Unspoken Urgency

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Lawrence let a long sigh ease free of his nostrils. It was a question he had been asking himself ever since Will appeared at his cell window with freedom in the form of a pry bar in his hands. What were they going to do about it? It didn't matter whether Cajastus meant the Rector's coup or the Kaal Eran's Return; they were now part of the same evil thing.

"Well, first of all, I would like to take my capital back from that hypocritical bastard who's decided the Shadow should rule in Talemon," he growled finally, his fists knotting unconsciously at his sides. "And send his Kaal Eran ear friend back to the Abyss, howling and screaming. Then we gather, ..."

Before Lawrence could go on, the presence of the Tree filled him with a rush.

- No, my wielder, you cannot, - the soft voice insistently spoke into the depths of his mind. There was no denying the urgency in her voice. - You must not! The great enemy gathers their armies already in the south, preparing to move northward. Any delay will risk all races, not just humanity. You must leave immediately to find me, or all is lost! -

Slowly the big prince let his mouth close, his thoughts churning chaotically. As much as he hated to admit it, the Tree was right. Unless the three Weapons of Power were brought into conjunction, the Kaal Eran would destroy the few mortal races they found ill prepared for their invasion here, on Ramnor. For the humans, elves, muraan, quada and piceans by far lacked the strength of their puissant ancestors who formed the First Alliance to hold the Horde back. Nor are they even close to being unified as they were during the War of Shadow. Unfortunately the price he would pay to gain that Weapon would be his family and his kingdom. Compared against the loss of all mortal life, however, it was little consolation.

Thankfully further consideration was reserved by Will's appearance out of the gloom, preceded by the soft clip-clop of shod hooves on cobblestone. Looking up, the two princes watched as Will came into sight, leading a horse.

Where the first two, a proud-necked gray mare Lawrence recognized as Keltie, Will's favorite, and a thick chested mare, were both native Aramas stock, possessing the long legs of a plains animal, this third horse was not.

"A Scattered Kingdoms desert charger?" Cajastus rasped, not wanting to believe his eyes as he stared at the chunkily muscular animal. "Where in the name of the Maker did you find one of those?"

"Pretty close to the same place I found these." Will turned to wave at something in the darkness and Lawrence unconsciously stiffened as a handful of cloaked men glided silently out of the gloom to join them around the fountain. He only relaxed when one of them, a hulk of a man, spoke softly from the recesses of his deep hood.

"Your Highness." The man inclined his head in respect. "It does my eyes good to see you pulled from the Rector's dungeons hale and unharmed."

"Captain Malkolm." Lawrence nearly laughed out loud with relief. "Have the Rangers managed to escape Mern's spread net?"

"All but a few, your Highness," the broad shouldered Ranger quietly confirmed with a nod, pulling back his hood to reveal his square jaw and handsome face. His eyes glittered in the failing light. "We have them poised to strike at the prison in an attempt to free your mother and royal siblings."

Lawrence's mouth of its own will opened in preparation to pass his consent on to the powerful Ranger, one of the ranking officers in the elite scout force. Only to close it with a 'click' of teeth against teeth.

"No, captain," he reluctantly sighed, feeling his insides twist with despair even as he spoke the words. "As much as I want you to go in and retrieve my family, I order you to call off the attack and stand down your forces."

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