I have raised this back from the dead! In truth though, I don't like the way this chapter panned out. It sets up a bunch of stuff I need to happen but it just itches at me for some reason. I might rewrite this at some point. Still, at this rate; I'll be done by 2020.
The rest of their journey went undisturbed. No more ambushes awaiting them along the road. Still, precautions had to made and so Treville had sent some of his men ahead as scouts. Alongside having to slow down to accommodate for the wounded; they arrived at the Orleans estate the next day, just as the weary sun began to dip beneath the horizon.
The chateau was about what one could have expected from royalty. Built of creamy white bricks and steel tinted tiles, it matched the architecture of the palace in quality if not the quantity. That was not to say it was small, rather it was quite doable. A quaint courtyard with a swan fountain made for its front. Whilst she could not spy the back, she would assume it matched the gardens to its sides where the path between the flowers and hedge formed the Orlean's flower, Fleur-de-lis she's been told.
A full complement of servants awaited them just outside the iron-wrought fence that encircled the estate. No doubt informed of their later arrival and circumstance by one of the scouts. With stretchers at the ready, the wounded were the first to be shipped into the estate whilst the remaining servants began to unload their luggage. Anne had been directing their efforts at the beginning but quickly passed the role down to Percerin and made her excuses to enter the manor, Charlotte in tow.
Ciaran on the other hand remained with the servants, introducing herself to the few that inquired and maintaining all appearances of a new maid eager to please. Once the labour at the front was complete she was set to work across the chateau, memorising as much of the interior and exterior as she could as she went about delivering items, cleaning, and such.
Darkness had seeped in and candles were being lit when she could finally pull away. With one hand delicately balancing a silver platter and the other gently tugging at the hems of her dress, Ciaran neared the office where Anne and Charlotte had secluded themselves in for hours. And not for the first time, Ciaran found herself wishing for armour rather than all this... fluff. She considered the uniform comfortable and perhaps even attractive but practical it most certainly was not. Still, it served its purpose and none of the servants questioned the sob story she had fed them. Apparently the late Duke Orleans was well known for his munificent nature.
"Drinks as requested." She said sweetly to the two guards stationed on either side of the door.
The closer one peered at the goblets and jug with furrowed brows, treating the drinks as if they were poison. The second was Treville himself and his focus was homed in on her, his expression quizzical. It would take a several long second delay before recognition and surprise dawned upon him in equal measure. "Y-"
He caught himself remarkably fast, reverting back to a more neutral face as his comrades tuned to him. Tapping him on the shoulder, Treville gave him a knowing look even as his hand crept to the door. Seconds later, she was stepping into a small but adequate office space.
Unlike most of the building, this room seemed to be designed for more practical use rather than to impress. Stacked on the walls were numerous drawers jutting out with parchment and series of maps pinned to the walls. A single window allowing the moonlight in whilst candles arranged in all corners of the room illuminated the rest of the room. Situated just to the side of the window was a grand desk where Anne was currently hunched over, the tips of her finger stained with ink while Charlotte was bobbing on and off a small wooden stool. On both sides of Anne was a massive pile of sheets and letters.
The two of them turned as one at the sound her entry just as the door shut behind her.
They both turn and stare at each other, nodding as they agreed to some silent agreement.
Being the mother, Anne easily stares down Charlotte who sheepishly bows out. Clearing her throat, Anne returns to her and says, "Where have you been?"
"About the mansion." Ciaran could confidently say that she could navigate the entire building and its immediate surroundings alongside identifying the vast majority of its staff by face if not by name.
Anne's eyebrow twitched upwards ever so slightly even as she said in a even voice. "Well then, while you've been frolicking about in the mansion. We've been at work."
"Yep." Charlotte nodded along. "We've been sending letters to literally every noble in Gallia."
"Not literally I hope." Ciaran replied, pausing just as Charlotte did, the girl a bit puzzled. "Joseph does count as a noble does he not? And there are must certainly be nobles that do like him."
"Oh right." Charlotte nodded a bit sheepishly. Then puffing her chest out, she made sure to clearly say. "Well obviously Joseph doesn't count."
