A lot of things happened in a short period of time.
Calling together what remained of the rebels, Pagan ordered his men and woman to disperse into key, targeted positions around Pubton. His speech was short and efficient, but just inspirational enough to light their grimy faces. Logan liked the man a little more… though the thought of Pagan judging his father weighed heavily on Logan’s mind.
Working together, Libby, Jeffrey, Antonio, Fynn, and the crew of the Dauphine managed to cut off communication between Pubton and the remote mining colony of Pubtwon. Staffed by a dozen goblins, two trolls, and a hundred angry human labourers, Pubtwon fell easily. Libby began work on a secret project, one that had been percolating in her brain for over a year, and with plenty of raw materials and experienced hands at work, they had it up and running in short order.
Evangelina massaged Gok’s feet while he signed reports and gave orders to his men. Every goblin to see the woman hunched in front of Gok secretly loathed their king’s perverse attraction to ugliness, but they said nothing. Gok’s wrath aside, they feared Evangelina’s power as a witch, and her orange eyes warned of terrible retribution.
Far away, Kierkegaard also gave orders. He was playing with a half-dead orc as he did so, forcing the man through glowing green portals that dropped him onto a hard stone floor, over and over. Orc blood speckled Kierkegaard’s clawed toes, and he commanded his aide to lick them clean.
Even further away, The Baron helped one of his people plant winterweed. He prayed quietly to his god for the weed’s survival, as the coming snows promised to be harsh.
At the other end of the world, Plato suffered. His rat was no better off.
Somewhere in the middle, Daena ran, and ran, and ran. She felt good about her life, all things considered. Not far away, Nagi entered a city that would, eventually, be populated by werewolves.
Back in Pubton, Logan sneaked away from the great city, moving under cover of rain. The goblins seemed too happy to finally get rain to notice his escape. When Logan returned to Dragomir, in the swamp, he found an army waiting - and one far more frightening than Logan might have admitted a year prior.
Dragomir was surrounded by a veritable sea of rats, at least five hundred strong. Perched on logs, laying on tree limbs and resting on Dragomir’s legs, they watched Logan unflinchingly as he approached, their tiny white eyes moving as one. Dragomir’s diary was the only creature to greet Logan with any sort of enthusiasm, as Dragomir himself seemed utterly drained. The diary pushed through the rats without reservation and danced around Logan’s legs, forcing a laugh out of the young man.
“Little bugger.” Logan patted the diary on the spine and scooped it up. “Hey, Dragomir. I’m back.”
Dragomir nodded passively. “Got something for me?”
“A ‘hello’ would be nice,” Logan grunted. He carefully picked his way through the rats, ill at ease as they parted to create a path for him. They did it grudgingly, and swarmed up onto his legs when he sat down. “Yeah. Uh. Report. Let’s… let’s do this.”
Logan told Dragomir everything he knew. He spoke of early Pubton; of the Non attacks; of Gok’s arrival, and betrayal; of Evangelina’s even greater betrayal; of the enslavement of the populace; of Pagan’s rebellion; of Robert’s persisting habits. Dragomir nodded at everything, his expression blandly grim, though his frown deepened substantially when Logan mentioned Oswald’s lost legs. Logan wondered if Dragomir’s bond with his father was deeper than expected.
Dragomir didn’t say much until Logan made it clear he was done talking. “So Pagan’s people are in place?”
Logan cocked an eyebrow. “More like your people, dood. You were mayor. But, yeah, I guess they are.”
“Co-mayor,” Dragomir murmured. He tried to brush a rat off of his shoulder, but it refused to move. “Just co-mayor. Where are they set up?”
Logan thought back to the meeting of Pagan’s rebels. “Uhh… there are at least ten hiding on - and in - the walls. A couple are in the western fields. One in a mill… two in the smithy’s, waiting to break out weapons… several in an armoury… and at least five in Gok’s tower. No clue how they’ll manage to get in there without being caught, but there you go. The rest I’m not sure.”
“Okay. Guess that’ll do, then.”
Dragomir nodded, and as if on cue, the rats surged into motion. Moving as a massive cloud of brown, grey, and the occasional spot of white, they scurried away from the swamp and into the fields surrounding Pubton. Their numbers, Logan noticed, were much more substantial than he’d realized, at least two thousand strong… though they disappeared quickly. Only one remained, the rat on Dragomir’s shoulder, ever watchful.
Logan swallowed. “So… I take it the reconquering of Pubton has begun?”
Sighing, Dragomir shook his head. “Not yet. Libby needs another day, and the rats will take some time getting into position. We also have some smuggling to do.”
Bounding quickly to his feet - a little too quickly, Logan thought, given how tired he looked - Dragomir motioned Logan further into the swamp. Logan wasn’t sure why, at first… at least not until the honking sound of familiar snoring began to fill the air. Eventually, arriving before an impromptu bed made of mud and leaves, Dragomir pointed.
“Oh. No.” Logan shook his head vigorously. “You can’t be serious. I can’t do that.”
“I haven’t even told you what I mean yet.”
“Pfft, I know what you want.” Logan slapped his cheeks lightly. “No. No. It can’t be done. The smell alone will tip them off. I can’t get him in there, dood, it’s too hard. They’ll spot us before we get to the walls. His rampant fuckery is just too strong.”
“Oh, it’s better than that.” A hint of Dragomir’s former stupid cheer appeared in his smile. “You have to get me in, too.”
The two men shared a laugh, though Logan’s was incredulous. They had, for the first time in a while, a moment of mild happiness… one watched from the shadows by a creature that even the rats had failed to detect. As ever, though, she said nothing.