All Eyes on You
Annabel takes the familiar path South from the Hidden Vale guild
hall toward Mirith, when she finds herself enveloped in fog...
[OOC: Intro blurb above comes from the latest post in the topic, to make the Discord previews change. ]
“Eyes wide open! Note down all they do at the hall. Don’t be seen. - P”
The fighter tapped his fingers at the desk as he squinted at the note, reading it over again for the hundredth time. The increasingly dim light of a single candle was all that there was to ward off the darkness that engulfed the room. Any more candles, and Lans would complain that he couldn’t sleep. In any event, it was just a few more minutes now until the end of the fighter’s watch. Though the ever reliable Yin and Yang kept their many eyes trained on the front gate, the pair could not watch the windows, and times such as these demanded heightened security.
A sudden yawn came over the fighter. To keep the sleepiness at bay, Jedd had been mulling over the many theories and possibilities in his mind - the nature of the attacks, the rationale behind them… not that it was necessary. He just needed to remind himself of how many days he had spent in the mines, blissfully unaware of the menacing eyes tracing his every move… and the sleep would be warded off for hours.
A loud snore pierced through the eerie silence. To the fighter’s side, Lans slept soundly on a makeshift bed of furs that had been crammed into the study. Normally the fighter would make a fuss at the distraction. But now, on this dark, unsettling night… he was grateful.
“Don’t be seen. - P”
The P would be Petula the Fighter, of course. The powerful ex-lover of Lord Fiadoryx. Probably an ex-Diabolical, too. And the one who had been behind all of the recent attacks on The Hidden Vale. Jedd thought he’d seen the last of her at the Battle of the Growing Moon, when the Vale had repelled Petula’s massive assault. He’d assumed that Petula had fallen during the fighting. Instead, it would seem, she had simply been watching, and waiting. Biding her time.
But Petula had gotten too careless, and now the Vale was back on highest alert.
Day 43 of the Harvest Moon, a pair of mercenaries and their gapers were intercepted outside the Vale.
Day 76, a sizable fleet of gapers were found inside the Vale proper.
Day 78, a significantly bigger contingent of mercenaries was found inside the Hidden Forest.
And all of them, now slain. Jedd wondered what had caused Petula to finally slip up - was her burning hatred for Annabel starting to take its toll? Jedd thought back to the Battle of the Growing Moon. At its conclusion, the Vale had recovered and restored a letter written by Petula, addressed to Fiadoryx. “We have finally assembled a fort to put an end to those meddlers,” Petula had written. “Especially that pretty face, the ranger you said reminded you of someone. It will be a pleasure to see her burn. Call it my personal revenge from the way you treated me yesterday.”
Then, on the most recent battle of Day 78, another of Petula’s letters was found. The fighter removed the letter from the stack of papers and held it to the light of the candle.
I wouldn’t ask if it weren’t important. But my heart bleeds for Fifi. If I can’t have him, neither can she! Lure that pretty face to her death. She won’t track in here. Love, your sister.
Bring me the books I asked you for. Fifi will love me for them.”
The fighter felt his heart beating faster. Petula’s plan to trap them in the Hidden Forest was undeniably cunning, but clearly, Petula was becoming more and more unhinged. Annabel hadn’t so much as met Lord Fiadoryx before. And now, it looked as if the Vale might be in even greater danger - Annabel had noticed that one of the mercenaries from Day 78 was carrying a pair of arcane tomes: one of them plain and unadorned, and the other one bound in a fiery red reminiscent of the infernal regions. Annabel’s next thought was a logical one: was the mercenary who bore these tomes, in actuality the brother of Petula? If so, the future promised to be grim for both sides of this fight. Who would’ve known the havoc that could be wrought by mere jealousy and heartbreak!
The sound of footsteps approaching from the hallway shook Jedd back to attention. Torchlight spilled through the crack beneath the door. The door creaked open, and there in the threshold emerged the gaunt, stubbled face of Ryen.
“Bloody hell, man,” Ryen said. “Go get some sleep.”