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Saturday, July 23, 2011

3.3.18.3. Clash of the Minds




To depict a Medieval War Council, we "borrow" the Council of Constance (1414-1418) image from http://www.medievalists.net


bjvadis: omg, it's 1001 posts already, just like arabian nights! to celebrate, here's another entry for the fireheart novelblog. enjoy!


3.3.18.3. Clash of the Minds


Leaving the Knights and soldiers to clean up the after-battle mess, the Paladins and Commanders head back to Myrcalia to discuss future strategies and actions. In Levides Palace, they learn about Eloise’s abduction and Chris who took it so bad he fell unconscious.

Rael’charon Luvazel, the crafty elf who serves both Lore and Thyrine and came with Robert to aid the Allied Forces stationed himself in Myrcalia to assist Talbot du Bois, the Arcadian Royal Advisor to cook up strategies for defense and mobilize the citizens in case Myrcalia is under siege again – twice in one year.

Thank goodness it didn’t happen. And now that the enemies have been driven back, Rael uses his time to investigate the mystery that triggered all this bloodshed. He collects the facts from the palace retainers, starting from the time of Cristophe’s wedding, the surprise attack in Myrcalia, the death and disappearance of three Lorean knights, Alexis being slain with Robert’s kiliji and the events that follow including the old Emperor’s madness.

‘Oh, so you came to help us in the war against the Dark Forces?’ says the old Emperor Marcus, Sage the Fourth with Rael’charon came to his chamber so check on him. ‘Well, I, on behalf of all Arcadia thank you from the bottom of my heart. But you see, we have won the battle and – you know – my dear, beloved son, Alexis is the hero now. Oh, yes. Ever since Enia’s Sanctum, he always dealt the final blows that finished strong enemies off. Even the all-powerful Archdevil fled from his fierce attacks!

He’s always so strong, that son of mine. So, now I’m thinking to abdicate the throne to him. I’m sure he will be the great Emperor who leads Arcadia to greatness surpassing the time of Fireheart, entering a golden age that will last for centuries to come!’

That’s it. He’s completely nuts, says Rael’charon in his mind as he salutes, taking his leave. His eyes gleam with excitement upon the challenge to solve the great mystery before him, making ends meet.

The last piece of the puzzle is to find out who Alexis’ real killer is and to clear Robert’s name – again.

Just as he is about to go to the palace mortuary, a messenger boy comes to him with an important call.

‘Counselor Rael’charon, the Paladins have arrived and are now waiting in the conference room. Please come with me to join them.’

The elf responds, ‘Very well, then. Lead the way.’

==oOo==

The conference room in Levides Palace is a spacious, gazebo-like hall with the royal garden all around. A small aqueduct runs around the room and across the orchard in a symmetrical pattern.

The mild afternoon sunlight that filters through the glass ceiling, warbles of various birds, branches moving in the breeze and peaceful sounds of nature keep minds fresh and calm, which help to make important decisions – unlike the throne room.

The Paladins and Commanders who sit here can’t help but feel refreshed and rested, especially Carolyn, Iris, Ivor and Nefemia who had fought non-stop in two great battles: Freidle and Hail’varan. They all need a good, week-long rest. However, the current situation demands them to be ready at all times – vacations can wait.

So, apart from Eidos Crydias who always complaints constantly about his old bones and his longing to return to his homeland, Parthenia for vacation, they are all quite eager to confer about the next steps the Alliance must take. The outcome is quite obvious, but they choose to wait for the recovery of the Alliance Leader, Heir of Vadis, Emperor Sage the Fifth of Arcadia.

Rael’charon comes into this room, and despite of seeing their weary eyes, Robert, Kyflynn, Desmond, Dejan and the Order of the Lions Knights greet him.

‘These are Carolyn, Iris, Ivor and Nefemia, the heroes who fought the hardest in this battle,’ Robert introduces to Rael. ‘They held their grounds against the enemies three times their numbers until we came.’

Rael responds, ‘It’s an honor to meet you, valiant heroes. I also thank the many friends who gave their lives to protect and pray for their souls. May they find peace in heaven.’

Hearing that, all who are present there lower their heads, close their eyes and pray for the fallen heroes.

And then comes Monsieur Talbot du Bois, walking into the room with his chin held high – his usual gesture. As almost everyone is deep in prayer, only Adler and Eidos greet him. Talbot clears his throat and talks loudly – as if he has no respect for all who pray,

‘I zee, zee meezing ‘aas begun without waiting for me and zee Emperor. ‘Aave you no manneer in yer customs?’

