Monday, November 30, 2009

Yet another warning; chapter 21

Large man makes death threats to small girl, the minor curse 'dammit' is used.
Just in case people find the idea of threatening prepubescent girls with large knives offensive.

Chapter twenty-one

They'd set up camp for the night. No fires, no tents, just circled trucks with tan camo tarps on the inside edge. Food came in cans. As Enge put it, 'if it ain't frozen, don't heat it'. And while some of the some of the greener members of the little army objected loudly; they weren't really given an alternative. The more experienced of Daniel's men passed up on dinner altogether; they knew that breakfast would be the warm meal. They also knew how unlikely it was that they'd find meals that would take as long to spoil as these, and how hungry they'd be in a month or so if they over ate now.

Kiera found herself a nearby hill, just outside of camp. She wasn't the only woman in the group, but she was certainly the only lady. Tressa volunteered for the night watch; she'd napped in the truck most of the day.
Enge was taking the second watch, and final, watch of the night; so Daniel decided to take this opportunity to meet the young witch. At the least, it would be good to make the right impression on the princess's apprentice.

Enge's description was surprisingly accurate, down to the sheer witchiness of the young woman. It was hard to make out her hair color, but the way she fiddled with her scabbard was exactly like how his father would fiddle with his own weapons. Daniel was a very down-to-earth man; but he really could see how even a half-mad old salt like Enge would see the resemblance. Admitedly his father tended to bury himself in magazines with names like 'Alchemy Today' and 'Imperial Anthrpological', not 'Persons' or 'Imperial Conspirerer', but the basic activity was comprable. 
"Ever commanded a watch before young lady?"
"No sir."  Tressa set down her magazine, the delightfully headlined 'Emperor Kevand's secret lover reveals all!',  "Have you ever gone to war before?"
"Well then, I suppose we're equally unprepared for the tasks at hand. Let's just hope we learn quickly."
"I'm not talking you up, so you can drop it right now."
Perceptive little witchling wasn't she. He could see why the men avoided her most of the time.
"Oh well, didn't really expect that one to take off anyways."
Tressa continued to stare past him. He'd dealt with more than his fair share of witches in the past and he still found her disconcerting. Somewhere, probably on Tara, there was an eerie looking castle missing its witch. If they ever did win this war, He'd get her there as quickly as possible; then he'd have the key melted down and recast as a ring.
"I actually wanted to talk to you about something else."
"Obviously, why else would you still be there."
He took that back. He'd melt down the key, and use it to block the lock entirely.
"I couldn't help but notice that necklace of yours. Where did you get it?"
"It was left with Aunt Allistari for me. Since she refuses to discuss it, I assume it was a gift from one of my parents."
"Then you didn't know your parents?"
He was a little disappointed, he'd hoped she'd know more. It wasn't like he had planned to tell her anything; mostly he was just hoping to milk her for information he could use next time he met his Dad. Maybe he could Finlay get a definitive answer on why he and Mom had broken up.
"Not directly, but I've managed to glean a little from my Aunt."
"Anything you'd be willing to share?"
"Why would you care? You probably come from a big wealthy family and rebelled to become the mercenary low-life you are now."
"I take an interest in everyone who serves under me; even the bratty little witchlings."
She laughed. He chuckled. Neither of them found it funny; there was no animosity, but they both knew that the other had meant want they said.
"I suppose I lose nothing by telling you. My mother was an imperial guard, my father was some criminal; high-end, assassinations and the like. The two met and had me. Her lifestyle didn't make the time or space for a child, and he was no where to be found. That's all I know."
Sounded like his suspicions were right; he'd have to tell Enge to open a file on the kid. If he could find out more he might be able to gain the upper hand in any future interactions.
"I'm sorry to hear that, I know what it's like to have parents who couldn't be there for you."
"No you don't."
It was Daniel's turn to stare at her now.
"Do I now?"
"Your father was there for you, always had a helping hand and a word of advice when you needed them. Even if you didn't always notice it."
Daniel snarled in anger, "What do you know of my father?"
"You should teach your subordinates to guard their minds better, 'Captain'. There are some dangerous secrets in there."
He was going to have a harsh talk with Enge about mental vigilance later.
"He was good, but about three nights ago he was exhausted. A little bit of wine plied his mind perfectly."
Dammit! The cheeky little girl wasn't just a magic-user; she was actually smart. Knowing Enge, he wouldn't even have known what little mental defense he'd had left was even under attack. How much did she know?
"Most of it was useless, barely anything worthy of blackmail. But this 'Ukown guild' of yours; very interesting."
Tressa began pacing around her victim. Did they have a school to teach heartless young women these sorts of things, or was it just natural?
"He's a good man. You shouldn't hold it against him. It's not like he allowed his mind to be racked for knowledge; he was just unable to resist it."
Daniel stepped forward pulling a long knife from his belt and placing the tip of it on the bridge of her nose.
"I swear by my father's blades; if a word of this leaves your tongue I'll slit you from chin to navel."
She recoiled in fear. Witch, blackmailer even; she was still just a little girl. She hadn't even hit puberty, and he was easily a foot and a half taller than her. It would have been more surprising if she hadn't started crying. And were it not for the fear he felt at the risk she posed him; he might have even felt sorry.
"I-I won't tell anyone. p-p-promise."
He gestured at her with the knife, "In blood, witch. Put out your hand, and swear it in blood. Swear that you will discuss what you know only with those who already know it. If then."
She dropped to her knees sobbing. She stretched out her hand slowly. He placed the knife on her palm.
"I swear it, I'll only discuss what I k-know about you with those who already know it." And she closed her hand firmly around his blade.
He drew it back sharply, "And may your own tongue keep your word."
He let out a deep breath, "Now then, if you're going to be fighting with us I insist you be fit and properly trained. From now on, you walk. And speak with Enge, He'll show you how to use that blade of yours."
Tressa sobbed lightly, hand still bleeding.
"Get up! I'll not have an officer like yourself pouting over a minor cut like that. You have a watch to run, I suggest you run it."
Daniel walked back to camp quickly. He felt bad about being so mean to her. Maybe it was the only way, but that didn't make her tears any less painful to think of. It wasn't like he hadn't done worse, but somehow this one just wasn't sitting right. He decided to make it up to her somehow in the future. He tried to sleep but was haunted by images of his father's hands, outstretched in compassion and bleeding from his treachery.

