“There do be folk living inside that?” Durrak said, disbelief clear in his voice. His hand reached into his belt pouch and he withdrew a cigar despite how ill advised it might be. As always, it came out lit and he took a deep drag. The smoke was vibrant purple in color and seemed to disperse rather more quickly than normal.
“A great many of us live there still, and there are also those who are trapped in the protective barriers. We haven’t figured out how to get inside them yet and have no idea what kind of conditions they must be enduring. The smaller ones especially, unless they have magical means they’re like as not all dead.”
“To be finding any survivors at all do be more than I was thinking to find after seeing the standing ranks and the destruction of the battlefield.” Durrak mused, “There did be twenty million or more living within Starvale’s walls. How many do be living still?”
“No way of knowing.” Lorin said shortly, “There are perhaps two hundred of us living in a collection of fortified manor houses. I believe there are more beneath the city, but none of the emissaries we sent below have returned. I know of at least three other such defended locations with similar numbers. Most of the city has fallen as you can plainly see, I expect less than one in a thousand survived.”
“Gods and demons.” Durrak swore, “I did be expecting it to be bad, but that do be a slaughter.”
“Yes.” Lorin agreed, running his hands through his long straight hair. “It was terrible. The only upside is that with so many dead there hasn’t been much of a shortage of food and supplies. We can’t last for long though. Without being able to replenish our supplies we can’t survive for more than another month or two. That, of course, also begs the question of why the Spawn haven’t just wiped us out.”
“I do be thinking it do involve those.” Durrak gestured with the stub of his cigar at the top of one of the largest floating spheres that could be seen over the hill. “Until they do find a way to enter the spheres they do be conserving their resources. It only do be good tactics.”
Lorin grunted, “That makes a certain amount of sense. I didn’t consider the fact that they might be smart enough to use tactics. They’ve never shown any inclination of the sort before.”
“The do be led by Cerioth The Black. She do have a mind devious and strong will.” He thrust the still burning end of the cigar back into his belt pouch an added a handful of dead leaves from a nearby tree.
Lorin raised an eyebrow, looking at the belt pouch with interest. “You know of the dragon?”
“Aye. My father did be slaying her mate. Her vengeance did be destroying the halls of my ancestors.” Durrak took a deep breath, “I do be intending to be returning the favor.”
“Forgive my impertinence sir Dwarf, as we have only recently met, but are you certain you are entirely sane?” Lorin’s voice was carefully neutral.
“After what I do be seeing in the last year. No.”
Lorin barked a short laugh. “Good. At least you’re realistic and honest.