"You don't need to worry about that, I've filtered out those nobles that aren't... agreeable." Anne said, struggling to find a proper word that didn't sound too insulting.
"These letters are discrete of course?" Ciaran questioned. The last they needed was one of the recipients to run to Joseph screaming about their treason.
Anne's frown somehow managed to grow even more sour than usual. It was clear that her question might not have been the best to ask. "What do you take me for? Of course I wouldn't send someone a letter saying 'do you want to overthrow Joseph with me'." Anne flicked the top letter off and served it to her with a light toss. "All they are, are just invitations to talk and the like. Nothing incriminating if they're intercepted."
Ciaran gracefully caught the letter in one hand. Gold eyes skimmed down its contents, reaching the first line before she had hit a snag. The Gallian language appeared to consist of lines of squarish runes. Though it reminded her of some long dead dialects, this was not a language she knew. "I cannot read this."
"Oh?" Anne seemed genuinely taken aback by this before quickly recovering. "I thought you were literate."
"I am." Ciaran responded to the implied insult by brushing past it without regard. "But this is not one of the languages I know."
"How many languages do you know?" Charlotte suddenly asked as she liked to do whenever something caught her interest.
"A number." she replied, the true number a bit lost to her as well. There were a number that hadn't been in use for millennia now and she wasn't certain if she could actually still use it properly.
"Do you enjoy giving vague answers all the time?" Anne asked, not a very serious question.
"Perhaps." was her reply.
Anne pouted even as Charlotte giggled. Putting her aside, Anne slipped out a clean parchment and began to scribe upon it. "I'll set up someone to teach you."
"A teacher for a lowly maid?" Ciaran asked. "I am not ungrateful but would that not appear suspicious?"
"Why?" It was Charlotte that answered. "We do it all the time."
"It's not too uncommon for a noble to train their staff to read and write." Anne mentioned offhandedly. "Charles did go a bit overboard with it though. Personal teachers to teach a class of servants. They'd all still get paid while they learned as well."
"Generous." Ciaran commented.
"He was." Anne mused her agreement. "I doubt many will see anything wrong with me continuing in his footsteps."
"Then I thank you." Ciaran earnestly told Anne. Having a trained teacher would be a great boon for her.
Anne swelled her chest up. "Well we can't have you needing one of us to read everything to you." Her mood quickly deflated as more serious matters came to mind. "And speaking of that. This entire idea, plan, hinges on you killing Joseph. I want there to be alternatives."
"A wise decision." Ciaran agreed. Though she was confident she could assassinated the king, "It never hurts to have contingencies."
"So you mean we need to have another plan in case you fail?" Charlotte repeated before looking to her. "What happens to you then if you fail?"
"I imagine I'd be dead." Ciaran told her the truth. The alternative was capture, torture and then execution. Honestly, she'd prefer to die in the attempt than have a slow and delayed death. It would save her a great deal of trouble.
"Well that's not good."
"Indeed," Ciaran nodded. The idea of dying while trying to kill a mere human king; she shook her head. She did have a reputation to maintain after all. Turning to Anne, "I assume you've already made plans?"
"The Knights of the Red Rose." Anne named, flicking through her sheets until she found a specific one. "Led by Lord Batz de Castemorre. I am almost certain I can count on their aid."
"I recall you mentioning them the other day." Ciaran said offhandidly, referring to the night spent planning in the palace. "They were the ones your husband patronized no?"
Anne nodded her affirmative and gestured vaguely towards the door. "Charles was generous towards them and half our knight guards came from them, Treville included.
"But aren't the parterre knights meant to be loyal to Joseph?" Charlotte put out.
"The loyalty of the Parterre knights lie with the king." Anne conceded. "But some could make the argument that Charles was meant to be king. And the Red Rose themselves are out of favour due to their association with Charles."
"I recall you saying there are three such knighthoods. Four if you count that non-existent north one." Ciaran asked. "What of the other two then? Can they be of any aid?"
