Paul of Pinningdale Part XII: Confrontation and The Next Contract

For prior installments visit: Here

 

 

Estalwyn got on her stomach and starting leopard crawling towards the chamber with the blue spirit struggling for it’s life by this odd strange necromancer. Paul did not know what to do really. He was no mage. He was no wizard. He was only a merchant with some military experience. He had known to swing a sword most of his life. Yet he preferred to keep the sword sheathed. After six years of marching in the Army of the Grand Duchy of Presmel-Tong he had grown sick of his sergeant’s chevrons and the political climate oftentimes found in the military. He preferred the merchant’s life. He fought many battles in his life. Yet now he was fighting battles again and he wished to avoid these in his merchants’ life.

Much of the time the city guard, the county guard, the militia, the military police, the provost marshals, the marshals, or the merchants themselves would catch the thieves after their devices would ensnare them. Or in some cases alarm them when they were sleeping upstairs in busier cities. Yet this trip to Red Spire had been out of sorts. They had had to fight more than usual. The Burglars Union was oftentimes not wanting to engage their foes. They would rather avoid confrontation altogether and enjoy or divide their profits. If killing was required, they’d subcontract it to a group of assassins. Paul had fought with his sword twice in this trip. Estalwyn and Rilles had fought more than that, as they marched in a mercenary company during this jaunt into Red Spire. He wanted to make money, he wanted to be able to retired comfortably in old age, and possibly settle down. This business venture had become more dangerous as they days continued in Red Spire. He wanted to live. Yet so many opportunities on this trip threatened that dream.

We need to end this. We need to survive. I need to live.

Estalwyn rose up behind the pile of wood and shouted out something unintelligible to him. Rilles probably too.

Hard to say.

Floating stone figures in the shape of seraphim surrounded the Lumineer. A humming could be heard. The red beams of this ‘Lord’ were pushed away and they disappeared. The lumineer trembled and their flames fanned higher again.

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“WHO DEFIES ME?”

“THIS IS STOLEN PROPERTY AND WE WILL RETURN IT.”

She called this back to him.

“YOU WILL DIE.”

He pointed his fingers at her and his red beams came towards her.

Damn.

               As Paul thought this he drew his sword and stepped forward. Instead of charging forward he hesitated. Stone seraphim surrounded Estalwyn and dissipated the beams. They were no threat to her. This priest, or some kind of entity flashed the beams again and got closer to her. As he kept walking forward he kept flashing the beams. Finally he stopped. Paul’s body became filled with chills. This individual still had not noticed them.

“You are a powerful mage. Who sent you? Dothen? Red Spire?”

“I can ask the same. What does a wizard or a warlock do with pithy burglars and no-good thieves? What have you paid them? You’re activities count as more than conspiracy.”

“My little child, you have no idea. We aim to rid the world of evil. Dothen and Red Spire are an affront to us. They need to be leveled. These free cities export too much to our enemies and our monarchs. You see  The Theocracy know well that the end is coming, and we shall inherit your lands. And we shall do this once Sansueptial ascends his throne in Cornidreth-Peutoton. And then you shall all be struck with awe. You will all repent of your ideals, your ways of life and submit to Sansueptial and your souls will be saved forever. If not, then you shall all die by our swords.”

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Convert or die? Beastly religion! Any organization can be corrupted. Are these radicals or adherents? Is this man a demon or an angel? Is he a devil or a…

               Estalwyn replied.

“What did these people do to anger your gods or you?”

The ‘lord’ laughed.

