Fresh Growth – Chapter 7

“Move an inch and you die, goblin.”

I swivelled my head to see the sentinel hidden in the forest, the fire behind her giving her away somewhat. She looked older than I, but no less terrified.

“Don’t. He’s with me.” At this, she saw me next to him, obscured by Beltheron’s dark frame.

“And who are you, traitor, to travel with one responsible for this plague on our forest?”

If I had many of these conversations tonight I was going to end up breaking something.

“It is the only way to find out what happened. The person responsible for this, this – tragedy, they are not in the forest. They are in the goblin harbour.”

She blanked, her bow clattering on the undergrowth.

“You’re mad.”

“Now you see why the goblin stays alive.”

Zipzil looked a little nervous that I was so frankly discussing his life. I didn’t have much option.

“You can’t go like that. Come on, let’s get to the tower. The Retreat’s forces are gathered there, holding the fire at bay by range. I’ll make sure they don’t harm your little friend.” She smiled mirthlessly and picked up her bow and trekked up the short verge to us.

“Thank you, sister.”

“Please, call me Melyria.”

“Oriet. Our ‘little friend’ as you put it is called Zipzil. My cat has his tongue.”

It was only minutes before we encountered the tower and the army it held. Front and centre were the Keeper, Ordanus, and Shadumbra, the mighty panther of Nightsong Woods. Forced to migrate into the Silverwind Woods by Horde expansion, sadly. The mighty Keeper was surrounded by the children of the forest, a great ritual projecting a brilliant beam of green light at the fire-ruined reaches of the forest. It appeared to be keeping the fire in check for now. Hopefully it would be put out before they grew tired.

“What manner of druid brings a goblin to our fair reach?” A nymph stepped forward from the gathered forces. I knew of her. Halannia, the matron of the dryads here.

“One on a matter of utmost importance, my lady.” I bowed quickly in the old fashion before handing her a sealed letter. “Delayed communications from Astranaar.”

“Although not quite as important as they were an hour ago, given the situation.” She smiled, but I could see the concern in her eyes. “Now, young one, tell me what dire matter you need this goblin for. I may be of service.”

I burst into explanation, loud enough for the inquisitive wounded to hear.

“The devastation across Ashenvale was caused by a bomb, similar to yet stronger than the one that destroyed Thal’darah Grove three months prior. It had a detonator. The bomb could only be set off by the detonator, insecure goblin technology or no. That detonator was in Bilgewater Harbour, and it was not meant to be activated. This goblin is my way into that Harbour, to find out what happened. And I must be fast, before there is retaliation.”

“You are mad.”

“I’m aware.”

“Then there is little I can do to divert you from your course. We will loan you a hippogryph, but I doubt you will find much success-”

“But there is no regret in trying.”

“But Raene will have to know-”

“By the Light of Elune I will find out what happened, because I refuse to let soldiers die on a misguided course! You will let Raene know that.” I felt tears blotting my face at my outburst, and as a dryad brought forth a hippogryph I leapt on without a second thought.

“As you wish, Glowsong. Light of Elune grant you luck.”

Beltheron padded over to Shadumbra whilst Zipzil struggled onto the hippogryph. It glowered at him but did not prevent him climbing aboard.

“Ready, Zipzil?”

“If ya can be ready on one of these things.”

“Elune Adore.”

With that small prayer, I launched into the smoke-stained sky.


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