"The Knights of the White Lily are firmly with Joseph I think. Lord d'Athos has always held a strict loyalty to the throne, no matter whom may occupy it." Anne shook her head in exasperation as she continued. "Any my only experience with Lord d'Aramitz is that he's a womaniser. That and the Knights of the Blue Lilac usually operates on the border with Gallia along with the Royal Army. It is not often they interfere with civil politics."
"So that means it the Red Rose against the White Lily?" Charlotte summarised.
"I don't suppose the Red Rose outnumber the White Lily?" Ciaran asked Anne, not expecting a positive answer.
"Unfortunately not. All three of them only number a hundred or two at most." Anne tapped her forehead with a finger. "Actually, I believe the Blue Lilac has about fifty or so more knights than the others."
A pity but she supposed that it could have been worse. A ready small army was better than none.
"What about the Royal Army?" Charlotte suddenly suggested. Seeing interest piqued, she added on, "There's got to be at least a few hundred soldiers who'd help us."
"Probably." Anne tentavily agreed. "But I don't have the authority to order around the army and I doubt people won't notice me raising levies or hiring mercenaries enmasse."
"But you also don't have direct authority over the Red Rose Knights either." Charlotte pointed out, being more insistent than usual. "Couldn't we do the same thing with them to the Royal Army?"
"I'm not sure. Lord Claville is the commander of the Royal Army. Unfortunately I barely know more than his name" Anne admitted, crossing her arms thinking. "I doubt we can keep any type of secret between a few hundred common soldiers however."
"As opposed to a few hundred Knights?" Ciaran put out. "And you need not turn the entire army. Just the top of command should be sufficient."
If the Gallian Army was any good then their soldiers can be relied upon to follow their officers. They didn't need the entire army but even a few hundred swords would make a persuasive case in Charlotte's favour. So long as they aren't given blatantly traitorous orders; the soldiers will follow along and not be aware of a thing until afterwords.
"That is..." Anne paused and reconsidered her words. "Very well. I'll consider talking to Lord Claville. See how he stands though I'm not sure how he'll respond."
The last bit seemed directed at her rather than Charlotte but the girl seemed to beam in satisfaction nonetheless. About a second or two later, her bubbly attitude faded into a more mellow face. Almost as if she just remembered they were plotting a violent coup.
"So how do you plan to use these knights?" Ciaran asked Anne, bringing them back on topic.
"I've personally no mind for these things. So I'll leave the finer details in more capable hands." Anne confessed unabashed. "But I'm certain you can guess what I'm planning with a detachment of knights."
"You're going to attack the palace?" Charlotte voiced for her.
Anne grimly nodded. "I'm hoping to storm it right after kill Joseph. Hopefully we can take advantage of the confusion and take control."
"And should I fail?"
"Then we'll deal with Joseph ourselves." Anne put out. "Though I'd rather not have it come to that."
"Because it'd look bad?" Charlotte tried.
"So there is no king for the palace to rally around." Ciaran put out.
"A bit of both." Anne told them. "There's bound to be more confusion if Joseph's dead but I would rather he be dead before we storm the place. The difference is minor but publicly murdering a king presents a poor image. Vile as he is, his stature demands a trial and execution. I'd rather not have to deal with that."
"And then what of Isabella?" Ciaran brought up. "As you are unwilling to let her die, how do you plan to deal with her?"
"Well excuse me for not wanting to murder a child." Anne almost exclaimed. "And I believe imprisonment or exile should suffice."
Ciaran restrained a frown from breaking loose. Allowing Isabella to live will almost certainly create difficulties in the future, imprisoned not. The line of succession was quite clear cut leaving little in the way of ambiguity. So long as Isabella lived, one could always make an argument against Charlotte's legitimacy. "A pity Joseph had a child at all."
"Because then I'd be first in line?" Charlotte looked to her.
"I suspect we needn't take the palace at all if that was the case." Ciaran replied and drifted off into speculation. "Just make Joseph's death an accident and the throne will just fall upon you with none the wiser." She lightly sighed, blowing wistfully. "I don't suppose there is something that could 'boost' you above Isabella?"
It had not been a serious question. Charlotte may have taken it as such though, the girl slowly shaking her head after taking a moment to ponder the question.
