"Jon's Tale" – Chapter Eight

With the swordsmen fast approaching, I was confined to the corner Jason had put me in. Unable to move from both pain and loss of blood, I hoped Jason would be able to explain what happened without killing any of them first. We would need their help if we were to deal with the Ceyah, and they would probably be hesitant to work with us if a few of them were impaled upon Jason's swords. I knew the Ceyah were close by too. After this assassination attempt, I figured that the "bandits" were little more than an advance scouting party.

The Ceyah probably did not have the forces nearby to take the city by brute force alone. Their attack on the city leaders could have been designed to sow confusion and doubt, plunging the city's morale and making its conquest much easier.

I heard pounding then, and shouting, and figured the soldiers outside had just gotten to the door.

A few minutes later, Jason walked into the room with a rather large grin on his face. I hope it's not cause by bloodlust. Just a few steps behind him came a person who made my spirits soar; because I knew now that a fight erupting was unlikely.

"So, laid up again are we John?" Javin Shahin asked, "What was it this time, a rabid bunny?"

"Funny. If you must know we happened to run into your sister and some of her friends. They wanted to kill us, we didn't want to die, we argued about it….and your sister ended up as that black spot on the wall over there," I said with a chuckle. That chuckle quickly turned into a coughing spasm that involved blood, telling me that my wound was more serious than I had thought.

Javin quickly dropped to a knee, and yelled for someone to "Bring the Cleric!" He turned to Rachel, an inquisitive look on his face, and apparently judged that she was too exhausted to work more magic. Looking to one of his guards, he said, "Take her back to her room at the inn, and see to it that she is not disturbed. She needs her rest."

When they were gone I whispered (a whisper was all I could muster now, I had not the strength to talk louder) to Javin, "Thank you. I know it is painful for her to see me like this, and know that she can't do anything about it."

"There, there m'Lord, the cleric will be here soon and you will be fine," he told me.

"Lord?" I asked, "Since when did you become so formal Javin?"

"Just recently, when my liege lord was nearly assassinated in a town that is currently my responsibility."

"Javin, do you really think I blame you? Between your sister's magic and Divsha's cunning, it is small wonder that they got past your defenses."

My strength was fading fast; I couldn't even summon the strength to whisper.

Just when I though I would have to suffer another decade or so stuck in my amulet before someone could awaken me, the cleric and the messenger came charging back into the room.

The cleric wasted no time, magically taking stock of my injuries with a quick spell. The look on her face spoke wonders. She seemed amazed I was even still alive. Quickly recovering from her shock, she began weaving a recovery spell. For the second time in just a few days….This kind of crap has GOT to stop...the blue light overcame me, taking away both my pain and my consciousness.

"He was extremely lucky," the cleric said to Javin and Jason, "whatever hit him ruptured an artery; he should have bled to death."

Turning towards Jason, Javin asked, "These friends of my sister's, who were they?"

"Divsha...and Vargus."

"Vargus is here? This does not bode well for Ithica. Surely Vargus brought his army with him." Javin did a double-take all of a sudden, as if a thought had just occurred to him, and he looked at Jason curiously. "Why have you and John come here" I thought all that you two cared about was finding Darius, despite your brother having larger responsibilities."

Jason flushed guiltily, and appeared torn on how to answer. He finally settled on the truth. "We were just passing through. Our most recent intelligence puts an awakened Darius about a day's ride to the south. Well, at least our intention was to pass through. Once we heard about the town's bandit problem our plans changed. We came here to talk..." he slowly looked around at the charred corpses still sitting in chairs around the large table, "...to the city's leaders to propose a military action, though we did not know you were here." Jason returned the curious look, "Why are you here though? Last I heard you were running guerilla actions out of Council lands, what brings you all the way across the continent?"

Javin lost all his bluster, and slumped while standing. "The Ceyah crushed our operation," he said. "One of the mortals had to have given us up; the Ceyah knew we were coming and were waiting for us. We tried to fight our way free, but we lost so many. Ghalen Mordecai refused to run. I watched as Sijansur cut him down. I had to carry Naava Daishan after that, all the fight drained out of her. Amber Yasin was taken later. Hordes of shadelings appeared from nowhere, dragging her to where Vashti waited. I did not see what happened after, but I fear for her. Few of the mortals escaped, and of the Kohan, only Naava, Adellon Majere and I made it out alive, though we escaped with Ethan Delroba's amulet.

We were on the run after that. We decided to split up to raise our chances of getting away. We sent Ethan's amulet to Ravid Sakeri so he could eventually be awakened. We didn't tell each other where we would go, but I believe Adellon went north to the Gauri highlands. Knowing Naava, she probably tried to track where the Ceyah took Ghalen and Amber. She never gives up, but she's probably been captured by now. She's never been known to be subtle you know.

I trekked off to the west, skirting the Plains next to Haroun country. I got here about a week ago, like you I heard about the bandit problem and had to do something. So I spoke to the town's leaders, and began training troops in the hopes that they could defend themselves and I could keep moving.

Of course, now that John's back in charge, I expect that my days of ducking and hiding are nearly over."

"I can't speak for my brother," Jason said, "but I doubt the Royalists will do much more skulking around in the dark."

My head is killing me. I opened my eyes and once more looked around an empty room. It was obviously a recovery room. Devoid of any paintings, flowers, personally effects, and even color, it was stark in nature, the typical recovery room.

I have got to quit doing this. Getting injured in every battle is no way to lead, and if I keep this up, Rachel will kill me.

She must be worried sick.

I wonder what happened to Javin.

Are all the council members dead?

These thoughts overwhelmed me, and drove me back into the dark.

­

Waking again, after Creator-knows how long, I felt much better. I was able to sort through some of the thoughts I'd had earlier.

Some worries I dismissed; surely Rachel was fine, as was Javin since he wasn't even involved in the battle.

Though it sounds callous, even in my own mind, the fate of the city council mattered little. Since nothing had been done about the bandits even though there were troops here, I blamed the inaction on the council.

With them out of the way, action could be taken to ensure the town's safety, as well as providing a base of operations while Darius got back to form.

Slowly getting out of the bed, a quick chill alerted me to the fact that I was stark naked. Flushing with embarrassment from not noticing this earlier, I found a thin shirt and some breeches lying on a chair.

Dressing quickly, I was aware of a tingle in my left arm, the only after-effect of my wound.

I left the room, emerging into sunlight where I expected a hallway. Apparently I had been in a room at the inn, not a proper recover room like I thought.

As I walked out, a young man standing next to the door snapped to attention. Obviously nervous, it took the boy a minute to remember to tell me that Javin and my friends were waiting back at the town hall for me.

Crossing the town on my way to the hall, I noticed several things. First, the town was not nearly as frightened as I expected. A midnight attack by Ceyah that ended with dead leaders certainly should have these people scared, yet they were outside, laughing, and seemed not worried in the least.

Secondly, the people I saw all seemed to move with purpose. When I saw them the other day...How long was I out...they seemed to move listlessly, as if they didn't believe what they were doing needed to be done. Now everywhere I looked there was hustle and bustle.

I passed a large field where a militia captain was drilling his men relentlessly. As I passed them they all stopped and snapped to attention when they saw me, including the captain. They had a fire in their eyes that had not been there previously.

What in the Creator's name did Jason do while I was out?

I walked into the town hall and was immediately shocked by what I saw. The great round table where the council had met was gone; in its place were numerous smaller tables, with maps and parchments strewn all about. Captains hovered over maps, sometimes arguing, sometimes just staring hard at the maps, trying to will the information to change. It was chaos; the chaos of war.