The Gathering

She should have realized the “the Goddess” was not someone who could be trusted. The hatred of the Falson family was evident in the other’s voice whenever the conversation shifted in that way; which was often. There had seemed to be a constant need for reassurance that the Falson matriarch was still at Norasburg. Abeth’s report on the necromantic army sent to the tower brought everything into clarity: the Lady of the Tower intended to take the Falsons from Norasburg tower.

Welsley felt foolish. She had been so caught up in the excitement of finding an ally in her battle against Light Falson that she allowed herself to be blinded to the warning signs. The obsessive need for updates on the matriarch’s location was as obvious as it could get. This combined with a relentless push to keep her anger at raging emotional levels should have been an obvious sign that this “Goddess” was trying to keep her distracted.

It was over now. Any doubt concerning the supposed deity of this being was gone. She was neither a god nor a friend.

The brief conversation with Captain Abeth had brought her a sense of peace, a clearer vision, and a path to travel. Her distant soldier had provided her with a way to escape, to move about the tower. He had also provided her with a list of names, soldiers whose loyalties were tied to her and Norasburg. These warriors would bring their own loyal troops, there might be enough troops to wrest control of the tower from the Falsons. Light Falson’s control came from her family’s placement within Norasburg’s soldiery not from an overwhelming invasion force.

The hidden tunnel system was where Captain Abeth had told her it would be. Welsley was pleasantly surprised by this secondary system for traversing the tower. The tunnels were well lit and used by many of her Illuminated. It had been a simple matter to grab one of them and pass summons on to the officers she needed to speak with.

Which is how she found herself deep in the tower’s underground in chambers that were unreachable by the main corridors and surrounded by half-a-dozen of her officers, the most trusted of her soldiers.

“Abeth,” Welsley began after the last of the soldiers arrived, “thinks quite highly of you. He assures me that you can all be trusted.”
She waited, allowed the silence to stretch out as she carefully caught the eyes of each man. She had a passing familiarity with all of them, knew their names and faces, but had never worked directly with any of them. She was about to put a lot of trust into Abeth’s opinion.

“Why are we here, Your Eminence?” The voice was that of an older man, older than the other men to be exact. They were all older than she was. Welsley recognized the speaker as the man in charge of training within the barracks: Edmund Khorat. He had a reputation for being tough on his pupils, but all his students left his care as competent soldiers.

“You are all aware of our visitors?” Welsley asked. She knew they did, she waited as they all nodded in the affirmative. “You have also noticed an adjustment in the command of the garrison? That all orders are coming from the soldiers that accompanied the Falsons? That there are guards posted all over the tower? That they are all Falson soldiers?”

There was a quick glance shared between the men.

“Surely, they are here for Light Falson’s protection on her journey,” Edmund spoke for all the assembled officers.

“Why would they be needed in the tower?” Welsley asked. “She should be safe in the tower. Our garrison should be capable of defending the tower, right?”

They had no answer.

“She used the ghoul problem as an excuse to journey here,” Welsley continued. “She moved troops to our river garrison. She moved into my throne room, assumed my duties, placed guards to restrict my movements and imprisoned me in my own tower. All done so subtly that I am sure you hadn’t noticed.”

Surprise flashed across their faces as they one by one realized what she had suggested.

“Our swords are yours, my Light,” Edmund spoke.

“We need to retake the tower,” Welsley said. “As quick as we can and with as few casualties as we can manage. None being my preference. Fast and quiet. No one outside of the tower need know of this difficulty.”

“We should be able to manage that. We’ll have some troops slip in under cover of the next shipment to the kitchens.”

“Good,” Welsley nodded. “We need to take Light Falson and her granddaughter alive. We need to keep the troops from clashing. Once the tower has been retaken we’ll need to bolster our numbers at the river garrison. There is another, larger, army of the undead on the way. We need to be ready when they arrive.”

“How do you know this?” There was doubt in his voice.

“I have been in touch with Captain Abeth. I believe he reports true.”

“We’ll send more troops to the river garrison immediately. Those who’s loyalty might be questionable.”

“Excellent,” Welsley exclaimed before leaving the soldiers to their work.


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