Tressa watched him leave. It hurt, her hand was throbbing from the blood loss. She couldn't focus enough to remember any of her mending charms. She tore off a bit of her skirt and bandaged it as best she could. As she headed back to her patrolling route she pondered the few glimpses she'd had of his memories. She'd payed dearly for her bluff, but the rewards had been remarkable. But the possibility of his being her brother only made her wound sting all the more.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Linguistic note; kora-kara

I used the Nieldic word kora in chapter twenty.
The word means, in best translation, 'certain future'. It's counterpart is kara, uncertain future.
The practical translations are inevitable and possible, but neither fits it quite properly. Kora is like saying it will happen, and it can't be avoided. Kara, is saying that something will happen, but something else may happen instead. The two words are used frequently in relation to prophecy. Kora prophecies tend to be vague statements like, 'it will rain' or 'the world will be named X'. In prophetic terms, kora is more or less the equivalent of fortune telling, statements are made, and the tell-ee later encounters a situation and assumes that this is what the prophecy foretold. The truest kora prophecies tend to be kara prophecies in which the deciding factor is the prophecy itself, by hearing the prophecy and acting on it, the conclusion of the kara prophecy becomes set.
In turn, kara prophecies are very specific. Sometimes done in rhyme and verse, other times just yelled loudly at the recipients over the shoulders of the guards removing the hapless soothsayer. Kara prophecies have been known to be as specific as, 'you may die at 3:47 PM on august the 24th of 3056 AD; it will be of blunt force trauma caused by a human named _______ who will be using a 3/4" wrench made of stainless steel.' The important part of these prophecies is the things not said, for example, what if that hinged entirely upon whether or not you gave the wrench as a gift to his neighbor ______ and then on whether or not you made the mistake of sleeping with his wife. Either of which could alter the end results. Because you listened to the prophecy you could avoid either hardware stores or _____ like the plague; leading you to instead die in a fire three weeks earlier when the fire extinguisher you would have bought when you went to get the wrench was not present. Nielda are always advised to pester soothsayers for the other possibilities.

However, clearly when Daniel was speaking to Enge; prophecy was not involved. This leads me to the most common use of kora in Nieldic culture; Entertainment. The word kora is often used as a part of romance scenes. The idea of course being to convey that a love was meant to be. This use has watered down the value of the word considerably.
The remaining use of the words is as names. Especially for twins, kara and koro are used as names for Nieldic girls. Kara actually has peculiar signifigance in that one of the most famous prophets of Nieldic history was named Kara. She was an anatolian Stone, and the prophecy (an eight thousand page monstrosity) was the longest and most accurate prophecy to date; covering nearly a thousand years of the Daniellandish empire with a focus on Anatolia. She herself was actually quite an interesting character. But that's a story for another day.

chapter twenty

Enge jogged over to his captain, "How much does she know?"
"Not much, she wasn't really interested in where we come from; more what we can do for her."
"Selfish twit."
"Now now Enge, no need to get self-righteous."
"We're fighting for the heir to a throne; not a noble with power and riches, just some girl who will eventually have power and riches. Forgive me for saying so captain, but risking our lives for some total stranger you find attractive is insane."
"Not quite a stranger. The guild has a file on her, apparently someone has an intrest in the Anatolian palace. I know her favorite type of flowers, where she shops, and what she does in her spare time; among many other things."
"Reading someone's file isn't the same as knowing them."
Daniel walked silently for a while, Enge jogging beside him to keep up.
"We have seen her before."
"Really? I'd think I'd notice someone like her; there'd be an announcement and bodyguard and all that high-to-do crap."
"Unless she didn't want to be noticed. And there was a bodyguard, imperial guard actually."
Enge stared at him blankly; It always bothered him when his captain beat around the bush like this.
"I'm not following you, have we kidnapped her in the past?"
"Instead of undressing her mentally like you usually do; picture her in a yellow dress with a shopping basket."
"That was uncalled for."
"Yes, but it didn't hurt."
Enge tried to picture Kiera in yellow. It was awful, a woman of her complextion and demenor in yellow; clearly yellow just wasn't her...
"The girl from the market?"
"Exactly. Now what are the odds that we have a discussion about how attractive a paticular woman is the day of an invasion, and then because of the invasion she becomes our employer? If you ask me, this is kora."
"You can be a real romantic sometimes. Fine, if you have your heart set on this girl I'll play along."
"Glad to hear you'll be cooperating. This would have been a lot harder without you."

Enge laughed, and the two continued walking with the convoy.
"There's one other thing."
"Yes Enge?"
"The girl, Tressa."
"I wouldn't worry. Witches like her love a good fairy tale romance."
"Wasn't worried about that."
"What were you worried about?"
"She's got your father's hair."
"It's not an unpopular hair color, probably make a dye for it."
"And his ears."
"I think you may be reading into this a bit much."
"And his hands."
"Good, then she'll be useful in a fight. Good to know your compatriots have a reasonable amount of manual dexterity."
"And I haven't seen it closely enough, but that necklace of her's looks awfully familiar."
"Describe it."
"Silver chain, wolf's head design with two saphires for eyes, gold inlay for details."
Daniel stopped suddenly; Enge had to turn around to face him.
"He said he'd lost that one."
"Would it surprise you that he had secrets, even from you?"
"No, it would surprise me that he got over Mom so quickly."
"Right, that was about eleven years ago now wasn't it?"
"Nearly twelve. They haven't spoken since. He never explained why. If that little devil is what drove my parents apart..."
"I always thought it was his getting her transfered that was the issue."

Daniel started walking again, slower now.
"If it helps, Your father probably didn't do anything. Sure he's a rogueish and exciting man, but he loved your mother. He wouldn't do anything of the sort without a good reason."
"I wish he were here."
"So do I, he'd have this whole Ga-Vok situation sorted out before you could say 'Drinkin and wenchin'."
"Not helping."
"Sorry sir, 'drinkin and entreating the ladies' then."
"Well, if the poor lass is my father's...child; then we should probably become aquainted."
"That's the spirit captain."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

chapter nineteen

"So these are your men?"
"Handpicked and meticulously trained."
"They don't look it; no armor, inconsistent weapons, no apparent command structure. How do you manage to do anything."

Daniel's men were loading the trucks. Kiera was actually quite impressed, there were nearly a thousand men. It was the largest force she'd ever seen.

"My men know what's expected of them, and what's allowed. The officers are out there, a lack of distinguishing marks keeps them from being specially targeted. And as for equipment, they're mercenaries not soldiers. What they have is what they can provide themselves. And since custom made equipment isn't cheap; you can't blame them for picking the weapons that work best for them."
"That sounds rehearsed."
Daniel laughed, "True, It's always good to have answers when clients have questions."
"This is just another job to you, isn't it?"
"Not quite, this job has considerably higher stakes than most. Which reminds me, we haven't agreed on payment yet."
"This is service to your Emperor; the gratitude of the empire will be reward enough."
"I'm not working for so intangible a prize; what's your next offer?"
"I'm sure the Emperor will grant you a commendation."
"I'm not interested in what the Emperor has to offer. Have you ever actually met him?"
"Well, not exactly. But I have attended several state dinners and his representatives speak very highly of his majesty."
"His majesty has recently reached the venerable age of eight. I'm no more interested in garnering his good graces than I am in working for free. What can you offer me from her highness, the princess of Anatolia?"
"Knighthood for yourself, with land and heredity; A pension for your men."
"My men will be glad to hear that, few of them had any hopes of retiring."
"Then you accept?"
"I'd like to make a counter offer actually. I have land and no need of a title. Perhaps you could think of something a little more enticing for a wealthy bachelor."

Great, he was coming on to her. This trip was already looking to be a long one.
"No, that's my best offer. And if you try anything, anything at all, and I'll give you nothing."
"Hear me out. All I'm asking here is one date, dinner a movie, whatever you feel like. I'd pay, just give me a chance before completly disqualifying me. If you don't like it I won't call again."
"I'll think about it, but until then keep it to yourself. Last thing I need to worry about is fending off the advances of my mercenary captain."

