Friday, December 30, 2016

consequences 11

“More for her. You heard Federan’s report. On the way to the bridge she created to save those fleeing the True South Lowlands she was attacked by her own people. By mortals. Once stories begin to circulate about her there will be those who claim her magic is the reason the Elements withhold themselves from us. Others who seek to control her. Yet more who will attack her for the same reason as the Archivist. Because they consider a mortal with magic to be inherently wrong.”
“My King…”
“I know this is not true. He must know I do not separate them lightly. Besides, sending her north is the safest path. In the north they need help only she can provide. By the time she returns rumors and stories of her helpful, essential magic will circulate and she will be less feared by those who fear change most of all.”
“The whole empire has such needs,” said Mitash. “Perhaps a more public display of her abilities…”
“Beyond the raising of those bridges?” Eioth sighed. “And you, you face similar difficulties. The South East demesne has no mortals within its boarders. Not for decades. The elves of the South East will consider the fates of mortals of the empire to be of less importance than their own comfort and safety. You will, I know, have difficulty compelling them to share the contents of their storerooms. You heard that archivist just now. So quickly do our people forget the Empire is all of us!”
“Chandri’s actions long ago were an offense against morality.”
“That being said, as I pointed out to Lady Halidan to her great distress, it was not illegal. It shall be, when the Synod can direct attention to addressing old oversights and offenses, but you will go with no law to support you. Only your own words, morals and intelligence.”
“I shall endeavor to be worthy.”
“And I direct that you take mortals and half bloods with you. That will also offend those you meet.”
Mitash gave him a startled look.
“Will that not be dangerous, for the mortals? The half mortals?”
“Yes. For all concerned, and yet it must be so. Halidan has proven to me, over and over, that knowledge of the mortals is invaluable in this time. To cook food, to preserve it using salt of all things. Their road building, their medicines. All knowledge that you and I do not have. I doubt that you have a book in your library concerning the methods by which mortals create, well, anything. I insist that you take a mortal healer as I have heard there was once a school for mortal healers at the major Water temple in the South East and they might still have what is needed to create their medicines. Seeds and tree cuttings must be sent north and to the True South to replace that which was destroyed by floods. You shall also have a selection of builders and those experienced in the transport of goods over rough ground. And, since they will need protection I will send a small group of guards made up of those of mixed blood. Before you ask, yes, I am making a point with my staffing selections. Reminding them both mortals and elves make up the citizenry of the Empire.”
“Going by the policy that if you are going to offend you might as well offend with enthusiasm!”
It wasn’t much of a joke but Eioth smiled in response.
“That as well, my friend.”
After a perfunctory knock at the door Federan returned.
“Tormin has been sent for,” said Federan. “He was relieved of his guard duties by one of Lady Halidan’s bodyguards and has vanished about some task of his own. It may be some time until they lay hands upon him.”
Eioth nodded. “When he returns will be soon enough.”
“I marvel at your self control, High King, dealing with the Synod this afternoon,” said Federan. “Why are you still having this argument with the Synod? It has been a moon, more, since the spells failed. Why is it only now you are demanding they reach out to the refugees? Why has more not been done?”
“My head aches as much from the arguments as from the Water in the Air,” said Mitash while Eioth gathered his usual calm. “They wail and cry and moan that nothing can be accomplished except by the will of the Elements. They perform the same rituals over and over in the hope that this time the Elements will rise to their call and while doing so declare they serve the empire.”
Federan groaned and shook his head.
“They are children,” continued Eioth. “Hoping to awaken and find that it was all set to rights by no other act than by wishing it to be so. They exhaust me. It was my hope that you and Silva would come, and by your own testimony, tell the high lords what has truly happened to our people. You know and can explain as to the true depth of the mud and pain and desperation and, what occurred instead? We are distracted by Chandri and other matters.”
“As one of those distractions was the attempted assassination of my wife, I desire a better understanding of what has occurred in my absence,” said Federan.
Eioth glanced toward his friend, then away pacing his private sanctuary, his arms folded within his sleeves so that none could see his clenched fists. Since the only potential witness to his agitated state was his old friend and student, Federan, and his trusted secretary, Mitash, he wondered at his own state of mind. Why was he trying to conceal his thoughts? It might be that Federan’s wife was also the subject of his thoughts. Yes, that was the additional worry. At this moment he faced the fact that Fderan’s allegiance was no longer completely Eioth’s. On taking a wife Federan became part of a different whole. Silva and Federan. Federan’s greater attention was no longer Eioth’s to command. Silva possessed his heart and mind, as it should be. As Halidan did for Eioth.
Even so.
Even so, Eioth acknowledged a touch of jealousy and a moment of concern.
If challenged, where would Federan’s loyalty lie?
With his wife, or would he acknowledge the greater needs of the empire over his own will and loves?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

consequences 10

“I am troubled by the necessity,” One High Lord twisted his lips as if he had tasted something very sour. ”But your arguments are convincing. We shall do what is necessary to survive until the harvests are in and the Elements return.”
“From this moment onwards,” said Eioth, raising his voice and slamming his fist down on the arm rest of Halidan’s chair, and all the whispering stilled, “we shall not speak of the return of the Elements as the solution to our problems. Even if they were to rise to our call tomorrow the weather spells are still shattered, our farmlands and storage sheds are still drowned, our population is in turmoil and homeless. We must deal with all the matters before us. Take up your burdens, you fools and waste no more time with futile wishes for what was. You have served as High Lords of your demesnes during a time of peace and prosperity and now you must direct your attention to the same service in a time of turmoil, deprivation and want!” Eioth paused and glanced about. “I have given thought to the pattern of the destruction,” continued Eioth when he held their stunned attention. “We should begin directing refugees toward the outer edges of the empire. True East, South East have suffered least. North East will have to direct their own displaced to the south and east of their own demesne, depending on the degree of damage from the snow. Action must be taken to assess the amount already harvested, what is yet to be collected and what can be accessed when the submerged storage areas are no longer underwater. The far corners of our western demesnes shall report their status and take refugees as well, depending on how clear the roads are of flood waters.”
“Who shall advise South East of their part in your plans?” inquired Ventari.
“In other times we should conduct a search for a person with intelligence, education and a deep bond to all four elements to be raised and confirmed as High Lord,” said Eioth, folding his arms in his sleeves. “But no such search would prosper in this time. No such test could be applied. Therefore do I put forward the name of Mitash Serpentine, a person of great administrative skill, knowledge and sense to administer the South East for the foreseeable future. State your objections or accept my decision.”
There was some muttering but no overt protests. Bowing to the Synod Mitash left his place against the wall and lowered himself, gingerly, into the South East’s throne. It did not creak or crack and the world did not end. Mitash released a slow breath and hoped no one took note of his trembling.
“This winter will be hard,” said Eioth. “For many there will be nothing to celebrate this Years Turning beyond the fact they still live. It is our responsibility to arrange that most survive. Food may be scarce but what little we have must be brought to the survivors and apportioned equally.” He paused to glare at the archivists. “We must prepare for the possibility that the Elements might not return, or when they return it will be a weaker bond. Or when they return it will slowly, over generations. Many generations of elves.” He paused at looked around the chamber. “But, even with this truth before us I must offer one good thought, one hope for the future, one blessing will be, there will be more descendants of those of us capable of Elemental bonds. Since we, none of us, can call the Elements to us we are no longer infertile.” Astonished, excited voices rose all around the room. “Yes, indeed,” said Eioth, with a smile. “We can hope for children. And, when the Elements bless us, and return to us, there will be more to train - to educate, which will take decades. Then we shall be fortunate to have more master of elements to practice and serve. But, until then, until that moment, in order that the empire survive we must live as if they will not!”

After the synod was dismissed and most of the High Lords and their attendants departed to the training ground to examine the collapsed dome of light - and attempt, if truth be known, to refute Eioth’s pronouncement that it was the result of some old, yet unknown, mortal magic, Eioth, Federan and Mitash went in search of privacy to continue planning.
“I shall take my own advice,” said Eioth. “The mortal guard you traveled with…”
“Tormin,” said Federan.
“Yes, I need to speak to friend Tormin as soon as may be. If you will escort him to me and attempt to calm him I would appreciate the intervention. There is a regrettable tendency of people to lose the power of speech when I address them.”
Federan gave a narrow smile. “That fault you will not find in him.”
“I have already witnessed it when I ordered him to guard your door.”
Federan laughed. “Then I shall tease him about it.”
And with a bow took himself out.
Eioth waited until the sound of Federan’s footsteps faded before turning to Mitash.
“Your departure to the South East cannot wait upon Silva’s recovery, nor should we give time for the Synod to awaken and demand to debate the matter and put forth the names of others for your role. They will talk and delay and be of no use at all if I give them time. Two things you must do when you arrive. One is to discover if Chandri spoke the truth. He claimed to have protected his corner of the empire from the effects of the destruction of the weather spells. If that is true you need to take control of his Master magicians, and yes, you must do this with no magic of your own, and they must start work recovering Elemental magic. The second is to take and hold the south east for me and send what aid is needed to the true south and north to me, here. Food. Workers. Building materials, yes, but, first of all, food. And, when the spring comes, seed and assistance to work the fields.” Eioth sighed. “And you must do this with limited support from myself. I cannot send troops, it would look like an invasion, and I cannot appear to be punishing the citizens for the actions of their high lord. We must restore the appearance of peace and coherence within the empire.”
“This is a difficult task you set me, High King.”
“I do know this but I know of no one else who can meet this need.”
Mitash considered.
“One question I know those of the South East shall ask me. As I am not a master of all elements, shall you send another to be High Lord when the elements return? Or shall you chose an Elemental Master from the South East.”
“They might be as stubborn of the Synod, holding fast to the hope for the return of the Elements instead of facing the reality of life without them.” Shaking his head Eioth began to pace. “They must accept in this time the governorship of someone who is well intentioned and competent. Chandri demonstrated full well that magical abilities do not replace concern for citizens and the empire as a whole. That was something Chandri never understood. He was far too concerned with his rank, the adoration of the people, than providing good service and attendance to their needs. He was a weak man, Mitash. Weak and sly and selfish. Remember this. You are the better man. The better administrator.”
“Yes, High King.”
“But clever.” Eitoh resumed his restless pacing. “Even with all he had done, all he destroyed there was a risk this morning that Chandri might have achieved his ambition.”
“Surely the Synod would not have elevated him? I cannot believe they would be so foolish.”
“It was a close run thing. Too close. If the High Lords had been a touch more fearful. Oh, yes, it could have been me on the execution field this morning. And you and Silva and Halidan with me. Foolish? Yes, it would have been foolish in the extreme to grant him the throne and yet I feared that these self-same High Lords who perform the morning rituals even though the Elements do not rise would have listened. Would have attempted to negotiate with him, trade with him, granted him their attention and devotion in the desperate hope that Chandri would put all back as it was.” Eioth groaned. “Desperation makes fools of all of us. Once I was certain Chandri was as surprised and helpless as we I permitted his execution so that he could not spread a poison to weaken the Synod’s resolve.”
“What little resolve they carry,” muttered Mitash.
“As you say.” Eioth cast a glance toward the closed door through which Federan had departed. “Thus I need those few companions I have who have the strength of mind and will to carry difficult burdens.”
“He understands, High King. Only, their marriage is very new.”
“And the danger to Master Silva is great.”
Mitash went to respond then shook his head. “We are all in danger, High King.”

