The Liberation of Ghemel
Khudris and Menes Hu and Captain Branner were waiting at the adit to Xolgrohim’s bunker, with three of the fifteen Ghemelians I had freed, and a paper cup full of blue shards and writhing indigo sand. The sand made me homesick at once.
“Well, that plan worked,” Khudris said. “The map you gave us was accurate. Xolgrohim had a dozen warriors and one of his gods guarding him.”
“And with two gods and, from the look of it, one enhanced agent, you seem to have won?”
Branner nodded. “I decided to help these guys out when I woke up. I still have a bone to pick with you though. Freeing Ghemel is all well and good, but I’m going to be freeing Trest soon. Whether you like it or not.”
The Ghemelians glared at him. “Tresteans are so rude! Jyothky has played her part in winning our freedom! Berate and threaten her tomorrow, if you must, but not today!”
“Especially not today. This whole Ghemelian adventure was just a side-quest in what is going to be a truly messy and bloody day. Chances are, Branner’s not going to have to liberate Trest from Ythac and Llredh, but from the dragons who are about to take it from them.”
Which called for explanations all around. I told them what Ythac had told me; only Tarcuna really understood what it meant. They told me how the freed warriors weren’t as good as the enslaved ones. The enslaved ones take risks and press their bodies more intensely than self-willed hovens do (“Just like the wormridden,” said Tarcuna, shuddering.) So Xolgrohim’s guards were winning. Then Khudris announced that he was going to kill Xolgrohim if he could. Three of Xolgrohim’s guards and his god chose to defy Xolgrohim over that. So they were struck with the most terrible pain in Xolgrohim’s impressive repertoire, or at least the most terrible kind that didn’t require dancing and such. So they couldn’t fight for a few seconds. So Khudris and Branner and Menes Hu killed or crippled them. Noble sacrifice and statues in the public squares and such, all ‘round, when the Ghemelians get to it.
Then Branner ripped a heavy steel door off its hinges, straining his enhancements to the limit. Behind it was an alcove packed with the most refractory insulation in Ghemel. Not the strongest material, since Xolgrohim was expecting to be attacked by fire from above, not by weapons from in front. The Ghemelian soldiers shot it full of bullets, and a few bullets hit Xolgrohim’s bottle. Which was just spun sapphire, not very strong. And that was that.
“But we would like you to confirm that Xolgrohim is actually dead,” they said.
“I don’t theocept any gods in Hove but the two of you,” I said. “Not anymore. And there’s no magic on the scraps. For more than that, I’ll have to get Osoth.”
They weren’t happy about the necromancer getting his claws on Xolgrohim again. I promised to keep Osoth well-behaved. Besides, Xolgrohim wasn’t a very useful ghost to Osoth, now that his treasures were (a) elseworld, and (b) probably in Tultamaan’s hoard. To say nothing of Xolgrohim showing everyone just how obedient an undead god he actually was.
Finally, I flew back to a very nervous Ythac and Llredh. And my mating flight was there too. Llredh had told them to be nearby to rescue me at need.
I definitely need more insults to use on Llredh. He’s proud of the perversion-styled ones.