Magical Security Taskforce




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Chapter 62: Changing Course

Session One

All Yuki could do was hide. She had made a break for it even before Grandon knocked Troy over the ledge. By the time she heard him send his guards to check the roof, Yuki was already ducking behind the chimney. She heard footsteps land nearby and she tried to control her breathing. Given that the Hokoni already had Troy and was dangerously close to her, this was difficult.

Once she got the essentials down, several thoughts occurred. One was concern about what was going to happen to Troy. She realized that she had to help him somehow, but she recognized escape as her first priority. She wasn't going to achieve much as a fellow captive. Another thought- this was an awful hiding spot. The roof was open and the chimney provided the only real obstruction, making it pretty obvious where she was. She didn't hear any further footsteps after the initial landing, but after a long silence one of the Hokoni said, “Behind the chimney.”

Then the footsteps started. Yuki only had one other move, one that she really didn't want to take. With her discovery now inevitable, she had no choice: she jumped off the roof, diving headfirst to move quickly and prevent the demon from seeing her.

As she fell, she exhaled immediately, hoping to God her flight spell would kick in. It was harder to pull off mid-fall, especially face down with a satchel around her shoulders. Thankfully, it took hold... two feet above the ground. Yuki's satchel grazed the grass underneath her.

She didn't want to make a sound, so she remained in midair, climbing halfway up so she would have room to bob comfortably when she needed a breath. It would have been a strange sight to anybody walking down the street, but anyone passing by was too focused on fleeing the square to notice.

Her earlobe distracted her, momentarily costing her her spell. She picked it up before she could touch the ground and pinched her earlobe to receive the telepathic message from Molly: “Where are you and Troy? Did you get out safely?”

Yuki looked up. One of the demons was swinging his arms over the ledge. Thankfully he wasn't looking down, but she flew around a corner just in case. With them still up there, however, she couldn't respond and maintain her spell at the same time.

“Yuki?” Molly asked again. Yuki hated leaving Molly hanging, but she was quite hung up herself at the moment.


“No answer,” Molly mumbled as Kathryn took down her fourth orc of the day.

“Well crap,” Kathryn said. “What the hell happened? Reggie was with them. They should have gotten out.”

Another orc charged. Molly took this one down. “Go look for them. We'll handle things here.”

Before Kathryn could leave, Meg, Renee and Giles arrived. Renee felt sick the moment she saw the carnage. “Dear God...” she mumbled.

“Renee, go with Kathryn to find Yuki and Troy.”

“What about Reggie?” Meg asked.

“...and Reggie.”

Knuckles cracking, Morgan added, “Yeah, we'll mop up here.”

“Actually, Meg, I have a job for you,” Frank rushed in, taking a break from his orc slaying bout. “I don't know where Troy is, so we need you to put out that fire.”

Meg turned around and looked up at the flaming building. It wasn't going out on its own anytime soon. “Ah... that's why you told us to hurry.”

“Fire fighting?” Morgan griped. “We never get the fun jobs.”

“Eh, pipe down and try to remember that sand spell you learned last year.”

As Meg charged towards the fire, Kathryn and Renee went the other way. “Where are they going?” Frank asked Molly.

“To find your son. We're not exactly struggling here.” To demonstrate, she fired off her trigger. An orc fifty feet away flew into the air and fell on its face.

Frank nodded. “Makes sense, but please run it by me next time.”

Renee struggled to keep it together as she and Kathryn weaved through the masses. They had passed the worst of it. In fact, several of the townspeople weren't even injured, either tending to those that were or too cowardly to attempt escape. It was still a shock to see this many people in this setting affected in one vicious strike.

The crowd had thinned out some, but not enough for Kathryn to see anybody familiar. She continued towards the front, shouting Yuki's name as loud as she could. Renee straggled behind, putting a hand on Kathryn's shoulder to stay close.

“They are okay... right?” she mumbled.

Kathryn stopped to get a better look. “They were farther away from it. Plus I can't imagine this stopping Troy or Reggie.”

“It's okay to use magic now, right?”

“Frank said no, but we've been doing it anyway.”

“I'll make this easier then.” Renee flew up into the air. Everybody surrounding her looked up and pointed at the mysterious floating girl. Even Kathryn felt self-conscious.

After scanning the crowd thoroughly, Renee landed and pointed. “This way.”

“Found them?” Kathryn was encouraged, despite the display.

