The Guild Lords of the Engineer’s Guild stood around Snorri skeptically; ever since he had engaged on the path of flight they had clearly been having doubts. It had always been a stoic belief of the dwarves that their feet belonged either on the ground or beneath it.
“Guild-Lord Snorrisson, we appreciate the magnitude of what you have accomplished here - the sciences of flight have confounded the greatest minds of Kolnur for decades - nay, centuries. However, there are other problems we must confront. The King himself engaged you to complete a task - your prototype is of the highest importance.” One of the others said, well spoken for a dwarf Guild-Lord, refined. He had spent many years mixing heavily with human ‘scientists’ and had picked up some aristocratic tendencies.
“Aye. Your projects have distracted you. The Darkness comes, m’lord. Get yourself together,” another grumbled distantly.
With a short sigh, Snorri shook his head. “I work to advance the lands of Kerin-Curan in ways beyond war. Flight aids all of us. Trade diplomacy will be expediated by it.”
“Karuk! The war comes first. The Darkness advances! The reports are clear. Their Magicks have allowed them to attack to both east and west. Defence is more important than trade and diplomacy!” This comment came from the dwarven Lord-General Bokkad Falisson, who strode through the door confidently, flanked by two guards who soldiers with thick plate armour and heavy hammers.
“Guild-Lord Snorrisson, your presence is requested at the Palace. I am here to ensure you arrive on a ... Timely basis.” The threat behind his words was obvious, but veiled enough that the Guild-Lord couldn’t object. A look flashed between the Guild-Lord and Lord-General - they had once been friends, but there had been an incident where Bokkad had been severely injured by one of Snorri’s experiments.
“I shall attend upon him immediately, Lord-General. I will not need an escort.”
The King sat upon his throne once more, the black marble seat dominating the room. His eyes were stoney as he looked down upon the dwarf at the foot of the dais, right fist held above the left side of his chest in the traditional salute, head bowed. Two Guards flanked the throne, staring imperiously down at the Guild-Lord, and more lined the wall. The King knew that, stationed outside the doors of the Hall, four more barred the doors.
“Snorri Snorrisson. We had an understanding. I would aid the construction of your Guild school, and you would devote yourself to the prototype you demonstrated. I understand other things have developed from your research, such as the Arquebuses. They will be invaluable to our forces in time, I do not doubt.
“And yet, I have had reports that your time has not been dedicated as per our agreement. This will change. Now, go. Continue your work. I expect you to progress.” Two of the Guards marched forward, and it was obvious that the audience was over. The Guild-Lord turned on the spot, and strode with all of his dignity to the Hall’s doors.
The King sighed and sagged into the throne once the inventor had left, rubbing his temples soothingly. A number of his aides entered once Snorri had left. Amongst their number was a physician, his hair and beard snow white, back hunched forward and dependant on a stick to walk. Two assistants were with him - a human carrying the majority of the least dangerous items in case they were needed, and a dwarf who helped support the elderly dwarf and carried some of the more potent medicines.
Once he had reached the king, the elderly dwarf studied the king with milky eyes, and a worried look on his face. “My King ... Does it worsen?”
Before his liege could reply, the dwarf gestured to his dwarven assistant who immediately sent a hand delving into one of his pouches and withdrew a vial so delicate and small that barely more than a teardrop of liquid would fit within it. He handed it to his master and then stepped back slightly.
“This is something I would rather not try, your grace, but I fear anything less will only serve to worsen the problem, as sometimes happens with ... Illnesses like yours.”
“Just give me the damnable medicine, Mordrun.”
Three Days Later
Prince Farin was in the training yard, commonly referred to as The Forge, sparring with the elite of his father’s Guard, armour off. The muscles in his arms were taught, large fists clenched around the haft of a large hammer. Three warriors surrounded him, and attempted to land blows. There were obvious signs where they had succeeded, but nothing threatening to the Prince.
A young human boy, one of the Palace runners, ran into the yard and received a number of irritated glares from the soldiers training there - it was out of the ordinary for training within The Forge to be interrupted for any reason. Nervously, he boy slowed and then approached the prince slowly, close enough to be seen but far enough to not be intruding. He looked at his feet awkwardly whilst he waited to be called on.
