Princil's Magic : Ch.12 : Guthelm's Weakness (Part 1)
By Kurt Rellians
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Ch.12 : Guthelm’s Weakness
King Charlerion of Pelancir sought audience with his ally King Guthelm of Grumandria. He crossed the central bridge to the west bank of Cromilil, the old centre of the city, now looking less impressive than the east bank where the Pelancirians had been repairing buildings and making the place look as if it was a proud colonial capital. The west bank was still full of burned out and pillaged buildings, emptied of many of its citizens, except the ghostlike enslaved and tortured captives who pretended to work hard in order to avoid the punishments of the cruel Grumandrian soldiers. The King still held court in the old Council Hall, decorated with the heads of vanquished Shalirionites and the bodies of recently tortured prisoners who had been used as sport by the King and his bloodthirsty court, still suspended in cages above the hall. Charlerion shuddered inwardly in distaste. Why would a conquering King not surround himself with the beautiful things of life, artistic collections and wealth, instead of the unpleasantness of warfare and subjugation? Guthelm seemed to have no appreciation of the finer things of life. Brutality and fear were all he seemed to want. They had been here in Shalirion for months now and conquered many regions, but he still chose to live like this in the base they had chosen.
“Come Charlerion,” beckoned the bloated King, “sit next to me, and say what you will. It is some time since we met last at the siege of Vedalis.” The city had surrendered after the blockade began to starve the city, when the food supplies within were poisoned and despoiled by the magic of Black Sorcerors. The additional threat of cruel assaults upon the walls by superior numbers had led to surrender. As you insisted we upheld our bargain, enslaving the population, but avoiding slaughter because they had surrendered. You took your share of the lands.”
“Indeed Guthelm you fulfilled our agreement in Vedalis,” agreed Charlerion. “I have heard recently of your attacks upon Bricas. Your sorcerors caused much terror and bloodloss there, but there was no plan to take the city. Your nearest armies were hundreds of miles away. Why did you expend such effort for such little gain?”
Shalirion will crumble because they fear us,” explained King Guthelm. “They are already crumbling.”
“It is not so Guthelm. We have indeed taken much territory, but you have been utterly defeated in your attempts to take the Cromil valley hinterland. As I have heard it you were lucky to receive any of your army back from that failed occupation. The Shalirionites are employing their own wizards very effectively. Their people retreated before you into the forests where you could not conquer them.”
“A setback it has been, but we have taken cities and coastal lands and made ourselves rich with produce,” explained Guthelm irritably.
‘You did not give the people of the Cromil Valley the option of surrendering,” Charlerion spoke to Guthelm. “Instead they turned and ran from their homes because Grumandria gave them no quarter. They resisted you and now they are stronger.
“Instead we should sieze the advantage, but we do not need to kill and destroy everything. This beautiful land of Shalirion can become a part of our Empires. We can make colonies. Money can be made! I aim to win some of these people over, make them realise they can live in my new order!”
“Charlerion I did not come to Shalirion to make friends with these soft people. This is not just some plan to make money. I want to defeat this Empire. Once we have them under our feet then we can build what we want. They should be our slaves, not people who can be persuaded.”
“Well Guthelm your methods have so far failed in the Cromil Valley. It will be difficult to subjugate that area now. But my methods will have more effect if we extend our dominion here by colonising and by trade and taxation. As time proceeds they will want to trade and they will become willing to pay our taxes.”
“This is not what we came here for,” complained Guthelm. Charlerion sensed he was becoming angry, and remembered he should tread warily with this wild King. “We have come to conquer and we must finish our conquest by force of arms, and of magic.”
“I see you do not agree with all of my ideas Guthelm,” said Charlerion. “In that case we must beg to differ. We shall continue our conquests together beyond Vedalis, but where we rule separate regions I suppose we must conquer and rule as we see fit. Part of our previous agreement in joining the Vedalis campaign was that soon you would gift the whole of this city of Cromilil to Pelancir. Perhaps it is time you moved your court to Vedalis or one of the other cities?”
“I did agree to that Charlerion, and you gave me your soldiers for Vedalis, and I gave you one of my concubines also I remember. How have you found her by the way?”
“Very pleasing indeed Guthelm. For that part of the agreement I have been most satisfied!”
“That is very good. Well then it is time to complete the agreement. The Grumandrian court will move to Vedalis in a few days. There are places to house us all there already. You can have the whole of this city, and make of it what you will, but follow my advice and do not be too nice to the soft Shalirionites or they will try to turn you into one of them,” joked King Guthelm.
“Someone saved some of the souls in the Palace of the Goddess at Bricas,” whispered one of Charlerion’s spymasters to the King.
“Oh yes?” responded King Charlerion, half interestedly, “And who was that?”
“A wizard. A sorcerer – one of Guthelm’s own!”
“That is indeed interesting. Guthelm’s own wizards are starting to betray him. We must wonder why that might be,” the King added sarcastically. Guthelm’s barbarity had really been annoying him now. His dreams had become settled upon creating an Empire for Pelancir. He now wanted to undermine his rival’s power and the news that Guthelm had lost his grip on one of his sorcerors was indeed very interesting.
“How did he save ‘souls’?” asked the King.
“The festivalgoers were drugged. The drug caused them to attack each other. Without the intervention of the sorcerer they would have all killed each other or been killed by the other sorcerors. He cast spells of calming over them until the drug wore off and he arranged drinks and food to be distributed in the Palace, which speeded their recovery.”
“How did you come by this information Hervold?”
We have friends among the sorcerors of Guthelm now. As you encouraged us sire. Some are quite open to our influence.”
“Are they not afraid of Guthelm?”
“Of course, but they respect their allies and recognise their good sense and stabilising influence!”
“They know which sorcerer protected the Bricassians?”
“Yes they do now.”
“And what is their attitude towards that sorcerer? Did they approve of his mercy?” asked the King. “That does not sound like the black sorcerors I have seen!”
“No sire. They do consider him a traitor. They are very surprised by his behaviour. It is not in his character apparently. He has always been most singleminded in his pursuit of orders, and capable of great cruelty. They are angry at his disloyalty, although our friendly sorcerors do claim to doubt their King’s wisdom in attacking Bricas, when it was so far from the path of our armies. They find his behaviour difficult to understand.”
“And what, may I ask, is the name of this sorcerer who has behaved with such compassion?”
“His name is Aribor.”
“Aribor? I have never heard this name before. But then, how many wizards would I know. I know of Valdark, the chief amongst them, and maybe one or two I have heard of. His behaviour is nonetheless interesting. Perhaps we might use him in some way?” he said vaguely. “We have a disaffected sorcerer. He no longer serves his master. Maybe we could encourage him to put his sorcerous talents to our more humane purposes?” suggested the King.
“Maybe,” said Hervold, “I am not quite sure what you would use him for? We would have to win him to our cause.”
“I am sending messages to many Grumandrians. Guthelm has become a liability. He is inept and cruel. He wastes his armies, his allies as well as his enemies. He fails to use his advantages and the labours of those in his control. Grumandria is becoming a desert of the human soul. Cruel lords bully their subjects. The King takes the wealth and value of his lands and replaces it with nothing but war and instability.
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