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Chapter 6: The Rescue
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Key



Joined: 08 Feb 2004
Posts: 2654
Location: The Royal Palace

Posted: Sun Aug 14, 2005 8:56 pm    Post subject: Chapter 6: The Rescue  

The Story So Far: You are Lewellyn, the son of the Merfolk King, though you have the legendary form of a Maker, with two arms and two legs, instead of a merman. To avoid the notice of the Emperor who might see you as a threat to his rule, you were raised on a remote island and always guarded. The mermaid Lalomea slipped past your guards and brought Lodevar the Ram King, another Maker like you, to see you and plead with you to help his people. You decided that you wanted to help the Ram King’s people, but when your father found out what had happened, he was angry and sentenced you to live in the Bone Trench and the Ram King to be killed. The soldiers who had guarded your island took you away, but you told them that you wanted to rebel against your father, and they agreed to follow you.

At the end of the last chapter, you decided that your next move would be to rescue and ally with the Ram King.

The decision is clear. “We need your family and its allies, Mirisian, and only you can convince them to join us. But the Ram King will die unless we rescue him soon. We have to split up.

“Take the fastest chariot and whatever mermen you need and bring word to the Outer Sea. I’ll lead the rest of the school to rescue the Ram King and his people.”

You speak without hesitation, but as soon as you say the words you feel queasy. Can I lead them? Will they follow me without Mirisian?

But no one seems to notice your fears, so you swallow them and keep going. Mirisian salutes you and prepares to leave, while his three captains report to you for duty.

You decide to send a few scouts ahead to the island, and have the rest travel in two groups: a small forward company of just you and few dozen a few dozen merfolk, and a larger group behind with the chariots and fish. You want the forward company to be big enough to quickly defeat any stray guards, but small enough to pass unnoticed. Your goal is to get the Ram King and Lalomea off the island without Father realizing that they’re gone.

The underwater swim to the island is long and hard for your mermen, made extra because they have to pull you. It’s necessary so that you don’t slow them down, but it irks you to be reminded of your lack of a tail: no matter how well you can swim and how natural the water feels, you’ll always be slower than even the clumsiest merman.

As you approach the island, the sea grows rough and dark. The merman scouts you sent ahead return. “The, uh, King–” the lead scout stumbles, unsure of how to refer to Father – “has summoned a storm, and surrounded the island with a double ring of guards.”

Doubt catches at you again. Could you even find the Ram King in such a storm? And how can you slip past Father’s best guards, not once but twice? You bite your lip. You’ve got to think of something.

But suddenly one of your guards calls out, “To arms!” And in the water ahead, swimming at you furiously is another company of merfolk soldiers, dressed in silver mail, with tridents lowered: Father’s guards.

Quickly your soldiers take up defensive positions, forming a sphere with you in the center. The other company spreads out around you. You watch in dismay as more fill in behind them, and then more and more – hundreds! – many schools of merfolk soldiers, bristling with with weapons and war machines, riding sea chariots and whales, their eyes all pointed at you. Finally the last chariot pulls up, carrying their supreme commander: Father.

You feel like a fool: you brought just enough soldiers to be spotted, but not enough to put up a fight. Now Father will kill all of your merfolk, and send you back to the Bone Trench, or someplace worse. You look for a way out, but all you see are the sharp points of tridents aimed at you. You feel sick.

Father looks at you and your soldiers in disbelief. “I told you to take him to the Bone Trench.”

Each group floats in their water. Your mermen look back at you nervously. Your only hope is to convince Father’s soldiers to turn against him. You pull yourself together and try to sound like a King.

“They’re through obeying you,” you call out to Father. “You’re not fit to be King, and I’m taking command now.”

The sea is suddenly quiet. Father stares at you speechless.

“A true King has compassion,” you say, quickly warming up. “A true King keeps his word. You swore on your crown to help the Sheephead people, and you lied. I’m holding you to answer for that.”

