Callie knew the area better than anyone else. Michael said he’d seen the area a long time ago, but that a lot had probably changed. It was a statement that didn’t make much sense, but no one challenged it. Draconians had always been rumoured to have a bizarre level of knowledge.
“We don’t want to go right through them,” Callie said. “As obvious as that statement is, it needs to be said. The problem we have then to contend with is just how far their forces stretch.”
“Gabe and I could get through no problem,” Tynan said. “I’m confident that no one who saw us get taken survived.” He glanced at Michael. “I’m not so sure about him. The troops guarding the king probably saw a glimpse of him, at least.”
“They likely do not have a strong image of the assassin herself,” Michael stated.
“Probably not,” Callie said. “But we all want to get into Relna without any real trouble. Especially not with that massive army right there. Fortunately, I have an idea.”
She pointed to a spot on the map. “Around this area, there’s a little Inn. It’s considered at the crossroads of Relna, Het Wald, Strecner and Wicadia. It’s a little out of the way, but I know of a way we can get deep into Strecner from there. And, once we’ve arrived in Strecner, we can easily go around to Relna.”
“Me and Michael were there,” I pointed out. “But won’t the Inn be watched?”
“Definitely,” Callie conceded. “That’s why I’ll go inside with Tynan and Gabriel acting as my attendants and Michael will fly with you and land on the roof. We’ll get rooms at the top and let you inside.”
“That will not allow us to exit unobserved,” Michael pointed out.
“That’s where you’re wrong!” Callie declared. She adopted a smug grin. It actually looked really cute. “About two hundred years ago the nobles of Strecner made an arrangement with the proprietors of the Inn. One that we’ve renewed every time it’s changed hands.” She glanced at Tynan, Gabriel and Michael nervously. “I really shouldn’t tell all of you this. Before I go further, please vow by whichever God you hold most dearly that you will not tell anyone.”
“Then I vow to eternal Ares that none will hear your secret from me,” Tynan stated.
“I vow to Lady Eusebeia that I will tell no one,” Gabriel added. That one surprised me. Why would an adherent of Eusebeia have been so keen to change sides. He looked directly at me. “My loyalty is to Tynan,” he offered, as though reading my mind.
“I swear before eternal Nemesis that I will not divulge the information,” Michael said.
“All right,” she said, continuing before I could say anything. It was nice that she trusted me but I also felt a little left out. “The short of it is that there’s a secret tunnel leading from the Inn to a Mausoleum in Strecner. We can use that to bypass the troll army, provided they don’t catch us leaving the line or going to the Inn.”
“Why do you have a tunnel like that?” I wondered. “In case of invasion?”
“It is likely there in the event of another attempted revolution,” Michael surmised. “The undead nobles of Strecner have had eleven attempted uprisings against them in the past two millennia. Thus far, they have managed to push the insurgents back in every instance, sometimes with great casualties.”
Callie nodded. “We needed a contingency plan. Although we haven’t actually had a revolt for close to eighty years so I’ve never seen one.”
“Why so many?” I wondered.
“Our nobles weren’t always good about not feeding off of the working class too much,” Callie answered. “Or at staying away from the sick and weak.”
“Well, no time for history, right?” Tynan asked. “We’ve got to be going.”
I took Lynai into the air while the others went across the ground, using the elven troops as cover while they moved away from the troll troops. Fortunately, I did not notice any signs that they had been spotted.
It did not take them long to advance far enough that they were not likely to be spotted. I waited for roughly a kilometre before landing with Lynai and joining them on the ground.
Lynai quickly moved to Callie’s side. They chatted back and forth without any real regard of whether or not they were overheard.
Not surprising, there were only the five of us around. I stayed alert, confident that I could detect any attempt at scrying us.
It would take nearly the entire day to reach the Inn. That would be ample time for me to rest my wings. Our biggest concern would be bandits taking advantage of the war-driven chaos to run amok. Or so I thought.