In the end, he took the road. Roads led to towns, and towns had inns. Inns had food, drink, beds, and possibly even awake barmaids. It was a little late out to get anything except possibly the drink, but even if everything was closed surely there would be a haystack to rest in until morning—
It was right about that point that Lucas heard people ahead. They sounded armed. They sounded angry, too, even if it wasn’t being directed towards him.
Lucas stopped, listened, and considered the situation. There was definitely an argument going on, down the road. It might have even been the kind of argument that ended with swords being drawn. On the other hand, it wasn’t his argument. He had no idea who was fighting, what they were fighting about, and why he should care. On the gripping hand? All he had to do was get off the road, sneak past, and just keep going. If Hershey Troopers really were following him, let them unravel this probably minor and boring mystery. Lucas had a date with a soft bed, or possibly a haystack.
Lucas carefully did not chuckle as he put distance between him and the border between Greater Hershey and Virginia. Partially that was superstition: it was never a good idea to gloat prematurely. Mostly, it was because he was trying to keep quiet until he had properly escaped. It probably didn’t matter, but ‘probably’ wasn’t ‘for sure.’ Adventurers preferred to take only deliberate risks, and Lucas Coltrane was very much an Adventurer.
He did end the minor illusion that made his clothes look like a rough approximation of the HSP uniform, since stopping the spell wouldn’t give him away. Besides, it had done its job. The Troopers had been looking for a fugitive, a skulker, or a runner. They hadn’t been looking too hard at diligent fowl-wranglers, and by the time things had started calming down for people to start counting people instead of chickens, Lucas was already across the path. The border fence had barely slowed him down, but he had expected that. Greater Hershey and Virginia were at peace with each other, after all.
What he wasn’t expecting was how different the forest felt. Lucas knew that the Kingdom of Virginia was a magical place, to the point that his own spellcasting would be noticeably stronger here. He was surprised that he could taste the magic in the air. It wasn’t a bad taste. Sort of like moist, cool ozone, with a hint of fresh earth underneath. There was just a lot more of it than he was expecting.
Lucas decided to not worry about it until he had to cast another spell, and kept moving.
Virginia-Hersey Border Post 24-23 (Wiley, Pennsylvania) Monday, June 4, 2531 AD
Lucas Coltrane gave the border guard his best grin. “This is mostly just an innocent misunderstanding,” he told her. “I’m hoping it can all be worked out in the morning.” He was somewhat proud of those statements: both were certainly true, and the first one was even accurate. There was nothing in either to trip the magical lie detectors that this Hersheyan border post undoubtedly (if quietly) had.
Alas, the guard seemed unimpressed by his parsing. Then again, Lucas had handcuffed and gagged her, using the post’s own security gear. He couldn’t really blame her from not being more reasonable about the situation. He felt the same way about everything, only from the other side. A headlong flight from Greater Hershey wasn’t something he had planned for.
He peeked out the window, again. The border was forty feet away, close enough to almost taste, but it wouldn’t do to just run for it. There were a lot of State Police out there, and that crew didn’t hire idiots. If Lucas didn’t plan this just right, they’d have him in nets before he got halfway to the border — and then they’d drag him right back to Liberty Lair, the Great Wyrm, and her very pertinent and extremely unwelcome questions.