The Eternal Brotherhood
Donal had been watching the bartender lately. There was something to the way that the tiefling carried himself which intrigued the knight. Clearly, this bard had seen battle, and had trained in the martial arts. One day, Donal spotted the bastard sword which Bede kept under the bar. Only a trained swordsman could wield one of those well. Donal had practiced with Abraxus before, and noted the balance and skill it took to effectively use such a weapon. As far as he could tell, the bartender spent most days half drunk, and the rest barely coherent. That was no way for a warrior to live. Death comes for us all, Donal thought, and this man wastes his life numbing himself to it.
Donal approached the bar, which would not open for another few hours. “Excuse me, but I was wondering if you might go a few rounds with me in the yard. With Abraxus gone I haven’t anyone with whom I might practice my skills. You seem the type to hold your own with that sword you hide.”
“Is that so? I’ll have you know that in my youth I could have gone many a round with you. Those days are far gone now, though, and I am content to sing of battles, but more of loss.”
“Life is meant for the living, tiefling. If you intend to drink yourself to an early grave, you might as well give that unwanted life to someone deserving.”
“Would that I could. Then again, I would hardly want to transfer this life to anyone. You see, I am already a dead man, and have been for some time. I may be barely old enough to claim a gray hair or two, but I have been a walking corpse long enough to know how to wash away my memories. Practice in the yard holds no appeal, as it only reminds me of what could have been.”
“And what, exactly, left you in such a state? Was it a woman? I bet it was. I’m sure Ana could cure you of that emptiness quickly enough, friend. She has quite the establishment.”
“Aren’t you some sort of holy warrior? Aren’t there vows against whoring?”
“Perhaps for those who fight for Pelor or Bahamut, but the Raven Queen holds no such restrictions. With death around every corner, why not make sure to live life as often and vigorously as you can? Besides, you are changing the subject.”
“I can see there is no fooling you. Let’s just say that my family was my life. Then tragedy struck, and I was cast into the cruel, harsh world lost and alone. I was training to be a skald, a sort of bard warrior. My duty was to my tribe, my home, to keep their traditions and histories alive while protecting them from harm. I failed. Now please, leave me be.”
Donal obliged the poor bartender, and left him to his woes. He had work to do anyway. The whore at Ana’s place had been very…informative. Some of the Sons of Nerath had slipped through the cracks and hid in an abandoned keep outside of town. Donal mounted his horse and rode off. An hour later, he spotted the keep rising, crooked as that old green wizard, from the earth. It was mostly ruins now. Fortunately for the hideouts, the army must of bypassed it due to its condition and proximity to the city. Donal dismounted and, as sneaky as could be, approached the doorless archway. Six men huddled near a pitiful fire inside, cooking what appeared to be rats. This would be easier than expected.
Donal drew his sword and rushed inside. The men, fearful for their lives, immediately took to arms. With a low swing, Donal amputated one man at the knee and swiftly brought his blade around to decapitate another. The other four surrounded him, so Donal kicked ash and coals at two and turned to the others in time to parry and block their blows. The knight used his foes’ fear to conjure shadows which swirled about him. One of the men started barking orders at the others. Donal faced him and embraced the darkness within to strike fear deep into the leader’s heart. The man wet himself and tried to flee, but Donal vanished into shadow and reappeared behind another enemy, whom he cut down. With a great swing, Donal threw the leader into the wall of the keep and knocked him unconscious. He turned his attention to the last two, and swiftly averted their blows and returned his own, finishing the small band of exiles.
Donal took a moment to relish the adrenaline. How can that tiefling refuse the thrill of battle? He should have joined me. He then bound and gagged his prisoner, and patched his wounds. A good xenophobic rebel is a dead xenophobic rebel, but I need information. With a splash of water, Donal roused his captive. “Tell me everything you know about your superiors.”
“They’re all dead. What’s there to know?”
“Where did you receive your orders? Word on the street is that you were one of the founding members of your little hate club. I want you to tell me everything you know about the involvement of Lady Allande, and maybe, just maybe I will let you live.”
“Lady Allande? That bitch got us all dead, mister. I was there the day she came to the leadership. She promised us rule over Fallcrest. That we would be able to make a republic instead of having to suffer under a Lord Warden. She promised us everything, and then she went and framed us for her murder. We was after Faren, not her. There’s no way she’s dead if we really had anything to do with the assassination.”
“Who else would have wanted her dead?”
“That new boy Warden, maybe. Could be Kamroth… Who the fuck knows? Why should I care? I’m as good as dead.”
“I can get you safe passage out of the Nentir, if you want. I just need information. Was Allande Markelhay working with anyone else?”
“Really? You can get me out of here? Listen, all I know is that she was responsible for the warforged acting all funny. We knew about it, too, so we sent slaves fresh out of Winterhaven to take them on. It was bad business, in my opinion, but that was supposed to set off a ton of sympathy towards the cause and maybe even spark a revolution. That’s all I know, I promise. Now get me outta here, like you promised. Where am I gonna go?”
“Thank you. I hear the Shadowfell is nice this time of year. Please give my regards to the Raven Queen.” Donal cut the man’s throat before he could respond. With a quick prayer and offering to the Raven Queen, Donal set off to the city. I guess it’s time to pay a visit to a forgemaster.