The Dawn Patrol

Iron, Part II

“Just so you know,” the man said, as he wiped his knuckles off on a rag. “I’m enjoying this. I’m not inclined to stop, even if you do say what we want. But I’m a good soldier, and I follow orders.” He tossed the rag aside, and walked back up to the chair, dripping with the swagger of a man who feels like he is completely in charge. “And I’m under orders to stand down—as are all of my men—as soon as you talk.”

He’d removed his jacket and cap, and both rested on a chair in the corner. His pants, boots, and shirt were all coal black, and he’d rolled up his sleeves. Despite the effort, however, his forearms, boots, and much of his shirt were stained with blood. Most of it was the dwarf’s, but some of it was his. His knuckles were raw and torn, and had opened up in a few, small spots, but he didn’t mind. He wasn’t lying when he said he enjoyed this.

He approached the prisoner, and, gripping the back of the chair, delivered a powerful gut punch. There was an instant crunching feeling between his fingers, and he figured he probably snapped a rib or two. The dwarf keeled over, and gasped for air for a few pained moments, before finally regaining his composure.

After a moment of steady breathing, the dwarf spat out blood, aiming for the floor nearby. Some of it stuck to his thick, heavy whiskers, but he didn’t seem to notice or care. “Alright,” he said in a rough voice, between troubled breaths. “You want me to talk, I’ll talk.”

The guardsman returned to his feet, and produced a clean kerchief from his pocket. His knuckles were bleeding worse than he’d like, this early in a session. This dwarf was made of tough stuff—literally. “Too bad. I was just starting to have fun. Where’s the stone?”

The dwarf raised his head, and met his interrogator’s gaze. “You can wail on iron all day long. Unless you know what you’re doing, you’re—”

A full-body uppercut to the dwarf’s chin interrupted him, and sent him flying across the room. When he landed, the chair shattered under him. All he could do was cough, and groan. “If I wanted your philosophy,” the Emberguard said, as he strode across the scattered pieces of wood. “I would have joined your stupid cult.” He hoisted the dwarf up by his blood-and-sweat-stained collar—an impressive feat—and raised him to eye-level. “But I didn’t. I joined the Emberguard instead.” With a massive burst, he hurled the dwarf into the room’s back wall, and the deep clang of bone striking iron rang out through the room, as a streak of blood followed the dwarf to the ground. “And I don’t fuck around any more. I’m sick of your games, Dunbir. Where’s the damn stone?”

With tremendous difficulty, the Iron Lord rolled onto his elbow and propped himself up enough to spit out more blood, and a few broken teeth. His head was swimming, and his vision was blurry from the knock he’d been given. He was lucky it didn’t kill him—or rather, the guardsman was. Breathing was very painful, and he could tell one of his lungs had been punctured. If he didn’t see a doctor soon, he’d be dead within the hour. He didn’t intend to last that long.

After what felt like an eternity, he managed to get a small amount of his strength back. He reached out and grabbed the pieces of the chair that had survived, now more a stool than anything else. “Go get your boss, son,” he said as he propped the stool back up, and slowly sat himself down in it. “I’m not talking to anyone but Redhammer.”

The guardsman hesitated for a moment, inspecting Dunbir. “I’m going to tie you back up before he comes in.”

Through his thick beard, the Iron Lord smiled. “No, son, you’re not. And I’ll kill you if you try it.”

The Emberguard laughed out loud. “Right! And I suppose you’ll use that giant splinter you’re sitting on?”

“I’ve killed better men than you, with less impressive weapons than this.”

“I don’t have time for this,” the guardsman said, producing a length of robe from the corner. “Redhammer’s not coming in here unless you’re tied up.”

TIEL

The word rang through the halls of the forge, and, later on, even people out in the city were found to be inquiring about the strange, booming voice that washed over them. When the guardsmen posted outside of Dunbir’s interrogation chamber opened the door, they couldn’t explain what they found. Every inch of the room was coated in a fine layer of blood, and the room itself was completely empty, save for one thing. In the center, sitting alone on a broken stool, was Iron Lord Dunbir Ironbeard, who calmly said, “I’m not talking to anyone but Redhammer.”

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