Elemix had left for Uzek in great haste on order of Rivanon to protect Emmeline…
When he and a half-dozen of Rivanon’s troops arrived in town in the late afternoon of the next day, he felt there was a eerie calm among the people. Elemix had received no messages from Vorn either – nothing for the past couple days. Alix was gone. Giselle flailing from murderous fury to abject despair. He wanted to stay, but Rivanon gave him one mission – protect his cousin at all costs until she returned to Uzek.
Elemix wasn’t stupid. Hugo must have made some kind of sacrifice or deal up there, but even with that all the rest must have been planned for months now. He did not know who he could trust save for a few. How was this all connected? The Tyaanites? Maybe. Or just coincidence? Doubtful.
Dame Galatea, Rivanon’s cousin whom Elemix had met a few times this summer, met him at the door. “Magus, we’ve heard the news about Derrien. I’m sorry for the loss of your patron.”
She led Elemix to Emmeline, who was in the conservatory looking out on Roland’s garden. Emmeline heard them enter. She said nothing as Elemix spoke up instead looking out at the yearling that was running around the stables, Roland’s gift to Emmeline. The horse didn’t even have a name. In the corner sat Zoe. She said, “Magus, welcome.”
Elemix was noticeably winded. “Thank you. I know you received my communication about what occurred, but I rushed back here as soon as I had rested. I am glad to see you are both alright. The Baroness has given me these orders to deliver to the senechal.” Emmiline could see he had his hands full of scrolls.
He sat down then as if to catch his breath though he seemed to be fine after only a few moments. “I am to ensure you are protected Emmiline and I intend to do so.”
Emmeline turned then and greeted Elemix. “Your success in Derrien has saved the duchy, Elemix. And now we are spread thin in terms of leadership.” She glanced at the scrolls. “Are those sealed?”
“Yes. There are also letters for each of Rivanons four wardens.” Elemix sighed and sank a little into the chair. He was obviously saddened by the recent events.
“I know that much of the leadership has been decimated. We tried our best Emmiline, but the Duke, and Magus Alix, we couldn’t save them.” Elemix’s eyes watered, and he looked away for a moment, before composing himself. “I wanted to stay with Rivanon, and Giselle, but we wanted to ensure your safety.
Frankly save for a select few, we don’t know who we can trust anymore. As if this realm didn’t already have enough to deal with now we are fighting among ourselves.
You know whoever created that magical gate is still out there. Azenkuul and whatever else is there is not all that far away and our outposts supposedly gave us no warning. Do we even know if they still stand?”
Dame Galatea spoke up, “My lady, Sir Axiney reports the outpost still stands. They reported no movement from Azenkuul, and they command the valley approaches. Given the effect you witnessed, they could have bypassed out guards magically. They did spot what we believe to be Lord Hugo and his wizard, but they were not found in time.”
Emmeline said, “Thank you, Dame Galatea. I’m sure we are all relieved that the outpost stands. I think that to provide a Gate, they might need to have eyes outside or some knowledge of where they are going, so it will remain important to maintain a watch. However, we need to be acutely aware that anyone who has harbored a grudge enough to employ such a vengeful god could be an agent. And that means an attack can come from anywhere at anytime.”
She thought about what Elemix said carefully. “I’m very sorry about the Duke. Have you recovered their bodies?”
“Alix yes, but sadly the Duke’s body was destroyed by whatever hatred had consumed Hugo. Also, I am sad to say that an attempt to raise Magus Alix failed – though I suspect I know why. But that is a matter for another time,” replied Elemix.
She accepted the scrolls from El. “I’m working with the Seneschal to maintain order in the name of the Baroness and the Margrave. Thank you for bringing them; I’ll see to it he sees every one.”
“Thank you,” returned Elemix. “In the meantime you will be remaining here at the castle? I don’t think you should risk returning to the vale.”
“Since we have an enemy that can gate people anywhere they have eyes, then frankly, the Vale is safer for me than this castle. But I will remain here because that is Rivanon and Roland’s wish. I’ll return to the Vale about two weeks prior to when I am due. After I give birth and have regained my strength enough to defend our son Henri, I will return with him.”
She smiled. “We should not yet despair over the loss of Magus Alix. I believe her story is not yet complete.”
Elemix returned the smile. “I believe you are right about Alix, and I know exactly who to talk to about that as soon as time permits.”
“I’m sorry about the Duke,” Emmeline said. “Were any others hurt?”
“Unfortunately a great many. I am not certain of the total numbers dead, but it was probably a dozen mercenaries and at least twice that number of city guard killed. Probably half of the Ducal guard, and many of his advisers were also killed. There was even an attack on the Bishop’s residence. He survived but was grievously wounded. We had to fight our way into the temple, which was being attacked when we arrived.
In terms of the greater city as a whole, I wasn’t there for all of the reports but I heard some knights were killed and scores of people were injured in the attacks. This was undoubtedly something that had been planned for a long time. By the sheer numbers involved it is almost as if most of the Dukes enemies consorted and rose up as one. I don’t know who all of his enemies were mind you, but it certainly seemed as though he had many.”
“I understand he could be ruthless at times, so I suppose it should not be a great surprise,” Emmeline said sadly. “Is the Baroness okay?”
“I know she was grateful for our help. All of our help.You know her, she put her emotions to the side and focused on leading and shoring up defenses to instill order again.
I can’t say the same for Giselle. As I said, it was very hard for me to leave them.”
“I understand,” Emmeline said quietly. “I’m certain Uzec and all the people of the duchy will come together to help those harmed in this horrible and misguided attempt to take over.”
Zoë added, “Magus, I’m sorry for your loss. I pray the gods deliver you back as soon as possible.”