However it was Anne's reaction that caught her strict attention. Rather than dismiss it as a fantasy, Anne leaned back, eyes wide as if just struck with an epiphany.
"There is isn't there?" Ciaran softly accused, directing her eyes to Anne.
Charlotte looked to her and followed her gaze to her mother. There was a brief flash of confusion before comprehension settled. The girl surprisingly sounded more disappointed more so than anything as she said. "Mother..."
Anne lifted her hands in mock defence. "To be fair, I had intended to tell you about this. It's just with all this happening, I haven't the chance."
"Another secret you've been keeping?" Charlotte asked her, still not a flare of anger just more disappointment.
"Both me and your father had agreed that it was for the best. We were planning to tell you when you became of age." Anne protested in her defence. "It's all be derailed now though."
"What is it then?" Charlotte directly asked, done with beating around the bush.
Anne unwillingly hesitated for just a moment before uttering. "It's the Void. Your magical element is the void."
Charlotte became still in her seat. Her disappointment and repressed anger ebbing a bit at how easily her mother had shared her secret this time. In its place was now confusion over the casual revelation her mother had put upon her.
"Void? As in the Founder's Void?" Charlotte voiced her thoughts. That was impossible wasn't it? Only the Founder could use the Void. There was no way it could be her element.
"Yes. The very same." Mother paused for a bit before continuing. "Or at least close to the same thing."
"I recall you mentioning this in the palace." Ciaran mentioned.
"I did?" Mother responded, surprised at this.
"You did?" She asked at about the same time.
"Yes. You named me a familiar of the Void as I recall." Ciaran told her mother.
"It must have been a slip of tongue then." Mother muttered to herself.
"Wait, what do you mean close to the same?" Charlotte demanded, dragging the conversation back to her. "Is it or isn't it the Void?"
Mother hesitated and tested some words on her lips before finally deciding on, "We were never sure ourselves. All the signs pointed to you having the same Void but so little information on it exists that we had to rely on speculation most of the time." Mother gestured to Ciaran, in particular to her forehead. "But that mark on your head... which you've hidden somehow, is all the proof we need."
"Really?" Charlotte remarked, trying to spy the runes that should be on Ciaran's head. Just like Mother, she had trouble actually seeing it. She hadn't paid it any attention until now but the runes really weren't visible at all. At times she thought she might have seen a speck of it behind the blonde hair but Ciaran would just readjust a bit and it was gone. "Why are you hiding it anyway?"
"I'd rather not have a distinctive mark for people to recognise me with." Ciaran confessed. Having said that, she lifted her hand and brushed at her forehead to reveal the runes inscribed on her skin. "But more importantly, what does this mark mean then?"
"Myoznitnirn." Anne told them, her deep tone marking the word as important. And it probably was important. Now if only she knew what it actually meant. She was about to put her question to words when Ciaran did it for her.
"And what does Myoznitnirn mean?"
"The Mind of God. One of the Founder's four familiars."
"The Founder had four familiars?" Charlotte asked. This was new to her. None of her textbooks or any of those lessons with the Church ever mentioned the Founder having four familiars. Admittedly it probably wasn't all that important but you'd think someone would have mentioned it at some point.
Mother must have noticed her surprise as she said the next with a small smile. "Yes. It was a surprise to both me and your father as well. It wasn't really a hidden fact but it's barely mentioned in most texts." Switching to a more serious tone. "But these four familiars served the Founder and each of them supposedly had powers that aided them in their duty."
"And what was Myoznitnirns then?" Ciaran asked, interested.
"Myoznitnirn assisted the Founder with his magic."
"I have no clue." Mother confessed with a hopeless shake of her head. "There was only one tome that ever mentioned this in passing and it was too vague and broad to truly put a definition behind it."
"But how do I even have the Void though?" She asked. There was no way that she just suddenly got the Void element rather than the thousands of other noble children in the world.
"That, we," Mother grimaced before continuing. "Charles had a theory. You remember your history lessons? How each of the Brimiric Kingdoms were formed by the Founder's descendants and his sole apprentice?"
