Pelban grabbed me by the arm and dragged me toward the nearest exit. We shouldered our way through the throng and found ourselves emptying out of the tunnel into a warehouse.
And the waiting arms of the dragons’ enforcers.
Squads of lyzar slithered through the makeshift aisles between stacked crates and piled sacks. They tossed weighted nets over the fleeing inductees, snaring them in pairs or singles. The man in front of us went down and Pelban shoved me to the right. We weaved our way through the darkened warehouse, searching for a door. I spotted one and sprinted for it. I grabbed the knob and turned, but it resisted. I shook the door, planted my foot against the jam and pulled–all in vain.
A grunt from the left drew my attention. Pelban lifted a sack of grain and heaved it through the nearby window. The glass shattered with a crash.
“Come on,” Pelban shouted and hurled himself out. I followed. We picked ourselves up and sprinted into the night. I recognized the streets we took; a few more blocks and we would arrive at our house. I managed to halt Pelban before we rounded the last corner.
“Is this safe?” I asked. “If they knew about the meeting then they might know who some of the members were. They might know about you.”
“All right. Let’s take it slow and keep our eyes open.”
We stuck to the shadows as we approached, watching for movement around or inside the house. Nothing revealed itself, and Pelban signaled for us to separate and make our way to the back of the house from opposite sides. I hesitated, unsure of the wisdom in such a tactic. Pelban started off without me, turned back, and shooed me on.
I circled the house, darting from tree to tree. Every rustle and snap set me on edge. I paused each time until I could rationalize the sound as just the wind in the leaves or some nocturnal creature scampering away. I found Pelban waiting when I arrived at the rear door.
“What took you so long?” he asked.
“Just being cautious,” I grumbled. A loud snap sounded behind us and movement in the shadows caught my eye. “What was that?”
“You worry too much. I think it’s all clear. Let’s go inside.” Pelban turned to the door, but I kept my gaze on the spot where I saw the movement. My eyes adjusted to the darkness and I could make out a hulking shape crouched in the bushes.
“Lyzar!” I shouted. The scaly abomination burst from its hiding place, its skin glistening in the pale moonlight. It carried a massive club in its claws, which it hoisted above its crested, reptilian head as it charged. I shoved Pelban through the open door, slammed it closed behind me, and threw the bar down. The door shook in its frame as something rammed into it.
“There’s more of them,” Pelban said in a hoarse whisper. I looked out the window he indicated and watched as several lyzar emerged from the shadows. “We’re going to have to fight our way out of this.” We raced up to our rooms. I threw open my footlocker and pulled out the hammer I once wielded as a symbol of my office in the church. I met Pelban back in the hall. He held a sword in his hand, the blade about two feet in length.
“When did you get that?” I asked.
The sound of glass breaking traveled up the stairs.
“I think we have more important things to deal with, right now,” he said.