[Vfw-times] MK Choices part 2

COkane8116 at aol.com COkane8116 at aol.com
Tue Oct 15 23:41:00 CDT 2002


   The room was a lot smaller then the Dukes meeting chamber but it didn't 
have to hold too many people. The space was just big enough to hold a table 
capable of seating a dozen people with a little extra room for a large 
cabinet, a desk and a smaller table that sat against a wall. The large table 
held a map of the Giantdowns with all the cities, castles, strongholds and 
lutin tribes marked on it in various colors and symbols.

   The smaller table held a bottle of wine, several glasses, a loaf of fresh 
bread, a platter of beef and a platter of various vegetables. But few of the 
people present were eating.

   At the head of the table sat Misha, at the opposite end sat George, in 
various seats on either side in between was Jessica, Finbar, Rickkter,  Lisa 
and Diane,  Georges assistant. Seated next to Misha was a brown bat morph 
dressed in a dark blue tunic.

   Misha pointed to the bat, "I would like to introduce Andwyn. He is sitting 
in for Phil since the rabbit is busy. He did a lot of work in the field 
before Phil called him home. Since then he has been working for both Phil and 

   "This meeting is to figure out exactly what went wrong," George said 
calmly. "And what went right."

   "That Nasoj attacked wasn't a surprise," Andwyn commented. "His timing 
was. He deliberately attacked in the worst weather imaginable."  

   "It was one of the boldest and cruelest moves I've ever seen," Misha 
added. "Attacking in the middle of a blizzard certainly caught us by surprise 
and came within a hairs breadth of succeeding. And it also killed half his 
army. Three thousand Lutins died before they even reached the Keep."

   "That storm was no accident," Rickkter commented breaking Misha's train of 
thought. "It was created by one of the most powerful spells I have ever 

   "It was long in the planning and execution but very well carried out," the 
bat added. Andwyn had a glass of some red liquid in his right wing claw.

   The fox knew the bat only by reputation. He 'd been a spy for years. Even 
spent two years in Nasoj's citadel disguised as a regular bat. Phil had to 
order him out when things got too dangerous. Misha had heard of his exploits 
But knew little about Andwyn himself. He wasn't even sure what species of bat 
he was. Was he a fruit bat or a vampire bat? In that glass could be fruit 
juice or blood. No, it couldn't be blood, it was the wrong color and 
consistency and it didn't smell like blood. Still Misha pondered about what 
was in that glass.

   "Before the attack itself a score of assassins infiltrated the Keep and 
went after important people," Misha said. "They attacked the Duke, Father 
Hough, Raven, Pascal, George, Rickkter and Wessex."

   They were a mixed lot," George explained. "Fighters, mages, thieves, even 
a group of professional assassins. Hired blind in the south none knew their 
target till they reached the keep."

   Misha nodded. "They came close to getting Hough and George. The ones after 
the Duke were killed before they got even close. By Foxeris of all people."

   "The librarian?" Finbar asked, surprised.

   "I always knew that he was hiding something," George said with a chuckle.

   "What happened to Pascal?" the bat asked.

   The fox chuckled. "Unhurt. She gave the first two through her door a face 
full of two foot long quills and the rest fled."

   "They killed Wessex," Jessica said suddenly.

   "Is there any doubt as to his death?" Lisa asked. "There's no body."

   Misha shook his head. "None. But I'm not too sure that it was the 
assassins that got him. First he was killed by having his throat slit. Then 
he was reanimated as undead and summoned the Shrieker. Anyone who could kill 
a mage of Wessex skill and then reanimate his corpse has to be powerful."

   "Powerful, evil and crazy," Rickkter commented. "But who would want to 
summon a Shrieker deliberately? Not too many people of that power level."

   "I don't know. I'm fairly certain it's not Nasoj, but it could be someone 
working with him."

   "Why do you say that it wasn't Nasoj?" Diane asked.

   "Nasoj has never displayed such power in necromancy before and besides it 
just doesn't feel like how Nasoj does things. He's never before used, 
summoned or even controlled undead. His power has always rested with the 
Lutins. The curse was cast only through the direct help of a daedra.."

   "We need to talk to the rat and get more details," George said.

   "When will that be?" Diane asked.

   "When this stupid trial is done," Misha answered in a cold tone.

   "What happened up north?" George asked, changing the subject.

