Tuesday, July 7, 2020

RoH: The lake-town

"Did you find anything?"

Remant wiped the water from his hair, then reached for the towel that he'd left beside his things. "You could have come with me, you know."

Izra shook her head, looking past him over the surface of the cold mountain lake to the circular, tiered town that rose from its center. "Not into that. Not without a boat, at the very least. Anything could be in that water." She was dark of hair and skin, neatly trim in build and clothing and hairstyle alike, standing a little ways back from the lakeshore in a buff leather coat and trousers. He knew, because he'd looked over all his fellow guards, that the spear she stood with was ensorceled to be more precise in its use and more damaging when it connected, and that her longbow carried a stronger version of both those magics.

Remant toweled himself dry, then said: "Maybe." There were plenty of things that shouldn't be where they were, lost artifacts or unexpected dangers: traps and beasts left behind by the dark god, or his armies, or his worshippers. "I didn't see anything, but maybe."

"So why do you do it?" she asked. "Anywhere we stop, if there's anything unusual around, you immediately head off to explore it."

Remant picked up the waxed leather tube that he'd set aside when he walked out of the lake and opened the cap to remove his pants and the simple cotton shirt within. He put a leg into the pants, then said: "Why not?" Then he added: "Curiosity and caution. I'm curious about anything that's left after the war, and what is says about what was there before. And strange dangers come from strange places."

Izra studied him as he drew on his shirt, then picked up his own jacket and his gloves. She wasn't looking at his body; her expression was too distant for that. After a moment, she nodded. "So what did this floating city tell you?"

"Not much," he admitted. "I'd like to come back here sometime and look more closely. Mostly, it told me that some people thought they might be safe if they were floating in the middle of the lake — and that they were wrong."

"Were they attacked?"

"I don't think so. It looks abandoned, not destroyed, though I didn't have time to walk through all of it. There are fish in the lake, but I doubt they're enough to support a town of that size by themselves... and the soil up here won't grow much in the way of crops. If I had to guess, I'd say they probably couldn't feed everybody they tried to shelter, and by the time people started to leave they'd stripped most of what they could find." He shrugged as he tugged his gloves on. "I'd love to know how they built the thing, though."

"Sorcery, most like." Izra's voice was even; unlike some, she didn't disdain the art.

Remant smiled. "Yes. I was more wondering what kind of sorcery, and how it was done."

Izra looked out at the city again. "Not easily, I suspect." She turned to look at Remant. "Come on. It's well past dark, and you're on the deep night watch. You won't get much sleep before that even now."

Remant half-shrugged, but it was a fair point. He knew how to get by on less sleep than most, but there was no point in pushing it. "Thank you for coming out to look for me."

"It's nothing," said Izra. "I was curious; that's all."

He considered that. He didn't really want anything from Izra, but there was no point in not repaying a kindness offered. "If you're still curious tomorrow, I'll you what I found once we're on the road."

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