Back when we first met Wizard Tim, he was hiding in a ruined moat house where he was recovering from his failed battle with the black dragon, Cassandra. Two of his companions had died in that attack and Sparkle Glitterblade, Lilith’s alter ego, had fled. Liz and I had entered the moat house, exploring and thinking to find a camping place, but needed to clear out a few beasties before we could settle in. There were some things in the lower level which Tim helped us clear out after we cleared the top, but I had not really understood why he’d been hiding in the first place. See, Liz and I had to clear out a nest of normal, run-of-the-mill giant spiders; not the kind that can talk; more the kind that wants to wrap you in silk, soften you up, and suck out your fluids. We had Brother Charles with us, a huge Macaw with brilliant blue plumage, who was sent to me from Kithri. He proved to be a boon companion, unlike Wizard Tim.
Anyway, we fought the nest of spiders and Brother Charles was killed in the battle. I tried, but I could not save him. It was after that, once the spiders were dead, that Wizard Tim showed himself in the guise of a servant to the adventuring party that had lost to the dragon.
Turns out, Tim is afraid of spiders. Seriously, peed his robes scared. I know this because when we returned to the tower with Scythen, Tim screeched like only a four year old girl can, dropped his water, and ran to hide behind Beatrice. I’ve watched the man toss around magic so powerful it killed dozens of frogs, or trogs in a single attack. But two spiders who stood next to me with no move to attack, sent him into a blind panic.
No one else was particularly happy, but that was just comical. We waited for him to open one of his portable closets to change his robes before I explained about Scythen, the rest of his people, The Green Lady, and how the blighted men were on their way to kill us, a lot.
That got all their attention. Once Tim was back, and standing behind Alfred — coward — Scythen began to fill us in on the plan as they saw it.
“We will take you to see The Green Lady,” they said in unison, their harmonic duality both disconcerting and fascinating.
Leaper had gone to scout for the blighted men, to give us warning of their attack. Tremor, the first pair, had gone to warn the tribe about us. My ability to speak in their language had been that trigger.
The wizards asked three questions before Scythen called a halt to that. “We must go now,” they said to us. “Leaper will attempt to bait the hunters, but they take a great risk. Do not squander the efforts they take on all our behalf by dithering over nonsense words.”
The wizards glanced at one another and I could tell that Beatrice released a significant amount of power she had been holding. Rufus had not drawn power, which moved him up a notch in my book. Brave for a wizard. Tim had two wands out and his hands were shaking so strongly, I don’t think he could’ve aimed either one of them enough not to kill us all.
“Put those away,” Alfred said, pushing Tim with his leg. “And stop clinging to my leg.” I could see it on his face that he wanted to say more, but refrained. Always the diplomat, that one.
Calladil and Lilith fetched the boat, shrinking it back down and depositing it in her pack before we were ready to follow Scythen and move North West. I had the map in my mind’s eye and knew we were going to the point that I had last tracked Kithri. Not the order I had planned to do these things, but there are times you just have to roll with the circumstances that are presented to you.
“How far,” Alfred asked, once Rufus weasel gnome was atop his shoulder once more, “before we get to your Green Lady?”
“Your kind move in two dimensions,” Scythen said, disappointment filling his voice. “And you are slow. It will take nearly until the golden orb sleeps and the silver child awakes once more.”
“Hours,” mumbled Tim, but we all ignored him. He opted to take up the next to last position in our little marching order, as far away from Scythen as he could get without actually being last. This honor he relegated to Calladil who shrugged and acquiesced to Tim’s demands. He assured me later if I had countermanded the order, he would have done as I wished, but was just as happy to avoid a conflict with one as touchy and powerful as Tim. I had to agree with his observations there.
Scythen was frustrated by our passage. When the water appeared, or the ground grew too boggy, they took to the trees, but we could not do the same with as much grace and speed. Twice we used the skiff to ferry us across the worst of the swampy mess. Fun note. The Biggify spell could be used on the boat more than once. Each time we were able to get all of us on board, including Alfred, without being too tightly packed in. That was a nicety I had not expected. I had been wondering how we were going to get us all to the Blighted Men’s camp. Sometimes magic is a boon.
The estimate of our travel was off by several hours. The sun set far too soon, and the waning moon provided little light. As I had the green sight, I was not chuffed by the dim of the evening, and Rufus had decent night vision. The rest huddled in the middle of the raft around a small lantern that Beatrice produced, talking quietly as we crossed the longest body of water yet.
It turned out we were heading to an island. We came out of the tangle of trees and marshland to the lake that surrounded the home of Scythen and his kin. There were small islands that dotted the lake, and I could see with the green sight that there were magnificent webs that stretched out across the open water, connecting every tree and island in a chaotic thoroughfare that the pure people used to get to and fro from their sanctuary.
The island ahead was laced in webs so thick it obscured the light. As our boat approached, Scythen warned us to keep moving to an ancient stone dock that jutted out at one point of the island, and to remain on the boat until they returned. No one had to be told twice. I didn’t have the heart to tell Tim that even with the green sight I lost count after sixty pairs heading to the island. The number of pulsing life forms on the island rivaled the stars in the sky. He was not going to be happy. I think he may never leave the boat again.