The Silver Tower Chronicles Adventures in other worlds, other times, and other realities

29May/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0048

Syrian led the way southwards, usually as most of the rest of the group had trouble keeping up with the Kurrot. His people often learned to make long strides and to run across great distance with little rest. Only Mayitso seemed to have no problem with Syrian's pace. The Kurrot often had to take a moment to notice he was leaving the others behind. The lycanthrope would remind him by placing himself in front of the path, but it was obvious that Syrian's mind was elsewhere.

The further the group delved south, the more Enzi suspected there was more to this rescue than Syrian was telling them. Certainly helping the Master of Blades and a cadre of Bladestorms out of a rough situation was a worthy goal, but the Feergrus sensed an obsessive energy coming from the young Kurrot. He had trouble sleeping and he pushed the group as hard as he could to get to the destination quickly. Enzi worried that the young man would exhaust himself.

Like many Kurrot, he did not speak much. Their culture created loners. They often had little skill in dealing with others and little inclination to do so. Syrian had proven more sociable than most, the military style training of the Bladestorms had likely helped with that a little. Syrian's intense focus and growing weariness did not aid Enzi in his goal to get the Kurrot to open up and speak of the real issue. As the group trudged through the marsh filled lands in which the goblinoids dwelt, a new distraction arrived to delay any conversation.

“Goblinoids!” Eurysa hissed.

The group instantly went on the offensive. A small band of goblinoids were searching the area. Eurysa's sharp eyes counted three orcs, eight goblins, and a pair of hobgoblins. With the marsh all around it would be easy for some bugbears to be hiding, but Eurysa doubted it. This group was on the move. The gorgon nocked an arrow even as the goblinoids noticed their group. Syrian leapt through the vegetation, his two short blades out. Eurysa took a deep breath and steadied her aim.

Her arrow shot past the Kurrot and planted itself in the neck of one of the burly orcs. The muscled brute gurgled and hit the ground as Syrian swept in and cut down two of the lead goblins, one with each blade. Despite his youth, his skill was obvious. Someone had certainly trained him well. Mayitso sprung past the Bladestorm and ripped out the throat of one of the goblins. Aldebaran and Kava were rushing to join in the fight and the short legged Halz was hurrying to catch up as well. Enzi kept a slow pace, watching for other threats.

The five remaining goblins attacked Syrian and Mayitso. The Bladestorm deflected a pair of blows as the other three attacks bounced harmlessly off the hide of the lycanthrope. The two orcs that still stood moved for Aldebaran as the minotaur seemed like a threat made for them. The two hobgoblins surveyed the situation as they moved into battle. They worried Enzi the most. They had taken the time to observe their foes and that meant they might think of a good way to cause damage.

An arrow stopped the thoughts of one of the hobgoblins. Aldebaran cut down one of the orcs with his massive blade as Kava darted past him and sank her hatchets into the other orc. Three more goblins fell to Syrian and Mayitso as Ritter found himself engaged with the hobgoblin. Enzi paused while he looked around. Something was off. They were not the only ones there. He was not the only one that saw it. The hobgoblin spotted it and barked something in the language of his people. The goblinoid tongue was a foul collection of slang they had used to speak behind the back of their giant masters when they had been enslaved.

Whatever the hobgoblin said, it was obvious that Ritter understood. It distracted the Halz for the same moment as the hobgoblin was distracted. Neither gained an advantage and the hobgoblin took the chance to withdraw away from the dwarf and try to take cover. It was not enough. Eurysa's arrow ended the goblinoid as the rest of the enemy force was decimated by Syrian Dow and the rest of the Irregulars. Enzi looked to Ritter as the dwarf moved in an odd direction.

“They were chasing someone,” Ritter said, “And they just saw whoever it was over this way.”

The group moved on, leaving the goblinoids to rot in the swamplands. Quickly the group found someone's tracks as well as signs of blood. Whatever they were chasing, it was wounded. Mayitso picked up the trail easily enough with his sensitive nose and led the way. Soon they saw a figure on the run, stumbling through the vegetation. The gorgon tracked the creature with her sharp eyes.

“That isn't a goblinoid,” she hissed.

Syrian heard that and dashed ahead with Mayitso at his side. Whoever it was was quick. The lycanthrope used his full speed to outrun Syrian and the mysterious runner. He ran out in front of the escapee to slow them down while Syrian caught up. It did not take long for the chase to end. The runner spun and attacked but the blades were stopped by the Kurrot Bladestorm and the group heard a feminine voice speak out.

“Syrian?”

“Mother!” he responded jubilantly.

***

“The gathering of the lizards is starting to look dangerous,” the short dark man said.

“Yes Karrum,” Devis Lane replied, “I have returned from my time among them. I have learned of their goals and reasons. I have delayed them for quite some time but we will need action to protect Feergrus.”

“The army can take them, but this may set back our plans for quite some time if we take too many losses.”