“My child, don’t count me as one of the gods. I’m but a mere demigod, My name is of no importance as there are many like me, but I am a father to many and a son of few. I serve the Theocracy by accepting the submission of the flock. They have no say in their own lives. We elect them to their stations in life, we keep them out of quarrels and the outer world’s affairs. Rather, we build a one world where there is peace. When they have a grievance they pray to us, and we resolve it. Our theocracy is a beautiful thing. Our offspring are not troubling to ourselves as parents. They are raised by our temples. Parents are never overburdened so they can serve our gods. Marriage is semi-arranged with personality tests and one must gain approval from a demigod like me. Friends, you are missing out. And this Lumineer will serve us well. You see we are building siege engines against your evil cities of Dothen and Red Spire. This blessed wood is a gods’ send to us. And Sansueptial, the fathers of our fathers commands us to use it against our foes. They’re end is nigh and our beginnings of a new world are here. Many will fight, many will be saved, and many will be martyred.”

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They’re mad. And what in this world is a personality test?

               “Have you ever sent ambassadors? To these cities?”

“My child, why would we ever do such a thing. We have no need for diplomacy. Sansueptial does rule a kingdom of peace and we are not of your kingdom. You see we are messengers of our own selves. We care nothing of what you have built, what you celebrate, and what you want to do. We are here to build things anew, change what you believe into what we believe that is better than your believes, and we wish to give you a new commission altogether. As one of Sansueptial’s demigods I can tell you already you are not interested. Why, child?”

Estalwyn paused for a moment, and then found some words.

“You are presumptuous. Why can we not co-exist? Why do you steal sentient wood. Wood that can speak for itself. My people, the Elves, treat the blessed wood with respect as it lives. You seek to enslave those to serve your wills. We strive to keep this world clean and we seek to better it. We gather knowledge for knowledge’s sake. And furthermore, we protect the weak. And this wood cannot defend itself much against you. But my people will not let others be led to slaughter ever. We once were. And now we will never let that happen to anyone else.”

The demigod or lord laughed. It was a harsh laugh, a laugh that expressed amusement, espoused arrogance, and echoed diabolical intent and malice.

“Your people should have been destroyed by our master a long time ago. Yet we were not at the time governed by Sansueptial’s will. Now we will conquer you once Red Spire and Dothen fall to us.”

Paul heard a slight growl, then a roar. Rilles threw off his cloak and charged with his sword drawn and his canines bared. His open jaw was like the sight of a phalanx baring all their sarissas and approaching their adversaries with precision and aggression.

sarissa

He’s a dead duck to that game dog. It is a good thing he cannot hear me say this.

               “YOU’LL NOT CONQUER ANYONE NOR MY OWN PEOPLE EITHER. YOU’LL DIE BY MY HANDS, PREY.”

Rilles’s battle cry was met by astonishment by this odd religious opponent. Paul drew his sword and charged too.

Seems like the only right thing to do.

As this enemy pointed one hand towards Estalwyn and pointed another toward Rilles and Paul, the orange beams charged towards them.

Damn.

Stone seraphim surrounded them as they closed the distance between them and their foe. The enemy’s beams were soaked up by the floating stone seraphim surrounding them. As they expanded they crumbled into dust and larger fragments that scattered all around them. Dust coated their clothes.

“UHHH!”

The demigod threw Paul with a kick past a crumbling seraphim and into his stomach. The dust had Paul off guard enough to where his sword was not in a position ready to parry any blows from this villain. Rilles on the other hand, managed to claw the demigod’s leg. He carved through his cloth hose at the waist down to his knees where his leather boots ended. His robe was thrown off by Rilles’s right claw holding his sword. The sword cut off the robe and managed to strike an armor plate where it’s energy was dampened. and soon Rilles’s teeth would have pierced the demigod’s vitals. Yet this skilled villain managed to execute the same type of kick that sent Paul flying away harmlessly.

Estalwyn hacked at him with her axe. Her stone seraphim disteigrated as she stepped within three feet of him. Her slashing double bladed axe struck another armor plate, by his stomach. These plates were of a harder, yet lighter metal than the full plate armor the knights and mercenary officers wore around this region. It appeared to be ceremonial, but at the same time it was formidable.

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So, It is a vest. And there’s a gap underneath the armpit.

