Sunday, February 26, 2017

consequences 35

MItash was so fatigued after a full day’s ride, the burden of his barely muted headache and the extra effort everything required - coping without magic - that the first night on the road he put the accoutrements necessary for the dedication ritual away and went to sleep.
The second day was worse than the first, as it was necessary to do battle with a group of thugs who thought they could prey upon refugees. Once Mitash finished judging the survivors and presiding over the resultant executions, he considered he was not in the correct mood for such a ritual - and so it went until he finally settled with himself that the ritual would work best when he reached the SOuth East and he put book and ritual items far from his sight.
It wasn’t as if he had a woman with which to practice the rest of the rituals.
Comforted by the fact that morning rains continued, fueled by the performance of the healer and his lover far back with the Synod, Mitash felt no urgent need to take on that burden. Then with his mind clear and responsibilities acknowledged and prioritized, Mitash put the sex magic book to the bottom of his packs and directed his attention toward meeting with his advisers and planning the difficult task of planning how the South East might make repatriations to the balance of the empire.
Eioth’s instructions directed Mitash to be in authority in the South East before Midwinter therefore their party traveled light and fast immeasurably aided by Silva’s series of bridges. They were two days from the official boarder when Mitash’s own advance riders reported a troup of guards bearing the South East sigil patrolling the roads ahead. Mitash had considered his options throughout the journey. Eioth ensured Mitash traveled with the South East seal and banners as well as those of Eioth, High King, but left the choice whether to use them to Mitash, depding upon what situation he found. While his own guards shifted impatiently on their horses and those in the carts behind peered about Mitash considered how he wanted to approach this demesne. Eventually Mitash turned to Morae.
“Unfrieght and distribute the South East Banners. I want to gain an understanding of the mood and spirit of the South East before they are directly informed of recent events.”
“By your command,” said Morae and waved a signal to those in the baggage carts.
“Wait,” said Mitash. “One, only one, banner of the High King. Bring it forward and you, Morae, shall bear it in my shadow.”
“As you will,” said Morae.
A quarter mark later, when the outrider guards from South East arrived Mitash’s parade had organized itself into a formal array and were proudly bearing South East banners.
Mitash watched the approach and knew the moment that the guards recognized the banners. There was a distant cry, the waving of arms above heads and the South Easterners rode fast and cheerfully to greet the new arrivals.
“Bright the day,” shouted the first to arrive. “Oh, bright the day. I cannot express my delight.” He grinned at Mitash. “Is the High King well? Is he with you?”
“In spirit only,” answered Mitash, bowing from his saddle. “We are come at the High King’s command and I, Mitash Serpentine, greet you in his name.”
“Oh, most excellent,” said the guard. “I have sent a messenger to carry the news to High Queen Denari. I have no doubt she is impatient to don her imperial finery.” The elf laughed. “I blame her not at all. I cannot measure my own delight. But you must tell us all that has occurred. There has been such a long silence my curiosity will not be denied.”
“My own is difficult to measure.” Mitash scanned the South Eastern guard’s attire. “You are bonded to Air?”
The elf blushed, and, to Mitash’s surprise raised both hands to cover the color the flooded his cheeks. Before Mitash could comment the elf spread his hands.
“I am. I… I hope you can, that you have heard from Chandri. We have sent messengers after him but none have returned. You are bonded to Earth. Can you still raise your Element?”
“To my certain knowledge,” said Mitash, calmly, “the elements have not responded since the weather spells were shattered.”
“Weather?” repeated the guard. “What? No. We have weather. It rained only this morning. Perhaphs it is the other parts of the empire thus afflicted but, I can not imagine. What do they have if they have no weather? Does the sun yet shine?”
Mitash stared at the elf, then turned in his saddle to stare up at the sky.
“What manner of foolish question is that?” demanded Mitash.
The elf blushed again and repeated the gesture to conceal his face. Mitash said nothing as yet another of the South East party rode across to greet them.
“Bright the day,” he said formally. “Shall we make camp now or proceed further in to the Pinnacle of the Empire?”
Mitash frowned. “Of what do you speak?”
“The new capital city of the Empire. Surely High King Chandri instructed you. Denari awaits his return there.”
“My apologies,” said Mitash, after a pause. “I am long accustomed to granting that privilege to Hub of Harmony.”
The elf waved one hand. “In time all will forget that relic to the north and rejoice in the beauty that is the Pinnacle.”
“As you say.” Mitash’s voice was dry. “I am now impatient to travel there myself. YOu will provide one guide for my party whilst continuing with your duties here.”
There were some frowns that increased when it became clear Mitash had no intention of remaining with the guards and satisfying their curiosity regarding events elsewhere in the empire nor in reciting the glamor and dignity of Chandri’s acclamation and ascension to the throne.  When pressed for information Mitash merely stared until his interrogator retreated.

Friday, February 24, 2017

consequences 34

The next morning saw the twin departures of Mitash to the South East and Silva and Federan’s to the True North. The Synod turned out to farewell them, despite the fact that the morning rain had descended as sleet.
“You travel together as far as Hub of Harmony,” said Eioth in a voice that carried over the training grounds where horses and men stamped their feet to drive away the cold. “Go in Peace. Return in joy of success. Element’s bless your road.”
Federan, as Senioa’s Heir, lead the exodus. Mitash, as mere administrator as his rank, waited politely while those departing for the North marched past his party. When it was time to depart Nittel Noname bowed from his saddle in the direction of Lady Regent Halidan, watching from the newly created balcony at the High King’s side. She smiled and inclined her head to her departing bodyguard.
“It is difficult,” said Nittel to Mitash. “I wish to stay and dread to go and yet this is all of my own doing.”
He glared down at the horse he rode.
“For all those things that do not give you pleasure, blame Chandri,” said Mitash. “I curse him for the headache I must endure each dawn.”
A troop of guards marched past splattering semi-frozen mud onto themselves and their fellows.
“Yes. There is much to curse him for,” said Nittel.
Mitash flushed slightly. It would not do for him to make selfish comments within the hearing of those who suffered more than he. Nittel’s story was known to him, in general terms. Halidan had seen fit to instruct him on all she knew as well as describing the duty Nittel would undertake in addition to his service to Mitash.
“It is time,” said Mitash, raising his hand. He nudged his horse into motion and led the parade past where Eioth stood watching. “So much depends upon us, friend Nittel. We must not fail the empire.”
**
Barely did the Northern party reach the outskirts of the …… village that they found themselves in the refugee camp. Silva looked upon the misshaped tents, the listless people seated upon the cold ground. The children staring as they rode past. Staring, not calling out greetings. Merely watching.
A double line of adults departed the camp and returned. Silva studied them for a moment before noting that each adult held some sort of container.
“Water,” she said, and looked about.
“The well is in the center of the village,” said Federan. “I have heard the elders are limiting the number of people coming into the village at any time so as to reduce confusion and congestion. It is wearing but it is for the best.”
Silva frowned but said nothing until a mortal man stepped forward, raising his arm.
“Guildmaster Farnam!” she cried, moving her horse out of the line of the procession.
“Master Silva,” said the man with a bow to Federan who followed her.
“Why are you here?” inquired SIlva.
“This is the place, Master Silva, as I said to you yesterday there is a current need for a water tower.” He waved a hand toward the encampment. “These people are being encouraged to leave but more will come. More who need to rest, to refresh themselves before moving on.”
“And, I am informed,” Silva nodded toward Federan, “they have a long walk and long wait to gain access to the village well.”
“Exactly so.” The Guildmaster paused then smiled. “The refugees will hear rumors regarding your great ability, Silva. It would be well if they can testify of their own experience of your contribution to the rebuilding effort.”
Federan frowned slightly. “I believe Eioth is concerned for your health, Silva…”
“Oh, he will understand when he sees it is useful,” said Silva. “Besides, even he does not understand how easy it is becoming for me to create something, I have supplies. The tower will take little effort.” She reached behind her saddle and took up a long twisted rope of light. “Do you have the washers?”
Farnam nodded.
“The what?” asked Federan.
“Small rubber rings. I cannot create anything to provide the appropriate seal for the tap. Unfortunately my light does not have the necessary combination of flexibility and rigidity.”
Federan stared at them both.
“I shall have to believe you for I have no idea of what you speak.”
“Farnam shall explain while I build the watertower.”
Federan leaned toward Silva. “I am certain Eioth told you not to waste your strength.”
“And I remember being worried about where we would find clean water.” Silva said calmly.
“I would advise care.” Federan lowered his voice. “Is it in your mind to disobey your king within a lei of his House?”
“It is in my mind that I am in good health and would rather provide aid and comfort to our fellow refugees within a lei of his House!”
Federan chuckled. “Very good.”
“Besides, by the time he comes out it will be so essential he will not be angry and, frankly, it is not as if he can disassemble it until I return again. He might as well accept it.”
Federan watched her dismount and walk across to an area held clear by Farnam’s assistants.
“This area is naturally level,” said Farnam, pointing to another mortal who was peering through some device Federan vaguely remembered seeing when roads were being repaired. “We know from older soundings that there is soil covering an area of rock a quarter lei down. Can you place your footings down that far or must we dig?”
“I can manage,” said Silva, lifting her length of rope and concentrating. It occurred to her to request the refugees be moved further back but then again it was not necessary. She could work despite distractions and, besides, if she wanted positive gossip to spread witnesses were required.
Her practice with Farnam stood her in good stead as the actual assembly required very little effort. The water tower was to be a tube. A tall and wide tube and, her own refinement, the open top was covered with a lace thin fine mesh to keep leaves and birds and other debris from falling in. She constructed it in reverse order from what was required with ordinary mortal labor, assembling the mesh cover first then wrapping layer upon layer of light beneath it, each ring lifting the shield up into the sky. While her witnesses were distracted by the growing tower she directed, in equal measure, spears of light down into the earth until many strands were wrapped about the stones and rocks beneath. Once she was certain of her foundations she asked Farnam and his assistants to attempt to push her tower over.
Farnam grinned at her and summoned his team of assistants. They hurried forward carrying a winch and cable. It was the work of moments only for them to secure the line onto one of her uprights. Four strong men worked the winch but the tower moved not at all. Farnam nodded, then sent for a ladder. He fussed about, directing Silva’s work, until the base and the roof of the tower were both level.
“If it is going to last as long as the sun’s in the sky, gotta do it right,” said Farnam as Federan stared up at the sky, worrying about the delay.
“I grant you that, master craftsman,” said Federan. “And are you now content?”
“Not yet. The tap and, if you please, a water trough beneath it?”
The tap, being small and complicated, took the longest of all the construction tasks but at last Farnam was content and Federan, who watched the proceddings closely, possessed a better understanding of the construction of taps.
“Shall we leave it transparent?” asked Farnam, rubbing at his chin.
“You shall need to know the water level,” said Silva. “Once the daily rains cease there might be need for rationing.”
“True that. In that case, yes, Master SIlvan, my lord Federan, it is done and my thanks.” Farnam bowed to them both. "The people of the North West are in your debt, Master SIlva."
Silva bowed awkwardly in reply, not entirely certain as to the correct response. Federan merely nodded then assisted Silva back to her horse. Their traveling companions had passed them by a full mark since and Federan wanted to regain the safety of that group as soon as possible.
**