“I have no doubt of your ability. The seeds of doubt I have sown amongst their people while disguised as one of them will keep them from pressing their full power for many months at the least. I have created confusion in the ranks as well as a small civil war. That will keep them busy while I find a way to push them back permanently. Be prepared to fight them back in case they solve things quickly. If I am right, I believe I know a way to fight them where we will not have to use our own resources.”

“I always enjoy your devious plans,” Karrum Tamb replied, “If we can keep our losses to a minimum we will come out of this war well. The losses suffered by the other nations will put all of us on nearly even ground.”

Devis nodded, “Even that will not be for long. We are working on a plan to make a closer alliance with Agon. When the next heir to the throne takes over, we want him loyal to us.”

“We may not have much time, the current king is getting quite old. Yet isn't his only son unable to rule from mental incompetence?”

“That is the rumor. Some of my best spies are looking into the situation so we can look over our options. I will likely be away dealing with this war problem when they return. I have already let Glanar know to watch for them, now I am telling you. I plan on stopping by to check on them on my trip but I may miss them. We need to work on their information as soon as possible.”

“Agreed, before the last king falls over from old age.”

Devis smiled, “Yes, it has been enough trouble over the past several centuries keeping the humans divided. Too many times one army might have dominated another and become too powerful for us to easily handle.”

“Yet you handled each war with equal skill. Your arrow killed Casea, son of Ago the First. Your manipulation destroyed the alliance between the elves and the dwarves. I fully expect you will hand us the leadership of Agon on a silver platter.”

“You flatter me. I quite enjoy that,” Devis Lane replied, “Eventually we will be the only rulers of this world.”

“It almost seems to be falling together faster these days. It may only be a few centuries more!”

“These poor mortals do not know what they are dealing with.”

Karrum Tamb nodded, “Those that learn do not live long.”

“Yes indeed,” Devis Lane said in a chilling voice, “There is one that I have let live that has been of great use. Perhaps I have let him live too long. Perhaps it is finally time to make my final use of the once great general known as Enzi Cala.”

“Ah, Enzi,” Karrum said, “I remember him. He had talent. He must be getting quite old as these mortals go.”

“He has lived long enough then, he would perhaps only live another decade or two at best. Barely worth sticking around. I need to take care of several things along the way including the Agon situation, but when I return the problem of the lizardfolk will no longer be our concern.”

***

The eight pointed white star on a green background was the symbol of Kurrot. The accoutrements of the woman showed she was a Bladestorm. This far out in the wilderness meant she had been with the group of elite Bladestorms that had fought in the Battle of Lake Hargis. With the gender inequality often shown in Kurrot, only one conclusion came to Enzi's mind. This wan not just any Bladestorm, this was the Master of Blades herself.

It struck Enzi that her family name was not Dow, like her son Syrian. Jaeris Hyn was the name of the Master of Blades, but this made sudden sense to the Feergrus. The gender discrimination against the combat skill of women was common in Kurrot so Jaeris had to prove herself. Yet a married woman with a child would not even have the opportunity. Her commitments to the family would have been held higher than her talents. It would not matter if she was the warrior and the husband was not. He would be considered her superior in all ways.

These thoughts made Enzi sigh. In Feergrus power went to those with the talent and skill. The only exception was those who were not loyal to the state or knew too much. Enzi had learned that lesson far too well. It made the aging man realize the world had a long way to go before all people were considered equal. He wondered if perhaps even the goblinoids could be reformed someday. Their enmity was deep and they had wasted many opportunities for peace in the past.

Jaeris spoke in Kurro meaning the only Irregular who could understand her was Enzi himself, “Syrian.”

“I heard of the battle and came to learn what had really happened. But that had to have been weeks ago,” Syrian said in a worried tone.

“Yes, I've led the goblinoids on a merry chase,” his mother replied, “I was only able to save one of my men. The goblinoids were too many. They swarmed us, overwhelmed us. They showed great tactics as well. Hobgoblins swooped down on us from the sky riding griffins. We saw great industry there. They were forging weapons and armor in great amounts. Yet I also saw hope.”

“What hope could you see in such terrifying news?” Syrian asked.

“Not all the goblinoids were in agreement with this new war. There seemed to be two large factions. There is some sort of new weapon that is driving this war. Only half trust in it so far. I overheard talk that one of the greatest of their leaders opposed the war and the weapon. If we could somehow inspire civil war or end the threat of this weapon, the war would be over.”

Enzi spoke up, “Then Master of Blades, tell me of this and perhaps I can learn more. My team is unusual but we can do many things that would be difficult for humans alone. Perhaps even convince a goblinoid to speak in peaceful terms where they would not trust a human.”

The Feergrus man had just thought of the possibility of peace. If this goblinoid leader did not want war, it was possible to move towards peace. Sometimes it almost seemed as if the universe was moving in the best direction it could. Unfortunately that was also the time when the floor would drop out from beneath you unexpectedly. Enzi would reserve judgment until the time came when he could make a difference.

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