Sigthyme and Tak walked back through the gate back toward the outer wall of Xylon. As they walked, they passed the group of Pact Members who were busy surveying the scene. The area was still chilly but the ice was melting rapidly turning into white mist.
“Evocation magic,” One member said to another.
“No trace of water,” The other replied. “The ice is turning to mist and then evaporating entirely.”
Groups of Xylon guards moved past and started to tend to the frozen bodies. They loaded them onto stretchers and took them away, clearing the area. Other guards moved forward and engaged with the carts which were still stationed on the outside of the city, instructing them to make the journey to another gate in order to enter.
Once Sigthyme and Tak got to the outside of the city, they met up with Captain Springbloom.
“What’s the situation?” She asked.
“Big cold,” Tak said.
“Let me explain, big guy,” Sigthyme said, placing a hand on Tak’s arm.
Sigthyme then turned toward Captain Springbloom.
“There was some sort of large, icy explosion at the gate. Several guards were killed. Other Xylon guards have shown up and are taking over the situation. Members of the Pact of Thorns are investigating the explosion and then the city is going to go into lockdown,” Sigthyme explained.
“Lockdown? With us right outside?” Captain Springbloom asked. “I wonder if they need some people to defend the gates. I should go talk to whoever is in charge.”
“Yeah we need to grab everyone and get back to the embassy,” Sigthyme said.
“Woah. And by everyone do you mean Prince Riffen?” Captain Springbloom asked.
“I hope you understand when I say I mean no offense by this, but Riffen is not safe within the city. He has been kidnapped and now he was almost killed in this explosion. Prince Riffen is safest under the watch of the Soulon Army,” Captain Springbloom said. “Every single one of the members of the army would gladly give their lives to protect the Prince. If you must travel back to the embassy, then so be it. But Prince Riffen should remain with the army.”
“That’s up to Riffen isn’t it?”
Captain Springbloom’s stern expression grew even sterner.
“Prince Riffen has been through a lot. He will want to be in a place where he is safest. That is with me and the army,” She said.
“I guess we’ll just have to ask him then,” Sigthyme said, folding his arms.
Captain Springbloom looked from Sigthyme to Tak who had his hands gripped around his warhammer. She then glanced back at Sigthyme.
“You have known the Prince for a very short time and under your watch he was kidnapped and almost killed. So think long and hard about where Prince Riffen should be spending his time,” Captain Springbloom said before pushing past both Sigthyme and Tak.
“I can see why Pria doesn’t like her much,” Sigthyme said to Tak. “Let’s go get the others and get out of here. If we’re stuck with the army tonight, I fear that I won’t make it through the night.”
“Protect Siggy,” Tak said, still gripping his hammer.
“Yeah I appreciate that,” Sigthyme said with a smile.
Heading toward them was Juniper and Grace.
“Hey, what’s up?” Sigthyme asked.
“Did you talk to Captain Springbloom?” Juniper asked Sightyme.
“Yeah we had a bit of a chat,” SIgthyme said. “She’s adamant that Riffen stays with her and the army.”
“I don’t trust her at all,” Grace said.
“Really? Sigthyme asked. “You thought she was cool after we first met her.”
“She might have something to do with all of this,” Grace said.
“Grace thinks that the army might have something to do with the explosion,” Juniper said.
“Really?” Sigthyme asked.
“Maybe she’s trying to start a war between the two and using Riffen’s kidnapping as an excuse,” Grace said. “I don’t know, but I just feel like we can’t trust her.”
“Those are some big accusations,” Sigthyme said. “Let’s keep them to ourselves for now. But I think it’s best that we grab Riffen and head back to the embassy. They guards will be locking down the city soon and we want to be on that side of the wall when they do.”
“Wait. Lockdown? Like we’ll be trapped inside?” Grace asked.
Juniper put her hand on Grace’s shoulder.
“I’m sure it’s just a temporary thing. They can’t lock down the city forever,” She said. “We’ll be alright.”
“Let’s go find Riffen,” Sigthyme said.
“Yeah let’s go,” Grace said with a nod.
The four of them started walking briskly toward the Soulon Army camp.
“Lillian,” Riffen said, standing in the doorway of the large, central tent. “What are you doing here? How did you get here?”
Captain Lillian Evergreen stood before him wearing her Soulon armor, sword on her side. She looked almost exactly like she did when Lillian was working in the palace, except her armor looked a bit beat up. Lillian stood there with a look of relief on her face.
“You’re alright. But your eye.”
Lilian took a step forward but immediately the guards put themselves between Riffen and Lillian.
“Not another step,” One guard said. “We are under strict orders from Captain Springbloom.”
“You’re lucky you got this far,” The other said. “We could have you court martialed for this.”
“Lower your weapons and step back,” Riffen said.
The two guards looked at Riffen.
“As your Prince, I demand that you lower your weapons and let Captain Evergreen pass,” Riffen said with a stern look on his face.
Shadow, the black blink dog, sat at his feet and let out a growl.