"Yes." Charlotte nodded along.
"Well you should also know that magic is inherited from the parents. Charles theorised that maybe the Void element was passed down his descendants to you eventually."
Charlotte slowly nodded before she stumbled upon a nugget of an idea. If the Void was passed down through the Founder's family then there was no way she could be the first one to get the Void element. It's been at least like six thousand years since his time. Between then and now, there had to be at least like... sixty void mages right? "But wouldn't that mean there should have been other Void mages? Why haven't I heard of them then?"
"I have no idea." Mother confessed. "Maybe they all wanted to keep it a secret?"
"And why would that be the case?" Ciaran asked her.
"I suppose the Church may take offence to it." Mother suggested. "They do maintain that only the Founder could use the Void."
"Is it bad then that I have it?" Charlotte asked, a bit worried. If only the Founder could use the Void then her having it... would that make her a heretic?
"Does it matter?" Ciaran responded. "Am I correct in understanding that being the descendants of this Founder is how the royal family casts itself as legitimate?"
"So you wish to use Charlotte's connection to the Void as proof that she is closer to the Founder than Isabella?"
"Romalia won't like that." She muttered. She was still a bit new to politics and stuff but even she could see that the Romalians won't react well.
"They won't." Mother agreed with her. "But all they have is words as their weapons. They wouldn't dare encroach upon you."
"Especially if Charlotte is the Queen of Gallia." Ciaran added along.
"How do I even prove that I'm a Void mage?" Charlotte asked them both. "People won't believe me just because I said so."
Especially since all her failing all her spells could be dismissed as her just being bad at magic. It certainly wouldn't be the first time she's heard people whispering about it behind her.
"Could you not cast some spells exclusive to the Void?" Ciaran innocently asked.
"The thing is that I can't cast any spells." Charlotte muttered in a low tone, a bit downcast at remembering her ineptitude with magic. She at least now had an explanation at why she was bad at normal magic so it did lessen the sting. Only by a bit though.
"And there isn't exactly any convenient spellbooks to learn from." Mother added on before she suddenly snuck a look to the wall safe she knew was hidden behind that painting of her great grandfather. Standing up, she strode over to the painting.
"You have something in mind?" Ciaran asked, stepping aside to allow her mother to pass.
"...There is another theory that Charles had about had." Mother said as she reached the painting and began to reach for its edges. "Could you please give me hand with this?"
Ciaran nodded and went over to her side. Together, the two women lifted down the painting to reveal the small metal safe built into the wall. "Of course there's a safe hidden behind a painting."
"The original architect wasn't a very creative man. He stuck to all the clichés." Anne remarked with a light smile. "We also have a hidden room behind a fireplace."
They had a secret room behind a fireplace? She guessed she didn't know the place as well as she thought. Her mind flicked through all the rooms in the château. There were only like four of them. She could probably ch-
"Charlotte. Don't even think about it." Her mother suddenly called out even as she was busy opening the safe. "No one's been in it for at least a decade now. It's probably not safe."
She jolted a bit at being caught out so fast but quickly calmed and put on her best normal totally not lying voice. "Think about what?"
"Oh you know what I mean." Mother said with a roll of her eyes. Blue eyes lit up when the safe door finally swung open. Blowing out some dust, Mother reached in and gently pulled out a... incense burner?
"An incense burner?" Ciaran identified aloud. "Dare I ask it's purpose?"
"It's the Founder's Incense Burner." Mother told her as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"That's it's name not it's purpose." Ciaran responded as the two of them returned to their original positions.
"Well, to me and Charles. It just burns incense like normal." Mother explained, settling the artefact down on the desk.
"But...?" She prompted her mother.
"But Charles thought that maybe only a Void mage could use it. That the incense burned would maybe give the Void mage some vision or something and that to everyone else, it would just be normal censor." Mother sniffed. "It smelled incredibly bad last I recall as welll."
"Where did you even find this?" Charlotte asked. The Incense Burner of the Founder himself? "Shouldn't stuff like this be in the vault in Versailles?"
