An awkward silence hung over the army camp as Pria addressed the Soulon soldiers and the group. Riffen, Grace, Sigthyme, Tak, and Juniper stood on one side of the circle facing Pria. Between them stood Captain Fe Springbloom who had her blade still pointed at Captain Lillian Evergreen. A fight between the two Captains had quickly concluded when Pria showed up at the camp.
“Someone explain to me why two respected captains are fighting in the mud in the middle of an army camp,” Pria said.
“This traitor came into my camp and decided she’d rather try to fight me than surrender to me and the army,’ Captain Springbloom said.
“That is Captain Evergreen,” Pria said.
“The traitor who deserted her post,” Captain Springbloom replied.
Lillian sat up with a groan.
“This maniac was going to kill me,” She said.
“I can use my blade to silence you,” Captain Springbloom glared at Lillian.
“That is enough,” Pria said. “I will not let this continue. You have already embarrassed me in front of King Forgebringer’s Aide.”
“Who cares about them?” Captain Springbloom asked.
“I do and you should too,” Pria said. “This army sits right outside the capitol city. This act of senseless brutality will sour all the talks I’ve been having with the king. Not to mention the explosion at the gate.”
Pria looked over at Riffen who was standing between Juniper and Grace.
“When I heard you had gone with your friends to the army camp, I was worried that the explosion was another attempt on your life,” Pria said to Riffen.
“I’m fine,” Riffen said.
“The Prince is safest here with me and my army. I can protect him,” Captain Springbloom said.
“Is that why you started a fight here with Captain Evergreen?” Pria asked.
“I was doing my duty protecting Riffen and Soulon from traitors like her,” Captain Springbloom said as she pointed the blade at Lillian.
“I came here to make sure Riffen was ok,” Lillian said. “Not to fight you or anyone.”
“More lies,’ Captain Springbloom said. “Nothing she says can be trusted.”
“Lillian is telling the truth,” Sigthyme said as he took a step forward. “We came back from helping out at the gate and we saw Lillian here. She was talking to Riffen. It wasn’t until Captain Springbloom showed up that the fighting started.”
“Just because I swung my blade first does not mean that the traitor did not start this,” Captain Springbloom. “I was just doing what was in the Kingdom’s best interest.”
“And why do you get to decide what’s best for the Kingdom?” Sigthyme asked.
“Yeah, Riffen, is the Prince,” Grace chimed in.
“Riffen’s judgement is crowded. He could not see the truth. This desserter is too dangerous to be kept alive,” Captain Springbloom said as she took a step toward Lillian.
“Woah, woah,” Sigthyme took a step forward.
“Enough, Captain Springbloom. Lower your weapon,” Pria said.
“You are not the boss of me, Ambassador,” Captain Springbloom sneered.
“Listen to her. Put down the weapon,” Riffen took a step forward, still wobbly on his legs.
Captain Springbloom gritted her teeth.
“You are all fools,” She said. “You do not see it.”
“You are not an executioner. You do not get to dull out justice as you see fit,” Pria said. “Lillian will go with me for now as I try my best to sort this whole mess out.”
“What about traveling to Frost Haven?” Juniper asked.
“Under these circumstances I believe it’s best that Riffen remains in Xylon at the Embassy,” Pria said.
“Foolish,” Captain Springbloom said. “You choose to pull Riffen away from here and protect the traitor. You are truly a fool, Pria.”
“I’m sorry you see me that way, Captain,” Pria said. “But I will remind you that you are not in charge here.”
“Of course I am,” Captain Springbloom said. “These soldiers are loyal to me and to Soulon. It’s your backwards leadership that muddies the righteous path we could walk.”
The Soulon soldiers all snapped to attention with a snap of Captain Springbloom’s finger.
“Don’t do anything you will regret,” Pria said as tension grew between the two of them.
“Trusting you is the only thing I regret,” Captain Springbloom said.
She spun the blade in her hand and quickly sheathed her weapon, still glaring at Pria.
“It looks like you no longer need me or my soldiers. It is clear we are wasting our time here,” She said.
“Captain Springbloom -”
She just raised her hand, silencing Pria.
“Soldiers. Prepare to take down camp. We leave here tonight and prepare to move northward,” Captain Springbloom. “King Selorn and General Selorn will be very happy to hear how their business is being handled in foreign cities.”
“Captain Springbloom. You are to be an escort for Prince Riffen when he travels to Frost Haven,” Pria said.
“The purpose of this army was to protect Prince Riffen. If you will not let me do that, then my soldiers are here for nothing. I will not just stand by and let you waste any more time,” Captain Springbloom said.
She then turned toward Riffen.
“Prince Riffen. We will be ready to leave in an hour’s time. If you choose to go with me and my soldiers, I will escort you to Frost Haven. Or you can stay here,” She said. “You must choose now.”
Every eye turned to look at Riffen.
“Captain Springbloom,” Riffen took a deep breath. “You have a twisted view of what is best for me and this Kingdom. Once I thought you were a strong ally, but I believe your bullish nature and inability to compromise on your vision makes you a danger to me. I will not return with you.”
Captain Springbloom shook her head.
“One day you’ll see,” She said. “Good luck.”
She stormed past Riffen and entered her tent as the rest of the soldiers began to scatter.
