Wandering Through Terran–Chapter 17

January 20, 2010

Here’s chapter seventeen… And a link to the directory…

Chapter Seventeen

Where Sydney’s mettle is tested…

The reports of the goblin army moving into the kingdom of Aven came in regularly, a force that had not been seen in centuries. The city and Palace was flooding with refugees as the Knights of Duramar prepared their defenses. With the advisement of Lothgar and Merf, he Sydney studied the reports and dissected the information it presented.

How many do you think we’re facing?” Sydney asked.

Reports indicate upwards of two million,” Lothgar said. “Even if there are more, it wouldn’t matter. We don’t have the numbers to turn them back.”

Falston will send a force,” Merf said. “My brethren indicate it is roughly nineteen thousand strong. We have five hundred thousand troops of our own currently active. More coming in as the reserves answer the call. Not an impossible gap to overcome. Just a very difficult one.”

What of the Guardians?” Sydney asked. “What resources can they contribute to our cause?”

Urza’s treachery was years in the making,” Merf said grimly. “Our resources were diminished due to his influence, and there is evidence of theft and sabotage at the Citadel. We have salvaged what we can, but it does not appear to be much.”

What of the elves and the Ranger?” Sydney asked. “Particularly the Ranger. Do they have anything to offer that will help?”

Nothing of great note,” Lothgar said. “It does seem too late to muster our full force. I’ve been making arrangements to get as many people as possible away from the city. I’ve got men escorting those who cannot fight towards the mountain fortress. As for our forces here, we sent out the call, but a force the goblins will be here by mid-afternoon. Our men won’t get here in time.”

#

Zev watched from the palace balcony as the Knights of Duramar helped the people of Aven get to the secure walls of the city and the palace beyond. Fenway was sleeping behind him, still recovering from his injuries. Looking out in the distance, he could see the approaching goblin force. A cold feeling spread throughout his gut as he considered what it meant.

What have I done? he wondered. I just wanted to help Vera get a peaceful night’s sleep. Did I trade Terran for her peaceful slumber?

A hand gently rested on his shoulder as he considered this. Glancing down at the delicate and luminous hand wrapped in a fingerless glove, he groaned. Kaylee moved to his side, keeping the hand on his shoulder. It bothered him how quiet her and the rest of the elves were. He considered it a point of pride to be aware of those things.

How are you that quiet?” he asked.

Years of practice,” she replied without concern. She did not look at him, only staring out at the oncoming army. “This is a crucial moment for Terran. And for you.”

This is all my fault.”

She laughed at him. Giving it thought, he realized how foolish he was being.

Blame doesn’t matter right now,” she said. Resting her hands on his shoulders, she turned him so that she faced him. “If it hadn’t been you to meet the Goblin Lord at Calla Leto, another would have been there and Vera might not have survived. So you really were meant to do all this. You were meant to anger the Goblin Lord then. You were meant to come here and put a stop to his manipulations. And you’re the only one who can strike the goblins the way they need to be struck. You might not find it comforting, but I do. Take heart. It enabled us to meet and I would have missed knowing you, even so briefly. Now do you have any idea how to do this thing you have to do?”

I’ve got an idea or two I guess. It isn’t going to be pretty.”

These things rarely are. I think you’ve got it where it counts though. I know what your planning on doing. I’m going to help you.”

She leaned forward and kissed him on the lips.

#

Sydney watched as Lady Ashley entered his chambers. She bowed slightly as he smiled.

I’m preparing a squad to take you north through the forest,” he said. “Once you’re clear of the trees, you’ll be able to take the north road home to Sargean. I think—”

I’m staying in Aven,” Ashley cut him off.

Ashley, Aven will be a war zone by this time tomorrow. If you get out, you can alert—”

Alert the other kingdoms? You have the crystals for that. By now every kingdom and guild knows what is happening. Terran is prepared for war. You know as well as I that there are few healers with my skills and those are needed here.”

Sydney gave it thought as he reconsidered the topic. Looking at her resolute face, he nodded.

You’re right,” he said. “You’re right and your father said as much when I reported the situation to him earlier. He advised me to keep you here for the very reasons you have stated. So feel free to join the healers in the Palace Gardens.”

Thank you my liege,” she said. “I will go there forthwith.” She stopped at the door, realizing there was something else she wanted to say.

Is there something else, milady?” he asked.

No my liege.”

She left the study, leaving Sydney to continue studying the reports.

#

Looking at the army gathered before the city walls, Marizan studied them closely. He had spent decades researching goblins, trying to understand their method and tactics. In those years he simply confirmed what he knew to very detail summations: goblins are at heart simple creatures, but devious whenever their simplicity allowed it.

Looking at them now, he surmised their tactics easily. They were moving too slowly to get into position before night fall, the lack of organization in their enormous number likely causing significant delays. No siege towers or such weapons was visible. He estimated they would not be ready to attack until early the next day though.

Provides quite a bit of time for us to gather ourselves, he thought. Maybe we’ll even see a way through this in that time. Maybe we should just figure out how to spend the last moments of Terran. The people here… they look to me and my comrades like we have great power that will enable us to save them. I wish we did, but we’re just as hopeless as they are.

His musings came to an end when Patracolus and Viktor walked up to the the balcony he had chosen. They watched as he turned to them and smiled. It was a grim smile, not really parlaying any pleasure at their present circumstances.

We’ve secured the walls as well we can,” Viktor said. “We’ve got an advantage in that the Palace is nearly unassailable if properly prepared.”

