The Battle for Camlon
In the darkness before dawn, Vytria flies high above Camlon. The city is deceptively quiet, as Vytria feels movement through the air in the streets and the castle. All are moving into position, for today everything will be determined. Today they fight for Camlon.
As the faintest lights of dawn push back the night, a small rescue party moves silently through the castle. Certan ordered all the defecting knights locked up in the dungeons that still stand. Most of those knights are young, as they owe great loyalty to Dnovan, their captain. Now Morcant, with two from Tarik’s household, move in to free them.
The stealth of the two with him, Rydn and Jyrn, amazes him. Many times he himself loses track of their presence as they penetrate further into the castle. Even so, this is too easy. Certan is not one to take any opponent lightly.
“Relax,” the one called Rydn whispers. “Whatever is here, we’ll deal with it.”
A soft breeze swirls around Morcant. Vytria is reminding him she too is watching. Morcant lets his tension ebb somewhat. Presently they are within sight of the imprisoned knights, but a snap of wind pushes him back. “Certan’s trap is just ahead.”
Jyrn and Rydn nod and disappear. Around the corner sounds of clanging metal and shouts ring through the dungeon. Morcant hears footsteps behind him, and turns to find himself engaged by several knights at once.
“Only three of you?” Certan asks as he faces Jyrn. “I expected more of an effort.”
“Four,” Morcant replies. “And that is all we need.” A rising gale confirms Morcant’s count. The knights attacking them find it hard to move, making them easy opponents. Morcant, Jyrn, and Rydn fight their way to the cell doors and release the imprisoned knights. As the group moves toward the gaping hole Vytria had created with her own earlier escape, the gale stops suddenly. Certan’s knights close in from all sides. “What did you do?” Morcant demands.
“There are other powers besides that of the Queen of Chaos,” Certan replies.
“It is true, then. You have allied yourself with Lady Ashrah.”
Vytria’s wind picks up, as if responding to Morcant’s turmoil, and explodes, removing all Morcant’s obstacles on every side. Before the dust settles, Morcant leads his party away from the castle.
Vytria catches her breath. Not many could have interfered with her winds like that, and certainly none that were present in the dungeons. No, whoever challenged her wielded their power from much farther away. Until she found them, they had the advantage over her. By now the undercity would have become a battlefield. Perhaps down there… Vytria stirs the air and focuses on the fighting down below. Just as Dnovan expected, the undercity is crawling with Nirad, and the mages are finding themselves at a disadvantage. But none of them, so far, are the one she seeks.
Vytria catches a sense of a strong power. Before she confirms its location, it surges toward her, too fast for her to withdraw her focus and counter it. The full force slams into her, knocking her from the tower. Vytria lets herself fall, guiding her momentum into one of the openings to the undercity.
As Vytria nears the castle, she sees Certan pursuing Morcant. Anger rises within her. “You shall not turn away from us. Witness the slaughter you yourself have ordered.” Vytria knocks him underground with her winds.
As they both fall beneath the ground, sounds of one battle are replaced by the desperate shouts of another. Nirad are attacking the undercity from three sides. But for the valor of the Laine brothers the undercity would be overrun, and the darkness favors the Nirad. As it stands, the Laine brothers can only hold back the Nirad, and their strength will not last forever.
Vytria guides her fall so she lands near Dnovan, while Certan lands behind the Nirad.
“What happened?” Dnovan asks her.
“Morcant successfully rescued our knights. A Nirad down here interfered with my winds and knocked me down here. Oh, and I pulled Certan down here too.”
“Can you locate the one who attacked you?”
“I know the general direction. He shouldn’t be hard spot.”
“Then let’s accept his challenge. These men could use something to cheer about.”
“Gladly.” Vytria and Dnovan charge through ranks of Nirad. While Vytria controls the air, the advantage Nirad gain in the darkness is greatly lessened. That, combined with the experience the Laine family has in fighting Nirad, begins to turn the tide.
Then Vytria’s wind abruptly falters. “Dnovan, it’s happening again.”
“I see it. It’s him.” Dnovan gestures to a tall, muscular Nirad striding toward them. His power seems to wrap itself around him in pitch black cloak. “That has to be Kaisen. You ready for this?”
“Does it matter?” Vytria and Dnovan attack Kaisen together, but Kaisen is clear a top-ranking Nirad. He is in no hurry either. He blocks and parries all their combined attacks, while he himself strikes only occasionally. Kaisen seems content with sealing Vytria’s winds and letting the pair exhaust themselves.
After yet another failed offensive, Dnovan speaks up. “Vytria, you’re not focusing.”
“I’m trying to ignore his interference, but that’s proving difficult.”
“Then do what you want. What’s necessary will take care of itself.”
Vytria smiles slowly. “Hang on to your helmet.” She begins to move the air throughout the battlefield, but Kaisen quells it.
“Nice sentiment, but not going to happen. This battle is ours,” Kaisen declares. He sends a killing blow toward Dnovan, which Dnovan just manages to dodge. Kaisen laughs. “Mere wind will never defeat me or defend your comrades.”
“Mere wind?” Vytria echoes. “I think mere wind is just what we need. Sometimes, strength lies in stillness, in smallness, and in a whisper.” The battlefield changes subtly. Nirad begin to falter. “You cannot sense it, can you. After all, you’ve spent so much time seeking power that the small things are lost to you.”
Kaisen’s fury rises in tangible waves. “I think you’ve made him mad,” Dnovan comments.
“That makes two of us,” Vytria says. “Let’s see him block this one.” Black grapples with Vytria’s winds, and Dnovan charges. Red joins black.
Kaisen’s blood greets Dnovan’s blade.
On the battlefront opposite Kaisen, Certan bests another mage. He swings his sword to strike down another, but a clang of metal blocks it. Certan looks over at his challenger, and sees and angry Morcant.
“Certan!” Morcant shouts. “How could you have fallen so far?”
“That is my question for you. I am defending my people.”
“You are killing them! I have looked into Camlon’s history, Certan, that history which your house has willfully neglected. These mages have been citizens of Camlon longer than we have!”
“Mages are the reason Camlon weakens.”
“Their deaths are what weakens Camlon. Lady Ashrah has not the good of Camlon in mind or heart.”
“I do what is necessary as King. You are weak, Morcant, too weak to make the hard choices.”
“I would rather be weak than a fool.”
Certan does not reply, but swings his sword at Morcant furiously. Morcant responds in kind, until the sound of wingbeats and soft cries penetrates their vision. Certan senses something his periphery, and slashes at it.
Then he stops cold.
A silver gryphn. The symbol of Camlon. He has slain a silver gryphn.
The ground beneath him rattles. Something large is approaching. The very air trembles before it. But Certan has no chance to discern what comes, for in the next moment all is fire.