It might have been a safer path to simply cancel the event at the Rest that night. Aedon knew well that the threats made by the hand were real, and that they fully planned to follow through. Events of the past proved well the malice and disregard for others this group held. The Hand was nothing like the minor offenders or occasional miscreants that passed through Yew. He could recall with some clarity those who this group turned their eye on. The Knights of Yew, for all their training always seemed to have trouble quelling an uprising by the Hand, and many who tried would up on the receiving end, or torture, beatings and some things which Aedon tried not to think about. The considered Yew to be their lands, and would stop at nothing to take back that which they believed the people of the area were holding. Gillian, as governor would bear the brunt of their wrath, and Thom would be hard pressed convincing his wife to keep herself in a safer spot. Aedon admired her fire and strength. In many ways she reminded him of Janissan. But there are some times when even strength and resolve are not enough to win the day. Yew would need to rely on her allies. Aedon had no doubt that there would be many more than willing to step forward and offer assistance. The Rangers for instance had an uncanny knack for turning up just when they were needed. And though he felt little confidence in the offer, Blackthorn had assured them that the people of Yew would not stand alone. It might have been safer to simply cancel the event at the Rest that night, but the simple path had never been the one he chose to walk on, and he knew well that had he tried to call things off, Gillian would have carried forth with plans all the same. So as the hour came and went, the Rest filled with those seeking a bit of fun, company and perhaps a few good stories. Gillian was behind the bar; Thom stood nearby, his guard close at hand. The large white wolf seemed to sense the tenseness in the room, and did what he could to fill the area that stood between his master, and Gillian. His ears perked, his eyes ever scanning the room. His attention was suddenly locked on the door, fur bristled, muscles tensed as though ready to spring at the slightest command. It was then that they entered the room. It was clear that Mikael and Omen had been busy. Their few numbers from the night before were already on the rise. They seemed to really enjoy making an entrance, and looked around at those gathered in the Rest. They wasted no time, but set straight about the work of tearing down any semblance of authority. They chose not to set at one table together, but spread out through the room, each choosing a spot with a good vantage point. The first volley was aimed at Gillian, as they commented on the fact that the Governor was tending bar. She was addresses as a wench, and not a few somewhat lewd remarks were cast her way. Through all this, Gillian remained strong, preferring instead to take their drink orders, and treat them more as disorderly drunks than anything else. Thom stood vigilant, holding what Aedon knew had to be a boiling temper in check. They harassed other patrons, and announced that Yew belonged to the Hand. Through this Aedon tried to keep his calm. His remarks to them were short and to the point and dealt mostly with his insistence that they treat the Lady with due respect. Not one patron stood to leave, and seemed at first to be paying little attention to the Hand. Even when one of the louts took an ale bottle and emptied the contents over Aedon’s head, he made no move that they could construe as an attack knowing full well that was what they were pushing for. It was about then that one of them told Aedon that the Guardian sends his greetings, and cast a poisoning spell on him. To Aedon it seemed as though the room instantly came to life. Thom’s wolf cleared the bar; grabbing the first one he came to. From in the corner rangers cast aside their cloaks and pulled blades leaping into the fray. Aedon remembered fumbling to lose his sword from its harness as one thug rushed past with James beating him soundly across the head with his staff. It was over as quickly as it began. Those of the Hand not knocked out, stood swearing and vowing revenge as they lifted and carried their comrades out of the room. There was a bit of cheering when all had ended, and Aedon hated to lower the spirits of people who had stood against a storm and prevailed. The night continued as planned, and in no time it appeared that the terror of the night had been forgotten. Aedon bid the company good night, and took his leave of Thom and Gillian. Sitting in his chair before the fire, his hair still stick from a good bottle of honey mead Aedon pondered the words he would say to those present in the Rest had he the heart to speak them. Tonight we won a small victory, and this is something we should hold onto, and remember. For the days and months ahead will only get darker. Tonight was but a test, a feint to get us to show our full hands while they prepare their full assault. They are not yet at full strength, and their leaders know this. A small victory for us is a tiny price for them to pay for valuable information. They have tested our determination, seen our numbers, and instilled deep within each of us that first seed of fear. The Hand will continue to move, to reach out across the greater Yew area to find allies, and those they can terrorize or sway to their cause. We must prepare for what is to come.