Enge walked up behind Kiera, "Captain, everything's loaded up. Will you be riding or walking?"
"I'll walk, but feel free to take a ride yourself."
"Yes sir."
Enge started walking off, then stopped and turned around.
"There's one other thing, we found a little girl trying to join the group. She..."
"Tressa, she's with me."
"Then you were aware that an eleven year-old was trying to follow a band of," Enge glanced at Daniel, "Mercenaries. Into battle most likely, but certainly into danger."
"She's my apprentence. Where I go, she goes."
"If the lady says the kid comes, the kid comes. There's a pension in it for everyone if we win."
"So you negotiated a fee already?"

Daniel didn't reply.
"I'm going to go load up, tell Tressa to come ride with me."
"Yes Ma'am. Right this way."

chapter eighteen

"Point, the lady."

Kiera lowered her practice sword from Enge's throat.
"How many times do I have to beat your friend here before you belive it isn't just a fluke?"
She'd gone all out on the first round, and after more than could be counted she was exhausted. It had been early evening when they'd started and the sun was setting already.
"You stop when Enge can't fight anymore, or when you can't fight anymore. If you use magic then you're disqualified."
"Tournament rules? You really think a tournament is any indication of real combat?"

She had to admit, they weren't far off. While she'd never been competitive with her martial training, it was an element of the ascendancy tradition. The council had informed her that in such a civil competition against non-magic users, a mage was expected to refrain from using their powers. In all honesty, she didn't know any spells that could be used to give her an edge that didn't either kill outright or take time to prepare. She'd mostly learned combat magic as a backup self defense measure, she never intended to lead troops in battle.

"Captain, this is humiliating. Can we just stop now?"
"Are you conceding? Point Kiera."

Enge put the knives down, "Yes, I can only bear losing so many times a day, eventually I have to admit it."
Kiera sighed in relief. "Then you'll follow me when I go?"
"Milady, I'd follow you anywhere. But I'd gladly serve you now."
So the taskmaster had a heart in their somewhere.
"Have your men ready in three days. I should be ready by then."
"As you wish, princess."
"You mentioned a room yesterday; I'd like to see it now."
"Of course, right this way."

Friday, November 27, 2009

Act2; chapter seventeen

Dame Allistari hadn't been kidding when she said Count Marche threw a good party. Apparently it was traditional to hold a feast in celebration of victory, and he hadn't held back.

Kiera wasn't interested in the festivities. She was happy to have won of course, but she couldn't help but think of the people who weren't safely tucked up in mountain fortresses like this. She watched the horizon nervously; from the upper tower she could see into the next county. There were campfires in the farthest hills. Tonight they were safe, but she wondered how long that would last.

"Not much for festivities I see."
A man had come up the stairs to the tower. He wasn't armored, but he did carry a long, curved sword.
"If you're tired I could arrange with the servants for a room."
"You aren't a guard,what's your buisness here?"
"My apologies, we haven't been properly introduced. I'm Captain Daniel Stone."
"Ah, so your the bodyguard."
Daniel paused, "Well, you could say the count owes me one or two if that's what you meant."
"Is it true what they say about your having dropped out of the guard training program?"
He laughed, "I recieved training from a member of the guard. I could have been a member, but the guards and I don't see eye to eye on a few critical issues."
He turned and looked out across the fields.
"What are your plans now? Your people are safe here, we have food and supplies. Castle Marche could hold out gainst a siege for years."

She had planned to discuss it first with Dame Allistari and Count Marche, but she knew what had to be done.
"We may be safe here, but the rest of the planet isn't. I'm going to go town to town and train them to fight back. I can't sleep soundly knowing that they aren't safe."
"I should warn you, I make a point of not allowing myself to be commanded by anyone who can't beat me in a fight."
"Well, It's very simple. Enge, come in here."
A second man came in with a wooden sparring sword and a pair of shorter wooden knives.
"I trained Enge personally, he is my equal with the naked blade."
Enge tossed her the sword.
"Beat him, and my men and I will serve you."

Kiera readied her weapon.
"And if I don't?"
"Would my being there change your plans? It sounded like you were set on going before I'd offered my services."

He was an odd one, but she needed all the help she could get.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

chapter sixteen

Commander Arkha withdrew his Katar from the messenger's corpse.
"Failure is not acceptable! The Alpha demands your best."
He returned to his couch, wiping the blood from his weapon.
"Send word to all the commanders. The one who takes Castle Marche shall be rewarded beyond his wildest dreams."
"Yes commander, I shall do it at once."
His herald left hastily.

One of his councilors stepped forward.
"My lord, shoudln't we be preparing the world's defenses in case the empire counter-attacks?"
Arkha snarled, "Do you doubt the strength of our warriors?"
The counselor lowered his tale submissivly.
"No lord, the Alpha's warriors are mighty and swift." He glanced nervously at the other councilors. "We simply worry that your," he paused as he considered his words carefully, "well, preoccupation with the wealth of this Nieldic count seems to be opposed to His designs for this world."
Arkha drew himself to his full height, "Do you question The Alpha's wisdom in placing me in command of this world?"
The councilor stepped back, "Of course not, Surely we have failed to comprhend the workings of his great plan. Thank you for enlightening us, we will not question you again."
The councilors quickly filed out of the room.

They smelled of fear. A true warrior would never have given up his suspicion so readily. He'd have to kill them too. If they were snooping he couldn't afford to have them report his activities to the Alpha, and if not; then they weren't smart enough to be decent councilors anyways.
He might not bother replacing them, he had enough to worry about as it was. The councilors were right, he did need to ready the planet's defenses. There hadn't been any real response by the empire yet. Several diplomats had attempted to negotiate a return of the planets. It had been quite funny to watch the fools with their briefcases and papers try to talk the Alpha into undoing his life's work.

And then there was Callin. He wasn't always certain what to make of her. She was the most attractive female he'd ever met, and she wasn't even Ga-Vok. Any time he tryed to think about it logicaly it boggled his mind. For all intensive purposes there was nothing attractive about her, save perhaps her voice, and yet when he was near her he could find nothing else to think of. He'd had several seers test his mental defenses to make sure it wasn't magic, and they had found them as strong as ever. Perhaps this was some strange charm or scent she used, yet none of his guards seemed to notice. It was killing him to have her so close and yet unreachable. He dared not take her by force, any woman who could fight that well would not allow someone to humiliate them so.
And he could not help but remember Traonih's disembodied screams. They haunted him as much as Callin's beauty. When he slept the seer's image waited with dark omens. When he walked the halls, the voice followed him spitting curses from across the void. He dared not consult the seers for fear that the events of Traonih's death would come to light. She might have a remedy; but he feared it was her power that caused it.
Arkha prayed that if he offered her that which she desired it would all go away, and set back to drafting strategies for the planet's defense.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Historical note

Though they could not have known it at the time; this was the first true battle involving an organized Nieldic force since 'The Second Battle of Stonehold' in which the Junlaerd defeated the last of the princes of Stone.