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

consequences 33

The next morning contained a great deal of coming and going.  Nittel and his party departed as soon as the morning scrying was completed. His objective, the trade village of Red Iron Crevace, was the nearest location where signs of the wanderers could be detected. It was, unfortunately, more than a week’s travel to the north under the best of circumstances. Eioth and Halidan both attended the departure. The only surprise of the morning was the one who came to farewell Nittel. Ionia arrived as the part was about to depart and insisted on Nittel consuming one of her potions.
Once they were away Eioth paused to discuss the difficulties of outfitting two large parties at the same time with his head stableman and the quartermaster. Ionia approached Halidan, drying Nittel’s cup on a scrap of cloth.
“Lady Regent, if you can spare me a moment?”
Halidan nodded and the two women returned to the comparitive warmth of the House. Ionia placed a hand under Halidan’s arm as they climbed the softly glowing white stairs an action which brought a smile to Haldian’s face.
“YOu need not fear Light Magic, Ionia. It is strong, steady…”
“I do not fear the Light, Lady Regent. It is more that the night was so cold that the morning’s rain has turned to ice and I have not wish for you to lose your footing.”
“Oh.” Halidan glanced down and placed her feet with greater care.
“I have a request,” continued Ionia once they were within. “The more I think on this delegation going to the South East the more I feel it in my heart that I should accompany them…”
“Ionia…”
“Nay, lady, this is necessary for me. Before Chandri’s crime my family resided within the South East for generations.”
“IOnia, no.”
“My lady, please.”
Halidan glanced about. As was usual a guard, not one of her core of bodygaurds for today she had sent one away, another was preparing for the journey to the SOuth East and the last was away following her orders regarding the refugees. Gesturing Ionia to follow Halidan hurried to her office. The guard took up position in the hall and Halidan dismissed the hovering servants.
“Ionia,” said Halidan, “I know, I understand that your heart is drawn to rediscover your home, your heritage, but consider please that you are the only herb-woman who knows of my heritage. I would prefer to keep that number as limited as possible until I decide what is to be done.”
“And I acknowledge the necessity, my lady. Truly, I do understand your need for privacy in this regard. Do you not think that another herb-woman would share your concern, protect your secrets as well as I? We know how important you child is. It is the hope of our High King! Forever and always, no matter what proofs are offered, he will be regarded as a half-blood. You may eventually convince all the Water Priests who live and will live to swear you are an elf and yet there will be those who will scowl and remain convinced otherwise.” Ionia smiled. “And is that not the best of possible outcomes for those of mortal blood? As you have lived your life as a mortal woman do you not hold the interests of all mortals and half-bloods close to your heart?”
“Yes. Yes, I do. Do not doubt it.”
“And speak to the High King regarding those interests?”
Halidan frowned. “You have no doubt heard that I do.”
“Then what motivation would a herb-woman have to betray your secret? None, my lady. You may, in your own time, confess the truth to whomever you desire to trust and we will confirm it if needed but you do not need to cleave me to your side in the interests of secrecy.”
Halidan harrumphed and leaned back against a shelf, her arms folded and hand rubbing at her chin. It wasn’t until Ionia smiled and Halidan looked down at herself that she, herself, was amused.
It was, after all, Eioth’s favorite posture when he was thoughtful.
“I am certain if I examined your arguments I would find some weakness therefore I shall not. Instead I shall ask you for truth in exchange for truth.”
Ionia’s expression was innocent but Halidan merely shook her head.
“Come now. You departed the South East in haste and in fear. Why would you chose to return? Why expose yourself to that pain again?”
“I have no easy anser for you, Lady Halidan. I do not know that truth myself. It is something I feel I must do.”
Halidan watched her for a moment longer before nodding.
“Wait a moment and I shall give you a note to take to the quartermaster. He will assign you to a place in a carriage and define the limits of your baggage. Given that we have need I shall request you take only what medicines you need for the journey. You will have greater resources when you arrive in the South EAst. Go to the Water Temples immediately, I beg you, and send medicines to us as soon as you are able.”
“My thanks,” said Ionia as Halidan went to her table.
She managed to maintain her composure long enough to escape the intelligent observation of Lady Halidan. Ionia knew Halidan knew she was lying. Not suspected. Knew. And yet she was giving Ionia leave to go.
That trust would not be betrayed. Ionia’s ambition would not interfere with her assigned task. Ionia fully intended to visit the Water Temples. Yes, indeed.

