Wandering Through Terran–Chapter 16

January 18, 2010

Revised

And the rest of the story (Click “Books” on the bar up top, then “Wandering Through Terran” for future reference)

Chapter Sixteen: The Final Calls

Where the Army Following the

Goblins Towards Aven is Formed…

Slant glared as Dayspring and Eseen entered the room where he coordinated and distributed the final marching assignments for the trek towards Aven. Since returning the previous evening, the two had been nearly inseparable and his fatherly instincts found that state of affairs nearly inexcusable. It was not a fault he found with Dayspring, he had actually grown to respect the young knight a great deal and would be glad to have him on his side in battle. With the apparent betrayal and subsequent execution of Rick in the forest, the general state of things was settling into a calmer routine although Slant did entirely trust. Katsumi and O-Ren both indicated as much when he consulted them on the group’s status. He trusted Dayspring, but it was still his daughter and she gave him cause for anxiety on a regular basis.

By now you’ve all heard that Falston will be sending seven thousand with us to Aven,” he said. “In the aftermath of the battle here, there was considerable damage to repair and they need all the help they can get to do so. With the emergence of the forest, I would expect that the goblins won’t return without considerably more power than they had. That gives Falston some time to rebuild. The airship stunt Vera and Eseen put together has likely set their economy back years too.”

It seemed like a good idea at the time,” Vera said.

Not that it wasn’t effective,” Slant insisted. “It merely had some heavy consequences on things here in Falston. It’s going to be two days at least before they can get the airships running at full capacity.”

So we have seven thousand men and twelve thousand of my dwarves preparing to make the journey to Aven,” Barnack said. “Seems like we have some solid numbers. The only problem being that we’re moving on foot.”

And the numbers we’ll be up against,” Herb added. “That is the trouble we face right there: we don’t know how many goblins we’re dealing with. By your estimate, there were at least a million imprisoned under your watch. And that doesn’t even count the free goblins that weren’t in your custody.”

Aye,” Barnack agreed. “That could prove to be an issue. They do breed quickly and recklessly. And what of Aven? What kind of defenses do they have?”

Our best hope is that they have some forewarning,” Slant answered. “Aven has the most well-trained and expansive army in Terran, one that most people tend to be afraid of. But that won’t matter much if they’re caught by surprise. We’ve had no contact with the city of late and signs indicate dark deeds being worked within its walls. Regardless, we must prepare to aid them.”

What of Bris and the other kingdoms?” Vera asked.

Beyond Bris, not much has changed,” Slant reported. “Your father and the men of Bris turned the situation to their advantage when the goblins tried to take the peninsula. They simply overwhelmed the enemy force with fire from the sea, picking off and decimating them. And your father was rather displeased when he found out you were here.”

You told him?” she asked incredulously.

I did not, which was another point of contention with him and the Old Sea Hag. Unfortunately, one of the Guardians here was running communications for us. Albie was unaware of the nature of our situation and gave your father a full update on our condition. That included you. So both of us are in the doghouse with him. He doesn’t trust me right now, to the point where I’m banned from Bris under penalty of death. He’s demanding that Dayspring pledge to be your personal guard until you return to Bris.”

Eseen looked over at Dayspring in surprise. He shrugged as Vera moved to sit beside him.

He forgot the part where he’s from Tryps?” Vera asked. “I’ve heard the story behind that grudge all my life and he’s putting me in the care of someone from Tryps?” She looked to Dayspring. “No offense.”

None taken,” he said. “Regardless, I will promise to keep Vera safe.”

Satisfied that the formalities were completed, Slant turned to the map on the wall behind him.

It doesn’t matter,” Slant said. “We need to discuss our course and plan of attack. If we stick to the main road, we won’t get to Aven nearly in time to make much difference. I think our best strategy is to take the mountain pass that the dwarves told us about. Based on what we know of goblin tactics and Barnack’s report of his people massing in the mountains, I would surmise they would stick to the plains and forests to maximize their damage. So we will cut through the mountain pass to see if we can get to Aven sooner.”

When do we leave?” Dayspring asked.

Not all of us are going to Aven,” Slant stated. “I’ve spoken to Willamina. She has agreed to host Eseen and Vera as two guests of Falston for the duration of hostilities. O-Ren and Katsumi will stay with them as well.”

What?” Vera demanded.

You two have been reckless, dangerous and putting us all in danger throughout this whole affair,” the wizard explained. “So, in the interest of maximizing our chances of success and ensuring your safety, I’ve arranged for you two to stay here. That’s the way it has to be.”

puup

Dad, you cannot be serious,” Vera exclaimed angrily to her father. Using the communication crystals, she quickly interrupted the lecture that the miniature avatar of her father was delivering to make a point. “The High King of Aven is younger than I am. I can handle the responsibility.”

