LIBERATION OF VELARONE
I can hear the noise of buttons and keyboard clicking inside the control chamber. We are inside the control room with the gnomes busy working on their steampunk computers.
I saw a giant war map laid out on a large wooden table. It shows the whole city of Velarone. Small holographic people are standing on it. I can see some of the monsters we just fought yesterday roaming all over the place terrifying the citizens of Velarone.
“As you can see,” a gnome—whom I recognized as the one who helped us escape our pursuers when we break out of the Velaronian prison—pointed at the Velaronian citizens, “some of the citizens are not brainwashed by the Archdruid’s spell.”
“Your point?” Ronald is drinking wine from a bottle this time.
“Archdruid Triandal only brainwashed the ones who seemed like a threat to him, except for the soldiers of course, but he can brainwash all the citizens if he wanted to but he didn’t.”
“Maybe he just wants to conserve his energy?” Darcy suggested.
The gnome shook his head, “Maybe if he was just a second rate evil wizard, but Archdruid Triandal has the power of Svartalfheim. He doesn’t need to conserve magic. He must have some other plans.”
He pointed near the Tree of Life, a bunch of people is scattered all around it and monsters appear to be surrounding them.
“Wait, they are not planning to kill them all do they?” Gwydion asks the gnome.
“That would be pointless,” he pressed a button and another hologram appeared, it shows what is happening near the tree. The people are drawing runes and sigils on it. “the Archdruid is planning to destroy the protections around the tree, but those same protections prevent him from casting a spell on it. The only ones who can disable the protections are the uncorrupted citizens of Velarone. Archdruid Triandal can no longer do it since he is a servant of the black elves now, the Velaronian soldiers are possessed by those same black elves so they won’t do it either.”
“But if the protections are working, how was Archdruid Triandal able to enter the Tree itself?” Aeronwen eyes are focused on the hologram of the tree.
“He wasn’t casting a spell on it. The protections are focused to prevent the tree from being destroyed, not the prevention of someone entering it.” Uncle Sneg stroked his beard, “Casting a spell that prevents both is very taxing. The spells that prevent the destruction of the Tree of Life alone killed most of the casters, as I remember reading about it.”
“But why do they want to destroy the Tree of Life?” I asked him.
The gnome answered, “When a powerful deity or an object containing large amount of power is destroyed, the force of all the energy being released rapidly is enough to create an opening between two worlds in a short amount of time. But that time is enough for the Svartalfar to cast their spells or whatever they plan to do to completely merge Svartalfheim with Alfheim.”
“What is the report about the reinforcements?” Ronald turned to uncle Sneg.
Uncle Sneg sighed, “They will be delayed for at least three hours.”
“And how much time do we have before the protections on the tree are disabled?”
“Two at most,” the gnome answered, “we need to act now.”
Uncle Sneg nodded to the gnome, “Thank you Frillboot.”
The gnome nodded back and started to leave, “I’ll go prepare the Flywagons.”
“Wait,” I called him, “we haven’t thanked you yet for saving us the other day.”
I elbowed Aeronwen, she was confused at first but decided to thank the gnome too.
“No worries, I will prank you after the war.” Frillboot left the room.
“How about the huntresses and rangers? Were they brainwashed too?” Gwydion asked.
“Yes, what happened to them?” Aeronwen realized that she have forgotten all about the huntresses.
“There seems to be some sort of mutiny inside their orders. They are being torn apart by their own oaths.” Replies Ronald.
“But the oath of huntresses had us swore loyalty to Velarone, why aren’t they stopping the Archdruid then?”
“Archdruid Triandal managed to convince most of them that he is only doing this for the sake of Velarone. He tricked them into believing that the High elves are siding with us rebels in order to conquer Faernwood and the only way to stop us is by calling the aid of the Fae spirits—or the gods and goddesses of the wood elves—by sacrificing the same tree that the gods gifted to them.” Uncle Sneg explained.
“And the monsters are friends of the those spirits.” Gurstil chuckles.
“Some are smart enough to not believe the foolish story but the ones who dared to oppose him directly are sent to the dungeons and branded as traitors.” Ronald explained further.
“We can get their help then?” I suggested.
“That is a good idea except if they decided to believe the Archdruid’s crazy story instead.” He drank from his wine bottle, “Velaronians are morons.”
Aeronwen shoots him a sharp glance and rolled her eyes. Ronald just smiled at the gesture.
“Hey! I’m a Velaronian too.” Gwydion told him.
“Whatever.” Ronald walked—probably to get another bottle—but uncle Sneg pulled him back.
“You’re not going anywhere,” uncle Sneg pointed to the map, “we still haven’t discussed our plans yet.”