“Found somebody,” Renee answered, leading Kathryn to Reggie's girls.

They had improvised a triage unit. While Crystal was the only functioning healer in the group, the other three dressed wounds using whatever scraps of cloth they could find, from the bunting on the stage to discarded banners to their own shirt sleeves and midriffs. They were very popular.

It also worried Kathryn as Yuki should have been a part of this operation. “Where's Yuki?” she asked Carmen.

Carmen looked up from her bandaging and smiled. “Oh, hi! She ran off with Reggie and Troy.”

“They're all right?” Renee asked.

Cammy chuckled. “Did you really think this would bring Troy down?”

“It's more Yuki we were worried about,” Kathryn grumbled. “She wasn't answering Molly. Where'd they go?”

Cammy pointed to the street leading out of the square. “Tailing the Hokoni. Good luck!”

“Yeah, thanks,” huffed Kathryn as she took off running. Renee struggled to keep up.

The orcs the Hokoni had laid out during their escape had gotten back up and resumed their post. Kathryn laid them out once more. Renee apologized to them as she ran past.


Session Two

From the moment Grandon Crostell, senior Hokoni official leading their entire Enreil operation, pointed his sword at Troy, Troy knew he was in over his head. He stood up slowly and clutched at his smiter, waiting for Grandon to make his move. As much trouble as Troy knew he was in, he also saw the opportunity. Grandon may have been powerful, influential and important, but he was also a demon, and one hit from Troy's smiter would destroy this monster.

“Well?” Grandon stared back, impatient. “I'm very busy. Or are you submitting to your fate without a fight?”

The fact that Grandon was arrogant enough to grant a fair shake made Troy even more eager to bring him down. He pulled out his sword, holding it in his left hand before reconsidering and switching to his right. The MST had always trained students to wield swords with their non-casting hands, but Troy imagined that this was a straight-up fencing duel and the left hand wasn't going to be good enough against this guy.

“Better,” Grandon declared, stepping towards Troy. Their blades met once, then Grandon pulled back and waited.

At first, Troy waited for the next move, then realized that Grandon was doing the same thing. Grandon still appeared confident, but Troy wasn't expecting a defensive position. Was he showing Troy a measure of respect in thinking that it wasn't so going to be as easy as rushing in and slicing him up? No matter what, he was letting Troy take the initiative and Troy reasoned that wasting it would be a bad idea.

Seeing as attacking vital organs was unnecessary and probably futile, Troy thrusted at Grandon's left wrist. Grandon swatted it away with a quick parry. Troy tried to come back, but Grandon blocked that too. In fact, he blocked everything that Troy attempted, without flinching.

“Clearly, the force has neglected to teach proper dueling to its pupils,” Grandon replied, bored. He parried Troy's latest shot, stepped back and fired off a spell that sent Troy flying back five feet and onto the ground. It stung almost as much to feel so stupid in thinking magic was off limits in this battle.

“Getting up?” Grandon asked, slowly approaching Troy. “I'd hate to kill someone on his back. That would mean stooping to your level.”

Troy didn't move. Playing possum was a simple tactic, but Grandon would have to expose his arm to deliver a finishing blow and one slash was all Troy needed.

Grandon hovered over Troy for a moment, then sighed. He did not attempt to stab Troy directly. He held his sword over Troy's stomach and prepped a spell. Troy's moment of panic was thankfully short. He let go of his smiter and fired a ball of ice at the tip of Grandon's sword. It was enough of a distraction to allow Troy to roll away before either the sword or the chunk of ice could fall on him.

Once clear, Troy fired more ice bolts at Grandon, but Grandon shielded them, unamused.

After Troy stopped, Grandon said, “Come now, boy. Treat this like a grown-up.” With a wave of his hand, Grandon levitated Troy's sword and tossed it back to him. It fell at his feet. “Let's try this again.”

Troy picked up his smiter, this time with his left hand. If 'proper dueling' demanded the use of both sword and spell, he felt a little more comfortable. He had no idea how good his swordplay was, but when it came to magic, he was more than proficient. He charged at Grandon, slashing twice. When both attacks were parried, he fired a gush of water with the other hand. Grandon didn't block it.

It knocked the demon back a little and startled him, but it was still just water and had no real effect. Grandon threw a shielding spell up to block it. Troy kept the spell going anyway and charged in again. The idea was that Grandon would be too distracted with the shield to properly use his sword, but Grandon was still fending Troy off more than capably.

