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CK and Valmeer returned from their daily patrols through the city of Dragons Watch, Keira gave them both a cruel look as she flung objects from one box to the next looking for something she needed.

 

“ You always seem to bring out the best in people old friend” CK glanced at Val as he sent his ethereal mount away.

 

“I think it’s just you, your ugly compared to someone as pretty as me” Val flashed him a smirk as he did the same with his mount.

 

As they came up the steps and into the manners small yard a white flake fell in front of Val’s eyes and he mumbled something about snow, Keira on the other hand gave the flakes a queer look and held out her arms and watched the white flakes land on them.

 

“ Tis not snow…its ashes,” she said as she rubbed a falling flake between her fingers.

 

 

Val shot CK a look and they both bolted over the fence and began scanning the town for fire, a small explosion caught their attention out at sea. A small merchant ship came crashing into the shoreline and another explosion racked the ship as well as shook the ground. Crypt recognized the vessel, a small merchant ship from Yew used to sail ale and other beverages to the Tavern in Dragons Watch. Ethney came running from inside the house as another small explosion again went off on the ship, the liquor and ale fueling the fire.

 

“Go, find anyone who can carry a water bucket” Crypt yelled at Val and without hesitation Val was mounted once more and screaming as he rode away. CK ran toward the burning vessel with Ethney on his heels but she froze in her tracks as the man in front of her transformed into large black cat and bound from the shoreline and onto the burning ship. She looked around franticly as she tried to find a way to board the ship but no sooner then he had gone CK returned, he wrapped her in his arms and fell on top of her as a fourth explosion blasted the small ship, sending wood and debris everywhere. The final explosion destroyed what was left of the vessel and the carnage that lay before them as Crypt helped Ethney back to her feet stunned the woman. Bodies and cargo crashed into the shore as waves came in from sea. Crypt had seen such things before in war but the woman buried her face into his chest to shield her eyes.

 

Val came charging up to them with a small group of town’s people, he jumped from his ethereal mount as he sent it away and rushed toward his friends. Once he saw that they both were all right he set his group to work, a few went to gather small boats to look for survivors while others prepared gather debris from the wreckage. Val stood looking out at the carnage and shook his head.

“ I have never known ale to burn like that, something isn’t right with this,” he said rubbing the stubbles on his unshaved chin

 

“ Your exactly right and besides that there was no ale or liquor on that ship, it was empty save for what wasn’t worth taking” Crypt told him as he let loose of Ethney and joined him to take in the scene.

 

“ Pirates then?” Val asked himself more then anyone else

 

“Who would kill a simple merchant for just taking ale?” Ethney asked trying not to look at the bloody and ash filled water.

 

“ Dead men tell no tales and that was a large shipment. Enough to provide a small fighting force” Val answered

 

“Or begin a bootleg tavern like they used to do back in the days of the war. A fighting force would have took the food as well.” Crypt spoke up as he watched a crate splash into the rocks, the name of the Dragon Watch Tavern stamped in black ink upon its lid.

 

“ Dead men tell no tales but shipping crates do” Val had been around his friend long enough to know what was churning in his mind.

 

Crypt called forth his ethereal mount “ Put the guards on alert and have extra patrols start, send as many as you can along the shoreline and see if they can pick up any clues. Send word to Nanoc and tell him what has happened, murder has been done in our city on this day”

 

Valmeer nodded and again called forth his ethereal mount “ What if we find someone who might be a suspect?”

 

“Lodge them at city hall until we can speak to them” CK told him “And Captain, once you are done meet me in Minoc”

 

“Minoc?” Val frowned

 

“Aye, we will star there and hit every tavern we know of, someone is bootlegging stolen ale and these sailors paid for it with their lives.” CK told him

 

Val only nodded and rushed away, rarely did Crypt call him by rank and when he did so he knew that it wasn’t the time for jokes and fun. Though he enjoyed the thought of traveling to all the taverns in the realm he knew it wouldn’t be a joy ride…

 

 

Ethney remembering what she had just saw him do called out to CK “ How did you do that? Turn into that large black cat?

 

He stopped his horse but refused to turn around and look at her. “I don’t have time to talk of Black cats, I have work to do.” And without waiting for a reply he rode away leaving her standing amiss a sea of blood and ash.

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