The ones who are praying are irritated upon this interruption, and some of them just ignore Talbot and keep on praying until they’re finished. Talbot talks on,

‘Wee can’t tolerate zis impudenz. Guest or not, I hereby demand you all...’

Rael’charon cuts in,’... to remain in your seats and finish your prayers. You see, Monsieur du Bois, technically, this meeting hasn’t begun yet. We just greeted and introduced one another, and we spontaneously prayed for all our fallen comrades in the battles of Lumien Forest, Castoria, Merida, Vaudevale, Borgia and Hail’varan. So, you might need to wait a bit before you come in, and we’ll greet you properly.’

At that, Talbot responds, ‘Hmm, zat is so in yer kingdeem, eh, Counselor Rael’charon of Lore? Well, as you are not accustomed zu our customs, we’ll leave zat be for now. Morevoer, while zee L’Empereur ees not healthy enuff to attenz zis conference, zo ‘ees my privilege as Prime Minister and Chief Advisor of Arcadia Empire to declare zees meezing...’

‘That won’t be necessary, Monsieur du Bois,’ says a voice behind Talbot. He turns back and finds the host, his liege, Emperor Sage the Fifth, Cristophe Deveraux entering the conference hall. ‘I’m quite healthy now and I’m taking over from here.’

All people in the room stands up and bow as Chris walks up to his seat on the far end of the hall. Still standing, he addresses the crowd,

‘You may rise. Paladins, Commanders, Generals, guests and fellow Arcadians, thank you for being present here in such a short notice. Considering that you were just arrived from recent battles, tired, wounded and not healthy enough.

However, time is of the essence. We have to gather more forces and allies, and then fight back the Dark Forces, claiming Borgia, Merida and Castoria from their blightful hands. They’ve lost a great portion of their armies, no doubt about that, but I reckon they still got more hordes from the underworld, ready in Sylvania for the second wave of their campaign. Now, we need not only armies and allies, we also need strategy, and a good one.

Just remember that the enemy has used their strategy upon us: the ‘Divide and Conquer’, and they were almost succeed. They have used my love for my family above all else and used the momentum of my attack to Lore to conquer all Aurelia. For that,’ suddenly he gets down on his knees before the audience. ‘I am very sorry and regretful for the blood spilt, forest scorched and lives lost. I’m also sorry for being a fool, making poor decisions and driven by anger and vengeance. For all that and more, I shall abdicate and hand the Empire over to a more competent candidate. My cousin Carolyn, perhaps. She is the war hero and her intelligence and determination will be greatly beneficial to Arcadia.’

Before Carolyn can interrupt with a protest, Rael’charon speaks up, ‘Your Majesty, please pardon my bold words. If I may so straightforward, I think you don’t have to give up your position over a mistake. Even Sage the Fireheart made a mistake by allowing Mandrach Urganon to be the Prime Minister of Borgia, and later usurped the throne, conquered Arcadia and sent Fireheart into exile. After Sage’s son Antoine liberated Arcadia, Sage still ruled for years and inherited the throne to Antoine on his deathbed.

So, I suggest that you follow your forefather’s steps, making up to your mistakes by being a wise Emperor, bringing prosperity to your people and building a peaceful Empire based on mutual cooperation and coexistence between nations. Thus, the Age of Prosperity will come and you will be praised for generations to come. Your people will speak much more of your exploits in opuses, ballads and history than your mistakes.

One more thing, Your Majesty. I’d like to propose my strategies to win this Crusade.’

‘Go ahead, disclose it to us, Counselor,’ the Emperor gives his consent.
‘Thank you, Your Majesty. As you have stated earlier, now is the time for us to strike back before the enemies regroup, reconsiliate their armies and renew their campaign. We shall split our forces to recapture Freidle, Ballax, Handelburg, Merida, Castoria, and regroup in Turmane to storm into Sylvania. We’ll do this by land and sea.’ A brief, yet sound strategy.

Eidos, who always speak about science rather than strategy raises an opinion, ‘Great idea! And with the Parthenian Mechanical Army as support, the Dark Forces will be no match against us!’

