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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Eternal Ice - Chapter 13



Save the king!


Chapter 13 - Revolt and Resolution

History is truly made in the quiet, lonely times, when the mage pours over his books, or the scholar rests his pen. When the king watches a child play in the courtyard or the general looks over the troops in his encampment. When the mother considers her daughter's future or when the daughter sits at her mother's grave. That is when decisions are reached. That is when history is made.

We just find out what those decisions were after all hell has broken loose.


-Arkol, Argivian Scholar

(I'm not sure I quite get this entry... Yes, all hell is about to break loose, but what kind of decision can they be referring to that happened in a quiet moment? I'm assuming this is going to be an instant reaction on Jodah and Gustha's part on how to safe the king, based on Jaya's warning. What is this quiet moment of contemplation that's being referred to that leads to a major decision? I guess I just gotta read on.)

Jodah and Gustha looked at each other, then the royal mage ran for the shuttered window of her reception chamber. She pulled open the shutters and flung open the panel glass panels. A bone-chilling wind swirled into the room, putting out the last of the brazier and chilling Jaya, already drenched to the core with sweat from her run. Elsewhere in the royal mage's apartments, an owl squawked and meeped in protest.

"Can you fly?" shouted Gustha above the wind.

"Of course," said Jodah.

"Then follow," said the royal mage, and she leaped out the window.

(Awesome.)

Jodah tells Jaya to hold on and follow he does. All three land on the roof of the castle and see the king in his throne room surrounded by enemies, aided only by a few skynights, Royal Guard, and Captain Varchild. Jaya's warning was successful, and the appearance of Varchild ruined any attempt at subterfuge, so when all those loyal to Garrisson's ideals saw what was happening, they rallied behind the faux barbarians, with only a few remaining loyal to the king.

Gustha smashes the window and the three join the battle. With a task mage and two world class mages joining the side of the king, the battle was over in moments. Gustha had even frozen many in ice and Varchild had killed another traitor even before Jodah even landed after all.

But then the zombies arrived.

Jaya lets loose a spell that incinerates the lead zombies, and then a flaming skull that ricochets through the crowd. Gustha's ice spells were less effective, but she fights on, and Jodah summons a bear and wolves to fight for their side.

As Jaya wears down, already tired from her escape from the clandestine meeting, an undead Elite Guard chargers her down, and she sees a familiar twinkle as her spell fizzles before it even touches her. But it's not the end for her. A magical sword of some kind skewers the so called Knight of Stromgald, in the hands of King Darien himself, and whatever magic that animates the creature is severed and the body falls to the floor.

As the king whirls around looking for another foe to strike, he finds that the battle is over.

"Are you all right, your Majesty?" asked the archmage.

"Well enough," growled Darien, surveying the carnage around his throne. The gravity of the situation was just starting to sink in. "A timely warning. A heroic defense. I owe my life to Varchild here."

Varchild properly lets the king know that is Jaya that provided the warning, the task mage that King Darien last saw being taken away and locked up. Jodah steps in an explains it was a necessary ruse to stop something exactly like this from happening, and Gustha wisely allows the king to believe it was a ruse put in place by all three mages, and not Jodah and Jaya acting on their own.

As for who they all are, Jaya tells them that she recognizes some of the faces, because she spied a secret meeting. But not all those killed here were at that meeting, and not everyone at the meeting lay dead on the floor. Most notably Avram Garrisson, who was acting on behalf of Marton Stromgald .

"Stromgald!" said Darien. "But he's been dead for decades!"

"Stromgald is a puppet as well," said Jodah. "The one who ultimately pulls both their strings is the necromancer Lim-Dul. He is the real enemy here, and even he has someone pulling his strings." He looked at Jaya and added, "I don't mean Leshrac, though his influence is great. No, there is another, an old friend, who is Lim-Dul's true puppeteer."

(More on this later.)


...The aftermath...

As the truth was revealed, it was discovered that about a tenth of the military's leadership was active in the plot against the king, and another twenty-five percent knew what was going on, like Varchild, but didn't feel obligated to do anything about it. The entire Order of the Flaming Shield fled the city soon after the failed assassination, as well as a flock of skyknights and a third of the entire armed forces have become Knights of Stromgald . As for the two other major cities, soldiers in Kjeld put down a small uprising fairly easily, and Soldev seemed to have been kept out of the whole plot.

