:Yes, I'm getting the sense I should reappear immediately, and show off Arazni's Prayer spell where it's not fucking Wail of the Banshee, and participate in what it sounds like is a prepared operation to retrieve some ghouls. - I do want a more complete accounting of what went so badly wrong. You knew I wasn't dead. You could have hired a comparable amount of combat power on a temporary basis.: It would have been much less good, of course, not fully integrated with her forces, but on the other hand nearly every powerful adventurer in Avistan has travelled with the crusade at least for a few of the most recent twenty years, and plenty of them for most of it.
:That's approximately what went wrong: says Karlenius flatly. :We talked it through and determined that while being without you in the long run would be devastating, being without you in the short run meant some fairly minimal tactical adjustments. The most important effect would be the effect on morale, but it wasn't obvious that an orderly retreat - and we would've needed to retreat very, very far, most of the way to Urgir - would wreak less havoc on morale than pressing on. We spoke to the men. Assured them that you were fine, and up to something more important or you'd have given yourself to Aroden at once - which turned out to be true -:
:Mostly true. I'd have acted differently if it didn't seem quite high priority to get a Church of Aroden set up locally, but I also don't actually ....possess a means of suicide. I should probably carry one. Drowning might work but there has never been a paladin of my power who left records and it would be unfortunate and not actually wildly surprising to learn that I become unconscious through drowning but don't die of it.:
:- all right, well, mostly true. Anyway. The men held up all right for a week or so, but when they crumbled they really crumbled.: His is the tired expression of someone who hasn't felt fear since he was a teenager and who is used to accounting for it, but as a phenomenon like smallpox, which occasionally and contagiously afflicts the troops for unfathomable reasons that are probably Urgathoa's fault. :We had no alternative to the retreat, at that point, aside from spending diamonds we might need to retrieve you, and it has been - as we anticipated from the beginning it would be - two full weeks of hard fighting -: As they fell back, hopelessly demoralized, through ground they'd spent the last year taking. There are endless details but they hardly need spelling out, from that broad picture.
She nods. Doesn't apologize; there'd be no point. :Well, I suppose I'll walk you back to Urgir, if Alfirin thinks she can get the Teleport when she has time to try it. And if she thinks it'd take her months or years then I'll appear for the next few days of the fighting, tell everyone there's substantial additional help on the way, go shake down some people in Oppara for a return diamond, and next campaign season we'll have some Gate-sorcerers and some people with a Telepathy range of hundreds of miles and some with at-will scrying.: