Atros Imperium

by

Terry78

Chapter 154 Pt.1 - Vol 4 - Ripples of Qaiviel

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Chapter 154 Pt.1:

 

 

Terrill could barely stand, alcohol had already robbed him of such delicate movements. Instead, he sat in a soft, plush chair, a half-empty glass of brandy within easy reach. No words passed his lips, only the brown liquid in an attempt to calm his heart.

It failed utterly.

“Stupid girl.” Terrill downed the entire glass in one go, uncaring that he aged body spasmed in rebellion. “I told you it was going to be a trap. But you didn’t listen…And now look what happened.

Terill shook his head, just for a moment regretting he had thrown away the last of the alcohol.

“If you’d just listened…Had the meeting somewhere public, where everyone could see you, he’d never had tried something like that.”

Terill shook his head, sinking further into the soft chair. The last conversation he’d had with Lila came flooding back. An argument. Quite a bad one at that. Terill insisted that Leo couldn’t be trusted, while Fabrice assured her that he would, with people as reputable as Bernard and Marcus advising him. Lila was swayed by his arguments and agreed to go to the throne room, with a modest escort. Terill, exasperated, told her that she would be killed. Lila had only smiled and told him that her brother wouldn’t do that, that despite everything they were family and that he’d follow his words. Terill, in a misguided fit of anger, left in a huff. Of all the terrible choices he’d made in his life this was the one he regretted the most, a feeling that threatened to drag his heart to a complete stop.

“You should have listened to me…”

Terrill’s empty voice echoed in the small room. An old Church hideout, respite for Inquisitors hunting heretics and apostates. But mainly just a place to relax and unwind in peace and perfect privacy.

“I could hide here for the rest of my life.” Terrill slurred aloud. “I’m the only one that knows of this place. Well, that’s alive at any rate.”

The hideout was very simple. A small underground room underneath an unwitting civilian’s home, cluttered with preserved food, small caches of gold and even some books. Some of which were far worse than being simply heretical.

Terill had yet to see Lila’s body but he knew that she was murdered. In public too. The story was more than hollow; a last-ditch effort from Harold’s supporters to avenge their fallen king. But few had much recourse. Leo held a much larger force, more mages, and the strange mercenaries that Lila had taken a passing interest in. What she wanted to discuss with the mercenaries he would never know. They were firmly in Leo’s pocket, even if they weren’t paid they would be on his side. What option did they have?

Terill stumbled to his feet and searched for another bottle, anything to numb the pain that coursed through his heart. He tossed books and food to the side, uncaring the glass vials of preserved food broke, both food and glass staining the floor and the precious books. But Terill didn’t care.

Slowly the anger began to build, quickly consumed by an overwhelming sense of loss and hopelessness.

“Why couldn’t you have me by your side?” Terrill slumped back into the chair. “At least then I’d be dead…And not here. Just…”

He couldn’t find the words and stared at the single candle that illuminated the small room. Though small it was more than enough, luckily it wasn’t tossed into the piles of books, and their flammable paper pages.

“What am I supposed to do now?” Terill began to laugh. “An old, decrepit eunuch of a man, hunted by an entire Kingdom. At least I had some purpose before.”

Terrill kicked another pile of books. “Curse that idiotic boy! Leo should have never been allowed to take the throne. There must have…What’s the point? You’re dead. And soon…I’ll be dead too.”

Another pile of books fell, scattering over the ground. He grunted and shook his head.

“I…What’s this?”

Terrill’s eyes fell upon a small black leather bound book, one that Terill didn’t recognise. There were many that he had yet to read but he didn’t remember seeing this particular book, but he couldn’t pull his eyes away. A small marking on the front, the only distinguishing feature amongst the black leather, drew his attention.

A small stylised eye, with a set of teeth below. But the teeth were not humans. Nor Beast-kin. The lateral incisors were long, very long and tinged with a faint red dye.

Terill knew this symbol. It had been a part of his training as an Inquisitor.

Necromancy was a particularly vile school of magic, normally only the most wicked people would ever dare try and pry its secrets. Normally these were young mages, or hermits and miscreants that stumbled upon the most basic of the necromantic arts. But this was different.

“No…No they wouldn’t be able to help me.”

