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Chapter Thirteen: The Road to Revelation
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Kalanna Rai

Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:15 pm    Post subject: Chapter Thirteen: The Road to Revelation  

You've chosen to confront the dead and the leave the Ridden to their own devices. Lets see how that plays out. Enjoy!

Chapter Thirteen: The Road to Revelation

Khafi leaned against the battlements, a cold winter wind biting into him and freezing him to his southern bones. Despite being wrapped in thick furs and padded leather, he still just couldn't seem to get warm. His fingers idly traced a design in the snow that lay heavy and thick about them, still slightly fascinated by the frozen substance in a way only a man who'd never seen it before could be. He appreciated that Alasdair, who stood only a scant two feet away, hid whatever amusement he got from Khafi's actions. Nothing irked the dark haired prince like being the butt of a joke, even a harmless one.

"I just don't understand it Alasdair. He asked us for our advice...but he didn't heed it. The army remains in the south and now there is this snow to hamper what few men we have here further. I can't see us winning the engagement with the Dead. Although, I understand his motives for leaving the army where it is. The moment the first unit moved out, my uncle would know, and he's had troops piling up on the boarder since..."

"Since the death of our father? I know Khafi, but I'm willing to trust Astor. I don't think he discarded our arguments, he's got something up his sleeve. I can feel it. There's a gathering energy in the air, in the water, in the land itself. It's...almost like I'm home again. Like I'm back in Rhimefaust instead of here in Leyond, the land feels alive like that."

Khafi chuckled, looking up at the large form of his elder half brother. "He is a crafty old bastard isn't he? I have to admire him...he had me fooled. And it's a rare person that can do that." He shook his head slightly, eyes narrowing as he remembered how long he'd had to search to find the hidden passage...under his floor. Astor had been standing under him and listening to his conversations the whole time. Khafi felt almost guilty for assuming the old man had been going crazy...and vindicated for waiting on his bid for the throne. Had he pressed on the assumption that Astor was a senile old man...

A few sharp horn blasts echoed from the woods as one of the patrols returned, the shine on their armor and the neat rank of them attesting to the fact they'd seen no action. The dead were not here yet. But Tessa kept telling them soon and Khafi noted her growing more agitated every day, despite the fact that she was now being trained to use her gift properly. "It's amazing isn't it? That a crusty old man like that could have made something like those teleportation platforms in Falverald."

Alasdair shrugged. "He's got the High blood in him. I'm more surprised that he's agreeing to help us. When I got him to bring Kyrie here he was rather adamant that we never bother him ever again. Goes to show that Lukan can be persuasive when he needs to be."

Khafi turned away from the view, heading downstairs. He wanted to be in the court when the patrol's report was turned in. Every scrap of information he could get his hands on helped him get a better grasp on the ever changing situation. From Tessa's best estimates there were over a hundred thousand dead marching toward them and more continued to make their way up the rivers every day. In the entire region around Eresinne, there were only some ten thousand troops. Ten to one odds against an enemy that didn't get tired, didn't sleep, and took no prisoners might as well have been a thousand to one.

Even if Alasdair tossed his considerable weight into the battle...what good would it do? Khafi's mind had been trying to calculate how much success a dragon would have against the dead hoard, but without an accurate measure of just what Alasdair could do he could only estimate. And Alasdair wasn't forthcoming about what he could and couldn't do.

Entering the court, he found a quiet corner and placed himself there. Close enough to hear what was said, far enough away not to be a fixture. Showing interest without seeming overly keen was a fine line he dared not cross. But he found his mind too occupied to pay more than half attention to the report itself. Was Astor going to use mages against the dead? That would likely help improve the chances of the soldiers, but mages weren't cheap to hire and there weren't that many in the Guard themselves. Then again, perhaps the threat of being overrun by dead that wanted nothing more than to play dress up with your flesh was enough of a motivator that they came of their own accord.

His head did snap around, mind focusing sharply, when he heard the captain of the patrol tell Astor that the dead would be in the forest by tomorrow. Astor obviously didn't like the news either, not from the way he suddenly straightened and the fingers of his left hand tightened on the arm of his throne. The entire court had fallen now, listening to the last few dispassionate words of the captain's report. He spoke in a flat voice, the voice of a man expecting to die, and Khafi didn't blame him. One thing he could say for the soldiers of Leyond...they showed an exceptional amount of courage. Despite knowing they were facing an enemy straight out of nightmare...the desertions had been no more extreme than any other winter.

Khafi was rather surprised when Astor motioned for him to come closer and, with some curiosity he did so, mounting the steps to the throne and standing where Astor directed him. For a few moments stand was all he did, Astor remaining silent and the court slowly resuming as it's usual members postured and preened and gossiped.

"So, you've been studying the maps. How do you think the troops should deploy? I'd like to put the archers on the rocky hillside where the forest breaks off before hitting the river. Give them the advantage of firing over the heads of the soldiers below."

"Will archers be of any use? I'm not quite sure how arrows will put down the dead when the small group that got through before had to be crushed to bits before they stopped moving. Although, if arrows are effective at all, put the archers up the trees. Give them water skins and plenty of arrows. Even if the dead can climb trees, an archer overhead has a good chance of shooting them down before they reach him and it's far safer for them than a rocky slope where they could possibly send rocks down on the heads of the men below."

Astor's face remained impassive as the old King continued to stare out over the court. "An interesting idea. What about the footsoldiers and the cavalry. If the archers are fighting in the trees, we obviously can't use our horsemen to good effect under there."