It is of intrest to the noticeably superstitious Nieldic historians that the sword used by Kiera to kill the seer Narle had also been present at the battle of stonehold.
It was being used by a courtier who fell in the defense of the Stonehold. The sword was of exceptional quality, and was taken from the field by one of the Junlaerd's retainers to replace a lesser sword that had been destroyes in the battle. The sword had been well cared for by the retainer's daughter before her eventual sacrifice to the Junlaerd. The sword was then passed on to a rather homely sister who hid the sword in an attic to spite her sister's memory. The sword would eventaully be discovered some nine hundred years later by the room's new occupant, a young advisor to the emperor. This advisor went on to have the sword refurbished and used it to create an image of traditionality and service to his emperor that would ultimately land him the rank of lord. Having obtained the highest possible position within the empire he put the sword aside and eventually gifted it to his daughter in a ceremony making her his heir.

The fact that the sword could be used in combat never occured to Lathorian, but Kiera wove a few enchantments into it and used it quite advantageously.

The battle of Marcheton also marked the first true battle of the Ga-Vok wars. Though a rather minor engagement; It would be considered the first step to a larger war. Historians debate exactly what Kiera said, but generally agree that she could have said anything and her men would have gladly ripped apart the Ga-Vok forces.

What they do not debate is the fate or nature of the experienced Ga-Vok warriors. Nearly a hundred warriors escaped the battle before the death of Narle; though their were no official reports. These warriors were punished by the Alpha on returning to Decidua. They were sent into exile with their whole clan, never to return to Decidua. They would however, continue to serve the Ga-Vok confederacy as warriors; where specificlly ordered. However, their lack of reliability or motivation would see them repeatedly abused by their commanders. What they traded favor with their commanders for, was unmatched prowess in battle. To his day the 'Howling Axe' clan is revered across the universe for their skill in battle, and many consider them to be the Ga-Vok equivalent to the imperial guards of the Daniellandish empire.
Needless to say, you'll see them again.

chapter fifteen, or 'The Battle of Marcheton'

Kiera ordered her men to form ranks on a ridge overlooking the Ga-Vok encampment. It wasn't at a perfect angle, but the incline was steep enough that most of the enemy warriors would grow tired attempting to charge their position. The archers would not have that problem.
"Don't fret princess; I'll handle the archers."
Dame Allistari strode off toward the right flank, furthest from the enemy forces.

Kiera moved to a hillock on the left flank. Magic; it made you all-powerfull, until you ran into another magic-user. That's why there was a siege at all, wan't it? Well, She had the furry little pup outnumbered. With Dame Allistari dedicated to combat wards, a considerable reserve of energy amassed from months of raiding, and what she hoped to be superior combat skill; Kiera prepared to open the battle with a confident spirit.

She drew upon the energies she'd stored in the blood-stone vials. She could think of but one way to properly start a battle of this sort; with a bang!
She cast a flurry of bolts at the nearest Ga-Vok camp; killing several and causing the rest to flee in a panic. No commander, no Nieldic cmmander anyways, would ignore the presence of a mage at his flank. And the search for the offending mage would make him aware of her troops,to which he would doubtless respond in force.

She readied her sword, she would have to defend herself until their mage revealed himself.
Or herself, Kiera thought, although I don't think I've ever seen a she-wolf among them. I bet they have as hard a time telling the difference between us as we do them. Not that it matters, I plan to kill the cursed whelp either way, and I rather suspect they feel the same way.
She brushed her thoughts aside as she saw them assembling at the base of the ridge. They must have been overestimating her numbers, there were at least four, no six hundred of them. It was a risk that was taken when you arranged your men in a double line. If you spaced thickly the enemy might not know how deep your ranks were.

She raised her sword, bracing herself.
"Remember men, just like we practiced."
They were as nervous as she was, most more. And rightly so, for all she knew this was the first time a Nieldic military force had stood against anyone in a real battle for over a thousand years. And she knew that most of the swords carried by her men had been forged in those days, including her own; and most of the armor and crossbows too. She knew they'd work; they'd used them before. But never against so many, or against a mage backed force.

Her men pumped their crossbows, those in the first row droped to their knees. The Ga-Vok didn't stop to listen, or flinch at the sight an enemy ready for battle. Many of the younger, bolder warriors began to rush the hill; the rest followed them blindly.
Two hundred crossbows were leveled against the enemy, months of training coming to fruition. The strongest, most endurant enemies began surging ahead of their bretheren, as gravity began to defeat them.
She leveled her sword, and two hundred darts flew out from the ridge. She watched with satisfaction as the most eager, driven warriors toppled backwards, pierced by her men's fire.

The enemies moral was not broken, they continued to drag themselves upwards. They were weakened by months of siege and overconfident from scores of unfought victories. They had only hunted the weak and defenseless; they had never seen an enemy who would stand against them, save the one they had cornered within the fortress.
Her men did not need the orders, theirs was a lust for blood and for vengance. They had lost families, homes, everything to these ungrateful wretches. Yet they obeyed; for they were soldiers, and their commander desired that they have order. And she would give them victory, or she would die beside them.
Another volley of sharp steel darts bit into the enemy ranks, this time joined by a red bolt. Both bore death upon them, and this time the enemy faltered. They were no more fools than the Nielda, a mage could devour ordinary warriors like them.

They had seen it, the older Ga-Vok fled along the base of the ridge. Heading not to their camp as the younger ones did in fear, but to the fields. They had seen magic before, in the wars before the Nielda came. Where two seers met in battle, no man was safe. Better to flee and return to their own war torn homes than to die for a dream of living in the land of the fire-bloods. Their seer was not his predecessor, had Traonih been in command their would have been no siege of the fortress, and they would be facing this new foe from within it's safe, spell-warded walls. But Narle was not Traonih, he was to young to have seen war. That fool was no more powerful than his fleas.

Kiera watched as her enemies fled in every direction, then a bolt of lightning flew from the base of the ridge. She threw herself to the ground to avoid it, then looked for her rival on the fields. There!
She grabbed her sword and charged him with the warcry of her noble forfathers.
"Atlai!" She cried, "Attack men, drive them from the field! Let us teach these mangy pups who rules the empire."
Her men put aside their crossbows and drawing swords joined in her charge. They were not many, but the enemy was weak of heart. Many of them fled on sight, tails between their legs. Others cowered, petrified at the thought of death. Only a few stood ready, and they were to few to break the charge.

The seer flung bolts of lightning in an attempt to stop Kiera, but she dodged, absorbed, and deflected them as she came. As she reached him he brought his staff across to block her blow; But her feint left him unguarded.
As quickly as it had beagun, the battle was over. What Ga-Vok remained were still fighting across the fields and streets. But their fate had been decided.

Soon the embattled defenders rushed out and joined the fray. By the sixth hour of daylight, no Ga-Vok lived within the County Marche. And the Nieldic dead numbered only thirty-eight. It had been a good day, and Kiera knew it would be but the first of many.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

chapter fourteen

They traveled for months. They didn't have enough trucks for everyone so most of them were walking. It was slowing their progress to a crawl, but the extra time had come in handy.

