No Rest In Rustwatch
Coal Roarkwin was ever the pragmatist. His tastes were simple and bred of necessity rather than nicety. It was true that the arms and armor that came from his personal anvil could not be described as anything other than magnificent works of art. Creating items that functioned without equal on the battlefield may have been the aim of the Iron Lord but the breathtaking artistic quality that was present in each of his crafted pieces was an unavoidable side effect of his multiple lifetimes spent commanding metal and fire. He could appreciate a fine cut of meat or a well paired wine but he did not seek such luxurious extravagance for its own ends like the aristocracy of Lighthouse Bay or the Royalty of Silverwood. Work and industry was the driving force behind each individual fiber of Coal’s being. For all his long years he knew little of recreational pursuits. The rich history of Argaia had seen fit to provide the region of Rustwatch with plenty of war and martial conflict so its people, and their esteemed master and commander, for that matter had precious little experience dealing with peace and the subsequent quest for comfort and entertainment that men embarked on when swords were sheathed and armor doffed.
Despite his oppressively bland aesthetic taste the Iron Lord was greatly looking forward to the prospect of a good night’s sleep inside the familiar confines of his city. If the Iron Lord could be accused of any one vice or excess it would be the fondness for warm blankets and soft sheets. Coal was not the sort to indulge in oversleeping but the comfort of a good bed was always able to provide him with renewed vigor after a full day smithing or waging war. The man would push his considerable stamina to the breaking point day after day and getting swallowed by mountains of blankets and an overstuffed mattress was the only way he knew how to return to full form in time for a new dawn. While Rustwatch had known nothing of peace since its founding the days that the chimera clawed at its walls provided all inside with little opportunity for rest. Coal would never admit to anyone it but being robbed of many nights slumber by the wicked beasts was cause for his greatest personal vendetta with the creatures born of the red rain.
While there had been no looming threat of chimera attack or violent bloodshed during the conclave in Viros, Coal had not known any fine quality of sleep during his time there. The accommodations that he enjoyed were more than satisfactory. The bed he slept in while receiving the hospitality of the Vermillion Council was every bit as inviting and soft as the one he left in his home. Though, the nights were safe from war and he was surrounded by a level of comfort not readily attainable in Rustwatch, Coal Roarkwin had tossed and turned most nights of the conclave.
The source of Coal’s insomnia while in Viros was solely the province of Dimona Odinstar. Being face to face with his nemesis was bad enough but the expectation of civility was like grabbing a hot iron barehanded. After a full day of talking, arguing and planning while being trapped in the same room with her had filled the Iron Lord with ire like no chimera assault on the seal wall of Rustwatch ever could. Each time he had looked upon her the man wanted to crush her regal neck with his calloused hands. Whenever he was subjected to the sound of her miserable vainglorious voice, the only impulse he had was to grab the closest heavy object and break her jaw with it. The primal bloody fantasies played in had played in Coal’s mind for the duration of each meeting with Dimona, the Councilmen and other leaders of Argaia’s cities. Long after the conclusion of each planning session the images of inflicting cathartic harm on the self-righteous woman kept the leader of Rustwatch awake long into the night. What little sleep he did come by during the conclave was filled with dreams of a similar taste. The night that Coal’s imagination proffered the vision of the Rayward queen being submerged in a pool of molten gold within the confines of Rustwatch’s forge had been his most pleasant fantasy. He clung to that incarnation of Dimona’s demise above every other wicked end for the woman that his mind had conjured up.
Coal shook himself from his brooding and loathing to look through the early morning mist that shrouded the coastline of Rustwatch. As the silver trails of vapors and sea spray moved aside for his ship and revealed the docks of his beloved city the Iron Lord felt the spectral clutch of the Queen of Light loosen its vengeful grip on his spirit. The sight of familiar ground and the promise of a sound night’s sleep in his own delightful bed was exactly what Coal desired to rid his mind of the recent dealings with his oldest foe. The Iron Lord could practically feel the gentle touch of warm sheets and soft pillows upon his weary skin as the mighty sailing ship came into port. Coal would allow his mind to be free of the memory of Dimona Odinstar as well as the Vermillion Council’s command for collaboration between Rustwatch and Rayward during the great cleansing of Argaia for at least one blessed night.
The Iron Lord looked at the collection of beaten and battered Iron Men waiting for him on the docks of his home. Coal let out a heavy sigh as the gangplank was secured between ship and dock. The Iron Lord sauntered down the sturdy bridge of timber and regarded the motley assortment of sooty men wearing fresh cuts and bruises. The portly frame of Foreman Everstone pushed through the assembly of wounded Iron Men wearing an expression of shame and trepidation.
“All is not well in my city, is it?” Coal asked the round veteran mastersmith.
Foreman Everstone looked to his right and left as if to garner the strength to speak form the host of men at his sides. It seemed as though the stocky mastersmith wished for one of the junior Iron Men to relive him of the burden of relaying what was clearly unfavorable news. After a moment of silence it quickly became clear that the onus of speech was on the Rustwatch Foreman. “My Lord, the chimera are at our main gate again. Their latest assault has run into its second straight day of combat. The gate is holding but the cost in Iron Men lives is rapidly mounting,” said Foreman Everstone with a voice that was too labored and ragged to shake with fear.
Coal grimaced as he heard the news before adopting a twisted smirk on his bushy gray whiskered lips. “Another fine day in Rustwatch it is. Why should I have expected to come home to anything less than blood in the street and monsters at our door,” he said with lamentation and frustration evident in all of his words. He wiped his brow with a gloved hand and rubbed his chin for a brief moment as he reflected. “Foreman go to the forge and collect my armor. Bring it to me at the gate. The rest of you follow me,” Coal commanded as he drew a pair of sabers from sheathes at his hip and across his back. The Iron Lord left the docks with Iron Men brigade in tow and headed for the distant sounds of men dying, chimera snarling and steel meeting bone. As he set foot on the streets of his city, the Iron Lord could only think of the merciful comfort of his bed and sweet sleep that was going to be denied him for yet another night.