The Rise of Al'daer

   I have seen the Mesa Blade glimmering in the King's vault. It has known only the cold of the night and the comfort of shadows since the day it was forged. Its cruel blade radiates the power of darkness. Lord Sirac of Sanisk Isle

    At the sound of the Great Hall door being opened, Lord Sirac stopped speaking to his council. He watched silently as the messenger crossed the hard stone floor to the table where he and his council of four were sat.

    “My Lord,” the man said as he handed a scroll to Sirac’s scribe, Kurtack Thire.

    Kurtack was not the typical scribe that came from Cer’Synden. He was practically a giant of a man. With large hands and broad shoulders, pale skin and bald head. Most uncommon though was he had proven himself in battle more than once. He enjoyed it, revelled in it. His love for both academic study and physical brutality was just one of the reasons he’d been posted away from Cer’Synden; a place where he disturbed the tranquillity of the environment too often.

    Though the messenger had announced himself to Sirac, Kurtack took the scroll as expected but immediately dismissed the man. He rolled open the small piece of parchment and read the message. “Lord Galrach refuses your request for Lordship over Southpoint Isle.”

    Sirac pushed his chair out from under himself and stood. “As I expected he would. My tale of improving commerce across the islands was a long shot at best with him. Petty little man, he’s not fit to call himself King of the Sháelarn. The Sháelarn alone is not a kingdom. How many times have I counselled him that all the isles of the Middle Ocean should be united as one kingdom. We don’t even hold two of the isles anymore!”

    Taraen Golt, Master at Arms, banged his fist on the table, rattling his chainmail and causing a fortunately empty drinking cup to tip over. “We should have taken care of him years ago, Sirac! All he does it sit in Bal’loa and get fat. A dark night and ten men across the South Plain to Bal’loa and this would all be over. Cut the decay out while there’s still something left of the island”.

    Calmly, Sirac righted the cup, “It wouldn’t be a cure though would it, Taraen. You’d start a civil war when the Talghaern are already on the march,” Sirac replied.

    “The Talghaern have taken the North Drenland and my spies report that a large fleet is being prepared, destined for where we do not know. It isn’t coastal protection however,” Spymaster Badre said, “the Outcasts of the Drenlands have no interest in the sea, so they wont attack Talghaern there and can barely defend by land given they only move at night. Not that moving only at night is an advantage given Talghaern see in the dark!”

    “What then, to defend from Galrach?” Sirac asked, “I thought we’d established he was trying to placate them.”

    “Agreed my Lord,” Taraen replied, “his army is defensive at best. Aided by Badre we placed a few soldier-spies of our own into his ranks and the reports are always the same; Galrach keeps the armies close to Bal’loa with occasional tax runs to the coastal towns.”

    “Well then, we have a large fleet off the west coast of the Northern Drenland and we don’t know where they’re going. Not very useful. Taraen, what have your strategists come up with?” Sirac asked.

    “The fleet goes one of two places. Either south along the west coast of the Drenland to sail around and attack Sorrow’s Wellspring,” Taraen hesitated for a second, “or they sail west across the Middle Ocean and attack the 2nd isle.”

    There was a silence in the hall as Sirac wandered off to a nearby window and cast his gaze out to sea. As he stood looking out to the coast he could just see the southern tip of the Sháelarn through the haze. Sirac was best described as slim. Though he wore a short sword most of the time, rumour was he’d never used it. Fortunately, as a Lord by birth and native of Sanisk, he’d never had to. Sirac was a master of doing the right things that got him the right results, or at least the results that were right for him. Consequently he had no fear of being taken out one dark night or of needing to dress in any other way but the fineries of court and a little light armour, mostly just for the martial effect.

    He wandered over to the table and sat down once more. “You’ve been very quiet, Ufradict. What do you think of the situation?”

    Ufradict Yyinway was always silent. It was in part why he was on Sirac’s council and why Sirac shared so much with him. Ufradict was as bald as Kurtack but short and stocky, perfect for a landsman. As a landsman he had known nothing other than farming, herding and forestry all his life. This however was no impediment to ambition, given Sanisk was practically the breadbasket for the Sháelarn.

    The fish and wild birds, wheat, barley, grapes and beat that were caught and harvested on the small island were a testament to the ingenuity and competence of all the islanders. Something Galrach knew full well and why there had always been a tolerance for Sirac’s constant demands for greater authority and ignoring of incidents where he overstepped his rights. Incidents such as taking the small chain of islands north of Sanisk, known as the Pearls. It had been the easiest way to increase the fishing hauls and he’d done it without any legal agreement from the King of the Sháelarn.

    “Galrach will do nothing about the Pearls. Just send him more fish and crab a few times and he’ll figure it was the right thing in the end,” Ufradict said, “the worry is in not getting Southpoint. We need the peat and coal if we’re to keep our homes warm and land fertile. Our populations are growing and we can’t sustain them all on what we grow.”

    “If we keep the food for our own people then Sháelarn will starve. Famine will drive change, it might even unseat Galrach,” Badre added.

    “It’ll drive war!”, Taraen said, “change through famine is never peaceful. We can’t rely on your spies and cut throats to solve all our problems!”

    “Well, maybe we can,” Sirac said, “maybe the way forward here is to just stop dancing around Galrach. He’ll never give up power, given he stole it by killing king Endra’tol.”

    Badre interrupted, “That was just a rumour. We never found out anything that told us Endra’tol died except by natural causes or pure bad luck.”

    Taraen protested and Badre responded as he always did, defending his intelligence gathering and network. Sirac had heard it all before. Of course every Lord, Spy Master and Master at Arms across the islands had cried foul. But, in the end, the healers from Cer’Synden found nothing of a foul deed and Endra’tol was laid to rest.

    Sirac raised his hand to the two men to quieten them, Ufradict had merely sat in silence and observed as he often did. “If the Talghaern attack the 2nd Isle, can we be sure Galrach will send his forces?” Sirac asked.

    His Spy Master and Man at Arms cast hard glances at each other, daring each other to share his likely contrary opinion, but this time they were in agreement.

    “He will have to,” Badre said.

    “I thought you’d say no! We both know he has some kind of pact with the Talghaern”, Taraen said almost spitting.

    “It’s true he has had communication with them, but regarding exactly what my spies have not discerned.” Badre replied.

    “Very well. If the Talghaern attack the 2nd Isle and Galrach commits his forces to their defence, we will take Southpoint and claim it as a defensive measure. If his forces are defeated, Badre will send a Night Hand to pay a visit to Galrach and I will claim Lordship over the Sháelarn.”

    “And if he is not defeated?” Badre asked.

    Sirac looked across the men with a stern eye that made clear he had resolved to act. “Send your Night Hand anyway. He will be weakened and we will take combined forces from here and Southpoint and march on Bal’loa.”

    “You would assassinate the King?” Taraen asked.

    “Just as he did,” Sirac replied

    "He can reap what he has sown," Ufradict agreed.

">
CHANNILLO

3 ~ Sirac 1 ~ E2D85
Series Info | Table of Contents

The Rise of Al'daer

   I have seen the Mesa Blade glimmering in the King's vault. It has known only the cold of the night and the comfort of shadows since the day it was forged. Its cruel blade radiates the power of darkness. Lord Sirac of Sanisk Isle

    At the sound of the Great Hall door being opened, Lord Sirac stopped speaking to his council. He watched silently as the messenger crossed the hard stone floor to the table where he and his council of four were sat.

    “My Lord,&...

Please subscribe to keep reading.

Table of Contents

Series Info