Kiera had gathered the guards together a few days into the trip. She'd explained that she intended to form a resistance; and that the guards would be instructing the civilians in combat. They'd raided several towns along the way in order to practice, and to equip the recruits.

Kiera looked back on those months with pride. She now found herself in command of nearly two hundred trained soldiers. And tomorrow they'd be put to the test.

"Whose castle is that?"
Dame Allistari brought a hand to her brow; inspecting the indicated castle.
"Oh, that castle. Count Marche lives there; fabulously wealthy, throws the best partys on the planet."
"Really? I wonder why I've never heard of him."
"He's not a *real* noble, and he and your father don't get along anyways."
"With a title like 'count' how could he not be a real noble?"
"The county and title are unheredited and he has no control over his succesor. It was a consolation prize from the emperor."

Kiera picked up a pair of binoculars and began surveying the surrounding area. There were several Ga-Vok encampments and it looked like a few hundred of them were entrenched at the base of the path leading up to the castle.

"Consolation prize?"
"When your father was made lord of Anatolia, Count Marche was the other candidate. The competition was pretty heated and he and your father never patched things up."
"He seems to be doing just fine for himself though."
"He's one of the wealthiest men in the empire; he'd been an economic advisor to the emperor. Most people say he invested well; I suspect there was some illegal activity involved. I'm not complaining though; as I said, great parties."

It looked like they were seting up a catapult in the middle of their encampment.
"Tell me, is the count a mage?"
"No, he's smart but nothing special."
"Would he have a mage in his employ?"
"He maintains one of the best private defense forces in the empire. Their captain is a guard dropout. Why do you ask, wondering if he'll need our help?"
"No, I'm certain of it. I just wanted to know why that catapult was being constructed uninterrupted."
Dame Allistari peered at the camp; then muttered an incantation.
"They have a magic-user. Nothing amazing, but he's set up wards. Want me to take them down?"
Kiera put her binoculars away and turned to face the elderly witch.
"No. I'm going to cut them at the source."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chpter thirteen

They pulled into camp, Kiera hopped off the truck and walked over to the man she'd left in charge.
"Sergent Ryien, pack up camp. We're going to relocate again."
"Where did all these people come from?"
"Town, we brought food. Now don't make me repeat myself."
"Yes sir!" the sergent saluted as she ran back to camp.

Tressa looked over at the camp, "Why can't we just stay here?"
"They haven't moved since I left, and trucks aren't exactly hard to track. If we move now it'll take longer for them to find us."
"Are they from the place too?"

Kiera climbed back onto the truck, "Yes, Those of us who managed to escape."
"Do you think my mother might be with them?"

Kiera paused, She doubted it. Few of the female servants in the place were actually old enough to have a daughter Tressa's age, and most of the ones who were old enough had there families with them here. A few of the guards maybe, but they'd all been there for years. She'd have noticed a pregnancy if there'd been one; Armor wasn't flexible enough to allow for that sort of thing. The only person she could think of in the whole palace who'd been there less than fifteen years was Callin, and she was in her mid hundreds; the idea of her having... Although she had to admit the scandal that seemed to revolve around Tressa within her family would be understandable if that were so; Kiera simply didn't want to think of the Guardswoman as anything but a name and a suit of armor with an attitude.

"We're ready Ma'am."
"Good, move out."
And the caravan, now several hundred men strong, set out again. Heading south now, towards the mountains.

Tressa sat quietly admiring the open fields of Anatolia as they passed by slowly. Kiera just closed her eyes and tried to get rid of the images of Callin and some nameless rogue that her train of thought had brought her.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

chapter twelve

The supplies and wounded were all loaded up into the trucks. Kiera was amazed they'd had room for everyone. She walked up to one of the trucks and climbed onto the roof; if there was a fight she'd need to be able to react.

While she started to brace herself for what would inevitably be an extremely uncomfortable ride; Dame Allistari pulled up alongside. She must have had some wealth stashed somewhere; a Dalion like hers wouldn't be cheap. That was a high-end speeder there.

"My niece says she'd like to ride with you. If that's alright with you?"
"She says you two have met."

It wouldn't have taken a scryer to know who would be climbing out of the passenger seet. Tressa hopped out and started climbing onto the truck. Kiera pulled her up.

"This kid's your niece?"
"My sister's daughter."
"How did she end up with you?" It was a personal question, but Kiera's rank made that sort of thing permissable; rude, but it still would get an honest answer.
Dame Allistari stopped for a moment, it was clear this was an issue she had no interest in discussing.
"Her mother, My sister, was, is not disposed towards a maternal lifestyle. And since her, 'partner' was indisposed when Tressa was born; I've raised her."
The disgust was obvious; it sounded like this was something no member of the family had wanted. She couldn't help but wonder about the father, but Kiera had the feeling rank wouldn't get her any further than this. Courtesy would only carry her so far. Maybe Tressa could be convinced to tell her more; now that she was safe the child had perked up noticeably. Although that may have been because the witchy aura didn't bother her now that she understood where it came from.

The convoy started off towards the hills. Tressa just sat there staring at the surroundings eagerly. Kiera decided to make the first move.
"Yes Ma'am?"
"Do you still want to learn how to fight?"
Her whole face glowed, if she hadn't been on the top of a truck this probably would have been one of those gleeful jumping and squealing moments. It looked like this was a dream come true for her, like being a servant girl and finding out that your father the emperor or being whisked off by a handsome prince to his castle. It was a wierd thing to watch from the other end.
"You really mean it?" Tressa said ecstaticly.
"Yes, I'll teach you whatever I can. I'm not that good myself, but I know a good teacher and if we ever manage to find her I'll make her teach you. Until then, I'll show you everything I know."
Kiera stopped and thought about her first squealing joy moment, the day she first used magic. None of her siblings could do it, everyone knew that part of the ascension to the throne was that you had to prove yourself the strongest of your siblings. Mentally, physically, socially, the council was required to take everything into account; the ability to use magic gave you an edge in every possible way. In a non-magic using family it was practically a guarantee to the throne. It meant you could win fights easily, know things even spies couldn't learn, and read crowds like it was no bodies buisness. Not to mention the convenience it brought; a good mage never lacked anything they needed. Even if by some insane chance(considering her brothers she'd have won without magic) she didn't become the next lord of Anatolia; there was always the imperial guards. Everyone knew that anyone who scored over a 3 on the magical apptitude tests had a spot for them in the guards. Magic was the best thing that could happen to a Nielda.

Kiera sighed wistfully; Tressa just sat there silently, but the mood was clearly shared.

Monday, November 16, 2009

chapter eleven

Kiera approached the mansion. If it weren't for the gardens, it would have been pushing it to call this place a mansion. More like, very nice house with an excellent garden. This Dame Allistari person certainly liked her garden. It looked like she'd imported a variety of flowers and herbs from across the empire. The expense would probably explain why the house was so small by comparison to those of other low nobility.
Three in front, just like Tressa said. And she could see one of the patrollers on the second floor. The front wasn't an option then. She slipped around to the western side of the house; it was evening the sun would help her a little if the patrols spotted her.

