Skirmishes and Schisms by FibroJedi | World Anvil Manuscripts | World Anvil

Chapter 5: Schisms

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Focus Lost



The Crystal Tower
Just as all the diversionary Kyadii groups were suppressed...

23, Jylta 545 AFD

She was not accustomed to this amount of focus or demand from the Crystal Circle, yet something had clearly agitated them. The Kyadd had only managed to drink one coffee during her breakfast duties and had not yet found a moment to make her own first meal. To her surprise and confusion, Polarnis had burst into her kitchen to say something about frozen water spreading southwards. He had barely finished speaking when Hera'llyn and Ty'qan had arrived flustered and out of breath, while trying to say something about the grounds shifting and air swirling.

"Please, Masters," Farynna pleaded in distress, feeling assaulted on all sides, "one at a time!"

The three mages glanced guiltily at each other, and Polarnis coughed, just as Jakarrn too entered the kitchens.

"You may as well join the party, Master Jakarrn," Farynna said, forcing a smile.

"Our apologies," Polarnis conceded, "we all know something is wrong and time is of the essence."

Farynna shook her head, letting her tangled black hair fall around her auburn shoulders.

"Well, more time is lost if I can't hear you," she reasoned, attempting to calm herself, "and how you believe I, of all people, can fix your problem, I don't know. But I will at least listen."

I am glad she learned long ago to be assertive, Jakarrn thought, she strikes the right balance between that and attempting to push others around. Carnael could learn much from her if he valued non-human races.

Ty'qan looked back to Polarnis and nodded, indicating that he should start to explain the situation.

"Very well," he agreed, taking a breath, "my perspective involves that of Hera'llyn, Water and Wind you see?"

Farynna nodded.

"Often indicating snow or ice is involved, yes?" she asked.

"Indeed, you've listened well. Both our Elements are disturbed to the North but cannot investigate them - or, more accurately, we do not think we could arrive in time to effect any change," he explained, "but we do not think it's weather-related. Not this time."

"But can't you be carried on the Elemental Wind if it's an emergency?" Farynna frowned, "that would get you there quickly, no?"

"True. But even if we were, we would arrive needing to investigate rather than being ready to act," Hera'llyn asserted, "and, if it is not weather related, stumbling blind into the situation could endanger us both."

"Alright, I understand," Farynna frowned, sighing, "so, it's something related to snow or ice, but isn't directly either of those?"

"That about sums it up," Hera'llyn confirmed.

I can see where this is leading, Farynna thought, before looking to Ty'qan, who had remained silent thus far.

"And Erdé?" the Kyadd asked simply.

Ty'qan looked up and met Farynna's gaze.

"I understand why you might lack the comprehension as to the reason we're explaining this to you, but," she began.

Farynna held up a hand-paw.

"Apologies for interrupting," she said, ashamed she had done so, "firstly, how is your Element reacting?"

"R-right, yes," Ty'qan stammered, catching herself, "I'm not Claris, so I don't believe in prophecy for its own sake, but I do have imagery."

Seeing that the Kyadd made no move to question her further nor interrupt, Ty'qan lowered her eyes to the floor, before closing them.

"Thundering hooves, falling claws, slashing wood, torn trees and swooping birds. And..." she continued, looking back to Farynna, "Kyadii on the hunt."

Farynna caught her breath.

"Why would Kyadii come from the North?" she murmured, aware that if they had known the answer, these Crystal Circle mages would not have come to her.

"That's the link to Water and Air," Polarnis explained, "at least, that's the best we can come up with right now."

"Well, I'm a Sablesand Kyadd," she reminded them, keeping her voice steady, "so, if you're looking for a North Kyadd, you need to find Klor'asq."

"That's not why we're here," Polarnis said slowly, "as I explained we cannot see to verify if our feelings are correct."

"Where's Claris?" Farynna asked, "She's the one with Far-Sight."

"We're not sure," Hera'llyn admitted, "she's been more untraceable than Polarnis recently."

The man himself chuckled.

"I would object to that were it not so true," he shrugged, before refocusing on the urgent task at hand, "Claris is unavailable, you know where your Master is, so we need you to..."

