Book VII Ch 13: The General
The Flamekeeper's Cabin
The Firestarters' Campgrounds
Heaven's Pillar Forest, Aensdoun
"Violent change is on the winds, Dilndrou, and I care not for it," Kelan sighed, gazing down upon a deerskin map of Valenth with his reptilian advisor.
"I see it building up out of the corner of my eyes, and I fear we will be all but powerless when the storm arrives.
"The Eye of Elysia has been destroyed, and perverted into something that will ultimately make our task more difficult.
I did not understand its significance or power until I felt its loss.
The artifacts we've found in its wake still retrain traces of its vital power, but there's no way of knowing how long they'll survive-- or if it'll be enough to help us preserve Valenth."
Dilndrou simply nodded, pressing his hand to his chin. "Time is of the essence, Kelan. What do you intend to do?"
"I'm still uncertain, but in the meantime I'm gathering everyone I can think of who may provide assistance. The Court has naturally declined to aid us, despite the threat the Renatus Purifico pose to everyone on the planet.
I expected as much from them, but I've had scouts reading between the lines as well, and what they've found is... curious."
"Bastion's child remains an enigma-- as secretive and scheming as Nefirian, but she spurns her family as well, and to what end?
I understand her dragons have been vanishing as of late. Perhaps the courtesans are growing weary of impersonal Court protocol."
"I think the truth may be somewhat more incredible.
Reports from Firewing say courtesans have been slipping into Gier in quite large numbers, hoping to be missed among the shadows of the evening.
There is a particular building there which they seem to be attending meetings within-- meetings reportedly conducted by a flamboyant Aeneski known as Remy."
The Flamekeeper and the silisk exchanged glances.
"Were I you," Dilndrou murmured thoughtfully,"I would send a representative to meet this "Remy", and ask if he would be interested in an audience."
"Ireliss intends to do just that-- she's flown off to visit Firewing Camp and meet with our officials stationed there about the Renatus attacks. Afterwards, she'll be having a look on my behalf."
Dilndrou looked pleased.
"Very good. Now, that unfortunately leaves--"
"Yes," Kelan sighed, frowning. "The matter of Nefirian.
Doctor's Ball fliers are beginning to circulate again. Last year, he successfully deflected me with Bastion's help, but this year...
I will return, and I must get to the bottom of his current scheme and put an end to it. Dilndrou, if you were to attend with me, he'd have no choice but to submit."
"That would never work.
Nefirian would never allow me in, and furthermore, if he is truly allied with Artemio, he will ensure that security is tightened immensely this year.
Even if you attempted to go alone, you may find yourself in an undesirable situation."
"We can't simply allow him to carry on!
Even last year, the amount of malignant mirajin radiating from Laps-du-Ment was staggering. I sorely regret not having taken greater pains to intercept him then, but I wasn't expecting Nigel, or the events that happened afterward.
The magnitude of what he must have planned... I shudder to think--"
Dilndrou cleared his throat. "I said nothing of leaving him to continue.
If we attempt to take part in the Ball, we will draw attention to ourselves and our suspicion.
Instead, Kelan, we use his own diversion against him. Whatever he has planned isn't being held in Laps' ballroom, I'm certain.
We simply wait until Doctor's Ball is well underway, and then pay the city a visit... unannounced, and undetected."
"... you're right, Dilndrou.
With luck, perhaps we can find his project and destroy it before he so much as suspects--"
"Sir! Sir, please come quickly!"
A senior officer thrust her head into Kelan's tent, causing both men to raise their heads in alarm.
"No time to explain. Please!"
As Kelan and Dilndrou followed the officer out into the brilliantly-lit outside world, shouts, worried murmurs and challenges barked in Aengoch and Logos rang their ears.
The trio broke into a steady jog, rushing to the outskirts of the camp.
They came to a screeching halt before thousands of Aeneski tribesmen, surrounding the camp on all sides with weapons held at the ready.
Kelan's face grew pale as more men trickled out of the thick forests and up from the plains, all eyes directed at the Firestarters encampment.
"It would appear that the Aen'och tribes have at last turned an eye upon us, " Dilndrou observed solemnly.
Next Chapter: Book VII Chapter XIV
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