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  1. An Order Divided (Challenge IV Prelude, Chapter 12) Previous Prelude chapters: Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 An Order Divided Thanks to Mike S. Who built these two awesome builds. Petitioning the Kaliphlin Council by -Mike S-, on Flickr Octo Vargood of Dunladeen was still hungry. That Small Council Meeting took it out of him. All the screaming, the Ulandians kicked out by Bain Ba’Elder, Bain Ba’Elder got slapped by Phlici Maderni, Kyban had to separate them, and all the while it seemed that everyone had forgotten Flagg was dead. Now he was at the emergency High Council meeting, and nobody could forget Dextrus Flagg. Seven long memorials read by various members of the council, even a poem was read! When he died, Octo just wanted someone to dump his body into the ocean and use their time to wine and dine on jumbo shrimp and the finest wine in the realm! Finally they had resolved to come back to the issue of Flagg later. The real reason for tonight’s meeting was Ulandus. Apparently, at Masa’s behest, the council was entertaining a group from the Knights of Aslan. Octo was not so interested in this, as he only cared about merriment and money, like any good Kaliphlin lord. He often thought these high lords had too many morals, and were not the quality of the generation before them – now those men knew how to turn sand into ducats. It was sad to know that Flagg, a master of the oil industry was no longer, but it also meant that Octo’s own holdings would grow with Flagg’s business out of the picture. Someone had done him a favor this afternoon. Octo despised non-humans, and he could smell the Leander before they came through the door. “I am General Leovetus, we come to you as friends, as allies, and look for your support against Lord Kral.” “Kral? Your order’s master?” Dugal said. “Yes, but in name only. He has begun to favor human members of the order above all others.” Leovetus said. Sounds like a good guy, thought Octo. Octo could see Kral’s representative, Lady Isabella, start to fidget. It looks like there may be more trouble at this council meeting. “Why in the name of Aslan, would we help you?” She finally said. The other lords looked at her sideways, it was not often that a proxy led a conversation in these higher meetings. “I suppose you will not support us Isabella, but I speak to the rest of the Council now, as I bring forth evidence that Kral has long been associated with Ulandus. I bring with me the Leander revolt leader, Bannihal.” Leovetus presented the hard-looking Ulandian to the council. Octo yawned. “Revolt?” asked DaMaximus, “Ulandus is not united?” “I am Bannihal,” Bannihal began. “And no, there are factions within Ulandus that fight against the First Centurion. We are one of them. For almost 220 years, Leander have been forced into slavery by the Ulandians. This is our punishment for the Leander Revolt.” He cleared his throat with a small roar. “I know that Kral has been associated with Ulandus for quite some time. You see, the elite guards of the First Centurion are in fact, Leander slave warriors. Most are his trusted guardians, but we have spies amongst them. They have seen Kral come to Xersia, the capital, and meet with First Centurion many times over the years.” “This is ridiculous! There was no way to get to this island before a few months ago!” Lady Isabella objected. Petitioning the Kaliphlin Council by -Mike S-, on Flickr “That is not quite true…” Duc LeStrange said. They all turned to the often quiet Councilor. “the Petraea General Trading Company has, for some time, been in contact with Ulandus. There is a small town on the west coast of the island called Wreckton, it used to lay outside of the Void Tide.” He looked around, just noticing he had the room’s attention. “Well, we didn’t know about a First Centurion, we just knew it was where some of our sailors ended up when shipwrecked. They also supply coal and Skyfruit. You all like skyfruit! Well, that is where it comes from.” He seemed to bow under the pressure of so many eyes upon him. “We were not going to give away the secret of our monopoly! None of you would either.” “Are you saying there is a way we could take a navy to Ulandus, and your pilots know this course?” DaMaximus asked. “Yes, but I know the town is bordered by mountains, I am not sure…” LaStrange was cut off by Bannihal. “It is possible, but there is only one road to the heart of Ulandus from Wreckton. Wreckton makes its own rules, and they stay away from the Centurions. The First Centurion allows them to live in obscurity. They are not important, but you would not be able to move troops from there. The ten legions would crush your forces. If your whole navy even got to Wreckton.” “Let us back up to Lord Kral.” Isabella interrupted. “While we are divulging trade secrets, I will admit, Kral has been to Ulandus, recently, but not for years! His dealings are the same as those with Varlyrio or the other guilds. The order has business everywhere. The order IS everywhere. He is only continuing the work of Bishop Jamon, Creator rest his soul.” There were a few repeated murmurs of the phrase amongst the council. Octo sniffed. Jamon had one good quality in his mind, he dressed well and made much gold. Petitioning the Kaliphlin Council by -Mike S-, on Flickr Isabella, who Octo had now decided to woo, he liked his ladies feisty, began a new course: “Now we can see what the real motive here is. Whatever cat Leovetus dragged in from Ulandus, it does not hide the truth here.” There were a few sighs, as the lady used the racial slur, cat, to describe a Leander. Feisty and arrogant indeed, Octo could already imagine his dinner plans. “ Leovetus is power hungry. He defies the order by leading its non-human members in rebellion against its anointed leader, Lord Kral. He has courted the Desert King, and for all we know, has already signed a pact with him. He has send his ambassador to Shadowmere, and met with Lord Vladivus to bring Nocturnus against the other half of the Knights of Aslan. This is no more than an additional power