"Use the Lens," Farynna stated, completing his statement, sighing, "I had a feeling that's why you'd all arrived."

Frehghan was away and, as the primary user of the Lens would have been the preferred target of their frustrations. But it was no secret that Farynna too had learned to use it.

"And Master Frehghan won't be back until next week at the earliest," she continued, "he's had to go investigate the Lake of Flame in the Great Canyon. So, you're left with me, I'm afraid."

Ty'qan's shoulders sagged, "I'm sorry we swamped you, but will you do this for us?"

Farynna nodded.

"Of course, I am a servant, am I not?"

Jakarrn pursed her lips and closed her eyes.

"You're more than that, in reality, dear Farynna. And I am sorry that we don't say it often enough. To aid you, I will see if we can get a Blàmìs out there," she decided, glancing to all those gathered in the kitchen, "in the meantime, whoever sees Klor'asq first, please send him my way."

"Oh, and Farynna?" Hera'llyn asked, her cool blue eyes glinting through her deep-toned skin, "do remember that, though you're the only option in this particular moment, we trust your judgement. We would not have asked you, if that were not the case."

The Kyadd glanced to the side.

"Thank you, Master Hera," she mumbled, "Hera'llyn, sorry,"

Released now to her task, she turned ran for the stairs leading to the Lens, before any of them thought to compliment her further.

About the time, Rusziné was rushing to the Stones of Myrn

Usually, her time using the Lens was relaxing and enlightening, but today's task did not give her room for enjoying the experience. The perfect marriage of Elelupii engineering and Elemental magecraft, the Lens was more than a mere star-seeker's scope. Its range was limited only by the user's ability to remember distant places, and it could view beyond natural obstacles. As a final intricacy, it was also designed to give an Elementally-sensitive user a view of how the Elements might be shifting. Farynna, sat on the parapet of the Crystal Circle Tower, as was her preferred posture, turned the Lens carefully North, then East - or Nùormà and Est as they were marked on the eye-piece. For her Master Frehghan to use the Lens, he had to sacrifice a shard of his Elemental Flame Essence in a ritual that brought the device to life and required him to rest for a substantial period afterwards. For reasons she had yet to discover, it responded to Farynna without the ritual, though she was not immune to its energy-draining nature.

She reached out a hand-paw to the third focusing lens, then back to the second, before stretching to the fourth, cursing being a short Kyadd.

What I wouldn't give for longer arms, sometimes.

The lenses sharpened her view, and what she saw took her aback; groups of sitting North Kyadd - or Deenfeiss Leen in her own tongue - with Woodsmen and Qalathian soldiers watching on. Farynna described the scene to Jakarrn, who was pacing back and forth just behind her, much to the Kyadd's annoyance.

"So, there's been some sort of fight, then. At the sacred burial ground of the Foyii no less," the mage summed up, "is that the only place of activity?"

Farynna scanned the area North of the groups of Kyadii and, after seeing nothing out of the ordinary, tilted the Lens south, adjusting the third and fourth lenses as she did.

"No, there is some sort of charge through Doon, but they're moving so fast, I cannot focus in time," the Kyadd complained, stifling a yawn.

Jakarrn looked up, breaking her own musings.

"Who or what is at the Stones?" she asked.

"I see...a few Qalathian soldiers and, wait," she stopped mid-thought.

Jakarrn was about to berate Farynna for leaving her hanging when a Blàmìs landed on the parapet with a chirp. After a few words from the mage, the bird hopped onto Farynna's shoulder, seemed to nuzzle her furry ear, and then flew off.

"That tickled!" Farynna chuckled, "not helpful when using a delicate device at a great height."

"Maybe not," Jakarrn acknowledged with a wry smile, "but he found Klor'asq."

"Then I would suggest sending him to Myrn," Farynna mumbled as she watched the scene unfold. Then, realising she had effectively told Jakarrn to do something, added, "but you're his Master, sorry."

Jakarrn allowed herself a moment of lightness.

"You only confirmed what I've already told the Blàmìs to do, so no harm done. Now, what did you see?"

