Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Siege of the White Mountain, Vol. 3: Due to the Dead--Part 4

Elaine sat there by the River Rolling, watching the waters flow past, though the Rolling's waters did not so much flow as much as churned.  A small tributary of the Murkenmere, the Rolling flowed onward into a small lake, or so she'd been told by the Duke of Bellamarina.  She had, after all, only the vaguest idea that it had existed before now. 

I'm going to have twice as many books to read now, Elaine thought, as a crow cawed in the distance.  Though as she was coming to understand it, the Milesians didn't collect their books the way the Nightfolk did.  And printing was officially banned by the Faith, as it had come out of the Lands of Night, and even more distressingly, lead to ideas spreading outside of the Faith's control. 

Elaine sighed and shook her heads.  She was still having a hard time coming to grips with the Milesians' religion, with their seven gods whose worship was controlled by this Synod, a council of seven high priests.  Part of it, she thought, was just her Nightfolk upbringing--like most of the Mother's Children, she had a hard time believing in multiple gods.  In her mind, the Darksome Lady stood alone. Lesser beings might lay claim to great power, but they were not gods.  It was to the Unholy Mother of Night alone that she gave that classification, for She alone had created worlds. 

Well, her and possibly a few demiurges that hadn't been any good at it, and who'd She'd wound up fighting epic wars against, according to some sects.  Which was the other thing... while the worship of Mother Night was a thousand different abbeys saying a hundred different things, in the Lands of Light, it was the Synod who ruled the Faith, with of course, the occasional dispute.  She gathered that Illarion Skarvsky, the man they called the Easter King was at the head of one such dispute--and she gathered that Skarvsky was almost as bad as Amfortas when you...

A pebble struck her head from behind. "Ow!" She turned glaring. "Hey, watch it, you..."  She blinked as she saw Jean standing behind her.  "How long have you been standing there?"

"Long enough," answered her aunt, sitting down beside her.  "I tried waving, but you were all lost in thought."  She shrugged.  "So--how's it going? What I'm hearing is that we're kicking ass."

Elaine nodded. "Pretty much.  We met Prince Astolfo's army a couple weeks ago, and it crumbled like a sand castle left on a beach too long.  A quarter of it died there, another quarter seems to have died and deserted in the retreat, and then... well, one half of what was left went one way under the leadership of Astolfo's cousin, and the rest went with Astolfo, and is holed up in a little fort."  She glanced at Jean.  "And what about you guys?"

"The Riverfolk have been ferrying a good chunk of the Sacristans across from the Marsh," said Jean.  "And also taking care of what remains of Leonais' river navy.  Which seems to have gone pirate and fled to the Misty Isles." She clapped her hands together.   "Oh!  And there's something happening in Joyeuse.  It looks like a revolt.  The River Ox is checking it out."

Elaine shook her head.  "Are you starting to worry that this is too easy?"

"Nah, I'm just chalking it up to our general awesomeness, and Amfortas' utter shittiness," replied Jean.

"You've been hanging out with Mom too long," said Elaine, with a sigh.

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