Sir Isaac of Mangrove swirls the yellow wine in his bone goblet, watching the smoky torchlight play in its depths. He broods quietly, in his big chair, in a crowded room, but unmolested, as if he is alone. They know not to provoke him when he grows quiet and thoughtful, it happens rarely enough these days as it is.
They sit in the hollows of a ruined keep, a place made by dwarf hands so long ago that it would not recognize the stout folk if they were to return this instant. It has lain in ruins since long, long before Isaac ever drew breath. Which seems as if it was a very long time ago now. He shifts his bulk slowly in his seat and ponders. He came here with a question burning through the murk that has become his mind. He came to this place to seek an answer, and the answer he has found provokes no joy, only more questions.
And more hunger.
His eyes sweep out over the rabble that is his, past the shattered walls and out onto the storm-wracked plain before him. Bodies litter the ground everywhere, but he is already certain that he has more men than he came here with. Funny how that always works out up here. In the North.
He who was once a son of Mangrove, who can only barely even recall the amber shores and quaint towns of that province, rises up from his stone and steel chair, his armor all a-clatter around him. His men snap their eyes to his frame, ready, mindlessly ready to heed him to the next goal, the next slaughter, the next whatever.
He turns his head west and steps towards the gateway of the keep. He now knows that the Dreamer’s Axe is not here. But his path lies west.
As the army leaves, a figure perched on a crumbling wall turns and watches the men march off to chase the setting sun. It seems to consider, a long-fingered hand reaching up to stroke a hairless chin.