"I thought a Kyadd was about to assassinate one of the Qalathian soldiers in the shadow of one of the Stones, but she just captured him. I don't know what all this is about, though. So many people-groups, and clearly threats in all directions, but ...ugh," she groaned, "my eyes are starting to blur, can I stop now, please?"

Jakarrn placed a hand on one of Farynna's shoulders.

"I should not have let you go on as long as you did, so please do," she replied, kindly.

The Kyadd switched off the Lens with a gentle sweep of her left hand-paw down the side of the scope and yawned.

"I'm going for a nap until lunch. If I'm not up by eleven Ur, please send someone to wake me."

Without waiting for a response, she carefully made her way down the spiral steps of the tower until she reached her quarters and collapsed gratefully onto the bed she had only remade two Urs earlier.

A Lack of Recourse

The Stones of Myrn, 6 Ur 30

Rusziné took a backwards step, caught off-guard by a comment so cutting. The King had never insulted him in such terms before, even when he had deserved it, and certainly not in front of so many people.

"Your Majesty, if I may...?" he began.

Carnael held up a hand and silenced him.

"No, you may not," he sharply interrupted, "at least not yet. I wish to hear from the others, first."

Ferrfeiss had been taking the measure of the various people-groups around the Stones of Myrn despite having attempted a covert approach to Bezélan. Keeping his Rzarchprl in his hand-paw, he glanced towards the Kyadii who had emerged from the Forest of Doon with Rusziné.

"How does that sound to you?" he asked in all openness to any response.

A few of his kin exchanged glances and eventually one spoke up.

"It is logical that when chasing someone, you are following them. Using someone's location to find our leaderrr is differrrent to them being our leaderrr."

Ferrfeiss nodded then returned his piercing gaze to the King of Qal'ath.

"I concurrr. I saw them and your Captain all coming to your prrrecious Stones. Indeed, he was about to battle me in order to rrrelease your soldier over there," he pointed with his free hand-paw at the still-restrained Natarr, who had ceased trying to squirm free.

Carnael huffed.

"So now you defend him. Interesting behaviour for one who should be considered an enemy of yours," he shrugged from his Kyjushi Battle-Cat.

"Both he and us werrre trrrying to find Ferrfeiss," Azarrgrrn interjected, "though we admit for differrrent reasons."

Carnael shook his head and sighed.

"Let's say that is true for the time being, what is the situation at the Viàn?" he asked, then glancing at Rusziné briefly, he added, "again I do not wish to hear your account just yet."

Rusziné shrugged, dug his sword into the ground for the second time that day and leant on it. He knew the King could be rash and occasionally illogical, but that usually only followed hearing all the details. Carnael at least pretended to listen. But to immediately silence the one the King himself had assigned to the mission was unusual.

Disturbing, even, he thought.

Latisha too was taking the measure of the crowd around the Stones and frowned.

"I don't recognise your garb," she said to one of the Foyblànii, "maybe you could give His Majesty, Our King, an impartial report. If you permit, my Lord?" she added, catching herself.

Carnael nodded.

"That seems fair to me."

Ayàvi studied the King and his guard for a few moments and took a breath.

"Very well. At the Viàn, more than half of the Kyadii are seated on the ground and not resisting. The ones you see before you - less the leader and the girl with the knife over there - survived their own assault. What wounds they didn't take physically, they took mentally. They are not here to attack Qal'ath. Indeed, they only spoke of freeing a brother who is somewhere within Qal'ath's borders and possibly in Bezélan itself."

"And what role did my sorry excuse for a Captain play in this mess?" Carnael asked, coldly.

Well, at least that's an improvement on 'supposed Captain', Rusziné thought ruefully.

Ayàvi looked to Rusziné kindly and nodded.

"He prevented one who we presume is a second-in-command from injuring or killing others in order to pass into Doon. He did not have those face scratches when I first saw him, that's for sure."

"So, who are you?" Latisha demanded.

"I am Ayàvi, healer and Hawk-rider of the Foyblànii. Our assistance was requested in preventing an incursion, with strict orders not to kill. Which suits us just fine."

Carnael grimaced.

