Chapter Thirty-Two

on June 11, 2010 in Evermist

© 2010, Patrick Hester.  All Rights Reserved

Chapter Thirty-Two

Valenz watched from the parapets as far below, the Militia wagons brought in the wounded, dead and dying from the massacre.  He shook his head at the word, though he knew it fit better than anything else he could come up with.  From a distance, he’d observed the damage to the Wall, worse than anything he’d seen before and that was going back a ways.  They had nearly breached through to the far side when the retreat was called.

He shook his head again; that was applying military tactics and stratagems to something more animalistic and instinctual than strategic; like putting your hand in a flame, you pull it back because it hurts, not because it makes strategic sense.


Making his way back into the tower, Valenz walked over to the stone chair and waited.  The Magistrate sat rigid; his face could’ve been carved from the stone itself.  The battle with the Engineers had taken its toll on him but the end result was rolling in through the gates this very minute.  Again he shook his head, applying military terms to things.  It came from another life long, long ago.  You’d think he would’ve forgotten all of that by now.

It wasn’t ever really a battle in the conventional terms with the Engineers, no, it was more of a contest of wills; Magistrate testing his will against the Engineers with the future of everyone hanging in the balance while the Engineers tried to push their agenda.  If the Engineers won…  He didn’t like the thought of that at all.

“Flying boats,” said the Magistrate into his thoughts.  The paper he held tight in his fist crinkled.  He’d been holding it for hours, ever since the Engineers had scurried off to round up the wounded.  “Men are dead, more are dying, and they talk to me of-” he began crumpling and shredding the papers all at the same time. “-flying boats!”  Valenz watched as tiny bits of the plans for the flying boats sprinkled to the stone floor.  Personally, he thought the idea fascinating but this wasn’t about what he thought.  Still, seeing the pieces of paper float to the floor made him a bit sad.  His father had been a sailor, after all.  Imagine sailing among the clouds…

“The wagons are here, My Lord,” he offered.

“Do you know what the Engineers do with our dead, Valenz?”  He kept his mouth tightly shut; he knew when to keep his mouth closed and this was one of those times.  He knew all too well what the Engineers did with their dead and now was not the time to bring it up.  “I told them they can’t have them, not this time.”  Valenz adjusted his spectacles.  Best to let him get through this without interruption, he thought.  Get it out of his system.  “Not enough.  Not enough to be soldiers, not enough to be farmers, not enough and still they take the dead.  It’s their due, you see.  According to the old agreements.  But not this time.”  The old agreements.  Valenz often wondered how they might have been different if someone else had negotiated with the Engineers, someone a bit less desperate.  Then again, everyone was probably desperate back then.

“Tell me about the North,” the Magistrate breathed.

Valenz fidgeted.  He rarely did, but this was a rare moment.  “Gone,” he answered.  “Swept away during the coordinated attack.  No idea how much escaped.”

The Magistrate began to giggle, then to chuckle, then to laugh from deep within his belly.  He went into a fit, gasping for breath, slapping his knees, holding his stomach, writhing in his seat.  This went on for several minutes.  Valenz waited patiently.

“Good.  Let the Others deal with them for a change,” the Magistrate said at last.  “Serve them right for leaving in the first place.”  Valenz cocked his head to the side.

“Others, my Lord?” he asked.  The Magistrate waved him to silence.  Valenz considered this for a moment, it wasn’t often he learned something new.

“Go,” said the Magistrate.  “Make sure the Engineers keep to the bargain, that they heal the wounded.  Let me know when to make an appearance.  Morale and all that.”

“Yes, my Lord,” Valenz said with a bow.

Stepping through the crack in the stone, Valenz continued to ponder this new bit of information.  As far as he knew, there was nothing at all North of Evermist.  If that were true, then who were the Others?

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