Princil's Magic : Ch.12 : Guthelm's Weakness (Part 3)
Guthelm had sons and daughters by his wife and some by his concubines. He was a King who had had his own way and not lived by any rules of law. His wife, his second of these, was of a Lord in Grumandria. He had two sons by her, both still young. One was warlike and tough, but also cruel and ignorant, rather like his father. The other was lazy and indolent, badly behaved. Charlerion believed he might well ignore them and become King himself, because neither son was popular or any improvement on the father Guthelm. He sought to collect fealty from as many lords as he could. In Grumandria no royal line had been very well established. The rule of strength and violence, of usurpation had been dominant.
Charlerion waited. His ambition was not to be brought about overnight. He would allow Guthelm to continue his failings, while presenting himself as more wise, and more successful. He knew he was a better leader than Guthelm. He would offer himself subtly as an alternative and see if it might be possible to make himself a credible alternative to Guthelm, someone royal who could be an alternative way for the forsaken Kingdom of Grumandria.
“Send a messenger to the turncoat sorceror who obstructed the work of his fellow black sorcerors in Bricas. What was his name again Girard?”
“Sire you mean the sorceror Aribor who saved so many of Guthelm’s victims from the magic of hatred?”
“Yes that is the one. He evidently disliked the methods of his fellow sorcerors and refused to follow the orders of Guthelm, so he went against the orders of his king and saved those people. If he could be reached perhaps he could be persuaded to join us against his cruel King.”
“But was he not a traitor to his own King?” said Girard, unafraid to question his own King, who had long favoured him for his knowledge and thoughts.
“We need retainers who have lost their loyalty to their King. We need people who are able to forge a new loyalty if we are to supplant the cruel drunkard who now sits on their throne. He showed some consideration to the subjects of Shalirion. We should perhaps take a lesson from that example. To win in the Empire of Shalirion we need to win those people over to our virtues also!”
“Having embraced Shalirion I doubt that he would transfer his loyalties to yourself my liege. He may continue to protect them against our attacks.”
“But if he realises we intend to overthrow the King he has made an enemy of and to give his own land a better future, then he should support us. Don’t you think, Girard, he would make a very useful servant if he could be brought to our side?”
“Yes sire. You have made some sound points. Perhaps he could be persuaded to relieve his own homeland?”
“Can you make some enquiries of his whereabouts? Send someone suitable to find him and persuade him to our cause.”
“We will do our best sire.”
Remzain’s ears pricked up. She heard the name Aribor on her King’s lips, a name she recognised well. How was the King concerned with the sorcerer who had sought her out, and used her so obsessively, before losing her to Guthelm? She heard that the King wanted to find him, that Aribor had rebelled in some way against his King Guthelm. She knew little of what happened at Bricas, not the details of it. That news had not been given to her and she understood not what they said of it. She would ask Charlerion later when they were alone. Her thoughts returned to her family, protected behind the secret walls of the family home. Had Aribor remained true to his word and protected them. She had no reason to believe Aribor would have betrayed them. She could tell that he would have wished to save her father from his fate if that were possible. Although she had feared and detested him to begin with she had soon come to understand that his feelings for her had included a guarantee to protect her family as much as he could.
It was not her place to say anything on the subjects of Charlerion’s counsel, but Charlerion did talk to her about matters of state sometimes she found. He might not have appreciated her true opinions, but he could not have been surprised by them.
“I heard you mention the name Aribor, the sorcerer,” she ventured.
“Yes I did, Remzain. What of it?”
“I know Aribor. He was the sorcerer who found me. They forced him to give me up to Guthelm.”
“I take it he did not wish to hand you over,” said Charlerion, all interested now. “I don’t blame him! So you were captured by this sorceror? I would like to locate him. He may be of help in our attempts to act against Guthelm.” The King looked thoughtful. It may be that you could be of some use in our discussions with him, if needed.
Remzain knew that she had meant much to Aribor. Charlerion probably did not realise just how much she had meant to the wizard, but Remzain knew. She had seen it in his face at the point of the wizard’s orgasm, more than a few times, and even more in his face when he was forced to give her up to the Great Sorceror Valdark and his cruel master King Guthelm. That night and day after her capture by him he had been unable to stop his lust for her. The more she acceded to his demands the more he desired from her. He had given himself up completely to his lust, until she had felt that she had far more hold over him than he had over her. Never had she known such devotion and she had actually enjoyed the demands he had made of her, after her initial fears had begun to recede and the strength of his obsession became apparent. Charlerion was not under the same influence, because although he evidently found her irresistible, and loved the power he held over her, he did possess a natural charm and charisma which won him many ladies, wives from amongst the ranks of his closest followers, as well as servant women whenever he desired, in addition to his wife and three concubines.