"Yes, I'm sure it does. Life in all its equality, even if it's not deserved. It sounds familiar."

Aghast, Ayàvi opened her mouth to reply, but closed it swiftly, realising this battle was not hers. Taking a moment to steady her breathing, she noticed two of the Qalathian contingent slowly shifting their positions among the Stones. Wondering what games they thought to play, Ayàvi whispered to her Hawk, who rubbed his beak against her cheek in response.

"So, Ferrfeiss was it?" the King addressed the Kyadii leader, "what did you presume to demand from the Glorious Realm of Qal'ath for your criminal incursion on our land?"

Ferrfeiss frowned and growled.

"We came seeking justice and freedom," he stated through clenched teeth, "but everrry single worrrd you have uttered tells me you stand for neitherrr."

Carnael waved a hand lazily in the air.

"Freedom comes within boundaries and justice varies from domain to domain. But whose freedom were you seeking again?"

Throughout the whole discussion, Arrnwarr had remained silent, only holding onto her prisoner from a lack of choice rather than her wishing to harm him. It had taken the strength of every part of her spirit not to tear into this king so far, but her resistance was waning.

"In the event you know anything about your people, I will tell you the same as I told your Marshall here..."

The King silenced her with a gesture again and looked to Jewan.

"Ah, then if I can get a report from the Marshall, I'll take it."

Jewan flushed and saluted.

"Yes, my Lord the King," he managed without stammering, "they claim we have a Kyadii prisoner, or slave, or servant in our city. I believe they are referring to one of the two servants of the Crystal Circle, yet both of those live and behave as free citizens despite their...employment status. The Kyadd with the knife is demanding he be freed."

"Great," sighed Carnael sarcastically, "so, we have invading wild cats, following in the wake of one Rusziné, who is being defended by nature-loving tree people, who are seeking a servant in the employ of unelected but annoyingly powerful and useful mages? A servant who may have in all likelihood chosen the comforts of the Realm, rather than the harsh, unforgiving ice of the North?"

Latisha stifled a laugh and maintained her poise and composure.

"That is certainly one viable summary, your Majesty, my King," she responded, smirking, "but at least my King has a report from the Marshall and a reasonably objective account from the White-leaves. How do you wish to proceed?"

Ferrfeiss had become agitated and Arrnwarr was concerned how his judgement would be impaired as a result. Yes, the King had insulted them, but they were still no closer to finding Klor'asq nor to effecting an escape. Rusziné had surprised himself at how long he had remained silent, with Carnael being equally astonished the man had not disobeyed him in front of so many witnesses.

Oh, but he will. I know he will.

At length, he turned his attention to Rusziné.

"Fine," he shrugged, "how are you going to worm out of this one, or clean up this mess?"

Rusziné saluted.

"Your Majesty, the King, I was - as had already been reported - about to engage the Kyadii leader in combat in order to free our soldier over there. Moreover, I was hoping to get information from the Capital about this Klor'asq's true status, for which we would need time. It is clear that there was never going to be a full-scale attack on Qal'ath, this was an extraction mission," he reported then, adding a shrug, he added,  "admittedly based on flawed information. With most of the contingent being held at the Viàn until they return home and the others demoralised, I do not see why this cannot end in discourse."

"Well I do!" Carnael screamed, "You must think I'm stupid to believe this was never going to result in conflict. To subdue the Kyadii you would have had to fight. You do not send armed warriors to a peaceful discussion!"

"But your Majesty, the Kyadii are always armed!" Rusziné protested.

"Then they always want to fight!" the King roared, "this is my land with my rules. And you have never grasped that," he added jabbing his forefinger in the air towards Rusziné, "this situation is a mess and it's one that could have been avoided if you had gone into it with a war mindset, not a flimsy merciful one. The Kyadii should not have been subdued, they should have been killed!"

Gasps were heard around the circle, even from some of the half decantà.

While Carnael took a moment of pause, Rusziné uprooted his sword and kept his head bowed.

"You. Do. Not. Kill. People. On. A. Burial site," he sternly emphasised, not glancing up, "Not ours, not the Foyii's, not anyone's. Not for any reason, except happenstance, your Majesty."