Monday, February 20, 2017

consequence 32

The shock would have driven a lessor man - or elf - to his knees. Indeed, Veranti gaped at Eioth at that pronouncement. Tormin, however, drew a long breath in, let the air out, then nodded.
“I shall serve the True South, and the Empire, to the limit of my heart’s blood, High King.”
“I do not doubt it.” Eioth smiled at the mortal. “Your confidence and knowledge of practical matters are but one of the reasons you will hold this position. My lady Halidan currently is the only person who is familiar with the knowledge of mortals and has the ear of the SYnod. We shall depend upon you to add your knowledge.”
“Indeed, I have heard of her search for engineers. I, myself, held a hammer and laid the bricks and used a spirit level to build my own house. I have provided guards for road building crews and directed the digging of wells.”
“Spirit level?” muttered Veranti. “Not Elemental?”
Valuable knowledge, indeed,” said Eioth, who also had no concept of the purpose of the level. “And, which aids me greatly, you know of the Light Magic wielded by Master Silva and can give personal testimony of its uses.”
“I do not know who she creates this magic but yes, bridges and ropes and roads and boats. She is astonishing.”
“That she is,” said Veranti. “You must tell me all you know, friend Tormin. And the mortal who has traveled so far, he can tell what has become of my poor demesne.”
“Yes, in fact there is one record he was showing me, I did not finish explaining before you arrived High King.  When Creto re Dagner departed the observatory he almost did not live a lei down the road. He was standing on the Skyroad when the water came down. The roar of the water was his only warning and he witnessed the destructive power of the flood in his own person.”
“High King, Master Silva must to the South West immediately,” cried Veranti. “The Skyroad unites True South to South West. Without it aid cannot be sent from one demesne to another.”
“I am sorry, Veranti,” said Eioth. “True North is buried under snow to the point that towns cannot be seen…”
“And our homes and villages are under water,” said Tormin. “But water will retreat in time. Snow, no, snow lingers. Lingers until winter is done. SIlva must go North first. Besides, High Lord Veranti, the Skyroad descends to the True South Lowlands, an area currently abadononed.  I would recommend sending a road crew, with rock and cement, to begin work on the Skyroad. By the time it is restored the flood would have retreated from the Lowlands and suplies needed. It will take a little longer but it safer than trying to build a road in the mountains in the wintertime when rain cannot be predicted or prevented.”
“You are wise, Tormin,” said Eioth. “Come Veranti, acknowledge the truth of it. We can wait to restore that road. It is not as if the mines will be sending down metals until the water is gone. I have no doubt there are other roads, other bridges, washed away. I foresee many years of service for Master Silva.”
“Long may she live,” murmured Veranti, then nodded. “Very well. I see the priority of the needs to the North, HIgh King.”
“And it is possible to repair roads and bridges with strong arms and skill,” said Tormin. “I shall introduce you to a skilled person of my acquaintance in the manner of road building as soon as communication is restored to the True South. That is, supposing, that there are not mortals of your own demesne who do not have this skill.”
Veranti stared at Tormin until Eioth was moved to inquire. “Do you know how roads are build, Veranti?”
“Until this moment I gave it no thought at all, High King.”
“Inquire of friend Tormin and my lady Halidan. No doubt they would be happy to enlighten you.”
“For now I believe it is in my interests to seek out this…” began Veranti.
“Creto. Creto re Dagner,” Tormin supplied.
“Yes. I must hear his report while he is resting. I look forward to speaking with you further, Tormin.” Veranti bowed. “High King, until tomorrow when I shall bring this report before the Synod.”
“Until tomorrow,” repeated Eioth and watched as Veranti retreated. “Friend Tormin, you are an astonishingly useful fellow. Could it be you have made your first alliance within the Synod?”
“I have never heard that High Lord Veranti was a bad man,” said Tormin slowly. “Merely disinclined toward being a good one.”
Eioth gave a short bark of a laugh. “How narrowly you parse the language, Tormin. You must have been very popular in your home town. What was the name?”
“It matters not, High King. It no longer exists.” There was a pause  before Tormin continued. “Water came down like thunder, much as Creto described, and when it passed there was not one brick placed upon another to mark my village was there.”
“But when the survivors return to rebuild…”
The face Tormin turned toward the High King was hollow and blank.
“There was no time. No warning. I alone survive. If you will excuse me, High King, I should seek out my lord Federan.”
“Tormin…” Eioth took a step toward the mortal, resting a hand on the mortal’s arm. “Shall we hold Ritual and guide them to Unitiy? The census information shall give us their names.”
“It can wait, High King. I am not the only survivor of similar loss.”
With that Tormin vanished deeper into the House and Eioth went in search of the comfort of his wife’s arms.

Friday, February 17, 2017

consequence 31

“Likely in the same chamber Chandri occupied last night. That is a thought designed to discomfort him. And what is the charge you will direct toward him?”
“Attempted assassination. It also holds a death sentence.”
“Will the trial be before or after we go North?”
“I had given the matter no thought. I have been too busy with more important matters.” Eioth opened the library door and bekconded to a waiting servant. “Go to the archivist workroom. Ask whoever is in charge there to attend me now.”
Dismissing the servant Eioth crossed to his writing desk and began drafting a series of documents. Federan read over his shoulder and made comments regarding phraseology from time to time.
There was a soft knock at teh door and the servant entered with two other elves. Eioth frowned as he recognized the pair from the morning session of the synod.
“Explain,” he said to the servant.
“High King, these are the only persons in the chambers set aside for hte archive to use.”
Eioth came to his feet.
“What? Explain this. Where are the others?”
“Gone,” said the one who had interrupted proceedings earlier. He stood tall and elevated his chin. “By the direction of Germancy, Chief Archivist of the Empire, we, the archivists, shall not grant legitimacy to this Synod by our presence. Germancy has departed, with our seniors and will not return until the Elements grant direction to a,” he sniffed and directed a sneer toward Eioth, “a legitimate claimant to the High King’s throne. One blessed by the Elements instead of rejected. WEre you worthy the Elements would not have turned their faces from the empire.”
“The fallacies inherent in your statement defy my understanding,” said Eioth, rubbing his aching head. “I need to speak to the chief House guard. Have him fetched. As for these, summon additional guards. They shall be locked away until I find some use for them.”
“We must begin a search for Germancy,” said Federan.
“You will never find him,” announced the smaller archivist. “He is strong and clever and will find many supporters. The rule of Eioth will not prosper.”
Federan sighed. “All Germancy will find is there is no food, no shelter and no safety.” He grinned suddenly. “A fitting punishment, perhaps.”
**
Eioth proceeded down the corridor, shaking his head at Mitash’s odd behavior. He noted that the servant a step or so before  him paused at an intesection, hesitate and glance back toward EIoth.
“WHat disturbs your peace?” inquired Eioth, taking a half step back.
“A mortal is quarreling with Veranti of the South West,” was the answer.
Eioth nodded and waved the servant forward. They rounded the corner to find Tormin, the chief guard of True South in intense conversation with Veranti, but not, if Eioth was an accurate judge, quarreling.
“Bright the day,” said EIoth. “Tormin, I was seeking you, and Veranti, what disorders your peace? You appear distressed. Is aught the matter, or more than we already know of?”
Veranti only shook his head as tears streamed down his face, pressing his hands to his mouth. It was left to Tormin to reply. Giving a low bow Tormin straightened and looked the high king directly in the eye.
“High King, I brought sad news to High Lord Veranti. I encountered a refugee from the South West at your gate. I had gone there, I admit, to discover if any from the True South arrived recently but met a scholar I knew from a mortal school for the study of the sky and stars, Clear Sky observatory, on the west side of ***** range…”
“Above the mines,” interrupted Veranti. “Where the road from True South enters South West. YOu know it, High King. That section of the road is immortalized in endless paintings - Skywalk Curve.”
“Indeed I have a painting of that road in my collection,” said Eioth, “although I have not traveled there myself.” He frowned for a moment. “I do not know of the school.”
Tormin shook his head. “I cannot account for that, High King. It has stood there for a number of generations. Mathematicians and astronomers examine the sky and stars in a place far from the touch and contamination of habitation. But his news, this scholar reports that Skywalk Curve is destroyed!”
“How did this happen?” demanded Eioth.
“ A rush of water from the high mountains, it cannot be a river overflow for there is no river that high, so I can suggest it was a flooded area suddenly released its burden and with rocks and trees intermixed came down upon the Skyward Curve destroying the road and bridge together. If Creto were not blessed he would have been carried away.”
“Creto?” echoed Eioth.
“The scholar, his name is Creto re Dagner,” said Tormin. “ WHen the weather spells broke he took it upon himself to investigate the damage therefore he reports what he has seen by his own eyes and his own experiences and being a sensible person wrote out a daily log of damage.”
“How comes he here if the roads are flooded?”
“He has managed to reach this HOuse by way the Western Ridge road which is clear for the majority of his journey. I was seeking High Lord Veranti as I cannot bring the man within by my own authority.”
“Bring him in at once,” said Eioth. “Where is he now?”
“I asked the gate guard to give him a place in the watch-room by the fire while I sought higher authority,” said Tormin.
A servant stepped forward at Eioth’s guesture, facing Tormin.
“Be gentle with him,” added Tormin. “It has been some time that he has been deprived of shelter and walked the entire distance, and he is of a certain age.”
The servant inclined his head.
“Have him fetched within, fed and restored. When he is ready send notice to me,” ordered Eioth, then beckoned Tormin and Veranti to follow him into a side chamber. “Tormin, have you spoken recently with High Lady Senio and Federan?”
“I was introduced to her via whisper ribbon,” confirmed Tormin.
Eioth nodded. “Senoia is pleased with you and confident that you can bear the weight of added responsibilities. Currently I am drafting orders concerning yourself and Mitash Serpentine.” Eioth paused. “In this time of need Federan needs to go north with Master Silva. Senoia must remain in the True South to order matters there. A person is required to act as eyes and ears and voice for those of the True South before the Synod, therefore shall you occupy the True South’s seat as Senoia’s agent. Both Senoia and Federan have declared their confidence that you will fulfill that role with compassion and strength.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

