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

17Jul/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0055

The flood of reinforcements was amazing in its scope. The reinforcements were gladly welcomed as they were much needed. A stone golem was the heavy muscle, along with six Ravaleians to support it and the two wood golems the camp had already. There were two dozen other Ravaleians, mostly wearing the livery of the Rava Coast Trading Company. Likely they were mercenaries that worked for the company and now came to aid the war. A dozen Nuvroci soldiers had also arrived, including two more Steel Warriors. Oddest of all were that a couple more Kurrot had joined with them.

Syrian had long been the sole Kurrot on the northern front. Now he had some competition. Neither one appeared to be a Bladestorm, but any aid was welcome against the goblinoids and their Tarvoni allies. Finding room for everyone and everything was difficult. Some felt odd putting new soldiers in the bunks of the dead so soon. The dead had been buried north of the base camp in an ever expanding graveyard. They were shallow graves covered with rocks from the nearby hills. The small cairns were slightly creepy to find in the middle of the wilderness.

The graveyard was a needed place, however. The northerners did not use dead bodies like the Feergrus. A small horde of mindless undead would have been useful in the war, but the necromancers were all in high demand down in Feergrus. Their skills kept them busy. People like Devis Lane made sure that the rewards were profitable enough that few necromancers left. Only those who grated at the rules against making intelligent undead ever left. The Ahk separatists had shown why making undead that retained any of their sapience was a terrible idea. It did not help that other cultures found the undead distasteful.

Every culture had its differences. The distaste for magic among the Agonish was well known. The Magehunters were supposed to be there to protect against the few Tarvoni mages that worked against the kingdom of Agon. In reality, many hunted down anyone with magical talent and slaughtered them as prevention. Some held that to only the Tarvoni unless another threatened the safety of their country and its people. Beren Gendar seemed to be one of the better of the batch. Enzi wondered what kind of severe training it took to make such fearsome warriors and instill such fervor in so many.

Certainly it had caused a few problems with Ravalei. The war against magic had started due to a betrayal by the Tarvoni against Agon. The pale sorcerers had once been close advisers to the kingdom. They attempted a coup and had failed. Murders and vicious attacks had made them enemies that the kingdom of Agon would not soon forget. There was no war with Ravalei, despite distant ties to Casea, but the distrust of magic had grown where Ravaleians with the talent were sometimes targeted. This raised tensions between the two countries. Usually the Agonish Magehunters avoided Ravalei, although any Ravaleian mages in the Disputed Lands were targets.

***

Laughter filled the air that night. The reinforcements had brought food and supplies in abundance. A grand bonfire had been made and fresh meat was cooked up to celebrate. Stories and tales were passed around. Rumors of Beren had been floating around the other battlefronts. It seemed that the number of mage kills he had was the highest among the Magehunters in the war. Many were impressed as the wild tales were confirmed one by one by those who had seen him return with the severed heads of Tarvoni.

Enzi also caught a darker whisper flit through the crowd. There was a rumor that Syrian had come to the north to dodge the repercussions of being a criminal. That would not be unusual for a Kurrot to exile themselves as the laws of the land were murky at best. Revenge was often the name of the game there. Fleeing was the best idea to avoid whatever the offended party might do. Syrian was a strong warrior and would likely avoid being killed except by surprise. He seemed young to have done much and Enzi passed it off as naught but a rumor due to his skill and choice to head to the northern front.

The tales of his heroics had encouraged the other two Kurrot to come north. Enzi noticed both of them thought the rumors were bunk as well. The Kurrot were often thought of as untrustworthy. Rumors of why one appeared or what one might be up to were not uncommon. Even inside their country they looked upon each other with distrust. The Feergrus did not think much more on the matter. Such rumors would wash away after seeing Syrian in combat, or at the very least by association with him.

Soon the small celebration died down. Morale was in high spirits. Having an extra golem helped, especially as it was a stone golem. It certainly did not have the power of an iron golem, but it was more than enough to crush almost any foe. It was still only one fighter. It could not be everywhere at once and was no faster than a human despite being larger. That made it seem ponderous and slow. It also only followed the programmed orders of the people controlling them. The mechanics had to be very careful with the orders as the golem had no intelligence to interpret the orders other than literally.

The handlers for a golem were very important and had to have a firm grasp of logic. The ones dealing with these golems were not warriors. During the last attack by the goblinoids, most of the handlers had hidden in a corner until the battle was done. The more courageous ones had worked to keep the wood golems in one piece. A badly damaged golem could go against its programming, as the damage might actually affect how it worked. The blend of magic and technology was amazing, but it had its limits. The terrifying golem that had wounded Aldebaran in Ravalei was proof enough of that.

