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

24Jul/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0056

The Kurrot gurgled as the blade sank into his lung. The hand over his mouth kept any other sounds from escaping. Within a few seconds, the man was dead. His killer slipped away quietly and efficiently. The body was left to rot in a quiet corner of the base camp. It was not discovered for several hours. The uproar was immediately noticeable. The first suspect was Medeus Tarim. However, the ranger had been kept under watch by order of the general.

While Medeus was not happy to learn that he was under constant surveillance, he could understand the reason why. He also appreciated that it meant that there was a witness that knew that he had not murdered anyone. The wound was not small, it had to have been done with at least a short sword. A few grumbles rose up that it was Syrian Dow. Talk of the accusations of murder back in Kurrot rose through the ranks. General Cassius Tessium soon took Syrian aside along with Enzi.

“Several people are really starting to wonder if it is you, Syrian,” Cassius said, “Talk of your reason for being here is flying through the camp.”

“Yeah,” Syrian replied, “I am not sure where the talk of murder came from. I was too young to serve under the Master of Blades, so I came north where I could put my skill in combat to use.”

Enzi could not help but notice that Syrian had left out the small detail that the Master of Blades was his mother. That likely had more to do with his shift to the northern front than his age. From what Enzi knew, Syrian could not allow anyone to learn of their relation or it would jeopardize the Master of Blades' position. Fighting on a different front certainly helped with that. Enzi was worried about the persistence of the rumors, however. Such things had a way of spiraling out of control.

“So the important question is how do we deal with this?” Enzi asked.

“Well, we could put someone with Syrian at all times as a witness, like Medeus,” Cassius replied.

Syrian nodded, “I am not a big fan of being watched, but I'll do whatever is needed.”

Enzi sighed, “I agree that it is unpleasant. However, I see several benefits to this. It shows that we are doing something to deal with the problem. It keeps Syrian safe from the killer by having back up. Plus we have a chance of getting rid of those nasty rumors once and for all.”

“They will disappear if death comes again,” Cassius said, “Which I wish I could prevent. Our men will be on guard against attack, but without knowing where it might come from, anything is possible. Do we even know where the rumor started?”

“No idea,” Enzi said, “I will keep an eye on things as best I can with my resources. Hopefully nothing else causes trouble for a while.”

***

The base camp remained quiet for nearly three weeks. A few goblinoid scouts had been spotted, but none had survived long. The tension was finally broken when a supply wagon from Ravalei made its way down the trail to the military encampment. It was from the Rava Coast Trading Company. They had come with supplies for their people. There were a few grumbles about none of it going to anywhere else it might be needed. Enzi heard the merchants try to convince the people that they might be able to bring more wares if the base was under better management.

To the Feergrus man's ears, it was an obvious ploy to try to sway hearts and minds to having General Cassius Tessium replaced. A few rumors also spread that the Nuvroci general was too friendly to the murderous Kurrot. It was hinted that Ravaleian leadership would have been better at dealing with the trouble-makers of the area. This made Enzi suspicious. He knew the two Kurrot who had come to the base camp seemed to be fans of Syrian, so the rumors had to come from somewhere else. The play by the Rava Coast Trading Company for control of the encampment made the Feergrus man wonder if they were behind the smear tactics.

Then Enzi noticed one of the merchants chatting with the Storm Queen. The young girl immediately began packing up her gear. Enzi was not sure if he should get involved in her business, especially with a murderer on the loose. The Feergrus man slipped off quietly to inform the general of all of his suspicions. They might be wrong, but the general might have information Enzi did not. Any small clue might help prevent whatever action might come.

After hearing what Enzi said, the Nuvroci general nodded, “Do you think the plot is related?”

Enzi's eyes widened as he thought of the possibility, “I suppose it could be. I would not have thought of the Storm Queen doing anything organized, but I am sure she could be manipulated. Although I would hate to be the person that does that if she realizes what is going on.”

“I agree with that,” Cassius replied, “She can be quite frightening.”

“Perhaps we should follow then, if only to disrupt any plans the Rava Coast Trading Company has to cause problems in the area. I hate to leave while a murderer is on the loose.”

“Whoever it is has not struck for quite a while. If your disappearance draws him out, then we will have him. Plus we will be able to rule out you and your team.”

The logic was sound enough. Enzi just wished he could be in two places at once. He did not dare to split up his team. It was too dangerous in a human world. Such monsters would be an easy target for accusations. That did not even begin to delve into people thinking of reason to kill them so that they would feel safer. It was difficult for people to accept inhuman creatures as equals. They barely saw humans of different countries as anything other than foes.