consequences 30

“Much though I regret disappointing you, High King,” said Federan, “I serve my High Lady first. I have just come from a discussion with Senoia, courtesy of Master Silva’s magic, and she has decided to follow your lead in bestowing the responsibility for representing the interests and obligations of True South upon a mortal. Specifically Tormin, Chief Guard of the True South.”
Halidan started to laugh and, taking Silva by the arm, guided the mortal from the room.
“Let us leave them to this argument. They do not need our witness. I must aid your personal preparations. Clothing suitable for the far north, boots. Come along, dear Silva.” At the doorway Halidan paused and looked back. “I trust you will not end each other’s life. The empire needs you both.”
Silva hesitated but was pulled along.
“Be at peace, Silva,” continued Halidan. “You should know the characteristic the High King vaules most of all in his friends is that they are willing to disagree with him.”
The door between them shut before Eioth could respond.
“Truth, Eioth, is important,” said Federan. “This is the most efficient use of your talented persons. Silva and I can do sex magic together. We should go to the North. Tormin, once you know him, you will see his good sense and strenght. Without meeting him my grandmother acknowledges him as the best to support you before the Synod. He does not need to do magic, especially when you would not get the consent of the High Lords to give knowledge of Sex Magic to a mortal. Give way, my friend. On this occasion you know I am in the right.”
“A mortal serving on the Synod?”
“Yes, you provided the precedent. Our Lady Halidan holds her position….”
“Because there were no elves with master of all four elements to challenge my position,” snapped EIoth. “No one, Federan. Not in all the demesnes!”
He turned and paced the chamber.
“And now no masters in all the empire!” replied Federan. “That is, except my Lady SIlva. Permit me, I beg you, to keep her safe.”
“Federan…”
“This is my truth, Eioth! You need a supporter before the Synod and that is your truth. You have Halidan…”
“Who has little power. Little authority beyond my own.”
“YOu underestimate her. They followed her from Hub of Harmony and listen when she speaks in the Synod even if they argue with her afterwards.”
“I suspect Trevan will withdraw his support for sex magic. From me. When last we faced a divided synod Chandri had four supporters and I had four. Senioa is, as she should be, in her demense. Chandri is gone. Halidan holds the North West without legal authority. I need a strong voice in the True South.”
“Your authority,” said Federan.
“No legal authority,” shot back Eioth. “The absence of a candidate for a HIgh Lord’s position was never considered possible, that there would be no adept to step forward. No previous HIgh King faced that possibility. I acted thusly because I must.”
“And yet our laws allow for unprecedented acts. THe High King declares, it is recorded and is so, unless and until all the citizens vote to change the rule.” Federan smiled. “The Chief Archivist might not have approved but the rule was no doubt entered into the records as it should.”
Eioth regarded him in confusion. “HOw can you say so? Did you see him do that?” Eioth frowned at his own hands. “I do not recall signing a statement to that effect.”
“And no one can prove me wrong until the waters recede from Hub of Harmony,” said Federan with a smile.
“Oh, very neat, Federan. Your cunning is sharp.”
“And Halidan is wise. The rule you found which granted me my legitimacy, my position as Heir, is the same such ruling by which you placed Halidan to rule the North West until such time some other with the necessary magic was found to apply for the position of High Lord of the North West. Or your child reached the age to be tested. And, if you will allow it, this is the same rule by which you will assign the SOuth EAst to Mitash. He worries, no doubt, he has no legal right to his new responsibility.”
“Oh, excellent. And by this suggestion you prove that I need you here.”
“You have me by whisper ribbon at any time. Only there must be a vote to confirm that answering by ribbon counts as being present. Senoia shall need it. If you do then Tormin will occupy the seat as proxy and Senoia can listen and continue her work healing the True South. Eioth, only think! In this time of pain and change you require the Synod to acknowledge the knowledge and wisdom of Mortals. Tormin is the most practical and intelligent of mortal men - please note I said men not all mortals as I acknowledge the greater wisdom of your wife and mine - and he will be present to answer questions from his own knowledge.”
Eioth groaned.
“I wish what you said made less sense.”
“The world is changing and we must change with it. Let me go with her, Eioth. YOu know if you try to keep me here my attention will be with her.”
After a moment Eioth nodded. “Go. Return alive, I beg you. Both of you.”
“In your service, for your honor, High King.” Federan made a formal obsicience.
“Enough nonsense. Come, aid me. I must write out a declaration for Mitash as well as Tormin, then, may the Elements aid me, I must convince whoever is second in authority over the Archives to accept them. Oh, and Mitash shall need a proxy as well. Have you considered who shall serve?”
“No. Perhaps the Water Priest who has performed the sex magic rituals until today.”
“Do I know him?”
“Probably not.”
“And what have you done with Germancy?” asked Federan, his voice hardening. “I wish to see him brought to justice before I depart. Have you decided his punishment?”
“I sent for Germancy some hours since.” Eioth looked about. “I wonder where the guards placed him.”

Monday, February 13, 2017

consequences 29

Farnam bowed and a servant stepped forward to escort him from the House.
Silva turned, surprised to find Eioth and Trevan behind her in the doorway. The High Lord of True North regarded the departing mortal, and SIlva, with a sneer.
“Your dependence on mortal wisdom worries me, old friend,” said Trevan. “Is there anything in that book you value so much that hints of a summoning or petition to the Elements? My daily devotions bring me no comfort.”
“You might do as I direct and read it for yourself,” said Eioth.
Silva stepped to one side so as not to obstruct the High Lord’s departure but he was determined to continue his complaints.
“You, mortal, are you certain your abilities do not devolve from our lost magic?” demanded Trevan.
“Unless you lost your magic some two decades past, High Lord, for it was then that as a child I began to hold light in my hands. Or from centuries past, as the facade of the High King’s House was constructed of Light Magic, as I have already proven.”
“If you detected no diminishing of your abilities decades ago,” interrupted Eioth, “It is unlikely the two events are connected now. Besides, it was the very instant that Chandri pulled down the weather spells that our bonds with the Elements were likewise shattered. YOu know this to be true, Trevan. Do not seek to ease your own grief by layering guilt upon one who is guiltless.” To Silva he said, “My Lady Halidan requires your attendance to review maps.”
“By your command, High King.”
Silva hurried away, relieved to be gone from Trevan’s sight.
“Trevan, if you would aid me,” said Eioth softly. “Speak less on the absent Elements. Reality, not preoccupation with the past, must guide our actions.”
“Grant me permission to grieve, Eioth! The pain of our absent Elements grinds into my heart and soul as well as my head.”
“Has a healer attended you?”
“The Water Priests can do nothing!”
“The herb-women,” began Eioth and was waved away.
“Superstition and dead twigs heal nothing, Eioth. Give that illusion to those willing to fool themselves that there is benefit.”
With that Trevan gave a shallow bow and stalked away, one hand pressed to his head. Eioth could only shake his at the stubbornness of his friend. Granted the medications were foul but they were, in truth, effective. If Trevan choose to reject all mortal help, Eioth frowned, that would not be well. No. He could only hope that Trevan’s objections to mortal medicine would not extend toward other mortal knowledge. Eioth depended upon Trevan’s support in the synod. If Trevan was against mortal assistance, mortal engineering, mortal medicine, mortal magic then at what point would he cease to be a supporter?
Changes. So many changes. He sighed and rubbed his own forehead. The headache was returning.
He directed his steps toward the private wing and followed the sound of speach toward his private library.
In her spare time, of which there was very little, his Haldian labored to sort through the many books Eioth purchased over the years, shelving, cataloging, reading. Her work, due to his habit of purchasing entire libraries, was endless and yet she did not complain. And he, and the empire, benefited from her vigialence for it was she, and not he, who had found the solution to the infertility of the High Court magic users.
She, a mortal.
Eioth sighed. Although Trevan did not protest when Eioth declared Halidan regent for the North West - a barely legal appointment for an elf, unprecedented for a mortal - what might happen if Trevan turned his support away? Who else would find an excuse to cease to follow Eioth’s direction.
“It is Fire Magic,” said a loud voice from the library. “Light is a function of Fire.”
“It is the Light cast from the Fire, not fire itself,” came SIlva’s voice, with a note of overdrawn patience. “Has Fire manifested in this form in any of your rituals?”
“Light fills the world during a Fire Ritual. It fills the world when the Sun shines.”
“Enough, Borden,” came Halidan’s voice. “This is not the time. First we must…”
“I grant this aspect of Fire Magic is useful…” interrupted the first speaker, still loud. Still carrying tones of superior disdain and disrespect.
“Enough,” repeated Eioth entering the library.
Nittel was standing close to Halidan, glaring toward the Fire Master, one hand resting on his short sword hilt. Nittel glanced toward Eioth for guidance and when he received a shake of the head released his grip on the sword and stepped back to the wall. This interaction escaped the attention of the Fire Master who continued to glare down at Silva who was holding three translucent golden strands in her hand.
SIlva lifted one strand between her fingers and extended it toward Borden. The elf tried to grasp it but as his fingers brushed it Silva relaxed her concentration and it vanished.
She held up the remaining glows - one in each hand.
“You witnessed me lifting these from the floor. This is light, only light. If I chose,” she began rubbing the fingers of her right hand together and the glow changed, thickened and a thin white fiber appeared, lengthening slowly toward the floor, “it becomes more. More and more substantial until you and Haldian and any other person may feel it. There is no Fire here. No ritual. No chant. Only my hand and my will acting on this small remnant of Light. And, because I will it, there is form and function. But, if I do nothing,” she opened her other hand and tossed the glow into the air, “it returns to nothing.”
Borden blinked and scowled, seizing the thread where it dangled from Silva’s fingers.
“This has form,” he snapped. “You concealed it in your sleeve. This is fakery.”
“No,” said Federan, arriving and crossing the room to stand on the other side of Silva. “Fakery will not create a bridge. Fakery will not create water troughs and ropes. Fakery will not create boats. You may not wish to believe in Silva’s abilities but to deny it when the evidence is before you is the attitude of a child. Her abilities are real.”
“Do it again,” snapped Borden pointing at the floor.
“No,” said Eioth. “You may study her magic when she is engaged in tasks at my command. I shall not permit her to tire herself. Too much depends upon her.”
“And yet if I learn her skill I can teach it to all Fire Masters,” protested Borden. “YOu will then have many elves to direct to all your tasks.”
“I am adept of all Elements,” said Federan. “I traveled with her for weeks and witnessed her summoning her Element many times. I cannot see what she sees. If you wish to claim greater understanding than myself in service to Fire do so at your own risk, but not now.”
“Indeed, not now,” said Halidan. “Eioth, Pri and Nittel have agreed on two towns that the wanderers visit frequently. Pri will inform Trevan what areas require scrying. It is my thought that Pri and Nittel, with one other guard, should leave as soon as they have spoken to Trevan in the morning, to negotiate hiring the wanderers to attend Silva in her travels. NIttel has received instruction in the use of a whisper ribbon. Once this is done Silva and her party should travel to unite with Nittel and Pric to form the full party for the journey North. Does this meet with your approval?”
“Yes.” Eioth paused for a moment trying to think if there was any more that could be done to aid Silva. “Yes, this will do. Therefore they should confirm all is readiness for a hard journey and go to their rest. And I appoint Borden to the responsibility to see that all is in readiness for Master Silva’s party to follow a day after.”
Borden bowed himself out of the chamber avoiding the gaze of all gathered. Haldian waited until she heard the faint closing of the door.
“Is it wise to give that responsibility to Borden? He is one who clearly does not approve of Silva’s magic.”
“He and Pri are appointed by High Lord Trevan to go to aid the citizens of True North. If they fail in their tasks they answer to myself and their High Lord. I may not trust them but I will depend upon their self interest to provide what is needed.”
“And I will be there to protect her,” said Federan, smiling broadly at his wife as he wrapped an arm about her shoulders and drew her into his embrace.
“You will be here, to represent the True South’s interests!” said Eioth, in tones of rapidly failing patience.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Consequences 28

