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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Brothers' War - Chapter 15



The war has begun.


Chapter 15 - Parry and Thrust

It's been four months since incident between the two brothers and four months since Urza left Yotia to give the orders, direct the troops, and chase down every rumor of Mishra sightings. The Yotian people have had doubts growing about their rulers, wondering how something like that could have happened under their noses.

Was Urza not as wise as they all thought him to be? Or was his brother just that much smarter?

In fact, there were a number of rumors going around as to what happened. Every rumor agreed that there was a fight between the two brothers, but the reasons differed. Some thought it was over the Sword Marches, some thought it was about Mishra stealing Urza's ideas for creating the dragon engine... no, it was about Urza stealing Mishra's ideas to build the ornithopters. A few rumors involved the queen as well, though Tawnos hoped no one believed those.

Within the palace Kayla mostly kept to her quarters and only spoke directly to Tawnos, the seneschal, and the Captain of the Guard. Tawnos himself felt like he was the one running the kingdom and he didn't like it.

When Tawnos sent word to Urza that Kayla was pregnant, he was confused that the only reply was instructions on how to improve the avengers. Then Tawnos realized the math of the situation and understood that the baby must have been conceived during the week of the incident.

As for Ashnod, she's been kept prisoner all this time, and Tawnos has decided that it's time to ask her about her staff , yet she remains silent to questioning. He tells her that it would be best if she talks and she decides to tell him a joke.

"Matron and the queen are talking. Matron says, 'Whatever else you say about that Mishra, at least he dresses well.' And the queen says, 'Yes, and quickly, too.' Whatayathink?"

(Zing!)

"That's not funny!" sputtered Tawnos.

With the joke out of the way, a joke that she's no doubt been waiting to tell him for months, she goes into the details about her staff. She tells him it's a matter of approach. She's taken quite a lot of time studying bones and nerves and joints. Dissecting creatures both dead and alive to see how they function. The approach that Urza and Tawnos takes is too clean. Without getting their hands dirty they never would have come across the idea of frying someone's nerves.

"I don't know if that's a responsible goal," said Tawnos.

"Beside the point," said Ashnod sharply, slapping the tabletop with her palm. Tawnos saw the fire in her eyes again, the inventing fire. "You're looking at the bird wing and thinking about how to duplicate it. I'm looking at the bird wing and thinking about how to incorporate it, how to make it function again. If I were building ornithopters, I would have used roc wings. I'd have kept them alive with their own blood and nutrients and tethered them to the housing."

"That's impossible!" said Tawnos.

"A girl can dream," said Ashnod and smiled again.

She suspects that it's the approach that the original builders of the dragon engine used. They took a real dragon and built outward until all that was left was machine. Living things are just another tool that they shouldn't be afraid to use.

Tawnos isn't very comfortable talking about this subject and so turns the conversation back to Mishra. She tells him that by forcing Urza to fly around all over the place he has him where he wants him. Mishra is good at setting up plans, but the final execution often comes to him in the moment. Even that night she didn't think Mishra had an exact plan. Things just happened. Whether that's madness or divine inspiration is something everyone will have to decide for themselves. But considering the current situation, something is going to happen sooner or later. It's too big of an opportunity for Mishra to pass on.


...Sometime later...

Lieutenant Sharaman reports to Urza that a camp with Mishra's war machine has been spotted only a quarter day away. Urza orders the ornithopers be readied with all available goblin bombs despite protests that the won't arrive until it's near dark. The flight makes it to the camp without a hitch and Urza signals the attack. Three ornithopters lead by Sharaman swoop low for a bombing run while Urza leads the others to gain higher altitude.

(Look at that! Someone new that actually has a name!)

The first bombs are dropped and weapons on the war machine come to life, catapulting rocks, shooting arrows, spewing fire, and using weapons Sharaman has never seen before. One of the barbed arrows tears into one of his wings and the release is jammed. Realizing he's going to crash Sharaman manages to dump out all remaining goblin bombs before his ornithopter crashes into the Fallaji tents.

The lieutenant pulls himself out of the wreckage and realizes the tent is empty.

All the tents are empty.

In fact, he realizes the war machine itself must be on autopilot somehow and he tries to signal to the remaining ornithopers led by Urza to stop the attack, but he's too late. One of the goblin bombs squarely hits its mark and every ornithopter is caught in the blast.

With a broken leg he makes his way to Urza, who curses himself for not seeing the trap. He wonders aloud what such an elaborate ruse is meant to accomplish, and neither find out until weeks later when the reach the Yotian border.


...Kroog...

