When the flame died away, there was only a mass of charred bones where nearly a score of living beings once stood. The sickly scent of burning flesh filled the air.
on here?” the Scarlet Woman shouted, the power of her voice cutting through the
noise of the melee in front of the Regency Council’s manor. She was coming back
to the manor with several choice pieces from Flinthold’s jewelers’ guild, eager
to add to her personal hoard, when she’d heard the sounds of fighting. When she
arrived in front of the manor, she found a large group of orcs, verbeeg and
other races in a pitched brawl. She recognized some of the monsters fighting in
the melee as some of her private hoard’s guards, and she immediately knew
something was wrong.
Woman’s minions all stopped fighting and turned to her at once, looks of utter
terror on many of their faces. The hoard guards were especially pale, realizing
they’d abandoned their posts.
“I…we…” one of
the guards finally said.
Woman ignored him and walked past the monsters into the manor. Her minions
exchanged fearful glances, terrified at what she might be thinking.
Woman’s rage built as she walked up the manor’s stairs. No one came to confront
her, and indeed the place seemed deserted. When she reached the vault to her
private hoard, she was shocked to find the dead bodies of her hoard’s other
guards and the vault door wide open.
She felt ready
to explode when she walked into the vault and found that the gnomes’ magical
crown, the one that fool regent had been wearing when she’d killed him, was
Everyone in the
street outside the manor heard the Scarlet Woman’s roaring scream, and they
shivered as one.
Scarlet Woman emerged from the manor, her eyes seemed to blaze red with fury. She
stared from one to the other of her minions, all of whom were too terrified to
yourselves,” she said, shifting her gaze to each of her hoard’s guards in turn.
the fighting happening out here, and…” one of the guards said, beads of sweat
pouring down his forehead. “We were afraid they’d try to steal…”
“Then you would
have done well to remain at your posts like your brethren did, and trust in the
strength of the vault door,” the Scarlet Woman said, her expression eerily
calm. “And for the rest of you...what was the cause of this melee?” she asked,
her gaze shifting to the verbeeg and the orcs.
humans…” one of the verbeeg said, too terrified to speak clearly.
that the Bloody Claws were plannin’ to steal your treasures…” the orc
chieftain, the one Seline had charmed, said after swallowing hard. “We came to stop
Woman stood silently for a few moments, letting her minions’ fear build.
A couple of
them began to shake uncontrollably.
Scarlet Woman raised her hand.
A massive gout
of flame seemed to erupt from her hand, consuming the guards, orcs and verbeeg
who’d displeased her.
When the flame
died away, there was only a mass of charred bones where nearly a score of
living beings once stood. The sickly scent of burning flesh filled the air.
The rest of the
Scarlet Woman’s minions stared at her in reverence and fear as she gazed at
each of them in turn.
“I am very
disappointed in all of you,” she said, her expression remaining as calm as
ever. “I grant you free reign of this place, and you let the agents of the
gnomes play you for fools. They were no doubt the ones who stole my crown to
restore the gnomes’ will to fight. They will try to retake my city, and I will
not allow that.”
all your lives are mine to do with as I see fit,” the Scarlet Woman continued,
her eyes still smoldering with anger. “My kingdom is at war, and you will shed
your blood until I have taken all of it from the gnomes. I am going to meet
with my generals to plan my defense, and when I do you will show the diligence
and brutality I expect in my minions. Serve me well, and you will be rewarded
with the riches and glory I grant you.”
remained silent for several long minutes, until one human got the courage to
“You can count
on me, my lady,” the human said, his voice breaking the silence.
Woman turned her gaze on him, locking eyes intently.
“I am become
Lady Babylon, and so long as my kingdom is contested I will be addressed as
such,” she said. “Do I make myself clear?”
None of her
minions dared to question their queen.