In the end, it was Troy who struggled to focus on both. When Grandon pushed forward, Troy lost control of his spell and stumbled backward. On instinct, he threw an ice shield up to block whatever whatever Grandon was going to throw next. Good thing too, as the Hokoni fired a magic attack that shattered the wall into a hundred shards. Undaunted, Troy cast another spell and those shards flew straight at Grandon. He couldn't get a shield up in time and they pelted him. Troy charged in again.

The shards didn't hurt Grandon, but they certainly bothered him, preventing him from defending properly. As Troy attacked, he could tell the demon's grip was less certain. Troy jerked hard and indeed, Grandon's sword flew out of his hands, falling behind and past Troy. Before Grandon could react, Troy drove in, stabbing straight into Grandon's unguarded chest.

He pulled back, expecting to hear the satisfying hiss of evil expunged. Instead, Grandon merely frowned and generated a powerful spell, knocking Troy straight backwards and onto the ground. He unfastened the top two buttons of his shirt, enough for Troy to see the glimmer of his thick silver platemail. “You're more skilled than I thought, boy, but you're also more naïve.” Grandon waited for Troy to get to his feet, then gestured to his sword. “Now if you please, I'd like to finish this quickly.”

Keeping a close eye on Grandon, Troy picked up the demon's sword. He was disappointed that the hit didn't do anything, but he was relishing in another opportunity. He had felt belittled when Grandon returned his smiter, but now that Troy was returning the favor, he felt accepted as an equal, where such measures of sportsmanship could be considered a show of respect. Troy grinned and tossed the sword back.

Grandon held his hand out, but not to catch it. The sword changed course and flew straight at Troy's chest. An additional force from Grandon's spell pushed the sword through Troy's armor... and then Troy. By the time he registered what was happening, it was too late.

With little more than a sigh, the demon walked up to Troy's body, flipped him around, and pulled his sword out by hand. With a handkerchief, Grandon wiped the blood from it and returned it to his holster. He walked away without a word, never to be seen in Enriel again.


Session Three

Yuki had landed on the ground, but didn't dare move. She still hugged the wall behind the building, eyes up at to the roof. The demons were not only still there, they were now using the vantage point to scout out the area. Yuki heard them discussing various points in the vicinity to make sure to keep an eye on. Thankfully none of them were directly below them. She kept hugging the wall, hoping to get to the street and make a run for it.

From above, she heard the cry, “Hey! She's down here!” She sprinted toward the street, but her legs gave way and she fell over before she got there. Both demons swooped down and picked her up.

“Let me go!” she shouted.

“But we just got you,” one demon replied. “So what are you up do?”

She kept trying to wriggle free, but they held firm.

The second demon peeked into her satchel, but let it go. “Better take her to Grandon. I'm sure he's finished with that boy by now.”

Luckily, Reggie was walking down the street, alone. He was practically strutting, one hand in his pocket, the other twirling his smiter. “Reggie!” Yuki shouted.

The first demon rapped her on the side of the head, but watched as Reggie saw them and approached. “Jeez, how many folks do you have?” the demon asked.

Reggie kept his distance as the second demon got closer to Yuki, holding a finger to her cheek. With a smile, Reggie said, “What's up?”

“Drop the sword. Grandon would like to have a word with both of you,” the second demon said. “Come with us or she dies.”

Reggie didn't flinch. “But... then he won't get a word with her.” Yuki was trembling.

“Don't be cute. He won't mind seeing her dead either. He already got one of you.”

“Hmm...” The smile vanished from Reggie's face and he did toss his smiter to the ground. Not because he was concerned. He was thinking, hand still in his pocket. He had several goodies in there that could help, but pulling one out and throwing it wouldn't improve Yuki's prospects. On the other hand, if one popped another way, it was a bit more subtle.

As he worked on tearing a hole in his pocket, he passed a message on to Yuki: “What say demon?” Both Yuki and the demons looked at him blankly. He smiled and continued, “Yuki- once smoke come, fast run to Troy.” It was slow and deliberate and the grammar was awful. Yuki smiled and winked at him.

“The hell are you saying?” asked the first demon. “What language is that?”

It was an elven language, to be specific. Crystal had given Reggie a few lessons of her race's ancient tongue while playing school once (Reggie was always a very naughty student when they played). It didn't matter which language it was, as long as it was one the demons didn't know. Yuki's Lucidrol would do the rest.

