Location: Talistran Palace
Formendacil wrote:Quorandis acknowledged them all gratefully, then dismissed them for their beds. They would meet again in the morning. He sighed. In one night he had gone from a captain to an interim emperor. Fate was cruel.
A council of war was called the following morning in the Throne Room. At its head sat the dual thrones of Emperor and Vassal King. Valentius IV sat on the lower, less ornate throne set slightly to the left. The Great Throne, which was very rarely visited by its true owner, lay empty, as always. Bernard Quorandis sat before it on another chair.
Ferdinand Quorandis was among those at the council, which included most of the nobles and captains of the Kingdom of Talistrand. He had never been more proud than he was now, seeing his son, respendent in the armour of the Cavaliers, taking command of the remnants of the Empire.
Also among those present were the Old Man and the Sorceror-king, both somewhat awkward at being on the same side in this strange fight. Elwen, Jayko, Blackheart, Broadside, Targon, and Elbadar were also present at the council.
First, Quorandis had the courier deliver his messages again to those present, and then he had them confirm his temporary rule over the loyal portions of the Empire. Then he turned to the Old Man, who had news of his own to share.
"As many of you know," he said, "I am a sorceror, a sorceror of not inconsiderable power. Among my gifts I have the ability to see, if I so desire, things that happen in distant lands.
"Here is some of what I have seen: the long-dead kingdom of the Bull Knights have been refounded. There is a council of war being held at Drullen Bell Keep, in the lands of the Forestmen. And alliance of Forestmen, Bulls, Dark Foresters, and Wolfpack is preparing to assail Orion, and drive out BloodVaine. The Cavaliers there, as you know, are no longer a force to be reckoned with, and there is no force to stop them ere they reach the Golden city.
"BloodVaine's allies are engaged in war. The Dragon Masters fight the Royal Knights, and themselves. The Black Falcons are nearly completely occupied in war with the Black Knights. But BloodVaine is not so weak as you think. He has devastated the Royal Knights, the Crusaders, and the Forestdwellers with fire and repeated attacks. Their mainland holdings are tired and weak. The Fright Knights and Knight's Kingdomers of the east and west have been ravaged with freak blizzards. And BloodVaine controls the Eroth Gamus, the god-dragon. If you choose to fight him, as surely you must, you must choose very carefully how you will go about it, lest you bring about your own ruin as well."
"The most important thing to do," said Quorandis, "is to ensure that Talistrand is not destroyed or damaged. In this regard, military force is not going to be of great help. We are fortunate therefore, to have the aid of the Sorceror-king and Magarus. Together, they are a near-match for BloodVaine, and he will think twice about attacking us if they remain here, as they have said they would.
"If the city be protected then, we should stand idle. The Kingdom of Talistrand boasts some five hundred Imperial Cavaliers. We have the entire Order of Knights Clubs, some two thousand horse. And there are the Dragon Masters who serve the Sorceror-king, and the thousands of regular soldiers of the kingdom.
"It is my intention therefore, to lead a military expedition to the continent. I will take some two hundred Cavaliers, some thousand Club Knights, the Dragon Masters under Marshal Targon" - Quorandis sniffed - "and such men and ships as are required to transfer us to the continent. The rest of our forces shall remain here as a last resort, and as a deterrent should the colonial Black Falcons seek to attack us."
"Where will you strike?" asked one of the nobles. "In Orion? Will you join Bjarn's Alliance?"
"No," said Quorandis. "We will help them by distraction. It is my intention to invade the Dragon Master mainland. There are many dissidents there who will rise to help us, and our invasion will be somewhat legitimized by the presence of Marshal Targon and his Dragon Masters. In doing so, we will likely not only subdue the Dragon Masters, but bring relief to our Royal Knights allies."
Elbadar spoke up.
"Captain-general," he addressed Quorandis. "It would be wise to seek the aid of Governor Jarvick and the island Dragon Masters. They will be loyal to Lord Void, and not to Del Grakken, and if Jarvick or his brother Drock accompanies you, then you will have not only more military and legitimate presence, but a sorceror's aid as well."
"An excellent thought, colonel," commended Quorandis. "Now, gentlemen, I think we shall set about preparing for this departure. King Valentius, I leave you in command of your kingdom. Admirals Broadside and Blackheart, I would have your aid in the transport of my army."
The two sailors looked at their respective wizards. The Sorceror-king nodded sharply at Broadside. The Crusader would be another check to ensure that Targon returned to him once the invasion was over. The Old Man gave Blackheart a look that said to do as he pleased.
With the Throne Room buzzing with noise and movement, the council was adjourned.