The soldiers look between you and Father. Father’s eyes bulge and his face reddens with anger, but he still says nothing.

You’ve got to win them over. “Mermen, soldiers, listen to me! Do you want to live in fear for the rest of your life? Join me! I will make the sea a better place, a kinder place, as the Makers intended it to be.”

Father’s guards shift uncomfortably. They look back to Father again. You pause to catch your breath, then finally Father speaks. He says, “Kill them all. Including the Prince.”

His soldiers hesitate. But Father shoots a glare at them, and they burst into action. Hundreds of merfolk bear down on you in a fury of scales and steel. You shout at them to stop, but your voice is drowned out. Your mermen float in their sea and brace for the onslaught.

A school of swordfish crashes into your front lines first, aiming straight for mermen hearts with their needle-sharp noses. Your soldiers stab or block them with their tridents, but while their tridents are still caught in the fish, the first wave of merfolk attacks, tridents in front and powerful tails propelling them from behind, smashing into the outer circle like living spears. The circle around you closes as your mermen are driven back. One takes a trident spike though the shoulder, and drops his weapon; another gets three prongs through his gut, and falls to the sea floor leaking blood.

You turn from one side to another, desperate. You’d surrender if you thought Father would spare your lives. If only I could kill him before I die, you think. But you can’t reach him: he’s far back, directing the battle.

Your men fight like sharks, but they’re being slowly overwhelmed by the enemy’s greater numbers. One of them holds two enemy at bay, but is pierced in the side by a harpoon shot by a third. Another kills his opponent but gets his trident caught in his armor. As he struggles to free it, two more soldiers set on him with knives, and you hear him scream as he disappears in a mass of scales and blood.

Finally the circle is pierced, and a long, muscular merman comes at you, intent on the kill. You’ve got a trident and you’ve had some basic training, but you can’t move like a merman or fight like a soldier: you’ve got no hope against a warrior like that.

So this is it, you think. I’m going to die.

Everything starts moving in slow motion. You’ve got plenty of time to think as the merman comes at you. You study his face: his eyes are wide, his lips curled back, his skin flushed with excitement and anger. He’s probably not a bad merman, you think. Probably has a merwife and family in Ulderea – he’s someone’s father, and someone’s son.

His trident moves toward your chest, slowly. What’s the point of fighting him? you think absently. Even if I kill him, someone else will take his place. But you watch as your body slowly twists out of the way.

His trident slips by you and he eases forward, opening up his side. His side gets larger and closer as he moves by you. Could I kill him now? Would it be that easy? You slowly put the first prong of your trident up against his side, and it catches on his armor. You push. Three silver chain links break away and fall silently to the sea floor. You push again and your trident enters his side. Red circles float out from the hole. Your other two prongs go in, making three red holes.

You look at his face again. The eyes are open wide now, jaws gaping in shock and horror. He’s staring at his own side. Then, as your trident goes deeper and touches his heart, his eyes close and his tongue hangs open. You slowly withdraw your trident and he falls down to the sea floor, letting small red circles loose everywhere.

What now? You look around, confused.

Your mermen are fighting, and other soldiers are coming at you, but they’re all still moving in slow motion. The sounds of battle are faint, as though coming from far away. You blink twice, and then hear a strange sound, like the beating of a giant heart.

Thrum-dum.

Is it your own heart? Is it the heart of the merman you’ve just killed? It comes from all around. No one else seems to notice anything.

The next soldier is coming at you. He slowly raises his trident.

Thrum-dum.

He pauses. Fear crosses his face, as though he’s heard it too. He looks around.

Thrum-dum.

Now the soldiers near you, on both sides, break off their fighting and look around. Do they hear it, or do they just sense something?

THRUM-DUM. THRUM-DUM.

It’s getting louder. Closer. A quiet falls across the battlefield, a soft buzzing of confused whispers. The only one who doesn’t seem to notice anything is…Father. He swims among his army, yelling at them, pointing angrily at you.

THRUM-DUM. THRUM-DUM. THRUM-DUM.

