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

11Sep/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0063

Jenner Gann walked towards the human encampment the held the northern front. The front was quite large and the Ravaleian wondered how such an open border could ever be made secure. The war needed the aid of the Ravaleians. That much was obvious to Jenner. The sour relations were a major problem. Jenner had never had a high regard for the Rava Coast Trading Company. Now it was completely nonexistent. Jenner leaned hard on his staff.

He had lost a foot many years ago in an accident. Scars ran up that leg as well. It had happened where he had been working on a golem. A single wrong step. A stumble. Then his leg was caught in the gearwork of a mighty iron golem. The metal gears had done a lot of damage before the engineers could extricate Jenner. He now wear a prosthetic that allowed him to walk more easily, although the staff was a large help as well. It also made him seem less threatening. This would hopefully be a boon to his mission to bring peace between the Ravaleians and the Nuvroci.

He approached the gate as a voice yelled out in Nuvro, “Who goes there?”

Jenner replied in the same language, “A traveler with a message for General Cassius Tessium.”

The Nuvroci soldiers opened the gate, but watched the Ravaleian man with deep suspicion. Jenner could not blame them. Betrayals were hard to forgive. The hypocrisy was the tough rules that the Rava Coast Trading company had in case of mutiny upon their trading ships. Jenner's eyes flitted across the camp interior. He was no expert in military matters, but he was surprised upon seeing Enzi and his monstrous mercenaries. He had heard the tales, but they did not prepare him for their inhuman appearances.

Jenner ignored them for the moment and continued on towards the general's quarters while all eyes rested upon him. The mistrust was palpable. Jenner limped into Cassius' tent and disappeared from view. The Ravaleian quickly assessed the Nuvroci general. The stress of leading the war on the northern front had already begun to prematurely age Cassius. Grey hairs and wrinkles had begun to make their presence known. Grim determination seemed set in the Nuvroci man's eyes.

“Greetings general. I am Jenner Gann. I am one of the gearwork masters of Ravalei. We recently learned of the actions of the Rava Coast Trading Company. It was obviously a mistake to trust that they would do what is best for the good of all the people of Doulairen.”

“Do you think anyone would trust you more?” the general asked with a calm voice that did not betray what the Nuvroci man was feeling.

“Trust needs to be rebuilt, whether it is me or another. The northern front needs all of us to work together. Many of the most powerful people in Ravalei have taken notice after the betrayal here. The Rava Coast Trading Company ended up firing the head of their business and put a new man in charge. They lost a lot of trust at home as well as here. They will not be involved in the war on the northern front. They certainly have no influence over me. I was never their largest fan to begin with. Their public relations will be busy proving they have gotten rid of all of those that caused problems. I have my doubts, but it will at least keep them busy while those who wish to actually help can come to end this war.”

“I can not disagree that more aid will be needed to fully secure the north. I hate to think how many raiding parties have slipped past the rangers and headed deeper into Nuvroc. Most of the goblinoid attacks have focused directly upon us here. We make for a nice goal. The smarter move would be to avoid us using the massive forest area to go around us. We have lost many of our rangers, making circumvention far too easy.”

“Then I would imagine it has already happened. The goblinoids can be quite canny. My proposal is simple. Ravalei will be providing several wood golems for use in the war. I plan to place them at spots along the line we would like to hold. Your rangers can help with the most advantageous positioning. If it at least causes the goblinoids to alter their routes to more predictable areas then it would be a win. If the goblinoids are foolish enough to actually fight the golems, that is even better.”

“A wood golem will not stand up forever against the goblinoids.”

“No golem can last forever against a sustained assault. They can cause a lot of damage before they fall. Just the threat of their existence causes enemies to shift their plan to something easier. No one would invade Ravalei without first thinking about our border defenses. Even the most foolhardy goblinoid would think twice before making a blind assault.”

“I imagine you have not met some of the more foolhardy goblinoids.”

“There is a point where one stops being a fool and is merely insane.”

***

The Tarvoni assassin watched the base camp as best he could from a hidden position. The fact that the soldiers had cleared the forest around the base to give a clear line of sight meant that the assassin did not have the best view. That mattered little to him at the moment. His first goal was assessment of the outside defenses. He wanted to be sure of where the Magehunter was before he approached closer. With magic, he could certainly make his way to the base undetected.

The passage of the Ravaleian did not go unnoticed. It meant nothing to the Tarvoni, Jenner was not his target. The Tarvoni slowly circled the base, examining its walls, its weaknesses, and looking for patterns followed by the guards on the walls. The soldiers were professionals, but that made them prone to routine. It mattered little against most of the goblinoids. For an assassin, this was a deadly mistake. The Tarvoni smirked. He believed the residents of the encampment should feel lucky that he had only been hired to eliminate one Magehunter.

