Monologue at the City of Dead Flowers
Rain never falls in the City of Dead Flowers. Only a thin fog moistens the land. The city is still and quiet. Only the faintest sounds are heard, forcing the senses to struggle to make them out.
The City of Flowers was once the capital of An-Teng. It died a thousand years ago, massacred in the bright blaze of Usurpation. The lords of the newly-born Shogunate tried to prevent the formation of a shadowland, cutting off all fresh water and filling the canals with seawater and brackish mud. They failed. The City of Dead Flowers is a shadowland, to be sure, but also a weird above-ground mausoleum.
No decay has taken hold here in a millennium. Buildings in every direction lie broken by war and burned by fire. The wood is freshly scorched. Stone and brick have no overgrowth. Bits of paper, silk, or straw still lie where they fell. Flowers and ivy a thousand years dead still droop, preserved in death.
Only the passing of interlopers changes the City of Dead Flowers. Footprints linger, forever unchanging in the brackish mud clogging the canals and streets. Hand prints smudge the ancient soot stains. Tool and claw scratches attack the walls.
The navigable canals approaching the city end in a cluster of earthworks. Unprotected by the shadowland, the checkpoint buildings are picked clean and fallen in. The dams, berms, and culvers are long abandoned, overgrown, and decrepit.
Late this afternoon, at the unnamed checkpoint, you bid your guildmates farewell again. Countering the Immortals' workings in An Teng seems to be an impossible task. To most people of An Teng, the "Wimps of Watermaple" seem to be on a path to suicide.
Yet, your guildmates have taken heart from your persistence and rallied to your command. Breaking into groups once more, they spread throughout An Teng tonight.
This is what it means to command. Your guild – family found at the edge of the world – looks to you for guidance, unwilling to falter in your mission. Each of their lives hangs on your wisdom and strength.
Somewhere, tonight, Sir Gaunt camps by the Queen's River. True to his word, he turned his caravan back to its origin. One mighty threat stays his lance for now, but no question remains that he fears no war. Beldesh von Drach, the Mask of the Bear, swims the river, monitoring the movement of the Immortals' troops.
Tonight, your Brotherhood stalks the City of Dead Flowers, pursuing rumors of Ardrick the Aguilar and the Blood of Seven Shades. The Nettle Society accompanies you, welcome allies in the foggy byways of a dead city.