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The night is indeed one of Legend…a night of just retribution, and who knows what title the historians and poets will give it. It is only certain they will have to name it something. Caris and The Lord of Shen Ling ride resplendent on the back of the gleaming spirit, leading the charge down into the black roiling mass. When they ride into the horde there is a scintillating blast of light and the army, panicked, routing, pushing against itself, is finally shattered.
The raiders and their war beasts are easy pickings, breaking into smaller groups running every which way, seeking only escape and self preservation. It is easy to pick a target and ride them down. Into the woods they are all driven. The light of the Unicorn glows up into the tree tops and sets the very air aglow. Even when she is out of sight, her howls roll through the forest and her presence is felt as an unearthly golden glow that hangs in the air like illuminated mist Here in the trees the enemy makes desperate last stands, and some resistance is offered, but they are no match for Shen Ling’s defenders, no match for you.
Into the woods the hours pass. The elite defenders of Shen Ling, not great in number, but great in spirit, break up into smaller bands to pursue the ragged tatters of the shattered horde, whose surviving warbands stumble off into the darkness seeking to reach the safety of the mountains before sunrise. Many of Shen Ling’s heroes, elf, half elf, human, many have lost family and friends in the nights of terror that led up to this victory, all of them were thrust into a war upon their home that they did not ask for. Like dark angels of retribution, like devils of vengeance, they stalk the retreating splinters of the horde, giving them no quarter through the night. The people of Shen Ling are not war like, but the raiders that have come down from these mountains have taught them how to be cruel, and tonight, each one of them lets that cruelty make them a dark hunter.
For some, the due of blood is collected soon. Small bands of Shen Ling defenders abandon the hunt and light up bonfires on the hill tops or down in the valleys, calling out to each other in victory. They leave the butchers work early to take up celebration. Common folk emerge from their hiding places in the remote villages, and come out into the chill spring night. Drawn to the fires and the songs of victory, they bring out casks of ale, wheels of cheese and loaves of bread. Colorful lamps and even fire works play out through the forest. Children climb the trees to hang streamers of green and blue silk the sway in gentle breeze. It is as if the entire woods become a network of bonfire celebrations, so many celebrations the air itself is warmed by fire, and music and cheers seem to float on the breeze. Word of victory spreads. The Unicorn and her Heroic riders seem to be everywhere at once, appearing here and there, showing that all are safe. More and more people come out to celebrate, some not even understanding the full scope of what’s happened, entire valleys resound with music and mirth.
Others, more deeply scared, continue the hunt. That night, it is the choice of each to decide how much revenge they require, how dark they are willing to let their souls sink, how much blood they must harvest to set the balance right. Raider death cries, and shouts of “Heart is Homeland” echo through the sylvan woods all through the night, as the running battle beyond the celebrations evolves into a wild hunt that plays out across the woods and hills.
At some point you find yourselves all reunited on a tree covered hill, not so far from the one you left behind. Some time during the night, there was a bright flash of light down in the woods, and Caris and the Lord of Shen Ling came walking up to the fire. All began to cheer when they finally recognized them slogging up the hill almost casually, like any number of other revelers swaddled in their cloaks. As the crowd erupted, The Lord of Shen Ling took Caris’s hand in friendship, and as if rehearsed, both bowed low to the revelers, and to all of you, like two actors on a stage. The two of them look unbelievably heroic together, like something in a famous painting or a scene from a tapestry, and the crowd only goes wilder at the duo’s bow, pushing forward to throw flowers, streamers.
Night fades to morning. A bright fire burns, and some arcane trickster has just thrown something in to make the flames shimmer green and then burst into blues and reds. Their is soft music and hoarse cheers, as even the most intrepid revelers are winding down. Every now and then there is the sporadic pop of fire crackers, or the whizzing sound of a bottle rocket. The blue glow begins to spread across the eastern part of the sky. Everywhere, distant fires and smoke hang in the air, everywhere, people curled up in their cloaks are falling asleep beside the dying fires or speaking in hushed tones in small circles of friends. Somehow you have all found a quiet spot, or rather, things have died down enough that a quiet spot can be found.
“Look Over there” The Lord of Shen Ling speaks, pointing east towards 5 massive trees that tower in a huddle over the others, not too far away. The red orange of pre-sunrise is now washing those tree tops in the faintest, otherworldly glow.
“I had no idea how close to Oldhome we are, I had no idea where we were to begin with. Let’s head that way, If we can get ourselves up to a five minute trek we can all have proper baths, and sleep in real beds tonight, I mean, this morning. Let’s go!”