Sunday, December 13, 2015

Family Reunion

The Etorans arrived. It was an interesting juxtaposition. Koteph and his monsters, versus Anaxus and his Etorans. The monsters were a rabble, barely organized. The Etorans considered military discipline the highest virtue. The monsters fought with their brute strength a bare claws. The Etoran wielded swords, and brought with them catapults and trebuchets. And then there wast the fact that the two groups hated each other.
Etorans hate a lot of things. They hate magic. They hate anyone who isn't Etoran. And they hate gigantic slobbering terrors created in the cold depths of the world. So you can imagine how they felt about Koteph's forces.
Meanwhile, monsters have a distrust of humans. Especially well-armed humans.
The two leaders tried to foster cooperation in their ranks. But the clearly magical Koteph was horrendously unpopular among the Etorans, and the mundane Emperor Anaxus was similarly viewed as weak by the monsters. So it was decided that the two attacking forces would keep their distance from each other.
More specifically, it was decided that the Etorans would lay seige to Allus, and the monsters would continue their assault on Pire. Once those towns had been taken, the armies would move in and overrun the Green Tower.

"This won't work," Dran said.
"How can you know that," I asked.
"You'll see in a moment," the younger mage said. Shortly thereafter, we encountered a patrol of Etoran soldiers. They looked at Dran's robes, and mine. Strange and flowing. Only a sorcerer or a circus performer would dress like us. And they suspected we weren't circus performers.
"Halt," one of them ordered. "Surrender."
"Told you," Dran said, speaking Irinian. He then turned and addressed our would-be captors in their native tongue. "My name is Dranarius Caesorium. This is my friend, Amniel. I would like to speak to my cousin, Anaxus. And, whether he knows it or not, he would like to speak with me."
"Pretty good," I remarked, speaking Irinian.
"Not good at all," Dran responded. "Look, they're getting out their swords. They probably think they're about to kill us."
I spoke the True Name of air, and Dran spoke the True Name of ice. Together, we swept the soldiers aside. "Consider that a prelude," Dran said, as we strode along our now-empty path. "Only next time, we won't be able to overpower them so easily."
We continued. Dran continued to announce his desire. The Etorans continued their enthusiastic refusals. Eventually, we made our way to the Emperor's camp. "Cousin," Dran shouted. "I come to parley with you."
"Stop there," Anaxus ordered. I stopped. Dran continued walking towards his cousin. "Who are you? A sorcerer I've never heard of who claims to be a cousin I've never met?"
"I am Dranarius Caesorium. My father was Phorius, and his father was Emperor Tosus III. We are cousins."
"So you claim, Dranarius. But how am I to believe you?"
"Well, I suppose I could put on your crown. Only a Caesorium can wear it."
"You presumptuous... You will never touch this crown." Anaxus sounded genuinely angry. I felt fear, both for Dran and myself.
"Very well, cousin. I meant to offense. What I am trying to say, Anaxus, is that, even though you yourself have never met anyone in the Green Tower, you still have reason to trust us. So, why do you ally yourself with Koteph?"
"Trust you? Like my grandfather, who you claim is your grandfather, trusted the Black and Violet Towers? How that trust paid off, when he was toasted alive, along with the rest of his city."
"And yet you trust Koteph."
"Koteph is an ally of choice. A tool to defeat your kind, Dranarius."
"I see. An ally is he. Tell me, was this invasion your idea, or his?"
The Emperor paused for a moment. "It was his idea. He came to me, and asked me for my help. I saw the opportunity presented, and agreed."
"You agreed to a proposition from a sorcerer you had never met?"
"I did."
"I see. Well, I regret to inform you that Koteph had an ulterior motive. The Green Tower houses a great many things. The most ancient and terrible of those things, by far, is an entity name Ochekol'kan. She is trapped in our deepest dungeons, behind doors of stone, water, fire, air and lightning. It is out belief that Koteph plans to unleash her. He told me this himself, before he killed my father, your uncle."
"That is impossible."
"He has told me and others that that is his plan. Why would he lie?"
"Get out of my sight, sorcerers, before I have you killed."

"I told you it wouldn't work."
"It was worth a try."
"I suppose we did get some useful information."
I looked at Dran quizzically.
"Koteph is pretty clearly blackmailing the Emperor."
"How did you know that?"
"I thought it was fairly obvious. Why else would my cousin be doing this?"
I thought about it. I couldn't think of a more likely reason. Between Cassinder and Dragoneyes and Dran, I felt like I was the last person to learn everything. 

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