Terill picked up the book. The cover was still soft, despite the age and misuse, the paper crisp even though the other books were warped from the damp.

“Those creatures…Those foul creatures of the darkness.” Terill looked up. “Who am I kidding?”

Despite his words, Terill couldn’t put the book down. Thoughts continued to swarm and fester in his mind.

The book belonged to one of the few groups that Inquisitors genuinely feared. Terill had defeated hermit necromancers and the few errant mage students but these were different. Entirely different.

“I’ll never forget fighting a Vampire Archon.”

Even with alcohol coursing through his blood Terill shuddered at the memory of the creature. A single Vampire Archon, spawn of a dread being known only as Gorash, had been discovered in the north of Qaiviel, plotting something from a small remote village. Terill had marched upon the solitary man, rather unremarkable apart from his distaste for sunlight, and lost hundreds of soldiers. Memories flashed before his eyes, of a man tearing through elite soldiers and mages, moving with such speed and grace it was almost hypnotic. And every soldier that fell returned, not as a shambling monstrosity like the rudimentary necromancers, but as full sentient beings, bound to the man’s will and somehow enhanced by his magic. Terill didn’t know how the Vampire Archon fell, only that he did. He was not ashamed to say that he ran the moment he realised how dangerous they were.

“But they can do more than just fight…” Terill shook his head. “Could…No. They couldn’t…Could they?”

Terill cast his eyes around the small room, the last refuge he had. Could things honestly become any worse?

A sly smile crept over Terrill’s face. “They can hardly torture me. My heart would probably fail before I gave anything up. Not that I have anything left. So…Why not?”

A new thought stuck itself in his mind. Necromancers, even the most powerful, needed a body to work their magic, or at least some sort of flesh. The thought of somehow taking Lila’s corpse across the seas made him shudder. Not to mention that it would be impossible to recover her body before Leo either burned or buried it.

Terill rubbed a small lump in his pocket. A simple necklace given to him by Lila. He didn’t know where she found it, she had given away most of hers to ensure they had enough food and water during their flight from Clausonne, but she wanted him to keep it. She had given it to him a few nights before arriving at Clausonne. A night that he’d never forget. A night where he actually laughed, laughing and drinking with a potential future Queen, chatting about nothing and yet feeling the night fly by. It was like nothing he’d ever felt before. And it was now gone forever. Unless…

“This…This might be enough.” Terill sighed. “It belonged to her. Maybe some part of her spirit will remain lingering and attach itself to it.”

Terill slowly nodded. “I have enough money for the voyage, though it’ll be only one way. If they can’t bring her back then…”

I’ll just have them kill me. At least I tell her that I fell to the Vampire Archons.

Terill tried to take a step forward, both legs were like jelly.

“Alcohol is such a vile thing.” Terill slumped back into the chair. “Tomorrow then. Leo’s forces will have calmed a little by then too. They’ll probably think I’ve already left…”

Sleep rapidly began to overtake him, with the last of his strength he blew out the candle and completely surrounded himself in darkness. It was strangely peaceful, calming, almost.

“Maybe…Maybe I’ll do something worthwhile. Put someone worthwhile on the throne…Then I could die happily. Maybe I’ll just die? Who’s to say?”

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A note from Terry78

Hello Everyone.

A quick blurb about this chapter, and then what happened last chapter.

 

Basically Terill tried warning Lila that it was likely a trap but was told he wouldn't, since his advisors were honourable men, then stormed off. Of course he regrets it but now has a chance to make amends, sort of.

When Anton met Ferula there was talk about creatures and things that even she fears to come across. A vampire is one of them. Strong, fast and exceeding powerful. We'll follow Terill's journey across the sea and see how that goes. The name Gorash was mentioned, only once so I don't blame anyone for not remembering it (I had to go back to find it). Its the author of the book the Necromancer Ferula killed in the Basilisk Swamp. So we might meet someone that's incredibly old, perhaps even older than the Wood Elves.

 

 

 

 

Now, as for the previous chapter. There are a few things so I'll do my best to organise them as best I can.

- Anton and Lila had only a few sentences spoken between them, and that was to speak further about possibly working for her, specifically about the upcoming centaur invasion. That's really the limit of their interaction. Anton doesn't know if she's a good ruler or not. As Verona points out she has an old Church Inquisitor by his side. We, as the reader, know that he's thrown that aside but they don't.

