Garkhen tried to think things over for the next couple days, but it was difficult to find somewhere he could consider in quiet. Always there were others wanting to hear again exactly what had happened in the desecrated cathedral, whether or not Tirel had really turned into a thirty-foot-long tiger monster, whether he had been twenty feet tall, and so on. Finally he found a place he could have some peace—the former castle of the city’s duke, once headquarters of the Rebellion.
He had gathered that, after the battle was over, the remaining leaders of the Rebellion had agreed to submit again to the authority of their king. Rumor had it that their leader, Duke Elinai, had been connected somehow with the demons. Most were certain he was dead now, having been in the city at the time the Infernals appeared. A skeleton of his rough dimensions, scorched and blackened, had been found in the great hall of the castle. Whatever the truth of the matter, most people were now avoiding the castle.
The few guards left at its gate told Garkhen that all soldiers were currently being permitted access if they would volunteer to search the grounds for any further evidence of what had occurred. Apparently such volunteers were rather scarce. Garkhen agreed to do so, recognizing that he would have time to think as he looked about.
He wandered the halls of the castle, having received no real instructions on how he should conduct his search. It was clear it had been looted before the superstition had grown around it, for the walls were all but bare, the only signs of once-rich decorations the hooks they had once hung from. Garkhen entered a bedroom to see it wrecked, the wardrobe and bed in splinters after impatient warriors had come looking for valuables.
Everywhere he went looked the same, which gave him the time to think he wanted. He had heard rumors that there were some few survivors left of the Infernals, and that there were still tales of undead wandering the hills. Certainly such problems had to be taken care of, and now that the war was over, the army here was already dispersing as men returned to their homes. The mercenaries might be used to sweep for such remnants, he supposed, but somehow it seemed likely they would not. He did not really understand the intricacies of the contracts they worked by.
Garkhen wondered what the rest of the little group he had fought with would do. Some, he supposed, must have homes to go to, or organizations they were part of—Jesil was likely a member of a Temple to Mashano, and Khera a member of a mage’s guild of some sort. Mirthin… he hadn’t seen Mirthin since the battle, even from a distance as he had the others.
Tirel most caught his curiosity. He knew little of these… Wyre, they were apparently called. He’d read mention of them once, that they were blessed of Naishia, but he knew nothing more. Did they live in cities, or alone? Was the wolf-woman a leader among them, or did each fend for himself?
“Are you searching the castle or your thoughts, my blue-scaled friend?”
The familiar voice startled Garkhen from his musings. He had just turned a corner, and almost run into Tirel himself.
Garkhen smiled. “Truth be told, I am doing some of both, Tirel.”
Tirel laughed. “I think more of the second, the way you were walking without seeing anything.”
The tiger-man looked around a bit. “Not that there’s a lot to see. The army smashed this place up pretty thoroughly when they came through.”
Garkhen looked suspiciously at the Wyre. “I am beginning to wonder if I should ask the same question of you.”
Tirel laughed again. “Perceptive as always, Warder. In fact, I’m probably thinking of what you’re thinking about—what’s next?”
The half-dragon nodded, grinning slightly. Tirel continued, “I could go back with the Pack, of course, but, well, we’ve always been loose at the best of times… just show up for a while every now and again, then go off and do your own thing…”
“The Pack?” Garkhen asked, curious.
“Oh, right, you’re not really from around here.” Tirel smiled. “The Wyre Pack of Ferdunan. You’ve seen what I am—I can be a man or a tiger or a tiger-man, right? Well, there’s a number of us around here in Ferdunan, and we get together some, and call it our Pack.”
“I see. Than the wolf-woman…?”
“She’s our leader, Whitepaw,” Tirel explained. “A wise druid, and fierce warrior. She was the one who said we should take part in this war, and, well, I think we found out why.”
“Indeed.” Garkhen nodded, thinking of Solkh’Tolkharkha and Captain Telarnen’s suspicions. “It seems my mentor felt I should be here, as well. Dark days indeed these were, that they should need such response…”
The tiger-man nodded. “Yeah…”
Garkhen was silent for a time. Then another thought came to him. “Yet… some part of me wonders if it is truly over. In all I have read, such a thing as this has never occurred. What if the means of causing all this has somehow escaped?”
“Well, there’s cheerful thought,” Tirel replied, grimacing. “I guess it’s back to looking around here, then?”
Garkhen nodded solemnly. “Yes, I think so.”
Hmmmm, that can’t be foreshadowing of any sort there…