Thursday, January 8, 2015

Down in the Darkness Deep--Part 26

Barrant adjusted the boot. "There you go, sir. How does it feel?"

Marduk took a few practice steps. "I… this is… amazing…"

The Goblin shook his head. "You’re hardly the only man with a clubfoot, sir. Truth is, you’ve got better legs than most I’ve made these for…" He looked at Marduk. "Now… you’ll want to get used to it, so try not to overstrain yourself with it."

"Understood," said Marduk with a slight nod. Aethelstan and Eleazar entered, arms filled with scrolls. "Have you found them?"

The former monk nodded and set one of the scrolls on the table. "Maps. Plenty of maps."

Aethelstan shook his head. "I tell you--Nycetus was… well, I don’t know WHAT he was doing. But there’s enough weapons to arm the entire damn Army of Cthonique several times over, food, saddles…"

"Speaking of which, I should get to work on your arms," said Barrant.

Marduk rubbed a misshapen shoulder. "I suspect I’m something of a challenge…"

"I enjoy challenges," answered the Goblin with a smile.

"Well," said Eleazar, pointing to a spot on the map, "we now have an idea just about where we are…"

"Where is the Murkenmere?" asked Marduk. Eleazar nodded, and moved his finger in a straight line. Marduk raised an eyebrow. "That long, squiggly black line?" He clicked his tongue. "I thought it would be… more impressive…"

"It’s bigger in person," said Aethelstan.

Ursula walked into the chamber, whistling a tune. "Marduk, folk are starting to wonder if we’re going to move soon. Most figure it won’t be too long before someone realizes things have gone funny here, and send an army to take care of things."

"Three days," said Marduk, eyes glancing over the map. "We’ll need that to gather the supplies…" He nodded to himself, quietly.

"So where are we going?" said Aethelstan. "The Shadow Woods? The Fangs?"

"Where Eleazar pointed," replied Marduk. "North. To the Murkenmere."

There was a rather stunned silence to this. Aethelstan broke it with a cough. "Marduk… there… the only thing there is the Northern League, who… Sutekh is destroying them…"

"Then they’ll want an army," said Marduk quietly.

Ursula looked at him seriously. "You’ll have to move this people through… miles and miles of Magnate territory, Marduk."

"Exactly," said Marduk. "You came to this place from those lands, Ursula. Plantation after plantation, filled with field hands, working with the lash at their backs." Marduk nodded. "Well, this army exists to break chains, and to break the hands of those who hold the lash. The Magnates have watered their fields with the blood of their slaves for generations. It is long past time that their own is used."

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