My Ranking Points
Reposting Chap 7 of W&E without tags in hope that it works!
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Chapter 7 – Queen Alina Verdan Lazur
I’m sore from the use of my mana bank, but not so much that it’s unbearable. Tapping into it was only needed to perform basic actions and fool the people into believing Mikah’s half-truths, so I was mostly fine.
Arden and Rory hand me off to Mikah, who picks me up in a bridal carry before laying me down on the bed, never letting go of my hand. Rory leaves to stand guard at the door – despite Gerard leaving, we still have members of Xenon about, and though they’re more like hostages while they’re in the city, we’re still wary of them.
Then we hear the yelling from the other side of the door.
“Let me in! Who even are you?!”
“The Queen’s Shadow!” I hear Rory yell back, trying to stop someone from breaking down the door.
“Arden is the Shadow, you faker!” At that I can hear Rory being thrown to the ground. Arden draws her sword. Mikah scrambles for his, which is leaning against the bed frame. I attempt to sit up and get a better grasp of the situation, but I once again feel as though my ribs are crushing the rest of my chest, and sink down in the bed, wishing the feeling would go away. My steady breathing becomes more uneven from the stress, the movement, the use of magic. Mikah’s going to scold me for that, even if it was really nothing.
I can hear Rory call from the other side of the door “I tried to stop her… !”
The door bursts open to reveal… Reina.
“What happened to Alina?!”
The tension in the room defuses immediately. Mikah and Arden put their swords away, and I weakly motion to Rory that it’s a friend. He manages to pick himself back up before closing the door and moving to guard it once more.
“Alina’s bones happened to Alina,” Mikah sighed, apparently not quite ready to put up with both Reina’s propensity for causing a ruckus and my self destructive tendencies.
“I know that isn’t what happened,” Reina said, putting a hand on her hip.
Mikah rolls his eyes.
“Alina happened to Alina.”
Reina raises an eyebrow.
Mikah raises both eyebrows before turning away to put a hand on my forehead, as if to see how I’m doing.
Reina sighs in exasperation.
“Lina overtaxed her magic while training and she’s been bedridden for around 3 days now. Mikah can’t heal her because Faye took away his Vitalis when she resurrected him. The public thinks Lina is fine so don’t say anything,” Arden blurts out.
“Great Truth, someone here does have common sense,” Reina says.
“You’re welcome…” Arden mumbles.
“And Lina, he is a *******,” Reina adds on.
“Not the first time I’ve heard that one…” I reply. Mikah laughs. “Actually, I think Arden used that one just the other day.”
“Anyhow you all are staying…”
“Wysel is staying with his family, Devyn and I are staying here in the Palace,” Reina said. “Actually, would you mind is Sadie and I shared a room?”
“Sadianna,” Reina clarified.
“You’re sure that’s a good idea?” I ask. “She’s from Xenon and you’re… Well, you’re a valuable asset, Reina.”
“It’s fine! I was rooming with her at base camp in Lazur, anyhow! She wouldn’t harm us!”
I think over the decision for a bit. Reina seems to genuinely believe that Lady Sadianna wouldn’t do anything to aid the Resistance. Reina hasn’t been known to not defend herself either – if Sadianna does try anything funny, Reina is going to wreck her. After all, from what I’ve heard, Reina’s got even stronger with field experience.
“Watch your own back, Lady Percivall.”
“Sleep, Lina, you need it.”
Mikah looms over the foot of my bed, watching me make notes on a map of Veritaria.
“I just need to finish updating our troop counts.”
“They’ll be outdated by morning.”
“We need to know how fast each side is losing men. I won’t know that if I don’t note the counts from both tonight and tomorrow morning.”
“You can have a scribe do it.”
“I don’t like their handwriting.”
He sighs. “I know it’s not troop counts you’re doing, Lina, those are on the scroll next you, and that’s easier to read than a map. So what are you doing?”
I don’t answer him, instead opting to lay my map and quill down next to me on the pillow. Mikah walks over and picks it up.
My map is covered with tiny scrawl, some relevant, some scratched out – outdated predictions from earlier this week. It’s covered with arrows, signalling the movement of troops, and tiny drawings of weather, dated and in a different ink.
“Who else wrote on this?”
“Predicting the course of the war? Yes. Between Lillian’s divination and weather spells and my knowledge of tactics we’ve been able to work some things out. We aren’t always right, as you can see, but this is half of why we haven’t fallen yet. We’ve been sending out updated copies every night through Lillian’s magic.”
“And you didn’t tell me because?”
“I didn’t want to worry you.”
“I would have helped, Lina. Remember… Trust.”
“Right. Trust. Well, I didn’t hide it from you this time, did I?”
“No, you didn’t. Why is this map only this week?”
“We end up needing a new map every week.”
“Is that why I haven’t seen the cartographer lately?”
“How much of this was right?”