"Ah." Mother uttered, as if caught out. In a small voice, almost a whisper, she replied. "Charles may or may not have stolen it from the palace."
"And no one will notice it's disappearance?" Ciaran asked.
"No one ever uses it anyway." Anne countered. "And even when me and Charles used it; it was just a normal censor.
"But it might be different if I used it?" she asked her mother.
"That was your father's theory." Her mother hesitated. "I'm truthfully not certain what will happen."
"It may be nothing and this just happened to be an incense burner that the Founder used." Ciaran suggested.
"I'm not sure which one worries me more then." Mother muttered to herself. "I'm actually starting to regret bringing this out as well."
"Well I want to try it." Charlotte announced before her mother decided to throw it back into the safe.
She'd admit she was a bit nervous about this but if she really was the Void mage and this Incense Burner thing really did work... She honestly had no idea what it would do but the Founder wouldn't make something that hurt the user right? There's no reason to make his own incense burner a trap. That meant there had to be a use for it.
If it worked then she'd be helping out and may even learn how to use the Void. If it didn't? Well... she'd probably be a bit disappointed but no one would be hurt right? There was nothing to lose with just trying it.
"Are you absolutely sure Charlotte?" Mother asked her, a trace of concern in her voice.
"Well you already brought it out. That meant you wanted to me to try right?" Charlotte answered back.
Off to the side, she could have sworn she heard Ciaran stifle a laugh or giggle. She must have been imagining it though since her face never so much as even moved. Or maybe she was just really good at hiding that kind of stuff. Both were honestly probable true.
Mother must have heard the same thing as she did end up shooting Ciaran another look before giving in. "Very well, just let me get this thing working again."
As Mother went about trying to start up the incense burner, Ciaran had shuffled over to stand right beside her. Leaning down, Ciaran told her. "I suspect that this will probably give you a vision of sorts."
Charlotte looked to her and then back to the Incense Burner just as Mother managed to start the fire. "Because of the smell and smoke?"
Ciaran nodded her confirmation and added. "It's merely the impression I receive however. I could be wildly wrong."
She could see the smoke now, small puffs of smoke tinted a bit with purple. That and she could smell it as well. Her nose wrinkled a bit at it. Mother was right. It really did...
Charlotte startled awake to the name with surprise. She tried to sit up but found herself unable to. She tried to look to her body to see what was wrong. She couldn't. Panic began to take her as she tried to struggle against whatever was stopping her from moving. What happened? She was still in the room and then suddenly-
She almost gasped when she was suddenly standing up. She rose and rose and rose way higher than she could ever be. During the ascent, she managed to get a good look at her body... or the man's body she seemed to be wearing. He had been addressed Brimir? Was... was this the Founder? Had the Incense Burner put her in the Founder's body?
"What?!" Charlotte almost winced at the volume of the voice only to then realise that it had come from her own mouth. The man who had spoken first seemed to think the same, as the robed stranger flinched at the harshness in her voice. In a sudden shift, the voice then continued in a gentler tone."Sorry. What is it?"
"The Elves have been spotted on the horizon." The robed man gestured across the endless desert that they seemed to be in. Following his hand, she could see a noticeable host of dust being kicked up along with small forms leading just ahead of it. "They'll reach us soon."
"Good. Good." The Founder Brimir... The Founder Brimir said in an almost sinister tone. She could never have imagined him sounding like this. "Maybe then they'll believe me."
"Chief?" the robed man questioned, a trace of worry in his voice.
"Go!" She felt her hand wave dismissively at the man. The robed man seemed a bit taken aback by this but nodded and left them. When the robed man was some distance away, having joined a small group of likewise dressed people, she felt herself slump down, resting her back against something hard. Maybe a rock or something?
"My son... if you're listening to this," The weary voice said before he suddenly grunted and shifted a bit forward. The next words were frenzied, sounding almost like the ravings of a mad man."No. No. I'm still lucid. I need to, I have to!"
Charlotte could feel her heart pumping as the Founder took a long breath. Or was it really her heart? She still wasn't sure what the heck was even going on here? All she knew was that this was probably the past and that the Founder apparently was on the brink of madness or something.
