Chapter Six: Choosing Sides
Whisper’s paws were shackled with heavy iron chains linked between them, and he was dragged to the prison tents without another word.
All within the span of a few hours the tabaxi had boldly walked into the enemy camp, had acted as an initiate to the Cult of the Dragon, had washed dishes in the cooking tents with a friendly dwarf named Baror, and had wandered to find the monk Leosin, who was also a prisoner. He had approached a commander and asked too many questions about the leaders of the cult: Mondath, Rezmir, and Langdedrosa. He was recognized as the “pet”–bah, how insulting. The human was clearly his pet—of Shale, the woman who fought Langdedrosa in Greenest. He was subsequently arrested and was now being taken away. They thoroughly ignored his explanations.
The tabaxi was not worried, however.
Two guards pushed Whisper through the tent flap, and he stepped ahead lithely. He stood a full foot taller than either of his human guards. Dust rose up from the packed earth as they followed him through, and the tabaxi gazed about his new surroundings with quick, examining eyes. The walls were made of thick, beige canvas stained by dozens of previous rainfalls. Several stakes were in the ground, wrapped and bolted with chains.
“Send for Langdedrosa,” Whisper said in draconic, turning to face his captors. “I wish to speak with him.”
One of the guards, a man with thinning red hair and a large birthmark crawling up the side of his neck, raised a hand and backhanded the tabaxi. Whisper took the punch and held back a hiss, the hairs at the base of his tail rising. “Shut it, cat,” the man said in a thick accent. They proceeded to chain him.
“You idiots have arrested an initiate of the cult. Go. Get. Langdedrosa.” Whisper growled.
The second guard, a dark-skinned burly man with cropped hair, studied the tabaxi uncertainly. “Uh, Carid, maybe we should—if we arrested a follower…”
“Our commander told us to arrest him.”
“I’m going,” the second man muttered, pushing out of the tent and leaving the one named Carid behind. Carid grumbled, spat in the dirt, then placed himself firmly at the door, casting a dirty look back at the tabaxi.
Whisper sat back and waited, absently wishing he could reach his ball of yarn.
“What do we do now?” Keelan asked, standing atop the cliff beside Oszaren and Fillip, having just watched the scene unfold below in the army grounds.
“I say we lay low until sundown,” Oszaren suggested, making another mark on his map. “We can’t help him in the light of day.”
“What if they kill Whisper?” Keelan paused, looking at them both. “Do—we care?”
“We can’t let that happen,” the warlock said, and Fillip shrugged at Keelan. “Whisper is one of us.”
“‘One of us’,” Keelan repeated sarcastically, “we’ve known each other for five minutes.”
“If they recognized him, they will definitely recognize you,” Fillip pointed out to Oszaren, who nodded distractedly.
“We should tell Shale and Reverence.” Keelan scratched his chin and gazed down at the prison tents, shifting his weight foot to foot as if deliberating over a very difficult arithmetic problem.
“At least one of us should stay up here and keep watch,” Oszaren told them. “We don’t want to miss anything.”
“I can go,” Keelan said and the other two nodded their assent. “I’ll be back.” With that, the human jogged away, heavy armour clanking. Oszaren winced at the sound, then turned back to studying the army.
A dark-skinned man ran from the prisoner’s tent to the massive command tent. He stood conversing with the guards there briefly, then one guard disappeared inside. A few minutes later, the huge, blue-scaled form of the half-dragon Langdedrosa emerged from the command tent beside the same woman who was in Greenest: with short, dark hair, wearing robes streaked with purple and carrying a glaive at her back. They followed the guard through the camp in long strides. Eight guards, a mixture of humans, dwarves and one elf, flanked them with spears.
Fillip crossed his arms. “Well, it seems that our friend Whisper is fucked,” as the group entered the prison tent.
Shale and Reverence listened to Keelan’s description of Whisper’s arrest while quickly packing up their belongings and beginning the journey up the cliffs.