After watching for several hours, he determined the Magehunter was not there. It was time to get closer and leave a trail of breadcrumbs to follow. The assassin wove a spell to conceal his presence. It was a physical illusion that made him difficult to see. As long as he was careful, he was effectively invisible. It was a useful spell, but one that could easily be ruined. Using his illusory concealment, the assassin made his way to the wall of the military encampment.

His skills in climbing made sure that the wall itself was no obstacle. The assassin used stealth to slip past the guards on the wall. His magical camouflage gave him an advantage in that endeavor. The Tarvoni quickly found a vantage point from which to survey the inside of the encampment more closely. He took particular note of Enzi's Irregulars. The monsters were a unique blend of skills and talents. They might be dangerous. He observed the Ravaleian Jenner Gann leaving a central tent.

The mistrust of the residents of the encampment was obvious to the assassin. The Tarvoni filed that small fact away in case it became useful later. The assassin sat unobserved and listened. He was fluent in nearly every language on the continent. He hoped to learn more of his target's whereabouts. Any other interesting tidbits he might come across could be sold to any number of information brokers. The Tarvoni was not adverse to earning a few extra coins wherever possible.

***

For Beren, he had been away from the encampment for nearly a month. Time had caused hair to grow out on his face, giving him a grizzled look. His clothing was in rough shape and his armor could use a few minor repairs as well. It had been a rough trip into the Goblinoid Lands. However it had been fruitful. The heads of two Tarvoni sorcerers hung from his belt. They had both been from the Abyss Cult. Beren had to delve deep into enemy territory to reach them.

The mages had done their best to keep themselves insulated by hordes of goblinoids. The losses they had taken by the Magehunters had made the Tarvoni far more cautious. It made the jobs of the Magehunters far more dangerous. Several had died in attempts to knock out the Tarvoni power that fueled much of the Fifth Goblinoid War. For the moment, Beren needed to rest. His gear needed maintenance and he needed time to unwind. Time with other humans would be welcome as well.

Most welcome, however, would be a chance to clean up. His face paint that marked him as a Magehunter of Agon had been reapplied several times. It had dried and caked on his face. It had also mixed with the moisture and dirt of the Siren Swamp. Between that, the dirt from travel, and the blood from his kills, Beren felt quite foul. The cleansing might also help relax him after his harrowing trip. If nothing else, it would at least make him feel human again.

Approaching the encampment, the guards quickly let Beren inside. His face was well known. Even if it was not, the makeup he wore denoted what he was. Few were foolish enough to fake being a Magehunter. Too many of Beren's brethren had short tempers. Such fakery would be met violently and brutally. Few would stand against that for two good reasons. One reason was that no one liked being fooled. The other was that few dared stand against a Magehunter in combat.

“Ah, Beren!” Enzi said, “Good to see you have returned in one piece.”

Beren chuckled, “My gear took the brunt of the damage. I'm going to be sewing things up forever.”

“Better to sew fabric than to stitch wounds.”

“True enough. I'm going to turn in these heads then head off to the creek to wash up.”

Beren's eyes drifted over the northern part of the encampment as he turned towards the main tent. He immediately paused. The unmistakable electric blue aura of magic flitted along the corner of his eyes. The Magehunter approached the area as Enzi looked at Beren with curiosity. Beren swept the area. Magic had been used there recently. The Agonish man turned back to the Feergrus man.

“Did we get any new magic users recently?” Beren asked.

Enzi shrugged, “A Ravaleian came to talk with the general. I do not know if he uses any kind of magic.”

“Someone has been weaving some spells around here.”

“That probably is not good. We have had enough problems with the Ravaleians after the whole attempted coup debacle. If he is running around casting magic on things, I doubt that will go over well.”

“Then I will go have a chat with him,” Beren stated.

The Magehunter headed off to speak with Jenner and Enzi tagged along. He was curious as to what the newcomer was really up to. Jenner was busy mingling with some of the Nuvroci soldiers. Most of them were ignoring the Ravaleian. He was tolerated, but not yet accepted. The sting of betrayal faded slowly, if ever at all. Jenner looked over at Beren and Enzi as they approached. He gave a particularly wary eye towards Beren. The Magehunter noted that as a suspicious action.

“Ah, a new face,” Jenner smiled, “You must be Beren Gendar. I am Jenner Gann, gearwork master of Ravalei.”

“Then you have have magic power,” Beren said, “Those golems require enchantment.”

“Yes,” Jenner replied, “Will that be a problem?”

“I'm not too worried, but I do wonder what kind of spells you have been casting.”

“I have not woven any spells since I was last in Calal.”

It was certainly true that Beren could not see any trace of a magical aura on the Ravaleian. A Magehunter could only see the magic of a spell, however. They could not see the magic inside a person. Unless the mage wove a spell on themselves it was hard to tell much about their power. However, Beren had other skills. As long as he was calm, he could usually tell if someone was telling the truth or lying. Jenner seemed to be speaking the truth. That meant only one thing, there was another caster around and they had not announced themselves.

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