“Our main objective is to stop Archdruid Triandal and the druids that follow him since they are probably the only people who know how to conduct a ritual that can destroy the tree.”
“They have probably learned it from the amulet.” I motioned to my amulet. Uncle Sneg nodded.
“The ritual is going to need people with very high magical power.” Uncle Sneg pointed at the tree, “Archdruid Triandal and his followers must be inside the tree itself. They are going to corrupt the pool of Delphrius with dark magic. But as you can see, monsters are surrounding the place and the civilians will be stuck in the crossfire if we fight them head on.”
“So we will sneak inside the tree?” Darcy asks the troll.
“But the tree doesn’t have any physical entrance to it, it can only be entered through the use of teleportation and I bet that they have already placed wards that prevents magical ways of transportation.” Says Gwydion, “How are we supposed to sneak in?”
“I can disable those wards,” Gurstil gave him a wink, “but again I need to access the control room in the palace first.”
“Then we will accompany you into the palace.” Gwydion told him.
“Now we need a distraction,” Ronald stares at his empty bottle of wine, “we need to draw the attention of the monsters away from the palace. And don’t forget about the possessed soldiers too.”
“They’ve already awakened?” I asked him.
He nodded, “They are still trying to get comfortable in their new bodies but they can join the fight anytime soon.”
“We will draw their attention with our main forces at the south of Velarone. The walls are unprotected so we can easily enter the city. The problem is, the other monsters are supposed to guard the elven civilians. We will most likely face the possessed soldiers instead.” Uncle Sneg pointed to the prison, “We need the help of the huntresses and rangers inside the prison, and use them to draw the other monsters away. A small group of soldiers will escort the civilians to safety.”
Uncle Sneg turned to Gwydion, “You will lead that squad of soldiers.”
“But why me?” Gwydion asked with a shocked expression, “I think I would be more suited in battle.”
“Yes, and you are going to need those skills in order to protect the civilians.” Uncle Sneg told him, “I don’t think the huntresses can draw all the monsters out. Talking about the huntresses, who will break them out of prison?”
“I will,” Aeronwen stepped forward, “they will listen to me.”
“I will send some men with you.” Uncle Sneg told her.
“I will accompany the rest in infiltrating the palace.” Ronald says while fiddling with the wine bottle.
Uncle Sneg nodded.
“How about the other civilians scattered throughout the city. They might be caught up in the battle.”
“I will send a scouting party to search for wandering civilians.” Uncle Sneg assured me.
“Let’s not waste more time.” The old troll told us.
We gathered all the things we need and teleported directly inside the city of Velarone. We were teleported together with Gwydion’s escorting squad and Aeronwen’s jailbreaking party. Maybe because our target locations are close to each other or this is the only place unprotected by wards.
I draw my hatchet and stayed alert. I activated my magical sensing ability and sensed something, and it wasn’t good.
“The huntresses are coming towards our direction.” I warned the others but it was too late.
One of our men “took an arrow in the knee”. The huntresses are already here. But how could have they noticed us in an instance? The dwarves placed giant rectangular shields in front of them and formed a shield wall around us to cover us from the arrows. The soldiers draw their guns but there was no one around. The huntresses are really good at sneaking. They occasionally shoot the shields with their arrows, probably to measure our defenses.
We can’t stay like this, I have to think of something. Then an idea came into my mind. I will detect the huntresses using my magical sense and mark their direction with light.
I told the others about my plan and soon the soldiers are able to hit some of the huntresses. They came out of their hiding and charged at us all at once with their short swords raised up high.
The soldiers also unsheathed their own swords to engage the huntresses in the fight. The dwarves transformed their shields into giant battleaxes and also fought the huntresses head on. A huntress wearing a silver circlet on her long brown hair faced Aeronwen. She looks familiar, she is one of the huntresses that chased us when we broke out of prison.
“Myrinia,” Aeronwen smirked at her, “how’s it going? I see you took the position of Hunt Master from Diana. Let me guess, your father threw her to prison.”
“She is incompetent and clearly not suitable for the position.” Myrinia smiled back in an insulting manner.
“You aren’t either honey. Your father Triandal gave you the position for no other reason other than because you are his bratty daughter.” Aeronwen mocked the huntress.
“Watch your tongue,” Myrinia scowled at her, “I might cut it off.”
“You know you can’t,” Aeronwen readied her sword, “you know that you can never be better than me.”
The huntress slashed Aeronwen with her sword and Aeronwen parried the blow. They kept exchanging blows with each other. I want to help but I have problems of my own. Two huntresses are fighting me at the same time, and to make matters even worse, the spell I used a while ago to lift the curse from Meriel is starting to strain my body. The hunters fight with exceptional skills that I’m barely fighting for my life.
