After awaking in a field, I decided to slip away from the group to gather my thoughts. I’m not sure exactly what happened in the past few days, but I am pretty sure that death had almost taken me. I now have the need to visit the makeshift memorial I made for Brandon when he died. His body was never recovered, but I still needed to give him something so that people would know a soul as beautiful as his had existed.
I made it to the outskirts of Sigmar, to the place were I constructed the nameless grave. It was very plain; a headstone with the usual details scrawled on it seemed fitting at the time, but thinking on it now, if I ever recover his body I’d make more fitting resting place for him. I began meditating, thinking about everything that had occurred in the past few months and what the future will hold. Doubts started rolling in and I began to question whether I could do this. Even with allies, getting revenge on Marlo, let alone the duke, seems impossible. I quickly returned to this plane when I felt licks of heat coming from the tomb. I looked up fast, and saw in horror that Brandon’s gravestone was on fire. Panicking, I tried to smoother the fire with my bare hands, not noticing or caring as the flames seared across my flesh. Despite my best efforts, the fire would not extinguish. To my shock, my hands were unscorched by the flames. It was then that I realized that I had seen this type of flamecraft before.
Back when I was a highway man, robbing dwarfs of their previous guns, a ruthless merchant began fighting back. He was the toughest dwarf that I have ever seen, to this day. He owned a small gun smithy outside of the dwarvwen town of Ironfist, and true to the town’s name he ruled over his employees like a tyrant, working the men and women employed beneath him like slaves. Because of his hard production tactics, that dwarf was able to product low-grade firearms at a faster rate then any of his competition could match. He quickly began to drive his competition out of business, and although the guns were low-grade, they fetched high prices at a time where the technology and techniques needed to make them were scare.
Not long after he started getting big, Ranthal tipped me and the crew off about him. We struck hard and fast, but only after two highway robberies on the dwarf’s wares, he wisened up and moved everything he had into a solid rock fortress, back in the Thor’s Spine mountains. They say he even moved huge caches of food and medicine up there as well. As enticing a prize as the fortress was, there was no way in any of Hell’s layers that the crew or I could ever hope to assault such a massive holdout. It was a tough time for Ironfist; his departure all but left the other dwarf families to starve, but the old dwarf didn’t possess any of the respect for family or tradition that northern dwarfs pride themselves on so much. Even I, in an strange moment of kindness, tried to tell the man that his tactics weren’t worth all of the fuss he was causing for his people; he nearly took my head off with a high-caliber musket. Last time that I ever felt pity for a dwarf.
Heading back to the town afterwards, I noticed that a single house in Ironfist was unoccupied. Unlike in human towns, dwarfs tend to only build what they use and demolish what they don’t, so an unoccupied home is something of an oddity in a dwarf settlement. Didn’t take long to find out that the house was the ancestral home of the family that old fortress dwarf belonged to. His parents had long since passed, and that maniac gunsmith decided to leave the house empty as sort of a monument to his kin. So I burned it. It was the only precious thing in the entire world that he had that I could get to, and for all the trouble he’d caused me, my crew, and the people of Ironfist, that night I returned under the cover of darkness and lit the entire house ablaze.
The home was burning for nearly 10 minutes before the dwarf came; work quickly spread to him up in his fortress that his childhood home was on fire. I hid in the shadows to watch the show; he had only a single bucket of water in his grubby hands when he came running up the hillside and by now the entire structure was ablaze. He screamed, begged, and cried at the other dwarfs of Ironfist to help him, but none of their homes were in danger of catching ablaze, so they watched in silence as the dwarf dug at the ground, throwing clods of earth onto the pyre with his bare hands._
Content that my plan had worked, the crew and I darted into the fortress; its doors opened wide in the wake of the frenzied smith. We grabbed as much as we could; guns, food, and supplies. We left the food and gold for the dwarfs of Ironfist and kept the guns for ourselves; payment for our charity. Before leaving the next day, the dwarf charged at me in a fit of rage with nothing more then that bucket he had been carrying the night before. He was covered in ash; his parent’s home was nothing more than a charred stain on the countryside. He screamed at me, “I know it was you!” as he swung his bucket around, trying to clobber my face. As a dwarf, his language was a bit more colorful, of course. I quickly pulled out my blunderbuss and shot him down; I almost felt bad for him until I saw the look of relief on the Ironfist dwarfs who had witnessed the scene. I’ve killed many a man, but this is one of the few times I was thanked for it.
After it had happened, I never thought about that incident again; until now. Just like that dwarf, the only think I loved that I couldn’t protect had been taken from me, cruelly. It was a painful lesson that I could use. Everyone has a weakness; even Marlo, even Duke Sigmund. If I could find out that weakness, if I could burn away the one thing that they cherished beyond all else, they just might get reckless enough to attack me. That settles it. I’ll set their worlds on fire, both Marlo and Duke Sigmund’s, and wait and see what happens….