Chapter 20: Earthforge

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"Strike while the metal is hot; an old adage.

And not only suitable for smithy and craft.

Oft used as a metaphor for decisive action,

It becomes the catch phrase of general and lord alike

To stir reluctant supporters and soldiers into motion

When opportunity presents itself to their advantage."

- from Tusk's 'Musings of a Madman' 

"I don't answer to you," the Chain Islander commander stated flatly as she stared defiantly down into Patrik's face. That expression didn't change even when Jaeda's long bladed dagger, dark with drying blood spilt from a number of the commander's comrades, suddenly came in from behind to press edge-first against her throat.

"Perhaps not," Patrik dryly conceded as Jaeda, and a pair of her people pulled the female officer off him with hard hands knotted in the woman's clothing. "But you and yours recently became our enemies when you attacked the enclave at Kala'finae and attempted to take us into custody by force." He paused to smoothly push himself to his feet, turning to catch the sword's sheath and an accompanying baldric when Inureah tossed them to him a heartbeat later. Invigorated by more hidden memories coming to the surface, Patrik almost idly watched his hands attach the baldric to the sheath with confident movements before he slid the sword inside, the young man then slinging the baldric over his shoulder.

Only then did he look back at the woman and her soldiers, who were now being restrained by Inureah's paladin and the rest of Jaeda's people, their weapons thrown loosely onto the ground.

"And you've followed us through a portal created to deliver us from your people's aggression. I can only assume your intent continues to be martial."

"We should just kill them and let their blood water the jungle floor, instead of courting conversation with them," Jaeda roughly suggested, pressing her dagger's keen edge against the officer's throat to emphasize her point, hard enough to cut into the woman's skin and send a trickle of blood down into her uniform collar.

"After all, was not their intent at Kala'finae obvious?" she continued, her expression grim.

"Obvious, perhaps," Inureah interjected before Patrik could rebut Jaeda's hard question, stepping away from the knot of Ben'havid standing protectively around her and towards a thoughtful Patrik. "Yet these soldiers didn't attack us after passing through the portal. Nor do they resist us now by force of arms." The Var Ethisdil cleric looked over at Patrik. "Everything isn't as it appears here, my Lord Wielder."

That elicited a taut hiss of warning from Jaeda and a hard look from Patrik, even as the Chain Islanders gasped out loud at the title, their wide eyes falling heavily onto the young Porter, something that didn't fail to catch his notice. But it was the desert princess that called the elven priestess to task for her loose tongue.

"Fool of an elf!" she barked, leaving the Chain Islander officer in the hands of her two associates to step out from behind her. "Did you not think such information would be something best kept from our enemy's ears?" Jaeda stalked across the intervening space to stand nearly nose to nose with the frowning Var Ethisdil cleric, glaring down at the slightly shorter woman with such fury several of the Ben'havid shifted nervously in response.

"If even one of these black shirts escape, then their masters will know of a surety why Patrik alters space and time as he passes through it." She drew her other dagger and spun to face the captive Chain Islander soldiers.

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