She decided to risk it, and started climbing a trellis on the side of the house. There was one outside of her own bedroom; so she was quite used to climbing quietly. She wondered if there was some sort of universal law that princesses had to have very sturdy, attractive trellises outside their windows, because it seemed unlikely her father would have knowingly put something so convenient for climbing right next to her window.
The patrol had made it past her window when she came in. She quickly drew her sword and ran him through. Then moved across the hall to the stairwell. THe other patroller must have caught her scent because as she reached the door he flung it open. She slashed him across the chest as he reached for his weapon. Seven more, she thought as she silenced him with a stab to the throat.
She dashed down stairs, weaving a hasty spell. She turned into the kitchen; three of them were facing her weapons ready. A fourth was behind them still focused on the barricade. She threw her bolt of energy across the room; catching the center one across the chest and flinging him into the archer. The two toppled over the barricade, falling down the stairs with a clang of armor. The remaining two charged her. She began franticly parrying and blocking there blows; unlike the ones outside these two seemed to know how to fight together.

A bloodied figure came bareling out of the cellar with a loud cry. Behind him a Nieldic guard was following, sword in hand. Her assailants turned and tried to defend themselves. The screamer appeared to be a chef or cook of some sort, He had a butchers knife inverted in one hand and in the other he sported a large pot lid as a makeshift buckler. He slammed the first warior across the muzzle with his buckler and drew himself against his opponents body; stabbing him mercillesly in the back with the knife. The guard wasted no time in dispatching his warrior either, Kiera watched a familiar parry-bladeslip combo performed with military precision.

She heard the front door burst open behind her and turned. The remaining three warriors were facing them. One of them fired an arrow before she could react; and she watched in surprise as it was deflected in mid-flight.
"Pee on my herbs will you!"
A middle aged woman was standing, no, hovering over the barricade. Dame Allistari thrust her staff at the warriors, knocking them to the ground. The chef pounced upon the nearest warrior with his knife, and the guard rushed to finish his warrior. Kiera, not to be outdone by Allistari's magical display, began channeling away her opponents strength. The battle for this town had been quite tiresome and she needed the energy to make it through the day.

As her adversaries life faded under her spell, Dame Allistari walked up and touched her on the shoulder.
"That's enough child. We aren't trying to disintegrate him."
Kiera broke off the spell and sheathed her sword.
"We need to leave town, now."
"Princess, be a dear and help Caswick and Gesen bring the wounded out to the truck. Gina and I need to gather a few things from the garden."

Kiera moved to follow the two men. There was no mistakig it, she'd found the local witch. She was just glad this one hadn't asked for an apprentinceship.

Chapter ten

Kiera reacted instantly. She was glad she hadn't sheathed her sword.
A Ga-Vok warrior had been leaning on the inn's front door and was laying shocked on the street in front of her.
She stabbed; he howled, then lay still. She looked up, another Ga-Vok was standing in the middle of the room, weapon drawn. She charged without thinking and cut him down. Above her on the balcony another three were emerging from the door. One darted back into his room, A second charged to the stairway drawing his weapon, and the third crashed to the ground after leaping from the railing at her. She didn't even bother dealing with the last of them, it was very obvious he was dead, but instead ran to chalenge the one on the stairs.
The hair on his spine was raised, she started up the stairs. He pounced at her; throwing himself down the stairs. She threw herself against the wall and kicked him through the railing as he passed, then hopped down and stabbed him. She then went to pursue the remaining warrior.
She reached the door, and flung it open. The warrior had been bracing himself against it and went toppling off the balcony as he tried to recover. No need to worry about him either, the cracking noise and mushy thump told her everything she needed to know about his fate. She was far more interested in the room's other inhabitants.

"Y-you, you saved us."
nearly a hundred beaten and scared looking Nielda sat along the edges of the room.
"Are there any guards here? Healers?"
"No. They killed them all, I think."
"Who's in charge here?"
The whole group looked around, uncertain.
Then one girl raised her hand. She looked to be about fourteen or so.
"Ma'am, Dame Alistari is in charge."
"Is she dead too?"
"Maybe not, I heard them talking. They said that there were some people still holding out in the cellar of her mansion. She might be there."

Kiera's political training took over. She'd spent several years learning how to work crowds. She knelt down next to the girl.
"What's your name?"
"Tressa, Ma'am."
"And how old are you"
It was a rhetorical question, every Nielda knew it. It was the fact that they took the time to ask that was apreciated; it always had been. She could have asked her what her favorite color was(blue), where she was from(not certain but she would guess Tara, to pale to be local), or whether she was scared(remarkably no) and the inteneded result would be the same. It was no secret magic users were able to pick thoughts and memories out of the minds of the unguarded. She hadn't out of courtesy, but that was beside the point, people expected her to either already have the answers or not be a real noble.
Which is why the answer bothered her so much.
"Eleven Ma'am."
She didn't look it, but fortunately she'd already planned to answer it that way.
"Eleven? I'd have guessed you were much older than that."
Tressa muttered quietly, "I know you did."
Kiera pretended not to notice, she knew no one else had. "Well Tressa, I'm going to get you all out of here safely. But you have to promise to do as I tell you."
Tressa nodded, but her eyes were never drawn away from Kiera's. She'd never admit it, but this girl had the kind of creepiness that was usually only found in an older witch.
"Gather up all the food and supplies you can find. Get tractors or trucks and whatever else you can find and pack it up. We're going into the hills to hide out until things are safe again."
The people brightened up considerably. They'd been hoping for something like this to happen.
"I'm going up to the mansion to help the people there. If I don't come back just head due west until you reach the hills. Take any weapons you can, you may need to defend yourselves."
They all rushed out to follow her instructions. Except for Tressa, the little devil was still standing there.
"I can help, I can get you into the mansion."
"No, if you want to help then tell me how many there are."
Tressa sighed, "Nine; two patrolling the second floor with bows, four at a barricade overlooking the cellar, the other three are at the front door. I can take you inside if you'll let me."
"No, I'm not going to take a little girl into a fight. Magic or not, you aren't ready."
"Can you teach me?"
"Teach me, to fight that is."

Kiera stopped and thought, this wasn't exactly the sort of thing she had ever really considered. I mean she'd have an heir to train one day, but an apprentince?
"We'll talk about it later. I need to go take care of those Ga-Vok up at the mansion."
"I'll wait for you."

That child chilled her to the marrow, but she had the feeling she'd need all the help she could get.

Friday, November 13, 2009

chapter nine, continued

It wasn't the most elegant illusion in the world but it would serve her purposes.
Kiera looked down at the roughly humanoid, semi-transparent, perfume-smelling conjuration in front of her. She'd enchanted it to appear to be picking something off the ground in a small patrolling pattern. not quickly, just enough movement to draw attention but not enough to make them suspect anything.

