Rough draft continued…
Lurissa walked across the black sand to Kytun, extending his knife blade first. â€œNice knife. For a moment, I thought you might be ridding yourself of a problem.â€ She casually flipped the knife in her grasp, offering Kytun the hilt.
â€œI have no problem with you. Any quarrel we had died with our city.â€ Kytun said, sheathing the knife at his belt. â€œYou of all people, should know me better.â€
Kytun knelt to examine their gear. One of the toad-men had died next to the oil flasks and storm lantern. Kytun had feared for the glass. He and Finn had invested all their money in gear for this expedition. He was relieved nothing had been damaged before they even began.
â€œWeâ€™re fine.â€ Lurissa hollered to the two crewmen in the dinghy from the Reaper. They had rowed back within sight of the beach to check on the party. They again retreated into the fog.
Hawk stood at the waterâ€™s edge, his one eye scanning the fog, axe hanging loose in his hand. Kytun noticed the warrior hadnâ€™t bothered to clean his weapon, momentarily distracted by a slow drip of blood into the white foam of the surf. The image of Hawk standing there probably scared the hell out of the two sailors in the dinghy. Kytun laughed, drawing an odd glance from Lurissa.
Owain stood up from a toad-man corpse. â€œAinâ€™t nothing worth carrying. No coin, jewels, nothing.â€ He was clearly disappointed with their opponents. â€œAll these weapons is bronze. Probably break first good blow a man struck.â€
â€œWebbed feet and hands. Nictitating member over the eye.â€ Jago was examining the corpse of one of the toad-men.
â€œA what?â€ Owain stopped next to Jago, watching him work, interested despite himself.
â€œTransparent. The eyelid.â€ Jago explained without pause as he stripped the strange armor from its torso. â€œThis armor is made of woven reeds and grasses. Supply, yet surprisingly strong. Legsâ€¦legs are amazing. At least forty percent of body mass. Yes, this is the source of their jumping ability.â€
Finn laughed. â€œGood to know. I feared we were surrounded by toad catapults, launching our little friends into battle.â€
Jago ignored the comment. Owain winced as Jago squeezed two fingers into the gory hole made by Owainâ€™s harkbus that had killed the toad-man. â€œInteresting. Despite the appearance, more reptile than man.â€ He rose to his feet. â€œThese creatures are cold blooded.â€
â€œYou mean like a snake?â€ Owain asked. Jago nodded.
â€œAre you sure he wasnâ€™t just a student at that university where you found him?â€ Kytun quietly asked Lurissa.
â€œHeâ€™s a wizard. Iâ€™ve seen him work.â€ Lurissa assured him. â€œHeâ€™s just weird, like all of them.â€
Jago carefully examined the toad-manâ€™s bronze spear. â€œNot bronze. Iâ€™ve never seen this alloy.â€ He sniffed at the weapon. â€œPoisoned. Was anyone cut?â€
Owain paled, but none of them had received a scratch.
â€œMany reptiles, including toads, possess toxic secretion glands.â€ Jago used his dagger to prod at the head of the corpse. â€œAh, yes. Here, where the jaw meets the skull. Small, swollen glands on each side above the throat.â€
â€œNo ear. Just a hole.â€ Owain added his own observation.
Jago gave him a condescending smile before continuing. â€œI would wager a bite from one of these creatures would be poisonous. I would also hazard a guess that they spit on their weapons before going to battle. Even a small wound from one promises sickness and possibly death unless immediately treated.â€
â€œGood thing youâ€™re here to warn us.â€ Owain responded to Jagoâ€™s superior attitude. â€œYour bravery in that fight was an example to alla us.â€
Jago scrambled to his feet. â€œYou think I should have done more?â€
â€œSomething wouldâ€™a been nice.â€ Owain mocked the mage.
Jago looked at his companions. Kytun and Lurissa exchanged a look before she shrugged at Jago. Hawk was impassive. Finn ignored them all, climbing a rocky outcropping.
Jago turned back to Owain. â€œWhat would you have me do, announce to the world that Jago is here? All magic emanates power. Anyone with knowledge can sense power. Anyone, or anything, that uses the power is aware of it. The more powerful the magic, the greater the awareness.â€
â€œSomeone is here before us.â€ Finn shouted from atop the rock.
â€œNice of you to yell. Give them plenty of warning.â€ Lurissa muttered.
â€œOwainâ€™s blast gave them plenty of warning.â€ Kytun said.
Lurissa scowled at Kytunâ€™s back as he trotted toward Finn. Hawk followed him.
â€œI was trying to tell you that when we were attacked.â€ Jago told Lurissa. â€œThere is power here.â€ He pointed up. â€œI suspect the Weeping Towers are warded with a potent sorcery.â€
â€œRecently?â€ Lurissa asked.
â€œOh, no. Quite old. I would hazard to say ancient.â€
â€œWeâ€™ll deal with it when we come to it.â€
Owain aimed a nasty smile at Jago. â€œHeâ€™ll deal with it.â€
â€œYes, of course. However, there has been lesser sorcery used here very recently.â€
Owain turned in alarm to check around them. Lurissa ignored him.
â€œAn hour. Two at most.â€
â€œJust at the turning of the tide.â€
Jago nodded, agreeing with her conclusion.