He’s only a month younger than you,” King Reul corrected her curtly. “And this isn’t about whether or not you can handle it. You definitely can. The issue here is that you disappeared without telling me or anyone else. You are the heir to my throne and as such I expect you to at least follow protocol.”

If I had done that, Falston would have fallen and all manners of hell would have broken loose throughout Terran. You know as well as I that time was of the essence. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about what I was going to do, but you know that saying anything out loud in Bris is foolish and the surest way for everybody to know it. Hell, you only found out about the Vuku Gem because I slept talked. If loose lips sank ships, the entire Brisian Armada would be at the bottom of the ocean by now.”

Her father remained silent. Vera began to wonder if she had gone too far as the image of her father hung his head. She was about to apologize when he cut her off.

We’ll speak when you return to Bris,” he said. “Now your mother wants to speak with you.”

Vera rolled her eyes. The image of her father disappeared to be replaced by the thin and stern shape of her mother replacing him.

Hi mom,” Vera said.

Don’t you ‘hi mom’ me!” Queen Uma shouted. “I spend a couple days on the Isle of Eve and you choose to go get involved in a war?”

It wasn’t necessarily the plan of action I started with,” Vera replied. “It was something I had to do.”

Had to do? Do not pull that line with me young lady. You are still my daughter and still have yet to complete the trials of adulthood. Until then, you are not fully an adult.”

Damn it, you Old Sea Hag! I didn’t—”

What did you call me?”

Vera closed her eyes, realizing what she had said. Her father’s nickname was something she knew full well not to use.

All in a day’s work, she thought. Might as well go the distance if I’m already going to be in trouble.

That’s right,” Vera said. “I hereby recognize you as the Old Sea Hag. Trust me when I say I enjoy finally have the opportunity to say that.”

Her mother severed the connection. Vera hung her head and laughed.

Probably could have taken a higher road on that one, she thought. Dad will probably be sending me off to sea for awhile. Everybody in Bris is required to do so when they turn nineteen, but I might get sent out a bit early… oh well. I’ve been ready to go for years. For now, I’ll just figure out how to apologize for making an ass of myself.

She left the Guardian Citadel, returning to the Castle.

puup

This isn’t far,” Eseen said.

Dayspring listen quietly as she moped, lying beside her in bed. He gently caressed her arm, keeping her back against him. Trying to be comforting and reassuring, he strongly suspected he was not succeeding to any degree. She rolled against him, pulling him close with an arm.

I can do so much if I go along,” she said. “Dad doesn’t have any idea what’s waiting for us in Aven. We need to strike at full strength.”

No we don’t,” Dayspring said. “You do have some power, but you would be better off waiting here if we fail. They might know what your capable of and we’d be able to catch them by surprise.”

But we could finish them if we strike hard and fast in Aven.”

He held her close.

I know,” he said. “But think about this from your father’s point of view. If we do need your power, isn’t better that you be better prepared? With the full force of Terran behind you?” He kissed her on the lips. He rolled back and looked at her. “I’ll feel better knowing you’re safely secured here. Please don’t be angry.”

I’m not,” she replied. “I’ll try to stay well behaved while we’re here.”

puup

Herb and Olaf watched as the Guardians of Sorcery worked on hailing the other kingdoms.

What word out of Tryps?” Olaf asked.

Nothing yet,” Albie said. “You’ll be the first to know.”

puup

Dayspring spoke with the dwarf captains, confirming the route and their supplies. Slant rushed down as they parted to finish loading up the wagons, cutting around the stacks of supplies to the knight.

We made contact with Aven,” he said. “The goblins are at the edge of their kingdom. We should leave immediately.”

How are things there?” Dayspring asked.

About what we expected. Apparently the goblins had more agents within the ranks of Aven than we expected. They got help from the Ranger and some elves.”

Elves? They’ve returned?”

That’s right. The dwarves and the elves walk in Terran once again. Makes me feel a bit better about all of this.”

Definitely.”

He stared out as the dwarves finished packing the wagons that would carry the ordinances and supplies for their trek to Aven. The plan was to leave once the supplies were prepared, making the trek as quickly as possible. They had a straight-forward path, staying on the main road until they reached the point where it curved around the mountain range. There they would enter the mountains and cross to the plains of Aven. They estimated it would take a day to cover the distance, but could not say for certain. Seeing the wizard’s expression, Dayspring frowned.

Slant,” he said. “I want to apologize if I have offended you with my behavior. I wish to assure you that my intentions with Eseen are honorable and I meant no disrespect to her or yourself.”

I did not doubt your intentions,” Slant replied. He smiled as he slapped Dayspring on the back. “You are a good man and I would honor to hold council with you under different circumstances. My frustration does not lie with you. You know she was taken from me and her mother as an infant and we only recently recovered her. In some ways I do wish I had more time with her. We found her at a difficult age.”

I understand,” Dayspring replied. “But she’s not going to take you telling her to stay here well.”

She’s like mother in that regard.”

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