As the Non army marched on the tower, The Baron wondered if ‘the plan’ was such a good idea after all. Anything that put him in the direct line of fire was not, in his head, a good idea.
But he’d gone along with it anyway. He wondered what that said about his intelligence.
The debate over Titan Blue’s presence was short. Cedric vouched for her personality, especially compared to her boss, and Antonio had an odd penchant for voting the same way as Cedric these days. Eve didn’t kill the Non, and after a few minutes The Baron couldn’t even feel his former general straining to end Titan Blue’s life, which he took as acceptance of her presence. Traveller hit on her, though confusedly, and declared that all women were ‘awesome’.
“Unless they have white hair and steal my eye,” he amended, shuddering. The Baron twiddled his thumbs, knowing all too well who Traveller meant - not to mention his own complicity in Traveller’s bias.
The debate regarding July’s plan, as The Baron explained it to them all, took a while longer. Eve actually smiled, ever so slightly, when The Baron went into the details. The smirk was gone as soon as it had come. Traveller seemed to like it, too, as much as he’d enjoyed doing something similar during the capture of Pubton. Antonio was less enthused, and Cedric even more so.
Titan Blue remained quiet as Cedric launched into his rant, her legs carefully folded. Even at half her size she still dwarfed the rest of them. Nevertheless, she seemed rather meek, given the circumstances.
“This is fuckin’ insane!” Cedric bellowed, pointing at the tower in the distance. “Fuckin’ insane! We should be tryin’ to rescue Dragomir ’n whatserface, not… not fuckin’ killin’ ‘em!”
The Baron nodded, but he also shrugged. “I happen to agree. But we don’t know if they’re in that tower or not. None of us actually saw that dragon fly there. We were buried at the time.”
Cedric stomped hard enough that the ground shook. The Baron was glad he’d not possessed such strength while still working as a captain of the guard. Imagine the damage reports.
“That’s bullshit ’n you know it,” Cedric raged. “You fuckin’ know it. We ought to be sneakin’ into that thing, not - “
“And how do you propose that?” The Baron took a quick glance at the tower’s pristine, coiling form. “It only has one entrance. That goblin… what was his name, again… told us as much. It’s also surrounded by an army. Do you think they’ll allow us to simply walk in the front door?”
“We can climb the fuckin’ walls to a balcony,” Cedric persisted, claws clenching. “There’s tons of ‘em. Things practically made of balconies.”
“And then what? Look around until we get caught? It’s enormous. We’d be detected long before we found anything.” The Baron shook his head. “If July is correct, the Imperium’s forces will be thoroughly distracted within the next two hours. But that still won’t be enough time to get inside and poke around unless we give them an advantage. This plan… much as I dislike it… will throw the Imperium’s ranks into utter chaos. It may even break Grayson’s hold on them. We can only hope.”
Cedric huffed. His face was as pale as ever - The Baron wondered if he could ever be red-faced again, caught as he was in his zombified shape - but he was plainly furious. He swiped at the air with one clawed hand, then another, then, turning, he glared at The Baron again. “’n what if she’s lying and we kill Dragomir by doin’ this? You want that on your head, m’lord?”
The Baron did not. Had not. But, if things did not go to plan, Dragomir’s death would loom over him for the rest of The Baron’s unnatural life, much as it had the first time the young man had died. That short time had been bad enough - and this time, The Baron had no idea if Dragomir was stowed away in a save file.
Nevertheless, here he was, standing in the shadow of the tower (which was, of course, only a saying, as the tower glowed brightly even during the day), listening to the sounds of shouts and screams and canon fire to the east, watching a wing of dragons in the sky divert to intercept the shrieking hooks of one of Kierkegaard’s Nothings. The rear guard of the Imperium’s army was quickly moving to intercept the approaching Non threat, leaving the tower’s rear almost undefended.
Cedric, crouched nearby, gritted his teeth. “You better be right about this, old man. You just better be right.”
The Baron shot a venomous look at his former subordinate. “If you have a better idea, captain, I am all ears.”
Cedric opened his mouth to proclaim that, yes, he had a pretty damned fucking awesome idea in mind, you bet, but a light touch from Antonio shut it again. Cedric glared at the orc, but said nothing. The Baron wondered - not for the first time, not even for the fourth or fifth - if there was something between the two, deeper than simple camaraderie, that had developed in the last few weeks. If so, he admired them for their slightly-more-open honesty. If nothing else, it helped keep Cedric quiet.
The tower loomed in the distance, its ghostly skin seeming to waver as battle waged near its base. It looked taller than anything The Baron had ever seen before, taller than the sky itself.
He made a big fuckin’ mistake, July had said, tittering. ‘e never shoulda made it corporeal. He’s no clue how dumb that was. Take advantage o’ that, ye fallen lord.
Eve and Traveller were, The Baron had no doubt, two of the strongest creatures on the planet. They could rival a sloth in pure arm strength. Titan Blue was monstrously strong thanks to the form of her Non heritage, and Cedric could probably match her, thanks to Emmett’s tinkering. Antonio was more than capable of defending them, and The Baron could pitch in at least a little bit.
Heave ho, heave ho, little Baron. July had laughed at his wince when she left out the closest thing to a first name he possessed. Push it down. Push it aaaaaall the way down.