And finally Father hears it too, and his face transforms from an angry scowl to an expression you’ve never seen him make before. For the first time, you see your father afraid.

A huge wave crashes through, scattering mermen and chariots and fish everywhere, and a roar sounds through the undersea, a roar louder than the crash of a hundred whales and deeper than the sea-floor. And you and every merman know that only one creature can make that roar.

The Great Serpent. Leviathan.

The roar ends with the a huge SNAP! of the Serpent’s jaws, and a dozen merfolk are swallowed in an instant. And then it’s among you, more like a dark mountain than than a creature: wider than you can see, with its maw the size of a whale and its smallest teeth bigger than the biggest merman. Its wake tosses the merfolk soldiers like driftwood in a storm. You don’t even know which way is up, until at last you stop, floating in front of a huge yellow eye.



In its gaze you lose all reason. You’re not even afraid. All you know is awe.

The eye opens wider. What is this? you wonder. Can it see me? Can it think?

Then it moves again. Something hits you like a wall of rock and you know nothing more.

*

The lights are dim. There’s a hammering in your head. Voices, too loud. “The King! The King awakes,” they call.

You struggle to consciousness. Father is awake? You have to fight Father. The rebellion, the war...

You open your eyes. Mermen surround you - your mermen, your soldiers, holding you up.

“Thank the Makers you’re alive, Your Majesty,” says one. The King…they meant you.

“The King lives!” another shouts, and you hear a chorus of cheers, making you wince and hold your temples. You gingerly feel your body. You’ve got a splitting headache and bruises down your left side, but you don’t think anything’s broken.

You swim upward, out of their arms, and survey the wreckage of the battle. Smashed chariots, dead fish, and merfolk bodies float in the current or sink slowly downward. A small school of soldiers swims among the debris, unharmed: your rear guard.

“What happened?” you ask.

“Leviathan,” says one of the merfolk. “It killed most of the merfolk on both sides. Your father and the rest of his army fled. The storm he summoned is already breaking up.”

Leviathan. But why? The Great Serpent hadn’t been this far Inward since before you were born.

Another merman swims up, dragging a bleeding tail behind him: one of the survivors of your forward company. “The King faced it down,” he says to the others. “He looked it in the eye and it fled.” They gasp and murmur, looking up at you with awe.

“No, no, I didn’t do anything,” you mumble. But you’re not sure what did happen. You had some sense of the Serpent; you knew it was coming before the others. Then what? “Where did it go?” you ask.

“Inward.”

Inward? That’s toward–

“Your Majesty? Your father had a prisoner, whom we freed.” Two mermen lead a figure up to you.

“A prisoner?”

“Lewellyn!” Lalomea calls excitedly and flings herself at you. But then she catches herself and instead of hugging you bows at your feet. “I mean, Your Majesty-”

“Lalomea!” you draw her up in front of you. “What are you doing here?”

“I failed my King, my Lodevar,” she says despondently. “He sent me for help, and I let myself be captured.”

“That doesn’t matter now. Where is the Ram King? Is he still alive?”

“Yes! The last I saw, he was still on the island. You saved us, Lewellyn. You drove away Father and broke the storm.”

“No, I didn’t. But I’ll take whatever breaks we get. To the Ram King, now!” you order the merfolk.

You leave a few of your soldiers to tend to the wounded; the rest you take in chariots and by tail for the island where you grew up, the island where the Ram King is still stranded. You’re quickly recovering from your bruises and aches. There’s a war on, and you and the Ram King are natural allies.

He’s already on the beach by the time you pull up, and when he sees Lalomea he splashes into the water and they throw their arms around each other, holding and hugging for a long moment. They’re in love, you think with a pang.

Then Lodevar pulls back. “What happened?” he asks, looking from Lalomea and you.

“Lewellyn saved us!” cries Lalomea. “He beat Father and faced down Leviathan!” Lodevar looks at you with surprise and a new respect.