               Paul knew this after Estalwyn’s swing had been defeated. He charged at this demigod to surprise him, and luckily he was unaware as he thought the kick was enough to subdue him. Paul managed to get a shallow thrust in at this vunerable point, but a mail undershirt slowed the blade down and the tip of Paul’s sword only made a meagre cavity through the mail. His force was enough to get the blade through or around the rings though.

The demigod cried in pain and sent a roundhouse kick meant for Paul’s chin but instead it struck Paul’s shoulder sending him further down to the ground. The demigod clutched his side in pain as Rilles approached him from the rear, and clawed him in his already open wound to rip out more of his flesh, He attempted to bite, but the blade of the demigod’s dagger nicked Rilles in his snout just above his nose, sending him back in pain.

That was a shallow low but still painful. He’ll need a doctor after that for stiches.

Paul closed back in on the demigod and slashed with his blade in an upward right to left diagonal slash. He managed to strike the shoulder of the demigod’s left hand as he moved. This was no fencing match. This was an attempt to kill him: pure and simple. Paul’s slash was ugly and it left him open. But so had the demigod’s attack on Rilles. This demigod was scared. He knew he was fighting determined and motivated opponents.

 

After Paul struck his blow, Estalwyn struck another. Her axe hit the vicious wounds inflicted by her comrades sending the demigod to the floor crippled with pain. He was no more a threat to them.

“HAHAHAH! GUARDS, GUARDS! TO MY AID.”

I’m shocked they didn’t hear us.

Estalwyn struck him with the axe again and he shouted a short death knell.

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“MARTYRDOM FOR ME AND HELLFIRES FOR YOU ALL.”

Twelve burglars entered the room brandishing swords. Rilles charged at them head long with claws and teeth. Estalwyn covered both Paul and Rilles in stone seraphim as they charged forward to counter attack the dead enemy’s late reinforcements.

Here we go.

The burglars were not protected by magic. They were not protected by this man’s theocracy or his god-like powers. Whatever you wanted to call it. They were mere mortals. And they all fell quickly from the blade of Paul, the axe of Estalwyn, and the blade, claws, and teeth of Rilles.  In what was really two minutes that felt like twenty they had quashed resistance from a dozen burglars and four men who were clothed similar to the demigod, but in less of an ornate fashion. The lone survivor the captain seen earlier dropped his sword to the ground.

“You martyred my master, you fell my men and the lowly burglars. I don’t want to die. I offer you my parole as a servant of the gods that I will be your prisoner. Will I be returned to my country in time?”

Rilles looked him over and replied in a stern voice.

“Hard to say. The city of Red Spire will be the judge of you. We do not hold that power.”

Paul could see the worry in his face.

“Rilles, put the shackles on him.”

The Houndsman slapped the cuffs on the captain as he did this the captain spoke to him.

“What kind of creature are you?”

“I can be a nightmare to you if you ask me any questions. I shan’t be speaking with you much longer as you’ll be in a dungeon. I am a Houndsman for now. And I promise you if your people should ever seek to conquer mine and convert us to this sorry servitude you represent you’ll wish you had never been born at all, as we will make the wars you have fought before seem like games. My clan, the Peat Woad has never been conquered from an external enemy, Captain. And I pray you not test us as we will make failure unbearable and you will be asking where are your gods. As you will not find them when we are near.”

The captain did not reply.

Good for Rilles.

“Guard him, would you?”

“I shall, Paul.”

He won’t move a muscle or resist as he’s scared to death of him.

handcuffs

Paul joined Estalwyn she was standing by the pile of lumber that the Lumineer was taking refuge in. It was likely scared. Estalwyn kept speaking to it softly.

lumineer

“It is okay. It is all okay.”

“Can we come out? Are they gone?”

“They are.”

Paul piped in.

