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AMRT Chapter 27: The Prince's Siege

 
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dANdeLION
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2004 11:29 pm    Post subject: AMRT Chapter 27: The Prince's Siege Reply with quote

We begin Book 2 outside the walls of Orison, as Kragen begins his siege. Though his army seems scant, and Orison impenetrable, he knows the siege will be successful, if he can complete it before the High King’s army arrives. From information gathered from the Perdon’s wounded men he had captured, Kragen knows that the Cadwal army outnumbers his own two-to-one. So time is of the essence. Kragen orders his catapults onto position, aiming at the barely-erected curtain wall that protects the hole in the castle’s wall, the hole made days earlier by the Congery’s champion.

Kragen knows the curtain wall cannot hold, but he is still hesitant to attack. For one thing, the lady Elega’s attempt to poison the people had failed; also, there is the matter of King Joyce’s threat: King Joyce intends to unleash the full force of the Congery against you and rout you from the Earth! Kragen knows that if the Congery attacks his army, they could destroy it.

Quote:
The lady Elega came to his side while the most powerful of the catapults was being loaded. His mind was preoccupied; but she had the capacity to get his attention at any time, and he greeted her with a smile that was warmer than his distracted words.


Kragen:“My lady, we are about to begin”

Elega:“What will happen, my lord Prince? Will the curtain-wall hold? The Castellan is a cunning old veteran. Surely he had done his best for Orison.”

Kragen:“Oh, the wall will fall. We will have it down before sunset-perhaps before noon. It was raised in winter. Let Lebbick be as cunning and experienced as you wish. He has had nothing to use for mortar. If he took all the sand of the Congery-and then butchered every Imager for blood-he would still be unable to seal those stones against us”

Elega:“And when it comes down? What then?”

Kragen:“When ths blow is struck, there will be no turning back. Alend will be at war with Mordant. And we cannot wait for thirst and fear to do our work for us. The Perdon is all that stands between us and High King Festten. We will make the breach as large as we can. Then we will fight our way in. Orison will be given every conceivable opportunity to surrender. I want no slaughter. Every man, woman, and child there will be needed against Cadwal.”

Elega:“Castellan Lebbick will never surrender. My father has never surrendered in his life.”

Kragen:“Then they must begin here.”

Kragen orders the captain to launch the catapult. It misses, and Kragen takes the mss as a bad omen.

Before he can order a second shot, a trumpet sounds from the castle. A lone man rides out to talk with Kragen. It is Master Quillon, which strikes Elega as odd, since Quillon has never been an important Imager, at least in her opinion. Kragen himself has no problem respecting Quillon, though; he is quite aware of the abilities of Imagers.

Quillon has come to warn Kragan that the catapult will be destroyed, as will any other catapult that so much as aims at Orison. Quillon says he is giving this warning because king Joyce doesn’t want him killed. Kragen is a bit miffed at the apparent arrogance, but keeps cool as they continue the verbal jousting. Kragen remarks about Quillon’s own safety being quite compromised, what with him standing here alone against the Alend army, but Quillon acts unfazed.

Quote:
“Kill me or not. But do not make the error of believing you will be permitted to enter or occupy Orison. Rather than surrender his Seat and his strength, King Joyse will allow you to be crushed between the hammer of Cadwal and the anvil of the Congery.”
The lady Elega couldn’t restrain herself. “Quillon, this is madness.” Her protest sounded at once angry and forlorn. “You are a minor Imager, a lesser member of the Congery. You admit that your life has no importance. Yet you dare thereaten the Alend Monarch and his son. How have you gained such stature, that you can claim to speak with my father’s voice?”
For the first time, Master Quillon looked at her. Suddenly, his face knotted, and an incongruous note of ferocity sharpened his tone. “My lady, I have been given my stature by the King’s command. I am mediator of the Congery.” Without moving, ho confronted her as if he had abruptly become taller. “Unlike his daughter, I have not betrayed him.”


That gets quite a response out of Elega, Kragen’s men, and Kragen himself.