Monday, December 26, 2016

consequences 9

“Now we have a better understanding of the magics available to us and we shall make the best use of them in service of the empire.” Eioth rose and went to stand beside the North West chair. Halidan nodded to acknowledge his arrival then came to her feet.
“The other resource we must utilize is the special knowledge of the mortals.” She paused while exclamations of surprise and rejection came from almost all sides of the room. She waited patiently until they subsided. “Oh come now, no more protests. You have had time to accept this reality. Mortal cooking fires now prepare your meals. Mortal braziers, distant cousins to that one made of Light, warm your rooms. And, which is more, mortal healers prepare potions to take away the worst of your headaches and other ills. You may think if you pay no attention to this fact, that if you close your eyes and your minds, you can believe that somewhere in this House hidden and secret Elemental magic still serves, but it is not true and such willful blindness will not serve the Empire.”
“It is therefore necessary,” said Eioth, smoothly, “for you to acquire mortal advisers. My lady Halidan may assist you there as she has already reached out to the educated persons of her acquaintance nearby. They can advise you on the preservation of food without use of magic, of engineering, of road building, of house building and other matters that are vitally important for the rebuilding of the empire and the transport of goods and food to those displaced by the floods.”
“But snow,” interrupted Trevan. “What is to be done with the snow? Mere Mortal engineers cannot mend the ruined roads to the north. There is no way that mere light, which has no heat, can bring food to my people and rescue them from the blizzards.”
“Be patient, I beg you,” said Eioth.
“You have all walked through mortal villages,” said Halidan, raising her voice slightly to be heard over the growing mutter. “Past mortal homes built not with magic but with hands and wood and skill and not for one moment wondered how they live. In your arrogance and preoccupation you thought they lived as you do, obtaining magic to fill the needs of their homes. But magic is expensive and must be horded against greater need.”
“Wait,” said Eioth, when Trevan rose from his seat to signal his wish to be heard. “She is correct as you will acknowledge if you only listen.”
“Indeed, there is some information the mortals possess that might aid you,” said Halidan. “According to my reading, there are persons within the True North demesne who have beasts of burden who can walk over snow while carrying heavy loads. Their hooves, apparently, are flat and broad and hairy both above and below so they do not break through the snow crust. Mortals use them to carry supplies during the depths of winter to the furtherest reaches of the mountains.”
Trevan stared at her. “Yes, I know of them. I have seen them from time to time. Nomads. Traders. They are useful enough and…” he paused and considered. “They do travel off the roads to distant communities in the darker months. I pay them little heed as their numbers are small.”
“Do you know how to contact them?” asked Eioth.
“I… I, myself, no. I do not know. They come to trading fairs and then return to their own business. I shall inquire of my entourage to see if any have that knowledge.”
“And I will send out inquires amongst the displaced. The mortal refugees,” said Halidan. ”There may be some from the north with better knowledge.”
“Good.” Eioth nodded. “Know this. Our mortal citizens survive each day, each year, with the bare minimum of magical interventions. Recruit from the refugees. There are certain to be skilled persons coming here seeking guidance and supplies to survive and rebuild. With them as your advisers…”
He was interrupted  by a voice from the corner where two archivists were inscribing the proceedings.
“I realize it is not the archivist’s role to interfere,” said the young elf, “but I must wonder, High King, why you make such a production of the matter.”
They all turned to stare at the small table. The taller rose to face the Synod.
“Mortals?” the archivist continued. “What little they possess by way of primitive knowledge does exist, I must admit, but I cannot see the need for the effort you describe. We need the Elements to return. That should be the direction of your thoughts. Only that.”
“At this moment,” replied Halidan, calmly, “We need clean water to drink, a safe place for refugees to live and a way to keep them alive until the first harvest can be brought in next year - which might not be for six to eight moons.”
“We shall do well that enough without mortal knowledge,”said the young archivist. “Our Empire will endure if resources are apportioned to those whose survival best serves the Empire.”
“Are you suggesting that only those of elvan blood should be given food?” demanded Haldian as she took one step down from her dias.
Eioth caught her arm. “That one is not so foolish as to make that suggestion,” he frowned across the chamber. “Are you?”
A faint head shake was the only response.
“Do you know how to prevent Winter Red Fever?” interrupted Lenneth in a hard voice.
“I am an elf,” was the proud response. “I do not get Winter Red Fever.”
Both Halidan and Eioth turned to the Water Priest Lenneth.
The priest bowed and stepped forward.
“That is,” said Lenneth, “because as with all who can arrange to be present, you take part in the Dark Of The Year Turning Ritual each year. It is then that the Water Priest healers cast the protections against those illnesses that lurk in the coldest time of the year. Since we shall not be able to summon the Elements this Turning, I cannot predict the effect upon general health - mortal or elvish. It may be that you will still bear the protections from last year, but, I admit, I cannot promise you that is the truth. Never have we faced this problem. I do not possess the connection to Water to test the matter.”
The High Lords and their attendants exchanged startled and worried looks while the healer continued.
“You take for granted the protections granted you by the Water Priesthood,
 continued Lenneth. “We cast protections in the spring against foot diseases gained from muddy fields that, if untreated, will rot the skin from your feet, and against the small parasites that dwell in closed and airless storage sheds that would fill your lungs and end your lives. In the summer we protect against fungus that rises in the fields. We bless the fields and crops and cattle and all who work in them. Your surprise is shameful. You are instructed before each healing cast what benefits you shall receive but it is obvious to me you have not listened.”
“There are foot diseases?” marveled one attendant. “What foot diseases?”
“Mortal farmers are diligent in attending certain rituals so as to gain that protection,” said Halidan. “But as you, yourself, do not go out onto the fields which supply your food you do not know what is needed. Your ignorance is not malicious unless you fail to take this warning and seek the mortal healers who can tell you about the herbal concoctions that serve the same purpose.”
There were some muttering but Eioth ignored them.
“Heed me,” he said. “I do not make these recommendations lightly. For our people to survive we must put aside a preference for magical aid and accept mundane means for necessary tasks. Mortals will have this knowledge.”

Friday, December 23, 2016

consequences 8

Before Trevan could rise and rage at Halidan Federan rose and raised both hands.
“Wait. Perhaps we could exclude True North from the morning ritual?” Federan suggested. “The North needs no more rain as they can melt snow and drink it.”
“I agree,” said Eioth. “True North is exempt. We shall see how matters progress. Tomorrow, Trevan, you may may use the raised power to scry while we summon rain for the other demenses’s and see if redirecting the power is sufficient to spare the North.”
“As you say, High Lord.” Trevan subsided and seemed to shrink down into his chair. His attendants fluttered about uselessly, trying to offer comfort.
Eioth rose from his knees and resumed his pacing.
“The Elements do not rise to our call but we are fortunate at this time to have other magics. Sex Magic and Light Magic. The adept of light magic was to have been presented to the synod in the morning, instead she rests after the scandalous actions of Chief Archivist almost conspired to rob both her and my Lady Halidan of life. You cannot have the honor of an introduction now, but I shall tell you of her abilities and then you might adjourn to the courtyard to examine the dome she created to protect herself and Lady Halidan.”
There were general murmuring and some confusion but the High Lords sat straighter.
“A practitioner of sex magic?” inquired one, in a voice heavy with suggestive inflection … and speculation.
“With me,” said Federan in a heavy, threatening tone.
All heads turned but only Eioth spoke.
“The Adept of Light Magic, Master Silva of True South, is wed to Federan, Heir to True South,” declared Eioth. “The ritual witnessed by a Water Priest and by myself and High Lady Senoia via light ribbon.”
“What is this Light Magic?” inquired  Adarh, the High Lord of True East. “I have wondered since you first told us of it, and can find no one to instruct me. There are no references in your library, High King.”
“I am pleased to know someone is making use of my library,” said Eioth as he gave a heavy sigh at this proof that so much he said was ignored by the Synod and  folded his hands in his sleeves. “Observe over there, the brazier giving warmth to this room. You see that it does not burn but holds the wood and coals encased.”
“I have seen such things before,” observed Trevan. “Mortals in the north use them to cook and warm their houses.”
“I have seen similar used to cook when on a progress,” said Eioth. “But this one particularly is not made of metal or stone. It was created, made from light alone, before my eyes only yesterday.”
After a moment of stunned silence the High Lords rose in a rush to examine the device.
“It looks like metal,” said Veranti,, touching a leg then running his fingers up to the rim. “It is yet cool despite the burning coals.”
“It does not ring as metal,” said Adarh, flicking his fingernail against a decorative rim. “Of course, if my bond with the Earth element was awake I could tell you what it is.”
“Unlikely,” said Eioth. “As it is made of Light not Earth nor Fire nor Air your magic will not sense it. I witnessed its construction. It is made of Light and Light alone.”
“Astonishing,” said Veranti, scowling. “That such a magic should appear so suddenly. Is this where our missing Elements went? To make this new magic?”
“No,” said Federan, sharply. “It is different entirely. It is far older than Silva. The facade of Eioth’s House had decorations made from Light. In addition to that, Silva is a trained weaver. She has been making threads and ribbons of light since her childhood. Her ability predates this disaster just as does the facade of the High King’s House which she drew down to reform into the dome which protected her.”
“Not sudden, nor unprecedented. Nor Elemental! From what Germancy said,” Eioth stopped and frowned a moment before continuing. “There have been mortals with Light Magic before. The family legend which stated that my own House was brought forth by an Earth Magicians would be proven untrue by today’s events. The removal of the facade of my House this afternoon in response to a summons by Master Silva may be taken as proof Light Magic is old. Very old.”
“This Master Silva, what do we know of her?” said Veranti. “Can she be trusted? Is she an agent of Chandri’s?”
Veranti turned to stare at Federan, who scowled and replied. “You would know better than I.”
“No quarreling,” cried Eioth, stepping between them. 
“Where there is change there will always be cowards who cling go the old rather than accept what is useful about the new,” said Federan. “Germancy was one such coward. In this time of loss, of disconnect from the Elements, we cannot disdain any thing that will aid us. Light Magic can create such small things as ropes and buckets or such great things as bridges. One such bridge currently reunites East and West two leis south of the drowned Hub of Harmony as well as bridging streams and rivers from here to the True South.”
There was a few moments of general muttering then Veranti rubbed his chin. “It is unfortunate that this ability is confined to one mortal woman, weak as she is. She must be compelled to teach this skill to more experience magic practitioners.”
“If you mean elves,” said Federan. “She has attempted to explain her skill to me several times and I cannot see light the way she sees it.”
“She may be deliberately misleading you.”
Federan clenched his hands and moved toward Veranti.
“Enough,” shouted Eioth. “I have met with Master Silva and believe, nay, I know her to be sincere. Since the rains first began she has, with a generous heart and sincere wish to be of service, given all that she has in the service of the empire. I will not have her insulted or her loyalty questioned! Am I rightly understood?”
Silence answered him.
Whether this silence represented agreement or argument postponed Mitash could not determine from his place in the rear of the chamber. While the strange brazier was of interest it was nothing to the fascination he found examining the book he’d received from Eioth.
The Use and Complexity of Sex Magic, by an adherent.
The book cover was plain and the words within neat but obviously hand inscribed. Given the content he should not be surprised. What printer would permit this subject to pass through his presses?
Mitash glanced about the chamber and noted that similar books rested in the sash belts of all the High Lords. He blushed, the tips of his ears burning red as he considered all of these elves reading the same matter as he just examined.
The interest in the brazier continued to hold the High Lord’s attention. Some were expressing their astonishment that the Light brazier did not become warm and others were remarking on its lack of weight. Another produced a belt knife and pressed it against one leg. Eioth observed without comment, his arms folded and expression distant. Mitash, who knew him best of all gathered, could sense his impatience.
Eventually Eioth returned to his seat which was the signal for the exploration and gossiping to end and the High Lords straggled back to their places.
“When she has recovered from this morning’s unwarranted attack,” said Eioth, and the room fell silent, “I will require you all to acknowledge Silva of the True South’s Master of Light with all the honors attendant to Adept status.”
Veranti appeared to be about to speak but Eioth raised a hand.
“Fear not, she shall provide a demonstration as is required by,” Eioth coughed, “ritual.
There were general nods.
“The True South pays her stipend,” said Federan, staring at Eioth as if in challenge.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

