Casualties

Glad you could join us for the next fatal episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

Elliot 239
Image credit: SD Zoo/Aussietrev/wallup.net/S.T. Ranscht

Bog’s army had arrived in time to help push General Hai’s troops back across Fen’s border, at least for the night. Now, at the end of a day filled with conferences, bad news, and tough decisions, Queen Lilian heard the same remorse in King Arnie’s apology that she’d expressed to Vernon earlier.

“No one saw it coming, Arnie.” she said. “What’s important is that Bog’s army is here now, and Commander Torlex has taken the Arids’ Alliance Army across the northwestern corner of Fen to cut through the enemy.”

“Torlex is a cagey one,” King Arnie confided. “He’s hinted he has a secret attack plan that’s going to take the General by surprise, but only his army knows what it is.”

“Do you trust him?” Lilian asked.

Nodding, Arnie admitted, “We don’t know each other well, and he’s never led an army before, but he united the Arids’ rebels, and they’re devoted to him. Sirehta says Torlex did most of the recruiting himself. As far as I can tell, he’s committed to carrying out the Alliance strategy.”

“What about Sirehta’s vipers?” she asked. “Aren’t they under your command?”

“No, they’re an autonomous people just like Bog or Fen, the Freelands or the Arids. They have as much authority in the Alliance as you or I, and they’ve decided how they’ll serve. They’re fearsome fighters and no one has a deeper sense of honor.” He paused to stretch his neck with a slow head roll. “Has a runner come from the Freelands forces yet?” the King asked.

“Yes,” The Queen reported. “They reached the eastern border about the same time you arrived, and they’re moving north expecting to— Do you hear that?”

The door opened and a confusion of shrieks and squawks crying danger filled the Audience Chamber. The Guard announced, “Captain Avery, your Magnificence,” as the officer swept past him stopping short when he noticed the King of Bog.

Bowing low, he said, “I apologize for barging in on a royal conference.”

“Please, Captain,” the Queen allowed, “what news?”

“An unknown assailant has killed at least one Guard in the woods outside the Field, and has attacked a private citizen from Bog in the Field.”

“The citizen’s name?” Bog’s King asked.

The captain bowed his head. “Randall, Sir. I thought he was dead, but the two Knights who found him insisted he wasn’t and were going to take him to the Princess. Guards are searching for the assailant now.”

“Was it a Stinger?” the Queen asked.

“We believe so, Ma’am. The attacks resemble the Assassin’s.”

“Whatever it takes, Captain Avery,” Queen Lilian commanded, “if he’s in Fen, I want him brought in.”

“Alive, your Magnificence?”

“Whatever it takes.”

King Arnie hesitated long enough to allow the Captain to leave the Chamber. “I know Randall. He’s the one who learned the Assassin’s identity. But I have no idea why he’s here. If there’s nothing more you need me for right now, Lilian, I’m going to see how he is before I return to the front.”

The Guard opened the door. “Your Magnificence, the Runner is here.”

She took her friend’s hand. “Go safely, Arnie. I hope I’ll have good news to send you.”

To be continued. . .

Previously, on Elliot’s Adventures ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Next time . . .

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Author: Sue Ranscht

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