Quote:
With difficulty, Prince Kragen checked his anger. The Master’s attitude infuriated him because he understood it too well. Nevertheless he resisted the impulse to have Quillon struck down. Instead, he murmured through his teeth, “You risk moe than you realize, Master Quillon. Perhaps you do not consider death to be of great importance, but I assure you that you will attach more significance to pain”


Elega flinches as if she were struck. Quillon looks as if he is scared, but his voice sounds fearless as he says:

Quote:
”Is that your answer to what you do not understand, my lord Prince? Torture? Or do you inflict pain for the simple pleasure of it? Be warned again, son of the Alend Monarch, you are being tested here, as surely as you were tested in Orison, at the hop-board table – and elsewhere. I do not advise you to prove unworthy.


With that, Quillon mounts his steed and returns to Orison. Elega, quite upset, asks why Kragen threatened to torture Quillon. Kragen explains:

Quote:
”I said more than I meant. The Imager affronted you, my lady. I do not like it when you are affronted.”


Kragen decides to heed Quillon’s warning, and orders all but those necessary to retreat form the catapult. He also orders those manning the catapult to resume the attack. Before long, Kragen sees a small brown puff of smoke come towards the catapult. As the smoke goes over it, it drops a large stone that destroys the catapult. He asks Elega if she had ever seen that before, but she just shakes her head, dumbfounded. This makes Kragen remember just how powerful the Congery is, and how disasterous it would be to allow Cadwal to capture it.

Quote:
”My lady”-he closed his eyes just for a moment and allowed himself to be appalled-“the Congery must not fall into the hands of High King Festten”.


After ordering another siege engine into place, Kragen goes to talk with his father, the Alend Monarch. Upon entering Margonal’s tent, Kragen reflects upon his father’s blindness, and the well-earned lesson his father told him many times, “Loss teaches many things”. And so does fear, thinks Kragen. Yet, Kragen also notes that amongst the lessons his father learned from Joyse, the best ones were learned well. Margonal is not a Monarch who rules fairly, and his people now serve him out of love and respect, instead of fear.

Kragen tells his father of the day’s activities.

Quote:
”To my mind the great mystery is that King Joyse behaves as if he had not made himself weak-as if we were nothing more than an annoyance to a sovereign in an invulnerable position. And he is able to command men such as Castellan Lebbick and Master Quillon to preserve that illusion.
“Yet we know it is an illusion. Cadwal marches against him. He has a hole in his wall, few men to defend it, and no water for them to drink. Despite his control over the Congery, the Imagers who serve his enemies are more powerful. They are able to strike him at will anywhere in Mordant or Orison, passing through flat glass as if they were immune to madness. In addition, there are Masters on the Congery who would abandon his cause if they could. Men such as Eremis may be loyal to Mordant, but they are no longer commited to their King.
“His lords will not help him. The Armigite is a coward. The Termigan values nothing but his own affairs. And the Perdon resists Cadwal, not for Kng Joyse, but for his own survival. Of the Cares, only Domne, Tor, and Fayle are truly loyal. Yet the Domne does not fight. The Tor is old, sodden with wine-and here, where he is unable to muster his people. And the Fayle cannot come to Orison’s aid because we stand in his way.
“And still King Joyse treats us as if we lack the means to harm him.”


Margonal listens, asks a few questions, and listens to Kragens answers. The only logical conclusion is that Joyse is mad, and must be removed from power if Mordant and Alend are to save themselves from Cadwal. And yet, Margonal’s experiences with Joyse make him afraid that Joyse has tricked him one more time, and this time Joyse will destroy Alend. And yet, Joyse never seemed intent on harming Alend in the past. It’s enough to drive Margnal crazy, and he says as much to his son.

Quote:
”He has witched me. We have come here to our doom.”
Prince Kragen stared at what his father was saying and tried not to shudder. Softly, he answered, “My Lord, say the word, and we will retreat. You are the Alend Monarch. And I trust your wisdom. We will-
“No!” Margonal’s refusal sounded more like pain than anger or protest. “No,” he repeated almost at once, in a steadier tone. “He has witched me, I say. I am certain of only one thing-I cannot make decisions where he is concerned.
“No, my son, this siege is yours. You are the Alend Contender. I have given our doom into your hands.” A moment later, he added in warning, “If you choose retreat, be very certain that you can answer for your decisions to the others who seek my Seat.”