“This is troublesome,” Reverence said slowly, “and there are two ways we can go about this. We can—create a distraction, or, we can—”
“Infiltrate them,” Shale nodded. “Except we would need convincing disguises for that.”
“We can discuss it all once we’re together,” Keelan sighed, and after a moment, added. “Are cats even good?”
“That—is a philosophical question,” Reverence said.
“I mean, this is Whisper, right?” Shale said. “We have to get him out.”
“How well do we know Whisper?” the monk asked, and Shale shook her head. “He entered the camp—without consulting—any of us. He might—be up to something.” She had known the tabaxi for less than two weeks. There was very little she knew about him. Excluding Oszaren, whom she met at the same time as Whisper, she had spent very little time with any of her travel companions.
The image of a man’s face melting from white-hot flames came to the forefront of her vision, and she shuddered. They could trust Whisper, couldn’t they?
“Until he proves otherwise, we give him the benefit of our trust,” Shale finally said. “The same trust we’ve afforded to each one of us.”
Keelan nodded thoughtfully, gazing off into the distance.
The massive blue form of Langdedrosa crouched through the tent flap and stood before the chained tabaxi, who was shackled low to the ground and otherwise would have stood to a height with the half-dragon, though the latter weighed at least a dozen stone more.
Whisper bowed his head respectfully to the stern half-dragon, who did not return the courtesy. “I see our guards were right about you, fluffy ears.” His voice was a deep, growling snarl.
The woman with the short, dark hair, approached as well and folded her arms. Mondath, that was her name. Frulam Mondath. In draconic, she said, “how did you find us?”
“We followed your army’s trail. It was not hard.” Whisper responded in draconic. “Are you stupid? I am an initiate, as I have said again and again.”
“Perhaps I should have clarified,” she said patiently. “How do you know about us? About what we are? I have not seen you with us before, and you were with those outsiders in Greenest.”
Whisper moved a chained paw to reach inside his coat, and a half-dozen guards drew their weapons in an instant and raised them in his face. “I’m showing you how I know,” the tabaxi said, slowly reaching into his coat and drawing out a small book that was little more than a pamphlet.
The woman reached down and took it from him, examining the pages with raised eyebrows. Langdedrosa eyed it curiously, then shot Whisper an appraising look.
“Where did you find this?” Mondath asked.
“It’s my only possession,” Whisper said quietly.
“That doesn’t answer my questions,” she responded. “Where are your friends?”
“Friends? I don’t know where they are. I mean—they aren’t here. I don’t have any.”
“You don’t have any,” Langdedrosa repeated, “or you don’t know where they are?”
“Yes,” Whisper said quickly.
“Well,” Mondath sighed, tucking the pamphlet into her coat, “this is troubling.” She signaled to their guards and they all turned to leave.
“Question,” Whisper said derisively, “do you normally arrest your initiates?”
They ignored him, so he loudly said “Ask Baror the dwarf. I washed dishes with him all day of my own volition.”
Mondath stopped and looked back at him. “How very kind of you to wash our dishes. Nonetheless, Baror is known to have a tongue that can be bought. A few coins from you and he would tell us the tallest of tales.”
“Well I—I did not know that about him.”
“Presumably, or you would not have mentioned it,” she said lightly, and she pushed open the flap of the tent.
“Wait! What is the Harper doing here?”
She paused again, this time striding a few steps toward Whisper. “And how do you know about that?” She sounded partly amused and partly exasperated.
“I’m an initiate,” Whisper said again, looking at each of them in turn with heavy contempt. “I know everything. I know about the dragon lady, Rezmir, I know about—”
“Don’t say her name,” Langdedrosa hissed.
“Sorry, I didn’t know that,” the tabaxi looked down humbly. “As I said, I am only an initiate.”
“We do not know you,” the woman said slowly, scratching her forehead and looking to the half-dragon. “There’s only one thing we can do.” She looked over at Carid. “You and your men will tie him up with the monk. We will execute them both at dawn.”