“They won’t threaten you any longer. We killed all who resisted and the captain working for the demigod surrendered. Now if you’d please come out of that wood and come with us we will return you to the wagon maker: George Henricks. Simply put, if we keep you in that lumber for now we won’t be able to get you all back in one trip. These people, this Theocracy they represent may return for you. I know.”

The blue flames rose up from the lumber. The Lumineer was relaxing in the presence of allies. Yes, it was still weary and wary from and of it’s surroundings but now it could relax.

“We will come with you. How will you transport us?”

Estalwyn produced a brass colored box not much larger than a box with a gear-like knob on top from one of her belt pouches.

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“In this.”

She twisted the knob counter-clockwise.

“It is called a soul storage box. All you need to do is soar right into here. I’ll release you from it once we’re at the wagon shoppe. Henricks will likely have some wood for you to remain in for a while.”

“We’ll consent to that. But what of the siege engines. Those Lumineer were crushed. Those siege engines were made to destroy, and we do not participate in such things. Our creator forbids it. Those of us used for that can be rescued if those siege engines were to be broken up by sword or flame the Lumineer inside could be released. Find those siege engines, please.”

“Do you know what kind of engines?”

As Estalwyn asked this the Lumineer shuddered at the thought of what it was about to say.

“Onagers, Trebuchets, and worse devices that we have never seen before.”

onager_sling

trebuchet-1

Dothen is doomed if they’re attacked. Their armies are weak, but their fortifications are strong they could hold out for a little while. Red Spire must be warned.

“Get in the box.”

“We shall. Thank you.”

The blue flames for a single minute traveled from the wood and filled the box Estalwyn held in her hand. It hummed as the Lumineer entered the box. Estalwyn then turned the gear-like knob clockwise and shut the door to the box. The Lumineer were safe.

The question now is where are the siege engines.

Paul and Estalwyn walked from the lumber back to where Rilles and the captain were. The captain was handcuffed. His arms were behind his back and Rilles in his professional manner which he conducted himself had his captive sitting cross legged in front of him. Rilles kept on hand on his blade while watching him.

“Captain, before we go I need to know where these siege engines are. The location please?”

Silence.

Estalwyn piped in. “Captain, the location please.”

He laughed this time.

Rilles wanted to claw him across the face, but instead of excessive force he opened another line of inquiry.

“If you don’t tell us, the aldermen of the Free City of Red Spire will have their sergeants and generals make you talk or perhaps worse. Your parole is with us. Not with them. There shall be grave consequences if you don’t talk.”

He didn’t laugh, his color went from a normal healthy one to one which acknowledged finally that he was a prisoner. He recognized that he was defeated.

“The siege engines have been moved. I don’t know where. He did.” His eyes darted over to the dead demi-god. “You see, I’m not certain as to where either. But I would say North. Dothen is our primary objective. Red Spire will be on our right flank and we would only attack if it is a target of opportunity.”

Estalwyn knew better than to buy that: Misinformation to disseminate if captured. I’ll inform the aldermen of Red Spire if necessary.

“Thanks, that’s all we need to know. Shall we go, Paul?”

scouts

 

Estalwyn interrupted the fellow before he could say anything else. She knew a thing or two about misinformation when she served in the JNBG (Joint Northern Border Guards) as a Lieutenant-Battlemage in the GCDO (Grand Counties Defense Organization). And she learned more of it when she served in the SSB (Scouting & Surveillance Battlegroup).

“Yes.”

“Good.”

Rilles searched the body of the demigod for any information regarding the siege engines. There was nothing on the theives either. He did detect a pungent odor from the body of the demigod. One he hadn’t smelt before. The Houndsman was a master tracker. He knew the scents and stenches of this world. He wasn’t quite sure what this was.

“Estalwyn, Paul, before we go have a whiff of this.”

The two of them approached. “We don’t smell anything.” The two of them said this in semi-unison with a mere second of a gap. Rilles would have thought it funny, but this sickly sweet smell peppered with something foul was not something even his erudite nose could comprehend. He turned to the captain.