Margonal had said the one thing that Kragen himself had been worrying about since deciding to lay siege to Orison; namely that they had come here to their doom.

Quote:
When his father asked “What will you do?” he chewed his lip and replied, “I do not know.”
“Choose soon. Festten will not be patient with your uncertainty.”
In response, Fkragen stiffened his spine. “Perhaps not, my ord. Nevertheless our doom will be Cadwal’s as well. Until the issue is proven, I will do my best to teach the High King better uses for his impatience.”
Slowly, the Alend Monarch relaxed until he was sprawling in his chair once again. Unexpectedly, he smiled. “Festten, I have heard, has many sons. I have only one. I am inclined to think, however, that I have bested him in the matter.”


Kragen leaves his father’s tent in time to see another brown fog rise from Orison and wreck another catapult.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2004 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks great, dAN. I especially like the fact that this chapter takes a break from the likes of Lebbick and Eremis, and lets us see the kind of men Kragen and Margonal are.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2004 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heh, I got lucky; I have to admit that Lebbick is getting on my nerves a little, but not nearly as much as Eremis was.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2004 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like this chapter, as it begins to reveal Kragen as being someone who might perhaps be more than just an enemy, who is in Mordant for a purpose more than just conquest...you get to see that perhaps the reasons he gives in Mirror, and the proposed truce he came to try to get might be honest and true on his part.

And you also begin to get the idea that perhaps there is much more between him and Elega than merely a conspiracy and/or a convenience. Cool
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2004 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like this chapter because we get to have our first glimpse of another ruler. We get away from wallowing in Joyse's doom, and have more pressing matters than the evil and sybaritic High King Festten to concern ourselves with. We see Orison from outside, literally, and have a chance to discover what effect Joyse's machinations are having on people who aren't loyal to Mordant.

The fact that Margonal has gone blind might be an interesting avenue for discussion. Is his blindness a narrative tool, a way for SRD to put Kragen in charge of the siege, and give Kragen the power to shape events? Is it a symbol of Margonal's relationship to Joyse himself, or to the whole conflict in general? Is it just an excuse for Elega to hang around in the dark, where as we know, she looks her best?

Quote:
“No!” Margonal’s refusal sounded more like pain than anger or protest. “No,” he repeated almost at once, in a steadier tone. “He has witched me, I say. I am certain of only one thing-I cannot make decisions where he is concerned.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 1:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I take Margonal's blindness to be what SRD essentially said it was, the last in a series of events that gave him true wisdom. He learned how to be a better ruler through his weaknesses and failures than he ever did when he thought he had no weaknesses.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2014 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dANdeLION wrote:
Kragen tells his father of the day’s activities.


Quote:
”To my mind the great mystery is that King Joyse behaves as if he had not made himself weak-as if we were nothing more than an annoyance to a sovereign in an invulnerable position. And he is able to command men such as Castellan Lebbick and Master Quillon to preserve that illusion.
“Yet we know it is an illusion. Cadwal marches against him. He has a hole in his wall, few men to defend it, and no water for them to drink. Despite his control over the Congery, the Imagers who serve his enemies are more powerful. They are able to strike him at will anywhere in Mordant or Orison, passing through flat glass as if they were immune to madness. In addition, there are Masters on the Congery who would abandon his cause if they could. Men such as Eremis may be loyal to Mordant, but they are no longer commited to their King.
“His lords will not help him. The Armigite is a coward. The Termigan values nothing but his own affairs. And the Perdon resists Cadwal, not for Kng Joyse, but for his own survival. Of the Cares, only Domne, Tor, and Fayle are truly loyal. Yet the Domne does not fight. The Tor is old, sodden with wine-and here, where he is unable to muster his people. And the Fayle cannot come to Orison’s aid because we stand in his way.
“And still King Joyse treats us as if we lack the means to harm him.”


Margonal listens, asks a few questions, and listens to Kragens answers. The only logical conclusion is that Joyse is mad, and must be removed from power if Mordant and Alend are to save themselves from Cadwal.



What I like about this passage in the chapter is that SRD rather effectively sums up the international situation as the last book left it, while using points of view he hadn't employed until this time.
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