The War For The Mortal Kingdoms, Chapter 55-56, End of the book

That’s the end of this one. What plans to the Project’s leaders have next? The next and last book in the Queen Cécile arc is The Landdragon Queen. Starting Monday.

Chapter 55.

Athlin

Geral watched as the grim task of removing the bodies was continuing. In order to reduce exposure, the crews rotated the tasks, with one crew collecting bodies with wagons or trucks and taking them to the waiting trains while other crews cut any trees in the city and the surrounding Scourged area to use as fuel for the pyres that were constructed along the tracks. The grim task would probably take moons. Jomney walked up and said, “This is going to be ugly.”
Geral grinned and said, “Labor fit for slaves.”
“That’s what I am.”
“You better be careful or King Terrance or Queen Cécile will hand you a title.”
“Now that would be crazy.”
“Not really. You have done amazing things for us and you deserve to be rewarded.”
“The Ravathyra might get upset.”
Geral grinned. “They may. On the other hand, they should have sent a keeper for you.”

“They did, but he was rather disappointed with the way things were here and went home. Ilbryen is rather useless anyway.”

“Should a slave be saying such things?”
“Milord, Lord Zylvyre agrees with me where Ilbryen is concerned and it must have been Rolin’s idea to send Ilbryen. That is if Lord Tanyl didn’t send him to get out from under Ilbyen making a pest of himself for a bit. I will tell Lord Tanyl everything when I get home. I can’t tell you how glad I am that Lord Tanyl took over the House.”

“In any case, we here owe you a great debt.”
“Let’s get the dead put to the fire before we discuss rewards, milord.”

“Let us do that.”
Cécile watched as the bodies of her guards were placed on the train. They, at least, were known and would have a proper burial, as would the castle staff, those that were left. One of the guards and some of the staff had apparently been sent out with the king and queen in the mass of Inanimates. Landdragons could not cry and Cécile would not, at least not until the perpetrators of the atrocity were brought to justice in one form or another. Jorge appeared and said, “Time to go, your majesty.”
“Why did they die and I survive?”
“That happens. In your guards’ case, it’s the fact that they did not arrange to get themselves tested in a grove when they could have. That is, if none of them were bright flames, tasked to watch you. In any case, they were willing to risk their lives to keep you alive and the kingdom whole.”

“That is why I must go on, is it not?”
“Yes, and they need you in Astia, so you must return.”

“Oh, well, so be it.”

Cécile Jumped to Astia. Jorge looked at the spot where she had disappeared contemplated the guilt he had had over his own survival many times. General Hardtest joined him and asked, “Did she go?”
“Yes.”
“You have a good working relationship with the locals.”
“We went through a bit of hell together.”

“I just received orders. You and your people are to return to Ishendell. I think that the admiral wants you ready.”
“I will get my people together. I leave this to you, sir.”
“We probably won’t be here long either, now that the threat from here is gone with the portals.”

“You are probably right, sir. Let me get started.”
“Dismissed and good hunting.”

“First, we have to find the monsters.”

 “I imagine that a lot of people are looking for them.”

Chapter 56.

The Hideaway

Dúhael pulled the crystal from the cabinet and activated Usunaar. Usunaar looked at him and said, “I am guessing that things are not going well.”

Dúhael grimaced. “Not as well as I had expected. We did get a portion of coin and there should be enough disruption in the Mortal Kingdoms to set them back more than somewhat. On the other hand, the Qinvaris and the Republic were involved in the battle deeply.”

“Why did they exert themselves?”

“I suspect that the possibility of a Blight launch into his fields bothered Lord Qinvaris more than a bit. I am not sure why the Republic involved itself so deeply.”

“Are the moves in the Fellowship going forward?”
“Yes, the senate campaigns and the rest are moving forward. Delivering the coin from the Scourged cities went well and should provide enough strength for our candidates. There are some other things that we are doing to create some disruption.”

“How is the recovery of the devise going forward?”
“The devise should be arriving in the Fellowship soon. The pieces for the diversion are all in place. The Beinans do not seem to know where the devise has gone.”

“Then, all is not lost. We can move forward. Do the orcs know of the Hideaway?’

“They have never looked into what this place was, as far as I know.”
“Then we can proceed.”

Dúhael shut the seeming down and went to look for his brothers. When he found them Dúhael looked at Blackfire and Mórsairon and said, “The battle for the Five cities is done, the Project can proceed.”
“We did not exactly come out of the battle unscathed, brother,” Blackfire growled. “Our enemies acted with determination and skill.”

“We concealed our true objectives and the blades in their midst remain. The royal houses of Vestia and Apua have been weakened and the port has been closed. Our allies will have the opportunities to gain influence and power.”
“What about the Empire?” Mórsairon asked.

“We still have some allies there and while we have little influence there, when the Blasted Lands fall, the Empire can be recovered.”

“I am not so sure that I will be so optimistic,” Mórsairon said. “On the other hand, the choices are grim at present.”

“We have never shirked from the pursuit of the Project and our goals. Our ancestors made sacrifices and we must as well. In any case, there is no other option than to go forward.”  

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