You flush, uncomfortable in his gaze. “I didn’t do anything like that,” you say sharply. “Leviathan came while I was fighting Father. He went one way and the Serpent went the other.”

Lodevar says, “Well, whatever happened, you saved me, too, and I’m grateful. But if the Serpent is summoned, I’ll bet the attack on Freehome has begun. The Emperor must have drawn it to the island to fight your people while the Bullroars sail through.”

So was it the Emperor who had summoned the Serpent? But why did it come to you and Father in your battle?

“He doesn’t even need Leviathan,” you say. “Petrosian is commanding the merfolk army around Freehome, and his orders are to let the Bullroars pass. All part of Father’s plan.”

“I know,” says Lodevar. “But if there’s anything we can do, we’ve got to get there now. And if we can’t do anything,” he shrugs. “I’ll die with them.”

You call for your fastest chariot, and you and Lodevar and Lalomea climb aboard. Lodevar’s advisor Nelectitus, the old satyr you saw on the beach, comes too. Soon you’re skimming the water’s surface, hurling headlong to Freehome on a chariot pulled by six giant sailfish, while the rest of your company struggles to keep up.

You glance back. Your soldiers have already had a hard day’s and night’s swim. If the battle at Freehome has already started, they’ll arrive many hours late and in poor shape to fight.

But what could they do anyway? You’ve got less than a hundred. There’s probably more than ten thousand Bullroars, and at least as many merfolk under Petrosian’s command. You doubt that Petrosian would join your rebellion; he’s always been loyal to Father. So how can you save the Sheepheads?

Lodevar gives you a measuring look. “So what do you think?” he asks.

He doesn’t know what to do either, you think. But somehow the thought cheers you up. Lodevar is asking your advice, one King to another.

What do you do?

Read the posts below, and click "Reply" to post a suggestion for the Lewellyn’s next action. Anyone is welcome to post. You can suggest what he would do based on his personality, what you think he should do based on what would be best, or just in general what seems like a good idea to you. Feel free to comment on other’s suggestions, but please be courteous.

You're also welcome to ask questions about Lewellyn's background or about the world of the Wheel.

Update: Poll is up! Scroll down to vote.
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Smee



Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Sun Aug 14, 2005 10:19 pm    Post subject:  

Hey Key,

Great chapter. :)

Briefest of technical points:

Quote: more like a dark mountain than than a creature

Lewellyn certainly has gotten braver. It's good to see that he is getting respect from some of the mermen at least. Facing the Leviathan was handy, as that story will soon develop into something usefully heroic over the coming days as the soliders gossip.


"Our only chance is the merman in command of father's full force. His name is Petrosian. He must be convinced to change sides or we have no chance." You stop and stare at the look of recognition on Lodevar's face, along with the small smile.
"Why are you smiling, have you met Petrosian or something?"

Happy Writing. :)
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Araex
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Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 8:47 am    Post subject:  

I like the way you are thinking Smee. Great chapter, I like the Leviathan bit.
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Fauna
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Posted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 9:12 am    Post subject:  

Another wonderful chapter. The story develops nicely. Smee summed up my response well, so I'll merely repeat it:

Quote: "Our only chance is the merman in command of father's full force. His name is Petrosian. He must be convinced to change sides or we have no chance." You stop and stare at the look of recognition on Lodevar's face, along with the small smile.
"Why are you smiling, have you met Petrosian or something?"
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D-Lotus
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Joined: 21 Oct 2004
Posts: 4123
Location: Hollywood, USA

Posted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 1:48 pm    Post subject:  

somehow confuse leviathan so that he'll kill the bullroars and petrosian by mistake....
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DeSuFnOc
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Posted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 3:35 pm    Post subject:  

I don't see much of any way around asking Petrosian for help. Maybe the fact that we faced down Leviathan while father ran will help. I don't think anyone actually likes the merking, they only follow him out of fear. Showing people that we arn't afraid of him could gain us many alies.

