The city is burning. I’d damn them all but the Nine Hells are too good for whoever planned this. I’ve spent all night on the wing, throwing down fire support wherever I could manage, and my back and shoulders burn from exertion every time I even think about twisting my body. I’m even out of fucking crossbow bolts, and I hadn’t used one of those for anything other than shooting rabbits in ages. I’m about to try to get whatever sleep I can on a cot in the back of a nest of spies. I have no idea where the rest of the company are, and even if they have time to look, they won’t be finding me tonight.
Dinner had been going so fucking well too. Anyone who mattered was impressed, I didn’t tell Whatsherface Bitchopsgate that I’d be less ashamed of being the daughter of a dockside whore than she should be for insinuating that my mother was one… I’m electing to worry about the condition Darius set when it works its way up to one of the top two or three things on my mind. That choice could end up ripping my heart out, but I’d like to live long enough for that to matter.
Apparently Cogsworth has the ability to see the future, as long as the future involves an enormous mess. Some merc blew apart our back door with a fireball, shattering it where he’d been sweeping all day. Four orc grunts, the mage, and a dragoon, all Bleeding Hoard. Don’t know why I thought that contract would just bide its time until the whole damn army came down. I was too young to remember much of the War of the Red Ocean, but I remember that the battles never came to Stone Table. It wasn’t for lack of trying, and as hard as we’ve been working, two free companies don’t have the same deterring power as the Republican Navy.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first time I’ve been in a city under attack. Treffmen are capable, but none of us were expecting the streets to swarm with undead or mercenaries to burst into our dining rooms. We were all varying levels of prepared – only Bex was armored, Diana Limber and I at least had our spell components at hand, Cyrus and his father had whip-daggers that were at least marginally effective… the emissary had more tricks up his sleeve than I knew possible. I’d have done the same if Finn would let me get away with it. Cyrus, noble fool that he is, threw himself in the path of a fully armored mercenary captain. Gods bless Cogsworth, I haven’t the magic nor the inclination to clean his blood off our table.
My dress was pretty thoroughly ruined. I think I did the right thing when I shoved a strip of it into Cyrus’ hands. I’m pretty sure the fair maidens from Becca’s stories don’t say things like “don’t fucking die on me” when they give knights favors. But I suppose if he was expecting a maiden fair, he wouldn’t have stuck around half this long. Gods above and below, we’re such a mess, but we’re a mess worth fighting for.
We all scattered after the attack. Cyrus and his father set out to Moss Point, Bex headed to South Fen to get drunk and kill things, and Finn was sent to Carmine on an urgent mission. Judging by the scorch marks, Gaspard and Galen headed towards Flux. Galen’s got to be headed for the church in Port Willow. I thought to follow, the Rangers I flew with told me the guild armies were conspicuously absent from the fray, but I never flew over a street where I wasn’t needed.
The Republic war flag is flying over the Polling Place. By the time I entered the battle, the old half-orc Marine Sergeant had rallied the patrons and set up a barricade. Scant few casters, but we’ve all had militia training. The undead were running thick, but a lightning bolt across their ranks and a scintillating sphere to the boardwalk neutralized them fairly quickly. I handed over a few scrolls, a healing potion, and my acid arrow wand – what casters were there were just hedge mages, and they needed them more than I did. No one’s mentioned the Dockside accent in so long, I’d almost forgotten that any Tabler could place me by ear. Dockside Dragoness? Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but I’ll take that compliment any day.
For the moment I’m settled in at the safehouse – I can’t rest at home, not while the door’s blown open and everyone’s scattered the four winds. Strange things brewing in the Republic. Marin tapped for Grandmaster Diviner? Well, I’ve seen stranger things. She’s talented, but if her colleagues already doubt she has the stomach for spy work, it’ll be impossible for someone so young to hold the highest post of her discipline.
I’ll get up and out of here as early as I can. I trust these people not to stab me in the back or rob me blind, but I’m not too impressed by their hospitality either. I don’t know how people without familiars get by, if Clyde wasn’t here I’d feel so crushingly alone.
(On a sheet of paper, tucked into the journal)
To Whom It May Concern:
I expected you’d notice me writing in this journal before I went to sleep. Cross is expecting a field report from me regarding the events in the swamp. It’s in the back cover. If you’d like to copy the source material, I’ve dog-eared the most relevant pages; feel free to amanuensis as you see fit.
Free Company of the Compass Rose