A Continent of Refugees

It’d been about two months since we defeated Krampus and saved Solstice. I hung around the shire a bit with Peregrine, along with Moira. Tibles and Mersh disappeared soon after, and Albion left to go buy a Mammoth and reunite with his family. After some downtime, I returned to North Crescent Isle to keep my shop running.

The past couple weeks have been lazy, but lonely. Last I heard of Tibles, he was getting ready to find passage to Aetheria, the Eastern continent. I’d meant to join him if he’d allowed it, but that’s immaterial now. It’d been stormy for the last couple days, and today I was awoken by a knocking on the door. I trudged downstairs to find a small halfling in an Ashan military uniform. He informed me that the island had been garrisoned for an invasion, and nearly a quarter of the active Ashan army was stationed up here. That happened fast.

I geared up to join the front lines while the halfling filled me in. Apparently Ashan scouts had spotted a massive fleet of ships, all headed south to our Island. There hadn’t been time to contact Lavanda or Bishk to inquire as to the point of origin of these ships, so our boys were gearing up for the worst.

I was led to the northern coast, where men were piling up sandbags and setting up Ballistas. The military moved fast, I’ll give ‘em that. I was worried - There’s no way Lavanda was invading Ashan, and if there were, I’d certainly know about it. That meant that it was either the corrupt nation of Bishk, or something much more nefarious.

The fog was thick, and visibility was restricted, but silence fell fast and we could hear the creaking of the ships. No cannon fire. No orders being barked. Even the wind seemed to still. All was far too quiet for comfort. And then, out of the fog, a massive behemoth of a ship reared its head. It was clearly in firing range, but its guns looked unmanned. In fact, we saw no sign of any life on the ship whatsoever. I shouted for the men to hold — perhaps this wasn’t an invasion after all. And we watched as the ship coasted towards us, and ran aground on the beach. It came to rest, lopsided, and our men tossed grappling hooks up to the deck. led the climb.

Standing atop the deck, I could feel my heart beating in my throat. The deck was littered with men — dead. Slashed and torn up by some unknown force. They were soldiers, and what’s worse, they were Lavandan soldiers. Our boys climbed up behind me and that hushed silence fell again. They knew I was a soldier of the Lavandan military. I scanned the bodies, and, thankfully, found no familiar faces. That wasn’t exactly a consolation though.

As I stared up at the torn and tattered Lavandan flag flying half-mast, a Wizard scurried past me and scanned the door that led below deck. With a few waves of the hand and some magic words, he undid the lock on it, and swung the door open. We all gasped at the horror that awaited us inside. So many faces, all pale, starving, frightened, and bloodied. They were staring at us, screaming for help in voices that were, until now, inaudible. They were Lavandan Civilians, and there was a literal boatload of them. Just when I thought I was too horrified to look away, something caught my eye. More ships were emerging out of the fog. More ships with empty decks and tattered flags, no doubt filled to the brim with frightened refugees.

Something cataclysmic had happened up there. To my friends, my companions, to my trusted Allies. People began shouting, and this defense perimeter was quickly turned into an evacuation point. Ravens were sent to the capital. Rescue parties were formed.

Tibles’ trip east would have to wait — it was time to get the company together again.

—Richard J. Buckles

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