City of a Thousand Deaths

Epilogue 1: Farthik

Fall of Kaen: the Aftermath

Epilogue, Part 1: Farthik

Investigator Farthik nudged the body with the ball of his foot, careful to avoid the blood still coagulating around it. As Kaen’s head began to roll over, more blood flowed from the neck wound, and Farthik quickly jumped back. It was one thing for the patrolmen securing the scene to get blood on their boots, but he chose his footwear in the traditional Proudfoot way: he went without. And anyway, it would be unbecoming of an investigator of the Watch to be covered in blood.

Farthik took a step back from the sorcerer’s corpse and looked at the devastation around the room. It was a battle zone. An eladrin woman lay dead by the balcony, but that was the least unusual part of the crime scene. The bodies of small dragon-like creatures were everywhere – more than a dozen of them. There were five, egg-like glass and porcelain sculptures arrayed about the room, in various states of damage. He had an inkling that when the on-duty arcanist arrived on the scene (if he ever arrived on the scene, the worthless layabouts) he’d tell him that the sculptures weren’t just sculptures, and the dragon-things weren’t just dragon-things, and that the shimmering, blue and silver circle inscribed on the ground next to the eladrin’s body had something to do with all of it, but what did he know? He was just an investigator.

Which led him to the problem of his “deputies.” That lot could shed a lot of light on this mystery, he wagered. The black elf saw much, but revealed little, and that giddy wizard with the silly smile understood more than he let on -at least where magic was concerned. The woman, too, as beautiful a human as he’d ever seen (all too tall and too skinny for his tastes), she looked like she knew her way around a spell, and could be discrete to boot. That’s why he’d sent them down this path. Fight fire with fire, right? Farthik sighed. They’d fought fire with a bloody massacre. Starting at the Battling Babe. He knew they’d have to strong arm their way into the tunnel, but he was shocked to find the owner dead. Plus, Patrolmen Kip said they’d had to clear a path through a pile of bodies just to make it to the top floor – and found two more piles in the basement. Bloody bloodbath. At least the fire hadn’t spread to the surrounding buildings.

Farthik took out his pipe and struck a spark. Maybe it was the dwarves. The one was a brawler, but the other looked like some sort of holy man. Then again, he imagined the dwarven version of holy had as much in common with Yondalla’s feast days and the pile of corpses downstairs did spring cakes. He let the smoke fill his lungs and held it. He closed his eyes and let his mind drift a moment, then exhaled, feeling some of his tension drift off with the smoke. He laughed. It was that elf, he thought. He’d pegged the elf as the safest of the lot, but he was wrong. That goliath Sek-thon, Kaen, half a dozen others downstairs – they were killed by arrows. That Correndell was the one he’d underestimated.

Still, he couldn’t argue with results. He had planned to play this off as a hit by a rival gang, and, honestly, the piles of dead only made the story an easier sell. It didn’t hurt that they’d looted everything of value on their way out. Moral queasiness aside, this was all probably for the best. Kaen had shown himself to be ruthless, and the thugs who’d flocked to him were no better. Sek-thon….well, he’d have to hear their explanation for Sek-thon. But overall, probably for the best.

“Sir?”

Farthik turned. Patrolman Wallak stood beside a pale kid clutching a carrying case to his chest, barely checking his nausea, from the look of him.

“The arcanist?”

“What? Oh, no.” The kid shook his head, and held out the case. “Sketch artist. Devlin Thom.”

“Don’t give it to me, boy. I can’t draw a stick.” Farthik looked at Wallak and jerked his head at the sorcerer’s body. “Let’s have a look at him, then.”

Wallak and another patrolman started straightening the corpse so they could roll them over. Thom stood there. Farthik jabbed him with his pipe.

“You new?”

“Oh! No. Right. I’ll get set up.”

“First dead body, son?”

“No, of course not. I’m from the city.”

Farthik raised an eyebrow.

“There’s crime in the North Ward. Just…not so much all at once.”

“Stick around the docks. You’ll get used to it. Anywise…” Farthik gestured at Kaen, as Wallak finally succeeded in rolling the rigid body over. “It’s this one we’re worried about.”

Farthik stopped as the man’s face rolled into view, his heart racing. Thom’s case clattered to the floor. Wallak jumped to his feet.

“Careful, you!” he shouted. “This is a crime scene!”

“Llira’s song! That’s…” Thom pointed his finger at Kaen’s now upturned face, and Farthik slapped it down.

“Get him out of here!”

“But that’s…”

“That’s no-one, damn you! Now, Wallak!”

The patrolman jerked Thom down the hall. He looked ready to protest, but Farthik threw the sketch kit into his chest, and Wallak had him down the hall before he knew it.

“There’s a whole pile of bodies downstairs to draw. Spill ink over THAT crime scene.” Farthik stared hard after the kid, who got the message. He trotted down the stairs ahead of Wallak.

“Gods.” He rubbed the palm of his hand against his forehead to stop the throbbing, then took a long drag off his pipe. Only then, did he turn back to the corpse.

Yondalla preserve us, he thought.

What have we done?

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