The glorious Lord Mishtar was gone, the ruling council had mysteriously vanished, and the city of Ravannah was in disarray. The thieves’ guild declared themselves the new rulers of the fallen town, and chaos ruled the day. The Soldiers of Ravannah were largely new, inexperienced, and too disorganized to mount an effective resistance against the far more experienced thugs and assassins. Without the council, and without Mishtar, all seemed lost in the drunken revelry and rampant crime sprees. Then, quite suddenly, the lawlessness came to a screeching halt as the city was taken by force, only three days after the madness began, by the black robed clerics of Hextor, a strange new crimson-skinned warrior at their head.
Rumors spread through alleys and streets of their new leader, and what he would do to any and all who did not accept the rule of Hextor. Quickly, more so than when the town had fallen to the thieves, the remainder of the Soldiers of Ravannah gathered under Ravannah’s scarlet banner which still hung atop the council building. The thieves fled back into their holes and shadows, staying clear of the unholy force that had decimated their initial resistance. Nothing remained of their first skirmishers except for the scorch marks on the pavement where the wrath of Hextor had rained down upon them; not even bodies remained to give testament to their passage.
And so, this self-proclaimed "Army of the Herald" approached the final pocket of resistance to their conquest, and their strange crimson leader boldly strode forward at the head of his small army. The city seemed to shrink from his presence, and many portents surrounded him; his warhammer glowed an unearthly red in his hands, and a storm cloud followed in his passage blocking the sun from wherever he passed.
The leader of the Soldiers of Ravannah, a man called Nastron, paced back and forth, his knuckles white as he gripped his sword tightly. “Look!” cried one of the scouts, “they’ve stopped.” And indeed the army had come to a halt, though their leader continued onwards, by foot, approaching the awaiting defenders. Eventually, he too came to a stop no more than fifty yards from the defender’s front lines. The clouds overhead cast dark shadows upon the ground, in stark contrast to the bright sunlight which lit the plaza yet ended abruptly a few feet from where the cleric stood. Nastron called his two highest officers to his side, and the three of them rode out to meet the stranger who awaited them.
“General Nastron…” the voice that emerged was inhuman; a hollow grating that chilled the well seasoned warriors to their core, it echoed from every wall and seemed to come at them from all sides at once. “I had hoped that you would rally your troops to greet me.”
“Greet you?” Nastron stammered. “Greet is hardly the word I would choose to describe what we’re doing here. You have this one chance to return your force back from whence it came. Hextor or no Hextor, you will not be allowed to take this city while I still draw breath.”
“Believe me, General, if it were the will of Hextor that you no longer drew breath, you would not be standing before me. But that is not his will.” The General looked nervously back and forth from his officers to the being that stood before him, seemingly towering above him, though he was not even as tall as the General. The heat that he gave off was unbearable, as if a fire raged in his heart that threatened to consume all who came too close to the crimson leader, but he managed to keep his head up as the battle-priest spoke. “His will is that you and your fledgling force receive control of the city and that the ruling council be restored… new members of course, due to our former leader’s… hasty departure.”
“You mean you marched all the way out here to give us the city?” Nastron was taken aback. “You’ll leave just like that? Who do you take me for priest?”
“I take you to be capable general, or took you should I say, as the past tense seems to be more appropriate. You should be mindful of how you speak to those who hold your very life within their hands. I am called Pyromemnus, and you should not forget it. And, yes, The Scourge of Hell has commanded me to present the city to you, for your army shall be the defenders of this city. There will be, however, a price for this city, one that you must accept now else the city shall become the personal domain of Hextor. The price is that at any given moment, one senior officer of your army and one senior member of the ruling council will be of my choosing.”
“So your generosity is merely a façade, my Lord Pyromemnus. You give us the city yet claim it as your own in the same moment.”
“Not so, General. My followers will not have final say in any decision; I merely demand that Hextor have a voice in every decision that will have an effect on the city and thus my clergy.”
“I see. Well, I don’t have much of a choice now do I? Alright, you’ll have your voice in my military and the new ruling council. So who is it that I am supposed to take into my confidences then? My new officer isn't you, my Lord, is it?”
“Myself, no, I follow orders from no man. My man is already among you, already in your confidences. So have no fear of his worth, he has proven it to you already. I cannot tell you who it is, that would give you too much control if you wished to fight his influence. No, best he remain in secret. The same for the ruling council, a vote shall be held by the people, but rest assured, one member will be approved by myself under the guidance of Hextor. You see, the price is already paid, whether you accept it or not”
Nastron stared blackly as Pyromemnus returned to his army, which then returned to their temple. He stood still for many minutes, amazed at how cleanly the Scourge of Hell had taken over the city, with none the wiser, while he and his two officers alone knew the truth.