Today has been eventful, to say the least. It has seen the end of the Kyte, and the City that was its anchor. And it was very nearly the end of me.
The desolation of the City of Chains was … indescribable. The sky, barely visible for the vast cloud of ash and dust that hangs in the air even now. Fires rage, checked only by the lack of things to burn. The people – gods …. Those who did not stumble about the wreckage like drunkards were like animals, reduced to their basest instincts.
We saw it all, from our airship (whose arcane controls I am still struggling to master.) Men turning on men, scrambling to save themselves and their families – or worse still, those who had lost everything looking for someone to blame. And in the distance, another cloud of dust – but this one was moving towards us. We had no doubt, we companions, that it was the army of Arloch’s brother – the one called Azalus.
With our paladin prisoners in tow, we surveyed the city. Arloch was sturdy as ever, impassive. Alauril, usually all bravado and jokes, for once, was silent. We decided to make our way to the home of the Kazfior family. Their patriarch, Edwin, was one of the leading citizens of the city, and we assumed he’d be heading some kind of recovery effort.
Instead, when we arrived, we found a mob at his gates, intent on vengeance for the many wrongs perpetrated on the city by the Tiefling establishment. Right idea, wrong time. We helped the harried guards to disperse the crowd, and set them about making themselves useful. People can be such fools! Their city crumbling around them, an army at their doorstep, and they’d waste their time on petty vengeance!?
Of course, Edwin and his ilk are not blameless. When we found Edwin, he was packing his belongings and readying to leave! He didn’t seem to care one whit for the people under his protection. So much for noblesse oblige. When we asked him who WAS in charge, if not him … well, it seems the City Marshall had been crushed by the falling Kyte. Worse still, there was no command structure to replace him! So I took it upon myself to become the new Marshall. People need symbols of authority in trying times such as these.
Our first order of business was to hand over the Paladin terrorists to Sir Edwin, and to see that he, and they, left the city. Our hope is that Edwin’s sense of duty to the Dominion (and self-preservation) will oblige him to warn the rest of the Dominion of the threat posed by Arloch’s brother Azalus. Once we got him out of the city, we set about organising a refugee caravan, under the protection of what remained of the City Watch.
Our relief efforts, were interrupted, however, by a summons from the Chieftain of the local Orc Tribe. We had encountered his people before, as foes, and so we were wary. Before anchoring our ship (which we had been using as a mobile base of operations), I warded it with Arcane Eyes, to keep watch. We found the chieftain of the orcs to be … most reasonable. It seemed that his people had abandoned their homeland when the environs there were no longer livable, and came to the borders of the dominion seeking more hospitable climes. The conflict between our peoples was an unfortunate misunderstanding. We made an arrangement with the chieftain – if his people would join the refugee caravan and help keep it safe, we would attempt to integrate them into the Dominion. There was a further condition we did not expect. We were charged with the protection and rearing of a young Orcling – his name is Osken. The boy was clearly none to thrilled with the arrangement.
It was well that I warded our vessel, for when we returned, we found three Paladins of the Dragon-God waiting in ambush. We spent some time subduing their champion, a fearsome warrior in splendid armour. While we were busy doing that, however, the other two made good their escape. Or almost. While their sorcerer managed to escape us, the war-mistress was not so lucky. We interrogated her, but to little avail. Hers is a hardy breed.
By the time of evenfall, the city was nearly evacuated – but not nearly enough. The army of the Dragon-God had come to the City of Chains. We determined that we must delay them for as long as possible, giving the refugees precious time.
We found Azalus’ lieutenant, Gryll, at the head of the van. We attempted to thin out their numbers by ramming them with our airship. We proved successful, crushing several bugbears with our initial assault. However, some of the bugbears clambered aboard our vessel. In an attempt to shake them loose, I drove the ship high into the air. We managed to knock off several of these barnacles, but alas, our fight was not to be so simple. Alauril was taken by surprise and sent plummeting to earth. We were forced to drop the ship to rescue him.
The battle was fiercely fought. There were shadow-hounds, bugbears, hobgoblins, and of course, Gryll, atop his fearsome war-lizard. Arloch took the fight to him directly, in order to rescue our fallen comrade. My intent was to stay aboard the ship and guard both it and Osken – but I hadn’t counted on the teleporting Hounds. To defend the boy – and save myself, I was forced to leap to earth. From there, things went from bad to worse. All my arcane arts failed me, and I was laid low. I would have died that very hour, but for the efforts of Osken, who valiantly attempted to fight off the enemy.
Meanwhile, things looked dire for Arloch and Alauril, whose combined efforts seemed unlikely to prevail against Gryll and his war-beast. Finally, a cunning ruse fooled the dragonborn long enough for Alauril to get in position for a sneak attack. Our foe was vanquished at last – but the main force of Azalus’ army was storming the city, and I was bleeding to death in the dirt.
Our escape was a desperate one. My friends carried me to safety aboard the ship, and revived me long enough for me to pilot us to the safety of the skies. But we were all somewhat the worse for wear. Osken, in particular, suffered grave wounds in my defense. There is more to that Orcling than meets the eye.
We make now for the caravan, to safeguard them from Azalus. I suspect he will not pursue us immediately. He has his prize. The City of Chains is lost. And soon, the Dominion will be at war. There is a graver threat, however. The weapon for which Jorok Stone died is still out there. We have one part. But our enemies are legion, and we three are few. In this dark hour, it seems that hope has fled.