42/366 – To Leave a Home

Continued from 41/366 – A Little Truth (Cont.)

“You’re telling me that Azariah can’t do anything about the lake, and what we’re fighting isn’t even the problem?” Master Scaine said, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“That’s what Azariah told me,” Morn said. “The wards are failing that kept whatever it is locked away, and they said the best thing to do now is to run.”

Master Scaine ran a hand over his scalp, shaking his head slightly. He looked from Morn to Celeste and Helem, then back to Morn.

“I don’t know what to do,” Master Scaine said. “We’ve defended this village for centuries from all sorts of attacks. Why wouldn’t we be able to fight whatever is in the lake?”

“Because a deity said they can’t handle it,” Helem said. “My son wouldn’t lie about something like this.”

“I know, Helem. I’m not saying he’s lying. I’m only questioning what the right move is going forward,” Master Scaine said. “Maybe there’s some research that could yield the name of this thing, or if we’re lucky, how to kill it. ”

“I don’t know if research is the right course of action right now,” Celeste said. “I think we should be more worried about the town. If it is something that can be dealt with, we should worry about getting the people that won’t be fighting to safety.”

“You’re a brilliant girl,” Master Scaine said, “and you’re right, of course. I don’t want to abandon the home I’ve built, but we should focus on the people and not the lake right now.”

“Is there any news about the people there?” Helem asked.

Master Scaine shook his head, “usually, my initiates will check in every night. None have returned as far as I know.”

“Shouldn’t that be cause for alarm?” Helem asked.

“Not necessarily,” Master Scaine said, “Sometimes there is an encounter just before dark, and it can take some time. It doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen.”

“My father is out there,” Celeste said, standing up from her chair. “What if something happened to him?”

“We can check on him,” Master Scaine said. “With this new information, I think we should inform the Archmages and begin evacuating the town. Once that’s done, we’ll head towards the lake to get everyone there out.”

Morn felt the familiar sick feeling in his stomach that had been so prevalent lately. He thought about what Celeste had said about her father wanting to leave but choosing to defend the village instead. He wasn’t sure how much more loss any of them could take.

“Let’s get going,” Celeste said, opening the door.

No one argued with her. Her face was set in a stern expression, but Morn knew that she was panicking. All of them got up and left Master Scaine’s office together, making a quick journey back to the surface.

“Morn, would you and Celeste please go instruct the guards to ring the emergency bell?” Master Scaine said, handing him a ring bearing the seal of the monastery. “Helem, you can come with me to the Archmages and help me convince them that it’s time to go.”

Morn nodded, taking the ring. Celeste gave him a worried look as they began running for the central guard tower, leaving Morn’s mother and Master Scaine heading the other direction. It took them five minutes to arrive at the guard tower and found a young guard standing outside.

“Whoa, there. Calm down,” the guard said with a warm smile.

“Master Scaine told me to give you this and have you ring the bells,” Morn said, holding the ring out.

The guard’s smile faded as he took the ring from Morn.

“Wait here,” the guard said, stepping inside the tower.

A minute later, the bell at the top began to ring, vibrating the ground under their feet. The towers surrounding the town attached to the walls began to ring in response. It took less than a minute for people to start appearing in the streets, moving toward the town hall.

“Alright,” the guard said, “can you tell me what’s going on that would make Master Scaine ring the bells?”

“We’re evacuating the town,” Celeste said.

“Evacuating?” the guard replied. Morn saw him fidget with his armor nervously.

“It’ll be okay,” Morn said. “We’ll meet Master Scaine at the town hall, and he’ll explain everything.”

“O-Okay,” the guard stuttered. “I’ll talk to the others inside.”

Morn and Celeste turned away from the guard and ran to the town hall, past the now hundreds of people walking in the road. Some of them looked worried, but most just looked confused and inconvenienced.

Master Scaine was already on the stairs of the town hall when Morn and Celeste arrived. He was talking to Archmage Koldian, Morn’s mother, and three of the other Archmages. As soon as Master Scaine saw them, he beckoned them to him.

“These are the two I was telling you about,” Koldian said, turning to the other Archmages.

“Where’s Jaque?” Morn asked, looking around.

“He’ll be here soon,” Koldian said, “He was just grabbing some supplies we may need.”

“Is it true you’ve had a god in your home?” one of the archmages asked. His hair was greasy and pulled back into a bun on the back of his head. He had a thin, black beard, and his robes showed the constellations from the sky.

“Yes,” Koldian interrupted as Morn opened his mouth to speak, “I apologize, Morn, my colleague here doesn’t have much in the way of manners. This is Archmage Olpen.”

“Nice to meet you, sir,” Morn replied.

“It’s my great pleasure to meet you as well,” Olpen replied. “Would you mind if we asked you some more questions about recent events? Archmage Koldian does a poor job filling us in.”

“This is not the time for that,” Master Scaine said. “Now is the time to organize and get the people to safety.”

“Yes, of course,” Olpen said, his face turning sour. “My apologies, Master Scaine.”

Master Scaine turned to the few hundred people that were gathered and waited another moment for the last few stragglers to get there before he spoke.

“Citizens. It’s come to my attention that there is a grave threat to our town,” Master Scaine boomed. His voice was so loud that Morn was convinced that he was using magic to amplify it. “While there is no immediate danger at the moment, it is crucial that everyone pack up necessities and begin evacuations immediately. I would advise you to begin as soon as possible as we are not sure when this threat will meet our walls.

“I’ve spoken to the Archmage Council regarding resettlement, and for now, everyone is instructed to meet at their council building so they can be teleported to another town or city. Please, only bring essentials. If you have a family in a town, please tell the mages so we can send you to safe places and not overwhelm any single town or city.”

A moment passed as the crowd processed Master Scaine’s words before they began to disperse. Morn looked down at the group to see Mayor Kipperling pushing her way through.

“What is the meaning of this?” she said as she arrived at the top of the stairs. “How dare you address the populace without me.”

“Mayor, the town is going to be destroyed,” Master Scaine said. “We meant no disrespect, but it’s imperative that you go get ready to leave as well.”

“What’s happening? Is it the zombies?” she asked.

“No, Mayor, it’s the lake. We’ve learned that there is something powerful waking up that will seek to destroy our town,” Koldian said.

“Who gave you this information?” she demanded.

“It was young Morn here,” Koldian said with a smile.

Morn felt the heat of her gaze as she squared up with him. Her face was turning bright red, and he was sure she would hit him. He had never seen anyone as furious-looking as the woman in front of him right then.

continued 43/366 – To Leave a Home (Cont.)

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