consequences 7

When silence returned Eioth continued.
“For the practice of sex magic there are only we, the High Lords and our chosen partners, who know of it, and for Light Magic there is one, one - do you hear? - one user in all of the empire! And with these few resources we must carry the burdens previously born by thousands of Elemental magicians!”
Halidan raised her hand but Eioth gestured wearily her to wait and she subsided.
“The people of the Empire have desperate needs that will not wait for the Elements to return to us,” Eioth continued. “They need food, shelter, water, safety, medicine. They need to know their leaders have resources to direct toward meeting these needs. The only historical reference we have for this disaster was one town in one demesne and for that area it was necessary to wait for months to reunite it with the greater spells. Our issue today is, I do not know the spell, the weather spell. I do not know how to restore those ancient magics. Can anyone here answer they have this knowledge? Can anyone here lay hands on the knowledge of the creation of that great magic? Is there a record in any demesne of where and why and by what means were the Great Weather spells cast?”
Horrified silence answered him. He waited. Of course someone had to say it.
“Perhaps Chandri…”
Eioth did not so much as turn his head to seek whomever spoke.
“Perhaps indeed, but I think not. Even Chandri admitted he had not expected destruction on this scale.”
“No, he did not,” interrupted Veranti, the High Lord of the South West. “He admitted to me last night, when I attended him in his solitude. He was horrified to discover Hub of Harmony drowned. Nothing he said to me last night suggested he knew how to restore what he destroyed. He would not believe me when I told him the extent of the damage. I told him of the flooding. Of the loss of life. Of the drowning of our fields and food stores. Instead he to me boasted of his great achievement. Of his great ambitions. You may wonder in the privacy of your own minds whether he could have put matters to rights but I tell you, even if he could he would not want to. Remember, he came to us a prisoner bound by this Light Magic. If he held magic, if his Element answered to him as he claimed, if he had protected the masters of the South East, if he and the South East were spared by the destruction, if his Masters were spared, surely they would have taken action before now. The long silence from the South East assures me they are as confused and powerless as ourselves.”
“I agree. Those troops who attempted to invade the True South brought no magic with them,” said Eioth. “Even if he did have some plan for the restoration of the spells then his magic users in the South East must have his books and we shall ask them if they know where he placed that knowledge. They know the spell for destruction and they shall explain to us the steps they took to bring down the spells and from that knowledge, we must hope, that we can rebuild. But know this, what weighs upon my mind is, I cannot find a hint in my readings, in all my education, of how the weather spells were originally cast. There is nothing in my vast library to the point. Nothing was said to me by my tutors regarding that event.” He stared about the room, meeting the gaze of each HIgh Lord, each Elemental magician here gathered in turn. “Do any of you recall it? Is it a matter of family pride for one of you that you were involved in the casting? If not that, do you know which High King ruled when that gift was given to us? Which millennia was the one where the world changed and rain came to our call? Surely that magician should have endless statues raised to his honor. Children without number would bear his name least he be forgot! But no, he is forgot! There is naught by silence.” Eioth turned to the only Water priest permitted in this chamber. “Lenneth, the Water priests maintain the spells. Do they have any hint in all their rituals and history of the creation of the weather spells?”
“Indeed not, High King,” said the healer, with a rapidity that astonished some of his audience. “I have spoken to a few of my elders in Element who dwell nearby and they declare that the Water priesthood was granted the responsibility to maintain the spells some time after they were cast but have no idea how to create it.”
So the Water Priesthood were already seeking a solution, thought Mitash, then his stomach cramped and head ached again. Searched and returned with empty hands. If the Water Priesthood did not know, who could? But, then again, the Water Priesthood forgot their role in the fertility of elvan magic users. How much more was forgot?
“No. No,” groaned High Lord Trevan, slumping down in his chair and covered his face with his hands.
“There it is, the truth we must face, no matter how terrible,” said Eioth. “So much was lost when the plague struck us the origin of the spells and their casters may have been lost then as well. It is likely that the knowledge was lost far earlier given that there is no hint of it in all my readings. Perhaps it was the working of one great adept, working alone and in secret and no such record exists.”
“If it were one,” interrupted Trevan. “I do not understand why we do not know him. There should be a record of him being rewarded.”
“If there is a record it rests under flood waters at Hub of Harmony, if it does, indeed, exist,” observed Federan. “Out of our reach until the waters recede.”
“But this speculation is irrelevant,” continued Eioth. “The horrendous truth that faces us is firstly, we do not know when the Elements will return to us. It may be next month, which I doubt, or next year. Or next season, or, as I fear, it may take years for us to return to that level of strength we have previously enjoyed. Secondly, when it does we shall be, as we are now, subject to random weather and all the chaos that unmanaged weather brings.”
At that Trevan cried out and slumped into his chair, sobbing into his sleeve. Eioth hurried across the room to comfort him, kneeling beside the thronelike chair and taking Trevan’s hands in his.
“I know, from my scrying,” continued Eioth, urgently, “that True South and True North and that part of the empire which joins them through the center and over the Hub of Harmony suffers more than any other demesne. The flooding in True South is extensive and Senoia reports the waters have not yet crested but in True North there is snow. Snow to depths unprecedented.”
“Snow that is crushing houses,” interrupted Trevan, his voice trembling. “The weight of the snow is so great that trees are splitting, roofs are collapsing, crushing the families within. People cannot leave their homes unless they tunnel through the snowbanks. And how can they tell the direction of safety? In some places the snow is higher than the roof of the tallest house. Whole townships, farms, are buried and the bridges and roads completely impassible! If aid does not reach them - but how? How can we help them?”
“Then your scrying has viewed the same destruction as mine,” said Eioth.
“That is one gift this Sex Magic grants us,” said Trevan, bitterly. “Accurate scrying at a distance in this instance is both blessing and curse. High King, we cannot continue the morning rain. My people die under the weight of the snow. No more, I beg you.”
“And others will die without clean drinking water,” said Halidan. ”I regret the necessity, Trevan, since the True North suffers undeniable consequences, but the whole empire is in the balance. People will die without clean water to drink. To cook with.”

