Recap: On their quest to find Schneebedecht, Sir Graylen, Queen Arasheil, and Watsley are joined by Chadwick and Casington.
. . .
The night was quiet. The travelers were sleeping soundly except for Chadwick, who was on watch. Strange dark shadows flickered through the trees, untouched by the dying light of the fire. The shadows seemed to chuckle as the night deepened.
Morning came too early for Graylen, as the battle party arose and broke camp. Only Watsley remained sleeping, the little satyr had woken up around midnight with nightmares, and it had taken Graylen almost an hour to get the little guy back to sleep. Graylen shuddered as he recalled the fear in Watsley’s eyes. They worked quickly to pack the camp, before the knight picked up Watsley and the group set off on the day’s journey.
Graylen’s horse fell into pace beside the queen’s mount, Casington lead the way, with Chadwick bringing up the rear. The morning was beautiful, warm sunlight dappling through the leaves, a pleasant warmth surrounded them. The soft sound of Watsley’s snores lulled Graylen into a sense of comfort. With a scream, Watsley jolted out of his slumber just as Arashiel slumped forward and fell off her mount. Shimmering crimson shackles were locked around her wings. They looked so wrong and out of place that the knight was frozen for a moment. An unhinged, chilling laughter snapped Graylen back to reality. He wheeled his mount around expecting to find an enemy and an injured Chadwick.
Instead he was faced with just Chadwick, whose eyes were glowing the same crimson as the shackles that bound the queen. The centaur laughed again, before black smoke swirled around him, and he disappeared. Graylen hopped off his horse, holding Watsley securely; he hurried to the queen’s side where Casington was kneeling. Even as he watched, the queen seemed to grow dim. “What’s happening to her?” he asked.
Casington sighed, “Her wings are bound. They are the source of her power. The thin membranes collect the ambient natural magic and add to her own. Normally she would still have her internal magic, but the cuffs double as magic suppressants.”
“So, remove them.” Graylen bit out. He wouldn’t be able to save his people without her. She was cruel and cold, and she cared nothing for him or any of the others on this quest, but she was integral.
Casington looked away and sighed. “Only Chadwick, the one who affixed them, can remove them. He has disappeared. I cannot believe that my brother would turn traitor.” A sense of betrayal transformed his jovial face.
Graylen placed a hand on the Centaur’s shoulder, “I don’t think it was of his own free will, his eyes glowed red. I have come to notice that magic makes things glow.”
A strangled cold laugh rang out, “That is an overly simplified explanation that one could expect from a mundane person.” Arashiel pushed herself up. “Centaur, help me onto my mount. We must find your brother. He must release me. If he is truly under a spell, we must break it before he hurts anyone else. If he is actually a traitor, he must be executed.”
Casington helped her remount the unicorn. He didn’t speak, but his mind swirled with questions.
The distraught travelers set out their new quest accompanied by the sounds of Watsley’s sniffles.