Now to take up her posistion. She crouched behind a low rock, sword ready at her side. From here she could see the whole ridge and on down to the Ga-Vok camp outside of town.
She saw a Ga-Vok down in the camp motion towards the illusion, and then three of the score of warriors from the camp begin rushing up the ridge.
As they reached the illusion and began attempting to destroy the unresponding image, Kiera sprung from her hiding place. Slashing the air and cutting down the furthest of her opponents with a burst of magic she flung herself upon her stunned prey.
The second warrior fell in a spray of blood as she cut him down, and she spun to block a stab from the last of them. Twisting the blade in her hand she slid it along the blade of his weapon and plunged its tip into his chest. She turned towards the camp to see how they had reacted to this development.
It was better than she'd hoped, all seventeen of the remaining men were charging her position. Calculating their distance she readied her sword. When they reached the position, she plunged her sword into the earth and activated her traps. Spears of blood ad stone sprung from the earth, impaling four and wounding most of her assaillants. One of them lept over the deadly thicket, drwaing his katar. She spun, bringing her sword down upon his back; then again turning plunged it through the unguarded neck of the next of her opponents. Nine down.
The others were not so hasty; they were warriors, not fools. Moving carefully, they positioned themselves around her. Two lunged at her, she lept back slicing one of their arms. Another bounded over them, stabbing at her and slashing her leg with his claws. She struck him wildly across the back, forcing him to the ground. Using magic she flung another back as he charged. This had aways been easier in simulators, she thought to herself as she deflected another blow. She rolled to dodge, slashing upwards into the unguarded thigh of a slower reacting adversary.
The ten remaing warriors now spread out as a larger male barked loudly at the others. He would be their leader, she brandished he r weapon at him.
"Stop Barking and fight me yourself, coward!"
He raised his head, the others stepped back. He crouched, grabbing a second weapon from a nearby corpse. Kiera quickly tried to remember everything she could about fighting an oponent with multiple weapons.
"sword tip down, and lock blades." Callins lesson from so many years ago returned, "then sweep upward forcing their blades above your head, then stab downward."
It had seemed so silly at the time, practicing combat. But if she ever saw Callin again she would knight her for it.
He stabbed with the right first, she caught the outside edge and forced it down. As he stabbed with the left she pulled her sword back along the right Katar and forced it across the left. Then raising the pommel of sword into the air she forced his blades over his head and.
The force of the blow took him to his knees. He gurnted in pain, unable to scream for the blade that now pierced him from his muzzle to his chest. The other warriors stood back, dumbfounded by their leader's demise.
She decided to go all or nothing, the wound in her leg was going to make moving to painful to fight. She withdrew her blade, pushing the still twitching corpse aside. Channeling energy down the length of the blade she drew back her sword. Then with a swing she unleashed a shockwave of arcan force at her enemies.
It wasn't lethal, but it knocked them all to the ground and left them severly lacerated. She stepped over and finished seven with a stab to the throat. She knelt over the last of them, he was only mildly wounded. Perfect for what she needed.
She crouched over him cutting his arm and drawing a few vials. She filled them with his blood and arranged them on the ground. She should have done this years ago, but she had never expected to actually use her sword in a fight. She rose. Extending her hand over the vials she beagan to inacant the desired charm. then sweeping across the vials she shattered them. The glass fell to the ground with the blood crystalizing in the air before her. Then she slowly drew her sword across the red mist; drawing it nto the sword and empowering it. This would make channeling spells much easier in the future. She then repeated the procedure this time crystalizing the blood without shattering the vials; bloodstone was one ofthe best substances for the amplification and retainment of energy after all.
She silenced the wailing Ga-Vok beside her and proceded down to the camp. She gathered every scrap of food she could before walking into town to find the inn; it had been a long time since she had slept in a bed.

What she found there was completly unforseen.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

brief interlude

I'll get back to chapter nine over the weekend, possibly even tomorrow. But for now I've had a wonderful idea and need to record it.

As a warning, I'm no artist. But sometimes I feel the need to make something; a tabard, ship, or weapon usually; visually, so that others can understand what I'm saying a bit better.

no color, but it would be leather on the lower white sections(dark brown), dark red(also leather) in black section, and metalic grey on the upper white sections, the light grey sections would be the color of whatever the wielder's clothing was.
it would be gemmed in the middle of the red(black) section; I have yet to decide what sort of gem, but a large emerald or saphire seems likely.
Stay with me here, I know this is complicated and rather silly.
The leather section is a glove, and the blades(metal sections) fold back.

The practicality of this weapon is quite questionable. It lacks the stable design of a Katar, and the deftness of a knife. However, like many of the weapons you will encounter in the Nieldic universe; this one is heavily enchanted. And it falls under the category of weapons that I refer to as 'artist's weapons'; things like nunchuks, double bladed swords, or anything attached to the end of a chain with no handle. These are the sorts of weapons that take years to become proficent with and are really more of a novelty than an actual weapon for the most part.
Magic users, however,love power. And novelties like this one usually have it.
This particular weapon belonged to an Nielda, A member of the Ukown Guild(Obi-Wan's warning about Mos-Eisley; only with more magic and considerably more organization) before the Ga-Vok wars. It's called 'zink's cleiden; or 'death's hand'. Not the most original name but the man who was best known for wielding it was not about to be overshadowed by a mere weapon.

I look horribly distracted, and just outright horrible in this picture. It's hard to look good while you operate a laptop's camera.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

chapter nine

Kiera was in sight of the town when it occured to her. If there were more than five of them she wouldn't stand a chance in a fight. She stopped on small ridge just off the road into town.
She could probably out match any given one of them in a fight, but if more than on came at her she wasn't sure. With magic she could probably take as many as three or four at a time; if she was lucky.
No, that sort of magic was to costly. SHe'd be exhausted in minutes and unable to defend herself if any more came. Which left her with one choice, set traps and lure them out.
It was a time consuming option, and left a lot to her enemies competence. But it was still the safest option. And a little magic could remove a great deal of personal danger.
She drew her sword; it seemed like this was hapening a lot recently.
she slid her hand across the sharp edge and quickly cast a clotting spell to prevent to much blood loss. The runes came more easily to her now; she had used these enchantments often recently. As her blood trickled down the blade, she marked the earth along the ridge. She wasn't sure about how effective the spell would actually be, but she doubted they'd have any way of detedting it without a spellweaver of their own; in which case she would be dead anyways. She had read tales that said Ga-Vok shaman could slay their enemies from across worlds. Child's tales perhaps, but she had seen nothing to disprove it.
That was the last of them. What blood remained on her sword would serve to poison it against her enemies. Now to lure them.
She was hesitant to spill more of her own blood; so she bent over the earth. drawing upon her own power she gave it shape. An image of a woman, nothing spectacular; but a bit of her own scent would work better against a Ga-Vok.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

chapter nine warning

In case you couldn't tell from chapter eight; there will be blood and violence in this chapter.

chapter eight

Food was getting scarce. Kiera had never realised how much food four hundred people ate in a month. Anatolia wasn't exactly abudant with life in the first place, and the rather sloppy hunting techniques the guards had been using were scaring away the herds.

Then there were the Ga-Vok. It seemed like the Ga-Vok could ship in any food they needed, but insisted on hunting anyways. No matter how hard they tried the Ga-Vok hunting parties seemed to stumble on the camp at least every other day. Each time they were killed, but they still had to pack up everything and move just to be safe; they'd learned quickly what would happen if they didn't.

Kiera sat upright.
"A fight is brewing between some of the others; it seems that someone over ate."
Kiera picked up her sword, she wasn't going to put up with this any more.

