The darkness was falling as Dorsea snapped out of his divination trance. It had apparently been a hard procedure for him. Halfway through, he had begun to feel that Styric may have put a protection spell on the city, as it was his closest neighbor. Though he had been reluctant to try the Skadivers’ potion (the chocolate), he acquiesced and ate a piece. He found that it did boost his divination, and was eventually able to see what he needed. He seemed slightly dazed because of the experience.
“Well?” asked Gildenhanna, “Do you know how we are going to enter the city, Wizard?”
Dorsea blinked the glaze off of his eyes and was a little irritated at his Lord. “Of course I know. Why do you think I am here?” he snapped.
“Very well, what is it?”
“I shall show you and Todmensche together,” he said. “Todmensche,” he called. “Eommt.”
Todmensche came quickly and sat down with the men. Dorsea cast a luminescent map on the ground, and it showed the layout of the entire city of Kyre, including the main fortress. A small fireball appeared on the north wall of the city.
“Doa, eyngong gehaymme; there is the secret entrance, which I can probably open with a spell,” he began. The fireball began to move across the map showing the passage route. “We can go all the way to the fortress and into it; wa gayhann alles neak innerre.”
“How many men in the fortress?”
“That depends if they are of Styric control or not. At this moment, I believe them to be, and therefore, fewer of them will remain in the city, for most should have gone to join his main forces.”
“Very good, so, if we enter the main fortress, we should try to seal as many guards out of it as is possible,” Gildenhanna said.
“How?” asked the Wizard, who was deep in thought.
“Ordinarily, a main fortress within the city walls will be open in times of attack to enable the retreat of the guards if the walls are breached. During an attack, given fewer soldiers, most will be on the walls. Any that remain in the Keep can be overpowered, and we close the gates. That is where most of our friends, here would do most of their plundering anyway.”
“Good, I like it,” Dorsea agreed. “So we use half of Todmenshe’s people outside the walls to the front as a diversion for the rest of us stealing into the heart of the city?”
“Exactly,” the Lord said.
So the Wizard began explaining the plan to Todmensche, who grunted agreement and smiled devilishly in anticipation of its execution. Several hours after dark, the barbarian army split and went its separate ways, silently and unobserved.
It was not a long way to the location of the secret entrance, and it was well hidden in the heavy undergrowth outside the wall. The vines on the stone door had totally covered it, giving it the look of an old tomb. The Wizard weaved his Spell of Opening quickly, and the door gave way into the passage below. As the vines were hacked away from the opening, Dorsea sent a fireball illusion at the front gate, where the other half of the Jawann waited to feign an assault. Immediately, the sound of drums was heard amidst a scattering of yells and shouting from outside of the gate.
Everything seemed to be going true to plan, and the barbarians followed Dorsea and Todmensche into the passage. There were no guards for the entire length of it, so the men passed quickly through it and reached for the inside entrance, which was closed and locked fast.
“When the door goes, we must move quickly, for it will make noise,” Gildenhanna informed them.
“Woc muzzen plidst gayhann,” Dorsea told Todmensche, who nodded.
The door blasted inward as the Wizard finished his spell by striking his staff upon it, and the barbarians poured through the hole. They swarmed through the Keep and set about to their tasks—kill guards and close gates. But the guards were already dead. In fact, as they explored, they found all the Kyrenns dead, their bodies strewn where they had fallen in violent convulsions. Outside the fortress, hundreds of bodies decorated the streets and doorways.
“Plague,” remarked Dorsea grimly.
“Off hand, I would say Terean Plague, though I cannot be certain,” he replied, looking closely at a corpse. “They have been dead a long time—several months, I think. Do you see how all of their chests cavities are ruptured? That is a sign of Terean Plague.”
“Then Todmensche can take the whole city,” said Gildenhanna.
“Yes, and we shall be able to continue on our journey on the morrow. Very fortunate.”
“Depends on your point of view,” added the Lord as he eyed the street full of decaying Kyreans. “Let us find the Lord’s chambers.”
Dorsea translated their assessment to Todmensche on their way back inside the Keep. They had to step over two dead guards to get through the door at the Lord’s chambers. Inside, the Lord of Kyre and his family lay dead together in the conversation area.
Before the Lord’s body, slumped on the table, lay a parchment. “What does it read, Wizard?” asked Gildenhanna, who had to put the horror of death in the chamber out of his mind to carry on.
“I’m having to translate from Jawann.” He studied the scrawl closely. “A warning for posterity: We trusted Styric and followed him. This is our reward. Jaederon curse him. Forgive me my city’s death. Lord Gongellanna.”
“We should have suspected this from the start,” remarked Gildenhanna.
“They likely tried to back away from him and fell victim to his vengeful Were-sorcery,” Dorsea added. He began to tell Todmensche, but there was no need.
“Jee, Styrikk,” he said in distaste.
“Jee, abar dizah schtatte zine dene jecht,” Dorsea explained that the city was now his.
“Jee, danna, Dorsea ick Gildenhanna,” Todmensche said gratefully.
“Tell him not to thank us yet, for Styric must be dealt with, and they have their end of the bargain to uphold,” said the Lord.
“He knows,” the Wizard said. “Farren Woc ama frumorken.”
“Jee,” replied Todmensche as he began to look through the chamber for plunder in his new chambers.
“I told him we were departing in the early morn.”
The barbarians removed most of the bodies from the main building and bedded down for the night in their new city, but none slept well, for the nightmares of Styric’s plague rested heavily on their minds. In the morning, fifty Jawann remained behind to clean up the city for the rest of the tribe, while the army moved out toward the coast.
Only a league out of Kyre, marching toward Dalyr Point, the rainforest had become very dense. It was slow going as the path had been overgrown from little use. It did not escape the barbarian’s notice that the forest had become void of sound, except for that of the army’s movements, and they were all instinctively uneasy and wary. That was when they were halted by the sound of drums echoing through the trees.
“What is this?” Gildenhanna asked. “More Jawann?”
“Dalyrmann,” growled Todmensche. “Woc fahrenn schnell.”
“Apparently, we have been discovered,” Dorsea replied. “Another tribe, of Dalyr. He says we should go quickly.”
They quickened their pace, trying to leave the Dalyr drums behind, but it was no use. The tribe could be heard all around them, moving as they did, beating their maddening drums in faster tempo. After a good distance, the drums silenced, and the forest broke away into a large meadow-like clearing. The edges were higher than the center of the area, which appeared to be a shallow depression, likely mushy.
“Am I correct in thinking we will meet them there?” Gildenhanna asked.
“I think so,” Dorsea muttered.
“Mortemfeld,” Todmensche commented.
“Killing field, he says,” the Wizard translated.
“We seem to have little choice in this. They flank us at all points. Dare I hope that your Wizardry can deter them long enough to make the point?”
“This tribe lives very close to Styric. I doubt I can show them anything they have not seen before.”
“Jee, Wizard,” Todmensche growled. “Fahrenn im mortem.”
That needed no translation for Gildenhanna. March into death was a concept he and Dorsea had based this entire quest upon, but it must not be in this clearing. It must be facing the Were-Wizard, or all would be lost.
The army slowly ventured into the killing field bravely. As they walked down into the mushy grass, they could see the Dalyr emerging from the borders of the wood, full circle around them. By estimate, their army would be outnumbered five to one. If Dorsea’s magic could not dissuade them from attacking, the Jawann and the Gelts would have almost no chance in battle.
The circle of Dalyr began to slowly tighten, coming down into the ‘Mortemfeld’.