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Thursday, 21 April 2011

Episode 2 - The Eve Of Battle



Another novel start, it is getting hard to keep up. I don’t know where to place this exactly, but it may very well be the start of the episode cycle. It is meant to be a little mysterious and vague. It is the onset of a novel, after all, so it has to keep you guessing at the whole story. Song that brought this writing spree on:

I heard it again and got flashes of scenes like this, the other ‘episode’ bits and other parts I didn’t know about before. Hope you enjoy it ;)


Svart, the eve of battle
“You’re late.” His deep voice bellowed as the electric doors opened upon her.
“I know.” She replied tonelessly and took her seat at the round table. “But I’m here now, chairman.”
“Right.” He shook his stack of papers on the desk, not once taking his reproachful eyes of her. “Let’s begin then.” He took a deep breath.
“My friends and fellow knights of the Round Table, many centuries have we and our ancestors before us fought against the dark forces that reside in the shadows of nature. I call upon you once more for that legendary bravery in battle of our lines.” He ran his hand through his retreating salt and pepper tresses. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead and glistened in the clinic artificial light of the basement room. “ I have summoned you all here today for this meeting, because yet another battle is impending. It is my sad duty to inform you that the Svartálfar have left their dwellings in the north and crossed the borders, thus breaking the treaty between their race and ours. Their imperative, my friends, is clearly war.”
A gasp of shock ran through the circle. An elderly woman clasped her hand before her mouth. “It can’t be.”
“My good lady Seymour, I’m afraid it is.” The young girl took the word, ignoring the disproving looks and suddenly laden silence. “I saw their troops march by myself, which is why I am late, chairman.” She nodded at the broad shouldered man. He just looked at her with his usual poker face. She’d face the music later, this was more important. “They seem to be headed south, to the most populated areas, dense with human occupation.” She struggled to keep her voice even, despite the agitation that her words caused in the room and the facts of it in her own mind. Lives would be lost, one way or another, there was no escape.
“We must smite them!” A man in his early thirties cried out. His fist came down hard on the metal. “They must be exterminated now before their powers grow even more and they take over the world. When that happens, humanity will not have as much as a shimmer of a chance.”
“I quite agree, lord Treadmill.” An elderly lady with a shrill voice assented. Her nose resembled that of a hawk. It was almost too much of a coincidence that her name be lady Hawkins. “We have to. The commoners don’t even know what they’re up against. We’re the only ones that can stop the Svarts.” There was a silence.
A motherly woman with a kind voice smiled at the latecomer. “Miss Alice, if you’d be so kind, what more can you tell us of the troops?”
Reluctantly, Alice rose up and handed out her report. It was a big file in yellowish-brownish cover. Upon opening and looking at the numbers, the eyes of those present widened.
“They were heavily armed, Lady Murdock, and well trained. This is not a random attack, it must have been planned out for quite some time and is very strategically organised.” Her tone got something desperate. “If I may be allowed to speak freely, I don’t believe we currently have the numbers to defeat them. If we could just recruit civilians, then...”
“NO! Preposterous! Unprecedented!” The hawk-lady spat out, springing up and stamping her feet underneath the table. “It told you, Charles, that it would be a mistake to bring this one in. She is too young to be elite!” The chairman just motioned her to sit.
“Calm down, Agatha. Getting worked up like that is bad for your blood pressure.” The motherly woman looked concerned and gently touched her companion’s arm. “She’s only a girl, let’s just hear her out and then decide.”
“It is an outrage!” She clucked, like a chicken straining to lay an egg.
On a better day with jollier news, Alice would have doodled her as wide-open beaked poultry or a pitbull, launching at a passerby on chairman’s too short leash. None of that this time.
“Lady Hawkins is right, there shall be no such thing!” The chairman roared, rising up. “We have long been a secretive cult, from the earliest ages till today, that tradition may not be broken.” The way he clapped the file shut and briskly gathered his papers indicated that his word was final.
 “Chairman Wallace, please, lives are at stake here!” Alice tried to fire up the discussion again, forgetting her place and yelling at her superior.
“Normal people would never understand. Only the Chosen Ones have the knowledge and skill to stand up against an army of Svartálfar.” Hawkins assented.
“We can teach them to fight! If we wait long enough, the common people will learn about the existence of the Svartálfar the hard way and there will no longer be a single one of us knights left to stand up beside them. The people will be left defenceless at the mercy of the cruellest of creatures all because of your pride alone!” She screamed.
“Over my dead body!” Lord Treadmill added, siding with Hawkins and the chairman.
“You’re making a big mistake.”
“It is ours to make, not yours. You’re merely a junior. You shouldn’t even do fieldwork. Do you even realise you could have gotten yourself killed? Or followed and all of us exposed. When they find this location and sweep it clean, it is all over for us and the Order of Templar Knights, you know that. If the situation was any less critical, you would be expelled from Knight Academy.”
