With Horin as our leader on his donkey, we retreat. All of us glance backwards repeatedly to see if the net follows as Horin claims. It does. Never has a more surreal sight been seen. It is pure sorcery; it is also absolute relief.
The cavalry is stumped. Horses swirl in near panic, and men shout at each other. I hear some exhorting others to attempt a breach, while others loudly deny it. They are in quandary.
I bring Forest to a halt and turn back. There are innocents among the soldiers, those who saw no other means to survive but by joining the army. They simply follow orders and are not without compassion and probably suffer guilt over what they have been told to do.
“If anyone desires to join us with open hearts and minds, know you will find welcome among us!”
The centre of activity does not even acknowledge my words, but I note how, at the outer edges, men glance at each other. Some are no doubt aware of what comes from the heavens and seek safety.
“We could use your talents!” I add.
A burly man in his blue breastplate, sporting a bushy black beard, shouts, “Deserters will be shot!” He gestures, and swiftly six men step clear of the chaos, bows at the ready, arrows nocked.
Mirlin joins me. “Let it go, Damin. They must make their choices; we cannot do it for them.”
I nod, but a lump grows in my throat, for I know there are many who wish to join with us. I feel their pain across the divide. I see the knots of fear they live with.
The big man then shifts his arm and points at the net. He chops downward.
The archers turn on the balls of their feet and loose their arrows directly at us.