Latisha smirked.

"Is that how you address your King?" she asked.

Arrnwarr looked directly at her, the movement of her white and blue fur catching the Royal Guard's attention.

"He is freer that you will ever be. And I, for one, envy that."

"What do you mean by that, Kyadd?" Latisha frowned.

"He may have served faithfully, but in truth, Carnael is not his King."

It was the Guard's turn to be silenced by words alone.

"It is true, Latisha," Carnael acknowledged, more calmly than he felt, "I thought that would have been obvious from his name."

"Rusziné...a 'red friend'?" she asked, struggling to translate it from Foyiitùn to a meaning that would indicate the man's origins.

"Friend of the Red-leaves, Latisha. Before you ask, no I'm not a Woodsman from Doon, I am Byāntite." Rusziné explained.

Carnael clenched a fist tightly around the rein of his battle cat.

"But your loyalty is still supposed to be to me, is it not?"

"And if you would just listen, your Majesty, you would understand that I have done nothing actually disloyal in this entire operation."

The other two have stopped moving now, Ayàvi gleaned from her Hawk nudging her head to the right, the next few moments could be...catastrophic.

"No?" Carnael raised an eyebrow and glanced towards Ferrfeiss, "then kill the Kyadii leader to prove your loyalty. In fact, show this whole gaggle of onlookers not to cross a soldier of Qal'ath!"

The sky was bathed in maroons, pinks and blues as the sun's rays finally penetrated the Verdant Hills, allowing its light to wash across the plain the Stones of Myrn rested in. The dawn reflected off the Kyjushii battle cat into Carnael's face and it looked painted with blood. And as the temperature began to rise, the soldiers of Qal'ath felt more at ease and their senses sharpen. But that same change of climate began to torture the North Kyadii with needle-like pain. Even Ayàvi, a Parànt, felt too warm as her home was in the snowy Bruhaii Foyblànii.

How is Kyaevy holding out? she wondered in concern.

Time seemed to stand still. Arrnwarr's grip was loosening on her failed attempt to use capture as a bargaining tool and she looked pleadingly at Ferrfeiss.

"Don't do it," she whispered, hoping that only Natarr and any nearby Kyadii would hear.

Rusziné, with his affinity to nature however, did.

"Listen to her, Ferrfeiss," he urged in a measured tone, "you're in no state to fight now, even if you're coping better than others in your clan."

The Kyadii leader shook his head sorrowfully.

"Your King did not ask you to fight me."

Rusziné hung his head. Ferrfeiss was correct on that score. Glancing at Carnael first, he then made eye contact with the members of the decantà that he could see, and returned his gaze to the Kyadii leader.

"'A soldier of Qal'ath must not attack first, where just cause has not been established'," he quoted, "from Qalathian Just Warfare, page two-hundred-thirty-six."

Carnael grimaced, but taken aback, As if he knows the rule-book.

Rusziné was about to continue when a sharp cry issued from Arrnwarr, and she fell forwards to the floor, pushing Natarr away from her to safety.

"Ferrfeiss, look out!" Ayàvi cried.

Natarr, unable to regain composure, stumbled into Ferrfeiss who, momentarily unbalanced, tumbled weapon-first into Rusziné who only just managed to block his Rzarchprl and step away. His eyes darted around the direction where the block-fall effect had begun.

"My Captain", Y'mtyrn spat, wiping his hands on his trousers, "the Kyadii woman, holding one of our own as a prisoner, forced their leader to come at you weapon first. 'Just Cause', I do believe."

The spearman was holding his weapon towards Arrnwarr's head and the Kyadd was sobbing at his feet. Rusziné was horrified. Ferrfeiss himself was still disoriented when he swung back to see what had become of Arrnwarr, before the hilt of a sword struck him on the head, bringing him to his knees as the world spun underneath him.

"And that Kyadii leader turned back at you, weapon first..." stated a satisfied-looking Oesuli, "but, you know, his Majesty, our King, did not command us to kill him, so..." she continued slyly.

"Step away from him then!" Rusziné shouted, "just step away from him."

