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

2Oct/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0066

Aldebaran grunted, “Burn it. Nothing good can come of it.”

“Very well,” the gorgon hissed, “Hopefully cleansing it by fire well prevent the spread.”

“Even if we did study it,” Ritter stated, “It would not tell us where it came from. The source is beyond our reach. Better to be safe than to have it spread to the humans.”

“Although,” Kava croaked, “Mayitso did have it in his mouth. Hopefully that won't cause it to infect him too.”

“Maybe that Ravaleian has some more stuff to flush out toxins,” Kava said, “I don't know if I wanna trust him with a sample of this goo. It seems too tempting for all the weird alchemy he might do. Who else would even be able to examine it properly?”

Soon flames licked at the immense rock falcon. The pyre would erase the beast and hopefully whatever had corrupted it. It was one more danger removed, but the fact that such things occurred haunted the five inhuman mercenaries. The cause behind it could be many things. If it was a new trick from the Tarvoni mages of the Abyss Cult, then it was potentially an extreme threat. There was little they could do. They returned to the encampment to inform the people there of their findings.

General Cassius Tessium nodded on hearing the information, “A tough choice you had to make, but I approve. The safety of all our people is paramount. You should have the wolf checked out. We don't want him getting sick too.”

Enzi led the lycanthrope to the Ravaleian. Jenner Gann would be able to do quite a lot. He was able to weave spells without the need of a formula. It was common among the Tarvoni to find such sorcerers. In Ravalei, it was more common to find wizards that used spellbooks. Each had their own advantages and disadvantages. For a sorcerer like Jenner, the advantage was in flexibility. He would be able to cast the spells needed to detect any odd disease that Mayitso might have contracted. Healing such things, however, was far more difficult.

“We need some help,” Enzi stated.

Jenner looked up at the Feergrus man from his seat, “Of course. What can I do for you?”

“Mayitso here recently came into contact with a creature infected with some sort of disease or something that we did not recognize. As we do not even know how the infection spreads, we thought it best to get him checked out as he had his jaws on the tainted creature.”

“I'll gladly do what I can,” the Ravaleian replied, “If I do find something, we may want to check all of your team. If it is airborne it could be extremely dangerous.”

Jenner wove spell after spell over the lycanthrope, “Well, I do not detect anything odd as far as I can tell. I am not an expert on medical advice however.”

“I would trust magic to find things that are less obvious to our naked eyes. Thank you for helping.”

“Aiding others is something I do quite often,” Jenner smiled, “My limited mobility since the accident with my leg means I often arrive last to places. It gives me time to think and be calm about my decisions. The practice at that has helped many times in my career. These few things I do here are but minor aids.”

***

Voltagh rested comfortably. His best orcs now hid deep within the mountains. Many goblins that were allies to Ranum now served them, bringing supplies. Their disappearance had been explained as them setting up for the major assault. Supposedly the forces would be unleashed to harry the northern front when the drake was finally released. Another group would be sent through the swamp and across the lake to fight on the western front. Ranum had already siphoned off a lot of the support for that attack.

The commander most loyal to the leaders of the dragon assault would all be joining the main thrust to the south. Ranum expected that most of them would die. Those who were smart enough to retreat would find very different leadership when they returned. Those who did not fall into line would be eliminated. The remaining goblinoids would be the strongest of the survivors. The weakest had been sent out to show the current leadership that they were doing something. The cull would make the race stronger.

Then the goblinoids would grow again. Ranum had already been working on the breeding program. The current crop of children were born of the best stock. The only thing left was to procure the artifacts that lay buried in the mountain. With them, no foe would be able to stand in their way. A flurry of activity caught the attention of Voltagh and Ranum. A goblin carrying something rushed up to the ancient goblin Ranum.

“We found something!” the goblin chirped.

Ranum looked at what the goblin had dug up. It was a sword, still with hardened rock and lava covering much of it. However, it was unmistakable. It was one of the Three Brothers. The blade was made of orichalcum and the dwarven runes on it talked of the power of the storms. It was the Eye of the Maelstrom. The goblin that brought it had every right to chirp happily. Ranum felt his own spirits lift. The first of the artifacts had been uncovered.

“Most excellent,” the goblin wizard replied finally, “The other blades should be near.”

“Yeah,” the much younger goblin said, “Although we have had to deal with fresh magma. It has made things slow. We will continue now that we know we must be near.”

The goblin ran off as Ranum looked to Voltagh, “Things are looking up. Now we just need to find the other two blades. We need the Heart of the Tempest and more importantly the Spirit of the Cataclysm. With all three we will be able to defeat any foe, no matter how powerful.”

Voltagh looked at the blade, his eyes filling with greed, “It... It is beautiful. I can feel the power, even from here.”

“Yes, we must be careful. It can overwhelm a user with its sheer power.”