Carid nodded his head smugly, calling for his fellow guard, who rushed in immediately.
“Ah, did I mention I’m here for the monk?” the tabaxi strained forward in his chains excitedly.
“Your story grows more convoluted by the minute,” Langdedrosa said.
“I came to contact Tiamat. Can’t you smell it on me?” he looked at the half-dragon probingly.
Langdedrosa eyed Mondath with a confused expression. “Smell what?”
Whisper stuck out one sharp claw and slashed open the padding of his other. In a quick flash, a streak of crimson appeared, blood pooling up then seeping over his palm and into his fur. “Now do you smell it?” he asked.
Langdedrosa gave him an odd look and said, “no.”
“Dragon’s blood,” Whisper said in a reverent voice.
“I don’t know what this freak is talking about,” the half-dragon muttered to Mondath. “Perhaps he is mad after all.”
“Unbind my hands,” Whisper insisted. “I will show you my powers.”
“Let him stew for tonight,” Langdedrosa said finally.
“Don’t!” the tabaxi said. “Don’t let me stew tonight. If you do, my friends will definitely try something stupid.”
“You said you didn’t know where your friends were,” Mondath pointed out.
“I don’t, obviously, but they’re somewhere.” Whisper shook his head emphatically, “I know them. They will act. And, I know that Greenest is creating an army as we speak—to take you down. I can help stop it.”
“Greenest, an army?” Langdedrosa asked with interest.
“Unbind my hands,” Whisper said again, squirming in his bonds.
“You are in no position to bargain, fluffy ears,” the half-dragon nearly laughed. “We’re done with him. Tie him up with the monk, and then we’ll see how long his supposed faith lasts.”
“I am an initiate of the dragon lady!” Whisper shouted after them, then swore in common. Langdedrosa and Mondath exited the tent with their guards, leaving Whisper to be unfettered by the remaining two guards.
“Let’s go, kitty,” Carid smiled, wrenching Whisper to his feet. “Who knows, maybe once you’re dead we can stuff you and keep you as a trophy.”
Whisper allowed them to push him out of the prisoner’s tent. They led the tabaxi to an open clearing where several huge wooden stakes were posted into the ground. Chained to the one nearest him stood the semi-conscious form of Leosin. They quickly wrapped thick rope around Whisper’s torso on an adjacent stake, leaving his hands, still shackled, pressed tightly against his chest. The guards left in a hurry, ignoring Whisper’s requests. The large command tent was at least a hundred yards from him, and there were guards posted in front of it. Whisper waited, then shouted at one as he passed by to check on the prisoners.
“You!” He shouted in draconic. “Get Langdedrosa! It’s urgent!”
The man looked at him uncertainly and drew nearer. “If I were you, I wouldn’t tempt my fate,” the human said in common.
“They’ve already chosen to execute me at dawn,” Whisper said in draconic, “what could one more conversation harm?”
The man shrugged, “it’s your own grave you’re digging,” then made his way to the command tent. A moment or two later, Langdedrosa emerged from the tent and loomed over the guard, leaving him cowering under the half-dragon’s glare. After a short, stilted conversation, Langdedrosa strode over to Whisper flanked by two guards. The one who had sent his message went rushing away in the other direction, happy to be out of Landedrosa’s piercing gaze.
“You certainly wish for death, fluffy ears,” he rumbled.
“I need to speak with you,” he hesitated, looking at the two guards. “Privately.”
“No,” Langdedrosa said shortly.
“I have a plan to speak to the dragon queen,” Whisper said calmly.
Langdedrosa squinted his eyes at him. “What do you know that we don’t, tabaxi?”
“I have sought knowledge from Candlekeep,” he said slowly. “This monk,” he gestured to the sleeping form of Leosin, “is my way in. I plan to use him to break into their library and steal all of their information on the cult.” When Langdedrosa didn’t respond, he continued. “You need someone smart to go in there, to modify their information.”