“What is this smell?”

“The smell of divinity.”

Rilles laughed.

“Sorcery, not divinity. Tell me the truth.”

“I won’t blaspheme one of my..”

Rilles drew his blade and proceeded to walk forward.

He’d best not slaughter the prisoner.

“Rilles, enough.”

Paul’s prudent warning couldn’t have come quicker as the tip of his sword was about to reach the captive’s forehead.

swordpoint

“He’ll answer to the council of aldermen, Rilles at Red Spire’s citadel. Let’s be off before any such trouble occurs with reinforcements from this theocracy.”

Rilles nodded. The company and the captive stormed out of this hidden headquarters of their new enemy and marched swiftly to the city of Red Spire. They were there in mere hours thanks to the guard post they passed by before the bridge gifted them several horses and a wagon as they explained to them the terrible news they carried: a potential attack threated the sovereignty and future of the Free City of Red Spire. Upon their arrival to Red Spire they approached the wagon maker’s shop where Henricks’s son stood outside. Paul shouted to him in the stillness of the early morning.

“ Have your father meet us at the citadel as we must meet with the city council.”

“I shall. Whatever for? He’s inside right now.”

“Do it, lad. We bear grave news.”

It is my prayer this child never sees war.

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They continued on to the citadel where they were admitted by the outer gatekeeper after the explained to them the situation with their captive who had ridden in the back of the wagon underneath a blanket for the whole of the journey. At the inner gate they were ushered in by an aide and a clerk who took them through a small courtyard, and then into a waiting antechamber which left them in a position just adjacent to the council. The antechamber was austere and spartan, a lone bench was the only furniture present. Their prisoner: the captain was ushered away by an officer of Red Spire’s military and a few of the city’s guards. Rilles kept under his hood and cloak as he was walking amongst the city’s population during the day. Paul left instructions with the aide to inform him that George Henricks would be joining them shortly and he should be directed to the antechamber as well. In minutes he too arrived.

Pensive is an understatement to describe him. He’s also haggard from the running he must have done.

“I came here as fast as I could, Pinningdale.” He bowed. “Estalwyn and Rilles, good to see you again. I understand you summoned me with some urgency.”

“We did, Sir.”

Estalwyn showed the box to Henricks and handed it to an open palm he hesitantly outstretched.

“What is this, dear Lady?”

“My dear wagon maker, this is a box for souls. Inside is the Lumineer. Their wood was too heavy to carry. They’ll possess any wood now and bless it once more. They will multiply I am sure in new vessels; whatever lumber you will have ahead of you now in your supply chain shall be blessed by them. Unfortunately, their lumber was too heavy for us to carry back. There is a growing threat to Red Spire and we are here to warn the council of this.”

Henricks’s expression now changed from one of concern to gratitude. But his expression still had reservation about the outcome of these security consultants’ efforts.

“Whatever truth you uncovered I trust that you will use it to light the road for Red Spire to remain a free city. That is what we are proud of. We are the lords and ladies of this city.”

Estalwyn nodded.

Paul outstretched his hand. Henricks took it and the two of them shook hands in friendship. Paul spoke to him as if he were a friend, not just a customer.

“We protected your property and…”

“Not property but a business partner, Paul.”

“Business partner it is, then Henricks. We protected your business partner and along the way we discovered that we had to protect your city as well. It appears we bear both duties now.”

“Thank you for accepting both, Pinningdale.” As Henricks said this he smiled for the first time they’d seen them. “I will tell all of my fellow merchants about you and your own business partners.”

“Much obliged.” Paul replied.

“The honor is mine. I thank you. I am certain Red Spire will.”

Henricks departed and the aide cracked the door to the council chamber just a hair.

“Pinngdale and Estalwyn? And I didn’t get the gentleman’s name under the cloak and the one in handcuffs which our captain has watched in a holding cell near the council chamber.”