They won’t try siege tactics or waiting us out,” Marizan said flatly. “Stupid as golbins tend to be, they won’t lose the same way twice. They tried that in Falston and got routed because the people there fought back and kept themselves from getting sealed in. And they know we’re hoping for a siege. They won’t do it here though. They want to enslave the people of Terran, make them servants. If they crush Aven and kill every last person here, they believe they will weaken the resolve of the other kingdoms. They will strike hard, fast and without warning.”

I guess we have to stop them here then,” Patracolus said. “What about your elvish charms? Can those be of aid?”

None that will serve our needs,” the elf replied. “The power of the elves is limited and constrained now. We left this land and it has yet to embrace us again. Rightfully so. The Wirevines must prove the quality of our people once again before we can ask the lands of Terran for favors.”

#

Lothgar prepared his horse to ride out and treat with the goblins. Sydney had insisted on going, despite the myriad of objections. Ultimately they gave way as they saw the leaders of the goblin force ride forward to the designated place. With Kaylee and Merf, Lothgar was to ride out as the escort for the High King.

Dressed in his red and black armor, Lothgar looked to Merf as the wizard arrived. He nodded to the wizard.

How do you think we should play this?” Lothgar asked.

Cautiously,” Merf replied. “The key for our side is to make them do exactly what we want them to do. Unfortunately, they have Urza working for them now. Even with his mind so tainted with greed and power-lust, he is a brilliant thinker and the equal to nearly any of us. We cannot rush in there thinking it will be easy to manipulate him. He is not to be underestimated.”

I suspect Sydney has a plan,” Lothgar said. “He hinted as much anyway.”

#

Fenway woke up as Ashley changed the bandage on his wrist. She smiled as he looked around, warning him to rest. He sat up as she finished.

So the goblins are attacking today?” he asked.

They’re just outside the city,” she said. “Sydney told me they’re here to destroy us all.”

Sounds about right. That goblin gloated enough about how his army would crush us.”

Did he say anything useful in his gloating?”

He mostly gloated and got really scared after I stabbed him.”

You stabbed him?”

Had a knife they missed when the Knights of Duramar grabbed me. You don’t want to know where I had that one.”

Ashley laughed as she sat on the bed checking his other wounds.

That must have been an exciting time,” she said.

He seemed scared after that,” Fenway said. “Like he realized something and it frightened him.”

#

They rode out in a formation, with Sydney at the head. Dressed in red and black armor, he looked imposing on the black horse he rode. Lothgar had insisted they ride as to better protect their king in the event of a surprise assassination attempt, but Sydney refused. Though their chances were slim, he knew appearances were everything and he needed to appear fearless. They met the four delegates from the goblin army less than a mile beyond the wall of Aven. Waiting there on horseback was Urza, the Goblin Lord and a couple of goblin generals. Sydney regarded each of them with a nod before focusing on Urza.

And so here you are,” the High King observed with clear contempt. “We’ve been missing you these last couple of days. I should have known. You brought us to the brink of war against ourselves with your treachery.”

Kingdoms come and Kingdoms go,” Urza replied. “Aven will fall. If not today, then someday. That is the way of things and not of any great concern. One’s self is all that one can truly care for.”

A fascinating philosophy,” Sydney said. “I see you’ve lost all sense of honor. It is by honor that I promise you Aven will not fall here today. I refuse to allow it to be by your hand or your deeds. You will answer for your treasons soon.” He turned his focus to the Goblin Lord. “Do you have a name, Goblin Lord, so I might address you properly and in accordance with customs?”

I have none in the language of man,” the goblin said gruffly. “However, I will permit you to refer to me as Brunzar.”

Greetings Lord Brunzar,” Sydney said. “I assume you know the way these things work. Do you have terms to offer?”

As simple as can be,” Brunzar said. “Surrender or you suffer. Those are your only choices. You surrender, we will spare those whom we deem fit of service. A quick death for the ones we do not. If you refuse and choose to do battle with us, I guarantee the suffering of every last man, woman and child in your kingdom. Your kingdom will be an exhibition of torture, pain and suffering.”

I reject your terms and offer my own,” Sydney said. “Leave now and we will not exterminate your force from this field. I would even be willing to negotiate the cessation of territory for a goblin kingdom.”

Ha!” Urza laughed. “Do you truly believe you have the means to even mount a facade of a defense?”

Sydney turned to look at the wizard, glaring at the old man on the horse. The two stared at each other, evaluating one another.

Master Wizard,” Sydney said. “Don’t believe you are the only one who knows of secrecy. Should you live when this week is done, I assure you, you will be tried for treason and I will personally perform your execution.” He looked up beyond the enemy leaders at the army beyond. “Don’t believe this force of yours is truly capable of defeating my kingdom. Don’t believe it would be an easy victory even if it was. We have means of warfare that were kept secret from all except the High Kings. Believe that this land has been the ward of forefathers for generations and we will not idly surrender it to such rabble. Believe that you should be wary of what deeds you perform now.”

Turning, Sydney led his delegation back to the city. Behind them, he could sense the confusion behind him. A nervous debate was going on between Urza and the goblins as they rode back to their forces. They were nearly in the city when Lothgar finally spoke to him.

My liege,” Lothgar asked. “Was it truly wise to make those implications?”

It will serve its purpose,” Sydney replied. “Have those measures I requested been taken throughout the city?”

Yes,” Lothgar said. I question the wisdom of it though.”

It is a wise measure to ensure they can’t use anything we have in the city itself,” Sydney replied. “And plenty of work for stone masons and carpenters after if this affair is done. I suspect that we bought some time there. Urza’s credibility was shaky to begin with, so I think they will grill him for a time before continue on with the attack. At the very least we gave them something to think about.”

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