“And that’s you?” Langdedrosa laughed humourlessly. “You and your friends lack honour. Why would I trust you?”
“I’m on your side,” Whisper breathed through his teeth, steadying his patience.
Langdedrosa gave him a long, studying look. “Well, you certainly do know a lot for an initiate. Too much, if you ask me.” He glanced over at the monk. “We will speak further of this in the morning.”
Whisper bowed his head. “Thank you for listening.”
Langdedrosa nodded carefully, then cast Whisper a curious grin and left with his guards.
“What in the fiery depths was that?” Fillip demanded. “Did that dragon-person just smile at Whisper?”
“It’s odd, I’ll grant you,” Oszaren agreed. “But, we should trust Whisper. I’m sure he’s just telling them what they want to hear.”
“I guess so,” Fillip sighed. “They didn’t seem too agitated by him, so that’s good. It means we have time.”
“Still, we should not waste time. We have to break him out tonight, at dark.”
“Agreed,” the druid said.
Shale, Reverence and Keelan trekked up the hill around the army base for at least an hour, passing men carrying bows and strings of rabbits. The three of them carried a deer tied to a long branch between them. They simply nodded to the group as they passed and continued on their way. With an army as large as this one, they had need of constant hunting parties scouring the surrounding area for wild game.
They soon crested another hill and saw Oszaren and Fillip sitting together in close discussion. “What have we missed?” Keelan asked, striding ahead of them and glancing down over the hundred-foot drop.
“They’ve brought Whisper outside. He’s with Leosin.” Oszaren said, and they quickly filled them in on everything that had happened.
“We saw him talking to that blue fellow a lot,” Fillip added.
“Could you—hear any of it?” Reverence asked. His voice and the pace of his speech had improved somewhat, but it still had a soft, sleepy timber to it.
They both shook their heads.
A sudden, booming voice echoed below. The voice was distinctly female, husky, and spoken in a harsh, guttural tongue. The five of them jumped to their feet and ran to the edge. Standing before a large, dome-shaped tent stood a fierce, black-scaled half-dragon. It seemed she had amplified her voice by magical means, and soldiers everywhere had turned to listen to her. When she was finished speaking, she stepped back through the tent and disappeared from view.
“What was that?” Shale asked, “did anyone understand that?”
Oszaren said, “it was draconic. I only caught pieces of it. Something about ‘dawn’ and ‘the tunnels’… It sounds as if they plan to leave.”
“Where are they going to go, I wonder,” Keelan said aloud.
“And why—are they—in such a hurry,” Reverence added.
“Maybe Whisper told them about us,” the paladin wondered.
Oszaren shook his head. “It wouldn’t be hard to guess we’re nearby, after capturing one of our own.”
“This means we have a firm deadline,” Shale said. “Dawn.”
“Then we should start planning,” Oszaren spread his map out before them.
Shale had to admit that, without Whisper there to run off and ignore them, the planning went much smoother.
Chapter Seven: An Eye for an Eye
The group discussed several plans before finally settling on one that would, hopefully, not get everyone killed. With their promise made to Nazim, they had two people to rescue from a cult army, filled with spellcasters and fighters. The prospect was not appealing, but nevertheless necessary. Their biggest question was how to remove the bonds from Whisper and Leosin after sneaking through the camp. The rope wouldn’t be too difficult. After all, Whisper had claws. But, the shackles were another story. None of them were great at picking locks and smashing metal with a hammer was not an option. The goal was to get in and out unheard. They had to get them past the hundred-foot cliffs before removing the shackles.
“Keelan, I suggest you go naked,” Fillip proposed happily.
“Uh, what?” the paladin stopped his chewing and looked over at the druid. They were getting in a quick meal of bread before dark.
“Well, because your armour is so loud,” the half-elf said flippantly. “Obviously.”
“Please, no more nakedness,” Shale pleaded. “I’ve already seen enough of that from this group.”
