[KRAGLIN MANOR, PORT DAWSON; JUNE 18, 2018]
The manor was neither opulent nor imperial, with a skeleton crew of servants and mercenaries for guardians…but it was enough for their purposes. It peered east over the rest of Port Dawson and a roiling sea. Black banners with white crosses marked its perimeters and the enspelled wardings that protected it from harm and infiltration.
Sister Talia stood by the entrance, a hawk-like totemic mark branding her both as an Adept and as a member of the Brotherhood of the Sword and Cross. Like her mercenary brethren, she wore black, ornamented with a stark white cross. “My favorite part about having the summit here is how this Red Robert hates it as much as he hates us. The hike up to this manor is like the steepest parts of Northwall and this ‘manor’ is just as bad as that plagued hellhole.”
“Mayor or not, Robert can’t stand against the Treaty or the nine Kingdoms that are behind it. He can hate them and us if he wants, but he can either take their money or their steel… I imagine the choice is obvious” Unlike her comrade, Sister Kestrel’s face was unadorned but her garments were festooned with trophies and knicknacks – the yield of many a deadly hunt and battle. She stood within a few arm-lengths of her battle-sister but Kestrel studied the sea instead of the path before them.
“If this Mayor was smart, he would play them against each other. The Kingdoms’ posturing against each other is the only reason Port Dawson is out of everyone’s hands. The Jotun would never have the Boggers have it. And the same with the Inthians and the Riverfolk, especially after that stunt they tried to pull with Zaalamon years ago. And you know – there’s also the lack of the you-know-what”
A nervous silence fell upon the mercenaries as the front doors opened abruptly to The acting Envoy of Pendrakken nodded to the Brotherhood as he left the manor to seek his evening lodging, doubtless an Inn or somewhere similar. Amidst helm and mail, he bore the colors of his House, the symbols of Faith and the badge of his station.
Behind him, an armored Brotherhood member exited then closed the doors. He bore with him a cruel looking blade with an ax-like construction. The sisters watched him walk the long winding trail to the base of the hill and the rest of Port Dawson proper.
The rest of the Kingdom Summit had yet to exit, save for the “diplomat” for the Labyrinthium’s pick, a masked man named Hawk who was the first to leave. He appeared as happy about things as the Pendrakken envoy did.
“Mercurium” Brother Mercy said somberly “They made that decision last moon – you can say it now… and we’ve always been able to say it”
“I know, it just feels strange to say it so openly” Talia shrugged. “Anyway, only reason for us to keep the peace in Freehold is that…mineral”
Kestrel had started watching a pod of orcas behind a vessel – possibly a trailing a whaling ship for scraps as she had heard them do sometimes, but she had spared a glance to see the doors close. “Did they bring anything new to the table?”
Mercy’s armored shoulders moved only slightly when he shrugged. With the sea breeze, it was cooler out of the manor than it was within. “Nothing of note. Lector and his undead are believed to be afoot somewhere in Jotunbrud, Malak Travak… and the ruins of Northwall. Portia may be advancing beyond the Obsidian Wastes. Tenebrous is loose and somewhere in the Hinterlands, possibly near Lockhaven–”
“Yes, yes” Talia swatted at the air in impatience. “We also know that Vallah and Primus remain under lock and key. They all seem accounted for except –”
“Fang-zhara” it was Mercy’s turn to be impatient.”Her prisons are open, her spirits were released when the arctic stars fell on those cities. She may have been involved in the Pendrakken civil war. And there is the sound of digging beneath the earth… which could her going after her Vaults to reclaim whatever strength she cached away. That’s all we know so far based on their reports and our own informants”
From her perch, Kestrel’s eyes lazily glanced at the masses of humanity at the docks. Any of them could be serving an Immortal, passing through uncontrolled Port Dawson to serve their master’s needs. T even her keen eye-sight, they were tiny and insignificant, trying to hurry their way home from the business of the docks. Any of them could be hiding Fang-zhara’s golemic augments, Lector’s necrotic blood-crowns or even the subtle mark of Primus’ cult.
And then she drew one of her many throwing daggers.
Mercy and Talia took note of Kestrel drawing steel and paid her their full attention. When Kestrel pointed out to the town below, they were just in time to watch with growing horror as the pod of orcas swam headlong into the docks.
Monstrously bulbous and pocked, the killer whales beached or impaled themselves upon the wooden construction. The mercenaries at the manor did not need to be at the docks to know the swarming and the buzzing that would come next as the gigantic corpses burst open unto the fleeing, screaming populace. Most of the newly-birthed demonic wasp creatures would descend upon the docks and infect as many folk as possible. More than a few of the monstrosities would instead fly free of the whale flesh immediately to the town’s limits. The Brotherhood needed to act quickly.
Mercy entered the manor immediately, alerting the diplomats and his brethren within — while they were in the manor they were warded and within custody. Talia used her Totemic speed to make her way to the chapterhouse days away and warn the others. When joined by reinforcements from the manor, Kestrel would lead the hunt against the fleeing Spider-Wasps.
The defense of Port Dawson and its docks, of course, would remain in the hands of Red Robert and his Redcaps as well as any civilians joined them instead of fleeing.
The town wanted to stay independent, after all.