gates and hidden paths of the forest, for nearly three weeks they raided the briar sowing havoc and discord among their foes. Their losses were light and Amaras quickly called off the raids, they had done what they needed and they prepared to return home. They would go to Greengold to celebrate their success and they began the trip back.
It was twilight when they started to near the city when they saw a soft glow which many began to speculate on, was it a party? Were they celebrating something? Surely they must for they could smell wood smoke and cooking meat. But something was wrong, Amaras could feel it in his stomach a churning he could not explain and without knowing why he ordered some scouts ahead as the rest walked. They could hear the thunder of the giant stags hooves as they rushed back to them the scout on its back eyes wide with horror “Greengold…it burns!” he shouted and the rest broke into a run rushing the city. As they broke the forests edge they saw the truth the grand houses and massive trees were ablaze with fire some natural others magical in nature for sure as they burned a sickly green. Houses had been smashed apart, cobblestones ripped asunder and bodies…bodies lay everywhere. The very first one he came to had been ripped apart by claws and fangs he vaguely heard the voice of Kalon. He looked around the city and in the burning glow he saw that not all the bodies were those of the people living there, he saw moldering corpses, fungus shrouded animals and the greasy black smugs marking a demon or devils death. “We have to help them….Everyone!” he shouted at the others “Save those you can try and douse the fires with magic or water.” He stood and sprinted for the nearest house which was alight with flames the screams of children ringing out from within.
Many hours had passed since they had arrived; things had become a blur to him as Amaras sat slumped near the shattered remains of the once great central fountain. His eyes stung from the smoke in the hair and his breathing was raspy from inhaling so much of it. His body ached from the strain of hauling people from fires or carrying buckets of water and the burns he had sustained ached and stung him greatly, he had refused any healing demanding it to others. He sat and stared at what was left of the city, so much had been destroyed and from what he had gathered from the survivors it had been Treerazer who attacked, his minions boiling up from the sewers to slaughter and destroy. Had he caused his? Was this done by his own hubris thinking he could attack their foe without reprisal? Navarre, Miri and some of the others had arrived at some point to help battle the blaze and tended the wounded. He shoved himself to his feet and headed to where they stood he was weary to the bone and sick in his soul for all those who had perished. A mob of the survivors was near the others some yelling demanding answers, answers no one had. He could hear them wanting to know why the amulets they had been given failed, others why the army had not been there sooner. He had just reached the edge of the group when he heard it, a accusing voice among the crowd.
“It was him! The Warden caused this, he and his people attacked Treerazer they provoked this!” the cry was taken up by others. His head spun at the angry words that were being hurled at him “He is responsible! My child is dead because of him! He should have left them alone! He is a threat! He should be removed!” the cries went on and someone else threw blame at him for the war earlier in the year and the deaths in that. They were heaping them all upon him and it was all true, he saw Kalon and Dilianna faces smeared with ash and set with angry yelling back at the crowd. It was not helping thinks, he grabbed their arms and pulled them back “Enough both of you.” He snapped at them.
Dilianna looked at him “They are fools Warden! You can’t let them slander your name like this you have given so much for them…” she was angry she was torn with grief and she had no way to let it out save by yelling at his detractors. “Arrest him!” came the cry from the crowd “Who does he think he is? is he above punishment? See how the king protects his little brother. “ that last struck him deeply. He looked for who had said it but he could see only the angry mob then Navarre was in front him hand on his shoulder. “You need to leave little brother and you need to leave now. Someone is trying to turn them into a lynch mob.” His older brother looked back at the crowd and could see the murder in their eyes. “We can’t fight among ourselves and if they try and take you me and my warriors will defend you.” Amaras held up his hands to stall his words. “Kalon, fetch Elensar or one of his captains, have them place me in chains and take me away.”
Dilianna’s mouth dropped open in shock “What!” she shrieked “it is the only way to prevent more death or bloodshed.” snapped the druid as he looked at his friends and family. “If they see me taken away and believe punishment will follow they will be calmed, calmed enough for my family to help them. I can only cause more harm being here now do it.” She turned and stormed away but she would not refuse his command.
Moments later Elenshar pushed his way through the crowd a pair of silvered manacles in his hands many of the crowd jeered and hooted. “Lock him! That is what you do with a wild animal! Savage!” the crowd yelled out as he lifted his wrists up and without comment or word his brother clapped them around him. He could see the sadness and torn feelings in the Marshall’s eyes and he wanted to laugh. It was not so long ago that any of his family would have gladly clapped him into chains and it would have been well warranted his once savage nature out of control but now, now that he was cured and free he was being caged. The irony was not lost to him and when the pair of guards took his arms and turned him around to march him away he felt old, far older than he ever should have been. Words slipped into his mind from somewhere that he heard once but could not place “I am sorry for all that you will have endure young one but hold strong and you will prove worthy of my legacy.”
He heard Elensar telling the crowd he would be taken to the palace to answer to the king and council for his actions the cheers torn his heart even more as he was led away. He saw Miri standing to one side watching him “I told you brother, I told you….”
“Enough sisters I don’t need your scorn or reminders heaped upon me as well. “ he shouldered past her his own people behind him giving glares at the woman. Navarre had been correct someone had been trying to rally the people to turn them into a blood thirsty mob. They had used him to focus that hate and grief and he could only think of one group, one enemy who would do that and do that so well..
The Shadows had returned to Kyonin.