"Looks pretty normal," Werendril said, looking down at Aldpond from the branches of the tree that he'd finally coaxed Tarric into climbing with him. "I see people moving around -- in the daylight -- in the town and out on the docks."
He offered the spyglass to Tarric, who took a moment to make sure he was stable before he reached for it.
With the glass firmly in hand, Tarric shrugged. "Maybe the report was wrong," he said. He put the glass to his eye and adjusted it. "I see boats on the water, too. And I can't imagine why the Dark Army would want to take over Aldpond anyway; it has the strategic importance of a turnip."
"I'd feel better about that if we had any real idea what the Dark Army's strategic objectives actually are," Werendril said, suddenly nervous. Maybe they were both being too dismissive of a possible danger. Aldpond was only sort of just barely large enough to count as a city, and took its name from the lake that supplied most of its food. It might be worth taking if the Order of Secrets was bent on conquest, but they seemed to have little interest in occupying the areas they took over. Their armies just kept pushing forward, and -- as far as anyone they'd spoken to could tell -- had bypassed Aldpond entirely.
"Fair," said Tarric, sounding distracted as he concentrated on adjusting the spyglass and (Werendril thought) keeping his seat on the branch. "And a vampire infestation sounds more like the work of these Solari Hunters they're using than a proper military action."
Werendil nodded. Any sign of that group and the two of them would be out and gone immediately. Both he and and Tarric were reasonably accomplished paladins, but any group that made a habit of targeting Solari would have little trouble dealing with the two of them. He'd sworn to Anica that he'd go for reinforcements if the vampire infestation looked too big to handle safely; but if the solari hunters were there, he and Tarric were just going to admit defeat and beat a full and very hasty retreat to the Temple.
Tarric handed the spyglass back, wavered, and then caught his balance by clinging to the limb he was sitting on. "So we're still going in, then," he said.
Werendril nodded. They had to get close enough to detect whether there were vampires in Aldpond. It should be safe enough by daylight, and based on what they learned they could decide what to do next.
Tarric sighed. "All right. But if we're going to do that, you're going to have to talk me through how to get down from this tree."
Werendril smiled. "Did I forget to mention that down is harder than up, when it comes to climbing? It's because your body wants to go down on its own, and the moment you start moving that direction you have to keep reining it in."
"I wouldn't have used the word 'forget'," Tarric said, scooting himself back towards the tree trunk and then reaching for a nearby branch. "But then, until today I had no idea how closely elves were related to squirrels."