The Zulani Empire: The New Chronicles of Elemental Magic (18 page)

BOOK: The Zulani Empire: The New Chronicles of Elemental Magic
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His own house had also been built with a surrounding wall. Strangely though, not to protect his family from attack, but more so to keep prying eyes away from Luca. It had been deemed necessary the moment they had discovered the youngster had inherited his father's powers. It was much smaller than the outer wall, and stood only about ten feet in height. If things went badly wrong that small wall might be the last resort to try to stop the invaders.

It was Hope who noticed what the Zulani were making in their camp. When Darak was making his rounds, she called over to him. "Look!" she said pointing to an area of the enemy camp. "Ladders... they're making ladders," she added. Darak kept a calm exterior, but deep down knew the significance of what his daughter had spotted. Now it was not a case of if they were attacked, but just a simple matter of when.

Chapter 22.




Caldar sat alone in his study. He poured himself a glass of wine from his decanter and leaned back in his chair. He looked down at the small piece of paper on his desk. This had bought the latest news from his men up north. He already knew Luca had been successful from the small note delivered by the first bird forewarning him of imminent danger. This latest news had arrived via the same delivery method as the previous one.

The small note attached to the bird, now told him that despite their success in their fight against the army at Hamalin, hundreds of enemy soldiers were likely roaming the northern part of his country. Several groups had been sent to attempt to track them down, but whether they would get to them before they managed to cause trouble was yet to be seen. His nephew Luca was apparently continuing northward with the guard to intercept the main bulk of the invading army. The part of the message which puzzled him most, was the news Oliver was journeying back south to help him.

After taking a sip from his drink, he pondered on the thought that he may have sent his eldest son and heir into danger. He had hoped to have him stay with Darak and Serena thinking he may be far enough away from danger. It was now apparent that might not be the case. He prayed that Sethin made it to Forwich, and would not encounter any of these enemy raiding parties. At least by now he hoped the necessary reinforcements he had sent should all be in place. If any of these groups did try to attack one of his garrison towns, they should have sufficient numbers to repel them.

He moved on to the reason why Oliver was travelling to New Easton. Luca had not had any more space on the small piece of paper to say anything else. It surprised him even more as he knew just how close his nephew and the young Darekian were. If Luca were sending Oliver here, then he deemed it must be very important.

Sethin rode proudly at the head of his guard. The young prince and his group of soldiers had made good progress, and hoped to be nearing Forwich within the next day or two. For now, he intended to make use of the last of the daylight before stopping to make camp. He felt that at last he had now grown as a person. For his father to issue him with his own guard of elite soldiers, and have him travel to Forwich as the royal representative meant so much to him. Quite what the state of affairs would be in the north of the country he was not certain.

Riding such long hours always gave plenty of time for contemplation. His main thoughts so far had been on his cousin. The fact the man could wield magic of unimaginable power had placed a niggling element of doubt in Sethin's mind. His cousin had already told him that he had no intention to rule, and one day when Sethin was king, he would also willingly serve under him. Although if a man had such power at his disposal, then technically he could do as he wished. If Luca wanted to take the throne from him, would anybody be able to do anything to stop him. Deep down he knew Luca would never do anything to hurt him or his family, and that when the time came he would indeed serve Sethin just as he currently did his father. It was just the thought of helplessness that if Luca chose to do otherwise that played on his mind.

He pushed away such stupid thoughts from his mind, knowing them to be ridiculous, and tried instead to focus what might lie ahead. He was not certain how long his father expected him to stay in Forwich. Was he just there to show his face for a few days and then return, or was he supposed to hang around a little while longer? No good speculating he thought, and decided he would just take one day at a time. For now that meant another night camping out, before making his destination.

In the northern town of Lanber, Jak Corley was readying his troops. News that invaders had landed north of their position had still come as a surprise, despite he and Levin knowing all was not well in the world. Fortunately, the town had been rebuilt with exactly this scenario in mind.

Lanber had been built on the site of the previous town, only on a much larger scale. As this was the first place of significance nearest the Darekian border, just over the Ulga mountain passes, it was deemed a town of great importance. As a result, it housed the largest garrison outside of New Easton. Not only did it have a very tall outer wall, but also an inner wall where those defending could fall back and regroup.

Levin had been allowed an input when the defences had been considered during construction. The son of a blacksmith, and only living person to have survived the massacre that had befallen Lanber during the previous war, had come up with many new and novel ideas. It had been Levin that had designed the arrow tips that ultimately gave the archers the ideal weapon to slay the Orlac's. The idea of the inner wall had also been his thinking, as well as fortifying several of the buildings around the town.

He hoped that if Lanber was ever invaded, and the outer wall should be overcome, then those defending could still have protection, and buildings from which to have an advantage from which to fight. Huge cauldrons were positioned around the top of the outer perimeter. In times of trouble, these would be filled with oil, set alight and dropped down on the heads of attackers. This was just one of the many surprises Levin and Jak had in store.

With well over fifteen hundred men in the large garrison, as well as a reserve force of over three hundred made up from the local population, Jak Corley was confident in defending his town. Rumours of strange creatures, although concerning, did not overly worry him. He, as well as most knew that if a creature bled, then it could be killed. A veteran of the last war, he may not be as young and nimble as he once was, but he something few others had; Experience.

