Maps and Mines (episode 8)

Milak watched Minuet stride away, and tried to figure out why she was so upset.  In the two years they had known each other, he taught her much about Hos’lathi society.  That Nature created the fae as Her personal agents, and it was incumbent upon them to care for Her and help maintain the Great Balance.  To aid us, She provided the topexx crystals, whereby, one could combine their life’s essence, a purpose, and a topexx to aid Her.  Even the Kelrands knew that last part; they abused the power of the topexx.  Many times, he contemplated sharing the hidden powers of the topexx with her; if the Kelrands knew more about the topexx, they might not plunder the land.  However, the Elder’s Conclave forbade sharing that.  Over the last ten years, he fought that position too many times to count.  However, since he resigned his position in the Circle of Integrity to become a Commander his word carried less weight than it once did.

He turned and clasped arms with Zaor and Vander in turn and welcomed them home.  Over the next few minutes, he walked with the men and listened to their stories of the past few weeks.  He put the men at ease with his imperturbable nature and soon they were all laughing over a shared joke.  “Elandria please see that Zaor and Vander get food, water, and some rest.  Then wait for me by my tent, we have much to review.  Nuala, please join me in the command tent, we have plans to make.”  Nuala and he walked a dozen or so paces over to a large tent made to resemble the trunk of a tree.

Once inside the tent, he rolled out a large map on the table, depicting this region’s borders between Hos’lathi and Kelrand, along with major settlements, and key strategic points of interest such as topexx deposits.  Nuala had been a Commander for less than a month, as her predecessor, Ninvin, had died during a border skirmish raid.  She was one of Ninvin’s lieutenants for well over a decade, but not directly involved in the day-to-day of the skirmishes.  “I am not sure what Ninvin shared and what he did not.  Two years ago, Grimtok discovered that the small surface deposits of topexx led to a vast underground vein.  He staked his claim and built two sprawling mining monstrosities here and here.”  He pointed at two topexx veins in hills to the south in Kelrand territory but less than half a mile from the Evernall.  “He has stripped the land bare in his quest for more topexx crystals.  All his waste goes right into the river, which fouls these waters.  He cares not what this does to the fae living here,” he pointed to a cluster of small villages just on the Hos’lathi side of the border and south a bit.  “Hell, he cares nothing for fae lives at all.”

Milak-Nuala 8d

It took Nuala a moment to recognize Grimtok’s name.  She put a comforting hand on his shoulder and said, “Milak, your mother guided our people faithfully and honorably and we were lucky to share in her radiance.”

Milak stared off into the distance; his eyes looked beyond the walls of the tent.  “It happened so many years ago, yet at times it feels as if it just happened.  His attack on my first-village was the reason I switched to the Circle of Faedom and became a Commander.  Before that, I was following my mother’s path to one day be an Elder.  At my best, I hoped I would be half as great as she was.  I was home visiting my first-family when suddenly several brilliant fireballs obliterated the dark of the night.  He had blinded nearly everyone for those critical first minutes.  He had no cause to attack.  None of it made any sense.  My first instinct was to fight back; I gathered those around me and took the fight to him.  Well, I tried, anyway.  He slaughtered the first wave before they could even make contact.  I tried to rally more warriors, but it was too late; his attacks had fragmented us into small groups.  We were unable to counter him.  I was unable to counter him.  I knew fighting him directly would only lead to more needless deaths, so I ordered the people to retreat and set the warriors to protect their escape.  To my honor, most of the village escaped to safety.  To my horror, my mother, younger brother, first-wife, and youngest daughter were not part of the lucky ones.”  He hung his head in his hands for a minute before continuing.   “Did you know he left me a note pinned to the charred remains of my house?  He told me how disappointed he was in my leadership and fighting skills.  He said he had expected more from me.  He said I caused him to waste valuable resources.  He actually blamed me for his attack.”  Milak stood there with a mixture of rage and loss battling across his face.  He shook himself back to the present, “I will not endanger our people by looking for revenge, but if I see the opportunity to make him pay for his crimes, I will take it.”

Nuala looked at the map, providing a moment of silence for him.  As she reviewed the map, a thought occurred to her, “These mines, do we know how extensive they are underground?  Is it possible for this vein,” she pointed to the Kelrand side of the map, “to connect with this vein here?” She pointed a deposit on the Hos’lathi side.

“For those veins to connect would mean the deposit would be almost three miles in length.  Those types of deposits are very rare.”

“Yes, but what if they connected?  He could burrow between deposits and no one would be the wiser.  That would jeopardize the water supply for our villages, as well as be a clear violation of our borders.”

“We need to dispatch Healing Crews to these locations.  Please coordinate with Pharom on the deployment of those teams.  I know it is your territory, but if you have no objections I would like to aid you with the crews.”

“Are you sure that is the wisest course of action?  He may be present.”

“If he is burrowing underground than maybe he would like to stay there permanently.”  Milak walked out of the tent; he looked towards his tent and turned away.  He needed to clear his mind and put some distance between him and those memories.  His horse, Severance, appeared as if summoned and he climbed into the saddle.  He rode out of the makeshift camp and deeper into the woods.

Heeeeeerrrrrre’s Aj!!  Do you ever get random movie quotes stuck in your head?  I do, all the time, and half the time they don’t even fit the situation.  LOL   🙂  I present you “Maps and Mines” our latest episode of Topexx Dominions’ Beating the Drums of War.  Wow, Grimtok is quite the bastard isn’t he?  Milak lost a lot of his family in that long ago raid.  Tell me what would you do if you were in Milak place?

Next Episode:  Scrutiny

Previous Episode:  The Bridge

First Episode:  Rainfall

This episode was originally posted on the Space Monkeys Down Patreon as Beating the Drums of War:  Maps and Mines.

Beating the Drums of War: Maps and Mines

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