Monday, December 19, 2016

consequences 6

With that Germancy inclined his head toward the shocked elves and departed to supervise the packing of his personal property. Later he returned to collect those few precious papers he considered too valuable to trust to his lessors. In his absence Farnam had organized the junior archivists into groups. One set were packing up the remaining papers, the other two, down at mouth and huddling beneath blankets, were copying over notes at a far table.
“Twein and Blait have been chosen to remain, Germancy,” said Farnam. “I have set them to recording six copies of your discussion with Eioth and Federan. I shall arrange for one copy to be sent to Lady Senoia, who I expect will continue to stand with her contaminated grandson out of family loyalty. The remainder will be placed in the hands of the remaining High Lords in the hope they will realize the risk Sex Magic and Light magic poses to the empire, and one held to be given to whoever is chosen to replace Chandri. Surely when they are acquainted with the law suffient number of the High Lords will …”
“Will continue as they are,” said Germancy, sadly. “They have tasted forbidden power and foreign magic it will take many voices raised in outrage to bring them back to the proper path. I shall do my best to recruit strong aid in service of the Empire. Here is the Vote of No Confidence Law as I have remembered it. Have it copied as well.” He stopped again and looked sad. “I realize that many of you are distressed by these actions. You are all advanced enough in your training to have finished reading the first laws. Some of you have gone no further and I pity you, under the circumstances. Your education is therefore obstructed.  I think that when you depart here, an elder should go with to tend, guide and continue the education of a younger. This is a difficult time for you all and the empire. With time, and faith in the Elements, all shall be as it was before. I weep for our empire, as do you but it is strong and it will return. I hope to soon stand with you all in the hall of records. Until then, remember your oath and your responsibilities. Remember, the Law is the Empire.”
A cough from the doorway caught Germancy’s attention. A guard bearing the sigil of the High King stepped through and gave a half bow toward Germancy.
“I bear a message from High King Eioth. He desires Germancy attend upon him as soon as may be.”
Silence spread through the room but Germancy was untroubled.
“You have delivered your message.”
The guard bowed and departed.
“I cannot remain,” said Germancy summoning his personal secretary with a flick of his fingers. “You have your orders. Depart by side doors. Attract no attention.”
The other archivists bowed as Germancy hurried from the room. As soon as he was from sight Farnam pointed to one of the waiting archivists.
“You, assist with the copying. The rest of you, pack as much as you can. We leave before nightfall. Hurry, there is much to do.”
Eioth escorted Halidan into the temporary Synod chamber, and all the way to the North West seat where he fussed seeing to her comfort - and making his devotion clear to all witnesses - before turning and glaring about the  Synod. None of the gathered High Lords appeared to be exhibiting negative attitudes toward the only mortal to assume a seat in the Synod. It was possible they were all skilled at concealing their thoughts, or they were not involved a in plot to end Halidan’s life. The fact that he did not, could not read their intentions chilled Eioth to the heart.
Federan crossed to stand beside his grandmother’s seat in the True South of the chamber and waited.
The tension in the hall was an almost living thing. None gathered appeared to know where to look and who to address. So much had happened to their comfortable and predictable world that uncertainty reigned where once was certainty. The High Lords were accustomed to considering themselves inviolate but this very morning one of them was sentenced to death and another, admittedly a mortal regent, almost achieved the same fate and was saved by, horror, an unknown mortal magic.
Mitash took advantage of the fact all were staring at the High King to retreat to a comfortable place against the wall. After a moment’s thought he drifted across so that he stood behind the South East throne. It was all to the good that he accustomed himself to regarding the business of the Empire from that view rather than that from behind the High King.
“We represent a quorum,” Eioth declared after he made a show of counting those present and moved to the center of the room while the High Lords and their representatives took their places. The only chair unoccupied was Chandri’s. At some time that morning servants had removed the piles of flowers and other items suggesting that Chandri was mourned, Mitash was relieved to see, then wondered who had shown that initiative. Chandri’s name and memory was now a disgrace and the chair was bare and abandoned.
Eioth sighed then began walking the chamber.
“Earlier this year,” he began conversationally, “acting in my role as High Lord of the North West demesne, I was required to grant responsibility and authority to a family in the North West demesne wherein there was only one person carried within them a bond to the Elements, fire as it happens, and I worried and grieved at the necessity. Wondering how I could include that estate’s magical responsibilities in my own. What could I do, beyond praying that the daughter would marry a man who might engender a child, and that child, decades from now, would manifest a useful level of magical bond?” He met the gaze of all the High Lords in turn. “You, yourselves, have faced that selfsame difficult decision in recent years. We were forced to choose thus as the horrifying awareness that there were not enough magic users of sufficient strength to meet all the demands upon them, in the usual manner of things, descended upon us.” He shook his head as he faced his audience. “Then, three months ago I revealed the secret that would permit magic users to be granted children again.” He nodded to the regent of the North West who inclined her head in response. “A secret discovered for me by Lady Halidan, now Regent for the North West. How we celebrated! How we rejoiced to know that we could restore our numbers. But we celebrated, we rejoiced, too soon. Now. Ah, now, there are no elemental magic users functioning in the empire. None at all. Not ourselves, no the masters who report to us … none at all. All that we have, all that must aid and restore the Empire is sex magic and light magic.”
Eioth waited until the cries of pain, of rejection of this foul, but unsurprising news, filled the area. He scowled at those making these noises. These facts were no longer new news. Weeks, moons passed since the weather magic spells shattered. Their mood should be one of resigned acceptance.

Friday, December 16, 2016

consequences 5

There was a pause then his assistant spoke slowly. “The next High King is like to be Eioth’s child, since Lady Regent Halidan may now carry his child to term.”
Germancy placed his tea carefully to one side.
“This will not do. No. There is no time to delay.” Germancy frowned as he examined his memory for this elf’s name. “Farnam, this is not the place for us. Leave two of the junior archivists to record the doings of this Synod. We cannot leave their activities to silence but I shall no longer grant legitimacy to its doings by keeping the Archive within its authority. And, check if you will, for the list of the previous High King’s begats. Did we bring it?”
“Indeed we did.” A moment of silence. “It is a short list and they are all passed into Unity.”
“Then fetch it for me. I need to review it for secondary alliances and distant cousins.”
All of the gathered archivists turned to stare.
Germancy rose, folding his hands into his sleeves. Within seconds the room fell silent.
“Attend me, I have decided, I shall not remain under this roof. One of the oldest laws of our empire is being disregarded. High King Eioth told me himself…” he glanced toward one of the younger elves who busied himself taking up pen and paper. Germancy coughed, exercised his memory and continued. “Thus spoke Germancy, Chief Archivist, to Eioth, selected to be High King by Synod vote and Federan, heir to… grandson of Lady Senioa of the True South.” There were a few raised eyebrows at his manner of phrasing himself but by then  Germancy was reciting the conversation verbatim, "I am convinced this current disaster would not have arisen except there was this current interregnums,” said  Gemancy. “However, that is the purpose of the archives and the ongoing duty of the archivists. We of the Synod Archive keep the knowledge clean and pure so that it is available at need."
"How kind," said Eioth. "Please instruct me for I am eager to prove myself worthy of the great responsibility I have been granted.
"I must explain a law to you, High King,” said Germancy. “A law that predates the Empire itself, dating back to the first of our kings. Before we were overseen by High Kings.”
"Old, indeed," said Eioth. "I do not have books from that era. If you could have copies made..."
"Oh, no. Sadly, High King, I am forbidden from granting your request. By the command of our most ancient kings, only approved history texts are to be circulated related to that time."
“Say on,” said High King Eioth. “I await your instruction.”
"When our ancestors entered this land the mortals who resided here..."
"What is this?" interrupted High King Eioth, astonished. "When our ancestors what?"
"Arrived here," said Gemancy, calmly. "Surely you did not think we appeared full grown from the Air?"
"We were somewhere else?" demanded Federan, the half mortal, displaying improper manners. "Before the Empire?  I know nothing of that time."
"Why, certainly. In those most early years we resided mostly to the north, in the area that is now called True North and North East. But those lands were not sufficient for our needs so we descended over the Hearthstone mountains and annexed the remainder of these lands to form the Empire."
"Astonishing," said Eioth. "I considered myself a scholar and have never heard of this.”
“Sadly, there has not be leisure for your education in all matters of the empire,” said Germancy. “Attend me now and I shall guide your understanding.”
“If you please.”
"Very well. On our arrival we were, of course, welcomed. Our magic vastly improved the lives of those who dwelled here and they gratefully offered our king their throne so he might rule over the combined lands."
"Wait," interrupted Federan, yet again. "Were these people elvan or mortals?"
"The peoples who resided here were mortals. This is what is most relevant to today’s events. At that time a command was entered into the archives that is not spoken of outside our walls. It is not seen for the very act of seeing it means that questions will arise in the minds of those against whom it is directed."
"Speak clearly," said Eioth. "What is this law?"
"It is an instruction that echoes down through the years,” declared Gemancy in the voice of Law which should not have been denied by a true High King! “A command to act if a certain aberration is observed."
Eioth frowned. "What instruction is this?"
"Mortals do not practice magic!”
"Nonsense," said Federan. "They do. You may not know of it but Master Silva of the True South is proof that they can!"
"I am not denying that they can," said Gemancy. "I was shocked beyond words when the High King began circulating that obscene book on the practice of Sex Magic. I had believed that practice entirely stamped out."
He paused to be certain those inscribing his words were keeping pace with his report.
"Wait," said Eioth. "You are saying that Sex Magic arose with the mortals?"
"Yes," said Gemancy, in sorrow. "You must hand your copy of that foul book to me for destruction."
"I did not know. That I have committed a crime against our laws is a deep, personal injury, and yet, at this time it is not expedient for me to hand the book it. I have used it to control the weather and fear the return of the rains."
"Give the book to me,” commanded Germancy. “The Empire would have survived. In its own time the rain would have ended and the Elements returned to our hands. That form of magic is a degradation to the practitioner. You must free yourself from its bonds."
“I shall not,” declared unyielding and intragient Eioth. Proud fool that he will be proved to be. “You cannot restrict its spread. I have given copies of the book to all in the Synod, at the instruction of my mortal lady, Halidan.”
"I shall gather them all," said Gemancy. "You must understand, High King, all mortal magic was destroyed at the command of our first King who eventually became the grandfather of our first High King. His orders have been preserved and protected in all the years that followed and it is the responsibility of those of us who serve the archive to teach the subsequent High Kings. Sadly there has been such a long interregnum and you did not have the opportunity to be taught. Do not worry,  I shall correct the deficits in your education in due time."
"All mortal magic!" cried Federan. "All. You mean Light Magic, don't you! You know about Light Magic. You know about Silva!"
"Indeed, Lord Federan. The so called magic of Light  was the other abomination being practiced by the mortals before our arrival. It was considered necessary, for our rule to be serene, that all practice of mortal magic be discouraged. Therefore, the message went out that mortals do not do magic. It was simpler than making it illegal. Mortal parents, puzzled by their children’s odd behavior, would bring children afflicted with Light to the Water Priests to be examined, and thus we dealt with the matter. Over the years the matter became less important as fewer mortals with the curse were born. We had thought the matter finally ended. The one you have brought up from the South is the first one seen for several generations."
"Dealt with?" repeated Federan as he went deathly pale. "How? What was done to the children? Where is Silva?"
"Be calm, my Lord," said Germancy. "All is as it should be. To maintain the Empire, mortals do no magic. - Then did High King Eioth demonstrate how far gone he was in addiction to the foul magic, by taking hold of the Chief Archivist and shaking him, demanding, ‘where is Halidan?’”
"Dead! By this time they are both dead! Sadly, High King, we were not able to act quickly enough to prevent the criminal Silva from spreading her knowledge to  your consort, Halidan.  The law defines the necessary action. By now both women have been executed, as required.  If we had been fortunate enough to keep the knowledge from Halidan then she might have been spared.”
“You have murdered my Lady Halidan?” cried Eioth, and fell to weeping.
“A greater law is in action here, my King. I regret the necessity. Surely you realize they must die,” said Gemancy. “The Southerner mortal was teaching your lady the perverted magic. You, yourself, had exposed Halidan to Sex Magic. The rot had already begun. They were teaching each other. It had to be stopped.”
Germancy nodded to himself, at to his audience. “Yes, it was necessary for the rot to be stopped. Eioth, serving as High King, has encouraged activities sworn as illegal by this empire’s first King. He has surrendered his soul to what is expendient instead of what is Law, therefore do I, as Chief ARchivist, withdraw my presence and tactic consent from his rule and the Synod who serves him in this perversion.”
Stunned gasps came from throughout the chamber. Germancy sighed.
“I offered instruction, but it was rejected. Sadly I must acknowledge Eioth cannot be supported by us. No. Until he is removed, and I shall instruct the members of the synod of the procedure of the Vote of No Confidence before I depart, then it is impossible for me to remain. You all must draw lots for two to remain and record the activities of this synod. Even a morally corrupt synod must have its activities and instructions recorded if only to serve as instructor and warning to those who follow. I know these events are as shocking to you as they are to me but we must remember our greater duty to keeping the laws of our great empire pure. Therefore, we shall depart and take what we have managed to save with us. We shall keep ourselves separate and isolated from the synod and high king until Hub of Harmony is restored. Once we have access to the great archives again we shall have the proof we need that Eioth has acted against the law. The synod will act then, even if they do not act before. Farnam, go, arrange for horses and transport. We must be gone from this place as soon as possible.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