Gwydion took over my enemies and fought them off with his dual wielding skills, “Go! Stopping the Archdruid is more important.”
I nodded. I headed towards the palace along with Ronald and the other two. A huntress followed us but was stopped by a rebel dwarf. Gurstil thanked the dwarf with a very foul language. The dwarf laughed and also spoke to Gurstil in a foul language. They actually sound like they are arguing if not for their laughing.
We reached the palace and some guards are blocking it. The goblins didn’t bother to disguise themselves anymore. We took them all out and continued to the control room. A group of goblins are surrounding a seemingly familiar person. Neve is standing at the center of the goblins, his hands raised in surrender. The goblins are laughing at him.
“Please don’t kill me,” Neve has his eyes closed and his body is shaking with fear, “I was just trying to take my books out of my room.
I knocked all the goblins out and pat Neve on the shoulders. He screamed but realized that he is still alive. Gurstil laughed at the scared Neve but Darcy elbowed him.
“They’re dead now.” I told him.
Neve slowly opened his eyes and sighed, then he was surprised when he saw me in front of him. “What are you doing here? We thought you and Aeronwen were killed by the Archdruid. Are you really rebels? And more importantly, what’s happening?”
“It’s a long story.”
“Okay, just give me some time to set this up,” Gurstil placed his shield on the ground, “this might take longer than it should since Archdruid Triandal must have set stronger type of wards.”
“That won’t work.” Neve told the dwarf.
“You should leave this to the professionals lad.” Gurstil told him.
“The wards that the Archdruid have set must be made from nature spirit style.”
“Why does that matter?” Asks Gurstil.
Neve sighed, “The Irongrog-Wysaxidor unweaving and dispelling technique installed on an advanced arcane hacking device are used for disabling wards made from arcanum magikrias insidarum cirikprius also known as the standard composition of magical energy which is developed by the first arcane sanctum. But these techniques don’t work on nature magic which the druids specialize in.”
Darcy and Ronald’s jaws dropped. Gurstil was shocked at first but smiled at the kid, “You seem to know a lot about magic theory, aye boy?”
Neve smiled proudly, “Well I am one of the scholars of—"
“Can you help him then?” I asked, cutting him off.
“Of course.” He nodded and sat beside Gurstil.
“There’s people heading towards this direction.” Darcy announced.
I scanned and sensed three people. I looked outside to see the incoming threats. Familiar face are walking towards the control room and saw me. It's Vaeril Faedove, the jerk who picked on me on my first visit at Velarone. He grinned, he and his friends rushed towards me but I already have my hatchet in hand.
I knocked the first one with the flat of my blade. The other tried to stab me with his sword but I sidestepped and kicked his foot, taking him off balance.
Vaeril looks amazed but shook the expression away, “You change a bit wimp. Too bad that would just make kicking your butt more enjoyable.”
“Let’s see.” I taunted him. I also had my magic armor up just in case he use his magic on me again.
He appears insulted at the gesture and rushed me with his spear. I parried with my hatchet and tried to punch him in the face but he spun his spear, blocking the blow. He grinned then thrusts his spear forward.
I took a step backward, the fight is taking a lot out of me more than I thought. The strain from being drained out of magic earlier is preventing me to cast very powerful spells, but Vaeril’s case is different. As I expected, he cast a bolt of lightning at me but it wasn’t enough to penetrate my hardened aura.
He scowled, but then fell on the ground. Ronald smashed his silver flask at the poor brat’s head. Ronald smiled. “What happened? You can’t fight a guy like him?”
“I was at a disadvantage.” I retorted.
“That’s not an excuse to fight like a kid in a brawl.” Ronald mocked.
“We have already disabled the wards.” Gurstil told us, “The problem is, we are only going to be able to transport two people due to some large interference in the magical traffic.”
“We’ll go then.” Ronald took a sip from his flask. “You and Darcy will join the others after we teleport. They need you there more.”
Gurstil nodded, “But what about this kid?”
“I think he might give you some help so you can take him with you.”
“I was actually planning to leave after you teleport.” Neve scratched his head.
“I’ll teach you more things about hacking magic than your books could ever do.” Gurstil pats his back.
“I guess I could give a bit of help.” Neve answered hesitantly.
“It’s settled then.” Ronald drank all the contents of his flask, the wine is pouring out of his mouth, “let’s go.”
Gurstil nodded and pressed some buttons on his laptop-shield. Blue energy enveloped our bodies and we were gone in a flash.