Sythyry (sythyry) wrote,

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[13 Trandary 4261]

Notable Magical Catastrophes

In year 4149 -- which is not so long ago, really, as our command of magic is barely greater now than it was then -- the city walls of Pelean failed. (Pelean is on Chiveia, two branches down from here, in case you had never heard of it. I hadn't.) They failed to keep out songbirds -- as most city walls fail to keep out songbirds. But Pelean's wall could not distinguish conlee from ordinary nonsentient songbirds, and the conlee learned of this, and flew into the city, and killed a few Rassimel children.

Nothing unusual so far. Something not so far different happened in Vheshrame a few years ago.

But one of the Rassimel children killed was the heiress of a county, and her father was mightily upset. And also mightily influential. The king of Pelean -- evidently he was a king and not a duke -- was prevailed upon to get get revenge on the conlee. So the city of Pelean accumulated a vast army of a score or so powerful heroes, and stormed into the Verticals where the conlee live.

Now, conlee are not so strong as all that; the size of the army was a measure of the count's fury, not the military need. (Well, there might have been a technical need -- finding conlee in the Verticals cannot be easy, since they are small birds and live like small birds.) But in the Verticals there were other monsters, greater than conlee, and when they saw a prime army thumping around on the edge of their territory, they banded together under a persuasive nycathath, and assaulted the prime army by surprise, and killed five.

Well, now there was panic in Pelean, and they paid a great deal for Greisthenna, an Orren wizard trained in Ketheria ("But nobody you are likely to know," said Prof. Ili.), to quickly come and quickly quickly strengthen the walls in this way or that.

There should never be any need to tell an Orren to hurry. But the nobility of Pelean thought that ten-or-eleven weeks was too long, that more children might die in that long.

Greisthenna did complicated, subtle things with Locador and Spiridor, in her quickest hurry, and consecrated the new aspect of the city wall to the wicked spicky god with the name that invites many bad jokes. And the next time the conlee came to Pelean to sneak through the weakness in the wall they knew, they were seen, and impaled horribly on ebony spikes.

And the wall howled, a thin piercing howl perceivable only by the magic sense, but a loud one and an unending one. Prof. Ili says that it sounded joyful; as though the wall was delighted to do what it was made to do. It was loud enough so that it intruded on the magic sense of even the unsophisticated. It was loud enough so that children could not sleep for the howling, and adults could not sleep for the nightmares the howling brought.

And within a week, Pelean was empty. The neighboring cities had many visitors. The conlee had their easy hunting among the refugees. The nycathath's monstrous alliance entered the empty city and looted a great deal and destroyed a great deal more. The king of Pelean had to beg for help from a more patient (Zi Ri, but not a close relative) wizard from the next city-state to fix the wall, and made a distinctly humiliating alliance with a nendrai who lived in the area to keep the nycathath's alliance from killing more than a few of his citizens.

And in the end the conlee mostly got away, flying far off; and the enemy monsters and allied monsters both counted their new wealth, and Pelean had a work of decades rebuilding what had been destroyed and re-earning what had been spent.

But at least Greisthenna had saved three weeks from the ten-or-eleven that her enchantment should usually take.

The Moral

Prof. Ili was simply telling us a cautionary tale. Not particularly to say, "Never hurry" -- last class was about an enchantment being finished a day too late, and there are a few family stories about that sort of thing as well.

But I'll take my own morals where I find them:

  1. Orren are insanely cute when they're rushing, but that's not the time you should count on them.
  2. At such time as I'm doing that sort of thing professionally, I should remember this story and tell it when my customers complain about how long things take. Since I rather get the impression I won't be hurrying that much.
  3. Locador magic is rarely the best answer, since "Here" is cruel and smart.
  4. The local monsters are always attentive to the deeds of primes. But they are not uniformly wicked (e.g. the nendrai in that story), and in many cases will be acting in self-defense (e.g. the nycathath).

Am I missing anything?

(Note: I will be turning in an "essay of awakeness" based on this -- a sort of formal writeup of my notes, to show that I was in fact paying attention in class. The "morals" section is an optional addition -- Prof. Ili doesn't even promise to read them. Since I was writing the thing up anyways, and since nothing interesting happened today, I copied it here.)


Character history for Tethezai now available.
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