Pearl sincerely wished that she shared Tygerlily's enthusiasm. She handed the women's cloaks out to Kalrin, Hector, Bryce, Lagri, Tygerlily, Gilthanas, Eben, Maritta and two other sensible-looking women. Sensible meaning, in this case, scared witless but working hard to deal with it. She slid the last one on herself, adjusting her bow so that it didn't poke out so much at the back.

"All right, ladies and gentlemen, we're going to try this. Remember - if the guards think that there's a rescue attempt in the offing, they have hostages in the men. We have to keep an alarm from being raised, at least until we have the men in hand and can try to lead them back here. So, if you're going to attack, aim to shut them up quickly.

"Stick together. Maritta and I will lead the way, since we didn't have to shave this morning. Lagri, Hector, I want you close. Bryce, you're on rearguard with [name of one of the women to whom she has handed a cloak].

"Tygerlily, I know how steady you are on your feet. You're going to get a chance to prove it. They know that there aren't any kender among the women, so we'll have to try to have you pass for a human woman. Yes, I know. You'll need to balance on Gneiss' shoulders."


She didn't relish Gneiss' reaction once he heard this particular part of the plan. But a bad plan was better than none at all.

"Maritta, lead us to the children. If we can get them out past the dragon, we'll send them with two of you and an escort back to the rest of the women. Then we'll head on to rescue the men. Any questions? Good. Let's move out."

With more resolution in her voice than she really felt, Pearl lead the group forward to Gneiss' watch-post.

"Tygerlily has your cloak. Let's go rescue some kids."