Silva continued to stare at the ribbons and as they watched the sigil of the High King appeared on them all.
“Astonishing,” said Eioth. “You gain in skill daily, Master Silva. And yes, you are correct. It will aid me immeasurably to speak to many at one time. A set of eight for the High Lords of the synod, if you would be so kind, against the time when we are separated and they return to their home demesnes. I can foresee your skills being useful for many decades to come.”
“And it would aid us all if you would train more Light Magicians!” stated a hard voice from the entryway. HIgh Lord Trevan made a shallow bow toward Eioth, glared at Halidan and ignored the mortal engineer.
“I do not know how,” said Silva. “I have tried to explain but no one can see light the way I do.”
Trevan grunted and walked into the room, looking down at the pile of whisper ribbons and away.
“That the Elements would chose to bestow this magic on a mortal is beyond my understanding. Only elves can understand the true breadth and extent of magic.”
Silva sighed, held out her hands and a lenght of white rope drapped over her shoulder flowed forward and formed, without a word spoken, eight whisper ribbons decorated with the sigils of each demesne and one with the High King’s.
“Be at peace, Trevan,” said Eioth. “It may be, strangely, that it is one you must be born with to understand. It is pointless to try and teach someone born to serve Water the rituals of Fire. They will not be able to work the magic no matter how determindly they reherse the rituals.”
Trevan ignored the comment. Instead he gestured toward two elves who accompanied him.
“My heir, Pri and Fire Master, Borden. They will both accompany Silva to the North.” He stared toward Silva. “And while you travel Borden will take instruction from you. He will know if you are intentionally obsficating your teaching.”
Silva stood straight as she could but even so the top of her head reach only shoulder height of an elf. Before she could speak the High King stepped between them.
“Do not cast aspersions upon Master Silva’s loyaltiy and willingness to be of use,” said Eioth.
Trevan puffed out another breath between closed lips. Silva decided to interpret this as insulting but could not nothing about it. Not now. Nothing beyound proving by her actions she was… what? Loyal? Useful? If useful was sufficent her actions so far should count or did the High Lord of the True North only count actions directed toward his own demesne. How fortunate she had removed the water tower model before he arrived.
“I am told, High King, you require a map reader?” said Trevan. “Was the Light Master not educated in the South?”
“Indeed, I can read maps,” said Silva to Eioth’s back.
“No, it is a citizen of the True North who came to us illiterate,” said Halidan. “My bodyguard, Nittel, reports that in his youth he remembers the wandering tribes coming to his home village for the Third Harvest fesitivies and trading fair. I, we, the High King and I, are hoping they came and remained when the weather spells failed. Nittel, unfortunately, cannot point out the location of his home on a map as he was not educated in his youth. We have the name of the villages where the wanderers are commonly seen. We need someone who can say how far it is and where. Hopefully it will be a village reachable despite the snows. Somewhere we can direct Master Silva and her party as a first destination.”
Trevan bridled at the comment regarding Nittel’s lack of education. Silva stared at the floor to conceal her amusement.
“THe wanderers have a pattern, a path they follow regularly,” said an unfamiliar voice and Silva peeked around Eioth’s solid form to see it was the one introduced as the Heir. He was younger than Federan, taller, but otherwise was the image of the elvan ideal beauty - ash blonde hair, ice pale skin and graceful guestures.
“The wanderers are not trusted by many and do not trust those not of their tribes,” continued Pri. “You are right they come to the same places to trade each year but I doubt they are still here. Once the snow stopped likely enough they were away. They do not like towns and villages. Why, I cannot tell you.”
Eioth shook his head. “It distresses me that there are no records of these people in the histories I was taught.”
“There is nothing I can find in our library,” added Halidan.
“Generally it is believed they prefer silence and distance,” said Trevan. “But there are so few of them they are not considered important enough to pursue for taxes and records.”
“On this occasion they are important,” said Eioth, his voice hard. “And when matters calm somehwat you shall endevor to obtain a census of this group. Trevan, for tomorrow, once Nittel reports the villages when they are known, you shall scry to find which roads are clear. Which roads can be made passable. And, if your control is sufficent, if the wanderers remain.”
Trevan glared but inclined his head.
“Halt,” said a servant loitering in the corridor.
They all turned to watch the disturbance. The servant returned a moment later.
“Your body guard, Nittel, has returned, Lady Haldian.”
“Admit him,” said Halidan, then turned to Pri. “You and he will accompany me to the library. I have maps you may use.”
Pri bowed and the three departed.
“Forgive me,” said Eioth crossing the room to where Farnam waited patiently. “I have matters to discuss with Trevan and you have packing to do, Master Silva. Guildmaster Farnam, give thought to other materials that can be used for water storage. I will find time, soon, to consider your proposals.”
“At your command,” said Silva and waved the guildmaster ahead of her.
“Scrying?” whispered the guildmaster as they passed down the corridor.
Silva blushed a little remembering those rituals required by sex magic. No doubt the High King did not want the general population thinking of the members of the synod, speculating aobut what and where and with whom they were consorting and toward what magical purpose.
“I thought that magic was gone,” said Farnam.
“I… I cannot say. I know nothing of Elemental magic. If the High King says scrying is possible I must believe him, and so must you.”
“There is no scrying with light magic?”
Silva laughed and shook her head. “Light magic is creation of solid from nothing. Scrying, I think, is a… a… different.”
“We cannot have everything,” said Farnam. “Well, if the High King has a way of seeing the empire I am happy he uses it.”
“I think he would also be happier if you did not speak of it. There are those who would demand he spend his time in search of their families and friends.”
“Of course.” There was a moment of silence while Silva escorted the mortal out of the private corridor. “Thank you for testing my theory, Master Silva. I wish you luck on your travels.”

