Heading up river the smoke coming from Renwick appeared to be getting worse – although hopefully that was just because we were getting closer rather than the city being more on fire. I was glad once the sun started going down so I wouldn’t have to look at the giant dark plumes coming from the city anymore. I tell you this much, having a little smoke in the air makes for a magnificent sunset. Even though we couldn’t see it any longer as we got closer the air became thick and oppressive, after a bit Martialla and I both covered our faces with cloths to try and cut out some of the choking vapor. It kind of worked. A few hours after sunset Otacvio came to join us on the deck of the ship.
“Funny, I don’t remember inviting you along.”
“I’m your bodyguard, you’re going into a warzone, where else would I be?”
“Yeah but you’re a terrible bodyguard.”
“You’re still alive aren’t you?”
“That reasoning you displayed right there is a perfect example of why everything is horrible all the time. Is this the part where you reveal that you really did start drinking because a dragon killed all your friends and you want to go out in a blaze of glory?”
“I did see a friend get eaten by a dragon once, but no, I just fell asleep in the hold.”
As we closed in on the city the air became thick with dancing embers – good thing we’re not on a sailboat – and the rivermen set Otacvio to dousing various parts of the boat with buckets of water. Looked like hard work. Real hard work. We couldn’t see any fires burning but there was an eerie glow coming from that city so they must be there. The docks were abandoned, which makes sense, anyone with a boat probably got out of the city as soon as possible – although it’s strange that we didn’t see them coming downstream. We slipped into a berth and into the town under the cover of darkness without anyone around to challenge us – I’m no military strategist but that seems awfully lax for a city under siege. None of us actually knew anything about Renwick so we were left to wander the soot-filled streets looking for someone who could tell us what was going on – or just someone period, the streets were mostly deserted.
We didn’t see anyone for a good long while and then we saw too many people all at once. Twenty or so folks in long coats and face-mask cloths like ours brandishing torches and cleavers and sickles and whatnot. They had the lean angry look of a vindictive mob about them.
“Something tells me that you fellows aren’t the fire brigade.”
“You women, come forward! For inspection!”
“Is that what you call it these days?”
Turns out they weren’t that kind of mob, although they were hunting for virgins – their plan was to turn over a passel of virgins to the dragon to save their city and be big damn heroes. The sad part is that I’ve heard worse plans in my day. They weren’t in the mood to talk much but I was at least able to get directions to the city hall – which had been burned down. However, in the square nearby there were many people gathered about the statue of the city founder, some of them thought that it had some magic power to protect them. Most of them probably just didn’t want to be alone. A fellow in a now thoroughly compromised white robe with wildly unkempt long hair and an even longer beard had the most coherent tale of what was going on.
Several days ago a small group of arsonists had struck, setting several buildings ablaze by conventional means and by summoning a fire elemental. The fires did damage but were contained and the culprits were captured and hanged. But the next day it was the same thing, another group was starting fires and using them as a distraction for assassination attempts – killing several city leaders. They too were captured and executed, but the city was thrown into chaos as the fires and attacks continued from other people inside the city. Martial law was declared and the captain of the city watch was trying to restore order when the dragon showed up with his shabby army of cut-throats. They assaulted the city twice and were thrown back. Yesterday the dragon which had been content to watch up until then took to the air and set an entire quarter of the city aflame – they were barely able to contain that. There was definitely a mood that tomorrow when the attack comes that will be it and this was these people’s last night on earth.
We made our way from there to the main temple of Adariel which was unscorched – miracle or magic? Depends on your point of view. It was from this grand edifice that Captain Madim was organizing the defense of the city. It seemed mostly deserted – presumably the holy folk were out attending to the wounded and downtrodden, but shouldn’t there have been messengers and other military types running around with dispatches and maps and such? We found Captain Madim alone, sitting in the priest’s quarters, looking at nothing in particular.
“Organizing a siege defense clearly isn’t as involved as I thought.”
It took a moment before he turned to meet my gaze, his eyes disturbingly unfocused.
“Who are you?’
“The Baroness sent me.”
He nodded slowly “Good woman Baroness Juost. Does she have any children? I always thought I would get married and have children. I thought there were be time.”
“You seem a little numb in the brain Captain, which it entirely understandable given what’s happened here, so I’m just going to ask you one question. What does the dragon want?”
“It wants to kill us all. Kill everything. Burn the world to ash.”
“I doubt that. Did it say that? Has anyone talked to it?”
He stared at me a long time before answering “Talk? To a dragon? How would someone do that?”
“Pretty much like anyone else.”
He shook his head slowly “Tomorrow they attack, and we all die. I couldn’t . . . I couldn’t do anything. Everyone will die.”
“How about we call that plan B? I was thinking . . .”
Before I could finish my though Otacvio stepped forward and cleaved the Captain to the ground in a splash of dark blood. Before I could even express my shock I realized that he was wielding the sword the berserker bandit had in Penside’s Ferry – or more accurately perhaps it was probably wielding him. I commanded my coat to fly off and wrap around the sword – trying to drag it from his grip, but Otacvio was holding onto it with all his might. While his ability to swing the greatsword was checked Bray and Jasko slashed him to ribbons. I thought about shouting for them to stop but didn’t. It’s a bad break for Otacvio but there wasn’t much else we could do. He fell dead next to the man he had just killed and the bright metal of the wicked sword shined with a beckoning light. When no one made a move to pick it up I could feel ripples of hatred radiating off of it like crashing waves.
“I told you not to touch that.”
Without touching it Martialla was able to use her magic to drag the sword into a closet which we shut and locked – which isn’t much but it was the best we could do at the moment. We’ll figure out how to destroy the mind controlling sword of doom later.
“Better grab some sleep folks, I have the feeling tomorrow is going to be quite a day.”
Funds: 995 platinum, 159 gold
Inventory: Noble’s Traveling Outfit, Animated Riding Coat, Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Dagger of Venom, Bracers of Armor +2, Ring of Protection +2, Light Crossbow, Fake Signet Ring, False Papers, Bag of Concealment, Belt of Giant Strength +4, Vest of Resistance +1, Ring of Sustenance, Gem of Brightness, Silver Chain set with Moonstones, Gold and Emerald Ring (2), Glove of Vampiric Touch, Platinum and Silver Holy Symbol of Kralten, Holy Symbol of Kozilek, Ruby (2), Black Marketers’ Bag, 879 Garnets, crystal necklace
Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane,
Piltis Swine, Rince
Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle
the butler, Alice Kinsey , “ Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire
Conrad, Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror,
Eedraxis, Skin-Taker tribe,
Kartak, Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family,
Androni Titus, Greasy dreadlocks woman, Lodestone Security, Kellgale
Nickoslander, Beltian Kruin the Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna
Domiel, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee, Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer,
Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin, Lumber Consortium
of Three Rivers, Hellerhad the Wizard