Wandering Through Terran–Chapter 07

January 8, 2010

Revised.

Links…

Chapter Seven: The Decisions

Where Consequences Are Considered…

High King Sydney ordered General Lothgar into his private study immediately upon hearing of the incident at the tavern. He dismissed the other attendants and advisors, choosing to speak with the leader of the Knights of Duramar alone.

This is growing to a level of madness that I do not feel entirely comfortable with,” Sydney said. “I’m beginning to question how much control I actually have over my personal guard right now. We need to get the situation under control. How are the two knights that were defeated by the Ranger?”

Healing,” Lothgar answered. “Galic is one of the finest we’ve ever had and Viktor is well trained. Mostly they’re just nursing their wounded pride at this point.”

Do we know where the Ranger is now?”

In the forest somewhere. I’ve decided not to send anybody out to search because it will be almost impossible to find anything in the dark. They couldn’t have gotten far, and we’ve alerted the nearby kingdoms and outposts.”

Good. If you don’t mind, I’d like to interview the next Ranger we capture. Preferably the one from today’s incident.”

Lothgar looked skeptical, but relieved by the request. In the back of his mind, he was still trying to reconcile the actual decision to ban the Rangers and justify it. Though he had been there for the proclamation, the memory of it was lost in a haze.

Why?” the General asked.

I want to know what exactly is happening in my kingdom,” Sydney explained. “I think the best way to do that is to talk to the Ranger. Strictly for informative purposes, of course.”

Of course, my liege. I will inform the guard of your order.”

Sydney watched as the general left the room. Standing, he went out to the balcony and looked over the city below him. Beyond the walls of the walls were the plains, to the Endless Mountains jutting out and dominating a side of the landscape.

It’s coming to a pass now, he thought. The shadow grows more anxious. Has been ever since I made the order for the Rangers to be banned from Aven. There’s something… infecting my kingdom. I can feel it poking and prodding at me, challenging my resilence. But I can’t seek it out. Not yet. I have let it spread through my people until I can see the symptoms more clearly and pinpoint the source. Then I can remove it.

puup

Patracolus and Zev continued running through the forest until they reached the area called the Glade, arriving there just after darkness fell. They had played there as children, and knew the area well even in the dark. They set up camp and made a fire. Patracolus stared across the fire at his brother.

Why are you here Zev?” he asked. “The Rangers don’t send their people on suicide missions.”

Sometimes they do,” Zev replied with a shrug. “Really only if there’s an advantage to it. But I’m here because I have a great many concerns that require me to be in Aven. The death order against the Rangers is only the latest.”

What do you mean?”

A great evil is rising. A few weeks ago I was in Bris, spending some time investigating a recurring dream the princess there was having. Over the course of events there, we found an old goblin there, one of the ancient kings of their kind from the years after the Dragons were defeated. Not sure how he got there, not that it mattered. He’s very strong, very powerful, and very dangerous. He has some power of persuasion, I’m not entirely sure how it works. All I can tell you is that he’s here and he’s causing a lot of problems. I think he’s putting together a real threat to everything we’ve built. He’s starting something big.”

That’s very interesting. You believe he is in Aven now? What’s he doing?”

I got word from Bru before coming here. The Rangers have been in constant communication with the dwarves in the Endless Mountains over the years, keeping it unknown to the rest of Terran. The goblins are moving again. Last week the Lost Brig was broken into. The dwarves report that all the goblins a variety of other fell beasts escaped. That’s several million goblins massing for some reason. I think they’re coming here. The one I encountered was one of the early kings and they’ve heard his call. He can unite the goblins under him. That is not all. There is great corruption in Aven and it has run all through the High King’s advisors. He is in danger from within, than without.”

That can’t be.”

I know many of those men claim to be friends of yours, but some of them can’t be trusted.” He knew his brother would doubt him ferociously to be told the truth directly, so Zev decided to lead Patracolus to the point. “For argument’s sake, can you tell me what would happen if the High King was killed? My knowledge of this procedure is a bit vague.”

Lothgar, the General Supreme and steward of the Knights of Duramar, would become Regent until the heir apparent was ready to assume the throne. But the High King Sydney has no heir. To be fair, he’s younger than I am. Without an heir, that would lead to a ‘Summit of Kings’ to determine the next High King. All the other times that’s happened, it takes months at least, usually years. All of the Kings or representatives want themselves or their chosen candidate to be chosen. No one who is in their right mind will want that power struggle to take place.”

So who would be in control of Aven during that time?”

During the Summit? A third party would be asked to take stewardship and maintain the peace.”

A third party. Like the Guardians of Sorcery.”

It can’t be them. They’ve vowed never to take any form of power. As have the Rangers. They’ve bound themselves to that oath.”

Won’t stop somebody from making the offer. Or them from accepting. Somebody is trying to get rid of the Rangers and the only reason for that is that we might know something or be able to stop whatever they’re trying to do. I’m trying to figure out who it is and what they think we know. If it happens to be a Knight of Duramar or a Guardian that has the answer, then so be it. We’ll just have to stop them.”

So what do we do now?”

We need to get the High King. Convince him of the danger he’s in and protect him until we can be sure he’s safe.”

How are you planning to do that?”

Still working on that bit. We need help. Is there anyone that you can trust absolutely?”

Galic and Viktor are loyal to the High King and him alone. By now hey surely know that something is wrong and understand that the High King is in far greater danger than we know about. My old teacher would also be willing to help us. Merf knows me too well not to know that there is something amiss after our flight. He’s probably figured out a few things on his own by now.”

Zev nodded and lay down.

We’ll figure out what to do tomorrow,” he said. “Now let’s try to get some rest.”

puup

Urza strode into General Cyrus’s office and slammed his fist down on the desk. Cyrus was a highly ranked officer—General Lothgar being his only superior in the Knights of Duramar—but he still felt slightly intimidated by the wizard. He was an old and tired soldier who had fought in many vicious battles to preserve the peace under the High King Martin, Sydney’s grandfather. He had been a brilliant soldier, but he grew bitter at Sydney and his father for Albert choosing Lothgar over him to be the High General and be one of the primary advisors of the court.

This is a quite unacceptable state of affairs!” the Guardian shouted. The general leaned back as the wizard paced.

What would you have me do?” Cyrus retorted. “They’ve bolted and escaped into the woods. They are probably miles from here by now. Even if they weren’t, I can’t send soldiers in there at night. Lothgar won’t allow it and he’s right to do so. It’s far too dangerous. We’d be more likely to injure ourselves than capture them.”

Of course, of course. It would be best to remedy this faster than your Knighthood will be able to. Much faster. I’ve already taken the liberty of arranging for a couple of men to go and find them. They are specialists in finding people in the dark. They will find and kill the Ranger and the renegade Knight. If they find Merf, they will kill him too. Money is not an issue.”

You’ve hired assassins?”

As far as anyone of import is concerned, they do not exist.”

Of course. I assume they will arrive soon?”

“Yes all arrangements have been made and they are already gone underway to do the job. It is no longer a concern of ours.”

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