Robert raises his hand and comments, ‘Generally, I agree with the Counselor’s proposal. However, our armies are still exhausted from recent non-stop battles, and they really need some rest, maybe two months or so until they are fit and proper again to undergo another campaign.’

To this, Rael curls up his calm, reassuring smile and says, ‘I have two answers for your concern, Robert. First, the Dark Forcs are weaker than us now. They have lost two-thirds of their forces on land and sea, and the Heir’s wrath upon these failures will set a new low on their already abysmal morale. We just have to rally our armies to battle this one last war, and they will rest easy in a new era of peace to come. Just one-last-war. The war to end all wars. The Last Crusade.

Secondly, we have more allies to help us. The monster hunters, Parthenian Mechas, as Mr. Eidos just offered, the wizards from Valanis, Escudian Hippogriff Riders, the Thyrinian elves and pegasus riders, and many more will come to our side because our recent victory have secured their kingdoms. The fresh troops will be the vanguards, while the rest will be reserves.

Given these circumstances, the hardest battle will be the incursion to Sylvania, to Kraal’thragon, the Dark Forces’ main stronghold. Until then, our fatigued armies will be recovered and ready.’

‘Sounds like a thoroughy calculated plan,’ says Sage the Fifth, his expression unchanging. ‘Nevertheless, we’re still open for suggestions. Anyone?’

Adler speaks up, ‘Generally, I agree with the Counselor’s plan. However, I strongly suggest that we don’t split the forces and take back Freidle, Ballax and Handelburg first. The enemies there are weak yet numerous, and with the strong demonic general named Nöac who killed my teacher Sir Heinrich Ratzinger in Freidle, we shouldn’t underestimate them.’

Hearing this, Robert speaks up for Rael’charon, ‘Lord Adler, let me assure you that the Counselor has taken Borgia and Nöac into account. However, as the Emperor has said, time is of the essence. We must act quickly until we regroup in Turmane. Tell you what, I and the Lorean charioteers will help you free Freidle.’

At this remark, Adler stares sharply at Robert, saying, ‘You know what, I really, really don’t like you, Robert Chandler.’

Robert reacts, ‘I was just afraid that you’d say you like me. I’m just offering you my help and if you don’t like it, I think I’ll go to Merida instead.

Adler just opens his mouth to protest when a voice cuts in, ‘Well, well, take a look at zat! Two great Zenerals quarelling like little runts. Maybe zis time I tell you zee proposal... May I?’

All eyes turn to the speaker, Talbot, who looks at Sage, seeking approval. The Emperor just nods as response, and the bald advisor speaks on.

‘I propoze zat wee should strengzen our defeense first before launching a campaign. Like Robert said, our troops are exhausted. Eef wee forze zem to marz anotheer mile, zey will be deteriorated with no hope of recovery.

Let’s look back to zee time of Fireheart. Zee Dark Overlord led ‘ees forzes een stormed Myrcalia, and with formidable defenses, the Forces of Light won, kicking the Dark Forces all the way back to Kraal’Thragon. Now, if we do the same, we will surely be victorious.’

Talbot’s strategy is completely the opposite to Rael’charon’s, and the elf has the reasons to object to it. Never losing his cool, he responds,

‘Monsieur Talbot’s mention of the legendary defenses of Myrcalia and Levides Palace is notable. However, we must also take the events after that into account. The enemy has, unfortunately, learned from last failures. The only way to breach these defenses is an attack from within. Mandrach and Mildred Urganon did that, and Arachus also did it with the doppelgangers and necromancers’ help, all succeeded.

So, we can’t risk being attacked from within again, Monsieur. If we wait, more and more spies will infiltrate Myrcalia and trigger another breach. Attacking them while they’re weak is the only option: It’s now or never, do or die, the only chance we have.’

Ignoring the protocols, Talbot cuts in, ‘Actually, we ‘aave anothair chance. To prevent a breach, we weel install magic detectors, and ‘aave wizards patroling ‘ee city around the clock. Zat way we’ll make sure...’

‘Pardon me, Monsieur Talbot,’ Carolyn cuts in. ‘I have seen such contraptions all over Basilica Vadisium in Valanis, but that couldn’t prevent the Pope from being murdered.

I think we better implement BOTH strategies and let the troops choose whether to defend Myrcalia or come in the crusade. That way, all will be happy and the exhausted ones will get their much needed rest.’