“Yeah, I’m not doing that,” Keelan grunted uncomfortably.
“They won’t be able to see us up there, so long as we hold the ladder until the last possible moment,” Shale pointed out. “So, your armour shouldn’t be a problem. Just—don’t fall off the cliff,” she added.
Fillip pulled out a packet from his bag and began smearing fake blood over his face, hair and shirt. As he worked on this, Reverence took out rope and handed half of it to Shale, and the two of them began weaving knots into the length of it, creating a makeshift ladder.
“The ladder is done,” Shale announced a half hour later, just as the sun was dipping near the horizon and streaks of colour were settling over the landscape.
Fillip clapped his hands together with excitement. “Excellent. Ready, tiefling?”
“Good luck,” Oszaren nodded to them. “We’ll be waiting.”
Fillip looked around at all of them confidently. “Friends, if this plan works out, it’s going to be really awesome.”
Reverence gave a short bow, then he and Fillip turned and began their slow journey. Fillip would transform once they were nearer the guarded entrance. In the meantime, he kept his cloak up to hide all the fake blood streaked through his hair and face.
Shale, Keelan and Oszaren made for a spattering of trees at the highest point of the clifftops, where they carefully tied their rope ladder to the thickest, sturdiest trees they could find. They unfurled it and left it in a neat pile behind a sharp boulder at the edge of the cliff. From this vantage point, they could look down over the entire army. But, more importantly, they stood only a couple hundred feet from Whisper and Leosin, meaning they could watch the prisoners easily. Now that Shale stood on the ledge, she guessed it to be a hundred and fifty foot drop down. They had made the ladder at least that length, but she still felt twisting knots in her stomach as she considered the height. It would be easy enough to shoot down at the enemy from here, and much more difficult for the enemy to shoot back at them, should they be seen. That also meant that it was an incredible climb for their companions. So far, they had hardly seen Leosin stir. Could he make the climb?
“Bless us, Kossuth,” Keelan whispered, watching the army in the growing darkness. There seemed to be a light behind his eyes when he took to prayer, something Shale found quite curious. She didn’t know much about the god this paladin worshipped and took a mental note to ask him about it another time.
Should they survive the night, that was.
Fillip bent as his shape began to transform. Thick, white and gray fur sprouted from his body as his clothing transformed with it. His arms and legs shortened, and his back stretched and straightened. His nose elongated, and his eyes turned a pale yellow. In a few seconds, he was a direwolf. He gave the monk a wolfish grin, examining his fur where the fake blood still matted it, nodding in satisfaction of his work. Then, with a feigned whimper, he went limp and rolled over, playing dead.
“Well done,” Reverence said, then hoisted the direwolf over his shoulders with some difficulty. Fillip let his tongue lull out of his mouth for extra measure. Then, they approached the guard’s towers that flanked the entrance to the cult’s army.
“Direwolf? You see that?”
“Direwolf? Where? Ooh!”
“Rauck, Come see!”
“What do you want, Pheki?”
“Someone’s killed a direwolf!”
The kobolds were entranced by Reverence’s capture, to say the least. The small dog-like dragon creatures praised him in common as he carried Fillip’s heavy body through the lower section of the army. This section seemed to be inhabited solely by kobolds. The tents were smaller here, the pathway muddy, and there was a littering of bones and other refuse everywhere he turned. The kobolds followed Reverence for a short while, thoroughly intrigued and probably a bit hungry. Reverence ignored them and carried on until he reached a secondary section of the encampment. At this point, his kobold fans fell away. This section was slightly more organized, and a mix of humans, dwarves, elves, and even a few tieflings swept about in common, everyday clothing. Some were working, others gambling, and even more were finding a comfortable spot at a fire for the evening.
“What’ve you got there?” A human stepped up and stopped Reverence with a hand on his chest. “Oh, got yourself a direwolf, did yah? That’s impressive,” the man nodded approvingly, inspecting Fillip carefully. “Looks tasty too.”