consequences 4

"You are correct," said Ionia, lifting Silva's hand in hers and wrapping her fingers around Silva's wrist. "You can see her bones and muscles are strong from working at some complicated task for years. But also, you can see the skin is a little loose."
"We have all lost weight recently," said Fedoran. "But Silva, the color of her skin and hair is paler than when first I met her."
"We should permit her to sleep until she awakens naturally," said Ionia. "I shall attend her, if you wish it, and have something nourishing waiting for her when she wakes. And medicine. Likely, if she suffers as Elemental magicians do, she shall awaken with an aching head."
"That will not be necessary, said Fedoran. "She is my wife. It is my responsibility to attend her."
"I wish I could permit it," said Eioth. "But we must recall the Synod to session. You, and my lady Halidan, must be seen. Halidan must be seen to have my approval, my support and my protection and I must explain Silva's magic to the rest, with the dome in the courtyard as my proof, and repeat my declaration protecting her. I wish no repetition of today's excitement. The archivist who sought your death must be found. Germancy was involved. I shall require he identify the one who carried out his will where you are concerned."
"Excitement!" Fedoran rolled his eyes at the term but kept his gaze fixed on his wife.
"We should have her drink some water," suggested Ionia. "If she takes it with no difficulty, then she might have something more substantial."
"I agree," said Lenneth. "I shall aid her to drink water if you would make your potion."
Ionia nodded, rising and crossing the room to her pack.
Eioth nodded, caught Federan by the arm when he lingered yet by the bed and drew his friend and his wife from the chamber.
The entrance was now guarded by a half elvan man on one side and Tormin on the other. Eioth nodded to both as he led the way into the corridor. Not far down the hall his secretary and long time assistant, Mitash Serpentine, awaited them.
“I have retrieved the … excuse me, my Lady Halidan … the execution warrants,” said Mitash, making no effort to place it in Eioth’s hand.
“Do not attempt to protect me. I am certain I signed it,” said Eioth, softly. “Forgive me, Halidan, Germancy presented me with an endless parade of pages and I signed without reading. I admit, I did not want to see the words condemning Chandri to death.”
Halidan gave him a narrow eyed glare even as she took his hand in hers.
“My love, difficult though it is you have a responsibility to look at each word of a death warrent. You owe it to your rank, your authority and mostly to the life you are taking away to do so.  If you cannot read the words then perhaps you should reconsider action.”
“I am confident that Chandri earned his death. With the records distroyed and our people displaced and wandering we may never know the full number of those he killed.  But, if I had read the warrants I would have found the order Germancy included the order for you and Silva.” Eitoh shook his head and straightened. “It will not happen again.”
“I am certain,” said Halidan. “Do we know why he did this?”
“Perhaps we should have a rule that another should read as well, to confirm the wording and no unwarranted inclusions,” suggested Mitash.
“You are kind to suggest it, Mitash, but the truth of the matter is as my lady Halidan says, It is my final responsibility and I will not shirk it again. At this moment I have more important duties for you.” Eioth reached out and took the bundle of paper from Mitash handing him, in return, a neat small, plain covered book. “Take this and study it well. You shall be joining those few people I entrust with the practice of sex magic.  There is a ritual for you to review, I have inserted a page mark…”
Mitash blinked and stared down at the nameless book. “High King, I…”
“There is a ritual that will bind you to South EAst. I do not recall if you were in the chamber when I declared I shall be sending you to the South East to administer that demesne during this emergency.”
“High King, I am bonded to one Element only!”
“Do you see anyone performing Elemental magic here?” inquired Eioth, sorting through the sheets until he found the one he wanted. “Mitash, you are an excellent administrator and that is what is needed in the South East. You must overcome their isolationism. Their prejudices. Their anger and shame at having their High Lord executed for crimes against the empire. All that I place in your hands, in addition I require aid to be sent to the True South and South West. Do you understand why I rely upon you?”
“I know your mind, High King, and your will in this regard,” said Mitash with a slight bow. “I accept this duty and honor. I swear the South East will serve the people of the empire, elf and mortal.”
Eioth nodded.
“I would recommend you speaking carefully with your lover. She might have objections to the practice. If she cannot bring herself to participate willingly then, I regret, I recommend finding someone from the South East who is willing.” Eioth stared intently into Mitash’s eyes. “It is not necessary, I hope, for me to instruct you on the consideration and respect owed to lovers.”
Mitash blushed and stammered and seemed to be about to speak but changed his mind, nodding his acquiescence.
Halidan laughed at that, confusing and distracting Mitash for an instant then he returned his attention to Eioth.
“High King, I… of course I need no instruction,” said Mitash. “Currently I have no lover so I shall consider the women of the South East to see if one can be found.” He paused then added. “Should it become necessary.”
“It is necessary, Mitash!” said Eioth, with uncharastic heat. “And the sooner the better. Each morning the members of the Synod engage in a spell for fresh water, or have you forgotten? And when spring returns we shall not be able to cast the ritual of Spring’s Rising with Elemental power. The Sex Magic spell contained in that book shall be necessary. Do not doubt it! And other rituals as events change. Study it carefully it is likely we shall be dependant upon it for a decade, at least.”
Mitash looked back and forth between the High King and the book. Eventually he inclined his head.
“It will be as the High King commands,” swore Mitash, as the tips of his ears turned pink.
It did not help that Lady Halidan chuckled at his discomfiture, nor that the High King blushed as well.
“Come now,” said Eioth, drawing a determined breath. “Now we have convinced Mitash we must do the same for the Synod.”
Pausing Eioth caught the eye of a nearby guard.
“FInd Germancy. I wish to speak to him at the earliest possilbe moment.”
The guard nodded and hurried away.
EIoth extended his arm to Lady Halidan. “I can only hope the Synod has gained in sense this half mark.”
Behind them a mortal and half mortal/elvan guard exchanged a glance. Tormin gave a sharp nod and the other guard hurried off in Lady Regent Halidan’s train
After the High King and that half mortal presumptive heir to True South abandoned the High King’s personal office in quite unseemly haste Germancy straightened his clothing and smoothed the sigils of his rank before climbing to his feet. He had served the empire for decades longer than any elf living. Inducted into the Archivist’s service, at the command of his ambitious relatives at the age of ten, Germancy had not sought testing for bond to any one element. His bond, to the bone deep, was to the ancient pages bearing the words of Law!
Law, ancient law, ancient tradition was far more important, more valuable than those transient beings who occupied positions of authority. More important than unmeasureable Elements. Indeed, Germancy could barely contain the rage that burned in his soul that his demand that the entirety of the Synod Archive be rescued from the rising flood was ignored in favor of food and people.
That above all things demonstrated that few outside the Archive Service possessed a proper understanding of what is important!
Both food and people could be replaced. EAsily replaced. Indeed, it was difficult to prevent the random breeding of people.
The fact that his precious Archive currently lay beneath foul and muddied water gave Germancy no peace by day or by night.
He could only pray the Elements blessed and magically protected pages would endure until he could lay hands on them again.
In the meantime, he could clearly see that Eioth failed as a High King, not that Chandri would be better, nor any other soul of Germancy’s acquaintance. A quarter year into Eioth’s service and the empire was in disorder to a degree unprecedented.
And the newly crowned High King was permitting the use of that foul mortal magic, Sex Magic. Nay, he encouraged the disgraceful practice to range free. Was teaching it to others, a concept that cramped Germancy’s stomach.
Obviously Eioth was not the one for whom Germancy held safe the archives, the laws, the central core of the empire.
Equally obvious was the fact Chandri was not the one either. To shatter the weather spells? To act, plan, to destroy the empire? No. Destroy Elemental magic itself which in turn endangered the great Archives? No. Very much no.  Truly, where was the one truly destined to the be High King Germancy desired? Where would he find an elf who valued the noble Laws and history and heritage of their empire sufficiently?
He sighed and straightened. There was nothing for it. Germancy would have to find a youngster, someone to train up in the history, in the Law and traditions. Someone to restrain the spread of base mortal magic and return the empire to the pure service of the Law.
And the Elements, of course.
But most importantly the oldest Laws! Maintain the Laws, pure and perfect.
Rubbing at his face Germancy considered all the High Lords, their attendants and servants before shaking his head. The one he sought would not be found here. ANd, with Eioth as irrational as to consider foul magic the solution to problems facing the empire and rejecting sensible, legal advice then it was not safe for Germancy to remain while he searched.
Not the least of Germancy’s problems was this would not be the best environment for training the presumptive next High King. There was nothing for it. He would have to return to the northern city of Lightning Struck, that had been the capital of the empire, prior to the building of Hub of Harmony. If he was blessed there might be some of pure blood, pure history and heritage living their that he could trust, could train, could persuade to try the flood waters to retrieve the Archives.
Germancy gathered the trailing edges of his robes and hurried through the hall to the chambers set aside for the Archivist’s use.
The chamber, a long narrow room set toward the rear of Eioth’s House was dim, airless and chill, since Germancy would permit no open fires and no open windows this close to his precious papers. He would not permit the risk. One junior archivist suggested a test, with a small candle, on an unimportant now defunct law, to assess the persistence of preserve spells in the hope of convincing his senior to permit a brazier.
Germancy ordered that the junior be beaten before he was thrown from the House.
It may have been the degree to which the exercise warmed their bodies that inspired the other junior archivist’s to join in the beating. After this moment of insurrection no further word suggesting fires was heard.
Germancy glanced around the room, ignoring the thick robes and blankets wrapped around chill bodies, and frowning at those hands encased in gloves. He shook his head as he considered the clumsy script those gloved hands would inscribe and made a mental note for the records to be made over once the season turned and the rooms warmed. His assistant materialized at his elbow as soon as Germancy took up his place at the largest table in the chamber. A pot of hot tea was placed on a separate table.
“What holds their attention?” demanded Germancy, nodding toward a cluster of overdressed archivists.
“Ah. Them. They debate the inclusion of the order to execute the mortal women in today’s Synod record as the women did not, in fact, die.”
“Include it,” snapped Germancy, taking up his cup and warming his fingers. “They should have died. That is the important matter. The Law was correctly interpreted and the order signed. The execution will be completed in good time. Mark it as incomplete and we shall bring it to the attention of the next High King for his judgment.”