She climbed on to a nearby rock.
"Listen up!"
The crowd looked up, surprised to see their normally quiet leader speaking.
"I've had about enough of this. Sergant, stay here and protect the camp. I'm going into town to get some food."
She watched the shock roll over the crowd. Then jumped down and started walking. Let them think whatever they wanted; she had work to do.
And she might just get a chance to kill a few of them while she was at it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

chapter seven

Sorry, It's been a while since I updated. I had to decide whether or not to consolidate the story or not. I've decided to go ahead and stretch it out longer; in the hopes that I can manage proper character development and possibly lay background for some future scenarios.

Chapter seven

It had been three days since the attack, Kiera was begining to grow worried. The platoon that had escorted the wounded to a local hospital were going to arrive at the rendevous point in a few minutes. She was already begining to question the wisdom of meeting by night. Were the Ga-Vok nocturnal? Would they be patrolling? Would they even be looking?

After another half hour had passed she was growing restless. What if they had gotten lost, or worse? Did the Ga-Vok eat Nielda? She'd heard about some of the cuisine that diplomats had been forced to endure for the sake of diplomacy, and she could only imagine how little the sentience of a being would matter to them.
She decided to risk an attempt to signal them, in case they were lost. The Ga-Vok didn't seem to notice color, maybe just a little red...
She concentrated, thinking of the desired results, and released a small flare that hung over her position. All she could do now was wait.

"Princess, I see a torch. Just over the ridge."
"Quickly, let's go meet up with them"

The joy of having found the platoon quickly turned to horror as she saw the odies strewn across the hillock.
"Men, get them out of there!"
The sergant began barking commands to the other guards, who hastened clumsily to obey. By the time the Ga-Vok had been finished another four of her guards had fallen. She strode to the survivors, tending their injuries as they related the events that had happened since they left.

It seemed, though their words were garbled, that the Ga-Vok attack on the palace had not been an isolated incident. When they had arrived in town they found it under the control of several dozen Ga-Vok warriors. Before they could decide upon a course of action a hunting party had stumbled on their camp. In their rush to escape the wounded were abandoned. Both guards took great shame in this; Kinel went to considerable lengths to justify his actions, while Siru just broke down weeping audibly. Kinel could not be roused from his defensive state, but Siru was coereced into earfully relating what had followed. The hunting party they had escaped tracked them, and joined with several others. This larger band had cornered them here on the hill a few minutes before Kiera and her guards had arrived.

Kiera stood, she thanked Siru and Kinel for their efforts; then left them to the medic.
This was worse than she had thought; the Ga-Vok had not only attacked multiple, likely all, towns across Anatolia, but had likely managed to defeat the local garrisons and gain a level of domination over the planet that allowed them to hnt down the survivors at their own discretion.
"Men, gather the fallen and head back to camp. The longer we stay here the longer our scent will linger for them to track." She wasn't sure if they could smell quite that well, but she could smell them and it stood to reason the Ga-Vok could too.
"Sergant. Gather their dead on the hill and set fire to it." With any luck the smoke would blur the smell, or at least the pile of corpses would distract them a while.
She wasn't sure how, but she would not let the fallen rest unavenged. The Ga-Vok would all burn for this, just like their fallen comrades.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

chapter six

Kiera sat on the edge of the clearing. She watched the survivors from the palace flow out of the passage. More than she had hoped, at least a few hundred of the servants and guards had managed to escape.

she quickly gathered them all together and took count of them and the meager supplies they'd brought. Without some sort of food they weren't going to last long.

"Does anyone know where we can find some food?" She yelled.

She wasn't sure if the silence bothered her more than the message it conveyed.

"How about a map. Does anyone have a map?"

Still no reply, save a few muttered groans from some of the injured servants.
This was going no where. She walked up to the top of the ridge and looked out.

She could see Ankara from here, there were fires scattered across the city. That was one option ruled out.
She continued to survey the surroundings as one of the guards approached.
"Milady, we must move. That rabble will be coming soon."
"Get the people together, we're heading east."
"The nearest town is five kilometers west of here. Shouldn't we head there?"
"Really? Send a platoon to escort the wounded there; the rest of us will move to the hills. We can hunt for food for now."
As the guard started barking commands to his fellows, Kiera strode over to the entrance to the passage. She drew her sword and began scratching arcane symbols about it. It wasn't good for the blade, but she could sharpen it later. Still etching the runes, she glanced around for something to use as ink. She stopped, she could only think of two things that could be used and neither of them were apealing.
She leveled her sword, point to the ground. placing her hand on the blade, she forced it into the ground. she winced in pain as blood trickled down and filled the marks upon the ground; this had better be worth it.
she withdrew her hand, wiped her sword, and activated the enchantment. the few drops of blood expanded, hardening, and filled each of her markings. they glowed dimmly red in the shadows of the valley. It had worked; the Ga-Vok would find it much more difficult to follow her now.
Sheathing her sword she rushed to join the plodding crowd as they headed into the mountains.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

chapter five

"That's the last of them captain."
"Well done men. Enge, contact the ship; We're leaving."

Daniel had no idea what it was that had gotten the Ga-Vok into such a frenzied state, but he had no intention to stick around and find out.
"back to the trucks everyone, I want to be back in camp before the first shuttle lands."

He rode in the back this time, with some of his greenest crewmen. They would need the morale boost after the fight; for several this was the first time they'd ever killed. Besides, if there was an ambush it was easier to escape from the back.

He turned, Enge was looking startled.
"Dalve says he's not going to risk the blockade"
"what blockade, Grell would never directly challenge me like that."
"no sir, there's a fleet of Ga-Vok transports and several smaller patrol craft in orbit. Dalve doesn't think he could get past them without the ship being tracked to camp."
"I heard the first time, Enge."
"where do you think they got the ships?"
"If I knew I'd already own stock in the manufacturer."
"then what do you think it is?"

Daniel paused. He knew that there had been talk within the Daniellandish government about building ships that could protect the trade routes from piracy; but he'd have known if there were any plans to actually implement the system. To start with, they would have offered him a commission; his contacts would guarantee that much.
"I think those Ga-Vok in Ankara may have something to do with this. I've heard that one of the clans recently began consolidating power over the others. Perhaps they're trying to draw the Empire into the conflict."
"but where did they get the ships?"
"most likely the same place we did, stolen and modified."
They hadn't, Daniel knew even before he said it. The fact of the matter was that Ga-Vok didn't have the dexterity to operate most Nieldic machinery; and what they could operate they did clumsily. It wasn't that they weren't smart enough to do it; it was that they didn't like to sit down while they did. The claws didn't help either.
"what should we do captain?"
"We're going back to camp; then we'll wait till they go away." There wasn't much else they could do; it was mostly just a matter of waiting until the military came out and scared them off.

For the first time in his life, he hoped the military came quickly.

Monday, November 2, 2009

about chapter four

I'm going to go ahead and slap a PG-13 rating on that one for mild sexuality, mildly gratuitus(sp) blood, and minor character death.
I suppose that only counts as PG these days, but in my eyes; this is PG-13 at least.
I'll try to give you more of a heads up next time.

And please leave comments, How else am I supposed to know what you think of it?