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Thane Harmisch (NPC): Of Dukes and Rats

(Highgate)

Thane Harmisch walked through the Rose Keep
and marvelled at how well the repairs to it
had progressed since the rising of the undead
over a year before. The Keep looked as fine
as it had when Tolan and Thera had inhabited
it; in some ways, better, since the restorations
that the King and Queen had ordered had been
ongoing, back when they had still been in
residence.

Not for the first time, Harmisch wondered
where they might be. They had not been
comfortable monarchs to live under, but they
had been the soul of the newly-born kingdom,
and their continued absence disturbed him.

That absence was something that he as a dwarf
could not understand. Dwarves tended to like
to stay put. Give them lands, give them a
good mine or quarry and something to build,
and they were happy. Dwarves did not as a rule
go in for all these crazy machinations with dark
gods and sorceerous infighting.

But in a way, those very machinations and
infighting were a part of these mountains, down
to their roots.

Which brought him to consideration of Duke
Myradin.

Glennis was holding the place together,
Harmisch thought, and he'd managed to do so
for far longer than the dwarf had expected,
given the conditions under which he'd assumed
the reins of government.

But he wondered how much longer that would
last. In many ways, the man was well-regarded,
and he did care about the kingdom. It burned
in him, that care, though Harmisch couldn't
fathom why. For whatever reason, L'Montaigne
mattered deeply to the Duke of Greenwall.

He had thought for a while that Glennis was
too nice for the mountains, crazy as that was
to say of a man who'd clearly been raised in
Dakarta. Glennis had probably been immersed
in the fine art of back-stabbing from the day
of his birth--though he didn't give that
impression.

Impressions were deceiving, though, Harmisch
thought. He might not show it, but there was
a power to the man. Harmisch still remembered
the reports he'd gotten from the previous
winter--of thousands and thousands of rats
ravaging the city.

They had crawled past fire-ditches and through
incendiary devices, clawed over the backs of
their own kind over pools of flaming oil, to
invade the city.

And then, they had suddenly collapsed and
died, every one of them, all at once, as the
winter-browned grass grew green under their
withering bodies. And afterward, Harmisch
recalled the report saying, the Duke had
fainted in the courtyard and been bedridden
for several hours.

It might not be the same witchery as Tolan
and Thera had had, but it was witchery,
nonetheless. Harmisch didn't know what to
make of that story. All he knew was that
he didn't see a single rat as he rode into
Highgate on his arrival.

And now, the Duke had left on this sudden
trip--'family business,' he'd called it.

Harmisch had never heard the Duke make
mention of his family, before.

Idly, the dwarf wondered whether that was
simply another euphemism for killing rats.

?

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