Monday, December 12, 2016

consequences 3

"Quickly," shouted Eioth, pointing toward the side of his House. "The nearest stairs are up to the summer balcony."
Tormin ran in that direction, the other bodyguards followed, aiding Lady Halidan and roughly shoving aside any who would delay them.  Eioth could see Lenneth racing after the group and nodded to himself.
Fedoran touched Eioth's shoulder briefly.
"I must attend to her, High King."
"Go. Go,” said Eioth, shifting to permit Federan to pass. “Indeed you must protect her, my friend. Silva must survive. Too much depends upon her.”
Fedoran was off at a run. Eioth turned to face the courtyard again.
"I am High King Eioth,” he shouted to the stunned guardsmen. “Hear me! No one is to raise their hand against high lady Halidan or the adept of light, Silva of the True South. Let no one speak against them, or offer them harm, for my retribution will be swift and permanent!" Turning away Eioth saw he had an audience of several High Lord's of the Synod. "That statement applies to you here gathered as well."
“Who is Silva of the True South?” asked one of the watchers and was ignored.
"High King Eioth," said Trevan, Lord of the True North. "What has happened to your staircase? Your house? How comes this?"
Eioth studied the ruined front of his house without changing expression. Actually, to call it ruined was an unjust accusation. The stone wall exposed was smooth and unmarked. The difference between this morning and now was that the wide smooth staircase, the decorations, the lintels, the crenelation's - all the dignity of the façade of his house was gone. Instead there was the half deflated white mass in the courtyard.
"It appears," said Eioth, "that the legend of this house rising from the Earth in the passage of one night is an exaggeration. However it came about, like as not, a Light magician such as Master Silva did the finishing decorations and created the grand staircase when the house was first built. What an astonishing thing!"
"Impossible," cried Veranti, the High Lord of the South West. "Impossible. This magic you speak of is wrong! Light, no! I do not believe it. All my heart and soul and hope for Unity declare that this cannot be so."
Eioth toward the front of his House, the half deflated dome and then turned to face Veranti.
“What do you reject? There it is before you.”
“That woman they brought out?  You would have us believe she did magic, with light? Light? No, that cannot be.”
"And yet, when Master Silva awakens, she will prove it to you." Eioth frowned Veranti. "Whether you say it is impossible or not, you will not commit violence against her, you will not raise your hand or voice against her. This is not how I intended that Master Silva be presented to the Synod but it will have to serve. Master Silva is the single most important magician in the Empire today. The fact of the matter is simple. Her Element rises to her command! What she creates serves all the Empire! Can you say as much for any element you command?" Eioth strode off down a corridor, paused and turned back. "Veranti, remember this as well. Fedoran will kill you if you hurt his Master Silva. He will tolerate no disrespect of his wife."
"Wife!" chorused the High Lords.
"Indeed,” said Eioth, with a smile at their stunned expressions. “They were legally married not four days past and I was one of the witnesses."
"But Fedoran is half mortal already," said someone in the back of the crowd. “How can he take such a risk to his family’s magic?”
"At this time we have two effective magics,” declared Eioth, “– sex magic and light magic. Fedoran is competent with one and his chosen partner, Master Silva, with the other. Know this, keep it in your mind at all time. She is the only light magician in the Empire. Think on that fact, all of you, until the Synod gathers again."
 And with that Eioth departed in search of his own Lady.
There was a mortal man, large, square of face and determinded of expression standing at the entrance of Eioth’s private wing of his House. THe man regarded Eioth and his enterage without approval. Altough his arms remained folded over his chest and there was no sign of weaponry about his person there was a distinct air of threat in his manner. Eioth slowed his pace and studied the man.
“You are Tormin, the True South senior guard. Federan told me of your invaluable aid. On behalf of the empire permit me to thank you for bringing him and Master SIlva, safely to me.”
The mortal blinked and took a half step back before making a formal obsence, but made no sound.
“COme, no formality here, friend Tormin,” said Eioth, waving the mortal to stand. “Those of us who know we must be practical and sensbile in these trying times have no time for useless formality.”
Eioth glanced about the corridor. In the usual manner of things there would be servants, but no guards within the House. It was hardly necessary in times of peace and stability. But now he was required to give house-room to those he generally regarded with suspicion - his fellow High Lords of the Synod, as well as their hangers-on and attendants. It was Haldian’s decision to bring in the guards while he lay insensible and clever of her to to so. But now, with the attempt on her life, and the life of the very valuable Master Silva, the need was greater.
“Of your kindness, friend Tormin, meet with Lady Regent Halidan’s bodyguard. The four of you  should share the responsibility of guarding this door.”
Tormin’s mouth worked then he coughed, covering his face with both hands and nodded. “My honor,” he finally managed to gasp out.
“My thanks,” said Eioth. He stepped toward the door that Tormin hastened to open then paused and stepped back and added with a smile, “I leave it to the four of you to arrange the schedule as seems right to you all, and advise you not to permit Cris Dracolan to bully you.”
And leaving the majority of his guard behind Eioth entered his private chambers.
The rooms assigned to Federan and Silva were nearest to the entrance of this wing. On their arrival Eioth’s only thought was to have them near at hand to question regarding the state of the empire, to explore Master Silva’s astonishing magic. It had not occurred to him that Silva would need as much, or more, protection than the High King himself.
Eioth was not surprised to find Halidan supervising the care of Master Silva. Nor was he surprise to find all three of her personal body guard clustered about her. The Water Priest, Lenneth, rose as Eioth entered and guestured toward a small mortal woman, currently bent over a small pot of steaming water.
Eioth waved the guards from the room, accepting that they all looked to Halidan for consent before obeying.
“May I present Ionia tor Diath, High King?” said Lenneth, rising. “She is one of the herb-women Lady Halidan has employed to prepare your headache medicine. She also cares for the refugee families.”
The woman rose but before she could attempt any form of obeisance Eioth waved her back to her task.
“My thanks tor Ionia. What you medication lacks in taste it more than makes recompense with effectiveness.”
“The other members of the synod are less tolerant,” said Halidan, with a slight smile for the herb-woman. “Poor Ionia recieves complaints daily, particularly since she has proven that putting the medication in wine decreases its effectiveness.”
“Continue your good work despite their complaints, tor Ionia,” said Eioth turning his attention to the still, pale, mortal barely breathing under the weight of her blankets. “And, if you will, assure me of Master Silva’s return to health.”
The herb-woman glanced first to Lenneth, then to Halidan before moving to SIlva’s beside and beginning a gentle examination.
Fedoran stood clutching the bedstead and did not take his eyes from Silva's unmoving form.
Eioth came to stand behind his wife and slipped his arms around her resting his chin on his shoulder.
"My dear one,” whispered Eioth into Halidan’s ear, and smiled when she shivered at that puff of warm air. “I am so pleased you are alive."
Halidan smiled, pressed her body back against his and patted his hands where they rested over their child-to-come. "High King, I do not doubt that."
"Tell me what happened."
"We were escorted to the execution grounds by one of the archivist's assistants. He instructed the execution squad to fire, claiming that mortals who do magic are under sentence of death. It troubles me that the guards, our guards, were so quick to act with no proof of your approval or any other authority than the archivist’s declaration." Halidan hesitated, pressing a hand to her abdomen. “To slay me! Do they truly hate me? Have they secretly hated that I am your regent? I was not aware.”
Lenneth and the herb healer both glanced across the room but said nothing. Eioth tightened his embrace.
“I have heard no rumors hating you, Halidan. I came as a surprise to me, also.” He considered. “There was some muttering amongst the High Lords in general but nothing of significance. But the guards, our guards, that I did not hear.”
“I shall ask my bodyguards to investigate,” said Halidan, then continued. "Before the archers could fire Silva pointed at your house and the façade seemed to turn to liquid and flowed towards us, cresting like a wave up and over our heads and we could see nothing.  The dome shaped itself as she directed. It looked so fragile and yet when the arrows fell it was strong enough to deflect them."
"Strong, yes," said Fedoran. "Strong enough to support people fleeing for their lives when informed into a bridge. Unyielding, light and watertight when formed into a canoe. I am yet to see its limit. Except," he paused to walk around the bed and take up Silva's hand. "I worry for Silva’s strength. I have been watching her fade these last weeks. When first we met she was strong, sturdy. These weeks of poor food and little rest, and endless magical demands, I hope this sleep is little more than exhaustion for I fear magic is stealing her away."