“I’m certain—it will be,” Reverence said.
“Suppose we have to feed that one to the hatchlings…?” The man looked around for anyone watching, then leaned in, pressing two gold pieces into Reverence’s palm. “How’s about you take the direwolf to the mess hall. Butcher’ll have that cleaned up right away,” he paused, lowering his voice, “for us.”
Reverence nodded knowingly and gave the man a quick, sharp-toothed smile. “Of course, but—I’ll do the skinning myself. It is a—matter of honour.”
“Great,” the human nodded, and grabbed Reverence’s arm. “C’mon, I’ll take you to the butcher’s tent.”
Seeing no other option, Reverence allowed the man to lead him away.
The man opened the flap to the butcher’s tent and gave Reverence a wink before turning and jogging off. Reverence pushed through the low entrance, crouching and looking around. The wide tent had four wooden tables in varying degrees of mess. Internal organs were laid out on one, another had an array of knives and cleavers, and a third had a man, presumably the butcher, standing over it and dragging a long knife under the skin of a buck, cutting fur from meat in scraping cuts. Blood-soaked dirt surrounded him, and a bucket sat at his feet where he tossed the fattier bits. The wall of the tent was lined with a wooden shelf displaying hanging daggers and saws.
The butcher turned to Reverence as he entered and stared at seeing the direwolf slung over his shoulders.
“Impressive kill!” The man was thick waisted and had a rosy face and greasy black hair that extended into an unkempt mustache. He set down the knife and appraised the monk, bloodied hands on hips. “How did you manage that?”
Reverence stepped up to the only empty table and heaved Fillip’s wolf-form onto its surface. “With great difficulty,” he said to the butcher. He leaned back against the table with the array of knives and palmed one, slipping it into his sleeve.
“I’d imagine,” the butcher laughed. “So, you need me to clean that up for you?”
“Actually, I’d like to—do it myself,” Reverence said. The butcher shrugged and turned away, and Reverence leaped the moment his back was to him. He clamped one hand over the butcher’s mouth, and with the other he drew out the dagger and dragged the blade across the man’s throat. His hand slipped as blood spurted from the opening and the man gargled, trying to cry out. In that instant, Fillip leapt from the table and pounced into the man’s chest as he fell, pushing him back and tearing out his throat with a snap of his jaw. He wrenched back his bloodied muzzle a moment later and gave Reverence a quick nod. Reverence threw down the knife just as a voice came from the other side of the tent. Someone banged a hand against the canvas. “Everything okay in there?”
Reverence cast the direwolf a quick glance, then, lowering his voice into an imitation of the butcher’s accent, called back, “I cut my hand, but I’m alright.” The man on the other side of the tent seemed satisfied, and after a few moments of silence, Fillip gave a quiet growl, gesturing with his head.
“Yeah, yeah, time to go. I get it,” Reverence said. He took a long blade from the butcher’s table and sheathed it at his belt. Then, both direwolf and monk stole from the butcher’s tent and into the darkness. Fillip ran into the shadows of the cliff, and Reverence walked casually back to the path, sticking to the dark corners and trying to act casual.
Shale pulled out four arrows and wrapped thin pieces of cloth around the tip of each one. She dribbled oil over each of them, then rested three on the ground next to her and strung the final one to her bow. She pulled the string taut and found her mark: a group of tents on the edge of the army base near the prisoner’s tents. She gave Oszaren a nod. “Now,” she whispered.
He put a hand over his forearm, covering his tattoo as it began to glow softly. Then, he snapped his fingers together. A small flame appeared at his fingertips, flickering in the slight breeze. He touched the edge of the flame to the cloth, and it ignited. Shale took a deep breath, then released. The arrow sailed in a huge arc, the flame a tiny light in the star-speckled sky. It landed a second later on the roof of a tent. Without pitch on the tents, it would take a few minutes to start burning properly. Shale picked up another arrow, notched it, and Oszaren lit this one as well. She shot, and this arrow came down on an adjacent tent.
