The story so far: Tollon and his allies are ready to attempt to defeat their enemies and rescue their friends. Well, as ready as they can be. Will it be good enough? No one can be sure. Now read on . . .
Earl Haulloran’s army has arrived on the opposite side of the river. I’ve been telling his wife, Lady Gwella, that I’m planning some sort of infiltration of the palace. I’ve made it sound sufficiently unimportant that she’s not communicating much magically anymore. Which is fine by me. So long as she lives and bears the child with my sister Jallia’s soul, that’s all I care about when it comes to her, or her husband.
Still, the presence of that army is useful. Vorana’s attention must be on defeating it and driving it off. Chypa tells me she’s tried a few magical attacks on Haulloran’s army, but is finding Lady Gwella to be tough opposition, able to strike back. And while the entire Royal Army is larger than the force Haulloran has, the entire Royal Army isn’t here. Vorana’s at a manpower disadvantage. Which is why the river is serving as the boundary between the two armies.
We wait until nightfall of the third day after Hallouran’s army arrived to begin our attack. I use magic to take out the magical barrier at the kitchen entrance to the palace. Katrina, all by herself, takes out the eight guards there, easily. Their swords cannot pierce her scales.
Getting in is easy. It’s trying to deal with what we find that is going to be difficult.
Chypa goes on ahead to confront Vorana, one on one. Inacha stays with me and Katrina long enough to raise the rest of the dragons’ teeth into dragon warriors. Because of my request to Frawkza, they are all obedient to Katrina, including the dozen in the king’s possession that are no doubt elsewhere in the palace. That group should really upset things as they try to join up with Katrina.
Inacha and I split up, each of us with fifteen of these dragon warriors. Inacha’s off to sweep the dungeons and the royal quarters before meeting us in the throne room. I’m taking Katrina with me to check my old workshop before making for the same destination.
None of the palace guards stand a chance against the dragon warriors. We make quick work of any we encounter. The workshop doors are locked and magically secured. I destroy the spell, Katrina and two of the other dragon warriors smash open the doors.
I enter the workshop, calling Sarton’s name. I get no answer until I reach the main workroom. And then it is not Sarton’s voice I hear.
“Well done, Tollon of Velgard, Lord of Tyznar Heights.” The voice is mocking. Vorana sits at Sarton’s desk. “I see you have some friends with you.” Her voice turns hard. “But I didn’t invite them.”
I hear a noise, and turn. Katrina and the dragon warriors are gone. How? Vorana doesn’t have that level of power.
I turn back to her, puzzled and worried. She knows what I’m feeling. She smiles. “It’s amazing what you can do when a god is your partner. I imagine Mrokitar is enjoying killing that bitch Chypa. And if you’re counting on Sarton to help, think again.” She lifts up a box on Sarton’s desk, opens the lid, and turns it over. Ashes flow out and scatter in a mini-whirlwind. “The old fool never could resist any of his ex-wives. And now his ashes are scattered and he is gone forever.”
This is not looking good. But Chypa and I talked over Vorana’s character. She may be older and more experienced than I am, but I can still defeat her.
As if she’s reading my mind, Vorana gives me an evil smile. “Oh, and I have one other surprise for you, Tollon. I’ve taken my old slave back, and retrained her until she’s properly subservient once again.”
A side door opens, and Mia enters the room. She pays no attention to me, but walks over to Vorana and kneels before her, looking up at her with a worshipful gaze.
Vorana points to me. “This man threatens me, Mia. Kill him.”
(To be continued . . .)
And Tollon rolls his eyes and mutters… not again… 🙂
I have to admit that MA was written both to go along with the genre convention that the threat gets bigger with every iteration, and to try to actually make something progressive out of it.
It’s never easy… and I know you don’t plan it all ahead…
As with so many, I know how it’s going to end, roughly, but what that ending means is a work-in-progress.
Yea. I could never write like that. The nearest I came to it was with Grandma’s Attic.
Where are the rest of the Royal Army, if not here?
On the frontiers, returning from the frontiers.