Growling incomprehensibly, the Prince held up a hand and wordlessly called a halt to the training session, and handed his hammer off to a Palace servant whilst cracking his neck and then his knuckles. “I assume you’re here for me, runner?” he said, voice careless, as he grabbed a cloth and wiped a few beads of sweat from his face.
“Ye-yes, my Prince. King Gandogar requires your immediate presence in the Hall. He ... I beg your pardon, my Prince, but he told me to say he said, ‘Tell him his worthless arse had better be here by the midday bells, or he’ll wish his mother had never given birth to him.’” The boy looked nervous, unsure whether it would have been wiser to leave the King’s quote unspoken, or whether the omission could have left him in more trouble.
The Prince, however, had already started leaving, cursing. He had only minutes to attend upon his father - not enough time to change into courtly clothes or put on his armour. “Well, screw it - he wanted me to go immediately.” he grumbled to himself as he left the yard, striding quickly through the tall, bright and airy corridors of the Palace, completely unlike the close, small corridors of the Engineer’s Guild or any number of other dwarven abodes.
King Gandogar was sat on his throne once more, looking concerned as he leant forward with interest, resting his chin on his interlocked hands. The ruby in the throne seemed to shine with a deeper red than usual in the light from the walls. A human messenger stood before him, different from the humans of Kerin-Curan in so many ways, and yet so similar. Beyond him, in the back third of the Hall, courtiers had packed in so tightly that they could barely move - a cordon of King’s Guards had stopped them getting any further forward.
The Prince appeared from one of the side doors, and seemed confused by the audience and the solitary human before his father for a second, although he continued as if unphased, taking up a place just behind and to the right of the throne.
The King looked sidelong at his heir and nodded, before turning his attention back to the foreigner. “If you would please repeat your message, sir.” The King gestured with his right hand, and the messenger nodded thankfully.
“Your Grace, I come bearing a message from the Pirate Lord of Dagren. I am Captain Yelik, of the Sea Speed. Our lands have recently been the victim of attacks, and many of our soldiers have died. As it stands, if we are attacked again, we may not be able to repel the invaders.
“Due to the agreement between our nations, the Pirate Lord requests your aid in defending our lands.”
Astonished murmurs began in the crowd at the entrance of the Hall, men and women, humans and dwarves conversing in quick, hushed tones. The King allowed this for a couple of minutes, before standing and holding up his right hand in a fist.
“The lands of Dagren have come under attack - we may not know the enemy, or their strength, but our honour would be gone if we did not heed our standing alliance and send them aid. So know this - for the first time in three thousand years, the armies of Kerin-Curan shall be amassed to fight a true enemy!” The King then gestured to a captain of the Guard, and spoke to him in hushed tones. Within minutes, after a few barked commands, the soldiers ushered the members of the court into the antechamber.
The lords and ladies of Kerin-Curan who could immediately travel to Kazel had done so, and two days after Captain Yelik had made his announcement to the Court, half of them had gathered in the capital. Men and dwarves sat in the Council Chamber, talking quietly until the king entered, accompanied by Prince Farin, Physician Mordrun and Captain Yelik.
Silence fell immediately, and all faces turned to look at their monarch, who looked to be struggling slightly, although apart from that, he looked better than he had in years.
“Lords and Ladies, man and dwarf ... We have gathered to discuss the response of Kerin-Curan to the call for aid from our ally, Dagren. The Pirate Lord has sent Captain Yelik as an emissary to us.
“I feel we are honour-bound to answer this call for aid, and have a proposal. I shall then open the floor to other suggestions, and then I shall make a decision.
“I propose splitting our aid between each of the three islands which make up Dagren - now that we control the Northern Isle and Feras. I suggest sending a combined total of fifteen thousand soldiers to show our commitment, a third made up of conscripts. This will leave us a sizeable force here, but should be enough to defend the islands.”
A low rumble erupted from the assembled lords and ladies. A few sounded outraged, a few spoke out in support, but the majority were mid-way between the two.