"My son." The Founder repeated. His voice so quiet that if she wasn't literally him she would never have picked it up. "I'd make a joke but I fear that I haven't much time."
The blond man wearily sighed and leaned a bit forward, her legs being pulled up closer. "I don't know how much time I have left. It's been a while since I had this much clarity."
Her gaze turned to reveal the entrance to a massive cave that was built into the mountain. The mountain itself was a dry reddish colour, nothing really out of the ordinary. It was the cave itself that fixed her attention. All the sunshine told her it should still be sometime around noon and yet the no light shone could penetrate the fathomless darkness of the cave. The blackness seemingly sticking to the very walls themselves.
"There is Shaitan's Gate. Or Demon's Gate." The Founder barked a harsh laugh. "The name is quite literal though I fear the Elves didn't believe me."
"You remember? When I destroyed the Varyag with a single ritual? Here was where I did it." Again the Founder laughed, a thoroughly unpleasant sound though she didn't know if that was his intent. "It should have been my greatest achievement. Destroying our long foe, finally bringing peace after who knows how many years of running."
The man suddenly screamed, sounding almost like a feral animal. Charlotte gasped as her perspective suddenly shifted to the ground. The man's fist pounding the sand beside him till they were bloody.
Several cries of worry sounded out. She saw a dozen or so men and women, all of the dressed for battle with staffs and swords. Nearly all of them carrying very concerned faces.
"Leave!" The Founder saw nuisances. He saw men and women too scared that without him, they'd be slaughtered by the Elves. They didn't come to him out of genuine concern but rather selfish fear.
Except no. These were the best of his tribe. The closest of his followers. They stood by him for years, faced death resolutely at his side. They followed him because they believed. In a choked voice, "No... I... I'm fine."
The Founder swallowed and licked his lips. Looking to each of them in the eye in turn, he ordered. "We'll go in when the Elves are nearly upon us. Just... just wait until then."
Not even turning to check upon whether his followers obeyed or not, Brimir turned his attention back to the censor. Returning to the one-sided conversation as if nothing had happened. "I... I released something with that ritual. Something much worse that even the Varyag. The Elves. They didn't believe me." The Founder unleashed a wicked laugh. "Oh but they soon will."
"That sounded far more evil than I intended." Brimir quickly muttered right after, each word barely given a space before the next came. "I... I plan to seal it. Or try to at least. I can't kill it. Trust me, I've tried that. It's... It's why I'm like this."
Her gaze was then directed downwards, to a familiar object settled between the legs of the Founder. The Incense Burner lay awkwardly placed on the sand, tilted at an angle. Though it looked lit, she couldn't see a trace of smoke or any trail.
"This is a contingency. In the event that I fail." The Founder breathed in a deep breath before continuing. "Each time you light the censor, you'll see another one of my memories. They're meant to teach you how to use to power I've gifted you before I left. The others,"
Again the Founder bent down, she felt a knuckle ram against her head as the Founder reeled from whatever invisible being was attacking him. "Ah... the others... my children, I... they have their own. Their own devices. Just in case. Try theirs if this doesn't work."
The Founder laughed again, this one by far the most genuine one she's heard so far. Though that really wasn't much of a contest. "But I suppose if this doesn't work, you'd never know anyway."
A blasting horn drew the Founder's attention to the distance. Charlotte strained her eyes, or the Founder's she wasn't sure. She has never seen an Elf before but she's heard the stories. Closing upon the Founder was an army of Elven warriors, flying banners she didn't recognise. They were moving across the sand with such speed, far faster than any human army could ever match. It was almost as if they flying across the desert.
"I've got to go now." The Founder said with a great sense of urgency. "Vili!"
"Brimir?" A sleek man appeared before the Founder near instantly, almost like he had teleported. It took her only a moment to realise he must have used some sort of magic.
"Take this. Take it back to..." The Founder curled down again, a groan of pain escaping him.
"Brimir? What is-"
"My children!" The Founder lifted his head and screamed. "Take it. Take it to the second one."
As the Founder handed over the censor, Charlotte's view faded away.