Victor Moltke and Abigail HarlowLocation:
Harrow's Keep Townstead, The Spire Inn
"I'm sure you're down here on call, sir, in case lord Balaur needs an expert opinion on the policies…?"
Abigail offered up hopefully.
The Spire Inn was a large, luxurious manor house converted into an upscale tavern for wealthy merchants - or petty nobles ousted from world changing negotiations. Sir Victor Moltke had taken one of the larger suites to conduct his research and keep up with the ceaseless administration of maintaining a small portion of Lord Balaur's footsoldiers from afar, and Abigail got the much smaller room opposite. They were in the main suite, and the squire was watching the esteemed Black Knight pace up and down the room.”Your measly attempts to comfort me in this dismal situation are meaningless. I mean can you believe this?! Hrm?! -Me-! Stuck down here, doing what? Supposed to fondle myself here am I?!”
he continued pacing with creeping annoyance."I-..I mean, if you want, sir, but I'd quite like to be excused if you do,"
Victor shot her a glare before clasping his hands behind his back once more and returning to his pacing. ”Make yourself useful and at least go get me the day's news, will you?”
he wafted a hand at her dismissively. Abigail nodded, bowed, and left the room.
As she left, she cursed every little thing she could think of. Keeping up with Sir Moltke was in and of itself a challenge; she had heard rumours that people tended to act like their gates, and a fire gate most certainly suited him. Abigail didn't know why she had a fire gate then, much less a force gate. She could think of a good few things to say to her mentor but the thought of so much as giving a firm 'no' made Abigail quake in her boots. Making her way out of the lobby, she started the long trek up to the tower, hoping to receive word from any of the guards posted out front.
But first, Abigail made a quick detour to the stables. She was going to check on her pony, Munchkin. In true Balauran fashion, the rugged little beast had been gnawing on his lead again and stamping his hoof. "Munchie no! I told you not to do that, you'll split it again,"
she cried out, calming down her tiny yet ferocious steed. "I'll take you out on a ride once I'm back, okay?"
she promised him, petting his nose until only some of the whites of his eyes were still visible. It was as calm as she was going to get him. With reluctance, and a nervous pit in her stomach, she departed from the stables and made her way to the tower.
Abigail made it to the middle of the street before a bright light emanated from above. She looked up, tried to run, and was engulfed in whiteness. The world rumbled and was rent underneath her feet - everything crumpled in on itself and was gone in an instant. She didn't even have time to panic.
She awoke to a gentle stamping and nibbling.
Abigail rolled over and threw up first, then pushed Munchkin away from the pool of vomit that he was trying to slurp up. Then she took a good look and saw that the pony had pulled the rope clean from the stall and made it to her side. She dry heaved a little, shaking from head to foot, confused and disoriented. Munchkin headbutted her once or twice to help the girl to her feet, whereupon she hastily slung herself over her steed's back, and dug her heels into his ribcage.
The world was broken. That was the best way Abigail could describe it. There were people laying in the streets...and if Abigail hadn't steered away from them her frantic pony would have trampled the dead and unconscious alike. She made it to the inn again and found a bit of the wall sticking out in a perfect loop, decided not to question anything until she had her bearings (and her stomach settled), lashed the little horse to the impossible outcropping and made her way inside.
The inn was broken too. The kitchen had materialised halfway into the lobby. There were knives and shattered glass everywhere, the innkeeper was-...there was a lot of blood because he-...Abigail was sick again and tried not to sob. She climbed the steps on all fours since they had stretched out across the foyer. People were in the rooms. Some were dead, and a few stared at her without really seeing her. luckily, the corridors were so wide, and the rooms so big, that the destruction was minimal and she could somewhat navigate back to Victor's chamber."Oh thank the Goddess,"
Abigail exhaled, seeing that the damage only extended to one corner of the room, where another room cut into it at a diagonal angle. She stumbled over to the prone figure lying on the ground and shook his shoulder. "Victor, Victor please get up, everything's broken!"”Mhrm-... hyngrh. It’s -lord-.”
he murmured in his delirious and devastated state. His brain slowly and steadily rumbling back alive. ”What happened, are you well? Why has the room turned upside down?”
he continued stirring awake but couldn't get the thumping out of his head."That’s not our room you’re looking at, Sir,"
Abigail explained, but the absurdity of the situation was starting to get at her and she was starting to panic. Realising that Sir Moltke was in imminent danger of choking on his own vomit, she started to put him in the recovery position that she had been taught. "I-..I, I’m not well. Not well at all, Sir, "
she stammered, her heart started to hammer at her ribcage. ”The world just broke, and there’s things-...embedded in other things, and, and fuck, is it just me or is it getting hard to breathe?”
