The rest, you can guess.

The General, or rather, whatever twisted thing came back when we tried to work our magic, went home to Calimba.

Once there, he killed the Lord-Mayor of the city and installed himself as the undisputed Master of that place, forcing the Court Mystics to mask his true form from the general population, and killing any who would not bow to him.

As soon as his base of power was secure, he declared the city to be wholly independent, and began making regular patrols within a day’s ride of the city gates to enforce his will, and I responded with the only option I had left, in my estimation.

I rallied my own forces and marched on the city to lay in a siege of it, which I had been planning to do anyway, but in mocked up style. Now, it was for real, and I was as terrified as my men. Nonetheless, we had to root him out.

Two days after the siege began, it became clear that the General would not come quietly, and in fact, he had taken to beheading the corpses of those slain by our siege efforts, and displaying them atop the wall, while shooting the headless bodies back at us.

Whether this fascination with headless bodies was a specific strategy designed to dishearten us (which it very definitely did), or some after effect of his own death and headless state before we partially restored him, I cannot say to this date.

In the end, all I do know is that my men kept up the pressure on the mighty gates of Calimba, the city of light and music until at last we sundered them, then charged in and gave battle to those who remained inside.

In all, I lost more than two thousand men before we brought the creature low with enchanted weapons and silver.

We re-beheaded the body and burned it, sealing the ashes in a silvered urn and dropping them into the sea so as to take no chances, and while that solved the immediate problem and brought what was left of Calimba into my fold as planned, none of it would restore her glittering spires, nor put notes of joyous music back into the air of her streets.

I was touring the damage…walking along a dust and corpse strewn lane that had once (as near as I could tell) been a market district, when Velociryx found me.

“Are you coming to dinner tomorrow evening? Main Hall, Cerilon?”

I shook my head and bowed it. “I’m surprised you would even invite me after…all this.” I said wearily, not meeting the HighLord’s gaze.

I saw his shadow nod in the late day sun. “Aye…there’s much to recover from, tis true, but this was not all your doing. My own stubborn pride surely played a role…had I been content to let that one promise to a dead man go, I could have saved thousands of lives. It is a mistake I’ll not make again…I…I sometimes forget that in this position, I must temper my decisions based on what’s good for the whole, and not what’s “right,” because the two aren’t always the same. Mostly yes…but not always. I forgot that, and it cost us. It cost us dearly.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself.” I told him. “No matter that it was a bit sloppy and bloody, we came through, and I’ll rebuild her. Down to the last spire and fluttering banner, I’ll restore her to her former glory. You have my oath on it.”

He smiled wanly at that. “Everyone else will be there, and they’ll not understand if you can’t come. In fact, it could start a rumor that I had you murdered or banished you, or something equally silly. Promise me. The rebuilding can wait a day.”

“What’s the occasion?” I asked him. “Why are we all getting together?”

He seemed surprised, but then shrugged. “I guess perhaps you would lose track of days, being in the field with the troops and all. Thanksgiving.” He told me. “The fall festival of our Mighty King, and despite these recent troubles, we have much to be thankful for.”

And that was certainly true enough.

“I’ll be there.” I told him.

And I meant it.

Where else would I go?

That word entered my mind again.


Where else indeed.

I wondered if was even possible for me…for any of us to leave this island (which I increasingly thought of as cursed), and resolved to put that to the test, not long after the Thanksgiving Day feast.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone, from all of us in REALM!



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