Charlerion wanted her assistance to reach Aribor, but had little inkling of her likely influence over the sorcerer.
“What do you want of him?” she asked.
“The time has come to do something about King Guthelm! He is a liability to Pelancir, as he is a destroyer to the people and land of Shalirion. I have been unable to persuade him to act more sensibly. His armies are restive, and so are his vassals in Grumandria. It is time to replace him with better leadership.”
“With yourself as King?”
“That is the strategy I am considering, or possibly someone who would make a better ally if we cannot find support for my own candidacy.”
“Charlerion you are ambitious, but your plan could cause war and untold deaths,” Remzain suggested.
He shrugged his shoulders, “Guthelm’s survival will cause untold deaths, has already done so. I don’t know why I am explaining these matters of state. I merely explain so that you may understand what we attempt to achieve. I may need your assistance to bring Aribor around to our view. Is he a strong loyalist to his people? He cannot be, I perceive, because he intervened against Guthelm and his fellow sorcerors of Grumandria to protect your people of Shalirion.
“He protected my people of Shalirion?” she asked. “What do you mean? What did he do?”
“Remzain it was your wizard Aribor, the one who captured you and was forced to give you to his King, who helped and saved many of your people in Bricas. He was the wizard who turned traitor to his own King in order to save the Shalirionites of Bricas!”
Charlerion managed to locate and contact Aribor with his spies in Bricas. He realised the wizard broke with Guthelm to save Shalirionites and he thought he might use him to fight Guthelm. Remzain had told him who Aribor was and related the story of her capture by him, without revealing the extent of her brother Princil’s magic, or the manner in which his magic was created. She told him she believed her family had escaped the city, and was pleased to find that Charlerion was not too interested in the details. He was focused on approaching the Wizard to secure his services against Guthelm. Charlerion approached Aribor through intermediaries, but was rebuffed.
Charlerion perceived the influence Remzain had enjoyed over Aribor, who had perhaps become embittered towards Guthelm by being forced to give Remzain up. He asked Remzain to summon Aribor or intercede with him. She was not clear that she had influence, or that she should intervene, but Charlerion had been good to her and she felt obliged. She also hated Guthelm so felt the temptation to resist him in some way.
“Please my lady Remzain,” said Charlerion. “I want this wizard. He is powerful and can do great damage to Guthelm. I thought you said you hated Guthelm for his actions. This is your chance to do something against the monster.”
“What do you wish Aribor to do?”
“I do not know yet. I only know that he can be useful to our cause. I would like you to send him a message.”
“How? I do not know him so well. I was his prisoner remember.” She was not at all keen to renew her involvement with the big wizard. She knew that she had some power over him, sexual allure at the least. But what was that worth in this always changing world!
Surely Aribor had experienced further adventures after his sexual excesses with her. She was pleased to hear that his conscience had developed, perhaps because of his anger in losing her, so that he turned against his King and helped to save the innocent citizens of Bricas. But why should he want to enter Charlerion’s service? He owed no allegiance to Pelancir or its King.
Remzain did not see why she should work for Charlerion’s vision. She knew he wanted to control Shalirion. He might work with its people, and protect them more than Guthelm, but he could not deny that he wanted to control and exploit them. She hated Guthelm, but she did not wish to see Charlerion conquer more of her homeland.
Charlerion saw a way to persuade Remzain. He ordered his officers to report Guthelm’s crimes to her. They revealed the rough numbers of citizens of Cromilil who had faced execution in the Trials which Guthelm had used for entertainment after the conquest of the city. The length of time it had taken for some of the victims to die under torture of slow death had been found recorded. Her face whitened when she heard her father’s name and time listed.
“How did you get this?” she asked.
“Someone favourable to our cause copied them down from the books of Guthelm’s trial judges,” said one of the Pelancirian officers.
There were estimates of the dead Cromililian bodies found on the streets after the invasion in the different quarters of the city. There were reports from the war some years before when Guthelm had invaded Pelancir, of the cruelties he had inflicted upon the people of Pelancir. There were even some stories of retribution handed out by Guthelm’s soldiers in their own land in recent times, of example killings, retribution for disloyalty, examples of unjust accusations and sentences from Grumandria. None of these were a surprise to her, but with these stories in her head she found it impossible to resist the feeling that Guthelm should not be allowed to keep his throne. Somebody, anybody, should act against the brute who presided over such inhumanity. Although she blamed the Pelancirians for their crimes and for being the allies of such a monster, she could not see how any other authority than Charlerion’s might be able to punish Guthelm and take his throne away from him. The crimes angered her, renewing her desire to act against him in some way. She said she would meet Aribor if the wizard agreed.
“Strike Charlerion,” demanded Remzain. “Bring his evil to an end. Reform his Kingdom and set it on a better path!”
And Charlerion did pledge to do just that, one way or another.