“Your Grace ...” began Lord Guyere, “My daughter is in the lands of Dagren, as I’m sure you know, married to their lord to cement our alliance. I would entreat you all to consider what we would be doing by refusing to send aid.” The real meaning behind his words hung in the air - Do not leave my daughter to die at the hands of an unknown attacker. The king nodded his head thoughtfully.
“Of course, Lord Guyere, I had not forgotten. As I say, if we do not send aid, we should consider ourselves base cowards.”
The debate had been raging for hours, the lords and ladies swinging backwards and forwards in their opinions on aiding Dagren. The current mood favoured sending aid, and King Gandogar was tiring of the endless talking. He had ever been a dwarf who did, despite his steady nature - before his father, Kili Turansson, The Forger, had died Gandogar had often travelled across Kerin-Curan.
He coughed and Mordrun stood awkwardly and shuffled to his side, with a small, clear bottle. The king sighed and drank it, stopping the feel of disgust reaching his face. Prince Farin had been vocal in his support for his father, and Bokkad had weighed in, but beyond his opening statements Gandogar had merely observed the debate. His feelings were obvious.
Eventually, Gandogar took up the ceremonial hammer by his throne and dropped it, as he often did to draw attention to him rather than raise his voice. Silence fell, and all faces looked to him.
“I have listened to the debate, arguments both for and against sending aid to Dagren. I would call upon Captain Yelik once more, in case he has anything more to add, and then present my final decision.” With a wave of his hand, Captain Yelik moved once more to the position before the throne where petitioners stood.
“Your Grace, I have no new information to present. I would, however, like to make a personal entreaty.
“I have lived most of my life on the sea, but the Eastern Isle is my home, and whilst we are seen as a piratical nation, I have seen people with worse lives when visiting supposedly ‘advanced’ societies. I have family on the Eastern Isle, whom I care about deeply. I do not even know if they still live.
“Yes, we practice piracy - I have - and will continue to - practice piracy. It is a way of life. It is how I support my wife and children, how I pay for the medicine my ailing father-in-law requires.
“And yet our children are raised on the stories of Kerin-Curan, the honour and strength which you symbolise. You do not seek war, and because of the respect you have in Dagren, we do not seek to anger you. Our captains do not raid your lands, do not attack your ships.
“Please, your grace, I entreat you - aid us. You would have the undying gratitude of our people, and our captains.”
The king looked thoughtful for a moment, and leant forward in his throne, resting his chin on his clasped hands. “I thank you for your input, Captain Yelik, and I assure you, I do plan to send aid.”
Leaning on the haft of his hammer, the king stood. “Lords and Ladies of Kerin-Curan! I have made my decision. For the first time in three millennia, and for the first time in our history, we are going war!”
Silence met his words for a moment, and then all the dwarves present, as one, stamped their right foot. This became a quick tempo, resounding throughout the Palace and High Keep.
Province 7 - Build Training Hall
Province 11 - Research Engineer's Academy (School of Science)
Province 12 - Research Mechanical Warriors
-16 ships - Sea Province 90
Transport (to Province 8):-
1000 Heavy Infantry
-16 Ships- Sea Province 91
Transport (to Province 9):-
1000 Heavy Infantry
-16 Ships- Sea Province 92
Transport (to Province 10):-
1000 Heavy Infantry
Province 12 -
Conscripts - 99,000
23,000 Heavy Infantry
49,000 Heavy Cavalry
Province 11 -
Conscripts - 98,000
22,000 Heavy Infantry
49,000 Heavy Cavalry
Province 7 -
3000 Heavy Infantry
Province 8 -
1000 Heavy Infantry
Province 9 -
1000 Heavy Infantry
Province 10 -
1000 Heavy Infantry
77, 78, 87, 90, 91, 92, 86, 70 - 100 Ironclads each
76 - 300 Ironclads
79 - 200 Ships
Malochai von Carstein; Terror of Hunger Wood, Lord of Lichenhof Tower
Last edited by Malochai; 04-19-13 at 09:09 PM.