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

consequences 27

“No matter,” said Halidan. “Nittel knows where to go and with a whisper ribbon…”
“Not enough. No, not enough.” Eioth stared out of the window at the clear sky. “We can give him no guidance, cannot explain where we need him to avoid, what we have seen during scrying and he cannot tell us his destination. If we wish him to bring the wanderers to assist SIlva there must be common understanding.” He glanced toward Halidan. “And teaching him to read maps would take too long.”
She smiled and nodded.
“But,” continued Eioth. “Yes, this is better. Let us have Trevan’s Heir, Phineian, summoned.” Eioth waved toward one of his omnipresent servants who hurried away. Turning to Nittel Eioth demanded. “THe names of the villages where they trade, you know the names?”
“Of a certainty, High King.”
“That will help. Phineian will find those villages on map and tomorrow morning Trevan shall do a scrying to find the clearest routes to the nearest.” Eioth considered. “Nittel, shall these wanderers stay in the village after the weather changed or shall they attempt to depart now the snows have halted?”
“Who can tell, High King? They are not foolish in the general run of things. I saw them, traded with them, but had little enough else to do with them. They did not hire guards from outside their families.”
Halidan and Eioth exchanged a glance. After a pause Eioth went to the nearest desk and drew a page toward him.
“Nittel, no matter what we discover with our scrying, you will depart tomorrow for the North to begin seeking the wanderers. Pri will, no, he will accompany Master Silva. Another person, someone skilled in map reading, will be assigned to go with Nittel. We shall work on the details while you, Nittel, take this message to the quartermaster. Request supplies for two, no, three men with horses. I will not have you go so far alone, far from support. Your objective is to convince the wanderers to aid Master Silva. Once you have spoken to them call myself or Lady Halidan on the whisper ribbon and I shall negotiate their pay.”
“Your servant,” said Nittel and escaped.
Eioth gazed after him for a moment before turning to Halidan.
“And how does Silva progress?”
“Many, many whisper ribbons,” said Halidan, with a laugh. “Also, she is working on a rather large project for those down in the town.”
“Town? She goes under guard, I hope.”
“Cris attends her when she goes. She is working on something with Cris’s father in law, Farnam, the engineer. They will not discuss it until they are successful.”
“And you permit this? This use of her ability?”
“Be at peace. Cris and Silva both declare it to be necessary.”
“And the proof is what?”
“If you will indulge me, High King,” said Silva from the doorway, “I can show you now.”
She stepped back and gestured toward her assigned rooms. Eioth and Halidan followed her, not particularly surprised to find guild-master Farnam waiting but the shock was a large light magic tube that filled the chamber almost to the ceiling. Taller twice again Silva’s height, broad, glowing grey and transparent on a set of legs that held it higher yet and, at the base a tap. A simple turn tap.
Eioth acknowledged Farnam’s bow then walked around the construction rubbing at his chin. He noticed, with approval, the long lines of matched whisper-ribbons on a side table.  Over a hundred. Despite her distraction she was keeping to the task he’d set. But he would have to find a way to carefully phrase a reprimand. To have spent any part of her personal strength and magic on a task not at his command, that could not be permitted. No. She must learn to be sparing of her magic. So much of the rebuilding of the empire weighed on her magic.
“What is this?” asked Eioth as he completed his circuit.
“A water tower,” said Silva. It is the guildmaster’s idea. The real one will be much, much larger with a trough under the tap. The large barrel will catch the rainwater and hold it for later use.”
“This? But why? It rains every morning.”
“But, High King,” said Farnam. “We shall be dependent upon natural rains. There will be times when it does not rain. Wells and such cannot supply all our needs. A village needs much water, not only for drinking, but the farmer, the smith, simple cooking and bathing needs much water. To have a storage device will be important for all villages. Until the weather magics are restored and the pattern of useful rain returns we are vulnerable. We must store some water against the time it does not rain for days at a time.”
Eioth went to protest but Halidan placed a hand on his sleeve and drew him away.
“He does not know of our other magic,” she whispered.
“There are no plans to change the schedule…” began Eioth.
“Even now the High Lords question the frequency of the rains,” continued Halidan. “I, for one, know it is necessary but we cannot continue, day after day. Year after year. Once we can communicate with the various demesne’s and discover their usual pattern of rain we may have individual High Lord’s take that responsibility. Some towns may require a water reservoir if they don’t have a stream or natural dam to preserve fresh water.” She crossed the room to place a hand on his arm and lowered her voice. “And you, yourself, declared we must live as if the Elements will not return. This may be part of that life.”
“But not now! This is not an effective use of Silva’s abilities. I cannot send her from township to township constructing these…” He waved toward the white tube. “Not when she is needed in the North.”
“Water towers, High King,” said Farnam. “And it is not suggested that now is the time. Only I wanted to know the stresses and pressures that Light Magic can endure. I have learned much and as Master Silva advises me, nothing made of Light Magic is wasted.”
Silva nodded and turned. Without an invocation or ritual or single spoken word she reduced the whole construction to a lumpy mass, then it broke into narrow strips that broke and broke and broke again until there was a pile of hundreds of stiff ribbons a hand length long on the floor.
“What is this?” said Eioth.
“I considered the possibility that you might want to send out instructions to a large group at once. A whole city guard, for example. The disadvantage of the whisper ribbons is that only one person can hear and messages passed from person to person will lose coherence.”

Monday, February 6, 2017

consequences 26

Halidan was shaking her head over Mitash’s sudden disappearance when a hesitant knock came at her door. At her invitation a familiar half elvan face appeared.
“Nittel, come within.” Halidan studied her bodyguard curiously. “Are you troubled in some way?”
“Forgive me for being forward, Lady Halidan, but I have heard said you are sending a delegation to the True North and need guides.”
“That is true.”
Nittel clasped his hands together and twined and untwined his fingers.
“You may not recall, Lady Halidan, the True North is my home. Morae is from the South East. Only Cris is from the North West.”
“ONe day you must tell me the tale of how you all met,” said Halidan.
“Of a certainty it is easy enough. We were hired to attend a caravan, each at a separate time as the caravan master traveled, and were paid off at the same time here in the NOrth West. Since then we have been hired together.” He blushed. “Although no duty we have been offered matches the honor of serving you, Lady Halidan.”
“The honor of your service is mine,” said Halidan. “But this is good news. Do you know of the mortals who travel? The ones who claim no village as their home?”
“Of a certainty,” said Nittel. “The wanderers. Their arrival was always welcome in our village, even though they were stiff people and not inclined to talk much, they traded fairly and brought good furs down from the hills.”
“And their animals, the ones they ride? I have read they are particularly suited for travel over snow.”
“True but they do not trade or sell them. Only rent for specific journeys.”
“Yes. Exactly. We need them. Oh, bless you, Nittel, your news releaves my mind. Please, you must tell me how to contact them. With the excess of snow in this season I feared to send anyone North but Silva must go and her sucess is vital.”
“It should be easy to find them. They would have come to particular trading towns for the Third Harvest festivals and, with the weather so foul immediately after, would not have traveled after. Their superstitions would not permit it.”
“Superstitions?”
“Rules, perhaps. They have rules, that oddly enough, they will not discuss with outsiders. Only that if you ask them for something and they chose not to accede to your request they will say they have a superstition against it.” He smiled. “My mother always said their superstitions changed with the wind.”
“But you know them well enough to negotiate rentals? To find them? Oh, excellent. I must arrange for you to go ahead. You must ride, tonight if possible, and find them. Offer them whatever price is required for them to attend Master Silva in her task.”
“Ah. Ride?”
“Oh, yes. You do not ride. But in this instance surely you see the need.”
Nittel’s expression became pathetic and he continued worrying at his hands.
“Perhaps I have a potion that will aid you,” said IOnia from her place on the other side of the chamber. “Is your difficulty the size and temperament of the horse or the pain of a long ride?”
“Ah, the temperament. I trust them not.”
IOnia nodded solemnly. “A common enough difficulty. I have a potion that encourages boldness and changes the scent of the skin of the drinker so that horses regard him with respect and affection rather than antagonism. You will find them easier to deal with. Taking this tea for only the period of a tenday is sufficient. Will you try it?”
Mitash gaped at her. “In truth? Your medicine can do that?”
“Of a certainty,” said Ionia rising and crossing the room to her brassier and putting a small pot of water on to heat.
“I haven’t the money,” said Nittel, then flushed.
“And to what use have you put your salary?” demanded Halidan. “ARe you gambling with Cris again? Were you using his dice?”
“Not gambling.” Nittel gave a weak smile. “There is so much need in the camps. We all, well, we give what we can spare.”
Halidan halted, her mouth open while she considered the implications of his statement.
“You or all the guards?” she said when she recovered the power of speech.
“All the High King’s guards.”
“Yes.” She nodded. “Ah, in that case I shall carry the fee, Nittel since I need this task accomplished with speed. And, after, you shall accompany Master Silva. I would feel better knowing one that I trust attends her to the North.”
“In your place and for your honor, Lady Halidan.”
Halidan inclinded her head and wrote out instructions for the stables and supply saregent to prepare provisions while Ionia compounded the first of the medicines for Mitash. While the guard drank it down, with many expressions of distaste, Ionia packed up enough medicine for a tenday of treatment.
“YOu will see the effect later today,” said Ionia handing the bundle over. “Horses, in fact all things you fear, will not disturb you, and yet you will still have the sense to avoid utter foolishness.”
“Will you need another to travel with you, Nittel?” asked Halidan. “I hesitate to send you alone and, wait, you may need to speak to me. I need a whisper ribbon for you.”
With that Haldian disappeared into the hallway. She returned in a few moments with two halves of a whisper ribbon marked with Nittel’s name.
“Freshly made,” she joked, waving it in the air as she walked. “It should cool in a moment.”
She laughed at the look of awe mixed with fear on Nittel’s ruddy face.
“My lady, please drop it.” Nittel lept forward to snatch the ribbon from Halidan’s hands. “Do not harm yourself for my sake.”a
“Be at peace. I should not tease you. This is cool from the moment it is created, I promise you. I was never in danger from this magic.”
Nittel stared down at the slip of white he clutched in his hands.
“I know you well enough, Nittel,” said Halidan, “that you hesitate when faced with new and different. Riding a horse, that tor Ionia has addressed, but handling a piece of this new magic is something that you must now do and I was worried you would fear to touch it. Forgive me my trick but now it is in your hand you see it to be  harmless. Next you will learn to use it.  Remember this object is vitally important, rare, irreplaceable, and I will need you to be willing to use it, keep it safe it so I might participate in the negotiations.”
Nittel regarded the thing in his hand without enthusiasm. Before Halidan could begin his instruction or reassure him further Eioth entered.
“Eioth,” cried Halidan, while Ionia and Nittel bowed low and backed away. “NIttel has given me excellent news. He is from the North and knows which trading fairs and villages the wandering mortal families visit. Most particularly the ones they would attend for Third Harvest Celebration.”
“Indeed, welcome news indeed.” Eioth turned to the bodyguard. “And is it in an area reachable, or would the snows have blocked the roads?”
“Ah, I cannot tell, High King.”
“A map.” Eioth glanced about the room. “Yes, in my library there will be maps. Halidan…”
“Wait, Eioth,” said Halidan, resting a hand on his sleeve. “Nittel has but recently learned to read. I cannot say if he can read a map and it is possible he has no knowledge of the extent of the snowfall.”
“The villages I remember do not have bad snow in ordinary years,” began Nittel.
“And this is worse than any snow in memory,” said EIoth, rubbing at his chin. “Can you read maps, Nittel?”
The guard lowered his head. “No, High King.”