Paul laughed.

“Our names are right. This is Rilles, he’ll remove or keep his cloak on at his complete discretion. He means no disrespect to your government, but his reasons are his own. We only knew our prisoner as an assistant to an enemy we had slain called the demigod.”

“Very well then. Enter.”

 

The council chamber was a richly decorated room within the keep of the citadel. The gatehouse and keep of the citadel of Red Spire were almost one building save for the courtyard just before the antechamber. Tapestries coated much of the walls and a dias with simple chairs that could hardly be called thrones and a table that resembled more of the trenchers Paul used to eat on as a boy. Their council ruled Red Spire but they did it with the decorum of a free city and the aldermen were careful not to behave like kings, lest they be styled as kings. Which was against the city’s charter. Only a council, no kings.

red-spire-throne

Moments later, the council entered the chamber. Fifteen of the aldermen entered the room. Their ages appeared to range from seventeen to seventy. And the seventy year old looked beyond fatigued. He was assisted by two aides who led him to his chair keeping his elbows locked with their own. Each were dressed in a red and white robe and all of them wore red liberty cap, save for seven which represented the guilds and farmers of the city. They wore blue. Another person entered dressed slightly similar to the aldermen, except he sat on a stool instead of a chair, and instead of a liberty cap, he wore a light military helmet. One of the alderman picked up a gavel and called the meeting to order. He had short hair, no liberty cap, and a neatly trimmed beard.

liberty-cap

“The Council of The Free City of Red Spire has come to order, I Alderman Roghus of the City of Red Spire am the presiding alderman for this month’s meetings. Today we are holding an emergency special purpose hearing concerning a recently discovered external threat to the Free City of Red Spire. We have before us a party of merchants who uncovered this threat. They are security consultants. An odd title, but they’re from out east far from our coast and one of them is Elven, and I’m not sure what the gentleman in the cloak is or where he’s from but I was told he’d keep it on. His choice. Now then, our first guest of the council to brief us on this matter is Paul of Pinningdale. Paul, please approach the dais and inform us of your discoveries. And you have a prisoner, yes? Shall we bring him here?”

“Please, your excellencies, yes.”

“ADDRESS US AS, SIRS.”

The seventy-year old piped up like an oafish schoolboy too scared to sit in front of the classroom, but proud enough to make himself known.

Poor fella probably just doesn’t want to think of himself violating his traditions or his laws in his old age.

“Of course, Sirs, my apologies. My comrades and I were contracted to protect the wagon maker, George Henricks from some burglary woes. At first we thought it was just some mere amateurs or the Burglar’s Union. Upon further examination though, it was discovered that the Burglar’s Union was not the sole perpetrator. Our efforts led us to an encampment outside of Red Spire’s northern borders and in a wilderness between the Free City of Red Spire and the Kingdom of Dothen. Once there we discovered a contingent of Burglar’s Union members and a concealed storehouse which contained Henricks’s stolen Lumineer of the Lumber. Once there we engaged an enemy who called himself a demigod. After defeating him we discovered that the Lumineer was being abused and under duress to be made into siege engines. The Lumineer said this: “Onagers, Trebuchets, and worse..”

trebuchet-1

Roghus shook his head.

“Why did you not go to Dothen with this information. We’ve no friendship with them. Nor have we had any quarrel with them. Why do you trouble us with this information?”

“Because, Sir they intent to attack Red Spire.”

“How?”

“The prisoner will talk to you about that.”

The captain arrived in the council chamber. He remained shackled in the cuffs that Rilles placed upon his wrists. The officer escorting him commanded him to introduce himself in a firm but strong whisper.

“I am Captain Talmaas Krak of The Theocracy.”

Roghus nodded.

“You threaten Dothen and Red Spire? Why? We’ve never done anything to your people. I’ve never heard of this theocracy. Explain.”