“I was careful. We had to find out what their plans and numbers were, didn’t we? Otherwise we would have been even less prepared.”
“When will they be here, Alice?” Lady Murdock kindly asked her.
“They had a quick pace. If they march like that all night without stopping, as early as tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow!” The room echoed. “Good lord...”
“I suppose they’ll take the day to rest somewhere underground, away from the light. If we can find out where and attack them with the sun as our alley, we may stand a fair chance. If not... Then I’m afraid we’ve already lost. They’ll have the city in the course of a night.”
“But a night is all they have. If they fail, they will be forced to give up and seek refuge with first light at sunrise, won’t they?” Another middle-aged man that had been silent joined in.
Alice lowered her eyes. “I’m afraid they’ve got this a little better thought out than that, Lord Riley. They’re not going to risk mobilising all their troops over a fifty-fifty percent chance, they’re going for the win. If you’d be so can’t as to all move to page fourteen of the file...”
Lady Seymour arched back from the page before her as if it was toxic. “Oh, the heavens, a solar eclipse, now?”
“Yes, the day after tomorrow, the whole world will be covered in darkness and the Svartálfar can roam free for two full moon nights and a whole day. For a force this massive, that would be plenty of time to take over a capital and all the cities around it. The rest of the land will be scattered after losing its centre.”
“They’re going for the head of the beast first and then the limbs. How clever.” Lady Murdock mused.
“How horrible.” Lady Seymour countered.
“Quite. It seems we’ve all underestimated the Svarts’ new leader. How we did not see this coming is beyond me. None of our spies have even hinted at the possibility of such an operation in the Svarts’ camps.” Lord Riley, leader of the intelligence task force and spy squadrons replied.
“Then again, a record number of our best spies have disappeared over the last few months. Maybe they were onto something and were disposed of. And as far as the others go, well, they may not have been to be trusted from the very start.” The chancellor responded dryly, though his complexion revealed his inner agitation, going through the spy headmaster’s recent report.
“Either way, we must figure out how to deal with this problem now. Before the night is over, we must be ready.” Riley, the eternal idealist despite his maturing age, uttered raspy.
“These aren’t the golden days, the knights assembled here at headquarters are all we have left. They will not be enough.” A strict looking woman in her early thirties, her black hair in a tight bin, answered, straightening her military uniform. “We haven’t got enough soldiers to tackle an army of that scale.”
“What do you suggest then, Lady Commander, just sit back and watch? This is not the time to give up.” Riley inhaled and hid his head in his hands. The vein by his temple raced. “We cannot let this happen. The waste will be catastrophic.”
“Apocalyptic.” Hawkins nodded.
“Naturally, we will fight, no matter what.” The Chairman stated, bringing his folded hands to his lips pensively.
“We may want to send heralds to Álfheimr and request assistance from the Ljósálfar. We will need their help. The Sidhe know best how to tell with their own.” Alice articulated, swallowing and unable to lift her eyes to meet anyone’s gaze.
“Yes, together with the Light Fairies, we might get more even in numbers. We must ask Álfheimr to send back-up troops immediately, by grace of the alliance that binds our people. They have no choice but to honour it.” The Commander answered.
“Very well, send our quickest, Alice.” The chairman looked around the table at the respective knights in charge of different sections of the troops and organisation of Table Order. “Alert all able-bodied forces we have, get them briefed and ready. Train the rookies the best you can before tomorrow. We will need each and every warrior we’ve got.” He turned to Lord Riley. “Inform the scouts, give them the reports. They must be ready at first light to search the entire land for the Svarts’ day hideouts.”
“Yes, chairman.” The man nodded.
“The Light Elves will not be able to fight during the eclipse, they need the sun to feed their powers. We must destroy all Svarts tomorrow, when it is still day.” He rubbed his reddened face. “That is all. And may the forces of light be with you.”
“And you.” They replied as one.
“Meeting adjourned. Let’s hope we will all still be here for the next one.”
With sloping shoulders, the knights bowed their heads at him, rearranged the hood of their cloak to hide their face and filed out in silence.

2 comments:

  1. A great start, very involving. I think its better that you started us with this scene without divulging to much background information. Sometimes too much info can slow down the narrative but I think you gave it just enough to make things interesting. I look forward to reading more of this oncoming showdown.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Diego,

    I look forward to writing it ;).
    A lot of scenes from later parts are already done in my notebook, I'm very eager to try and link them altogether now and see what happens. It's quite unlike what I've done before and I'm really going to have to push myself through some parts, but I'm very excited about that.
    Good to know you're here to join me ;)

    ReplyDelete

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