Princil's Magic : Ch.10 : Festival At Bricas (Part 1: Section 1)
Chapter 10 : Festival At Bricas
The Great Sorceror Valdark sent a magical summons to the sorcerer Aribor. “Where are you wizard. You have had your days of rest!” He imagined, from past performance that the wizard, having been deprived of one who had so much resided within his mind, would have found some other conquered women to amuse himself with. Valdark knew Aribor could be motivated by the lust for women. The lure of access and control over women had been one of the main attractions for Aribor to become and to remain a sorcerer. The occupation of sorcerer of the dark had provided Aribor with many women over the years, to do with as he liked once the dark magic had been created for his King. Aribor’s lusts and appetites had made him a great sorcerer, very useful to his King and to his leader Valdark. Other wizards with lesser motivations had produced magic of far less complete effectiveness.
Valdark had sent soldiers to look in the camps and accommodations of the Grumandrians, and other wizards. Again Aribor appeared to have gone to ground. So now Valdark sent a summons. There was no immediate reply, so the Great Sorceror had the good sense to give Aribor more time. Doubtless Aribor was still upset by the Great Sorceror’s intrusion and his confiscation of the beauty. Valdark hoped his sorcerer had not been too deeply upset by Valdark’s actions, for the Great Sorceror realised he needed all his sorcerors for the next stage of Guthelm’s campaign.
In fact Aribor had not been with the conquered women of Cromilil, or not in the sense Valdark expected. He had not taken any more women for his own purpose. He had observed the Goblins using their new slavewomen and had found some pleasure in watching the degradation of the women by the Goblins. He had relieved himself by his own hand occasionally when he needed to relieve his own frustrations, but had felt no desire to involve himself more closely. His thoughts remained of Remzain’s beauty, of his bitterness at Valdark’s confiscation, of the danger the Great Sorceror had put the beauty in. He had contemplated with sadness the sack of Remzain’s city and the cruelties he had seen. He felt no great desire to use his sorcery now. He had slept and awoken, taken food from the Goblins, and contemplated the lack of purpose which he now found in his occupation, after many years of being motivated and enjoying the strange work, which had been his life. Inescapably he had to admit to himself that his viewpoint had changed. Things would never be the same again for him. The shift in his perceptions had occurred but it was too early for him to understand what he should now do with himself. He felt empty and at a loss to know where to begin. It was into this limbo that Valdark’s summons came. He knew Valdark wanted him for the use of his skills, and figured it might well be about the next stage of the invasion. When he was ready he would reply and return to his leader.
Aribor entered Bricas with the other sorcerors, in disguise. He had tidied himself up, or more correctly been tidied up by servants back in Cromilil. His matted long hair had for once been washed and cut tidily. It was not short, which was suitable for Shalirion, and he had been given a Shalirionite hairpiece to cover the bald and receded sections of his head. They had persuaded him to allow his moustache to be shaved off, in keeping with the normal style of Shalirion. He wore new clothing, clean and soft. He did feel quite smart and quite presentable for the first time in a long time. He travelled as a merchant. They had found out about merchants and learned enough to act as one. That would get them easily into the ancient city of Bricas without too much suspicion. Spells supplemented their language abilities making any differences appear smaller to listeners. In some of their carts travelled the powders which would help to explode some of the most famous buildings of this leading city of the Empire of Shalirion.
They parted to discover the city they intended to bring such chaos to. Aribor chose to go on his own to view the city. Lately he did not care so much for the company of his fellow sorcerors. Once they would have shared escapades and competed in stories of magic and war making., but since his time with Remzain all those masculine competitions seemed to fade into a murky past which predated his reawakening. He had experienced a sexual heaven which made all other matters appear petty and unimportant. All other matters were now questionable in their importance. Even his position as a sorcerer now seemed questionable. If there had been any other way of living open to him he might well have considered it. But this was what he knew, he could do nothing other than continue it.
Bricas contained ancient walls, from the times when men had fought in Shalirion and before the Empire had been formed, but they fell within the city boundaries of these modern times. As there was no army of Animar outside this city yet there was no purpose in trying to flatten these walls just yet. That could precede the actual invasion of this city. As a traveller Aribor walked along the walls, unmanned at this time. Shalirion’s rulers evidently did not see an immediate purpose in guarding these walls. To them the Animarian invasion was still a long way away.
Bricas was a thriving and well populated city. He could see mountains to the west in the distance, but it lay in the centre of a plain. A river ran through its centre, and small hills were the site for its Palaces and places of worship. There were communal palaces as well as the Empress’s. (She always had to be a woman – no man could assume the throne, he was told by citizens of Bricas when he asked, because she must be a messenger of the Goddess. This feminine focus was one reason for Shalirion’s relative dislike of warfare.) These Palaces he thought might be the object of their terror.
