Coldfire's Reign

Captain Grulsh's Journal, Watchgap Fort

Werremonan, 2nd Healfdaeg

I do not sleep anymore.

I am unable to decide whether it’s supernatural influence, lack of food, expectation of the coming battle, or simply the vexation of being contained against my will inside these walls, but the events of yesterday evening perturbed my sleeping hours, leaving me restless and worried, though I know I have seen far worse things.

Is my judgment compromised? We are, after all, besieged, surrounded, and outnumbered. Perhaps I no longer see things clearly. How else to explain why my command to Ser Beren the Quartermaster led to the very conflict which I sought to avoid. Or perhaps men trapped behind walls defy prediction.

The men were grumbling about the stranger, Malik, but this wasn’t new. For days, they resented being treated like common innkeepers by a man who believed his silver entitled him to special consideration. So I didn’t take seriously the whispers that Malik had been seen atop the tower during the battle, safely away from the coming horde, and wearing the visage of a demon.

An annoyance, yes; perhaps a coward. But a demon? I was more concerned with with my men’s willingness to tell potentially tales on this stranger than with the possibility that they might be true.

Rather than speak to him myself and immediately make him defensive, I sent my Quartermaster—a veteran combatant and a trusted friend, well-liked by the men. He reports that it did not go well. I can only assume that the failed discussion was the catalyst for subsequent events.

The reports I have are that, after the discussion, Malik suddenly appeared outside the tower in a wooden mask carved into the shape of a demon head. When men swarmed to subdue him, the Malik Demon rose into the air, high enough that no hand-held weapon could harm him, then began to fly in over the Northern wall!

He had gotten halfway to the Goblin lines when my archers finally overcame their shock and let loose a volley of arrows. Many found their mark, piercing him multiple times. I’m told Malik hung in the air, dead, suspended by this flying mask, before the mask itself parted from him, flew a bit further, and fell into the ranks of the goblins.

None among us know where the mask came from, its purpose, or what danger it may pose, now that it’s in the hands of the enemy. Perhaps it will cause as much confusion, fear, and strife within their ranks as it has caused in ours.

But that’s a foolish hope. The Norns have never woven us luck such as that.



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