Kroog was walled off on three sides with the river Mardun bounding the fourth side. The Fallaji must have taken out every guard in all the signal towers because when the attack came from the river, the city was caught totally unaware. Dragon engines poked their heads above the water and began the assault, with Fallaji on captured boats streaming in right behind.


...Royal Palace...

A frightened young girl comes running with news of an attack, and Tawnos sends her to wake all the students and give them instructions to assemble all five avengers for the city's defense. Tawnos runs to the royal chambers to find Kayla refusing to leave the city, and he requests that she at least pack for now. Better to prepare to leave and then reject the idea when the time comes, rather than to regret not packing.

The Captain of the Guard gives and update of the situation and says the dragon engines are leading the way and the attack will make it to the palace within two hours. When he tells them the difficulty of assembling the troops because of all the people crowding the streets, she orders the gates open so they can flee. The enemy is already within the city, the gates don't matter.

Tawnos runs back to the orniery and sends a letter with the five oldest students who are to command the avengers. The instructions are to let the commander know the avengers are to be used against the dragon engines and once the avengers are gone, the students are to flee the city. He then tells the students to pack the one remaining ornithopter with all of Urza's scrolls, notes, prototypes, and the Jaluum Tome . Whatever happens, Mishra won't get hold of Urza's knowledge.

Tawnos then heads down to the prisons, dismisses the guards so they can defend the palace, and then asks Ashnod for her help. He wants her to help him get Kayla out of the city, or if they're captured, asks that she help ensure fair treatment. He tries to convince her that the Fallaji may accidentally kill her herself because she isn't Fallaji, but she tells him they'll all know her as Mishra's assistant especially with her staff. She finally consents to help him when he tells her that Kayla is pregnant, and the child might be Mishra's.

They pick up the queen and make it all the way to the palace entrance before running into some Fallaji troops. The large one in fancy armor is clearly the leader of the troops, and Ashnod declares to him that Tawnos and Kayla are under her protection.

"You are a woman. You cannot offer such protection."

Ashnod stiffened, and Tawnos realized that the two knew each other. "I am the apprentice of your raki, O powerful one," she said venom in her voice. "I can do as I please."

"A pity," said the fat Fallaji, "since in all the confusion of the battle, my men killed you before we knew who you were. I am afraid Mishra will have to understand, later."

He tells her that Mishra relies too much upon her and her death will make him stronger. Ashnod turns her staff on them all and doesn't relent until they are all dead. She finishes the attack covered in sweat, and with a trickle of blood running down her nose, and Tawnos has to help both the pregnant Kayla and Ashnod down the palace stairs. They run into a couple more groups of Fallaji, but they meet no more challenges to her declaration of protection and they all make it to the docks.

Ashnod suggests they head south first before heading to their eastern bases. She won't be going with them. When he says the Falaji might still kill her, she says there's less danger of that now.

"You really think she's carrying Mishra's whelp?"

"I don't know," said Tawnos softly. "I'm not sure she knows either."

Ashnod shook her head. "Still playing the baby duck, even when the mommy ducks are heading for the abattoir. Your loyalty will put you in a spot someday where even I can't help you. Best of luck, Duck!"

She kissed him quickly, but long enough for Kayla to observe. Then with a wink and a wave, the scarlet-haired woman disappeared back into the burning city.

* * *


Reality

Urza's biggest weakness is how he constantly loses sight of reality. To him machines are everything, and it takes sharp reminders like this to get him to remember there is a whole world out there full of people that have goals of their own, unlike his obedient machines. Urza most definitely needs to start thinking and not charging blindly ahead when it comes to his brother.


It Has Begun

The Brothers' War had truly begun. There is no more warlord of Yotia. There is no more qadir of the Fallaji. There is only Urza and Mishra, and there is now a line that has been crossed that cannot be undone.

It's tragic and sad... but it's also great!


3 comments:

  1. I have a question. The book's chapters are complete here in your blog? I'm reading more seem to be very short or incomplete. I'm reading Ravnica: City of Guilds

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  2. If you're comparing the length of each post for each chapter in this book to the chapters of Ravnica, these posts are definitely longer.

    That might be in part because Ravnica was the first book I put up on this site and I was likely summarizing more than I am now... but it's also because Ravnica is filled with a lot of action which is much easier to condense.

    A lot of times a fight scene is just a fight scene, whereas in this book there is so much going on in the way the characters interact with each other that each bit of information seems important and seems like they need to be included.

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  3. OK. Just to know it. Cause I was just thinking that reading was complete, I'll have to download the book somewhere, because not afford to buy and already hard to find these books to download Ravnica.

    ReplyDelete