They threw themselves back into their search more earnestly, driven on by that thought. After about three hours, Garkhen reached the main hall. It had an oddly royal look to it, as if it had been partially converted into a king’s audience hall—an odd affection for the leader of a supposedly equal coalition of rebels. Of course, this impression was coming just from what was left—the remains of what he was pretty sure had once been a throne, places where extravagant tapestries had once hung, and so forth.
There was one corner that looked oddly untouched, but Garkhen quickly dismissed it without close examination. There wasn’t anything important there. He started sifting through the shattered remains of the throne.
Garkhen’s eyes widened as he realized what was going on. That was not his thought. Something there was actively seeking to be ignored. He forced himself to turn, to start walking towards the corner. The intact tapestry drew his eye… no, that was another attempt at misdirection. Slowly the Warder forced himself to look at the spot he least wanted to look at, to walk where his mind screamed he had no reason to go.
There was something gleaming from a shadowed spot beneath the tapestry. Slowly, jerkily, fighting against himself the whole way, Garkhen bent down and examined the object. It had a dull iron chain, like it was meant to be worn around the neck. The chains continued around the object itself, tightly wrapping the central piece.
Finally the half-dragon forced himself to look at what that central object was. It shimmered with colors and light, but not beautifully. It was shaped like some internal organ, and the changing patterns of light made it almost seem to pulsate as if alive. There was no doubt in his mind that this was something intensely evil.
He pulled a rag from his pack, not wanting to touch it even with his armored hands. Garkhen wrapped the thing up and carefully placed it in the bottom of his pack. He would have to go find Tirel, and then go show this to the Captain, who would likely recommend priests and mages examine it…
It took him some time to find Tirel. The Wyre was searching through the ransacked kitchens, clearly frustrated. He smiled when he saw Garkhen come in.
“If you’re hungry, I’m afraid the first couple groups through here already cleaned everything out,” the tiger-man joked. More seriously he added, “I haven’t had any luck. Everyone’s been pretty thorough. You?”
“I…” Garkhen frowned. Hadn’t he found something? No… just splinters and empty rooms. “I am afraid I have not found anything of interest, either. Perhaps whatever was involved in these dark deeds was destroyed in the summoning of that great Infernal, or afterward in battle.”
“Yeah…” Tirel seemed no more convinced of this argument than Garkhen. After a moment of silence, however, he said, “Let’s just get out of here. This place makes my fur stand on end all of a sudden.”
The next day, Garkhen requested to speak with Captain Telarnen again. It was early afternoon before he was available.
The Captain sighed as Garkhen was led into the room. “The problem with the end of a war is that all the generals have to keep telling everyone they’re still important,” he muttered as soon as they were alone.
“Sir?” Garkhen was not quite certain what to make of this statement.
Telarnen waved a hand, dismissively. “Too many meetings. Don’t ever become an officer if you can’t put up with meetings, Private. Now,” he waved the half-dragon to a seat, realized its back wouldn’t work with Garkhen’s thick tail well, and shrugged slightly. “You wanted speak with me?”
“Yes, sir.” Garkhen nodded. “I think I have decided what I wish to do now.”
“And that is, Private Garkhen?”
“There are still reports of undead and Infernals in outlying areas. I think I would like to investigate and resolve these issues, sir.”
The Captain chuckled. “What an interesting way to say you want to be an adventurer, Private.”
“Sir?” Again Telarnen caught the Warder off-guard.
Captain Telarnen again waved his hand, as if brushing something aside. “I know you probably haven’t thought of it as such, but that’s essentially what it will be. I’m not trying to dissuade you—I was an adventurer myself, when that gold dragon friend of yours first found me. By all means, Private Garkhen, I’d be glad to see you do that. I, after all,” he grimaced, “The Company is probably going to be stuck here instead of out there cleaning up.”
“Ah…” Garkhen was not sure what to say to that.
“I suppose I haven’t made clear, Private Garkhen, that you’ll have to leave my Company to do that. I don’t think I’ll have much luck convincing the generals to release any of my troops from garrison duty.”
“I see.” Garkhen had, indeed, not realized that. But he realized that, for all that he had become comfortable with the Company, he did not truly feel any sadness at the thought of leaving it. Certainly he would miss some members of it, but… he did not really see a future for himself in military life.
“So, Private, when you are ready, I can release you from my Company.”
“I wish to say some goodbyes, first, sir, and then I will be ready.”
Captain Telarnen nodded. “Very well, Private Garkhen. I will see you again shortly, then.”
There’s definitely no foreshadowing here… in fact, you should just forget the middle part of this post. Definitely nothing important there. Nope.