“Someone, can you help me?” Riffen asked as his legs began to wobble badly.
“Woah,” Juniper moved to catch Riffen before he fell. “Careful there, Riffen.”
Grace moved to the other side of him to help support him.
“Are you alright?” Grace asked.
“Just had a long day,” Riffen said.
Shadow, the black blink dog, rubbed his nose against Riffen and let out a small bark.
“I know, boy. We need to get our rest,” Riffen said with a slight smile.
“Here,” Sightyme reached out a hand and offered it to Lillian. “You took quite a beating.”
“Thanks,” Lillian said as she spit out a glob of blood.
“Help Lady,” Tak grabbed Lillian’s arm and pulled her to her feet.
“Still sore,” Lillian said through gritted teeth.
“Oh sorry,” Sigthyme said. “Tak is strong and friendly.”
“Right,” Lillian said.
“Also I just want to say that I was like five seconds away from hopping in there and stopping Springbloom. Tak would have helped too,” Sigthyme said.
“I appreciate the sentiment,” Lillian said. “But in five seconds I would have been dead.”
“Big fight,” Tak said with a toothy grin.
“We would have stopped her,” Sigthyme said. “She really doesn’t like you.”
“She’s a maniac with a self-righteous complex,” Lillian said. “Even when I was at the Palace and she would visit, I could tell she wasn’t all there.”
“You’ve met before?” Sightyme asked.
“Yeah a few times,” Lillian said with a sigh. “I think part of her was jealous that she was out in the field marching with troops while I stayed in the palace. She wouldn’t understand the sacrifice I’d made to get there, mind you, but few do.”
The three of them turned and Pria approached.
“We really need to talk,” Pria said.
“I just want to leave. I didn’t want any of this,” Lillian said.
“Leave? What do you mean? Aren’t you here with Riffen?” Pria asked.
“I….I came back to make sure Riffen was safe, but that wasn’t why I was in the city,” Lillian said.
“I had heard rumors and now I’ve heard from Captain Springbloom. It’s true, isn’t it? You abandoned your post and Riffen chased after you,” Pria said.
“It’s not that simple,” Lillian said. “I had to make a difficult choice. I didn’t mean to cause all of this.”
Pria gave a gentle nod.
“I want to believe you, but I’m already dealing with a lot. I need you to come with me.”
Lillian stiffened up.
“Is that a demand or a request?” She asked.
“Captain Evergreen. You mean a lot to me and Riffen. I do not want you to make me an enemy,” Pria said. “If you come willingly,I can help you. If you run and fight, then you will be an enemy of the Kingdom. That is not a threat. That is a fact.”
Lillian hesitated a moment. Then she looked back at Riffen who was being held up by Grace and Juniper.
“I will go with you,” Lillian said. “But I have no desire to be held as a prisoner.”
“I will see what I can do,” She said. “Everyone, we must head back to the Embassy now. The city will go into lockdown soon.”
“What are we going to do about Captain Springbloom and the army?” Riffen asked as the other three approached.
“Nothing we can do. If Captain Springbloom wants to move her troops, then I will not stop her. After what Habbie saw, I’m not sure having them here would benefit us anyway,” Pria said. “For now we just need to go to the Embassy and talk about things.”
“What about the ice bomb at the gate? Do we know anything about that?” Juniper asked.
“I know as much as you all,” Pria said. “When I passed the gate, Pact Members were doing their best to trace the source of magic.”
“Do we think Krumb had anything to do with it?” Juniper asked.
“I sure hope not,” Pria said. “But that is just another reason why we need to return to the Embassy.”
“Alright, let’s go,” Sightyme said.
The whole group traveled quickly back into Xylon, passing through the gate. Pact of Thorns Members were still busy studying the remnants of the ice magic. A large number of Xylon Guards were stationed at the gates.
However none of them gave the group trouble as they traveled through the streets back to the Soulon Embassy. Riffen and Shadow retired quickly as Pria led Lillian away to one of the rooms where she was guarded.
With not much else to do, Tak, Grace, Sigthyme, and Juniper retired to their room.
“This is why I don’t do politics,” Sigthyme said as he laid down on the ground.
“Same,” Juniper said as she sat down on the bed.
“I’m just glad we don’t have to deal with that maniac anymore,” Grace said.
“I don’t think this will be the last time we see her,” Sightyme said.
“Especially if we travel to Frost Haven,” Juniper said.
Grace let out a large sigh as she flopped onto the bed.
“Why can’t things ever be easy for us?” Grace asked.
“Welcome to being an adventurer,” Sigthyme said with a chuckle.
“Adventure. Fight,” Tak said as he let out a big yawn.
“We all need rest,” Sigthyme said.
“Way ahead of you,” Grace said as she kicked off her boots and started to curl up into bed.
“Goodnight everyone,” Juniper said as she laid down on the other side of the bed.
One by one the whole group fell asleep as nightfall came.
However as they slept, Juniper’s eyes opened as she felt a chill down her spine. She quickly sat up and looked around the room. She could not see anything but she heard a gentle whistle which sounded like a song traveling through the trees.
Juniper slipped out of the bed, quietly and moved toward the window. She looked down into the courtyard and she saw a figure standing out there. The figure gave Juniper a nod as they continued to whistle their siren song.
Header Photo Credit to Xesteria Fandom.com