Enzi's Irregulars readied themselves for a trip. They were prepared quickly. They were used to having to be on the move quickly. Following the Storm Queen on her trek northwards was easy. She was not skilled at hiding her tracks and did not even try such subterfuge. The Irregulars kept their distance so that they would not be spotted. The Storm Queen traveled alone. Her overconfidence would likely be the death of her some day. As they were traveling north, away form the Goblinoid Lands, she was in a much safer area. That did not make it safe.

Wild animals filled the Halcyon Wood. Goblinoids could have slipped past the perimeter. The northern front was still quite porous. There were always other possibilities as well. Desperate criminals could engage in banditry. Some other criminals might be wandering about and kill anyone who spotted them. Stranger things had happened. It paid to be careful in the wilderness. One never knew what they might run into.

The Storm Queen made her way towards the hillier region closer to the mountains. The height of the mountains forced the rain to pour on this side. It was what made the Goblinoid Lands so swampy. It also had made for rather interesting mountains. On the other side, the mountains were craggy. On this side they were much smoother, worn down by water and wind. It was said that only a giant could climb on the west side, as only they had the reach to use the rare handholds.

Enzi suspected it had a lot more to do with the strength of the giants. They could easily create their own handholds in the rock. Human ingenuity had shown how it could be done. Using spikes and ropes, one could ascend on the western side. There was little reason to do so, however, especially with the threat that a giant might approach and knock you off the mountain. The giants were dangerous enough on the ground. It was lucky that they rarely left their mountain homes.

Soon Enzi saw some sort of structure on top of one of the hills. Any trees nearby had been cleared. The Feergrus man could see activity there, although it was too far to know exactly what he was dealing with. He was certain that this had to be where the Storm Queen was headed. Enzi wondered what odd sort of contraption had been set up by the Rava Coast Trading Company. They had resources to spare, so any crazy thing might be possible.

The Irregulars slowed as they neared, keeping to the forest. Enzi planned to go ahead alone as he was the only one that could understand the Ravaleian language. However, he quickly changed his mind and took Mayitso with him. The stealthy and fast lycanthrope would act as a messenger in case of trouble. Then the wait began. Enzi crept as close as he dared while the sun still shone. He saw the Storm Queen approach several Ravaleians wearing the crest of the Rava Coast Trading Company.

“You have arrived,” one of them said in a slimy voice that Enzi recognized.

“You have what I want?” the Storm Queen asked.

“Our illustrious leader spared no expense,” the man replied, “He found one of your stones and acquired it. With its power, you will have all the more capability to fulfill your mission.”

“One of the twelve magestones,” the Storm Queen said dreamily, “I am surprised. They are highly coveted and often thought to be a myth. I need to see it and practice small spells with it so I can be prepared for your little ritual.”

“Agreed,” the man replied, “We want nothing to go wrong with our plans for tonight. Do not think of betraying us. We know of your reputation.”

The Storm Queen chuckled, “You would expend a great deal of resources to even begin to stop me. However, someone who can give me such gifts as a magestone is worth having as an ally. Perhaps I can think of some other nice gifts later that he can give me.”

Soon enough, dusk began to fall on the area. Whatever the ritual was, it obviously was being held at night. The activity in the area increased greatly. A powerfully built Ravaleian man now sat in the middle of the iron contraption that sat on the hilltop. The contraption was unlike anything Enzi had ever seen. He did not know who the man in the seat was, but no one paid him much attention so Enzi assumed the Ravaleian in the chair was unimportant. The Storm Queen took a hold of a large stone, likely weighing at least one pound. She began to fire off some small spells designed not to drain her stamina while she waited.

As the darkness of night covered the hilltop, a new figure appeared out of a wagon. His form was humanoid, if barely. He was an apparition. Enzi had heard of spirits, but they were rare. Some were horrors beyond reckoning. Some were merely souls trapped and unable to move on. This ghost was nearly transparent, but it appeared to be an elderly Ravaleian man. Most of the Ravaleians showed the undead man great respect. The Storm Queen looked up from her practice with her new toy.

The dirt swirled at the feet of the mage. The apparition had created a message. Enzi could not see what it might say. He had to guess based on the actions and responses of the Storm Queen.

“Quite pleased,” the young Ravaleian girl said to the ghost, “You must be the actual power here, although your ties to this world seem thin.”

The dust swirled again and the mage nodded, “A stronger tie would mean you might even be able to speak. I can see why you picked this time. The magic is strong tonight. I imagine most can barely even notice you, especially in the light of day.”

The dirt moved for quite some time and finally the Storm Queen spoke one last time, “That is an interesting procedure. I can not wait to see if it works. This sounds fun. Shall we begin?”

Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Trackbacks are disabled.