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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

3.3.18.1. Hail'varan: Aftermaths


Battle Aftermath - Painted by Alexander O'Riordan
Source: http://alexanderoriordan.deviantart.com

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN
THE HIEROPHANT’S WHIM



3.3.18.1. Hail’varan: Aftermaths

Just like in previous battles, the Light Side has paid a great price to drive the Dark Side away in Hail’varan Plains. The battle itself, which will be recorded as the ‘turning point’ in ballads, opuses and history records is technically over as none of the losing party is seen in this area, alive.

Lavennia Iris and Ivor Bigstumble rejoin Carolyn, Ney’varíth and the other Paladins in the plains. The soldiers are collecting the remains of their fallen comrades and lay them in rows to be identified and properly buried later. They also collect the enemies’ remains, piling and stacking them into mounds to be burned later. The death count is: More than sixty thousand orcs and undead, including ninety-four wyvern riders and thousands of flying monsters. All monsters were annihilated or fled. None of the enemy Commanders were killed – so far.

On the Light Side, eleven thousand out of twenty-seven thousand Borgians fell, the Grad lost three thousand out of ten thousand dwarves plus five hundred and eight out of six hundred gyropters who came to Freidle. The elves lost two thousand four hundred forty-three out of the seventeen thousand, and the reinforcements only lost three hundred or so.

The Dragon Riders, fought as brave as in old times, lost thirty-nine out of the one hundred and eight who came including their leader, Dagmar Langstrom, yet their heroism will earn them new followers, three times of their current numbers plus their honor back as legendary heroes since ancient times. Hazmat, the Ancient White Dragon is wounded and won’t be able to fight in a month or so during recovery, but otherwise he’s okay. At least he got his satisfaction by kicking his rival, Omegron the Black’s butt – literally.

Seeing so many casualties, Ivor Bigstumble the Beardless Dwarf is sad and crestfallen. And seeing that his comrades share the same sympathy, Ivor can’t help feeling that these sacrifices are worth the victory after all. Just imagine how many lives they have saved, and how much future they’ve secured by preventing the second Reign of Darkness.

Ivor keeps staring at their sad faces and stumbles upon Ney, who cries out most mournfully over one of the fallen. Questions are racing in Ivor’s mind, and Robert comes to him with an answer.

‘Ivor Bigstumble! We meet again at last.’

Ivor responds, ‘Aye! You are... Robert, right? Long time no see, since Grad.’
‘Glad that you still remember me. You see, the one Ney’varíth is weeping for is Galvanir, who fell in battle when the lich stunned him and let her minions finish the job. He was a Prince in Thyrine and Ney’s husband. Ney is bearing his baby.’

‘Oh… I’m so sorry to hear that. If I fell in battle, my wife would mourn over me for forty days, blaming me for volunteering to command the aiding fore. Telling you the truth, one of the reasons that I’m here is to see my father, Rollo and persuade him to go home to Grad. Speaking of my father, where is he? I haven’t seen him around since I came to Freidle.’

Now it’s Robert’s turn to look mournful. Words fail him, and he only opens his mouth, unable to say anything.

Impatiently, Ivor speaks out, ‘Lo, Robert! Just tell me, where is Rollo Bigstumble, my father? Where is Andreas Marvellini? Did something happen to him? Tell me now! I demand to know!’

Ivor sounds so desperate and curious that Robert can’t make excuses, can’t hold it any longer. He sighs deeply, and with all the courage he can muster he mutters,
‘Ivor, be brave. I should’ve waited for Emperor Sage to tell you this in person, but as he is not around and you seem can’t wait until you see him, I’ll tell you in his stead.

Your father, Rollo Bigstumble has died in Lumien Forest in Lore, and we have buried him in Vaudevale Hills, not far from there.’

It’s as though the world has collapsed for Ivor when he heard that. He and his voice are trembling all over, responding,
‘NOOO!!! Oh, father… My dearest father!! I’ve came all the way here to see you again, to take you home, but you already left me, departed to your afterlife home in heaven… Now, tell me, Robert. How… How-did-he-die…?’ He sounds out of breath.

Rob answers, ‘Your father healed an Arcadian soldier, but that ungrateful man stabbed him from behind because he wanted to defect to Lore and he thought by bringing an Arcadian General’s head the Loreans would accept him.

Of course, when he came to me I instantly put him to death because of his foolish thoughts and treacherous mind, thus avenging your father. The Arcadian Emperor, on the other hand, feels guilty because he has dragged your father into his war of vengeance. Had he not so driven by anger and grudge, things would’ve been better and your father wouldn’t die – at least not for the wrong reasons. That’s why he wanted to tell you himself, begging for your forgiveness, and he’ll do anything to compensate for your loss.’

Robert’s explanation soothes the temperamental dwarf a bit, and with a calmer voice Ivor responds,
‘Aye, I now understand. So, it’s fate after all. It’s not the Emperor’s fault. If fate destined my father to die before I see him again, he would die anyway without going to war. I’d rather say that Rollo Bigstumble died gloriously by saving people’s lives until his last breath. A good death. A fine example for us all, especially the people of Grad, a tale to remember for generations to come, that hopefully will change our old, selfish ways forever.’

‘That’s very wise of you, Ivor. I’m sure Rollo will rest in peace, proud to see his son now, so wise and open-hearted, inheriting his traits.

And you’re right, Ivor. Your father tried to save his backstabber’s life with his dying breath, saying, ‘treachery is more lethal than any weapon and magic in the world’ – a last piece of wisdom for us to remember. Betrayal never pays, helpful hearts saves the day.’

‘Nicely said,’ says Ivor. ‘And you know what, you can keep that mythril greaves on your feet. Maybe it will yield better outcomes than being a decoration in the vault in Ylbarra.’

==oOo==

Meanwhile, while consoling Ney, Carolyn receives a letter from a messenger owl. She reads the content and her face turns pale.

Iris, who sits right next to her with Ney still crying on her lap reacts, ‘Lo, what’s wrong, Carol? You look like somebody just died.’

Carol answers, still in shock, ‘Not just somebody, but our entire fleet is in danger and we are too far away to help. Here, you read this.’

Iris takes the letter from Carol’s hand and reads it with Ney. The letter was written in a great hurry and the parchment is crumpled. No envelope, no seal whatsoever.

To Carolyn and the Paladins,
Please help! Our fleet is losing. The enemy ships are too many and too strong. Even with fleets from Escudia, Valanis and Parthenia aided us Arcadians; we still can’t overcome the enemy fleet! We are now due east from Quelnir Island. The undead ships have sunk many of ours, and we are being outnumbered. So please help us, and with haste! Or, they will sink us all!
Gerain du Villiers – South Fleet Admiral

No signature there. Iris gets up and runs away at once, saying, ‘Carol, you stay here. I’ll go with the Airship Aurora, dragon and griffin riders to aid them. I hope we are not too late.’

Carolyn doesn’t answer. She just stands there, stunned, drowned in her thoughts.

We have won on land and air, but we completely forgot our fleet on water! Oh, Vadis the Merciful, I hope we’re not too late...


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