Of Armor and Bone: Chapter 33
“I’ve assembled you all here today to address a great violation of our treaty.” Charlstine addressed the room. The great hall had been filled with various people who inhabited the city, those magi who had journeyed to live in the city of Arkyan during the creation of the Order. “This circumstance was created through a loophole, something existing errant of the terms we put in place for both the Kingdom of Xiandol and the Empire of Tulefore. Mr. Chin of Xiandol, would you care to explain?”
Chin stood up from his seat beside the Arcanus. He swallowed hard and cleared his throat as silently as possible as the many sets of eyes around the room turned to him. He straightened his back and began to dictate. “I arrived here three days ago from my nation’s front at the base of the mount to mediate, as you know, an affair regarding the possible use of dark magic. However, it seems our current situation is now caused plainly not by dark magic, but by the use of the magic we hold ourselves. That magic that is now in the hands of normal men.”
A few murmurs traveled around the room, heads turning and whispering amongst each other. Charlstine waived her hands side to side, quieting the audience once again. “Understand that those without mage blood could never measure up to the powers that we hold,” She began, pontificating, “but alas, with our limited numbers, we were the ones who became subservient. Though under the guise of a symbiotic relationship, those resources that we have long offered normal men could never be equally repaid. Still, they ask for more, forcing us to offer our powers for their use. My… our predecessors… once attempted to share our volatile energies with normal men. Through magical metallurgy, we could infuse those powers into tool for them to use. What do they create? Weapons of war!”
Several low boos echoed through the chamber. Chin glanced back at the Tuleforian Commander leaning apathetically back against the wall beside the door. He looked back to the Arcanus, who blinked at him as if expecting him to continue.
Chin licked his lips and offered his explanation. “Xiandolan magi have succeeded in forging more of these… tools… pieces of armor, and weapons… using the life force of our brethren.”
Charlstine slapped the palms of her hands down on the stone tabletop, interrupting. “We were forced to weed out many of those we called family in order to bring strength and stability to this organization we call the Order. And now, they continue to defy our tenets by living in these armaments now marching upon this land.”
More murmurs echoed between the seated magi. Charlstine waived back at Silvus to bring him forward to the table. Chin cleared his throat a second time, this time more loudly. “Yesterday, no doubt, some witnessed the unprovoked attack by a… man in such a suit of armor, invading this fair town. Unfortunately, that is only a taste of what is currently out there.”
“Sir Silvus of Tulefore,” Charlstine said, “please tell us what you encountered.”
Silvus placed himself at the edge of the table and scanned the room for a brief moment. “Yesterday, the Tuleforian settlement fell to Xiandol by a small concentrated group of soldiers. Following a previous attack by an even smaller group, we had done as much we could have to prepare and fortify, yet no amount of planning would have been able to repel such a ruthless assault. A few of my men and I escaped with our lives, but many more fell. The army fights without fatigue, without hunger, or empathy for those they fell in battle. I know that many of you here have abandoned your ties to the Empire, or men like me, but if and when they march on Tulefore city, I fear for the lives of my countrymen!”
“That will do, Sir Silvus.” Charlstine spoke up. Her glare traveled from the commander to Chin, who obediently took a seat. “In a situation like this, the Order would cast a vote, but I am sure that all of you would not wish to see this injustice be carried out those wielding powers that should have never left our hands in the first place. Two years ago, we marched to either side of the continent with just our words to convey. I met with King Manek of Xiandol face to face, where he agreed to and signed upon our terms. Seeing as how that agreement was tossed aside, we now only have the option of revoking Xiandol’s power by force.”
At the back of the room, a tall, young wizard stood, his staff meeting the floor with a loud clack. The flames sitting atop the pale, slowly melting candles flickered. “We shall stand with you, Lady Arcanus!” He cried out. More of the members of the order from around the table stood in agreement. A few remained seated, looking at their allies.
Slivus shuffled back to the doorway. He leaned against the wall beside it, looking out at the city. Chin stood up from his seat and stealthily approached the man.
“You should return to Tulefore as soon as possible, same as Shiloh and your mage. They should want to know the Order’s intentions.”
Silvus jerked his head back. “Shut your mouth, Xiandolan.” He growled. “I’ve said too much. Tulefore will not want to simply stand here while the Order fights our war for us.”
Chin bit at his lip as the Tuleforian Commander stomped out the door. He followed after, calling out after him as the sound of the main hall died out behind him. “The war ended when Xiandol obtained the artifact, you should know.”
Silvus stopped, planting his foot loudly. He slid his foot around and pushed towards Chin, grabbing at the loose fabric of the cloak over his shoulders. “Xiandol doesn’t seem to think so.” He said, breathing hot air into Chin’s face.
“It’s hardly Xiandol itself.” Chin said, shunting himself away from Silvus’ grasp. “I witnessed our General develop a fetish with this newfound power he had gained Command of, now acting upon a grudge.”
“Then what shall he do when Tulefore city has fallen?” Silvus waived his arms. “Who would be there celebrating at your homes far at the desolate end of this continent?”
“The war is one thing, but the state of Tulefore matters none to the average person, whether they’re from the countryside or Xiandolia itself.”
“For our people, the conquest is everything.” Silvus stated, waiving his arm out towards the east where the sea laid. “But we don’t do it to decimate everything in our path. Those peoples under our control now share in our bounty and add to diversity.”
“Then perhaps somewhere among your vast empire you should be able to find a way to stop that army.”
Silvus wiped his face down and rolled his eyes. “Every second I waste talking to you leaves Tulefore City that much more unprepared.”
Chin sighed and shoved his hands into his long sleeves, pulling out his pipe. Silvus marched towards one of the guards who pointed the man in the direction of the stable.