“We seek to be benevolent leaders in a world which is maleveolvent. You see our gods bring peace. Submit to our Gods and you’ll become one of them. Your ways are worldly, decadent, and depraved.”

Roghus laughed.

“Captain Krak, are there fathers in your army? Are you a father?”

“I am, Sir. What does that have to do with our gods, the higher fathers…”

“Absolutely nothing. You see we hadn’t harmed you. I think you are jealous of our ways as we are a Free City ruled by factions of our population. Had you actually visited us ahead of time and forged diplomatic relationships with us perhaps we would have welcomed missionaries of our faith. Frankly, though my people are ones that believe in something called free thought. The Elves taught us about free thought and we overthrew our last despot three-hundred years ago. That’s neither here nor there.  The fathers of your army are about to have orphaned children. I’m not going to have you say anything to them. I’m not going to release you back to your army. I’m going to have you answer a simple question: Is Red Spire going to be attacked along with Dothen?”

Red Spire

“I don’t know.”

“That’s not good enough. I’ll ask again Captain, Krak. Yes or no, or your own children will be orphaned long before this war begins.”

“You won’t be. Not initially.”

“Good. Where are those siege engines?”

“That I don’t know. The demigod had them moved.”

“What is his name?”

“I can’t say it. It is sacred and all powerful. If I utter it I will be smote.”

“Utter it.”

“No.”

The assembled Aldermen and the company gathered in the room all seemed angered at the captain. Of course, why wouldn’t they be? Here is someone from a foreign land who wants to invade you and convert you to his religion. Their patience was thinning and Roghus personified that growing sense of urgency.

“Need I remind you that you will be smote by your so-called gods or you will be smote by my command. Choose carefully as it is not a choice you will get to redo.”

A minute passed.

“His name is Kra-Corus, he is the Archbishop-General Telvass’s master. Telvass ordered that the siege engines be sent to Dothen to a secret storehouse guarded by the Archbishop’s Temple Guards themselves. Telvass will come with 200,000 men. He will conquer Dothen and from Dothen we will expand our world of peace under our gods. The whole of this continent will be enlightened.”

A mad man.

“We will see about that enlightenment. You’ll be in touch with my generals for the next several days. You’ll enlighten them.” Roghus motioned for his guards to take him away to the dungeon. “See that he is fed and clothed and that proper protocols are followed for his security. Good bye, Captain. Till we see you again at this council.”

Will they order for his execution then?

               The officers escorted the prisoner out of the chamber. He was finished. This captain was no more and he was likely already dead. Yet he would spend the next several days locked in conversations with the aldermen and the generals in charge of Red Spire’s army. Now Alderman Roghus turned to Paul and his companions.

handcuffs

“Dear merchants, you were servants of Red Spire and I’m elated that you brought word of this threat to us. These religious fools will be stopped. We’re going to bolster the fortifications of this city. And we’re also going to activate our militias to serve as screens in the north. Also, we’re going to train more regular soldiers quickly via conscription from the farmland outside the city. I aim to have our army of 26,000 become one of 250,000 in a matter of weeks. Hopefully we will beat these fanatics before their invasion fleet arrives. We’re going to strengthen our fortifications in the city and in this citadel were currently conversing in at this hour. Here’s my question though to you now. Can you provide us an early warning system with these alarm systems you are building? I know you accomplished a feat for Mr. Henricks as this was not seen before here in Red Spire. I would ask that you do this for us. You’ll be paid handsomely.

Paul turned to Estalwyn and Rilles. “Are you both staying on with me in this venture?”

“Yes.” Rilles and Estalwyn replied in unison.

“Can we do this job?”

“Yes.” They replied in unison.

Paul turned back to face Alderman Roghus. They were about to undertake a large project. The alarm system of an entire city.

I’m not sure how this is going to get done. I’m not sure how we’re going to plan this. I know one thing though.

“Consider us open for business.”

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