“That’s good,” Keelan said, and Shale quickly gathered up her arrows and returned her bow to her back.
Within a couple of minutes, the tents caught fire and began to burn in earnest. Shouts echoed as people began to realize the fire was there. An amplified voice echoed above the rest: “Fire! Fire! Get water!”
The three of them ran over to where their ladder lay and threw it down the edge of the cliff, collectively holding their breaths as they saw Reverence appear in the clearing, running toward the prisoners.
As he ran, Reverence cast three consecutive spells. First, he amplified his voice and shouted, “fire! Fire! Get water!” Then, he shot a hand behind him and made the flames flare up even hotter, catching a third tent with the growing flames. Finally, he made the ground beneath him tremble. People ran past him screaming in confusion, some with empty buckets dashing to the nearest well, others looking around to see what had caused the chaos. Reverence continued forward at a jog, hanging close to the shadows. The attempt wasn’t necessary, however. No one seemed to notice the orange tiefling going by in the direction of the clearing.
Still in wolf-form, Fillip watched until the flames flared up, then bounded across a huge cavern entrance once the way was clear. He dashed past kobolds as they ran for the fire. He caught sight of Reverence, and the two of them got to the prisoners simultaneously. Fillip ran to free Whisper, biting apart the ropes with his sharp teeth.
No guards were near them.
Reverence used the stolen butcher’s knife to cut the ropes that held Leosin. The half-elf was barely conscious and fell to his knees when the ropes dropped. Reverence helped him up and Leosin suddenly grew aware of his surroundings and stood up, pushing away from the tiefling with shackled hands. “No!”
“We’re here—to free you,” Reverence said in a hushed tone.
“I have too much to do! I can’t leave!” His voice was growing louder, more desperate.
Reverence smacked the monk in the forehead with an open palm, knocking him out cold. The half-elf fell back, and Reverence caught him and threw his limp body over one shoulder. “Let’s go,” he said to Fillip, who nodded and quickly transformed back to his two-legged self, brown cloak swirling around him.
Fillip ran for the ladder, looking behind him to see Whisper stepping away from the post he was staked to, but otherwise not turning to leave. Not my problem, Fillip thought as he quickly began to ascend the ladder. I did my part. More than a hundred feet up, he could see Oszaren, Keelan and Shale leaning over the edge watching them.
“Whisper—the ladder,” Reverence panted as he turned to leave. “Come—with us.” Whisper ignored him.
The dark-haired woman, Mondath, burst from the command tent and ran at the nearest guard.
“What’s going on here!” She demanded, seeing the fires growing in the distance. Then she turned and saw Whisper standing untied. Whisper stepped toward her as she ran up, shouting to her guards. He held out his shackles to her.
“I can help!” Whisper said.
She slowed as she approached him. “How did you get out?” She shouted.
Whisper wiggled his claws before her in the air. “I can help you,” he said again.
After a moment’s hesitation, Mondath signalled for a guard to approach. “Remove his shackles.”
The guard ran forward to release Whisper.
Mondath turned, then, to see Leosin missing. “What the—you! Stop!” She yelled at Reverence, seeing the tiefling near the base of the cliff.
Reverence was watching Whisper as he rubbed his sore wrists and turned to Mondath. A blue light coalesced in Mondath’s fingers as she swirled them through the air. Reverence shook himself and started to run full sprint to the ladder, Leosin bouncing on his shoulder. He felt a sudden shock run through him as Mondath’s spell hit, and his limbs locked up for a second, but he pushed through and continued to run.
He turned back and saw Whisper, standing next to the enemy and doing nothing to stop her. Whisper was helping them. “Traitor!” With a flash, Reverence reached into his cloak and flung a dart. It spun through the air and hit its mark. Whisper stumbled back, hissing and yowling and pressing his paws to the dart protruding from his eye. Blood poured down his cheek and stained his whiskers, and Mondath shouted for help.