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Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Brothers' War - Chapter 10



Reunion.


Chapter 10 - Korlis

Another meeting, another opportunity for Urza to not attend. The warlord is quite unhappy about teh difficulties in getting trade caravans through the desert. Something must change. He suggests that messages be sent to both Argive and Korlis, and together all three of them should request a meeting to discuss peace talks. That should be an effective way to lure out the Fallaji leaders. When the Captain of the Guard is shocked at pursuing peace, the warlord stresses that's not what he said. He said it should lure out their leaders. He understands the message, but the implications go over Kayla's head.

She's dismissed from the meeting while her father wants to talk to Rusko about a special project and the princess doesn't like it very much. She heads on over to her husbands orniery to find Urza and Tawnos working on their latest design improvements on the ornithopters. While the apprentice does look quite good with his shirt off, she has important news to discuss. But as usual, her husband is much more concerned about his work than anything she has to say. He just tells her that people change, even warlords, and peace sounds like a good idea. Kayla leaves and slams the door.

"What was that about?" asked Tawnos, sweat streaming down his face.

"I'm not quite sure," returned Urza. "Kayla worries about her father too much. Bend the wing spar a little more convex there. That's it. Now, hold it..."


...A month later...

The announcement was made that the coastal nations were going to pursue peace, and in grand fashion Urza takes off leading a squadron of a dozen ornithopters while the city watches on. Urza felt forced to come along when it was agreed that Yotia would give Korlis a gift of two of his devices to become a part of the talks. Their land would also be used as the site of the negotiations as a more neutral territory for the Fallaji to appear at.

Urza made all the plans and had Rusko ahead days beforehand with the rest of the Yotian delegation to set up provisioned pit stops for the pilots, as well as to be the one to take transport his metal solider by wagon to help demonstrate the might of Yotia.

The whole city watched the departure with joy in their hearts except for Kayla bin-Kroog herself.

In the days and months that followed, some would say she had wept because her husband was leaving her. Some would say it was because she had dreamed what was about to happen and knew she could not change it. And some would say that she knew that the end of her small part of the world and the destruction of Kroog would begin in the Council of Korlis.


...Four days later...

The trip went particularly smooth, the weather was nice, and site of the meeting is quite grand. Urza spent the next day and a half making repairs to his metal soldier so it would be ready to be on display in the giant open-air pavilion in time for the talks.

The Argivians were all isolationist bureaucrats because the current Crown felt no need for any Argivian to enter the desert, and so none of Tocasia's former students were among the delegation. The Korlisians were all merchant types, ready to secure good trade routes through the desert. Every nation brought with them an honor guard, with the Yotians as the largest, the Argivians as the more ornately dressed, and the Korlisians as the best equipped.

During the first day the talks were to begin, the Fallaji had failed to make an appearance, but the three nations were happy to eat and celebrate the occasion. During the second day the camaraderie had already broken down to the point that each delegation kept to their own camps. The third day the Fallaji appeared.

No one saw them arrive, but a fog was burned away to reveal rows of tents clustered around a large central tent. The qadir was carried upon and brought before the assembled nations with an escort and a large, brass dragon machine. The warlord was quite displeased when comparing it to Urza's own metal soldier.

While all eyes were drawn to the dragon engine, Urza's eyes were drawn to something else. His brother. Mishra stepped forward and addressed the representatives. The  meeting is of great importance and they are sorry they were delayed, and they but request that meeting not not begin until noon so they can have a bit of time to rest. The procession goes back the way they came, until Urza yells out for his brother.

Mishra stood statue-stiff as Urza descended from the pavilion. The younger brother did not extend his hand, but rather stood calmly, hands folded before him. Urza stopped a few feet away and assumed an identical position, hands folded in front of him.

They stand in silence for a moment studying each other.

Finally urza said, "It is good to see you are well."

Mishra repleid, "I am well enough. And you?"

Urza nodded briefly, then added, "I am surprised to see you among the Fallaji delegation."

"I must confess that I am not surprised to see you among the Argivians," returned Mishra.

"Yotians, actually," corrected his brother.

Mishra nodded smoothly. "Ah. Of course. That would explain why the Yotians are suddenly so interested in raiding for power stones and Thran devices."

"exploring," said Urza. "Yotians do not raid."

"Of course," repeated Mishra, a tight smile appearing on his face. "It must be as you say. We shall let the diplomats parse the words for us."

The move on to compare notes. Urza shares that he's married to the princess of Yotia and asks if the red-haired woman is his own wife. Mishra says it's only his apprentice and Urza replies he has an apprentice of his own. In fact he has a school as well. Mishra tells him that desert life doesn't allow for schools. Urza then compliments Mishra on the device of his. He says he'd like to examine it after this is all over, and would like to share with him the changes he's made to the ornithopter design. Mishra pauses a moment and says he'd like that. After this is over. The brothers part ways and return to their camps.


...At the pavilion...

The warlord isn't happy. He questions Urza about his brother and the machine he's brought with him. Both the Argivians and Korlisians are ready to flee thanks to the dragon engine and he says they must respond.


...Noon...

The talks begin with Mishra stating that the Fallji's position is that they intend to reacquire and hold on to all lands of the Fallji people as well as the resources it contains. The Warlord insults the young qadir, who in turn lashes out that so-called Sword Marches are the actually the lands that Suwwardi and his grandfather in particular were driven away from. It is their land and not his.

When threatened with a demonstration of his power, the warlord signals to his Captain of the Guard and every ornithopter except Urza's own takes off. Some head straight for the Fallji camp and some straight for the dragon engine, and all unleash their bombs of goblin powder. The Falliji and Yotian armies engage, and some of the mercenaries join the fighting as well.

The qadir throws hit sword straight at the warlord's chest before either brother can react. Urza sends in his soldier to capture him but the red-haired woman turns her staff upon the machine. Urza counters by empowering it with his mightstone and Mishra fights back with his own. Urza calls out to his brother that they need to stop all.

Dimly he heard his brother's voice snarl back, "So you can betray us again, Brother?"

And then Urza's machine explodes.


....Afterwards...

Urza's if found beneath some rubble cradling the body of the dead warlord. The Captain of the Guard tells Urza's that the enemy is in full retreat. Urza demands answers and the captain says he can't say.

"You, you can say," Urza said icily. "You can say everything you know. Who knew about the? What were the full plans? What did you hope to accomplish? Why did you not tell me? Why did you not tell the princess? You can, and will answer those questions."

The captain shifted his feet uneasily.

"Because," Urza continued, turning back to the body, "because I have to go back to Kroog now and tell my wife her father is dead. And I will need all the reasons I can muster to make her understand. Because I don't understand it myself."

* * *


Urza and Mishra Reunited


The first meeting between Urza and Mishra since Tocasia died, and it was wonderful. The desire to reconnect is so strong between them, although more weighted on Urza's side. It's understandable from the angle that Urza's has everything he wants so he has room in his life to want more, while Mishra's time and freedom are much more limited so it helps to reinforce his more selfish tendencies. It's also understandable from a more immediate look at events, with Mishra just being jealous of all that his brother has once again.

I'd like to think that if Urza hadn't had nearly every aspect of his life in better condition than Mishra, that their meeting would have ended on happier terms. (Although the bombing would still have happened to drive them apart again.)


Urza Has Feelings

Urza doesn't understand people, and he probably doesn't understand himself very much. But every once in a while something big happens that makes him take his mind off his machines and notice what's around him. When he does come back to reality there's a good person inside.


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