Salthiusar (18): Turn 22, Summer 17th Era 68 (Common: 1248)
17th of Risen Sun, 17th Era 68 (Common: 1248)
Summer had come, and the familiarly brutal stench of the decaying undead once again permeated the air. Irèsp thanked himself for suggesting the Charm of Permanent State that encapsulated the city, and felt a tinge of guilt for not extending it far enough for all of the refugees.
This summer’s day was not sunny and pretty and full of fields of flowers. It was a summer’s day of death and decay and the stench of the dead. As the drizzle poured down, Salthiusar’s guests’ moods became sourer and sourer, to say nothing of their leaders.
In the throne room, things were not going according to plan. Slaér, continuing to vote against the continuation of the nearly finished research, was becoming angry in his cause.
“Why do you insist on doing this?” He pleaded. “We are a city of peace and learning, not of death and undoing!”
The friends had often conversed for hours on end about all kinds of matters, but Slaér had never been so forthright with his suggestions.
“It is necessary,” Irèsp responded coolly. His regular single-robe garment had been discarded in favour of a much darker getup. He now wore a crystal-mail shirt, light as crystal but coloured somewhat blacker than the walls. His greaves were black elf-leather, his boots the same. His cloak, doubling as a fold-around robe, was black and bore a version of the Black Hearts’ insignia in the colours of Salthiusar. Appearances, he said, were everything when dealing with foreign nations, however pointless the act.
“But it is not!” Slaér’s voice was rising. “The dead should stay dead! We should leave the dead to be dead.”
“You do not understand. We need to do this, for the good of Kolnur. Can I not persuade you?”
“So be it.”
Irèsp’s hand rose from his cloak, and began to glow. Once in front of Slaér, a green aura began to surround it, wobbling.
“So that’s how it will be. You kill me, and your tyranny continues. So be it.”
It struck Slaér mid-forehead, and he fell over backwards. The room’s silence was corporeal.
Irèsp stood up in front of his friend’s body, and began to talk. “I am sorry, but it was a necessary act. I do not do this out of spite. I do it out of need. If we take another route, Kolnur will surely fall.”
Slaér stirred and stood up. The green glow was invisible in his green eyes.
“Such control is forbidden out of research, but war calls for different strategies.” He put his hand on Slaér’s shoulder.
“You will function no worse as a thrall as you did with free will.”
Rhemani had had an interesting life. She had grown up in a nation far away from what remained of Kolnur, as her skin attested. It was as pale as most elves’, but it was tinted purple, giving a slightly ethereal look to her.
Her mind was afire with disgust, as it had for many long weeks. She had always been attracted to healing, so Salthiusar’s recent obsession had been abhorrent to her. Necromancy was the blackest of all arts, so, naturally, Irèsp’s new decisions had infuriated her.
Now, it was the eve of another breakthrough. Everything had gone well in the research, the Black Hearts becoming blacker. The latest hordes were being assaulted with new, experimental spells, causing widespread indifference throughout the nation. Few thought as she did any longer; more by the day enjoyed those black arts. But, as she, along with the other three elves who had agreed that enough was enough, shoved the palace doors open, she felt as much as they did towards the act she was about to commit.
The four of them advanced upon Irèsp, sat immobile upon his throne, the so-called ‘Second Seat’. The old fool had never forgotten the other founder, and thought himself so subordinate to his long-gone friend. The four of them, eyes blazing, summoned wychfire to immolate the old elf with. Then, he laughed. It was the laughter of a lich, of a madman, she thought.
“Have you come to kill me?” It sounded less a question than a statement.
Silence reigned. Rhemani spoke. “I suppose we have, yes. Your obsession with death cannot end well, it is not healthy.”
“You see this city? Has it become blacker?” He pointed to the crystalline walls. “Yes, it has. The walls have not. The city of Salthiusar, as always, is the true centre of learning. However, how can we learn if we are all dead? We have over fifty thousand souls outside our walls, and likely more within, all from other nations whose homes have been destroyed. They protect us now, for a place to stay, a place to sleep, without being killed by the undead.”
He stood up, and turned his back to the four, admiring the two seats. “Now tell me, Rhemani, you came from a poor background but decided on altruism, eventually coming here to learn how to heal to help others heal, correct?”
It was silent again.
“Rhemani. Answer me.”
“Yes, I did.” Her voice was breaking.
“Why do you object to me saving lives, then? I can see another way to save ourselves, by beseeching gods that we have little evidence to believe exist. Even if they do, to beat the Lich on such a scale would require years of study. We have months, if that. Do you still object?”
“Yes, you monster! The dead are dead and should stay so! We cannot fight our enemy if we become our enemy, can we?” In her rage, she fired a fireball at the older mage, as did her three companions.
All eight fireballs hit home, but all bounced around the room. Irèsp turned, and tutted. “Similarity does not mean complacency. We do not work like the Lich. We do not understand why he works, but we do understand that our motives are for research, no?”
One of her companions began to leave, and Rhemani gave a stunted bark. Jerking his head to see it, Irèsp flung the door shut with magic. “Now now, we can’t let you leave in such a state, can we?” A black tendril left his arm and sunk into the elf’s brain, and left. His expression went blank, then returned to normal. He left through the doors.
The other three then began to hurl lightning at the founder. He shook his head as it all was drawn to a conduit in the roof. “Evidently, I can’t let you leave at all.”
With a flick of his wrist, the other two elves died instantly, the bonds holding them to life snapping violently. Then they rose, and began to crawl over Rhemani, who screamed and cast at them. Neither worked. The last thing she saw was one of the others, the only person she truly knew in the world, hitting her in the head with her own left arm, the purple-tinged skin embedding itself into her face. Of course, it was the bone inside that killed her.
-Salthiusar keeps quiet as research draws to a close
-Black Magic continues to be trained
-9,346 Heavy Infantry
-37,851 Heavy Cavalry
-1,268 Heavy Infantry
-3,957 Light Infantry
-11,078 Heavy Infantry