A Tale of Two Towns
From the Diary of Sond Geppas, Toellian Archer
It was nearly time. It was a big day for all of us, really. This would be the opening journey on Toel’s first established trade route since its founding. I was chosen as one of the caravan escorts. It was a respectable trek to the town of Carbas, but it’d be worth it—the area was renowned for its bazaars and shipping.
“Are you ready yet, Grenda? Caravan’s nearly rolling out!”
The bespectacled weaver was gathering the last strips on her drying rack. “I’m sorry, it just needed more time.” She frowned, looking at the rack. “Why does it always seem the top bars of these things are smaller than the rest…?”
“You can analyze the workstation later, we have to get the rest of the product on the wagons!”
Honestly, she notices the strangest things sometimes.
Boss Isana and Elder Amami were waiting by the gates. Isana gave the guard captain, the ever-modest Fernd, a hard slap on the shoulder. “Now, make sure all these wagons come back, you hear? We’re stretching our resources pretty thin here, and we’re expecting a huge payout with this trip. Do us all proud boys!”
“—And don’t give them an inch when it comes to the haggling!” This came from the Elder, of all people. I suppose even the mirthful atmosphere was even getting to her.
We saluted, and the townsfolk cheered as the caravan headed out.
The first half of the trip went smoothly—Toel was still small, so most brigands either ignored us or hadn’t even heard of the new state yet.
As we reached the Fahra Outpost, nearing Carbas, though…
“…GET THE WAGONS CLOSE TO THE TOWER, AND BRING THE CIVILIANS IN! THERE’S SNIPERS!” The voice came from the head of the outpost, a stoic fellow by the name of Steffers Geodamo.
The waves of bandits were quickly closing inward, arrows zipping past our heads. I fired a few return shots from the rear of a wagon, only momentarily slowing their approach.
A glow from the outpost tower gave us hope, though—they had mages. A LOT of mages.
“FIRE!” Geodamo commanded.
An endless screen of immolation shot over us, consuming the pursuers. It seemed like the fiery sky lasted an eternity.
“Is…is it over…?” I asked. The soot was still settling.
“Yes,” Fernd said. “…and you see that shimmer, right over there between those hills?”