He was trapped. There was no fall-back plan remaining. He had failed.

He pointed his great sword towards Ferrfeiss.

The Stones of Myrn, 6 Ur 55

"Well?" Carnael asked, staring pointedly at him, "do I have to come over there and do it myself, or will you do it, ex-Captain of Qal'ath?"

Rusziné shrugged.

"As if the 'Glorious' King of Qal'ath would bloody his own hands when he has loyal servants to do it for him," he sighed, sheathing his sword behind his back, "and if I am an ex-Captain of Qal'ath, then I have no duty to obey orders, just or unjust."

"Make one wrong move and this arrow will fly through your head!" stated a commanding voice near Ayàvi.

It was another Foyblàni, one Ayàvi did not recognise, so assumed he was from a more northern settlement to hers. While he was stood on the back of his Hawk the better to see, he was not shouting at Rusziné. Y'mtyrn glanced up and saw the tip of an arrow, glinting pink, was trained on his location. Various cries of confusion gave Rusziné the moment he had been waiting for.

"Don't move," he hissed to the Kyadii leader at his feet, "that's not a threat," he added.

Ferrfeiss, whose head hurt too much to care, tried to nod in response.

Carnael sneered.

"So, the Woodsmen side with the invading Kyadii too. Consider our alliance ended, then."

The archer, keeping his focus on Y'mtyrn took a moment to consider his reply.

"Centuries of partnership ended over one event?" he replied, almost incredulously, "but it matters little what we want, when the other partner wishes to sever our connection. So be it. When it is reported back to all the clans, your action will be sadly acknowledged, but will not be a shock, oh King. You should know better than to kill someone who is already beaten. One day injustice may come to your gates. What mercy can you expect, then?"

Latisha was beginning to wonder how much longer these exchanges could go on for. She looked to Carnael who gave her a nod.

"Listen up and listen well, everyone," she began, drawing at least the attention of some of the Qalathian soldiers.

"If you believe the King's orders should have been followed, rally to us here. If you do not, then skulk over to your Red-Leaf," she instructed, "yes, Y'mtyrn, I'm giving you permission to leave the Kyadii girl to her misery."

Oesuli and Y'mtyrn did as instructed without a second thought, and Natarr eventually, reluctantly joined them. Vimas, sometimes the one to try and find compromise looked between Rusziné and the King he swore his service to and, sighing, shuffled to Latisha's side.

Rusziné does not deserve this, but the King's orders overrule the Captain's, he thought, my family would lose everything if I was banished for disloyalty.

Rusziné, aware the Foyii and Kyadii would be near him by default, knew who was remaining in the no-man's land. He glanced up at Jewan and smiled.

"Thank you, Marshall Jewan. You're a fine leader and of a different calibre and character to others in your rank. You will serve Qal'ath's people well, and you'll do that better at the King's side."

"I'm sorry, Rusziné," Jewan replied, holding back tears of regret, "I won't forget those words."

Once his dejected form was behind all the others near the King of Qal'ath, Carnael addressed Rusziné directly.

"I have one last order and you will obey this if you value your life. By sundown you will arrive, unarmed and unarmoured at Oestun Vyai, or Westwatch as I will soon rename it. I cannot command your death for disloyalty due to your rank and experience, but I can evict you from Qalathian lands. You will see how welcoming Tolmyr Sands is at this time of year. If you do not turn up, expect bounty hunters after your head by midnight."

Tugging on the reins of his battle cat, who gave a roar, the King turned and made for the Capital, followed by those who had sided with him. Rusziné flung his sword on the floor and fell, exhausted onto the grass between two Stones. Arrnwarr had all but crawled to Ferrfeiss and they clung to each other, their fur sodden with tears. The other Kyadii laid or sat around them.

Ayàvi, who had sent her Hawk back North to report to Kyaevy all that had transpired, looked up at her counterpart, who had just put all his arrows back into his gold-edged quiver.

"Quick-thinking," she acknowledged.

"Thank you," he simply curtly, "not that it matters, but I'm Nìrsen."

"Glad to have not been alone out here, Nìrsen," she grimaced, "but what now?"

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