As the undead fled the city, they learned to break-up into smaller and smaller groups and hide beneath the snow during the day to escape the wrath of the king that followed after them.

A week after the event, the king called for a war council, with plenty of fresh faces now representing their various orders. They stood around the map that Gustha had made in regards to the necromancer's troops movements which had been brought down, and there was no escaping the truth. Lim-Dul's forces have been advancing steadily closer, and they have been invaded without even realizing it.

"For too long we have slumbered," said King Darien to his nervous war leaders. "For too long we have assumed that the cold that has slowed us, chilled us, frozen us, would act as a shield against those who would seek to harm us for too long we have kept to our cities and dismissed the problems of the hinterlands as folk stories and peasant hysteria. Now we pay for our foolishness."

When one of the more experienced leaders, the leader of the Order of the White Shield speaks up, he asks how they can possibly win after seeing the size of the force that they face. The king allows for Jodah to explain that the barbarians have been fighting Lim-Dul for months and are willing side with them. Varchild shouts through the cries of protest and tells them all that it is clear that Garrisson's claims that the barbarians were the true threat are so clearly false, and that she is willing to fight with the barbarians if it means the survival of Kjeldor.

The meeting is interrupted when a merchant, Thadior Glandesson," barges in and demands to be heard. He reads a carefully written message staring that he and ever merchant that he represents are quite concerned with this newfound militaristic streak in the king and his actions which are disturbing trade. In fact things have gotten so bad that a delay in one of his shipments of oranges is creating a lot of hardship, and the merchants which to have a meeting with him in private.

As all eyes fall on the king, he tells the merchant that any such meeting will have to wait. When the merchant insists that they must enter talks with Lim-Dul, King Darien loses his patience.

"Do you not understand?" he said waving at the flags on the map. "The necromancer does not simply want tribute, or his name on our map. He wants to consume us, to reduce us to mindless shackles! He wants us all dead! And I will tell you this, merchant, the dead do not buy things." He leaned forward, and the merchant seemed to shrink away. "The Dead. Do. Not! Buy things! Tell your counsel that!"

Thadior is sufficiently cowed, but as he turns to leave, the king calls his name once more and adds that despite the undead's lack of desire for goods, King Darien reminds him that he does buy things, and tells him that the crown will remember who puts loyalty to the crown ahead of loyalty to the coin at this important juncture in Kjeldor's history. Thadior understands and enthusiastically bows once more tells the king that will pass on the the message.

As the door closes, the king manages to get a chuckle from those in the room when he says that he's been wanting to do that for a long time.

Varchild remains stone faced and says, "It is a time for strong leaders."

King Darien looked at Varchild hard. "I am glad to hear you say that, Captain Varchild, because another of my foolish mistakes was to deny individuals of ability their due. We need a general of the armies, like Stromgald himself and Jarkeld, to lead our forces in the field. I cannot do that and keep a reign on the cities. I want you to be my general."

The conflicting emotion warring within her is plan on her face, but in the end Varchild accepts, and the room erupts into a cheer for General Varchild.

Jodah is the only one who remains silent. He's gotten what he's wanted, but next comes war.

* * *


Fantastic

What a great action first half of the chapter. The confidence that comes through despite seeing the whole chapter through Jaya's point of view was well portrayed, as well as the description of the direct aftermath, the king's speech, and the deserved moment for Varchild's promotion.


Who!?

Someone is pulling Leshrac's strings? The only other person that we know of is Freyalise. How does all of this factor into her plans? What does the fall of Kjeldor and giving more power to Lim-Dul have to do with anything? I have to assume that she is just as desperate at Leshrac to leave the plane, and somehow it all makes sense. The reason she's probably at the School of the Unseen right now is to look up what information she can find on the rogue plane that's coming and how to use it shatter her "prison" open so she can finally have access to the rest of the multiverse.


1 comment:

  1. Ah, but there are still other players left in this block, behind the curtains....

    ReplyDelete