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Consequences 2

Silence filled the yard. No one called out in grief. No priest bespoke Unity. No family sought comfort. Embarrassed and confused as to their role in such a rare event the witnesses wandered about speaking in low voices, wondering what was to happen now. Would the weather spells be restored now the one who struck them down was gone?
Ionia snorted and rolled her eyes. As if magic was that simple.
A movement nearby caught her attention. Lenneth made his way through the crowd to her side.
“The birthing went well?” he inquired.
Ionia nodded surprised he was aware of the reason she’d gone beyond the House walls. It was fortunate the husband had come to High King Eioth’s House. A sensible High King, Eioth had brought all the healers and herb-women into his House, fed them and kept them safe so that if needed they were near to hand  to send out.
Or, perhaps it was Halidan the Wise, regent for the North West demesne, who was the one who thought to keep all the herb-women within her House.  A sensible and well educated mortal, Halidan knew the refugees would arrive cold, hungry, desperate and yes, in need of medicine and, with the Water priests unable to connect with their Element, the herb-women must met their needs.
It was all to the good for Ionia, knowing that she, herself, was safe, had a place to sleep that was dry and food that she did not have to pay outrageous fees to purchase. In exchange she ventured out daily to do what she was trained to do.
“What is going forward nnow?” demanded Lenneth, looking over Ionia’s head toward the training grounds.
Ionia turned. Three more figures were leaving the House and walking toward Chandri’s body.
“Surely.” Ionia levered herself up onto the balustrade. “Surely, that cannot be… it is Haldian. Lady Regent Halidan. Surely they do not require her to declare the criminal dead!”
“Not after I have done so. There is no reason.”
One of the figures approached the guardsmen and the archers raised their bows again.
“No! No,” shouted Lenneth and with Ionia in his train began fighting his way down the stairs.
“What are they doing?” gasped Ionia. “no. No. Stop them!”
Indeed, the guard lines were heaving as those behind the lines fought trying to reach the Lady Regent. But they wouldn’t reach her in time, sobbed Ionia. No one would reach her …. Ionia staggered as the flow of people changed. No longer seeking to reach Halidan the crowd was now a mob, fleeing another threat. Running away from the House.  Ionia, spun and stumbled, turning to stare up at the great House, towering overhead.
Towering. Something was towering, higher than the House itself.
And now falling. Falling.  White, huge and tumbling. The House was descending to the training ground. Falling. The House was falling!
The cries turned to shrieks, panicked hands and feet pushed at her. She would have fallen only Lenneth, taller and stronger, seized her by her vest and hauled her to her feet. They stood, clinging to each other, as the panicked crowd flowed around them and fled. Ionia cringed, burying herself against Lenneth’s chest, muttering her mother’s name over and over. Painfully slow seconds passed and she was not dead. Emerging from that tight embrace she turned to hazard a look about. Fearing to see people crushed by stones she was astonished to find, instead, that the center of the grounds was filled by a huge dome of glowing white.
While screams retreated she and Lenneth stood, as if fearing they would fall if they let go, and stared at the monstrous sight.
“Where… where…where..,” stuttered Ionia.
Lenneth could only shake his head.
Seconds dragged by and the shouting and screaming receded as the panicked watcher’s realized they were yet alive, the House still stood and the white thing did not attack.
“Who commands here?” came a voice above their heads, echoing throughout the training ground.
Lenneth turned them both. Before Ionia could ask he pointed to an opening in the wall, high above their heads and said, “That is High King EIoth. Federan of the True South stands beside him and that is Mitash, Eioth’s personal secretary.”
Eioth, to Ionia’s eyes, seemed as enraged as any High King of history. The identified Federan looked to be ready to fling himself into the empty air to try and reach the white dome. Distantly Ionia wondered how well Lenneth knew the ranked magicians of the Empire that he should name a secretary as well as Heirs and High Lords.
Most of the archers lowered their bows at the sound of the High King’s shout but one lone arrow flew toward the smooth white dome and splattered into kindling before sliding to the ground. He was immediately struck by another and driven to the ground.
"I am High King Eioth! Lower your bows!" shouted Eioth, again. "All guards stand down! Let there be no more deaths today."
The chief of his guard on the training ground repeated the order and there was a general shuffling as bows were lowered and confused guards waited to discover what would become of them.
Surrounding the glowing dome was the wreckage of a few shattered arrows. Ionia felt the knotted muscles in the back of her neck slowly release. Foolish to believe so but just knowing the High King was present, that he was issuing orders, made her feel safer. Foolish indeed. His orders would not send the flood waters away nor make food plentiful and ease suffering but, in this instant, his voice made Ionia feel safer.
Illogical as that seemed even to herself.
Now if he could explain the mystery of the white dome, she would bless him forever.
“I cannot believe it,” whispered Eioth, staring from side to side. “The balcony! the stairs! Where have they gone?”
“You remember the legend of your House,” said Federan.”It was built in one night. Only think. Silva raised a bridge over the Harmony river in just one morning.  When we arrived Silva told me that the balcony and stairs were made from Light Magic. She must have pulled it to herself when they threatened herself and Halidan. They are both within that structure.” He gave a shaken laugh. “You did ask for her to provide proof of her magic. Shall this serve, do you think?”
“You kept that knowledge to yourself? You withheld this intelligence from me? No, no,  I shall not scold.” Eioth paused and shook his head. “Today let us praise Light Magic and clever mortals. If that is the case they are likely alive and well within, do you think?”
“For the moment. We must get them out of there," said Fedoran. "I know Light Magic is impervious to water, likely it is also impervious to air."
"And sound?" asked Eioth, leaning further out of the opening. "Can they hear us?"
"I do not know. The whisper ribbon carries sound."
But as they spoke they saw a small hole appear at the apex of the dome.
"Clever Silva," said Fedoran. “Now they can breathe and hear but it would take a very skilled and lucky archer to harm them.”
Eioth leaned out through the door opening. "All archers stand down. Where are Lady Halidan's personal bodyguard?"
There was a disturbance and several guards jumped aside releasing a group of three similarly garbed individuals who had been fighting to get free for some time. The only difference in their uniforms was the color of their tabards and the sigil embroidered upon it. These three men were high lady Halidan's personal bodyguard, a trio of part elf, part mortal men who were absolutely devoted to their lady. They had been struggling to reach lady Halidan from the moment she appeared in the courtyard as the injuries to their persons and their uniforms gave silent testament. Now they straightened their spines and gripped their swords tightly, glaring at the other guards.
“Let them pass,” commanded Eioth. “Let no one raise a hand against your lady regent!”
The three bodyguards raced through the ranks to come to a skidding halt beside the white dome. They looked from side to side then ran around the barrier, seeking an entrance to guard. Eventually they halted and signaled their helplessness and confusion to the high king.
"Friend Tormin! Friend Tormin, stand forth.” Fedoran leaned out beside the hiking.
There was another disturbance as a tall, suntanned mortal made his way through the milling archers. Tormin, a city guardsman promoted by Fedoran to chief guard of True South, was an imposing individual who managed by combination of frown and competence to bring both Silva and Fedoran safely out of the flooded southern lands. He came to stand beside the bodyguards and the four men took up position between the dome and the archers and waited, staring up at Eioth and Fedoran.
“All archers, place your bows on the ground,” shouted Eioth. “On the ground, this instant!”
There was a moment of confusion at this order that required disrespect to their weapons but before Eioth could be offended he was obeyed.
"Master Silva," shouted Eioth. "It is safe. Come out."
By this time several of the Synod High Lords clinging to the edges of the door opening with the High King. They gasped in unison as the white dome split and deflated, caving in slowly from the apex and sinking toward the ground. It halted suddenly, a frozen wave of white, only half deflated.  After a moment, Halidan appeared at the split opening glanced about then waved toward her bodyguards.
"Quickly!” called Halidan. “Silva has collapsed. Fetch a litter and send for a healer!"
Before any other could react Tormin ran into the distorted dome of light and returned an instant later holding Silva, unconscious, in his arms.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

consequences - 1

No recap, children. I am assuming you have read book one and book two already.. I will write a recap for the book... eventually.

Now to our regularly scheduled story.