"The horsemen should be used as bait and skirmishers. Give them some heavy flails and send them in to herd the dead. The horses appear to be able to out run them and the dead go after anything that moves. Thus if any of the dead break away and start heading for the city, the horsemen can catch up, tantalize them into following, and lead them back to the main combat. The heavy flails will do quite a bit of damage to any dead that get close enough...but if they get overwhelmed there's not much we can do about that. As for the foot soldiers, you're going to want them lightly armored. Shields and plate are just going to slow them down, they don't deter the dead at all. So you want your forces light and fast on their feet, you want them to be able to move and adjust as fast as the situation calls for. "

"Both reasonable, I suppose you want the mages in the trees too? Like the archers? Also, as you mentioned crushing them works so what about catapults and the like?"

"Catapults and other siege weapons will be tempting to use, but as a last resort if they get close enough to Eresinne's walls. They're not mobile enough on the field and risk being overrun. I'd send a mage with every group of ten men if you can, and put the spares with the horsemen to provide more weight to them as a skirmish force. The mages are going to be your biggest asset in this, you need at least a couple at critical points where they can do the most damage for the least price. A couple of them would likely work well on the rocky bank you mentioned, a couple more where the river carves a ravine before emptying into the lake in the forest might help."

Astor scratched his beard lightly, his clenched left fingers more relaxed now. Perhaps, like Khafi, once he had a puzzle for his mind to work the tension was bled away.

"And what of you and your siblings, what's the best use to make of you four?"

"Alasdair is an unknown quantity. I've got no real notion of his capabilities or those of his men. I'd say that if he's willing to throw his whole weight behind this, you'll want him at the lake where his draconic size will be of more use rather than cramped up in the forest or perched on the walls. Tessa...her power is too unreliable at this point. I'd keep her close to you and if she does have an episode, see if any of the information is useful. Otherwise, she's a useful resource as far as supplies and terrain goes. She'll know which unit needs what and how to get it there fastest. Lukan is probably the best scout we've got. With Beak he'll be able to stay well out of reach of the dead and the fighting to deliver dispatches and report back to us what he sees. He'll be able to take commanders information faster than anything but communication rings and Beak will likely be able to snatch up individual dead and drop them to shatter. As for me...I believe you're already making use of me."

Astor chuckled at that, a ghost of a smile gracing his weathered face before vanishing. "Perhaps I am. Or perhaps I'm just evaluating your ability to command. We will set up using your battle plan mostly. There's a few minor adjustments I will make, but otherwise it seems solid. Will you be heading out onto the field or would you prefer to remain in with the maps and listen to the reports."

"If I might sir, I'd rather be on the walls. Close enough to observe and evaluate, far enough not to be caught up in the action and unable to adjust plans as needed. I'm skilled with a blade...but far more skilled with my brain."

Astor stood, signalling an end to the court, and paused to stare at Khafi with sharp eyes. "Tomorrow then, I expect you on the western wall. I believe there is something in the Armory that will fit you, I expect you dressed for war." And with that final declaration, the King of Leyond shuffled from the room, leaving Khafi to press his fingers to his temples and close his eyes.

Either way, he had preparations of his own to make before tomorrow. There were certain things he was not going into battle without, even if he would be as far removed from the battle as Eresinne's walls. If things got desperate, and they were likely to, the fighting could easily reach the walls. And he wanted to be ready for that to happen, just in case. Luckily, he knew just the item he needed...

What is this item that Khafi needs and how might he go about procuring it? Is it something that will draw a lot of attention? Something subtle but powerful? Is it even for him, or will it aid another? Only you know.

Battle begins for our four tomorrow, I hope they're prepared. I hope you enjoyed!
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Joined: 11 Mar 2010
Posts: 398
Location: Kansas

Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:03 pm    Post subject:  

I swear I read this on the day you posted it... I've just been trying to decide what awesome things Khafi should get, and I'm kinda drawing a blank outside of standard fantasy items. But you're probably sitting here, wondering why no one will reply, which is just sad panda all around. So.

Awesome chapter. Other than a weird pronoun confusion spot where I thought the captain of the guard was the one offering all of those tactics, a solid chapter. A few months ago, I decided that I should expect nothing less than pure brilliance from you now, and you still never disappoint.

So, some possibilities:

Boots of Swift Movement
Cloak of Concealment
Daggers of [Sneaky Poison Massive Stabby Damage]
Sword of [Cliched yet Powerful]
Strategist's Board- like a chess board, except it shows him the terrain and unit placement of a set area. That way he can see the battle from a far distance?
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Joined: 10 Feb 2007
Posts: 1597
Location: Happily curled up in a Daemon's lap

Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:02 am    Post subject:  

Fantastic chapter Rai. Now we really see what Khafi can be useful doing with his assistance to Astor's plot and battle strategy.

How about something that might allow Khafi to control/manipulate the Dead?
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Joined: 10 Oct 2010
Posts: 1858
Location: Surrounded by many beautiful naked men

Posted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:10 am    Post subject: I Think. . . . .  

Magnificent! I love this story more and more as I go along. The wording is fluid and powerful while the humor is not lost even in the tightest moments. I find the interpersonal interactions quite realistic and that in and of itself is most enjoyable.

Khafi is still my favorite, even after the dragon popped out :P

As for the item. . . .I think something that allows for him to comunicate with the somdiers, or the comanders at least, from his place on the wall. Like a stone that can link/broadcast his thoughts to those he wills them at. Kinda like a temprary telepathy for him. As for procuring it. . . . .Have the crusty old man and afew of the mages constuct it. I don't see that out of their copacity. :P

Another fine chapter, can't wait to see more! On with the show!
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Kalanna Rai

Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:47 pm    Post subject:  

Last call on suggestions folks. Poll tomorrow.
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Kalanna Rai

Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 11:19 pm    Post subject:  

Poll is up and remember, the items listed in the voting options are just examples. Said items may actually not exist or may be another item entirely. That said, votes be needed.
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