   "The army we faced at the ford was almost three thousand strong," Misha 

   The bat put down his glass. "Why didn't Nasoj use those in the attack on 
the Keep? It would have changed to whole course of the battle in his favor."

   "My guess is he couldn't," the jackal answered. "They were supposed to be 
there but the weather held them back and they missed it."

   "Once it became clear that the attack on the Keep failed he used them to 
buy time for him to regroup his forces. Having them hold the ford was a good 
tactical position for a battle."

   "Hardly a battle," Diane said. "Only a handful actually fought. The rest 
just fled."

   "Three hundred of Nasoj's Druzhina, his own personal guard were there. 
They put up a ferocious fight." Misha added. "The fact that they were there 
was a surprise. I didn't think he would sacrifice his only truly loyal 

   "A desperate move," Andwyn said. "After the defeat here at the Keep he 
needed some sort of victory to prove to the tribes he was still a powerful 

   "That failed miserably," Diane said.

   "Agreed. It changes everything," the fox commented. "He's completely lost 
any hold he had over the Lutins. They're already in full revolt but the real 
bloodshed will come in spring. By June I doubt he'll have anything left 
within a week's ride of Giants Dike."

   "That brings up the question - Who attacked Ithicaelle Naghim?" Diane 

   "Very good question," the bat asked.

   "Ithicaelle Naghim, is more often called Wraith's Stronghold," the fox 
commented. "The fortress itself is huge and covers an area of over 3 square 
miles. It's the size of a small city. The curtain wall alone had forty 
towers. It had a thousand man and three thousand lutin garrison. Not to 
mention giants, ogres, dragons, wyverns, dire wolves, and all manner of evil 
things. At its core is Ithicaelle Mughre Wraiths tower, a two hundred foot 
tall tower of black stone and a sickly green colored mortar."

   "From there Nasoj controlled all of the southern Giantdowns," Misha 
continued. "Countless raids and attacks on Metamor have come from there. 
Undoubtedly it was there that the Yuletide assault on the Keep was planned 
and staged from."

   "The same night we attacked the army at the ford another army attacked the 
Stronghold itself," Diane said, picking up from where the fox left off. "We 
have identified sixteen tribes numbering six thousand Lutins, twelve giants 
and some twenty three ogres. The place fell after a battle that lasted till 
barely a hour after sunrise."

   "The looting is still going on," George commented as he sipped on some red 
wine. "But the army began to break up almost instantly after taking the 
place. Each tribe took whatever they could grab and went their separate 

   "Thankfully it was only a temporary alliance," Misha said. "I'd hate to 
think what type of havoc an army that size could have caused."

 "An alliance that large was a long time in the developing. It would have 
taken months just to get all sixteen tribes to work together," Andwyn 

   Misha nodded in agreement. "Plus it would have taken someone who was a 
powerful leader and was good at diplomacy."

   "And a fine strategist," Rickkter added. "Months before the actual attack 
he found out about it and guessed correctly that it would fail."

   "What makes you think he just guessed?" George commented. "Maybe he helped 
it fail."

   "True," Misha agreed. "If he had the skill to unite sixteen tribes he 
could easily use that skill to help Nasoj instead of attacking him. A few 
words of promise or threats would easily have convinced many tribes to join 
Nasoj's cause."

   "But he didn't use it to help Nasoj, he used it to help himself," the bat 
added. "We need to find out more about this person. But from the facts we can 
guess a few basics things. He must have been closely involved with the 
planning of the attack itself."

   "You keep saying he," Diane said. "It could have been a woman. Brugusuid 
was the Castellan of Wraith's stronghold until last year. She would have been 
in a perfect position to betray it and she would have known all about the 
attack on the Keep."

   Misha shook his head. "She was at the camp during the ambush," the fox 
explained. "I doubt she would be there if she was involved in betraying 

   "What happened at the camp?" George asked.

   "We ran into a very, well planned, very well executed ambush," Rickkter 
answered. "Someone went to a lot of effort to kill us."

   "Did you examine the scene of the ambush?" Andwyn asked.

   "Yes," Misha said as he nodded his head. "But we didn't have time for 
anything more then a cursory look."

   "The entire camp was a trap," the ferret commented. "There were about two 
hundred Lutins in holes disguised by magic to look like plain ground."

