Hathor, sensing the nearness of the female elf's return scrying, quickly cut his connection, erasing the image from his sight, if not his mind. He sat still for some time, not even realizing that he was shredding one of his pillows. His mind kept returning, over and over, to the sight of the unicorn leaping into the firelight.
'How?' he finally thought. '*How* could they have a unicorn with them?!' He sent his mind ranging, testing the shield around the unicorns' source of power. Over the years, he'd come to know the signature of each individual's shield, and he could tell now that none were missing.
'She came from outside,' he mused. 'But how did they get word to her? Why did only one unicorn answer their call? And *why* only now?' There were far too many questions, but there was one definite to come out of this. His plan was definitely in trouble now.
Hathor ground his teeth in frustration. So close! To have to deal with a problem like this *now,* when he should have been concentrating all of his attention on reaching his goal! Still, why else had he hired the mercenaries, and the orcs, if not to deal with something like this?
He finally stood up and crossed the room to the large wall mirror. "Captain Beya," he said with no trace of his agitation in his voice or face. The image in the mirror changed again to show her office.
At the sound of Hathor's call, Beya stood up from her desk and saluted. "Yes, Sir?"
Hathor looked beyond Captain Beya and saw the scowling face of Captain Groch behind her. "Well, Captain Groch," he said. "It looks like your desire for action is about to be fulfilled. Get ready, both of you. I want your forces on the march to Abydos by morning. If you happen to catch up with that party before you reach Abydos, let me know of it immediately. Otherwise, you are to lay siege to the town, and make sure no one leaves it."
An eager gleam was in Groch's eye as he nodded and stood up straighter. "Of course, Hathor. We will be ready." He saluted firmly before turning and walking out of the office, ignoring the Captain on his way out.
Beya frowned briefly and turned back to the mirror. "Sir, the party has a day's start on us already. Would it be possible for you to transport us to their location? That would give us a better chance of catching them before they reach Abydos."
Hathor frowned briefly, pondering Captain Beya's question. While a gate spell would certainly get his troops on the scene quickly, and might well keep the unicorn from reaching Abydos, it would also weaken him considerably to transport that many people--and creatures. And that might just be what the unicorns were waiting for. Any weakness in his shields, and they could wrest back access to the stone.
"No, Captain. I cannot spare the energy at this time. Catching up with them isn't as much of a priority as keeping them in the area once you get to Abydos. Let me know when you've reached the city and set up your siege."
"Very well, sir."
Hathor shut down his connection with the mirror in Beya's office, then left the tower room to head for bed. He knew he'd need all his energy for what was fast approaching--and he'd also want to check on the progress of the unicorn and her companions the next evening. Perhaps he'd be able to do something to slow them down...
'Or kill them,' he thought with grim hope.
Once outside, Groch looked around and quickly spotted the pathetic Pigmakesh, idling in his thoughts again. Resisting the urge to pummel him, Groch simply smacked his helmet to get his attention. "On your feet! Go and tell the troops to equip themselves well. Assemble at the gate and we leave before dawn. Do you *have* all that?"
The little orc jumped to attention, actually managing to keep his helmet on his head despite the sudden blow. He saluted hastily and repeated his instructions.
"Yes sir! Full equipment, assemble at the gate before dawn! Sir, yes sir!"
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