More specifically, the smoke bomb popping out of Reggie's pants leg did the rest. The demons were caught off guard, Yuki wrestled herself free and made a beeline for Troy. By the time the smoke cleared, all the demons saw was Reggie backpedaling.

They chased him, firing off a few attacks that he dodged. Still running backwards, he turned and continued down the street. The demons were still faster, however, and eventually got close enough for an attack Reggie wouldn't be able to avoid. They both fired straight at him.

The shots bounced off the shield Renee had put up. “Cammy said you were tailing the Hokoni, not the other way around,” she said.

“Need us to do some smashing?” Kathryn said, closing in on the demons.

“Atta babe,” Reggie replied. “Nice timing.”

Kathryn stopped when she realized that she was essentially outnumbered. Despite Reggie's talents, he was still a Crafter while Renee was hardly an offensive specialist. These were also actual demons and not some lousy orcs. The other two were going to have to provide a little more finesse.

When she hesitated, the demons closed in on her. “Don't suppose you have anything to take care of these guys?” Renee asked Reggie.

“Well, you just had to ask, I...” Reggie stopped when he felt his pocket. The hole he had created to release the smoke bomb had widened and released everything else in there. He caught the glimmer of a few assorted balls and trinkets scattered along the road. “Hmm... might have a problem here,” he said.

“What?!” Kathryn cried as both demons threw spells at her. She scrambled to block them all. When Renee put a shield up to help her, one demon attacked Renee.

“Eh, screw it,” Reggie muttered, thrusting his pelvis. Everything he had dropped along the way activated, including noise makers, a packet of sleeping powder and what appeared to be an unconnected portal. Most relevantly, one exploded ten feet behind the demons, startling them and halting their attacks.

Not that Kathryn and Renee could take advantage, as they were freaked out too. But Reggie rushed up and kneed one in the stomach. That snapped Kathryn out of it in time for her to knock both demons out with her staff.

“That works,” Renee said, walking up to to them.

With the demons defeated, Kathryn covered her ears. “Yeah, now how do you turn those things off?”

“What?” Another hip thrust from Reggie silenced the noisemakers and deactivated the other toys. “Didn't catch that.”

“Never mind. Where's Yuki?”

“Yuki went to get Troy.”

“Where's Troy?”

“Dunno.” Kathryn rolled her eyes.

Reggie scratched his chin. “Actually, this guy said something about Grandon dealing with Troy.”

“Grandon?!” Renee explained.

“That's kinda serious,” Kathryn added. “Any idea where they'd be?”

“Hope so. Let's go.” Reggie started walking back to the building. Renee and Kathryn forced him into a run.


Session Four

Yuki started out running, but slowed to a hesitant walk after realizing that she had no idea what she was going to encounter. It was possible Grandon had simply taken Troy with him. It was possible Troy was turning it into a fight. It was possible that Grandon had beaten Troy and left him for dead. The only thing that seemed impossible was that she would like what she saw when she arrived.

She took a breath, prepared herself for anything and turned the corner. It was one of the possibilities she had imagined. In fact, it was the most likely scenario. Yet she still froze, horrified at the sight of Troy's body, face up in a small pool of blood. Yuki forced herself to approach him, slowly pulling her satchel off her shoulder and kneeling down in front of him.

Fingers to the neck confirmed that Troy was still alive, but Yuki couldn't tell what the injury was or how long he was going to last. She was a healer, but not a doctor. She couldn't even tell if this was something she even had the ability to cure. A wound driven by magic she might be able to do something about, but a simple stab with a simple weapon required Bryce, Maple or Crystal. All Yuki knew was that neither Bryce, Maple nor Crystal were there. If there was anything that could be done to save Troy, it was up to her.

Usually Yuki hated having an audience while she worked. Given the importance of her work, other people tended to hover over her, pressuring her into a mistake. Now it was the desolation and silence that put her under the spotlight. With Reggie occupying the demons, Troy's life was entirely in her hands. If she succeeded, nobody would witness it. If she failed, nobody would comfort her.

She forged ahead, slowly and silently, opting to take her time and hope Troy would hold out until she was done. Part of her wondered if she was secretly stalling, hoping reinforcements would arrive to bail her out. Yuki blocked those thoughts from her head and kept at it. She knew she had no confidence in her ability to make this work. She didn't care.

