Ardur was left speechless by the witty remarks of Inquisitor Fontaine, with his mouth left slightly agape. "Aye, fair enough little Inquisitor," Ardur thought as a sour grin panned across his face. Though Ardur wasn't left in silence for long, as Lillianna passed by informing him that he was to receive further treatment for his wounds. "Yes boss," Ardur spoke as he smirked towards Lillianna as she moved towards the armored beast; a rare sight to be sure. Ardur listened as she further commanded the rest of the soldiers who were injured to seek help before entering the city; an order that Ardur gave a quick nod of approval towards. Ardur knew the city held back the secret of whom they encountered, beyond the ruined walls lay a key to unraveling the mystery of what befell the people of the City of Ash; he would need his troops at one-hundred percent fighting capacity to seek them out. His eyes drifted back to the Inquisitors themselves. As if in a direct response to his criticism, Gil began strolling across the group of Inquisitors, passing praise and encouragement for each and every one along his way. Encouraged on by the faithful Gil and the praise he sang their way, the Inquisitors seem to have been in good spirits all things considered. Ardur snarled his lips at the thought. He was about to drift away to the trivial matter of figuring out what they were dealing with when Halek walked up and asked a question.
“Any idea what that creature was? The Commander is going to be asking a lot of questions about this,” Halek asked.
"No," Ardur spoke quickly in response, "I have my assumptions but no certain answers," he paused as he shook his head as he pondered his next word. Before either had a chance to further the conversation Lilianna called them to her side as she revealed the deep, twisted secrets held beneath the metal flesh of the beast. Her revelations about the unholy marriage of flesh and metal took Ardur by surprise. The thought alone of something so frail being able to move a massive set of armor with such speed and grace meant there was more to this puzzle than what they were seeing. Magic obviously played a part in the creatures' abilities, but which magic would be to blame? While he pondered the question, he listened carefully as Inquisitor Fontaine added their observation. River began by recapping her observations about the spears themselves, and Ardur again listened carefully to the words spoken by the bright Inquisitor. As River further explained the strange magic, he turned his attention back to the soldiers whom he had ordered to remove the spears from the corpses earlier. As each spear was removed, the same red 'mist' like substance fell from the spear and back onto the corpses below.
As Ardur found himself deep in thought, Genthok began to offer his shaman insight on the origin of the mysterious voice. He talked about the corruption that fell over the area, and Ardur was only casually listening until he mentioned the chains and the sound of an army. Ardur turned his attention completely on Genthok, listening deeply to the words as he described the evil being as something of a sadist, one that was only toying with them with a 'challenge'. Ardur stepped aside, letting the Inquisitors further discuss what possibilities may yet explain what had befallen the city. Ardur knew Genthok was on the right train of thought, but he could not help but think that there was still something missing from the explanation.
Ardur crossed his arms as he eyed up the ruined sections of the wall crushed underneath the giant chains movements before. "Anchors," Ardur thought aloud but he quickly muttered a "no" as he shook his head.
"Sir," Cyterius spoke as he approached, "with your permission, I would like to scan around the city perimeter before we move in with our main force. I do not know what kind of magic they had used at the end there. I believe I heard Genthok use the term 'portal' and 'hellgate', and even if the voice said it was done with us for now, but I'd rather not rely on our enemy acting so predictably. With your blessing, I'd like to take one of our mages to come with me and my team as we scout the edge of the city and the approach to the gate area for any traps or magical energy that could be a danger to a large mob of infantry and clear it out if necessary. After our close battle earlier, it would be difficult to needlessly lose more men at this stage, and I have a sinking feeling we're going to need everyone we can get for what lies ahead."
"You have my blessing," Ardur responded, "this magic is unlike anything I have seen before," he paused again, "once you begin your search err on the side of caution and don't take any unessecary risks," he paused again, "return back to us in twenty minutes and report on what you find," he finished.
The mystery of the armored beast and what had befallen the city still danced across the mind of Ardur. While the Inquisitors had made progress, he felt there was much left to speculation. He did not like that. What purpose did the spears serve? What created that monster? And most importantly of all, who was speaking to them? Ardur shook his head as he pondered these questions before a shooting pain forced his hand to the area the rock had hit.
"Inquisitors, there is much left to learn," Ardur paused as he rubbed his chin, "if I was to make a guess I would say the spears may be an anchor point of sorts for whatever magic they used," he paused again as his eyes squinted, "but I am afraid my ability to answer these questions is spent after that, for now, rest while we can and take up the medics on their offer of aid; when we enter the city we will need to be ready," Ardur finished.
- - - - - -Thirty Minutes later - - - - - -
Thirty minutes had passed before the sounds of branches breaking and feet stepping in a near unison caused Ardur's head to suddenly jerk in the direction that the sound had begun to emanate from. From their rear, in the same tree line they had set up in earlier, the images of soldiers in polished armor wielding big spears began to come into focus. The Inquisition had arrived. Stepping out in near uniform rows, and with precise steps, soldiers clad in bright metal armor began to approach in a long, stretched out formation ready for battle. Ardur shifted his focus to the left and right, spotting various lightly armored troops moving quickly along the flank ready to assault whoever charged the formation. At their front, riding a dark black warhorse plated in armor, was Anora.
Ardur turned to the others, "stay here," he said as he began walking towards the commander. The others could only watch as Ardur strolled casually towards Anora. After a few minutes, Anora moved her horse from a slight trot to a full gallop; closing the distance with Ardur within a few moments. As the two began talking, the sight of Anora's head shot from the defeated giant to the ruined walls and back to the giant, before she turned the horse around and took off back towards the army proper. Ardur then turned around and made his way back towards the Inquisitors and made his way back to them.
"Cyterius, you and your men go ahead and scout our approach, take Kharne and Halek with you," he paused as he turned his focus to the Luna Falcon, "while this giant may lack in subtly he proved his strength and usefulness in his combat with the armored beast," he paused for a second, "and while I may not like his magic, Halek will prove usefull as well if you encounter another giant," Ardur paused as he turned his attention to the rest of the group, "the rest of us will wait for Anora and we will enter the city behind them in five minutes time," he paused as he turned himself to face the city, "Inquisitors, brace yourself for whatever carnage we may find inside," he finished.