The midday sun beat down on our head when we arrived at the remnants of the town of Rivorei. The fires, having consumed all they could, had all but burned out. The acrid stench of smoke, burned wood and charred flesh hung in the air like a wet blanket. The horses refused to get any closer, so we dismounted, tied their reins around some trees, and entered on foot. The city walls, once proud evidence of the town’s prosperity, were melted like wax candles. We walked through the sagging, gaping hole in the wall. I was amazed by the scale of the destruction and the absolute silence. I was cognizant of Keeper Dearbhaile sliding her hand into mine, but at the edge of my awareness. The cobblestones underfoot were still warm from the fires that just raged through the city . A charred wooden wall had the blackened remains of a person hanging from a spear through the gut.
We found ourselves walking through what had been an alleyway, the buildings on either side slumped from the fire. I stepped in something squishy and wet. Looking down, I realized I had my foot in a stream of a thick pinkish brown liquid with a greasy film. ‘What the hell?’ I went to one knee and dragged my finger through the slurry. I caught the stench of sewage and blood. I recoiled so hard I fell on my butt.
I noticed something odd sticking out a little from the mess. I fished the thing out and dried in on my pants. It was a flat, grey stone with some odd etchings on one side. Keeper Dearbhaile helped me to my feet, her eyes brilliant with unshed tears. She moved further into the ruined city and I stuck the stone in my pocket without thinking about why I did so. I turned to ask Angriz what he thought had happened here, but he was gone. I turned and headed out of the alley.
I found him in the center of what might have been the market square. The scattered piles of burned wood and bodies made identifying things difficult. Men, women and children lay about, hacked into pieces. Some had arrows, or spears, in their backs as if they had been killed as they tried to flee. He was looking at a huge emerald flag hanging above a pyramid of slain townspeople. In the center was an emblem of a colossal silver dragon clutching a dozen spears in one fist and the throat of a vampire in its other.
“Shit, Angriz. Isn’t that the flag of the Orwens?” I said.
Damyanti Biswas is an author, blogger, animal-lover, spiritualist. Her work is represented by Ed Wilson from the Johnson & Alcock agency. When not pottering about with her plants or her aquariums, you can find her nose deep in a book, or baking up a storm.