Last time on Rise and Fall, the Male Protagonists (and Irtike!) discovered that Cabaro recruited an ostrich army to kill any humans who attempt to enter his territory. Will they manage to overcome this obstacle? Find out after the cut.
Rollan watched Conor explain the plan to Briggan. The wolf sat at strict attention, his blue eyes never wavering from Conor’s. His head would tilt once in a while when he wasn’t sure about something, but otherwise the former Great Beast stared deep into Conor’s eyes, soaking in every signal he could get off his companion.
The plan, in case you forgot, is that Briggan and Essix will visit Cabaro in our Protagonists’ stead. Tarik isn’t real thrilled about this plan because Briggan and Essix aren’t really meant to fight giant Godlike Lions, but he’s going along with it because it’s their only option.
Tarik then notices that Rollan is preoccupied with thoughts of Meilin. Rollan’s like, “Aww shit, not this discuss your feelings BS again,” but the conversation takes an unexpected turn. And by “unexpected turn,” I mean “Tarik finally talks about his past.”
Tarik was the son of carpet makers, and was supposed to take over the family business while his sister Reima got a proper education. However, all that changed when Tarik summoned Lumeo. Reima quit her schooling so she could run the carpet shop, allowing Tarik to join the Greencloaks.
Anyway, the lesson Tarik wants Rollan to take from this sudden burst of Character Development is that you always have the option to talk to others about your personal burdens.
At last, it’s time for the party to gather and venture forth! Our Protagonists decide to send Briggan and Essix through the desert. Lumeo doesn’t join the party because he’s an aquatic animal, and Irtike refuses to let Snake Eyes join because he’s too small to fight a Godlike Lion.
So Briggan and Essix (with Rollan riding along in her head) successfully pass the ostrich army and head off into the desert. After a few pages of uneventful travel, they reach a large oasis. Briggan (enlarged with the Slate Elephant) flattens several trees to reach the oasis’s interior, but is followed by an unusually organized pack of wild dogs. Eventually, they reach a spring, where Cabaro and his pride of lionesses confront them. Let’s see how this meeting goes down:
Cabaro: Briggan, Essix, I see you’ve come for my McGuffin. *flashes Gold Lion* It’s a shame you’re slaves to humanity, shadows of your former selves. You are no better than domesticated animals! That is why I have founded this animal kingdom and kill all humans who dare enter. Join me, and we will reclaim this world!
Rollan: Essix, I don’t know if you can hear this, but you’re my best friend, and we need that McGuffin so we can save the world.
Cabaro: Come on, Briggan, don’t you remember when we used to hunt together before humans ruined everything?
Essix: *tries to steal the Gold Lion*
And then Briggan and Essix are attacked by lionesses and wild dogs. Unfortunately, they are overwhelmed by their foes — and Tarik wakes Rollan to reveal that the Conqueror army is headed for Cabaro’s oasis.
Stuff I Forgot to Mention Above:
Rollan’s actual thoughts on Meilin: I’m so not looking forward to rescuing her. She’s just gonna get possessed and kick our asses.
Tarik alludes to something bad happening to Reima after he joined the Greencloaks. He tells Rollan that he’ll reveal what happened to her later. Spoiler: Don’t expect to learn the rest of Reima’s story any time soon. Or ever.
Tarik jokes that the offer for Rollan to join the Greencloaks is for a limited time only. Spoiler: Expect Rollan to accept that offer by the end of the book.
Not all of the animals Cabaro summoned survived the journey south: Briggan and Essix find animal remains in the desert.
Cabaro’s desert used to be an ocean — Rollan (via Essix) finds ancient coral in the sand.
Cabaro only refused to join the Four Fallen during the first global war because Halawir convinced him not to.
Rollan has some opinions on building a proper adventuring party.
“Well, I still think we should send the mole rat,” Rollan said dryly. “Every adventuring party needs a mole rat.”
Next time: The final boss from the Spirit Animals game is defeated.