Pidella was correct. The crest was there on all two dozen of the Archiwrecks. The broken arch could be seen clearly as they walked into the clearing.
Archiwrecks. The name inspired fear in Ruby Lawks’ ears. Her Lady had had to deal with the raiders before. They lived for the ways of old, trying to bring forth the greatest magics and powers long lost to history. The members held no mercy for the living, so consumed with a need to live in the past.
They arranged themselves around the Leaves, in no hurry. They outnumbered the group at well over three-to-one, and knew it. They wore grey hooded jackets, gear able to plumb the depths of the mountains while striking fear in the hearts of a half-dozen students on an adventure.
“Turn back,” rasped the leader. He held a pickaxe in his gloved hand, his face hidden beneath the cowl. “Go back to your little Circle, mages.”
Goldmight puffed himself up, and looked at them. “We’re mages with the Circle of Bel Haven…”
“They already know that,” Kleb hissed.
“And if you know that, you know that we’re on an expedition to the Glass Cliffs.” Goldmight pointed at the Archiwrecks. “Let us pass.”
“The Glass Cliffs are ours now.” The leader said. “As is the treasure of Suffrn the Caged.”
Ruby looked at the gnome sisters. They looked back, bewildered. How could they possibly know they were looking for Suffrn?
There was a crack, and the Leaves looked back. The carriage, helmed by that traitorous driver, tore back down the road towards town.
“Coward!” Goldmight called back at him. He looked back to the leader. “How much did you pay him?”
“Nothing.” The leader waved its hand. “There was no need with you brats mouthing off to every tavern in Melody about your excursion.”
Kleb bowed his head. That was probably him.
“I say again,” the leader said. “Turn back.”
“And if we refuse?” Kleb asked. “We are not exactly powerless.”
“But you are outnumbered.” The leader said. “Gather up your belongings, and head back. I say one last time…”
A snore broke his threat. The leader looked down in surprise. What was the source of that sound?
Bin Tract rolled over in his sleep. There was a smile on his face, and good dreams. He had friends, they were off on an adventure. This was going to be great.
The leader looked at Kleb. “Is he yours?”
The troll’s eyes flashed. He growled, reaching into his magic. “Bin’s an ogre, I’m a troll.” He spat. “Racist bastard.”
Bin’s eyes popped open. “Hu-wah?”
The leader cleared his throat. “I say, for the third time…”
“Fourth.” Pidelle said.
“He was interrupted on the fourth, sis,” Pidella explained.
“His intention was already clear. So even if he was interrupted, it counts.”
The leader roared. “Thrice I have said, and this time I swear. If you shall not leave by your own hand, we shall make you.”
Bin let out a yawn and looked up from his rest. He stretched out as he stood up. “What’s going on?”
“Bad guys.” Ona pointed at them. “And they want us gone.”
“Cool.” Bin leaped forward. He shot a blast of flame down at the Archiwrecks’ feet. They stepped back hastily.
Bin spun around, sparks gathering around him. He clapped his hands together, and shouted. A bolt of lightning coursed out of him. It struck the leader, sending the Archiwreck flying out into the wilderness.
“Fun time.” Bin said, smiling.
copyright 2018 Jack Holder