Despite the success of the demonstration of Sto’s ‘hydra’ a large portion of the people gathered began to weep at the news of Ubertas’s act of aggression. Many in the crowd had family and friends that lived out in the western villages which had been taken by the Ubertan army and they were fearful as to their loved ones’ fate. It was decided that they would have to act quickly if they wished to save the villagers from the clutches of the Ubertans, and the king, his court and the head of the kings guard quickly came to the decision that a large group of well armed men must be sent immediately to intercept the Ubertan forces. However, Sto quietly found his way to the centre of the discussion and uttered his dry little cough in order to catch the attention of the court over the yelling of General Tunc, leader of the kings guard, who was currently red in the face as he shouted abuse about the Ubertan army.
Sto’s simple suggestion of utilising their new weapon to bribe the people of Ubertas was shocking and General Tunc was dead against it: “It’s pure insanity to take such a powerful weapon right behind enemy lines where it could easily be taken and used against us! How many men do you intend to send to keep the hydra safe?” Sto considered this, seemed to contemplate for a moment or so, and then replied: “I should think one should be enough, it’s not that heavy.” At this the general went into meltdown and berated Sto on his lack of military know-how.
When Tunc finally started to run out of energy Sto quietly responded: “All valid points dear general but the key issue is that I can have ten more of them by tomorrow morning and if the Ubertan weapons master tries to figure out how to make more he risks damaging the vial of liquid contained within and we all know what can happen if the liquid is mishandled.” The notion of the Ubertan weapons master going up in a mountain-high pile of smoke seemed to cheer Tunc up considerably. So much so in fact that Tunc quickly volunteered for the one man mission.
The decision was made to use the hydra to dry up the flow of the river Crescite (Ubertas’s main river system): this would involve Tunc trekking into the hills to the north of Ubertas and firing the weapon on any tributary streams he could get to. There was no time to lose so Tunc quickly kitted up with weaponry and armour (in case he had to defend himself once he entered Ubertan territory) and carefully packed the hydra into it’s case and put it into his backpack. He mounted his horse and was away. With the first hydra away and the potential risk of the enemy getting hold of it Sto headed back up to his workshop and tirelessly worked far into the night creating more. His work went well and before he fell asleep at his desk he had completed five more hydras.
Sto woke early in a grizzly state, his back twisted and sore from sleeping on his desk and papers stuck to the side of his face. Outside his window he could hear a cacophony of shouts and the sound of bricks being laid. It seemed that the people of Dultha didn’t entirely trust Sto’s weapon to do the job and had taken it upon themselves to start reinforcing the city walls in preparation for the siege which they were sure was to follow. Despite the noise and disruption Sto could see the sense in this, the people were nervous: their king had just sent a man with a box to do the work of an army and no one could be entirely sure that it would work. More importantly it kept them busy and Sto was well aware that people in distress with nothing to do could be a very dangerous force indeed. He therefore chose not to let this lack of faith upset him but instead decided to see it as simple human nature.
The king, on the other hand, was beginning to worry about many of the happenings in the city and the lack of faith shown by the populace was starting to become contagious: in particular he was starting to fixate on the fact that he had received no communication from Tunc since his departure. A number of carrier crows had been dispatched with cryptic messages requesting an update on Tunc’s progress but every one had returned empty-clawed. The king sat in his study listening to the sounds of panic outside and trying to battle with his own sense of panic as it churned round inside. If this continued he would assemble the guard himself and prepare them to meet with the Ubertan forces if it came to it.
Meanwhile a sodden but very satisfied Tunc was making his was through a lush hillside forest which was now missing a stream. This was the fourth stream which he had hit with the hydra. Afterwards he had found his way to an outcrop which gave him a view of the Crescite river and the change was already becoming obvious, he figured the forth might just be enough to have slowed the flow and give the Ubertans a real scare but one more couldn’t hurt.
As he was attempting to find his way up the next hill (and the possible site of the last stream) he heard a crow call from above, as he looked up something dropped on the path behind him, it was a message in the king’s handwriting though it was hard to understand what it meant: “Tunc, hope your kick around is going well, let us know if you need some company or if you are ready to head home”. The carrier crow settled down on a branch beside him expectantly. He wrote his own cryptic reply: “Will enjoy the dancing in the street, heading home, now would be a good time to send that other message.”
Tunc spent hours looking in vain for another stream and by the time he had found one and given it a good burst from the hydra it was growing dark and Tunc was most certainly lost in the unfamiliar Ubertan terrain. He decided to walk with the setting sun to his back so as to be sure that he was heading westwards towards home. Unfortunately for Tunc he had made the wrong decision as his route was leading right towards the northern woods of the northmen and they had very strict rules against carrying any weapon which was not clearly a hunting tool. The northmen were silent in their movements and by the time Tunc was even aware that something was wrong he found himself surrounded. The leader of the group who had captured him stepped forward and demanded that he drop his weapons. Tunc didn’t argue, he had no quarrel with the northmen and besides he stood no chance against the twelve shot staffs which were currently aimed right at him.