The crowd waiting, with varying degrees of patience and desperation to get into High King Eioth’s House, was large, smelly and noisy. Ionia tor Diath, midwife and herb-woman, added to her own description, exhausted.
They were exhausted because they tramped through mud and rain and the wreckage of their homes and fields to reach this House in the chilly North West Demesne. She was exhausted because the call to attend a difficult birthing in the refugee camp came before midnight and was followed by the need to attend to an infected foot, and a case of lung congestion - a not uncommon complication of the recent flooding and the turning of the year toward winter. The lung congestion case worried at her. She did not have the medications to treat, well, any illness. A serious lung infection, without the herbs she purchased each season from the traders, without the spare room in her comfortable home where she distilled her medicines, without the aid and support of the other herb women of her home town, would end the life of the child she attended that day.
Had already ended the life of more than one mortal refugee.
The cold, the lack of shelter and food, had ended the life of more than one newborn and its mother in the last few weeks.
Ionia closed her eyes.
So many dead, drowned, buried in mud slides, lost in flooding with their fate unknown, and now so many to die if the refugees received no aid, no food, no shelter.
And the line she was in took another step forward as the guards turned another hopeful refugee away.
The elvan guard, almost as exhausted as she, herself, shook his head.
“You cannot shelter here, tor.”
“I am already admitted to shelter here,” said Ionia, holding out her papers. “As you see, Lady Regent Halidan ordered my admittance and the admittance of all herb-women who present themselves at this gate.”
She said the words softly as, yesterday when she’d give this reminder the next half dozen mortals waiting all insisted they also were herb-healers and the guards held Ionia responsible for the resulting arguments.
The guard raised her personal papers to the light and frowned.
“The seal is not bespelled,” he said, holding the papers out. “Go away.”
“The seal was placed after the weather spells broke,” said Ionia, “and, as you well know, no set spells can be applied.”
“Without the spell I cannot be certain that your mark is not a fake.”
Ionia did not sigh. Did not groan. Instead she said, patiently and slowly, “If you will check last nights records you will see guard Netro was notified of a need for a midwife at the seventh hour. I passed through this exact gate at a quarter after the hour and am only now returning. If you look at the records,” she calculated the passage of the days, “fourteen days ago, at the eleventh hour, I was admitted to the House and am part of Healer Lenneth’s retinue.”
There were some grumbling complaints from those waiting behind her and the guard waved her to one side and while one of his colleagues began arguing with the next refugee he searched through the records until he found Ionia’s name.
“How can I know if you are this Ionia tor Diath?” he moaned, looking at the spell-less stamp. “You could be any woman. They could have stolen your papers.”
“If they are willing to go without sleep and attend laboring women they may be me with my blessing,” said Ionia, and regretted her statement immediately.
“Oh, you think that do you? Are you selling your name and papers so that others may come in and eat our meat?”
“You have had meat at your table? You are blessed.” Ionia scowled at the elf. He was tired and frustated and likely hungry and weary of facing people that he could not help, just as she was.“If you doubt me summon Healer Lenneth. He knows my face and will declare my identity and right to enter.”
The guard leaned into the courtyard and waved over one of his fellows. A message was sent for Lenneth.
“Sit on the ground, over there. Outside the gate.”
“Outside?” Ionia stared at the much disturbed muddy earth. “I’ll stand.”
“You’ll sit or you’ll leave,” snapped the guard and waited until Ionia settled herself and her heavy canvas bag on the ground.
Lenneth’s arrival was surprisingly swift. As Ionia lifted herself slowly from the dirt, rubbing her wear back, the Water priest took the guard aside and delivered a low voiced and intense reprimand. The guard muttered and grumbled but eventually agreed to put a notation that the three herb-women currently within the House at the command of Lady Regent Halidan would be treated with respect.
“Now, Ionia, of your kindness, hurry along to your rest. I must return to the synod hall. Matters there are exciting today.”
“Have they found a spell to repair the weather spells?” demanded Ionia, running to keep up with Lenneth’s longer legs.
“No.” He glanced about. “I cannot speak of it… oh.”
He stopped suddenly. Ionia’s knees buckled as she stopped. Lenneth stretched, striving to see over the top of the crowd. The mass of people in the training ground surged and flowed, toward the House and away. Ionia struggled against the flow of panicked people, pushing against mortals and elves, the homeless and the House guard, all determined to be see the cause of the excitement. Ionia was small for a mortal and very light in her form. It was useless for her to forge a way through the mass. Instead she, impolitely, seized hold of Lenneth’s tabard and placed herself within his shadow.
The crowd surged again, pushing both of them away from the House and a troop of the House Guard, fully armed and stern, quick time marched across the training ground then formed a square forcing the crowd back and back.
In the center of the training yard ten archers stood in line facing a figure, finely attired with the sigil of South East upon his tabard.  Ionia did not know any of the High Lords by sight but she knew that sigil as well as she knew her own name, her mother’s name, her grandmother’s name.
“Chandri,” she whispered and was hushed by Lenneth.
It was him. It had to be him, although all she can see what the back of his head and the guards who towered over him.
“What has happened?” she demanded but no one answered.
Ionia stared as Chandri - Chandri, High Lord of the South East. Chandri, the monster of her childhood and youth - stood in the center of the training ground gazing about as if the audience and archers both were beneath his notice.
 After an instant of horrified paralysis Ionia joined the crowded pushing closer. She was far from being the only person drawn forward but she did not have the strength, the rank, the power to bring herself to the forefront. The thrust and motion of the crowd drove her closer to the walls of the great House than the training grounds. Tho she possessed the strength necessary to her profession, Water Priesthood trained herb-woman, she was in form slight and small. Yielding to the greater power of the crowd, much as one yielded to the weight of life’s burdens or a fast running river, she let it bear her over to the Eastern staircase hoping that vantage point would serve her. She slipped under the arm of an elvan servant of the House until she reached a point half way up those stairs and could go no further. There she clung to the balustrade and refused to give up her place.
 Another figure descended from the House and addressed the guards in a low voice, after which archers formed a line facing Chandri.
Chandri twisted and struggled against his bonds, waved his fists toward the archers.
“What insult is this?” he shrieked. “Do you not know who I am? I am Chandri, who should be your High King. Rise up. Rise up and throw down that cursed thief who holds my throne.”
Sullen silence answered him.
“How dare you lay hands on one so much your better?” continued Chandri. “Do you not know the honor and deference due to High Lord?”
An archivist stepped out of the shadows of the House and raised a page. Ionia and most of the witnesses were too far away to hear the words but they were repeated and repeated in a rising wave of outrage.
“Chandri! Chandri shattered the weather spells.”
“What? No.” Came another voice.
“Yes,” said Ionia. “Yes, he would do that.”
Ionia wondered how and why Chandri had done so but it was not important.
“Chandri is to die!” shouted a figure in the crowd, repeating the archivist’s words. “For treason. For murder. For destroying all magic. Chandri is to die!”
“Destroying magic?” those words burned through crowd. “Chandri destroyed all magic.”
Ionia’s heart clenched. Permanently? she wondered but did not speak the word.
“Destroyed the weather spells!” came the cry and with a roar the mixed witnesses raised fists and voices to demand the death of Chandri.
It was not long in coming.  The archers could scarcely miss from their positions. Even while Chandri raged and shouted the arrows flew and thudded into him, bringing a sudden silence.
“Excuse me,” said a soft voice.
Ionia turned in time to see Lenneth making his stately way through the crowd and across to where the crumbled figure lay. He knelt and a moment later rose and faced the House. Ionia leaned out as far as she dared but could not see who the healer addressed.
“I, Lenneth, confirm life has departed from the acknowledged criminal Chandri.”

Monday, December 5, 2016

to save my enemy 54

Turning back to Theresa, Ranualt saluted her with his cup. “It would taste better chilled, but I will allow . . It is good, excellent in fact.  I congratulate you.” he paused for another sip and smiled. “Mentiol is defeated.  Clan Ranualt has a new wine that all will desire.  I have informed Anhall Cal, that when the wine is sold that I shall direct some funds to the school.”
Theresa considered her possible approaches, and, encouraged by a delighted grin flashed at her by Cal behind Ranualt’s back, she assumed Formal posture and bowed.  “Patriarch of Clan Ranualt.  I am pleased that my poor wine meets with your approval.  I hope we may come to an accommodation.  I have two conditions to be met before I give you the recipe.”
Ranualt’s expression closed again. Theresa noted the storm signs and Cal’s flashed: ‘careful, girl’.
But this was too important and it was going to be her only opportunity to have some control over the rest of her life.
“One of the conditions, I will tell you later, but the important one is that I would like you to deed half of the profits to the school, forever.  Write up a contract in such a way that your heirs will be bound to it.  The mistake your ancestor made was to not arrange for ongoing funds for the school’s upkeep.  Now you have a new wine, you can take action that will prevent the school from being in such a terrible state ever again.”
Theresa held her breath.  Cal flashed: ‘brilliant’ at her then they both waited for Ranualt’s decision. 

He took another sip and placed the cup carefully on the table, studying the gently swirling colors.  It was difficult to stop from leaping upon the table and dancing, or from gathering Theresa into his arms and kissing her until she was limp and breathless. 
Beautiful Theresa, how could he have doubted the Gods?
She had succeeded where generations of vintners had failed. Mentiol wine!   It would not matter, much, if it had been an inferior wine, but to be the first to suceed, his Clan’s status would soar!
His spontaneous action, snatching her from the pit, was going to save his Clan from financial ruin.  The idea of deeding the profits to the school also pleased him.  Even if he must surrender the Clan to unworthy heirs, the school would continue, ever a thorn in the side of the High Clans.  His legacy.  She was brilliant.  He did not know what higher sense she possessed, and used, to create the wine, but the Clan was blessed that she was there.
When everyone was gone this evening he would not let her depart his presence until she had learned pleasure at his hands.  Her reward for her hard work.  Whatever means it took, she would know the extent of his joy in her.  He smothered the predatory grin he could feel tugging at his mouth.  It would do no good to let everyone know his plans for the evening.  He lifted the cup to inhale the bouquet again.  The distant scent of mentiol flowers, the warmth of the sun teased his palate.  He could not analyze the subtle extra elements, but he would know them all soon.
“Beautiful Theresa, I agree to your condition.  You greatly benefit the school and your wine will enhance the reputation of the Clan Ranualt. . .” He poured a little into a cup and offered it to Anhall Cal, who was, no doubt, impatiently waiting what would probably be his only chance to sample the wine.  Ranualt considered the price he could set on the first few years pressings.  Yes, it would be years before a school teacher could afford another sip.  Fortunately the man appeared to realize how much he has been favored to receive this chance.  Ranualt need have no fears for Theresa in this one’s company.  He had the proper respect.
“I said there were two conditions, Commander. I will tell you the other later. .” Theresa paused.  “Perhaps you should contact the head of your vineyard and ask him not to throw out any of his experimental wine until I have shown him the process to stabilize it.  There is not need to waste any of it, I have a technique to rescue what he has already fermented.”
Ranualt returned his cup to the table with a sharp click.  Anhall Cal immediately began gathering his scrolls and papers together and departed the room with a bow, tugging Elsia Ton along after him.  Ranualt watched him depart without comment, a good servant quickly learns his master’s storm signals.
“Theresa, I advise you to think carefully.” Ranualt folding his hand neatly on the table between them.  “Is this condition, that you will not speak before other witnesses, something that will please me, as did your condition concerning the school?”
Theresa fiddled with the empty wine bottle.  “It isn’t going to make you happy, short term. In the long term, I think you will agree with me.”
“If it is something you think I will disagree with, even briefly, then I suggest you withdraw your other condition, unsaid.”
“It is too important to me,” Theresa’s hands trembled on the glass. “I have to take the chance of upsetting you.”
“Be warned.” Ranualt drew a finger across her lips.  “At this moment I am very happy with you.  Why are you trying to end that?”
“I have to.”  Theresa glanced away. “I . . .the other condition, is that. . . you. . .stop thinking about me as your potential lover.”
“ENOUGH,” he roared.
“NO,” Theresa came to her feet, almost in fighting stance. “I have told you over and over that I will not sleep with you.  I cannot stand having that threat over me any longer.”
“Say nothing more, Theresa, I warn you.”
“You don’t need me. Your Clan. . .”
“ . . . and say nothing of my Clan.”
“You would be better off with a Korum wife, even I know that . .  .and with the wine. . “
“. . . Silence!”
“Your family reputation increases. . .”
“ . . . Theresa, no more.”
“They will be competing to marry you. .”
“They already do.  I want none of them.”
“I don’t want to bed you.”
“I won't be a sex slave,” shouted Theresa. “I won't spend my live serving one of the enemy of my people. I have little enough respect left, I won't give up. This is wrong. You know it's wrong!”