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Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Brothers' War - Chapter 27



Ivory Towers no more.


Chapter 27 - Sylex

The Ivory Towers were burning.

The attack had come more than a year ago and the city's defenders just barely held on before the city's gates were closed.

They had looted and pillaged what they could in the surrounding lands, but the gates held strong and Mishra's armies turned back. They returned the next spring with battering rams and dragon engines and the siege began, but the ring of towers around the city held strong, with each tower supporting those adjacent to it with armaments of ballistas, grapeshot catapaults , and archers. Why the attack had come they never knew, as any attempts to parlay were met with swords and arrows.

The winter arrived giving them time to restore supplies and for the Union to return to their studies. Hurkyl was making quite a lot of progress in further developing her meditative technique to draw upon a mysterious energy, and the archimandrite coined the term "mana" which Loran was not too happy about since it reminded her of the wizards of old tales and didn't have the sound of science.

But that was then.

Hurkyl's dead now and the archimandrite is missing.

It was the Gixians fault. They never really paid attention to the somewhat backward people, and they didn't see it coming that the Gixians would decide to betray them all and open the gates to Mishra's army. Hurkyl stood at the gates and drew upon her special energy source and shocked the whole battlefield when a blue light radiated from her and every nearby dragon engine simply faded from view. Mishra's machines were gone, but that didn't stop the soldiers from swarming her. Drafna had tried to advance on the spearmen but it was too late and he was driven back.

One by one the towers fell while Drafna tried to organize a retreat that would gather what artifacts and knowledge they could and then fight their way to safety while others headed for the tunnels which would be collapsed to prevent pursuit. Loran finds Feldon in his study holding on to the sylex . He tells her that he doesn't want it in Drafna's hands because might use it. Feldon might use it himself if he becomes desperate enough, but Loran has yet to have any success with the technique. It will be safest in her hands. When she says they should head to the tunnels together, he tells her that with his limp he'll only slow her down. He's not going to give up but they should separate anyway to give a better chance for as much of their gained knowledge to escaped. They've had reports of a dwarven revolt against Urza, so they know there will be no last minute rescue by the other brother. Their only chance is to run.

Loran and Feldon say their farewells and flee.


...Later...

A month later Loran finds herself near death in what she thought was a random rockslide. Unfortunately some men in spiked armor appear and begin sifting through the rubble. One soldier calls out to a woman she comes to realize is the exiled Ashnod. They discover the sylex in her backpack and the red-haired woman decides that maybe they should nurse their victim back to health.

Everyone knows of Ashnod's cruelty and Loran tries to wish herself to death, but instead she only hears Ashnod's laughter.

* * *


Ashnod

What's she up to? This must be how she gets back in Mishra's good graces. We know she's there at the final battle thanks to the prologue.


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