On midsummer’s eve Queen Ruana came again in sight of the hall where she had once ruled. Irongaard stood alone and abandoned against the sea, the walls dark with age and no fire blazing within. She looked on it and it seemed a dead thing, something slain and left to decay, the heart torn from it. It did not please her to think on what she might find there, but she could not turn away. Years before she had fled this place, with only a stolen sword and the head of a murdered king. Now she returned with an army from legend at her back, and she bore a spear of light that burned away the dark.
They rode up the long slope to the place where the walls lay crumbling, and she looked down and saw the ground was strewn with the bones of the dead. Both men and beasts had been butchered and left to rot, and she felt revulsion at this sign of the careless power o the Undergods. They built nothing, made nothing; they only destroyed and savaged and slaughtered, and men it seemed were only too eager to follow.
No one called to them or hailed them, or sought to bar their way. They crossed the yard where new summer flowers grew through the trampled earth and the discarded bones, and they came to the doors of the hall, hanging open and unguarded.
Ruana swung down from her steed and stood for a long moment, looking into the dark as into a skull. Umun, her councilor, came with her and held high a burning torch, and by that light they entered the black hall of the usurper. They trod on the ancient floorboards, the wood black with smoke. The hearth lay cold and untended, and the beams of the walls and roof stood like the ribs of a dead sea-beast.