- When Anton saw the walls beginning to move he had no idea who the target was or even if it was another assasination attempt. The bolts flew very soon after that, fatally wounding Lila. Now, Anton could, maybe, have interfered, but he has no idea how many crossbowmen are ready, and as the second coup goes on it's clear there are a lot and all ready to fire a near continious volley. Anton's primary concern is self preservation (and those close to him) so he's not going to risk starting another war, one that he can't win, to help Lila. By the time he realises it's orchastrated by Leo, not that hard when all the bolts are missing him, Lila is on the verge of death and her supporters are all but dead as well.

- Anton's primary goal in helping Qaiviel was to ensure that Harold and The Church of The Holy Father. The gold and books are something enticing but not really necessary. They do have a silver and Chelium ore mine that won't take too long to establish as well as several chests of gold and jewels back in Atros. One of the reasons why he wasn't too worried about not getting the right amount or not getting the books. Also Graterious has them for sale and has a much larger selection. So he's not that worried.

- To Anton it doesn't matter who's on the throne. Just that someone who doesn't want them dead outright. Will Leo be a better ruler than Lila? Probably not, but Anton doesn't know how either will perform with the crown and it's not in his interest beyond having a stable Qaiviel. Lila might have turned out to be terrible and Leo calms down once he marries. Who's to say? But I don't think Anton would rush forward to save Lila, probably getting one or more of his loved ones killed by a hailstorm of bolts coming from behind, on the off chance that Lila might be a better ruler.

- Leo is in a bit of a bind. He knows that Anton could kill them all, but hasn't. He also needs his help in the future, but he has just killed his sister in cold blood and clearly quite shaken by the act so he's hardly going to be feeling and behaving the best. And Anton's simply playing to him, in order to get out. He's just saying yes so he can get out. Leo also knows that if he were to try and attack Anton that Qaiviel would suffer as he could just slip into a city and burn it to the ground before anyone knows what's happening.

- Nithroel hasn't gotten away with the whole mess with Atros. The last time two Old Gods fought they destroyed hundreds of miles of land that has still yet to heal. That's the Confligration, where the Centaurs live. We have yet to see it but it's a mess of a place.

- The part after meeting Belinda and Alfred probably does need some work. I think that they need to explain themselves a bit better. Something along the lines of 'King Leo ordered me to do this, and if I didn't I'd be in a very precarious position' and that if it wasn't done right another civil war could emerge. For Belinda it's a case of cold pragmatism. She could protest, and have Leo's ire and potentially become a new target or go along with it and get even more of a reward. I don't think Belinda is a good or bad person. But she doesn't want to die and trying to lecture someone like Leo, after planning to kill his sister, probably isn't a good idea for her long term prospects at living.

- The potentially booby trapped reward is simply speculation but no one knows if it is. If one coin was booby trapped then it could kill him. After witnessing Leo's actions I don't think Anton's willing to take that risk.

- Going forward Anton will be considerably more cautious in dealing with them. Perhaps screening every person that comes through with an exhaustive list. It'll make sure that everyone's good and give them all some much needed magical strength training.

 

 

 

 

Okay. I think that's most of the points. I'll try to answer everything I can here. Just needed a few days to gather my own thoughts before responding.

 

Anyway, hope it answers some things.

Thanks for Reading!

 

 

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Terry78

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Crematoria ago

I got two questions that are on my mind.

1. Was granting the free land avoided on purpose?

And

2. Why haven't Antons gods said anything about the cracks in his magic power crystal? Have they fixed themselves?

Kreldor ago

Anton dose not claim to be a leader of a seperate country, he sort of is but dose not claim nor act like it.

The fact that Belinda did not even give them a cryptic clue about what was going on dose not make her an enemy but it dose take her off the trusted ally list. At no point has Balinda renownced her position to Qaiviel and Leo is the rightful succesor so that is where her loyalties have to be even if her king dose something she dose not like. For a long time in the story we looked at Balinda as a trusted ally when she has always been a noble of that country. Is Belinda more trustworthy than Leo, by a mile.