“It did not overwhelm the messenger.”

“These blades are unlike any other. They will only allow the powerful to wield them. They would want someone like you, a skilled warrior. Yet their power would dominate your mind. I have worked with Navras all of his life to train his mind for the responsibility of wielding these weapons. Even with all my training, I worry that the blades will win. Now that I have one to study, perhaps I can better prepare one to wield them.”

Voltagh had trouble lifting his eye from the majestic blade. The orc suddenly pondered how long he should wait until he made his move. Ranum was an excellent tactician, but the Orc knew that someday he absolutely had to hold that sword in his own hands. It was meant for someone greater than some young hobgoblin. Voltagh would become the most powerful warrior in the world. The time was not ripe yet. It would come soon. It had to come soon.

***

A new batch of supplies and fresh soldiers had arrived at the encampment. The first of the golems had arrived as well. A pair of stone golems would now aid the northern front, Jenner had won over many of the people in the camp. His frank and helpful manner had helped. Tales of his times in the factory crafting golems as well as other tales of life in Ravalei had shown the people of the encampment what the country was really like.

The power of the Rava Coast Trading Company had been in its freedom. It had mercenaries to spare when the rest of Ravalei was busy crafting golems and other weapons for war. The greed of the company had grown rampant while the country had been busy with other concerns. The war had enabled the evil that had occurred. It was a sad testament to human failings.

Ritter sat thinking about his adventure in the land of the open sky. The Halz had spent much of his life in the tunnels beneath the Nuvro Range. Humans had been odd creatures that lived without the comfort of rock all around them. They were growing rapidly, however. That was a trait that the Halz did not possess. Ritter's kin were shrinking in number from year to year. The dwindling numbers had driven many of the Halz to look for other solutions.

Some of those had decided that their culture was to blame. They decided it was time to study the other cultures of the world. What was it that made the humans grow so fast? Was it merely physical? Was there more to it? The Halz certainly had many problems other than merely a low birth rate. The seven surviving clans had separated. They did not get along well anymore. It was rare to marry outside ones clan. That often meant that there were few choices for marriage unless you were willing to marry close relatives.

The Halz knew that such marriages would not work. Ritter had heard of abnormalities in human lines that were inbred, but in a Halz family it was far more obvious. Perhaps the Halz were already too closely related. Inbreeding only created monstrosities that could not survive for long. The seven clans had to be reunited. It was the only way that Ritter could see to solving the problem. He had hoped that he could learn how to make that possible by studying the humans.

Instead he had found the humans separated into several different clans of their own. Each country had its own character and goals. These often conflicted with the other countries. The incidents with the Ahk Separatists in Feergrus and dealing with the Rava Coast Trading company showed that factions inside each country also caused problems. Ritter had seen much of human nature within the past eighteen months. Each new fact he learned made him wonder if humans could be the answer to anything.

He was not sure how the humans did not end up destroying themselves. Even in the face of a war against the goblinoids, the humans had trouble working together. Ritter hoped that if ever such a threat turned against the Halz, then his dwarven brethren would work together against such an evil without any backstabbing. However, he had seen one of his own kind show a lack of honor. Gierig Silveraxe had proven that the Halz had deep flaws as well.

“You look deep in thought,” Eurysa hissed as the gorgon slithered near.

“Just pondering the future,” Ritter sighed.

“Live in the moment. It is all we have. We can't change the past. The future comes whether we want it or not. We can only do whatever is right with the time that fate has granted us.”

“You know why I came into the human lands.”

“To save your people. I know. You may not ever find the answers you seek. I have seen the decline of many races. The end of the gorgons, minotaurs, and vodyanoi as well. The lycanthropes retreat further into the woods and there are less sightings of them. You rarely hear talk of the elves anymore, even from the Tarvoni who once dealt with them. The giants rarely leave their homes on top of the mountains. Only those of the mountains deal with them at all.”

Ritter nodded, “Even the Halz rarely encounter them anymore. Still it is not safe to try to wind through mountain passes. Even the humans go around Nuvro Range. No one who tries to cross them directly ever survives. I can not say if it is giants or if there are other dangers. My people only come to the surface to repair the aqueduct systems. We need to keep water flowing to our homes.”

“It seems the only races that grow are the humans and the goblinoids.”

“The goblinoids breed like rats, their culture drives them to near slaughter. Only their sheer numbers keep them alive. I expect their future is dim. If the humans continue to grow in numbers and power, they will simply overwhelm the goblinoids.”

Eurysa hissed, “Perhaps our time here is done.”

Ritter narrowed his eyes, “I am not ready to surrender yet. My people were strong once. I will see them prosper again. Enzi has shown that humans have a good nature as well. I will follow him for now. Perhaps I will glean something useful from his nobility, if nothing else.”

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