Consulting my map, it would take just over an hour to reach Echocall Crossing to the North, the site of the Disfavored’s missing iron and a planned assault against local forces. Nearly six hours away to the East lay Tripnettle Wilderness, where the Scarlet Chorus hoped I would be able to do some good and capture the head of a local guard unit. So as to avoid traveling to and from Echocall Crossing multiple times, I looked to the East. Several days remained before the Edict’s magic would wipe out all life in the valley, and I had to do everything I could to ensure our success in the coming battles, without wasting what precious time we had been given.

Traveling through the night, I heard exclamations issuing from cliffs adjacent to the road. Local voices were taunting the very mountain itself, suggesting they were more patient and more numerous. Sneaking up to their small siege, it was obvious they had their prey cornered inside a cave. Nearby I found a staff and tabard belonging to the Earthshakers. The situation became all too clear, the reason for the mages’ delay finally explained. Accompanied by Barik the Disfavored and Verse, a Scarlet Chorus girl, we quickly discussed strategy before leaping into battle.

As the final oathbreaker fell, the mountains around us trebled and the cave entrance widened several paces. Six purple-clad Earthshakers emerged, appreciative of the help. I was not pleased by their timing, arriving to the battle only after others had won it for them. Nor was I pleased at their few number – upon demanding explanation it seemed “no others could be spared” for this assault. I do not feel I was too harsh in letting them know my displeasure, but they ran headlong into the night, back along the long road we had traveled, promising to report to the Disfavored camp straightaway.

Bloodied but fearful of the waning moon, we pressed on toward the Tripnettle Wilderness, our travels all but wordless – my allies did not wish to incur my wrath by pressing any sensitive issue, and I was in no mood to volunteer a topic. Insubordination and sedition, even if “accidental,” made my blood boil.

Arriving at the supposed oathbreaker camp, we came across several Scarlet Chorus who had already arrived. The prevailing thought among their army was that I didn’t possess the martial prowess to reliably survive if my diplomacy failed, and that a dead Fatebinder would look terrible, even if the Edict were able to be completed. I ordered them to stand back – I am a man of my word and I said I would handle this situation, for the good of both armies and our whole campaign.

Luckily Verse’s sharp eyes caught a small disturbance in the ground ahead, as we crept toward the oathbreakers in the dark. She was able to avoid a nasty spike trap the locals had placed, hoping to catch the unwary. I openly admit that, without her, I would have fallen victim to it. I may be prideful, but I know when and where respect is due; one of the reasons I was selected to be a Fatebinder in the first place.

After several brief encounters with oathbreaker patrols, we finally faced Pelox Florian, their captain. The Scarlet Chorus wanted him captured, rather than killed, but had said nothing of their wishes for his soldiers. Not wishing for a bloody skirmish against trained soldiers after a hard night’s travel, I offered a simple alternative: Pelox Florian would submit, and in doing so save the lives of his soldiers, who I would not turn over to the Chorus hiding in the nearby woods.

He wisely agreed; perhaps we had all seen too much bloodshed for the night.