There was no fanfare when she completed the mixing stages, nor any indication that she had done everything correctly or even that she was actually done. For all her practice, doing it from memory without a net was a different matter altogether. She focused and blew into the concoction. It fizzled a little, a bubble popping up through the tube and breaking against her nose. That was usually a good sign. With slight optimism, she opened Troy's mouth and poured the potion in. With that done, all that was left was sitting back and waiting.

For all the times Yuki had done it before, she had no idea how long it took to work in practice. The textbooks all said ten to twenty seconds, but she had always been in either the thick of battle where such time passes instantly or agonizing silence where it took forever. It felt like a minute passed, yet nothing happened. Yuki looked over her shoulder; now she could see Reggie, Renee and Kathryn running up to her.

When she turned back, Troy was stirring. He popped up quickly, sitting up and looking around. He felt his chest and saw the blood underneath him. His blood. He felt it soaking his shirt and covering his hands. Still not completely grasping what had happened, he looked around. All he saw was Yuki.

Her eyes welled up as she stared back at him. “I told you... never again.” Then she dove into his arms and started crying, blood be damned.

“Jesus, what the hell happened?” Kathryn shouted. Renee went up a little closer, but stopped short of joining them.

“He attacked Grandon and got pulled into a fight and...” Yuki sniffled. Even if she knew what had happened next, she couldn't say it.

Neither could Troy. Breathless, he said, “I just got... I just...” He stared straight ahead, clutching Yuki a little tighter.

Renee dropped to her knees and cast a spell. The blood underneath them hovered over the ground and vanished into the air. She then embraced both of them.

“It's okay,” she said. “Just don't scare us like that again.” Except she wasn't the one scared. One look into his eyes and she could tell Troy was still in shock.

Kathryn wasn't as sympathetic. “You didn't answer my question. The hell were you doing attacking someone like him?” Troy could only shake his head.

“Worry about that later,” Renee said. “Let's get back to the others.”

Renee helped Troy to his feet, propping him up as they walked past Kathryn. Kathryn saw his smiter on the ground and picked it up. It had several scratches and the tip was bent from striking Grandon's armor.

“Good God, you even tried fighting him with your sword?” she said, following them back.

Yuki stayed behind, quietly packing up her materials. It had been the most difficult potion she had ever pulled off in the field. It was also the most vital situation. Yet neither Renee nor Kathryn had congratulated her or praised her work. While it would have been appreciated, Yuki was all right with that. After all, this was her primary role on the team. Intense as it was and as uncertain as she had been about the result, she was simply doing what was expected of her. In time, she would learn to make such life-saving feats routine.

When she reached for the final vial, the one that carried the finished product, she saw that Reggie had picked it up. He was sniffing it, and raised his eyebrows. He grinned at her. “Damn... he must have taken a hit. That's not your basic healing mix, is it?”

She quickly shook her head, taking the vial from him.

Reggie's grin widened and he held up a fist. “Score another one for the Crafters.”

For Yuki, a fist bump from Reggie was praise enough.


Session Five

Even without Kathryn around, Molly, Frank and Donovan had no trouble taking care of the rest of the orcs. The healthier townspeople even jumped in once the enemy's numbers were lowered. Once that started, the orcs left standing were quick to retreat.

Frank was happy to see it. “At the end of the day, I'd say we won.”

“Really?” Molly found it hard to agree. There was still a square full of injured and frightened locals. She doubted they would be eager to challenge the system again. Even though Meg had extinguished the fire, the building the bomb had hit still had clear structural damage and would remain a monument to the Hageshoni's authority for weeks.

“This could have been far worse. And we can do something about that weaponry, either sealing it off or boosting the Hokoni's arsenal.”

Molly just shook her head. She was in no mood to get into it with him. As far as she was concerned, it should have been over. “Let's just hope everybody gets back here in one piece.”

She felt instant relief as she saw Kathryn, Renee, Troy and Yuki returning with Reggie. She wasn't sure what to feel when she saw Renee's hand on Troy's shoulder. Years ago she would have been furious. More recently she would have been annoyed. Now she was somewhere between confused and concerned.

Molly ran up to them. Nobody reacted, faces still grim as she reached them. “What's going on. Why-” A slow head shake from Renee silenced her.

“Idiot got into a sword fight with Grandon,” Kathryn said, arms folded. “Damn near killed him.”