The second wave hit, and a blast of mana filled the air. Abigail didn’t know what it was but it dimmed the corners of her vision and made her head pound. She fell to his side, shutting her eyes and focusing on her breathing.
Victor spent another good minute reeling from the reality of the situation. He couldn’t get up, but grabbed Abigail by her collar and pulled her closer to grab her full attention. “Listen closely to me, girl. Hrm. Rally the men, set up a perimeter where the world hasn’t turned upside down and start aiding the civilians out. I simply need to… gather and sit.”
he rattled at her collar, trying to make sure she had received his orders.”D-don’t I get to gather and sit too, sir?”
Abigail asked, still pale and trembling.“What, you think I’ll grab a tavern wench to carry out my orders? Move!”
he had by now at least managed to clamber onto his hands and knees, heaving still.
Abigail took that to be both a command and a warning, and with the greatest reluctance she stumbled back up to her feet and left Sir Moltke to empty the contents of his stomach onto the floor on the spot where she once lay. She ducked and wove down the corridor, pointedly ignored the sparkling, bloodsoaked mess in the foyer and braved the incomprehensible world outdoors. Luckily, she didn’t have to do it alone; Munchkin was looming nearby and remaining stalwartly angry at everything that had the displeasure of getting somewhat near him.
Abigail took a good long look at what she had to deal with. There were bodies in the streets. Parts of the street weren’t even streets anymore. Houses were floating in the air. How many people were trapped under rubble? How many floating in the sky? And, worse still, how many locked underground, where nobody can hear them cry for help? She took another moment to breathe and focused on her appearance. Not only was she Sir Moltke’s spokesperson now, she was also dressed in House Balaur regalia. Until they knew what happened in the tower and the status of the heir, she may very well be the face of the entire country in a moment of crisis.
Abigail squeaked and tried not to be sick again. Munchkin gave her an affectionate snuffle to bolster her spirits.
She brushed off the dirt and fixed her hair to the best of her abilities and lead her pony to what fractured remains of the stable were left. It had spectacularly spasmed and deposited its rooftop some partial distance into the adjacent tavern. Several shingles lay broken on the cobbles around it. The horses were going mad, with half of them already missing. To prevent further catastrophe, Abigail did what she did best and went around subduing the frantic animals before they broke out and trampled men in the streets. Afterwards she hastily swapped Munchkin’s tattered lead for his Balaur blanket and decorative official riding tack. As the formidable Lady Shieldbreaker once put it, first impressions are everything
. In this case, the squire was quite intent on looking like she had her shit together.
Rally the men. Set up a perimeter. There was no place left untouched by this nonsensical destruction but Abigail could surmise the place of least damage. She grabbed Munchkin by the bridle and stared down those soulless eyes. ”Listen up Munch, you are to jump or avoid the bodies. You understand? Do as I say, or so help me I’ll-...I’ll turn you into a tasty meal for the wounded!”
It wasn’t exactly the content of her orders but the tone that managed to get some flicker of understanding from the tiny beast. He knew she meant business and that was all that mattered. She lifted herself effortlessly onto the back of her pony and, though she desperately wanted to rear and charge down the streets, she instead carefully trotted up the path towards the Artisan Market, making deliberate effort to avoid the people laying in the road whilst calling out ”Make way! Move everyone to the edges of the street!"
in what she hoped was a commanding voice.
Once the tangled swathes of buildings opened up into the clearer marketplace, Abigail wasted no time trying to find the largest group of guards she could and approach them. It was decidedly easier on horseback; people tended to move for you when you were riding an agitated beast capable of kicking ones ribcage in. ”I’m here on behalf of House Balaur to offer assistance,”
she explained solemnly. ”I believe we should clear as much space in the markets as possible to bring in the wounded. How many hands can you spare to help me?”
A straight back and a cool gaze was all she could offer up as signs of her authority. The decorative riding gear and elaborate armour no doubt helped as well but Abigail was banking on the disorientation of the guardsmen to take command, even if only to establish a safe place to bring in anyone else who narrowly avoided the innkeeper’s fate.