For those of you who read and enjoyed part one of Amelia's abduction, here is the second part. I debated for some time whether or not to go through the details of her torture at the hands of Voltik. Mark did some frankly ingenious things to psychologically break her (never before had I been invited into another man's dimly-lit basement for the purposes of role playing, and was frankly relieved upon finding no PVC accoutrements or restraints).
In the end, I felt there's only so much fun in writing and reading a torture scene. You're just going to have to imagine what three months in Skaven captivity (or two hours in Mark's basement) must be like.
One final note before we get started... some of you may be wondering why the old, old post about sculpting Amelia showed up as "new" a few weeks ago. The short answer is that it's a seemingly irreversible technical fault with blogger; I added a tag to the old post, and it re-created it as a fresh post. Go figure.
Anyway, read on for more olde worlde fiction... part three (of four, I think) will hopefully turn up faster than this did...
General Rikarht von Hess was reading the day’s dispatches at his desk when Captain Oskar Brandt strode into the office. Rikarht liked Brandt; he was a decent litmus test for the mood of the army as a whole, happy only when the rank and file were happy. But for the last three months, despite the autumn’s successes, the young captain had been uncharacteristically downbeat.
On this particular morning, though, Brandt looked determined. Hopeful, even. It was good to see, but it left Rikarht with the suspicion that an ill-timed request was forthcoming.
‘They’re moving her!’ Brandt said without so much as a good morning, sir, or an is this a good time, sir? Do you mind my barging in like this whilst you’re trying to prepare your base of operations for the siege which the norseman Volgin will inevitably enact, thus rendering you somewhat more preoccupied than an Averlander at a pony sale?
‘Good morning, Mr Brandt,’ Rikarht said, deciding that there wasn’t much point in upbraiding Brandt for his lack of decorum. It would only lengthen the conversation.
Brandt breathlessly explained that the wizards in the Hochland region had been using arcane means to track the location of Amelia von Lessing. Apparently the rat-men had left her staff at the scene of the abduction, and it had been the sympathetic object used in a series of séances. For three months, von Lessing had been kept in Hergig, presumably being tortured for information she didn’t possess about Hochland’s military plans.
Rikarht didn’t particularly care.
Von Lessing had been convicted for orchestrating the murder of her own father, the great General von Lessing of Nordland. Rikarht hadn’t known the man, or the details of the case, but he didn’t need to. Anyone willing to kill their own father couldn’t be trusted; an amethyst wizard even less so. She was only a step away from necromancy, and the fact that the last man to make extensive use of von Lessing’s services was outed as a vampire only served to prove his point.
‘...and now she’s being moved, we’re not sure where, but the wizards say the rat-men are using tunnels under the Weiss Hills, and they’re headed north-west. There have to be entrances to those tunnels somewhere nearby. Fort Schippel’s in the middle of the Weiss Hills, for Shallya’s sake! They’ll be passing us tomorrow, or the day after at the latest. I don’t think we’ll get another opportunity like this. I just need a few regiments and a few days.’
‘I’m sorry Captain, but that’s out of the question.’
‘Firstly, do any of our troops have experience in fighting underground?’
‘No they don’t, and the rat-men do. Secondly, Volgin means to besiege us. You know that. Do you think me willing to risk the lives of sixty-odd soldiers to rescue one convicted murderer when we need every man and woman to defend these walls?’
‘It’s not my place to share the personal circumstances of her father’s death, but if you knew—’
‘I don’t need to know. There is no excuse. Nor is there any justification for what you’re asking. Hochland has no need of her, and she does not deserve our help. Dismissed.’
‘Sir, my lord, may I remind you that—’
‘You have been dismissed, Mr Brandt.’
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When Oskar emerged from the darkness of Fort Schippel’s keep into the midday glare, it took his eyes a moment to adjust. When it did, he found all three wizards waiting for him amidst the cocktail of mud and snow-slush that was the courtyard.
‘He said no, didn’t he,’ grumbled Ruprecht. The raven perched on the druid’s shoulder croaked, and stretched its wings. Ruprecht whispered something to it.
‘Well perhaps if you three had actually been in the room...’ Oskar began testily.
The oldest of the wizards, Elsa Gerhart, answered him. ‘If we’d been in the room,’ she said, ‘he would’ve made us promise not to go and do it ourselves.’
‘So what’s next then?’ asked Febe Hasenkamp. ‘Are we off to ask the dwarfs? I like dwarfs. No subtexts.’
Elsa seemed to be suppressing a smirk, but Oskar didn’t know why; in all his dealings with Dwalin, the dwarf had been direct, helpful, and honest. Oskar wanted dearly to get the dwarfs involved, but Febe had forgotten one small detail.
‘It’s a nice idea,’ he said, not wanting to just tell her she was wrong, ‘But Karak Hoch is over seventy miles away. Even if we sent them a message by carrier pigeon, they’d never get here in time.’
‘Oh, don’t worry about that,’ Febe said nonchalantly, ‘it won’t take us more than an hour.’ Oskar had no idea what she meant. She giggled when she saw the confusion on his face, and wandered off in the direction of the main gate.
Elsa smiled at him reassuringly. ‘It’s our problem now,’ she said. ‘And you’re needed here. Don’t worry, Volgin won’t sneak up in the night. He’s not even built his siege equipment yet.’
She and Ruprecht turned to follow Febe, and Oskar watched them leave, wishing there was something he could do. At least, he thought with a smile, he’d enjoy telling General von Hess where all the arcane auxiliaries had gone.
+ + +