Shadow of Hope 51

As the party began to traverse the region, the environment in this locale became much more temperate than that through which was traveled only days, even hours, before. Calmer winds, warmer air and a sense that spring embraced these woods for some time permeated all that could be seen. Borlak again joined Erellia at the head of the line while Zulian fell to the rear.

“The evil we face,” Erellia addressed Talon’s outburst, “remains hidden, though I am able to share something of its nature, and if you wish to quantify our actions in such a way, I should say we are here to rescue any and all who are threatened.”

“Our task will likely not be so simple however,” she continued, “for we face forces the likes of which I have never before encountered.” Erellia paused for a few moments, lost in thought. “A dark magic has been brought forth into the world. The energy it manifests is…transient…and foreign to these lands. Its very nature is chaotic and corruptive and it threatens to pervert the lands into a twisted shadow of themselves. The battle has already begun, here, in this place of power, and should Anquilla fall, no sanctuary may offer haven in the coming darkness.”

Erellia’s tone lightened a little as she continued, “Fortunately, we believe this is the first and only incursion thus far. That is why we must investigate the source of these activities, determine the potential threat and see if viable outcomes exist.”

“The man who owns the Autumn Glade will be able to give us information which will determine our next course of action,” Erellia concluded for the moment. “Are there any questions thus far?”

“Just one, m’lady Erellia,” Finn piped in, having grown more concerned with her reply to Talon. “You mentioned incursion. What do you mean? What kind of threat are we facing? Is it extraplanar? Deep dark? Shadow?”

Finn abruptly shut up, realizing that he has asked far more than one question. He puffed on his pipe and patted Jack to calm himself.

“And if it is here, you say, then should we not be on guard against it?” Cheskith added, having somewhat settled into the routine of riding by now. “What would be the defense and the way to expunge it, once you have stated its nature, I wonder?”

The barbarian was content to ride along and listen to the conversation as it unfolded around him. His countenance was one of watchfulness, ever alert and at the ready. He seemed to enjoy his position at the vanguard.

Erellia turned to Finn with a raised eyebrow as the halfling recited some of the more potent elements found within the lands. “You are versed in these dangerous environs, Master Farstrider? I can see why Talon chose to bring you along.”

“Undoubtedly there exists some extraplanar involvement,” Erellia continued, “nothing of the lands could appear so alien. Of what origins though, I am unsure. Similarly, if elements of the deep dark or the shadow arts were at work, I believe I would have detected such, but nothing can be assured under these chaotic circumstances.”

“The scant reports I have received agree on only one point,” she said with obvious frustration, “that the dark elements at work here seem to change, to adapt, from instance to instance and for purposes as of yet unknown. As for defending or expunging such a threat, Cheskith, that is why we are here, to discover what can be done.”

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