   "Very powerful illusionary magic," the raccoon added.

   "Also there were four animal morphs," Misha said. "They looked like 
Keepers who'd been hit by the animal part of the curse. Two panthers and two 

   "The cats were superb sword fighters, trained in an eastern style that's 
rare in the Midlands," Rickkter commented.

   "And the wolverines were axemen," Misha added. "VERY well trained. Somehow 
Nasoj convinced or forced them to allow themselves to be changed."

   "My guess is that the cats and the wolverines, like those at the ford were 
intended for the attack on the Keep. Most likely they were supposed to be 
part of the group that snuck in just before the attack. But when they got 
held up by the snow, they were used in the ambush instead," Diane commented. 
"As to who planned it, I've no idea."

   "Who set up this whole ambush?" Andwyn asked. "And why?"

   "In the camp a Lutin chief mentioned The Four," Misha said.

   "The Four?" the bat  asked. "That's a name I've never heard before."

   "Neither have I, but they talked about them as if they were powerful 
generals and still loyal to Nasoj," the fox commented.

   "They didn't care about the battle at the ford," Rickkter said. "The 
Lutins exact words were 'They're crazy. Too busy with their own plan to worry 
about the battle.' The battle was merely a distraction. They knew that you 
would go after the general in command Misha and used her as bait. They 
deliberately set out to wipe out you and the Long scouts."

   "Came damn close to it too," Finbar said.

   "We need to find out more about these Four," Misha said. "They came closer 
to killing more Long scouts in one battle then anyone else has in six years 
of trying. Even during the Yule attack we weren't so close to being wiped 

   "We know there are four of them, one an illusionist," Lisa said. "Hiding 
two hundred Lutins so well takes a lot of power."

   "What of the other three?" Rickkter asked.

   "The one who confronted me in the camp," the fox started. "He killed one 
of those cat creatures and saved my life. How does he figure in this? Whose 
side is he on? Could he be one of them?"

   "Describe this man," the bat ordered.

   "Tall, with white hair, wearing red flowing robes, carrying a sword with a 
curved blade and sharp, nasty looking points. Although he saved my life I 
have to feeling he was involved some how."

   "True but how was he involved? If he helped set up the ambush why save 
your life?" Lisa asked. "And if he wasn't involved in the ambush what was he 
doing there?"

   Misha shook his head. "I've no idea."

   "You are assuming that the Four are responsible for this ambush," Lisa 

"If not them then who did?" the fox countered. "This was not a spur of the 
moment idea. It was a long time in the planning."

   "We need more information on these Four," the bat said. "And on the ambush 

   George nodded in agreement. "I'll send people back to the camp."

   "You took one prisoner correct?" Andwyn asked.

   "Yes, a wolverine morph by the name of Eldred," Misha answered. "But he's 
said very little.  We just haven't had the time to properly question him."

   "Where is he?"

   "In a cell in Long House," Finbar answered. "He's been pretty tame since 
we brought him in."

   "He came within a hairs breadth of dying," Misha answered.

   Finbar shivered and shook his head. "That THING almost sucked his life 

   The hair on Misha's neck raised and he pointed a finger at the ferret. "Be 
careful what you call her. That 'thing' as you put it saved all of us."

   "Yes Sir," he said meekly.

   "Relax Misha. Your stunt at the camp spooked everyone," Rickkter 

   Misha ruefully nodded. "But it worked!"

   "I will help you question Eldred. He will be able to answer many of our 
questions about The Four and this ambush," Andwyn ordered. "Also I want you 
to talk to Varnal. He might be able to tell us about  the assault on the Keep 
and the Four."

   "Varnal?" Misha asked, surprised. "I'd forgotten about him. He should know 
more about this. If he's still alive."

   "He is alive and well and still being held by Lightbringers. The mage 
might have been involved in the planning."

   The fox shook his head. "No. He would never have been involved in that 
attack with the fetish stone if knew about the Yule attack. There was just 
too great a risk of him being captured."

   George nodded in agreement. "Varnal was worthless to Nasoj. If he 
succeeded good. If not then there was no major lose."

   "Agreed," the bat answered. "But he was in Nasoj's service and will have 
seen things. He might know more then he realizes. Clues that could be vital 
to us."

   "I'll talk to him to tomorrow," Misha answered.


 End part 2

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