Friday, February 3, 2017

consequencess 25

“Ionia tor Diath, this is Earth Master Mitash Serpentine, who has been appointed administrator of the South East demesne.”
Ionia inclined her head, not so much in respect but to ruffle through her medicine pouch.
“In all this rain that frown is like to be a headache. Yes?”
“He is recently recovered from a feverish chill,” said Halidan. “I suspect he rose too soon from his bed.”
“There was work to do,” protested Mitash.
“Sit,” commanded the herb-woman, pointing to a chair.
Mitash sank down which did bring him to eye level with the mortal. She regarded him intently, drawing down his lower eyelid, touching his forehead, peering, of all things, into his ears as well as down his throat. Those indignities completed she vanished from the room.
Mitash cast a glance over his shoulder toward Halidan, raising a pale eyebrow.
“She has gone to fetch your medicine,” said Halidan. “I warn you it will taste foul, a film will form over your teeth and every burp you utter for a week will return the flavor to you.”
“Sounds delightful.”
“It isn’t but it will help.”
A moment later Ionia returned a steaming cup in one hand that she stirred as she walked. 
“The honey helps,” she said, offering the mixture to Mitash.
“It smells like a farm, after its been…”
“Don’t think about it,” warned Ionia. “YOu’ll be drinking this every day for, well, until you don’t need it.”
When Mitash only held it in his hand Ionia placed her fingers under the cup and raised it until the rim pressed against his closed lips.
“Astonishing how closely magicians resemble children,” observed Halidan.
“It is beyond his experience, Lady Regent,” said Ionia. “He does not know to trust it.”
“This is the same medicine Eioth uses, Mitash,” scolded Halidan. “Shall I fetch him to testify as to its efficacy?”
Reluctantly Mitash took up the cup and swallowed half in one gulp. The heat had him coughing and swearing and the grit caught at his tongue and coated his throat.
“It is necessary for it to be this foul?”
Ionia offered a cup of clean water without comment.
“No sympathy?”
Both women shook their heads.
Once the medication was completed Mitash sipped the water while staring at Ionia.
“I assume,” he said, “that you are one of the skilled persons I shall be taking with me to the South East.”
“Not that I am aware,” said Ionia, glancing toward Haldian.
“No, there is no plan for IOnia to come with you but I shall be selecting a herb-woman. We cannot trust that those you meet in the South East will not try poisons or other methods to end your time in office.”
Mitash spat a particularly irritating clump of medicine into his empty cup.
“Thank you for that encouraging thought,” said Mitash.
“South East?” said Ionia to Halidan. “You are sending people back to the South East?”
“Mortals, half mortals,” said Mitash. “Guards, engineers, builders and, I am told, herb-women. You did say, my dearest Halidan, that I would need someone to correctly identify the supplies to be sent back to the refugees.”
“I did, but forgive me, Mitash, I do have need …” Halidan placed a hand over her abdomen.
“If you please, Regent,” interrupted Ionia. “Any of the herb-women can attend your birthing but the South East was my home. I should like to join that group.”
“Ah, but I must seek the guidance of the High King. Please excuse me.” Mitash pressed a hand to his forehead and shook his head. “I owe you my thanks, tor Ionia. Already your potion has the desired effect.”
Mitash departed the room knowing that Halidan, for one, was startled by his behavior. Usually, out of respect for that astonishing mortal, he was everything that was gracious and patient but now, this instant, it was necessary he think of his own survival, his own future.
He knew that if he had remained in that chamber, with those two women, inevitably he would have revealed he was without a lover. Without someone with whom to perform the required sex magic rituals.
It would be suggested, practically, and with suitable consideration for his sensibilities, that the herb-woman would be the ideal partner.
She was of age, already bonded by heritage and blood to the South East and, no doubt, with her years of exposure to the nature of men and woman, more tolerant than he to the idea of sex magic.
However Halidan and Eioth might consider her an adquate partner for that magic Mitash did not. The mortal was as unlike Lady Haldian as any Mitash had seen. Instead of tall and delicate in her form and features she was short, square of face with, let it not be said Mitash was fussy but she was female. Abundantly female. So very female that her clothing did not drape elegantly. Raised as he was with the elvan view of Traditional Beauty before him at all times Mitash was not prepared to contimplate embracing a woman who… whose body was so, so full!
No doubt she was a kind and gentle person, when caring for the ill and fragile and nuturing to children - very nuturing, but she possessed enough bosom for three elvish women.
That Mitash would not endure. What was a man to do with so much abundance? No, all sensibilities objected. Not because he held mortals to be less but, in truth - she was very, very more! Blushing and near to tears with the embarssed heat of his thoughts, Mitash turned a corner and collapsed into Eioth’s arms.
“Mitash! Is aught amiss?” cried Eioth, seizing his old friend by the arms and aiding him until he was able to regain his feet.
“Nay, High King, only… apologies, but I have so much to prepare before my departure.”
“Indeed.” Eioth took Mitash by the arm and led him to an alcove. The herd of attendants who insisted upon trailing after the High King at all times muttered and huddled together. Eioth gave them his back and leaned toward his friend, lowering his voice. “And your lover? Has she agreed to make the journey?”
“Ah… that is… I hesitate to say it, High King, but no.”
“Oh.” Eioth gave a slow nod. “I understand her hesitance. To leave a place of safety and this warmth and travel toward an uncertain welcome,at this time, it is a great deal to ask. And to go to a place so ill omened and controversial as the South East? Difficult.”
“I had thought, High King, that it would be best to find a … find a lover there. Yes. A woman of the South East. Dedication rituals, therefore, would not be required.”
“I would judge it difficult to find a woman of the South East you could trust.”
“I would exercise the appropriate degree of care and suspicion.”
“As you will, only, choose soon.”
“As you command,” said Mitash, staring at the floor.
“The dedication is still required for you,” said Eioth, frowning.
“Yes. Yes. And now that my headache recedes I shall conduct that ritual as soon as I return to, oh…”
Eioth raised an eyebrow. Mitash flushed.
“I am unfamiliar with your House, High King. I do not know which chambers were assigned to the South East delegation. They, the servants, came this morning to move my belongings and I was required elsewhere.”
Eioth waved a hand over his shoulder, not even bothering to turn his head. A servant appeared instantly.
“A guide, if you please, to take the administrator of the South East to his chambers. Mitash, if you would list those items and persons you wish to accompany you I will go over it with you this evening. Please join us for your meal.”
Mitash bowed and waited until Eioth proceeded down the corridor before deflating somewhat then nodding to the patient servant.
“Of your kindness, please proceed.”
Thus the administrator of the South East retreated to his chamber to read a book he was coming to fear and compile a list that he knew would be too long and yet incomplete.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

