Small Packages: Septimus’ Folly
Having a locust burrowed into Iz’s ear was incredibly uncomfortable for Luca. It was almost intolerable despite the advantages it gave him. There was also forced intimacy of sharing sense awareness with the Famine King’s mind which was equal parts enticing and disturbing.
For one, Luca understood exactly what type of creature the famine king was and how he came to be. Luca could feel the torment of desire for unfulfilled vengeance, the longing for release and freedom, and the near alien calculation from the Swarm that Walks. He also understood that he currently shared headspace with an intelligent being that had been growing the power of its mind for over a millennia and was humbled by this. Luca also saw the battlefield before him from thousands of perspectives.
The blackspire college master was also a skyship captain and he took command of an impressive force effectively surrounding the famine king’s domain. The orc, Captain Septimus, had managed to corral roughly a thousand troops over night into ambush positions and patrol parties along the running waters that confined the famine king’s domain and control.
Captain Septimus was making an assumption that the king could or would not send minions outside his borders. It was a proper assumption of the unthinking undead minions and his swarms, but the Famine King had other subjects, and those subjects were hungry for blood.
Two hundred years ago dozens of survivors from the sorrow lands sought refuge from the death and destruction brought by the imperial air fleet. One among them was a potent sorceress who was supposed to protect a forbidden bit of magic. She escaped in the guise of a servant using disguise to tone down her rare unearthly beauty. Of course the Famine King fell in love with her but the magic she protected and the cursed land on which she stood had changed her into a creature of hunger as well. Few knew the tale of Famine’s Queen, her appearance the night before was a test, one Luca had passed.
Tonight those survivor elves would have a measure of vengeance. The zombie minions of the famine king had constructed ramp like bridges that would allow the vampires to cross the streams uninhibited. With swarms covering movements and gaps in the orc patrol lines the vampires would be able to cross and gain surprise. The orcs only expected two gnomes and their three wolves. Four dozen true vampires and another hundred or so vampire spawn working as strike teams coordinated by the unnatural control the Famine King had over his swarms to do things like make signals would take advantage of forces that had been stretched too thinly.
They had a cutter in the air on the other side of the famine king’s territory, with spy glasses pointed inward. Luca and Marius would exit back the way they came and circle around the territory. They carried a symbol that marked them as the Famine King’s heralds which would allow them safe passage to the deliver a message to Briar Hill’s high council. The famine king proposed an alliance with terms, the orcs had offended him deeply and he would help the halfling kingdom in their effort repel the orcs from this region.
Marius retained his wand, Luca had instead bargained a promise. The Famine King once hailed from a secret city in the desert known as Glim. Glim had a special magic to it derived from the remains of a dead god of dreams. There was a well of sorts fill with a magical sand that when consumed could offer power. It could free the Famine King from the prison and curse he was under and it could free Luca from the wasting sickness and all the damage the disease had wrought on his body.
The famine king was in Luca’s mind kindred spirit of sorts. They shared a similar magic, and they both knew what it was to be restricted by physical ailments. The Famine King could hardly couple with his Queen as a walking locust swarm.
Luca smiled as he thought of the fine conversations he had all evening. He knew that his brother Marius was not the idiot he sometimes pretended him to be but he could not match wits with Luca. In Luca’s opinion it had been entirely too long since he had spoke with someone who could.
The vampires would slaughter small patrols using surprise, numbers, and sheer ferocity to make quick work. With their supernatural strength they would throw the bodies over the stream for the Famine King to make more zombies. While his control only extended to the running waters that made his borders, he could send the zombies over the waters and allow them to be freed. They would then simply act within their nature and attempt to slay the living in relentless hunger. That would be enough if their main plan to dam the creeks failed.
Captain Septimus guarded the easier crossings with larger ambush parties. These would be overwhelmed with expendable zombie troops, hurled wasp hives, and flanking vamipres. Luca and Marius would be held in reserve. Once the orc forces were in sufficient disarray they would all challenge the Captain’s forces.
The endgame plan for which the brother’s would spend the day preparing for, would allow at worst the Famine King tens of minutes of freedom, at best a few weeks. This mostly depended on weather and luck.
Luca and Marius were to attempt to cut down the Black Spire trained captain, completing the route and sending a clear message back to Fort Furthest. Through the eyes of thousands of wasps, locusts, rats, and crows Luca watched it unfold.