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The Fall of Qasala: Part Three


by danama

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"My lord Prince! Do you have any idea what you have done?"

      Jazan looked at me in confusion, stopping in the middle of some garbled sentence.

      "I was holding the illusion that was protecting us all! Because of you, it has faltered! Amira's soldiers saw us!"

      "Who cares? The illusion was about to fail, and we can hold them anyway," Jazan insisted sulkily. "And what I have to say to you is more important, anyway."

      "Jazan," I said seriously, looking him right in the eye. "Nothing, nothing, is - or should be - more important to you than the people you lead and serve. And for this battle we need every advantage we can get. Amira's forces are roughly equivalent to ours, but they move quickly, and have arrived before we have had a chance to prepare our forces. I need my rest - this battle will be a long one and I have a major part to play in it."

      "A part you accepted because of your people, or your king?" Jazan asked swiftly.

      "My Prince!" I was shaking with anger. "How could you think that I would choose King Razul over all of the Qasalans?"

      "You deny your loyalty to your king, then? You deny that, as the King's most trusted and most powerful advisor, you have such a strong loyalty to him that it would override most things in this life?"

      His words struck home. Trying to keep a cool head, I changed the subject. "You obviously came banging into my room in the dead of night for a reason. Let us not tarry any longer - why did you come searching for me at such a time? Please be brief - I need my sleep, just like any other mortal."

      "I have heard there are charms, spells, potions which can awaken the powers within anyone with magic. You, being the Power of Qasala, would obviously have knowledge of such things. I came here to ask you -"

      "Can I make one?" I interrupted him impatiently. "Of course, but that does not explain why you chose to visit at such an unearthly hour. Why did you have to wake me from my rest?" Seeing the look on his face, I pressed him a little more. "You do not want the King to know of such matters, do you?"

      Jazan flushed a little, giving me my answer. "So will you help me this time?"

      I shook my head. "True, I can perform such magic, but that sort of magic is interference with nature's laws. I have told you time and time again, and I will tell you now, be patient. Wait for your magic to come, for it will do so. Have faith in yourself."

      Jazan looked at me and shook his head slowly. "You hate me, don't you, Vinifae?"

      I was rather taken aback at the question. "No, my lord, I do not."

      "I think that you do," the Prince replied quietly.

      It was all I could do to stop myself from replying rudely, "Think what you want." Instead I managed to get a grip on my emotions. Jazan may have insulted me many times, but he was only young, and I knew better. "Good night, my Lord," I said, before closing the door, establishing a last guard over the city, and then going to sleep.

      *

      I jumped up from my bed as soon as I heard the palace bells ringing. I could tell by the darkness in my rooms that the sun still hadn't come up. As quickly as I could I got up and raced to breakfast, bolted down a slice of toast, and ran to where I knew my King would be waiting for me. He turned around as soon as I entered the room, a grim look on his face.

      "Vinifae, we've been discovered."

      Even though I knew that this was coming, I nodded shakily and released my illusion over the city. I felt a great sense of relief as the need to keep the spell going lessened, and then disappeared completely.

      "My lord, I should start seeing to the city's defences."

      Razul nodded once, then turned and strode away. I assumed he was going to gear up for battle, and so I closed my eyes and focused on my next spell.

      It was vital that the most vulnerable parts of the city should be defended, so I started willing the ground to open up and create a chasm that would hopefully be impossible to cross. The earth shook a little, trying to tell me that this was not natural, that I should stop, but I shook my head at it and gently asked it again to split itself, this time putting a little bit of my will behind it. The earth sighed a little, and, as I pressed a little harder - no need to overexert myself - it relented, splitting open in the space in front of the main gates and the newly enforced wall. I broke the spell, stumbling back a little as I opened my eyes. That had taken a lot of effort, which meant I had to conserve my energy even more.

      Next I looked to the moat that would be the city's last line of defence before the walls themselves. I would need the help of the earth again this time. I focused again, asking the earth to create a little dent in itself so that the water would have space to go to. This was easier than my first task - the earth barely offered any resistance as it willingly caved in a little bit. I thanked the earth silently, and then turned to the water.

      Speaking to the moisture hidden far, far beneath the sand, I willed it to rise, to lift itself right out of the sand in which it had been resting for so long. It considered a while, then agreed without my having to push it further. I smiled - water had always been a cool, calm element that didn't need too much pushing to obey my will. Not like Earth, which liked to remain stuck down and was unmoveable as stone when it felt like it had a point. Air was breezy and vague, and delighted in finding ways around whatever you wanted it to do. Fire was eager to burn anything, which included whoever was trying to control it. Light and Darkness were mysteries, unpredictable and uncontrollable.

      Having finished my moat to the point where I was actually satisfied with it, I turned to planting fire traps. The fire seemed to listen to me, but it had only one question for me: Burn, burn, will there be anything to burn? I replied with the affirmative, and it seemed satisfied, settling itself in the sand until unsuspecting paws should tread on it. It would be our first line of defence.

      Exhausted from all my magical workings, I sat down on the floor, trying to recuperate a little: I had a feeling I would be needed for the battle.

      *

      "The city exists," the Second Unit commander affirmed. "It seems to be a rich place. From what we can see above the high walltops, there is a great palace there." He exchanged a look with the Army commander which the yellow Kyrii couldn't understand.

      "Palaces mean kings," the Army commander said, a look coming into his eyes. A new city that tried to hide itself meant a city that did not want to give allegiance to Princess Amira. And that meant fighting which was something the commander could do. Tramping around in sand forever was not. "Kings mean…"

      "Princess Amira is not the only royal personality in the Desert?" the Kyrii asked.

      His unit commander nodded. "Yes. And I have a feeling that a hidden city means a renegade city. Which means…"

      "Arm yourselves for war!" barked out the Army Commander loudly to the rest of the army, finishing off the unit commanders sentence. "Come on, get up and make yourselves ready! Polish and sharpen your weapons! Get your gear ready! We're going to be fighting in a few hours and I can tell you that you've all got to be in proper dress!" The army rose groggily, yawning and stretching, as the sun peeked over the sand dunes and cast its rays forth.

      *

      The Sakhmetian army was all lined up, ready for war on the dunes. I could tell that the Shoyru warrior at its head was its commander by the way he stood blazing in the morning sun, almost glowing with honour, dignity, courage, strength, hope. I sighed wistfully. Why was it that two good cities must fight each other? Why did life have to be wasted in so brutal a fashion? Why?

      And up there on the wall tops, as I watched the Army massing in the dunes, I promised to myself that someday I would find the answers to those questions, and in the same breath I would do all I could to stop such things. One day I hoped that I would be able to fulfil such a promise. Until then, all I could do was place my trust in he who commanded me, my King, and fight for everything that I believed in.

To be continued…

 
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Other Episodes


» The Fall of Qasala: Part One
» The Fall of Qasala: Part Two
» The Fall of Qasala: Part Four



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