Leviathan may have ran from us but I don't see any way of controlling him, though he would be a huge allie if he could be made to serve us.
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Key
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Joined: 08 Feb 2004
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Location: The Royal Palace

Posted: Thu Aug 18, 2005 9:04 am    Post subject:  

Thanks for the suggestions. Any thoughts on what you might say to Petrosian to convince him to help you?
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D-Lotus
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Joined: 21 Oct 2004
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Location: Hollywood, USA

Posted: Thu Aug 18, 2005 9:08 am    Post subject:  

To say to Petrosian:

You love and serve the merking. You've always given it all to my father, but has he ever given you anything back?
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Random
Guest





Posted: Thu Aug 18, 2005 12:40 pm    Post subject:  

Awesome stuff Key. Once again showing why you are our leader in the game you have created.

I do agree that we need to get Petrosian on our side. However, I do not think we should make the mistake of thinking that Leviathan ran from Lewellyn. There is more to the great serpent than meets the eye. Humility is Lewellyn's main difference between himself and his father, we need to keep that humility in him.

I would ask Petrosian outright where his loyalties lie. Then questions his reasons. If he is loyal beyond explanation, we will need to break those walls down one at a time. If we could just plant the seed of doubt in Petrosian, it could buy us some precious time to get off the island and on something more secure.
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Guest
Guest





Posted: Thu Aug 18, 2005 6:57 pm    Post subject:  

I agree, Leviathan did not run from Lewellyn. It seemed to recognize him in some way and deliberately spare him. On the other hand, it has good reason to hate the merking and his army if it was they who defeated it long ago. This is a mysterious being.

Petrosian might not be too hard to win over. After all, Lodevar refused to take his command when the merking offered it to him, which should show that he's not ambitious for his own importance, but only concerned for the good of his people, as a true king should be and the old merking is not - maybe this new one (who looks like Lodevar) will be more selfless too.
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Mother Goose
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Joined: 09 May 2004
Posts: 511
Location: Connecticut

Posted: Thu Aug 18, 2005 6:59 pm    Post subject:  

Above was me, timed out again
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DeSuFnOc
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Posted: Fri Aug 19, 2005 10:48 am    Post subject:  

Father has always favored Lewellyn that that may strike a nerve with Petrosian.

Also the fact that the king tried to give away Petrosian's command to Lodavar, that should piss him off.

Father gained his crown by defeating Leviathan, weather or not Leviathan ran from Lewellyn or not doesn't matter, the troops will beleave it and rally behind him, we need to make sure that storie spreads far and fast.
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Key
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Posted: Tue Aug 23, 2005 7:58 pm    Post subject:  

Poll is up! Happy voting :)
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Ravenwing
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Joined: 18 May 2004
Posts: 3750
Location: Virginia

Posted: Wed Aug 24, 2005 10:15 am    Post subject:  

I agree that we have to persuade Petrosian to deflect to the other side. But he needs to see that his father is not fit to rule anymore.
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Araex
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Posted: Wed Aug 24, 2005 11:38 pm    Post subject:  

Petrosian (although we don't know it) is our brother, and he will probably recognise us. If fathe treats us badly, why shouldn't he beat Petrosian badly?
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D-Lotus
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Joined: 21 Oct 2004
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Posted: Mon Aug 29, 2005 5:51 pm    Post subject:  

I was going to vote to make petrosian help, but I realized that our priority is to stop the bullroars. If we can do that, we need not worry about the mermen, I don't think they'll jump on land to massacre the sheepheads...
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DeSuFnOc
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Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 8:21 am    Post subject:  

There is no way to defeat the Bullroars without the Mermen's help.
They far out number us and they're better armed and well trained.
Petrosian is the key, but what would help sway him?
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Key
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Joined: 08 Feb 2004
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Location: The Royal Palace

Posted: Mon Sep 12, 2005 9:39 pm    Post subject:  

Thanks to everyone for the votes. The decision was to convince Petrosian to help by pointing out that you faced down Leviathan. Next chapter is posted.
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