“Seriously?” Molly looked at Troy again. His eyes were sunk and he was stumbling more than walking. She saw his shirt, the puncture in the middle of it and the large red stain.

“Troy tried attacking and Grandon pulled him into a fight,” Yuki said. “His goons chased me away. When I came back...” She didn't want to talk about what she had seen when she came back. “But that's not the worst of it!”

Everybody looked at Yuki. She glanced at Troy again and backpedaled. “Okay, that was the worst of it. But we heard the Hokoni say they were pulling out! They're just going to send the elves and Puurxan into battle and leave.”

“What was that?” Suddenly Frank had taken an interest. He had not rushed to greet them like Molly had, but now he was present and involved.

“Yeah! Grandon said they weren't going to get dragged into a war if the Hageshoni are going to fight like this.”

Molly snickered. “Well, this plan burned out in a hurry.”

Frank glared at her, spun around and walked away. “Nonsense.”

Yuki drew Molly's attention back. “That's why Troy attacked him. I mean they start this whole mess and just leave it here without doing anything about it.” Troy grimaced in acknowledgment.

Kathryn shook her head, still angry. “Well, I'm pissed off about it too, but it's no excuse to go after someone like that. How can you be so stupid?”

Renee snapped back, “God, let it go! He almost died!”

Molly held a hand up at Kathryn. “Kathryn, see if anyone else needs anything. I want to get out of here.”

Without another word, Kathryn stormed off in search of rescue work. Molly stepped up to Troy and scrutinized his face. “Run-in with Grandon Crostell days after you killed a Hokoni... how did you survive?”

Troy looked at Yuki. Molly noticed. “Really? I'm surprised he left you in any condition that Yuki could bring you back from.”

Yuki was staring straight at Troy. “I'd never pulled off that potion before.” She turned to Molly. “I'm one for two now.”

Molly's eyes widened, but her mouth curled into a slight grin. “Nice work. Think you can help any of these people?”

“Um...” Yuki still wasn't sure if Troy's injuries had been natural or magical, so she didn't know the answer. It was a daunting prospect anyway, but she approached some of the injured to try her luck.

“Chill session in my room when we get back,” Reggie declared, putting an arm around Molly's shoulder.

She jerked it away. “I'll pass. Besides, with any luck we're heading home soon.”

Reggie grinned. “Nah... I bet you want another crack at Reggie's room after last time.” Molly turned away from him, fearing a blush.

“I'm not that up for it either,” Troy mumbled.

“Seriously? Sounds like you need it more than anybody.”

“Yeah, you've never passed up Reggie before,” Renee said. Troy only shook his head. Reggie shrugged and went off to check on his team.

“You probably should,” Molly said. Her words were slow and a little forced. She was unaccustomed to being sympathetic to Troy. “It's best not to think about what almost happened. You're all right. That's what's important.”

Renee chuckled. “Wow, I was expecting you to chew him out like Kathryn.”

Molly sneered, but kept talking to Troy. “I won't deny the stupidity of your actions, but there's no need to drive the point home. I'm in no mood to give you a lecture and you're in no mood to receive one. I just want to get out of here. Hopefully this will still count it as a completed assignment since we didn't actively screw it up.”

“Attention, everybody!” Frank's voice boomed across the entire plaza. He stood on top of the stage. Donovan and his minions stood defiantly at Frank's right. Giles was at his left, standing far too close to be comfortable, holding an arm out to amplify Frank's voice.

No matter what condition people were in, Frank had their attention. “What you just witnessed is the truth about this land. It is clear that you are angry and demand better. It is clear that you are eager to do something about it. It is also painfully clear that the monsters who rule are determined to scare you into submission. Today at least, it is clear that they have failed.”

Giles looked out over the crowd. They were all reeling from the attack and even if they weren't scared at this moment, they had been terrified minutes ago.

“I see survivors,” Frank continued. “I see people who have witnessed this fantastic evil and are angrier and more determined than ever to put a stop to it. The time to do so is now. For them to unleash this attack means they are afraid you can win. And with our help, you can.”

He looked over at Donovan, who grinned. “The orcs that came to beat you into submission have been driven away, and we will help you stop them for good.” Frank pointed up. “They will not be able to launch such an attack for a while. Now is the time to rise and defeat them.”

His voice grew louder as he concluded, “Will you cower under their might or will you join me?”

Everybody in the plaza cheered. Molly's face turned green.





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