There was no sign of Garum as they left Death’r.
In fact, there was nothing along the next stretch of road- no life of any kind, except them and the hell that was the Skelari Flats constantly to their left.
The road split after a while- Deadrick told them that the path that they weren’t taking led to the out post called Melck. When the road climbed slightly, they caught sight of it in the distance- the m’esever was alight, and it was slowly burning itself to the ground.
As they went on, Deadrick said he could feel the presence of something huge, and evil growing stronger. They were getting closer.
They pushed on for another half a day, not stopping until they reached another junction. A gnarled signpost told them where both roads would lead them.
Barely readable, pointing to the right, it said ‘Mubud’r’.
But the sign pointing straight ahead stood out more. In big, clear words it said ‘Citadel’.
With an exchanging of looks between them, they followed the road, until they came across a verge. When they reached the other side, the Citadel itself became visible.
It was almost triple the height of the m’esevers, and looked almost natural in the setting of Nefern Dale. Like some disgusting, hideous tree, it grew out from the ground, surrounded by huge black iron ramparts.
At the top, a massive pylon was actively collecting Ecrid, and sending it down thick, black ropes that ran down the outside of the tower.
But the most activity was at the foot of the tower- a huge crowd of Unholy and Demons scattered around and on the ramparts.
“Say Deadrick, while you were planning how to get to this god-forsaken tower, did you plan how we would get in?” Danyel asked, sarcasm rife in his voice.
Deadrick refrained from punching him.
But the truth was, he hadn’t. The ramparts were swarming with werewolves and witches and vampires and…
Suddenly Deadrick’s spine began to tingle, he gasped and clenched his fist. In his minds eye, he saw a hooded figure that he recognized. A glowing light deep within the darkness of where its face was concealed.
Garum was in his head, Deadrick wasn’t happy about that.
The rasping voice echoed around his head.
“At the top of the tower,” He whispered, “That is where the monster lies,”
He gasped again, his fists releasing and his eyes refocusing.
“Deadrick?” Nerui asked, “Are you okay?”
Deadrick nodded, but he didn’t feel it. His eyes felt like they were burning, there was a throbbing in the back of his head.
“Juhra’s at the very top of the tower,” He said slowly.
“Oh, it just gets better,” Danyel groaned.
Once again, that niggling urge to uppercut him rushed through Deadrick, but again- if not reluctantly- he ignored it.
“Wait…” Bruad said quietly, “Do you see those cannons… set around the ramparts?”
Deadrick looked to where Bruad was pointing. Set up, every thirty or so metres apart from each other, running all the way around the ramparts themselves, were large, black, narrow-ended cannons.
“Ecrid Cannons,” Deadrick told him, “What about them?”
“We need the element of surprise to get any sort of jump on the rabble, right? They wouldn’t notice me, would they?” Bruad explained.
“What are you saying?”
Bruad stepped forward slightly.
“If I… change, I could get through the crowd, and get to one of the cannons. I could take out as many as I could, and while they’re distracted by me, you move in and infiltrate the tower,”
Deadrick’s eyes lit up. Bruad had actually come up with something useful.
“But that’s suicide!” Danyel exclaimed.
Bruad turned to him.
“This whole journey was suicide,” Bruad said calmly.
“Its our best shot, Danyel,” Deadrick said.
Danyel turned the corners of his mouth in disgust.
“You just want him dead,” Danyel said sharply.
Everything went quiet- Deadrick didn’t deny what he had said though. He did, however, step forwards and swing a powerful fist into Danyel’s jaw.
Danyel stumbled back, a look of shock plastered across his face. He gripped his chin as Nerui gasped and ran to him.
“Deadrick!” She cried.
But Deadrick ignored her, he instead was mapping the best route to the Citadel. Surrounding it, there was a wood of gnarled and bald trees.
“If we go through the trees, we can get right to the border of the crowd without being seen,” Deadrick told Bruad.
There came a yell from behind him, Danyel ran forward and went to swing for Deadrick. But Deadrick was fast- incredibly fast- he grabbed Danyel’s hand with his left, pushing it out of the way, he swung with his right again. The blow caught Danyel on the nose this time.
He fell back, but Deadrick lurched forward, gripping his neck and lifting him into the air.
Danyel struggled and gasped, and Nerui grabbed for Deadrick’s arm.
“Deadrick, stop!” She told him, “Deadrick! If we fight amongst ourselves then there's no chance we’ll be able to fight Juhra!”
Deadrick snarled as Danyel went blue. He growled and opened his fingers. Danyel dropped to the floor like a stone.
Bruad watched the situation quietly, as Nerui helped Danyel up.
“Deadrick?” Nerui said again quietly.
But Deadrick wasn’t listening- he’d gotten this far; he couldn’t afford to wait any longer. Whether he did it alone, he would stop Juhra, no matter how many people had to die- him included.