The Golden Eagle was built more like a fortress than an inn. It had walls complete with towers and guards… though the actual number of guards seemed to be very few. The towers were wooden, and the walls were just wooden palisades, but it was still secure. It didn’t have much choice. There were no cities around for at least half a day in either direction. That meant they couldn’t rely on others to protect them… but it also meant they could charge enough to afford full time guards. While it was possible to travel past it, that was only for those who could make good speed. Those who went slower would need to stop somewhere… and that somewhere was the Golden Eagle.
At least, that was what Eric told us. He actually came to meet us outside, where he handed us replacement guild cards- including ones for Alhorn, Kasner, and Halette. Now we were talking in a private room. “It’s good to see your quest was successful,” Eric looked toward Kantrilla. “The guild… couldn’t do much to help you directly. Not without risking open hostility with the guild in Escait and perhaps causing trouble between the countries themselves. However, there are a few things we can and have done.” Eric smiled, “I will be escorting you back into Othya. Otherwise, it is possible you might run into trouble at the border… even with clean guild cards. We still have no definitive proof of the guild’s complicity with Enok Csorba’s party and their actions… but what we have seen hasn’t really been encouraging.”
“We are glad for your help,” Alhorn nodded.
“I am glad to give it. Timmy… the guildmaster has vouched for your character… and the reports from Kazik are certainly enough to solidify Enok Csorba’s wrongdoing. The guildmaster does not appreciate those trying to slip crimes under his careful watch… and though the guild can’t catch everything, we also do our best when we get the chance. On a personal level…” Eric grinned, “I see only good things coming from helping out some rising stars with great potential. Ostana can always use more good adventurers… and even if you later choose to go elsewhere, upright adventurers are still good for the world as a whole.”
I refrained from mentioning that Kasner had a crippled leg… and I seemed to be going down in levels. It wasn’t a good time for it… and frankly it didn’t seem relevant.
It was only a couple of days to the border. With Eric arranging rooms for us, we didn’t worry about stopping in cities along the way and getting some real rest. That was much appreciated, because besides Socks none of us were suited to sleeping on the ground. Even Socks appreciated a nice clean wood floor.
As Eric and the rest of us approached the border station, guards from the Escait side moved to cut us off. “Everyone must be inspected,” the captain with them announced.
“No need,” Eric waved his hand and smiled, “I’ve already cleared this group for passage.” He continued moving forward and the rest of us followed, but the guards crossed their spears in front of us.
“Everyone must be inspected. We are looking for a specific group of dangerous criminals.”
“Really? Then I’m sure you have their descriptions and a list of their crimes. You know you are able to provide the evidence and if it sufficient, we will extradite criminals. Now, if you’ll excuse me, you are preventing Othyan citizens from returning to their homes.”
The captain shook his head, “While you’re on this side of the border, we still have jurisdiction. Men, arrest them.”
“Do you really want to do this? I will be filing a formal complaint.” Eric narrowed his eyes as he looked at the captain.
“Continue.” The captain said to his men, who had hesitated. The group surrounded us.
Then Eric shook his head, “This is illegal. In that case, I will have to recommend we close off the border to Othya until reparations are made by Escait.”
“And how are you going to do that while in chains?” The captain stepped up to grab Eric’s hand… and they passed through each other. Then, all of us faded from existence.
“Whoa.” I blinked, “I’ve never seen such good illusion magic. I mean, I haven’t seen much but we looked… really real.”
“Of course,” Eric nodded, “There is little point in creating a bad illusion. It’s only effective if people don’t know they are being tricked. Otherwise, you might as well just be invisible.”
“Speaking of which…” I looked down at myself, “It was weird to be invisible.”
Eric nodded, “Sadly, such abilities are less useful against many sorts of monsters that don’t rely on sight. Now then, I do have to go report that they attempted to arrest a border official on duty. Meanwhile, you can be off. I trust your journey through Othya will be safe enough. Though it is not an order… the guildmaster has requested that you report to him at your earliest convenience.”
Our trip back to Ekralas was slower than when I had gone the other way. First, none of us had mounts… and second, we weren’t in a hurry. We were finally in a position where we could casually progress, so we took our time, traveling perhaps two thirds of the day. The rest, we rested and trained. Kantrilla needed the rest more than most of us, since she was dealing with more than just temporary wounds… though her physical health was nearly recovered.
At the end of each day was my first chance to train Strength in weeks… and more importantly, the first time since I had gotten the Blessing of Strength. I gained at least a point in Strength every day when I trained- and sometimes when I didn’t. That sounded amazing, and it was… but my excitement was tempered by the fact that I was going to lose Strength whenever I next ‘leveled up’. Now, instead of having extra Strength to make up for the fact that I couldn’t distribute attribute points anywhere else… I just had the equivalent of an above average Strength and no attribute points at all- and it would only get worse with adventuring. At the moment I would gain Strength faster through training than I would lose it, but at some point it would slow down significantly… if I could even adventure properly. I wondered if Timmy would have any idea how to help. Well, I supposed I could ask… though I wasn’t certain about letting him know I was an otherworlder. We weren’t exactly friends, even if we were on the same side in most things.