Leo has made many promises and has chosen to not keep important ones. As I said before any work done for Qaiviel should be required to be paid up front, Belinda may be given more latitude due to keeping her promises of the past. Leos word holds little to no faith and should be treated as such in the future. Should Anton have just said what they wanted to hear to get himself and loved ones out? Hell yes!

I also forgot about the recognition of the teritories in the old kingdom that Atros will be claiming and don't remeber if Anton brought it up to Belinda, Leo or anyone else. Once those are recognized as another countries teritory Anton and wives would recive foreign representitive status. As is Anton and crew are just foreign mercinaries and commoners. Nobles view reward promises to commeners as things that can be reduced if the situation or just mood strikes them at the time, what makes other cautious is his power.

The privous chapter was not poorly done it was just a bad situation. Things were not great but looking much better till the family killing than a lot of hope for Qaiviel just gets dropped in the trash can. Far from idead but not beyond hope or recovery. The single larges mistake was killing Lila in front of Anton as long as there was doubt about it being an assasination the future would have been far easyer. With this full knowledge how can Anton not see Leo for the betrayer he is? With a neighbor like this it is not a mater of will they come for Atros but when.

Gelcube ago

Ok, a few points I'd like to mention.

1. Yes, Anton is powerful. But he didn't have hundreds of his citizens behind him during the ambush. He had himself, and his wives. So he had to get him and his family out...even if it meant bowing to an a**hole. The ruler of a state not bowing is foolish if you can't guarantee you and those you care about can escape.

2. What makes anyone think that Belinda thinks Anton is her best ally? Yes, he's been honest and forthright in his dealings with her, but they really haven't known each other too long. By contrast, I'm sure Belinda has known the royal family practically her entire life. She's steeped in the backstabbing and political maneuvering. Yes, WE know Anton inside and out, but Belinda as a character does not. And we also know little about her other circumstances. She's being a politician and trying to straddle the fence. I doubt it'll work for her, though. I'm pretty sure she'll end up at the gates of Atros asking for political asylum at some point.

3. People are talking about why didn't Leo's advisors tell him to keep Anton out. Has no one actually looked at the "advisors"? Lila's advisor tells her to trust Leo, and Leo's advisor tells him to kill his sister. Clearly, there is some major player pulling the strings of these advisors, and Leo is going to get his head handed to him if he doesn't toe the line for this mysterious manipulator. Thus why I said Belinda is probably going to show up on Anton's doorstep at some point.

matosch ago

Thx for the chapter and infos!

DrMonotone ago

Hahahahah, author's note was totally longer than the chapter! Thanks for the chap either way!

Gunther ago

i wonder how the clansmen are doing? been a while since we last heard from them. Thanks for the chapter

grizz433 ago

As far as the gold being booby trapped send it all for a mass purchase of slaves if it kills a slave owner so much the better and you get a influx of people freed

Xenower ago

Ok, I haven't commented on this yet, been meaning to but never gotten that far. So, first off. I, personally, found it disappointing that Lila was killed off, it didn't sit well with me at all. Now, I know that such is the case with any story you read - it takes twists and turns one might not like. I didn't particularly like it when Ned Stark died in GoT, but I accept that's the turn the story took and why it did. My personal feelings doesn't matter to the telling of the story (that goes for everyone else too, not liking the fact that she was killed off does not, per se, make the story bad or the events unrealistic).

Now, with this out of the way... I have some issues with recent events, the previous chapter to be specific. I'll try to be brief, but I do have a tendancy to write in big chunks, so sorry about that beforehand. Now... To be perfectly blunt, that whole mess reeks of incompetence. First off, Leo decides to have Lila killed - he is young, impulsive, inexperienced, functionally retarded in matters of state & diplomacy, and has shown a dislike for the very idea of splitting the kingdom - all of which makes this assassination highly believable, at least in terms of character motivation.