play. What is wrong, Leovetus, did the nightdwellers turn you down? Why are you really here?” Leovetus responded in a fierce tone. “This is absolute nonsense and slander. I have never had contact with the desert king. I have not sent anyone to Nocturnus. I am here on the subject of the Ulandians, whom Kral has at least allied with, and who are not here just to bring peace! I bring Bannihal as proof.” Now Phlici went on the defensive. “ You are wrong!” Octo liked Phlici, it was too bad that she had fallen for a Ulandian, her new status as a High Lord made her a suitable match for Octo. Maybe if Lat’ve had an accident like Flagg… Phlici continued, “ The Ulandians are here to rejoin with Kaliphlin, nothing more. Their two legions are here to help us. The First Legion, the Thousand Suns, have been tasked with rebuilding Kaliphlin after the Great Disturbance. Right now, they are out giving out food to our hungry and rebuilding our homes! The Second Legion, the Salamanders, are here to protect our borders and bring peace and order to the realm. With so much disaster, our troops are spread thin from slavers, raiders, invaders, and drow! We need our brothers from Ulandus and their troops in our time of need. There is no question that they should be brought into the fold and reunited with Kaliphlin.” She really had gained some confidence since Flagg died and made her queen of the northern something or other… actually Octo had never paid attention to whatever title Flagg was supposed to hold over this town or that town. He didn’t care in the slightest. “I agree,” Isabella said, “We have no proof that they are here for any other purpose than the one they say. We do have proof that Leovetus is a sniveling coward that is trying to backstab us all!” And with that outburst, Siedna, a newer member to the council herself, said “I put forth a motion to remove the proxy of Lord Kral from the council session. Her personal attacks are out of hand, with no evidence, and she is bringing too much hostility to the chamber. We all know where Kral’s opinion stands, we don’t need her here right now.” “Seconded.” DaMaximus said. “All in favor” Siedna said. About nine of the fourteen presence said “Aye.” Isabella got up and stormed out of the room. Octo saw an opportunity and followed her out. +=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+= Dugal had cautioned Phlici to hold her tongue in this meeting, but that had been ignored. She had tried to find holes in Bannihal’s story for some time now, but without luck. The rebel Leanders had taken the fight to the northern most cities of Ulandus, these cities were not under the direct control of the First Centurion, but were controlled by warlords that seemed to have a culture very similar to Southeastern Kaliphlin. They dressed similarly, they fought similarly, and they even ate some of the same strange delicacies as those Kaliphlinites across the Rakath Mountains. Bannihal thought that these northern cities were weaker, and that the ten legions rarely operated in the Northern cities. Still, the Northern cities were loyal to First Centurion, who they also addressed as Emperor. Dugal saw a problem at this juncture with this Ulandian plan for a “rejoining” to Kaliphlin. Kaliphlin was ran by a High Council, and this was even more true now that Flagg was dead. There was no direct leader, although they may have to elect a wartime leader if the Council takes a side in this war between the Ulandians and the Desert King. Dugal wanted to stay neutral. Bannihal was describing First Centurion at this point “He is tall, seemingly ageless, and has a pair of wings like an eagle.” The 1st Centurion by -Mike S-, on Flickr “So he is not human?” asked Gideon. “In every other way he is” Replied Bannihal. “Although he is immensely powerful, we know not if it is magic, natural ability, or something else.” “Tell us more about Ulandus, do they really have 10,000 troops? Ten Legions?” Asked DaMaximus. “More. Xersia alone has ten legions. The northern cities have at least 4,000 men at arms between the two cities. The Xersia is the guardian of the southern cities, so they only have a rudimentary guardian force.” Bannihal said. “Then there is the navy.” LeStrange nodded to this, apparently the PGTC had encountered the fleet of Ulandus before. The Leander continued to describe the throne room of First Centurion, the opulence, the grander, and the demand for total loyalty within Xersia and the other “sister cities.” It was clear that First Centurion ruled the whole island… making it hard again for Dugal to swallow letting five new high councilmen into Kaliphlins inner circle – considering rarely do 15 show up to meetings, this would give them a sizable voting bloc. And how many lower lords did they want to add to Kaliphlin’s ranks? The 1st Centurion by -Mike S-, on Flickr “The people of Ulandus are generally honorable, yet steeped in history. Whereas people of the mainland have forgotten the sinking of Ulandus, the children of the subcontinent know every story of the Great Breaking, and learn about the prophecies of the Rejoining. They have prepared 2000 years for this day. And I tell you, they don’t just want to be part of Kaliphlin, First Centurion means to rule.” Bannihal finished. The 1st Centurion by -Mike S-, on Flickr “This is nonsense.” Phlici said, “You are obviously scared from your time as a slave. We need a second opinion, if we just invited Lat’ve in here…” Bannihal cut her off. “Lat’ve is here?!? He is one of their highest intelligence officers! This guild hall could be crawling with Sand Wolf spies!” “Sand wolf?” Dugal asked. “The third legion is the subterfuge and spy arm of Xersia.” Bannihal said. “If Lat’ve is here, the First Centurion knows exactly what we are talking about.” He looked panicked. “I must go, my men are in trouble! I opened my mouth up about the spies to the wrong chamber.” He turned to Leovetus “You should have told me there were Ulandians in the capital, I fear this was a foolish errand indeed.” He turned and rushed out of the room leaving the Aslanic Leanders looking at one another in disbelief.