When not getting reports from the rogue he hired, Kraex called Queen's Lace, a Cadomyrian merchant ship, home. Over the years he'd traveled, he'd grown accustomed to the ebb and flow of the sea beneath his feet. Now, though, the coming of Mas left Queen's Lace hard docked for repairs, and Kraex ashore at the Harbor of Cadomyr. He'd been tempted to return to the town but sought the Temple of Sinari for guidance. He'd never prayed to the goddess of love before but after bringing her a tithing, he felt at peace for the first time since his private return to Illarion.
He prayed for Katharina and her safety, and that she would need him once more. Kraex was no stranger to the power and presence of the gods, but little did he know how quickly his prayer would come to pass.
Fire streaked the sky, when it struck near Cadomyr, Kraex was within earshot of the ripple it sent across the sands and dunes. Equipped with only a drum over shoulder, a lute in hand, noble worthy doublet and tights, and of course the wide brimmed flopped mage's hat Katharina hand tailored for him, Kraex sauntered toward Cadomyr. He intended to give the town moral support, perhaps write a song about the new heroes of Cadomyr.
Beneath the cover of his periwinkle blue hat and ablaze in red cloak and doublet the orc navigated his way to the gates of Cadomyr, strumming his lute and banging his drum. He needed more practice, but the orc never lacked confidence. He imagined the ballads he would write, songs he’d sing, and the look on Katharina’s face when she witnessed how educated he’d become.
No undead, no wailing and screaming, only a dense red mist blocking the gate to Cadomyr and an armored orc he didn’t recognize. He greeted Kraex standing in the red fog, reminding Kraex of himself long ago— maybe one of Cadomyr’s new heroes.
Kraex was about to yell out to the city when the red vapors caught in the wind just right to reveal Katharina. When he saw her nothing else mattered, she became his single focus. She didn’t smile or nod, no gesture of friendliness at all. Kraex felt deeply hurt, until his sharp eyes saw both her hands grasped around her throat.
Things were happening all around him, he could sense danger, but old instincts, the kind that never fully leave a warrior, drove him forward casting his lute aside. Into the misty unbound he leaped to close the distance between Kat and him. The foggy mist was thicker than anticipated and his landing was off the mark.
Coughing and unable to see, he lost his balance. He felt his right shoulder plow into the edge of the portcullis, the momentum sent him flailing forward and into a heap at the feet of the gathered troop defending Cadomyr. Dazed, but too resilient to remain embarrassed or idle he crawled up to Kat, who’d fallen over clutching her neck.
He assessed, she wasn’t choking herself, looked more like she was trying to stop some invisible force from choking her. He called for a mage, they did little, decades of war and he’d never felt so panicked and helpless. No one was tending to her, so he did what he thought best. He pulled at her hands to have a better look.
She had blue finger marks on her neck. Panic grew, he called for the mage again. Nothing. The town was in an uproar, danger afoot, bones rattled, screaming, the idle shuffle of armed combatants, all things his keen ears could not block out.
Finally, someone said take her to safety. That’s all it took, a command and he was scooping Kat up and carrying her to the closet table, The Unicorn Lion. He was swift, they were there in no time, but Kat managed to say “hospital” and pointed. Kraex scooped her again, carefully, deposited her fully armored self into a bed at the hospital.
He intended to stay right beside her but Oxiana came in. He checked on Kat, but looked expectantly at the orc.
“The best thing you can do for her is to not let Cadomyr fall.”
The words were true, Kraex knew Kat well. Long ago he wouldn’t have hesitated, but he’d laid down his arms long ago and gave his entire armory to the woman unconscious before him. Oxiana assured him, they’d arm him. Kraex warred with himself, Kat was asleep and looked at peace for the moment. If the undead broke the town defense she would be in grave danger.
Again, no thought required he was out the hospital door in stride. Merchants, peddlers, guards, and the whole of the city saw their oddly dressed hero of old returned, back into the fray, once more, once again on their behalf.
To the depot he went, out came auxiliary armor and on it went, someone handed him quivers of arrows (once his chest plate was on he shouldered three), the same person handed him a bow. He sat the weapon down, latched the remainder of his armor, put on his gloves, and the re-killing of things that ought to be dead commenced.
He’d arrived late, others were giving orders, two soldiers were guarding the gate. He flanked them and unfurled arrows in rhythm to help down his comrades’ foes. They broke apart with ease under the joint effort, but the town’s guard wasn’t formed properly. Everyone amassed in the center, fortifying the gate, but they couldn’t see the unholy mages of the damned bolstering the undead warriors.
Too late, magic cast, the center of Cadomyr’s defense caved in. Kraex watched in horror as a sea of red undead bones washed over the two defenders at the portcullis, converged on Oxiana and began to maim him. Ruthless ire hit steel on steel and blood spoiled the market. Kraex as an archer remained at a safe distance from the onslaught. He sent as many arrows as he could before the undead marauders flooded into the city.
Only the two orcs survived the breach well enough to fight. Cadomyr screamed for mercy, the Queen’s guard only able to protect critical areas. That left Kraex to save the rest and the other orc unable to stand toe to toe with the Blood God’s servants. Once he corralled citizens into barred buildings, the stalking began.
Systematically and with ruthless intent the knight of Cadomyr cleansed his Queen’s city. He roared, he cursed, and savagely he reminded the foes of Cadomyr what a knight really meant. When the last bone ceased to move any longer, the city cheered and echoed a victor’s delight. Onward he pressed the undead army with the help of reinforcements until the joint effort allowed Horatio to reestablish order.
Covered in blood and fragments of red bone, Kraex claimed a battle’s victory and washed himself at the tavern before going to Katharina.
Upon reentering the hospital he stops short of where he left her. There were more dividers than before, closing off the space and he could hear Kat was not alone.
“Kat, joo alrights in thur?”