I am only a few blocks from the smelter when there is a loud explosion to my right, toward the harbor, making the buildings shudder with a boom like ten score thunders, and lighting up the harbor front with fire. What the hell is that? I run to the end of the alley and look down the cross street toward Dockside. The building at the end of the street is ablaze in a bright and crackling inferno. I realize with a shock of recognition that it is Jeamo's studio. I am impressed. Jet doesn't mess around.
On an impulse, I run toward the burning building, shifting Alvar's body beneath my arm to cover him as much as I can with my cloak. I need a fire and now, thanks to Jet, there is one. This will be a lot less risky than the smelter, I hope.
As I sprint out onto Dockside, I see that I am the first person to arrive at the fire. To my right, toward the port center, I see others approaching at a run. To the left, the way is empty. Behind me, I hear the sounds of shutters being thrown open and voices calling out.
I run to the door that we left partially open earlier and peer inside. The remains of the burning wagon are scattered around the room. The incendiary device must have been placed on the wagon. I don't see Jeamo's head. The heat is incredible, but I have to do this. Taking a breath, I rush into the burning building.
I set Alvar down against a burning wall. His wet clothes begin to smolder immediately. I turn and run back toward the door, the hot air searing my skin. I hear a creaking, snapping noise and dive out the door, rolling away from the building. As I come up to my knees coughing, there is a loud crash behind me. I turn to see that the ceiling above the wagon room has collapsed. The body of the ogre half-breed falls with it, rolling sideways so that the ogre's massive, bloody head ends up in the doorway, staring out at the assembling elves. The attention of the arriving onlookers is diverted to the dead monster in the doorway and I begin to rise, checking to make sure my clothes aren't burning.
I feel a hand under my arm, helping me up. I turn to see an elf dressed in the rough attire of a dockworker, eyes full of concern.
"Why did you go in there? Are you crazy? You almost got killed!"
"I saw a boy in there," I lie. "I wanted to save him. But it was too late."
The dockworker shakes his head sadly. "That was a hero move. I'm sorry you didn't get to him in time. Yours?"
"No," I reply. "No. Not mine."
I turn away from the elf, away from the fire, and start walking through the growing crowd. No one else even looks at me. When I get to the alley from which I emerged, I hear another explosive boom and turn briefly to look at the conflagration. More of the building has collapsed. Human watchmen are shouting orders, directing the gawking elves to get buckets and prevent the fire's spread to other buildings. They recognize that there is no saving the warehouse.
Good. That means Alvar will receive a proper elven pyre. And what remains of Jeamo's studio of horrors and incantations will be fully and finally destroyed. No more elven women or children will face the terror of the twilight sleep or the thousand cuts of his blood-painting knives. But given what happened at Calmorien's place, I am sure there are more sorcerers running amok in Elftown. I will find them. And if they are responsible for Alvar's death, I will kill them, human or not. Patrician or not.
I lower my head like a supplicant before his god's altar. "May you find the forest, Alvar," I whisper. Then I slip back into the alley. It is time to disappear for a few days.
That was the best ending of this arc. You did this so beautifully that in its tragedy a new day is made without Jeamo, without Twilight Sleep and unnecessary death. Arq here was just so perfectly done with everything. Great work!!! :)
As an enforcer for Jet, a petty elven crime boss, Arq has it better than most in Elftown, the prisoner of war slum of a human city. It's violent work, but it provides him with a little more money than he needs to survive, a little status, and a little free time.
When a prostitute under Jet's protection is brutally murdered, Jet sends Arq and a team of enforcers - including his creepy, ambitious rival; Jet's dangerously alluring girlfriend; and a chatty dwarf-of-all-trades - to find the killer and make an example of him. But when they uncover the dark reason for the murder, the delicate balance of power in Elftown begins to crumble.
To avenge a friend's murder, Arq must contend with betrayal, warring crime bosses, deadly monsters, underworld plots, and forbidden magic that, if discovered by the humans, will send a red tide of death through Elftown. His greatest challenges, though, will be grappling with his own bitter, violent nature, and trying to figure out what it means to be an elf in a place where the humans have taken away everything that makes life worth living for elvenkind.
Author: A. Harris Lanning
Cover Art: Xavier Ward