The military camp slept well that night. The next few days were active as everyone tried to decide how the living arrangements would work. It did not take long for many of the Ravaleians that wore the livery of the Rava Coast Trading Company to begin their work at trying to take over leadership of the base camp. They had little respect for General Cassius Tessium. It might have been Nuvroci territory, but the Ravaleians now solidly outnumbered the Nuvroci. It was only a matter of time before the two factions would have to come to terms. Enzi hoped that it would not be violent.

***

The apparatus was finally complete. It had taken weeks to put together such a precision instrument. It was much harder as it had to be done away from civilization. All that it required now were the three participants. One of them was already there. He was a dim-witted boy, but physically in perfect shape. This Ravaleian had been chosen specifically for his physical traits. The relative lack of intelligence was a bonus. The thing they planned to do to the boy could possibly destroy his mind.

The second of the two participants was on his way. His name was Dellin Garm. He was the leader of the Rava Coast Trading Company. He had founded it over one hundred years earlier and was not about to let anyone run his company except him. His only problem was that he was dead. He had been dead for nearly fifty years. His body had long since rotted and decayed. It was no more than dust. Yet he still remained. He had haunted those who tried to take over his company. He had used his limited power as a ghost to divert control to more malleable hands.

Now he had manipulated things so that he might once more inhabit a body. The young Ravaleian man that was lacking mentally was a perfect candidate by all measures. They just needed the third person for the ritual to be complete. They needed a vast amount of electricity. They needed more than what even a simple lightning bolt might supply. The Storm Queen, however, had specialized in raw electrical power. She could focus all of her magic into the machine they had built.

Then Dellin Garm could live again. If it worked, then he would be immortal. He could just replace his body as needed. With his experience and knowledge, none would be able to stand in his way. It was sad that several lives would have to be ended, but the knowledge of his transcendence had to be kept only with those he absolutely trusted. As a businessman, he trusted no one. He already had a plan for cleansing the area of those he wished dead.

The final preparations were being made for the ritual. A message had been sent to the Storm Queen. It was too bad she would have to die after the ritual was complete, but Dellin could work on finding some loyal henchmen to deal with the ritual the next time. Being a patron to the college in Calal would be helpful in that endeavor. He planned to make a rather large endowment for the study of the magical arts. He could groom various young people to be trustworthy. He already had a few people that were happy to work with a ghost. He would evaluate which were worthy to keep and which might try to blackmail him and needed to be eliminated.

His limitations as a ghost would finally be gone. He had been able to fling objects around a little as a poltergeist, and could even possess an item. Possession of various things had been His best way to communicate. Objects could not talk, but he could find ways to make them write or otherwise leave messages. Having a human body again that could speak would be a major boon. He would be able to unleash his full business acumen upon the world once more.

***

Devis Lane smiled. If anyone had seen this smile, it was likely they would have run from the room as a stark raving lunatic. This was not a friendly smile. This was the kind of smile a predator might have upon finding that the most delicious prey had trapped itself in an easy to reach spot. Devis Lane was by all accounts a predator. As a Rakshasa, he and his kin had set up the theocracy of Feergrus in their feline form. As shapeshifters, no one knew that they were dealing with an inhuman monster until it was too late.

Devis had learned a great deal about the government of Agon and its future. He had seen an opportunity. Better yet, he knew exactly how best to exploit the opportunity. The prince of the nation had been afflicted with an unusual mind. Most considered him mentally challenged at best, and useless at worst. The way people coddled him had only made it worse. The king was disappointed in the tutors for his son. Devis knew exactly what he could do.

There was a man in Feergrus who would be perfect for the job. He could be easily manipulated and was good with the child-like mentality that he would find in dealing with the prince. Devis could not remember the man's name off the top of his head, but that did not stop him from drafting a letter to Lord Glanar Dale. Devis would make several suggestions to the locals about the wisdom of the Feergrus while the letter made its way home. Soon the new tutor could make his way northwards and Devis would find a way to have this agent take over the duties of instructing the prince.

It meant a slight delay of Devis' plan to stop the lizardfolk invasion, but he could not pass up such a juicy opportunity. He foresaw this as a way to become a major player in the royal succession of the throne of the Kingdom of Agon. If Feergrus could gain any kind of control over the next king of Agon, it was worth the loss of a few soldiers to the war. All of Devis' greatest hopes were beginning to seem possible. He sought out the fastest messenger the Feergrus had at their temple in Agonor. He hoped that the message flew on the wind. The faster this matter was settled, the faster Devis could meet up with his old friend, Enzi Cala.

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