Now, the event: He kills her in front of a select number of his retainers, not to mention the very powerful mercenary mage who may or may not have quite the backing. Why? Surely he has nothing to gain from being proven a to be an oathbreaker and a kinslayer? Not only to his own subjects, but also to a certain mage whose services Leo hopes to retain. Now you might say 'He hasn't thought that far ahead, he's short-sighted'. HE may be, but his advisors most certainly are not. Or should not be, with how they've been portrayed thus far. Speaking of advisors, just how many people were in on it? Bernard, definitely. Alfred & Belinda, apparently. Marcus? He seems pretty chill in the chapter, so I'd guess so. You're trying to convince me that Marcus, who admittedly was planning to go to Duchess Belinda and "administer the King's Justice" (i.e KILL her), took part in this sham of an afair? Just to be clear, he was going to kill a Duchess, the highest seat of nobility, in the name of justice. And he'd go along with this... why, exactly? And please don't give him the Jon Snow treatment, as was seemingly the case with Bernard, of "He, is muh King". I'm just baffled, why didn't ANYONE convince Leo that his 'brilliant plan' was about as moronic as it gets?

I could go on and on about the why of it, but hopefully you get the idea. So let's tackle the how. How could Lila keep acting like a f*king goose when the assassination was pretty much telegraphed to her? And apparently, as stated in this chapter, she was warned of the possibility beforehand. Which she dismissed because... why? She's lived through an assassination already, did she learn absolutely nothing from that? Didn't that leave any mark like, say, an unhealthy dose of paranoia? Instead she she goes on acting clueless when Leo refuses to sign the document looking torn and guilty as hell, and to top it all off all she's got the presence of mind to say is "What's wrong"? Not to mention her knights and other retuine. Noone felt the situation was off? I mean f*king Anton figured out something was fishy a good 10 seconds before anything happened, but noone else? Potatoes, the lot of 'em, with the mental processing skills to match.

Also, why didn't Lila post any guard or knight to check behind the fake wall? I assume that she knew there was one permanently affixed to the throne room, 'cause there is NO WAY IN HELL that was built overnight to such perfection that someone who grew up in the castle couldn't tell the difference. Just finding a master carpenter in a war-torn city that had the luck of not dying is a miracle enough, to get them to replicate a wall without alerting anyone to the fact that something is being built inside the castle during one night... Yea, no, not buying it.

Also, as an aside, chelium tipped bolt? Really? That was an incident from Leo's army, so just what would that mean to anyone from Lila's army? Or the populace in general? Absolutely jack all. Not to mention that the "church assassins" just so happened to not only kill Lila but also kill her entire escort, down to the last knight. Whilst Leo got out completely unharmed, and we've yet to see a single casualty from any of his escort. Who would buy this story? Oh, and the knights are in general children of nobles, would that be correct? Or at least people given peerage? Wonder what kind of effect killing a dozen or so would have to the realm. Hell, I'd be surprised if the rest of the Red Salamanders still continue to serve the kingdom. A dozen or so brothers in arms, dead. Not to mention their leader. At the hands of their supposed 'King' (and let's be real, there's no way in hell they'd buy the obvious cover story).

That should be, well, the most of it, hopefully. In closing I'll reiterate: This stinks of incompetence. Everyone involved in this mess have had a massive nerf to their intelligence in order for these events to play out as they did. I'll say this for it though; Leo's actions makes sense if you view his character. He'd most likely be dumb enough to do something this impulsive and stupid. But his advisors wouldn't.

Anton's actions during the whole ordeal is, imo, congruent with his character. i don't think he'd risk his neck, or those of his companions, in order to save Lila. Of course it's kinda hard to say in his case, but it's fully acceptable. Regarding his interaction with Belinda and Alfred after the fact... If he didn't explicitly compel them to answer the question "Would you turn on me if Leo ordered it" (or something similar) and got a "No" in response, I don't see how he could view them as even remotely trustworthy. And to forestall the inevitable 'Bu-but Leo is her King..' He hasn't done anything for them. They might be related, but that's as far as it goes. And the fact that Leo's shown himself to be an Oathbreaker and Kinslayer kiinda speaks against him. Compare that to Anton, who warned them of the Orc+Clansmen free of charge, and then came to their aid when they were invaded... Just sayin', even if that was self-serving (and to be fair, by no means was that a purely self-serving act), he's still got a better track-record than a certain King.

Ah, sorry, at this point I might just be rambling. Anyhow, those were some of my concerns in this matter. Sorry it dragged on quite a bit.

Milando ago

Anton just needs to pay a Graterious or Seocuran merchant with a whole chest of Gold, or let Verona tip the chests over longrange and into smal bags. The first to touch them would be a merchant.

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