consequences 24

Today Elanis made her way through the crowded streets, made worse by those persons newly arrived who carried their possessions with them lacking a safe place to deposit them. There were lines, many lines, of refugees. Lines to record their arrival in Sweet Breezes. Lines to receive a ration of food. Lines for entry into the bathing houses.
Elanis swung through the central market and made her way slowly along the displays on the off chance there might be something she might need. With so many children to care for she spent a quarter mark haggling with an old man over a pile of discarded shoes, while the efficient Ceridin sought out a guardsman to come and confirm the shoes were not, in fact, stolen. Having purchased three complete sets and two unmatched of similar sizes Elanis crossed the market to the Weaver’s Guildhouse and mounted the staircase. Inside the room buzzed with activity as if the world outside was still normal. The only concession to this time of change and disaster was that the Guildmaster herself occupied a table near the door, so as to be easily accessable. The Guildmaster smiled as Elanis approached, spoke for a moment longer with the obviously newly arrived refugee on the other side of the table before excusing herself and rising to approach Elanis.
“Bright the day, Guildmaster Pendine,” said Elanis.
 Nodding her head toward the refugee Pendine spoke softly.
“Bright the day, Elanis. That one claims journeywoman status but we are yet to find her name in our records and she arrives here with none of her tools or records.”
“Do not judge her too harshly for that,” said Elanis. “My daughter, journeywoman Silva, remembered to bring a spindle and shears when we … abandoned … our home, but forgot needle and thread to our mutual regret.”
Pendine smiled at that.
“Besides,” continued Elanis, “I know from my own experience there were times when people were pushed under sudden surges of water and had to surrender all that they carried to fight the floods and preserve their lives.”
Elanis’s manner and tone were mild but the words were enough to remind the guildmaster that while Pendine lived calmly and safely in Sweet Breezes there were some who lost everything in the struggle to survive.
“True. True,” said Guildmaster Pendine. “Should the record search reveal her name we shall find her a new master since her old one is yet to arrive at Sweet Breezes.” Pendine examined Elanis. “ARe you able to accept a journeywoman to your house?”
“Not at this moment. The children occupy all my time and they progress well enough at spinning and felting there is not one yet I would call apprentice. With all the children underfoot I am not able to assemble a proper loom or other equipment. A journeywoman would gain no good experience with me.”
“Very well. There are others I might ask.”
Elanis nodded and pulled out the receipt for the gloves and scarves. “For my house I need more supplies. As you can see we have donated all we have made to the refugee camps.”
Pendine accepted the list and counted slowly, her lips moving a little as she read comparing what was produced to the amount of wool roving given to Elanis.
“Excellent,” said Pendine. “Good work. Your little crew are efficient. I shall have another delivery of roving sent along. Will tomorrow do? Any particular color?”
Gratitude, thought Elanis and smiled with great sincerity even though her artistic soul cried at the words and she remembered her book of dye recipes and her reputation with sorrow.
“Thank you, Guildmaster. We have enough wool to work with tonight and have no particular need for colors. We make simple things, as you can see. Whatever is to hand and can be spared for the refugees.”
Pendine entered the transaction in yet another book then looked up as another guild worker emerged from the deeper chambers of the guildhouse.
“I have found the Journeywoman’s promotion record,” the worker announced holding a book above her head and the refugee burst into tears.
“Can you make the entry in my new papers?” the woman cried holding out the near blank sheets and the hearts of all gathered in the chamber tore a little.
So much lost. So little regained. So much more work to be done. Elanis and Ceridin left the guildmaster to comfort the journeywoman and emerged into the bright light and chill air that warned of deepening winter.
They walked down toward another market, this time Elanis was seeking something to spice their limited diet and the tea she used to treat winter colds. Ceridin chewed on his lip as they walked and they were almost home before he broke his silence.
“My papers. My brother’s papers. I have them under my bed.”
“Yes?”
“Should I… is there any place I should put them? To keep them safe.”
“Where they are shall do well enough for now,” said Elanis. “You should know that I registered your arrival with the refugee list and at the Water temple. Should you lose the papers go to either of those places and they can recreate your history easily.”
Ceridin sighed and nodded.
“I took care of that for all the children as soon as we arrived,” continued Elanis. “For myself as well. I know the damage lost papers can cause.”
Ceridin turned and threw both arms around Elanis’s waist. “Thank you, Elanis. Thank you. You are the best foster mother. I don’t know what we would do without you.”
“Well, thank you,” said Elanis, blinking back tears as she returned the hug.
Ceridin released her. “If I didn’t want to be a guard I’d want to be your apprentice.”
“Oh, that is the nicest thing anyone has said to me.” The bright bubble filled Elanis’s heart until the turned the corner and saw a cluster of children and a guard waiting at her door. Both she and Ceridin let out a long sigh.
“I’ll warn Naom, more for lunch,” said Ceridin and ran through to the courtyard.
Elanis nodded while she ran through the list of homes she hoped would be able to accept more children. The spaces on her floor for more temporary beds. The food, the shoes, the blankets.
Gratitude, she reminded herself. Gratitude.

Still day three

Mitash prowled about his assigned bedchamber keeping his back toward the easternmost window, as if by act of will and concentration he could cause the window to seal closed and the entire eastern part of the empire would cease to exist.
No, but that was childish foolishness. The whole of the empire was necessary for the empire to thrive. Mitash knew that to be the truth. His years of service to Eioth, High Lord of the North West, taught him that truth. Each demesne grew food. Each demesne had particular woods and metals and people - so many people - with needs and talents and ambitions and equal numbers of lacks. Not one demense no matter what the area possessed all it needed.
And, until this disaster, each demesne possessed a High Lord, an adept in all Elements. A skilled magician, knowledgeable and strong, with many, many masters to assist them.
Only now the Elements were departed, the seat of the South East was vacant and the usual tests applied to chose a successor - irrelevant!
Irrelevant. No magic, no adept challenge, and -which was worse - no qualified applicants.
Mitash searched his memory reviewing all the Elemental masters of his acquaintance and could think of none who could manifest a bond to four Elements - to any degree let alone the degree necessary to face an adept challenge let alone to aspire to the rank of High Lord!
How had this happened? Well, obviously there were fewer magically talented children and therefore fewer very talented children.
Halidan, may her name be blessed forever, discovered the reason for the infertility and the manner in which children could be engendered and Chandri, may his name be cursed - no, forgotten - took the Elements out of their reach.
Mitash groaned and clutched at his head, resuming his restless pacing.
His head ached. His bones ached. His mind ached. And he could not find that medicine the mortals used.
A knock at the door had him shaking his head, near to tears from the pain. Eyes half shut he stumbled to the door and swung it open, wishing he possessed the strength to swear at the noisy person outside. To his shock he found five servants waiting.
“By the High King’s command,” said the nearest servant when Mitash did not speak, “you are to be moved to the High Lord of South East chambers.”
“Must I?” said Mitash, weakly.
“It is his command.”
“Then do so.” Mitash pushed through the group, one hand pressed to his forehead. “But first tell me, where are the herb-women quartered?”
“They are all about their duties,” said one servant. “Gone out to see to the refugees.”
Mitash groaned.
“I think one is still standing watch over the mortal magician,” said another. “She is in the High King’s personal corridor.”
“My thanks,” said Mitash and staggered off, desperate to find relief before he cut his own head off.
There were guards at the entry to Eioth’s private wing who regarded Mitash with deep suspicion. Accustomed to coming and going as he willed as the High Lord’s and later the High King’s secretary Mitash came to a stumbling halt when the guards stepped into his path.
“Name?” demanded the mortal guard to his left.
“Mitash Serpentine. What is yours?”
“Business here?”
Mitash glared at him even though the movement of the muscles of his face was difficult. “What concern is it of yours?”
“I stand guard protecting Lady Regent Halidan and Master Silva.”
“Then please ask Lady Regent Halidan to admit me,” said Mitash. “I assume Master Silva is still resting.”
After frowning at him for a moment longer the elder of the guards stepped into the private wing and returned a moment later with Halidan.
“Dear Mitash, forgive me. I am yet to give a list of persons to be admitted without question.”
“Of necessity that list will be short,” said Mitash.
Halidan nodded. “Yourself and very few others.” She turned to the guards. “Friend Tormin, this is Mitash, an old, dear and trusted companion of High King Eioth. Please admit him when he states there is a need.”
The guard nodded.
Halidan opened the door herself and led the way within.
“Have you come with questions about your appointment?” she asked.
“No. Indeed I shall have questions but for now my head aches too much to form them.”
“Ah? If that is the case first you must speak to Ionia, our herb-woman. Please wait in Eioth’s personal library.”
A few moments later Halidan returned accompanied by the smallest mortal woman Mitash had ever seen. It was quite clearly obvious from the maturity of her form and generous curve of breast and hip that she was an adult but to gaze eye to eye to her Mitash was certain he would have to kneel.