Levin, his adopted son, was an intelligent young man, and together he was certain they could come up with suitable plans. Already extra guards were positioned on the southern gates, which remained open for now. The northern gate was closed and barred shut. The massive oak doors, reinforced with strips of steel were not the only obstacle any intruder had to overcome. Behind that, a huge iron portcullis had been lowered into position and fastened shut.

The southern gate remained open for now, only to allow refugees inside. Word had gone out to the surrounding homes and villages of the potential threat approaching. Levin hoped to have the gate open long enough for all those who sought safety in Lanber to do be able to do so. Once the invaders arrived outside the walls however, he would be left with little choice but to have the south gate closed and secured just as the northern one was.

The small group riding south which contained Dane and Oliver rode across country. Doing so they hoped to reduce the time it took to get back to New Easton. With the threat that the king's life maybe in danger they pushed the horses harder they would normally dare. Luca and Oliver had kept in touch via their newfound ability to communicate with each other by using just their minds. This new skill had only been just been put to use by Oliver, to let Luca know how they were doing. Having the sense that Luca was still with him, despite the distance between them growing as each mile passed, Oliver felt calmed.

During their rest breaks, Dane had suggested to the young Darekian, that perhaps he should practice just a little with his new abilities. Of course, this not only meant contacting Luca, but also using his skill with the elements. Not having the years of practice afforded to the young Corlanian, Oliver found his magic a little more difficult to control. Dane had tried to advise as best his could, and had been the one that suggested Oliver contact Luca mentally, when required.

The first few attempts at summoning and launching small fireballs at a practice target had proved a little hit and miss. At first barely enough flame had carried to the target, and what little hit the tree stump they were aiming at barely left any mark. Oliver had then over-compensated and almost set the entire camp on fire, as his next try sent an entire wall of fire across the ground before him. "Keep practicing Oliver," Dane told him. The young commander could tell the skills were there, they just needed to be honed. Hopefully, by the time they reached their destination, suitably enough for them to be of use.

In Darekia, Dalia and her forces set camp atop one of the many small hills that ran across her lands. Satisfied it gave her the panoramic view she needed, she sent out several of her spies to scout the area. The large black crow-like birds at her disposal were sent out in small groups, each told to scan the local area looking for the invaders. She knew they could not be far, and judging by their number could not move quickly. By setting her camp at this particular location, she hoped to block their path. Firstly, she needed to know how far and from exactly which direction they were approaching.

Once she had the information she sought, she could prepare accordingly. With her Orlac, Silas at one side, and her pet, Dawid on the other she stood looking out into the distance. The young boy was contently crouched beside her, and she found comfort in stroking his hair. The Orlac cared not for such things, and was constantly alert to any dangers that may be approaching, as well as providing her with any protection.

The enemy she sought was not as far away as she realised. Her birds sent to scout would let her know soon enough, that the enemy had set camp just a few miles away from her position. The man leading them had just finished communicating with their Imperial Leader. The news he had given had also been a surprise to him. The news that a military camp had been found, and its occupants immune to the collars used by the Zulani, had not gone down well.

As a magician of great power, the Zulani leader Gordred knew what this meant. Blood magic was the only force capable of creating such a strong compulsion over the human mind. He used it himself to make the collars. Only as far as he knew, once a mind was taken, it could not be done so again by another. If that were the case, then all those Darekian's who had such a spell would have to be killed. There was no way of controlling a mind already being forced by another power.

Moreover, he now had to discover who was responsible for such a spell. Again, he was under the impression that the last leader of Darekia had been killed. He was unaware of any person capable of such strong blood magic. The treaty set by Darekia's neighbours after the war, had seen to it, anybody found with so much as an ounce of magical ability was put to death. This of course had helped Gordred; eliminating any potential threat to his plans. It would seem however, that one had managed to stay alive. Not only was that someone capable of blood magic, but they must be quite powerful with it.

Gordred realised all his plans were slowly starting to fall apart. The landings in Murati had gone unhindered, and been an over-whelming success. The deal struck with the Besemian's appeared to have worked, keeping them out of any fighting. The landings in Corlan however had been an unmitigated disaster. Apparently, also in that country, there had been a wielder of magic, although he hoped that particular nuisance had been eliminated. Only time would tell on that matter.

He had accumulated his armies to conquer men, scale walls, smash through defensive lines, not to counter magic. With his brother Sandred no longer alive and living on that continent, he had deemed it safe to conquer. His was certain his other brothers had no idea of his intentions, despite which he was certain they were too far away to assist even if they did. The only way he could deal with the wielder of blood magic was the same as he had tried to deal with that of the elemental type. Hence, once they were ready he prepared to send forth two more of his valuable assassins. Sending them through another portal, this time even further than the last. This would take even more of his power, and require him to rest for some time afterward. Even communication with his priests would start proving difficult if he became too drained.



End of Book Two

The New Chronicles of Elemental Magic

Book Three should be out Winter 2015.

Thank you for reading.

Any comments good or bad, are always appreciated, and maybe e-mailed to me:

[email protected]

Thanks to Claire Kinrade for her assistance.

BOOK: The Zulani Empire: The New Chronicles of Elemental Magic
2.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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