The two guards stepped aside and the group of guards all stood at attention.
“Lillian, we can talk in here,” Riffen said, giving her a small smile.
“Very well,” Lillian gave a nod and walked forward.
Shadow stood up and sniffed at Lillan’s boots as she stopped to pet him.
“Good boy,” Lillian said, giving Shadow some head scratches before entering the tent.
Shadow let out a bark of approval and followed behind Lillian.
“If my friends come back, you will let them pass as well,” Riffen said.
“Yes sir,” The guards said in unison.
Riffen gave a nod and then turned around, walking back into the tent. The heavy tent flap closed behind him.
As soon as Riffen was inside and out of sight from the guards, he stumbled forward.
Lillian ran to him and caught him.
“I’m alright,” Riffen said. “Just a bit worn out.”
“Sit, sit,” Lillian said, helping Riffen to a chair. “You are in bad shape.”
“I’m fine, really,” Riffen said. “Just some soreness.”
“You need to take your time getting back on your feet. You should be in bed, not in the middle of an army camp,’ Lillian said.
“We are preparing the troops to head back to Frost Haven,” Riffen explained. “Pria is meeting with the King now.”
“And you are out here by yourself?” Lillian asked.
“No, of course not,” Riffen said. “My friends went to investigate that explosion at the gate.”
“Still it’s not smart to be here. You should be resting,” Lillian said, shaking her head.
“You should come with us,” Riffen said.
“Lillian. We are heading back to Frost Haven and you should come with us. We can go back to how life was,” Riffen said.
Lillian gave Rifen a befuddled look.
“Who are you?” Lillian asked.
“What do you mean? I’m me.”
“Last time we spoke you were hanging out with adventurers. You left Frost Haven to chase me across the continent. Now you’re dead set on heading back to Frost Haven, why?”
“I acted selfishly when I came after you. Not only did I not consider your feelings, but I did think about what was best for Soulon,” Riffen said.
“What’s best for Soulon? Riffen, your Dad was going to marry you off to some random Elf girl because it benefits him,” Lillian said. “I know that’s not what you want.”
“Lillian, the alliance between Soulon and Ohn’serine would be -”
“Stop,” Lillian said, cutting him off. “I’ve heard speeches like this a hundred times before. Honor. Loyalty. That’s fine if that’s what you want to focus on but make sure it’s what you actually want. Do you really want to go to Frost Haven? Do you really want to marry that princess? I joined the royal guards and rose through the ranks because that’s what I wanted.”
“What about running away? Is that what you wanted?” Riffen asked. “Because when we talked at the Ironfang Forge, it didn’t sound like it.”
“I won’t just stand by and watch you throw your life away for Soulon. I’m not going to stand guard over you and your wife knowing you are both miserable. That’s not the life I’m going to live,” Lillian said.
“Then what life are you going to live?” Riffen asked.
There was a brief pause as they both realized that they were now yelling.
“I came here to make sure you were alright,” Lillian said. “Seems like you are fine.”
Lillian turned and started heading to the door.
“Lillian, wait!” Rifen stood but he clutched his side.
“Goodbye, Riffen. For real this time,” Lillian said as she shook her head and opened the door.
“I think this is the one,” Sigthyme said as the group approached the large, army tent surrounded by guards.
“Excuse me, guards. Is Riffen in there?” Sigthyme asked as the tent flap opened up.
Lillian stepped out of the tent and saw the group.
“You! You’re here,” Sigthyme said.
Lillian gave him a look of recognition.
“Hello. Goodbye,” Lillian said as she passed the group.
“Woah. Were you talking to Riffen?” Juniper asked.
The tent flapped opened up and Riffen stumbled out, Shadow by his side.
“Lillian! Wait!” He called out.
“Sir, are you alright?” The nearest guard asked.
“I’m fine,” Riffen said, waving them away. “Lillian! Lillian!”
Lillian kept on walking away, not looking back.
“LIllian! Halt!” Riffen shouted.
At that Lillian stopped in place and turned around to face him.
“Halt? Halt?” She asked, a perplexed look on her face. “Is that some sort of order?”
The group fell silent as they looked back and forth between Riffen and Lillian.
“No…Lillian,” Riffen bumbled with his words.
“Well you are a Prince aren’t you? Are you going to boss me around like you boss everyone else around?” Lillian shouted.
“I didn’t…I just want to talk. Just let me talk,” Riffen said.
Lillian folded her arms.
“Then talk,” Lillian said.
“I..I don’t want you to leave again,” Riffen said. “Just. Can we talk in the tent?”
“I don’t think so,” Lillian said. “I was worried about you so I came to make sure you were ok. Obviously that was a mistake.”
“A bigger mistake than you know.”
Lillian turned around to see Captain Springbloom standing with a dozen soldiers, all with weapons drawn.
“Captain Lillan Evergreen. You are hereby under arrest for treason, deserting your post, and crimes against the crown,” Captain Springbloom said. “Stand down or I’ll be forced to cut you down.”
Header Photo Credit to Dafne Ekler