Rael’charon nods and Talbot only scowls. No one else seems to say anything more. Anticipating a split decision, Chris says, ‘As Emperor of Arcadia, I usually take the final decision. But, as member of this Alliance of Light, I suggest that we take votes.

Anyone in favor for Rael’charon’s plan please raise your hand.’
Lady Irene, Sir Vincent, Sir Cyril, Adler, Hernan, Desmond and Iris raise their hands.

‘All right, seven votes. Anyone for Monsieur du Bois’ plan?’
Eidos Crydias and three Arcadian Knights present raise their hands.

‘Four votes. Well, the result should be unanimous. Yet, I agree with Carolyn that we should rally the troops first. Let them decide whether they stay in defense line or join the Crusade. It’ll all depend on how we can extract the strength of their hearts. So, anyone with me?’ Chris raises his hand.

Carolyn, Robert, Ney’varíth Ivor, Nefemia Fashon representing the dragon riders and Sir Mallard of Lore raise their hands.

Six votes. Well, looks like they’re going to carry out Rael’charon’s plan without asking the troops first after all. Just as Chris is about to conclude the vote, Rael’charon raises his hand.

‘I think I agree with Carolyn too. Let us rally the troops first and let the strong-willed join the crusade. Sometimes, even a tactician must go with ‘reasonable variations’!’

To this, Cristophe concludes, ‘Well, as the Counselor has altered his plan, we shall rally the troops and cary on the counterattack. Mounsieur du Bois will arrange the defenses in Myrcalia, our last line of defense. I, as Vadis’ representative appoint Counselor Rael’charon as Grand Marshal of the Crusade. Now that it’s all set, let Counselor Rael conduct the rest of this meeting with details and technicalities.’

Speaking to Rael, Chris gets up from his seat, saying ‘Please take this seat, Counselor.’

‘If you insist.’ The elf tactician switches seats with the Emperor. Chris takes Rael’s seat next to Robert Chandler.

Rael’charon begins the briefing.

‘First, the Paladins, Knights and Generals will rally the troops by any way they can and make sure that they are all fit for traveling. We must finish the praparations one week from now.

Next, to ensure a speedy campaign, we will split our forces into three divisions.

The first division will go to Borgia to recapture Freidle, Ballax and Handelburg. Lord Adler, naturally is the Commander of this division. Sir Robert Chandler and the Loreans will help him, as they’ve volunteered to it. The Arcadian Griffin Riders and forces led by Emperor Sage, plus the Borgian Dragon Riders, along with Lady Carolyn and Lavennia Iris who know the enemy best will also be part of this division.’

Adler is about to raise his hand to protest, but under the Paladins’ stares he purges that thought. Without pausing, Rael continues the briefing.

‘The second division will recapture Merida and Castoria by land and sea. Don Hernan Parvaez, you will be the Commander of this division. The forces consist of the Grad led by Ivor Bigstumble, the Escudians, the golems and army from Parthenia led by Eidos Crydias, the wizards from Valanis and Kyflynn’s team, leading the monster hunters. I shall also go with the second division. The enemies will most likely retreat through Castoria, so in case they’re too numerous, the Borgia Division must go to Castoria immediately after accomplishing their mission.’

To this, Ney’varíth comments, ‘That leaves only the Thyrinian Elves. Are we the third division? Where will we go?’

Rael answers, ‘Yes, Ney, my good sister. You will lead our brethren to free Bresconnor from the invading orcs and stall them so they can’t aid their dark allies in Sylvania. You will aid the first division and split towards Bresconnor after retaking Freidle. I know this will be very tough as our numbers are few, but you will not be alone. Dejan Pavlovic will go to Edel and Halethia to request reinforcements and regroup with the second division.’

Robert cuts in, ‘Oh, and don’t forget to contact Yemima Genilda. I heard she leads the resistance army in Barc’vadon, so you’ll get help from the people and hunters in Bresconnor as well. I think Dejan will handle that pretty well.’

Dejan responds with a smile, ‘I’ll try not to disappoint you, comrade.’

Rael continues, ‘Good. Since we can’t really depend on the help from Val’shka, Bjordan and Fordia, I have enlisted help from a hero who knows the best way to deal with orcs,’ He indicates the guards, ‘Send our guests in.’

Soon, the door to the hall opens, and three large orcs walk in. All three look tough with large tusks, greenish-brown skins and hefty physiques, except one has mohawk-style hair, one with long hair, and the third has short hair. The Paladins recognize them at once.