“Only about 50% of it… The Resistance doesn’t like following what I think they’ll do. We were right about most of what’s been happening in Lesey and Fontor though, which are really the most important bits at this point.”
“Why don’t you have anything noted for Caelestis?”
“I assumed you knew what was happening in your own house.”
“I do but…”
“And nothing’s gone wrong?”
“No. I think that Lamrett and Sulster are too busy helping their Resistance neighbors to worry about taking a house whose biggest asset is the ruins of a library. My people are ready is there is an attack. Sulster is the big issue. Lamrett is at a disadvantage because of the Wrinkled River.” He noted these things as small as he could on the map. “You really think that they won’t be able to take Lesey?”
“No. They have help defending from Western Taled even though they’re the enemy. We’re hoping that we can drive Xenon and Merrant out and they’ll come over to our side. Even the odds a bit. Give as a firmer hold on Medias.”
“And Fontor is only supposed to be able to hold another 3 weeks?”
“They’re being attacked by both Taled and Saunwen! How long do you think they can hold?”
He chuckles. “Fair enough. And what if Xenon does manage to take Lesey?”
“We’ll wager Constance Xenon’s life in exchange for a truce?”
“And what if they have a way around that?”
“What could they possible have around that?”
“If they had their own hostage? If they decide they don’t care and attack Medias anyways? Many, many other possibilities? How much do we actually know about their strategy? Their capabilities?”
“Everything from Alfred’s extensive archives.”
“Do you seriously believe that your house was the only one keeping secrets?”
“No, but what could they possibly be hiding?”
I stay silent for a long while. “You seriously think that it’s Xenon that has Isel?”
“Where else would she be? We’ve scoured the castle.”
“What would they want with her?”
“L.R. said they were performing experiments. We don’t know what they might be doing with her.”
“I’m implying that they have magic, Lina! That they have things they’ve been hiding! That maybe they have just as much of a plan as you! That maybe, just maybe, Lina, there’s a chance that just this once, we. Will. Lose.”
“We can’t lose, Mikah. We’ve gone through too much to lose.” It’s Mikah’s turn to stay silent.
“Give me a second, Lina. I’ll be right back.”
Mikah turns around and dashes out the door.
Mikah comes back around 5 minutes later, Rory Fensid in tow. Between the two of them, they manage to help me over to the desk and lay out a larger map.
“So you want my help formulating a plan in case the Resistance takes Medias?” Rory asks, as Mikah cringes watching me perform a simple spell to replicate the notes on the larger map.
“Yes, we’re worried that they’re hiding something that will catch us off guard at the last moment.” Mikah says, double checking that I’m okay after the spell.
“Not unreasonable,” Rory replies. “And you got these predictions from your own knowledge and the Court Mage?”
Despite Mikah’s worried expression, I channel more of my mana in producing a second, see-through, magical copy of the map above the existing one, showing the supposed second possibility of Medias being taken.
“So in theory, either we will convert Lesey to our side when we drive out Xenon, or Xenon will take Lesey and mount an attack against Medias shortly after. We’ll take Fontor and Lazur will be pushed back to the mountains either way.”
“Unless we’ve got it wrong. I don’t like the thought of my house being pushed back, but we’re barely holding already, and they won’t easily break through the mountains. Even if we get pushed back we’ll be safe.”
“So if they take Medias, our hold will be most of the East, Caelestis, and Lazur.”
“Well, for starters, if Medias is taken we’ll need to send aid to Caelestis immediately. It’s not a big player at this point but they will go for it next. In addition to defending it we’ll need to consider that our next move would be taking over Mene, as they’re cutting us off from Antia.”
“Why do we care about Antia?” Mikah asked.
“It’s like having an entire other nation on our side. At present they’re neutral, but Mene is aiding them, so they’re more likely to side with the Resistance. If we can prove that we’re more likely to help them in the long run, we’ll have them on our side, and eventually, we’ll easily gain a territorial advantage. If we manage to take Mene and get Antia on our side, managing to find a way to attack Lamrett would be the next move – cut the Resistance off from the scholars in the Southwest.”
“But where would we be?” I ask. All of this makes sense, assuming we have a base of operations.
“Normally I would volunteer Fensid, but as we’re presently in a bit of a bind in terms of resources, I suppose Taled or Saunwen would be our best bets for a new base. More likely Taled, as it would be easier to reach, especially if we move while Xenon is still struggling to properly settle into Lesey. Or we could find another way through.”
“So if Medias falls, we’re fleeing to Taled?”
“Correct. Would you like me to write a letter warning them to be prepared in case this comes to fruition, your highness?”
“Please, Rory, just call me Alina. But yes, that would be fabulous if you’re willing.”
“I’ll do my best,” he says, backing away from the map. “May I take my leave?”
“There’s no need to ask, Sir Rory. Go forth and save Veritaria, Great Truth be with you.”