Valdark had said, “Guthelm wants to put fear into Shalirion. That is the best way to bring it down. In Bricas we must cause incidents which frighten the population. Then when our armies do approach they may more likely surrender.” Aribor shuddered at the scale of death which they contemplated, but with no army at the gates he did not see the immediate purpose of all this. To spread terror on its own seemed pointless, but those were the orders. He would have welcomed such a fresh canvas before Cromilil, but he was seeing little purpose in this steady destruction now. Anyway, orders were orders. He would go next to the Palaces, which would be the most obvious targets.
Aribor came to the Palaces. “Which is the best Palace to see?” he asked a man as he approached the hill in the centre of the city.
“The Empress’s Palace is sometimes inhabited by the Empress herself, and often by officials of the Empire but it is not usually open to the people. The palace on the closest hill, over there. That is the best of the palaces. It belongs to the Goddess and is often used by the people when the High Priestesses wish. In fact you are in luck. This very eve the midsummer festival is held, and tomorrow, in honour of the Goddess. There will be much celebration, some inebriation and much adventure for those who wish to participate. You can go there now, but later as the skies darken will be the time of most celebration. I shall be going there myself. I would not miss tonight for anything. Where are you from then stranger, obviously not from here, if you don’t know the festivals?”
“I am from the East,” Aribor said. “I am new to this city. I think I will take a look now, and maybe later I will attend the festival.” He looked up the nearest hill and could see the large palace atop the craggy hill. It was pillared and layered, four levels high, tapering towards the sky. It looked very impressive. He could see that this might be a good target for some of their magic. Perhaps it might be brought down upon the revellers, creating the terror Valdark had described. However tonight was far too soon. The sorcerors were here to reconnoitre and they were to spend some time planning their campaign of terror and destruction. They would not be ready by tonight. They were not even to meet again until tomorrow. He shuddered at the plan forming in his mind. He was in no desire to release their magic any sooner than they had to. He could not stop thinking about the prisoner Remzain, whom he had lost. He cared little for Valdark’s plans now, or for his master Guthelm.
He waited in the shade, quietly observing all that went on around him in the city. As the afternoon heat dissipated he began to observe a gradual flow of citizens towards the Palace of the Goddess. Youths, full of excitement and enthusiasm, flushed with hope and desire made their way, in groups of one sex or the other, sometimes individually, and sometimes in couples, male and female, or small mixed groups. The women were as rapt with anticipation as the men. Aribor had to cast no spell to feel the enthusiasm and pleasure of these festival goers. This festival was evidently some form of worship of the Goddess, but it was no chore to the many adherents who made their way in that direction. There were people of many ages, drawn to the festival on the hill, except the under aged who were forbidden from the fruits of the Goddess until they acquired maturity.
Aribor decided he must follow and see what this festival was. He sensed some powerful magic about all this, but perhaps the excitement was that which came from a passionate crowd. He had left his whip behind at the inn knowing that its presence would seem inappropriate to this festival, for the people travelled light in the summer warmth, carrying nothing but the clothes upon their backs, and not so many of those. Aribor wore not his sorceror’s robes, which would make him stand out too openly in this city of Shalirion. Instead he wore the light yellow robes, of the sort many Shalirionites were wearing for the festival. He felt his large belly stood out as a mark of his foreign nature because the citizens of Shalirion seemed generally healthy and full of good health. This presumably came from contentment and lives which included exercise and moderation. Aribor found himself, despite his lonely and unimpressed nature, to be quite impressed by the state of these people, soft and pleasure seeking though they may be.
The climb began along the path and upwards towards the pillars of the Palace, he began to pant and sweat and loosened his robes to cool down. Others seemed to be doing likewise. As they climbed, and he saw other festival goers on other paths heading up the same hill, some of the people began to discard more of their robes. He saw some younger women ahead take off their robes altogether, and to his great surprise, discard them completely beside the path. He was quite shocked at this sudden and unexpected event, and suddenly quite aroused by the beauty of these young women; even he who had seen many bodies, alive, dead and in pain, in his time, and who might have been expected to be quite unmoved by the human body by now. Others stripped parts of their garments, but most carried the discarded items with them. He now had a greater inkling of what direction this festival might be going in. He knew many rumours of the ways of Shalirion and could hardly be surprised at the sexual appearance of a festival of the lascivious Goddess of these people. He found the sexual promise, whatever it may turn out to be, to be exciting and arousing.