Rael introduces, ‘Yes, you all know them. Here is Bragl Dar’gum, Warchief of the Iron Mountain Tribe with his two sons, Ze’boc and Chugal. The Incredible Ironhide Trio.’

Adler is the first one who protests, ‘Counselor, are you sure about this? They are our enemies! Their kind sided with Vordac and seized Freidle! This is unacceptable!’

Rael, of course, has just the answer for this. ‘Easy, Lord Adler. I think you must know the details first, since you are uninformed. Your friend, the late Alexis Deveraux and his team has defeated Dar’gum in the Windy Hills of Edel. He promised to give the ruined city of Celc as the new home for Dar’gum’s tribe and fulfilled that promise – with the Emperor’s consent - when the tribe arrived there after a bloody exodus.

Well, apparently it’s hard for the orcs in Celc to be accepted by the people around, so we offered an alternative – if the Emperor permits – to go to Bresconnor and claim the title as Khan from the current one. That way he will have power to establish and build a more civilized and peaceful Orc Khanate in Gremion.’

Kyflynn raises his hand and talks to Dar’gum, ‘Well, thank you for helping us. But pray, tell us, how many troops do you bring? It’s for your benefit too, right!?’

Dar’gum grunts once and answers, ‘Just the three of us and the Behemoth King Barudan will do. We will do our best to contribute to this Crusade. You see, we’ve lost lots of warriors in Enia’s Sanctum, Edel and during the exodus, so we need them to protect the peons (orc peasants for you) from the hands of hate. With my experience, my sons’ strength and the elves’ skill, we can take on any kind of enemies.’

Rael speaks up for the orcs’ defense, ‘In other words, as he is about to attack his own kindred, better leave his tribe out of it. The Iron Mountain tribe is already an outcast among orcs, so he won’t make things worse by turning traitors to the orcs’ old way of life into eternal traitors with no chance to return to their homeland forever. Their numbers are already decimated, so it’s essential that we understand their plight and embrace their generous help.’

To this, Iris comments, ‘The citizens of Freidle were more fortunate by evacuating the city in time. The other cities lost lots of citizens but the Iron Mountain Tribe suffered the most terrible fate. I symphatize upon them.’ She stands up and bows to Dar’gum and sons, and (almost) all others follow suit. Dejan Pavlovic, whose village was once attacked by Dar’gum’s warriors also bows. Only Adler and Talbot du Bois remain in their seats.

Touched, Sir Vincent the Raging Bull gets up and responds, ‘Requesting permission, Counselor. After we liberate Freidle, I and the Bullstride Elite Battalion will join the third division to Bresconnor. Fighting alongside the great Dar’gum is an honor beyond measure. They’ll sure need heavy cavalry against the tough orcs, goblins and hobgoblins there.’

‘Permission granted, Sir Vincent, on two conditions: One, you will be under Ney’varíth’s command at all times, so don’t rush out unless she instructed you to. And two, no drinking liquor of any kind, anytime. You know the reason full well. You may join the Crusade if you agree to this.’ The elf tactician’s eyes are fixed straight onto the Knight’s with a charismatic stare.

The thick-sideburned Knight answers Rael, ‘Yes, I agree to your terms and in fact I swear to obey. If I fail to fulfill any of those conditions, I’m willing to accept severe punishment.’

‘Good. Well, any more suggestions, anyone?’

As none seems to have one, Rael’charon concludes the briefing, ‘Very well, we have settled the troop arrangement and the main strategy of the Crusade. Now I hope everyone understands and carries out his duties well, as every step, every move, every breath you take can determine the success of the Crusade. That’s it for today’s briefing.’

At this notion, Chris gets up and announces, ‘That concludes our meeting. Go about your tasks and enjoy our hospitality. Go forth, Warriors of the Light. May you fulfill your destiny.’

The crowd cheers, ‘For the Light’, ‘Gloria Vadis’ and sorts as response.
Just as the Emperor is about to walk out from the hall, Rael’charon comes and whispers something into his ear. The young Sovereign nods and walks on. Talbot follows them, glancing upon the elf tactician curiously, while Rael keeps his cool.


To depict Rael'charon Luvazel the Elf Tactician,
we use reference from http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/the-treachery-of-thronehold/characters/fenmarel-aryvandaar
Fenmarel Aryvandaar - http://www.obsidianportal.com/
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