“The aquatic ones aren’t as bad as some of their counterparts.” Connor said with a shrug. “Not anything any sane person fights if they can avoid it, but I don’t think we can avoid it if your goal is to enable this river to flow freely once more.”
“If we could break that dam we could at least eliminate any advantage it has from being in its home element.” Reed said. “I imagine it’s probably not as fast when it has to support all that weight right?”
“It’s also possible that it is drawing some kind of nourishment from the filth it swims in as well.” Kain said, “I saw similar things in Adbar’s filthy laboratories.”
“If the bodies are being fed to it, then we’d be in some pretty serious trouble if we end up where they do.” Callindra said, “And I must admit that I don’t really relish the thought of being stuck in a wagon full of rotting bodies.”
“We would do well to prepare ourselves to exit at speed then once the wagons empty into the pit just in case.” Reed said with a grin that made her question his sanity.
“You realize those wagons are probably full of other dangerous things, weapons, sharp splinters of wood and bone and the like correct?” She said, frowning. “The more I think about this plan the worse it sounds.”
“Do you have any other idea how we’re going to get close enough without being seen?” Vilhylm asked, “Unless you have a better idea or want to abandon the idea of trying to clean the mouth of the river I don’t see much of a choice.”
“No, I can’t escape the feeling that we need to clean the taint of the Taken from the land as we pass.” Callindra said, running a hand through her ragged hair. “If we don’t, then what are we doing bothering to survive at all?”
The others looked at her for a couple of minutes. It was the first time she’d voiced the growing feeling of purpose that Cronos’s death had planted in her heart. Her fear, sadness and despair had brought her low, but she had realized what her only paths forward were. She had chosen to stand against the darkness and to ignore the other option.
“I’m done running.” She said, “I’m done with hiding and being scared. I’m going to start actually living again instead of just not dying. It’s time we take a stand and fight back.”
“That’s what we’ve been doing.” Vilhylm said. “Look at Woodfordshire. That pace may have burned to the ground, but we saved the people.”
“It’s not enough to save the people.” Said Callindra, “We need to save the land. We need to find the Gods. We need to do something more. I’m starting by making the river that flows from my brother’s grave flow clean to the sea.”
“We don’t have the best track record with Gods all things considered.” Vilhylm said, but she could hear his wry tone that took the sting out of the words. “I’m with you sister. To hell and back if need be.”
“I plan on staying as far away from any sort of damnation as I can for as long as possible.” Reed said, “Because I also plan on engaging in as much sinful behavior as I can while I’m still alive.”
“Sounds like it will be interesting to document.” Connor said. “The rise of a hero. Or the fall of one. Or some mixture of the two.”
“I’m no damn hero.” Callindra said, “I have no intention of fighting fair, being honorable or pulling my punches. We’re going in hard and fast and not taking any prisoners.”
“What’s the plan then?” Holt asked.
“We get in like Connor suggested, but be careful not to get stuck or discovered. Whatever they’re doing with these bodies after they drop them off, we don’t want to be made a part of it. Once we’re inside we must keep silent, find out what their purpose is if possible. All that is secondary to the goal of getting around the lake and finding a way to break the dam.”
She looked at Connor and raised an eyebrow. “I don’t suppose you have any ideas on how we could go about doing that?”
“I might have an idea or two.” The strange little man said. “Probably not safe but somehow I don’t think you’re worried about it being safe eh?”
“As long as it does more damage to the structure than it does to us and doesn’t kill us outright.” She said. “Reed, you’ll take the lead. Holt you’ll cover us from behind. Vilhylm and I can quietly deal with anything that sees us before it can get away. Connor, you save your magic for a last resort. No offense but you’re not as subtle as we might need, but you have plenty of power, and we might need that if this plan goes south.”
“It’s not much of a plan.” Reed said, “But it ain’t like we got a lot of options.”
“I will keep anything that dares off your back until we get whatever information we can.” Holt said, his voice sounding quiet and assured in her ears.
Callindra took a deep breath and let it out slowly. It was hardly enough to be called a plan at all, but she knew even this vague collection of ideas would be hard pressed to survive the first few seconds of a battle.
“All right. The wagons seem to come every half candle mark or so. Let’s see if we can get aboard then next time they come by.” They settled down to wait.