After turning in the evidence to the Templars, the ravens began to silently and subtly pull up stakes.
All around them ravens continued their everyday tasks, while also packing and readying themselves to leave.
Teek was busy rallying refugees and trying to keep everyone calm as the mass exodus took shape. Rin instructed the party to assist in breaking camp and helping get the refugees in order to leave.
As the party ventured to assist, they were approached by a 1st company Templar with an unexpected offer, a meeting with the bishop himself.
As if there was not enough turmoil and indecision the party was again thrust into a frenzy of what to do, the ravens were already pulling up camp, in mere moments they would be leaving. Teek seeing the problem, interjected herself in an attempt to assist the party, but it was in vain, the 1st company Templar was as single-minded as a drone.
The party agreed to meet the bishop, much to Teek’s shock, her friends were leaving?! She attempted to persuade them but to no avail, she nodded and left them to their course.
Harlan quickly scribed a message to the ravens, telling them not to wait, and that they went as independents, not ravens. He quickly passed it off to a passing ravens paladin who was shocked at the content, and took it straight to Rin.
Rin upon reading the message, found himself overcome with a mixture of rage and grief, they were going to fight, he knew it… Damnit all!… He watched them disappear into the keep, fearing this was the last he would see of them. “Goddess keep you friends…” He softly murmured as the camp around him pulled up stakes and started moving. For a half second he considered attacking, headlong… No, it’s not what they would want….
As the party was escorted into the depths of the fortress, it was clear the lower levels had been converted into some strange gilded hall of reverence, the 1st company Templars here were different, better trained and equipped, with updated armor and weapons. An errant auxilia brushed into Dolos “Don’t fight him around his guards…” he whispered.
As the party entered into the small former chapel of the Goddess turned shrine to the God Emperor, they finally met the Lord Bishop Iu’lian
Charming and welcoming at first, his demeanor quickly devolved into one of heavily dripped ridicule, by this point he had what he wanted, or so he thought. He offered the ravens the chance to work for him… or… freedom to leave?
He seemed entirely sure of his position in his scheme, it was becoming clear as the conversation wore on that his intentions were not noble nor honorable, but the events set in motion by himself, the ravens, and the high captain, were all but unchangeable at this point. The party waivered, join him? Never… thought some… maybe thought others.
The bishop’s eyes wandered to Dolos, who’s stoic face, clenched jaw, and tight grip on his rapier gave him pause. Would he? Here? Surely not, none of them would survive! But…. he was trapped, an oversight? Maybe… No… No he had this figured out to the stones they stood upon, there would be no fight he told himself, but the hatred in Dolos’s eyes said different… Though he did not show it, he shifted nervously in his armor, maybe 2 guards were not enough…. Would they throw their lives away just to kill him?
The party deliberated over joining, then finally opted to leave peacefully. The bishop stuck true to his word, he had nothing to gain from wasting efforts on a 3rd party, let them go.
As the Ravens made their way out of the keep, and out of the courtyard, the 3rd company Templars, who had witness the camp pulling up stakes and leaving, were staring at them in confusion, what was happening? Were they fighting or not? Finn made a telepathic message to Sgt. Laphantus on the way out, letting him know they were not aligned with the Bishop, and that the ravens meant them no harm.
Laphantus sighed, they were alone. He had hoped the Ravens would join them, but… such is the river of fate…. He chuckled a bit, then mentally replied as the link slowy faded. “I know” he said. “This is not your fight.”
As the party caught up to the fleeing ravens and refugees, Rin and Teek were overjoyed to see their return. As they looked back over their shoulders, over the heads of hundreds of slaves and commoners that followed them, the shrinking visage of Windshire faded into the distance.
End of chapter 2