[steals back thread] For those interested, her is another cut-scene to help set up the beginning of the next session. A rescue attempt! ========================= The Gathering Chelshae allowed Myron to lead her silently amongst the buildings of Valentia. It was well past dark, but there were more Bannor in the village and they had made it clear that no one was to leave their homes. She lost herself in the moment, watching her son so determined before her. His natural talents were obvious, something she had denied for so long - he was just growing up too fast! He instinctively knew exactly where to place his foot, which shadows were deepest, and what sounds betrayed danger. And it was the last of those that brought them both up short, Myron quietly pushing back against her. She listened herself, holding her breath and trying her best to blend against the back of the temple of Junil. Yes, she heard it now, too - the very faint metallic tinkle of chainmail as a hidden guard breathed and shifted his weight during his otherwise silent duty. She couldn't see where he was, but that was probably for the best. However, the town square would not be a good place to sneak through, even with Myron's help. With a tug on her hand, the young man pulled her back and around another building. Again they stopped and waited, straining their ears for any sign that they had been discovered. The silence was broken only by the quiet flight of some unseen bird passing by overhead. After a few moments Myron finally directed them to the back of the Wheatsheaf. They paused at the rear entrance to the inn, Valentia's largest building, both taking the opportunity to breath a bit easier. Chelshae tried the door, but it was locked. She was about to risk knocking when suddenly Myron, who had been rooting around the back step, produced a key. She arched her eyebrow but couldn't prevent her own smile when faced with his wide grin. With a soft click she opened the door a small amount, thankful that Mistress Elysia ran a tight ship that included regularly oiled hinges. Chelshae and Myron quietly slipped through the opening and slowly closed the door behind them. They could see some faint light in the direction of the common area and barely discerned some whispered voices. No longer concerned with stealth, they walked forward, exiting this kitchen area and entering the main hallway. Right away they saw Elysia sitting in a nearby chair, looking both tired and preoccupied with the candle held in her lap. Her head snapped up as they approached. "Shae," the squat woman whispered with obvious surprise in her voice. "What you are doing here, lass?" Matching Elysia's soft speech with her own, Chelshae responded with a hand on her son's shoulder. "Myron caught wind of Alfhi's plan." She nodded toward the door of the private dining room. "I need to speak with them." Elysia took this in with a questioning look. She decided to keep her thoughts to herself, though, and instead turned a sudden smile on Myron. "How about we get you some pie, Myron? I'm sure sneaking around at night has made your tummy grumble." Without waiting for an answer she put her arm around the lad and directed him back into the kitchen. Chelshea almost breathed a sigh of relief. She didn't fear anyone on the village council refusing her offer, but a reprimand from Mistress Elysia herself would be hard to circumvent. She took slow, deliberate steps toward the closed door. She could barely make out the voices now. Alfhi, despite her whispering, was easy to pick out. "We owe it to the Ibrahim's. We must do this." "Alfhi," came Senach's stern whisper. "We all understand your reasons. We all wish to do what we can to help. But you must also think of the consequences. What will the Bannor do if Valentia itself acts against them?" "Would Lord Yoshiah want us to risk the entire village?" This time it was Logaire, mayor of Valentia. "It's obvious that these charges of ritualism against him are false, and it is just a matter of time before the Bannor find that he is innocent." Chelshae was surprised to note a hint of doubt in the mayor's voice. Doubt of Yoshiah's innocence or doubt that the Bannor would see it, she wasn't sure. "I can't believe you all," Alfhi returned, her voice getting dangerously loud. "Valentia would be nothing without the Ibrahim's. Barak and Lord Mordecai saved my life, and they would save the life of anyone here. I heard the command given to those horsemen. 'Catch up to Inquisitor Fahren and aid in the retrieval of the accused.' Then what? They all get thrown into their dungeon? At Helm's Crest? That place has gone mad - they're killing their own officers over there!" "Those are just rumours, Alfhi," Logaire interjected. "Alfhi," Senach said, his tone of voice audibly softer, "I know better than anyone here your opinion of the Bannor empire. Do you remember what Lord Mordecai said earlier tonight at the gates of his manor? We must not act rashly, or this horrible situation will get ten times worse. The scales of Dagda rarely tip in one direction without tipping back to a balance." After a moment of silence a new voice joined in, this time from Ultan, the village's priest of Sirona. "I agree with them, of course. I hope you didn't expect otherwise, Alfhidara. Violence only breeds more violence." "With a show of force, maybe we can convince them to listen and-" Alfhi's suggestion was cut short by scoffing sounds from Logaire and Senach. "The Bannor?!" said the latter. "You should know better than us. They don't listen, they tell you how things are going to go. No, Alfhi, if we show up with armed men, a fight is exactly what we'll get." Chelshae decided it was time to enter and slowly pushed open the door. As she did so, she heard Alfhi, who was standing with her back to the door, say, "I'm willing to take the risk. We all are. Even without the council's blessing." She had little time to wonder who Alfhi's "we" included before all eyes turned to her. Seated at the large table, which sported a single hooded lantern that scarcely shed light from its lowered cover, were Logaire, Senach, and Ultan. Chelshea knew that Owen wouldn't be present - Myron had informed her of the task the druid had undertaken for Lord Mordecai - and Aegidius' absence wasn't a surprise. Not many would trust the priest of Junil with the Bannor behaving as they were. "Shae, dear, what are you doing here?" Logaire greeted her, his voice back down to a barely-audible whisper. "I've come to offer my help," she said matter-of-factly, offering a nod of recognition to the men present. She then turned to Alfhi. "I would like to come with you, Alfhie. I'll need some preparation time, though. Say, fifteen minutes?" There were three intakes of breath, an obvious sign that the three men present were about to voice their objections. Before any words could be vocalized, however, a sudden tapping at the shuttered window shocked them all into silence. No one moved or even breathed as they listened. Again, three more deliberate taps sounded against the wood. There was a moment of panic as everyone looked to everyone else, trying to gauge from facial expressions if there was agreement on who it was. If they had been discovered by the Bannor... Senach slowly gained his feet with one hand going to the hilt of his sword. Three more taps came, more determined this time, as the marshall cautiously approached the window. With his free hand he reached for the latch and opened one side of the window. Chelshea jumped in her skin as a large, dark shape suddenly fluttered into the room. It came to skidding stop on the oak table in front of Logaire and then pulled itself together with a shake of all its black feathers. For a moment, it looked straight into the mayor's face with its black, unblinking eyes, its head cocked sharply to the side. 'A raven?' Chelshea thought in surprise. 'I haven't seen one of those in a while.' Everyone else seemed to be shocked into silence, though Senach had the presence of mind to close the shutter. It broke its stare with Logaire and, hopping on both of its feet, turned around and traversed the length of the table to look up at Alfhi. "I'm coming too," it declared in its own whispered voice.