Normally, while in the Lodge, Maikyl was lightly guarded. An attack on him would require passing through several layers of security as well as not raising the suspicions of the Royal Court but watching the Wolf Lodge burn, he was surrounded by his First Phalanx. It had originally appeared to have been an accident caused by Lodge staff rushing the preparations of the Royal Baths. During his evacuation, a message arrived which read: With no warning, we have struck at the heart of your lands and of your lodge. Surrender or die. – The War Council.
The message was sealed with the bloody seal of Leathart. Maikyl received the news grimly, but his whole response was a growling “I answer to no one.”
An entrenched and heavily fortified encampment was set up. As the outer defenses were finalized, messengers started arriving from the outlying regions with reports of crops and villages put to the torch while women and children were kidnapped. Maikyl was put at the center of the camp and continually surrounded by the First Phalanx. As the sun set, the din of construction and workmen continued. Maikyl was kept from sleeping well by the constant noise and was exhausted by the next morning. Even his normally boundless energy was flagging. The constant commotion around his tent as well as the cheers and war songs from the troops were something he was not accustomed to compared to the virtual silence of the stone Keep of the Lodge.
As the sun rose, the core defenses around him were complete and the next two rings of defense were being constructed. The fire was out at the Lodge and workers were already scouring the site to clean it up and make it fit for Maikyl to reclaim his rightful place on its throne. A hastily called war council decided that he was safe enough for now and that the defenses could be pushed back to give Maikyl more solitude while in camp.
Mid-day came and the messengers and scouts that had been dispatched the previous afternoon started returning. They had found spies in the outlying villages and large troop camps across the border as well. The war council knew what to expect now and advised Maikyl that they would likely be in a long protracted war to hold Talija. Maikyl’s response to his troop leaders was a stoic “Don’t stop … until they are defeated.”
It was during the mid-day council that Maikyl first felt something was wrong. The tips of his fingers and toes were tingling and felt like they were on fire. The exhaustion reached a crescendo and as the main course of the meal was served and the council was debating what wartime laws should be enacted, Maikyl suddenly fell off of his seat and landed with a loud thud on the ground. As he hit the ground, he woke up but found his strength failing.
He managed to stand up and summon his strongest voice, “My Council, I must retire from this meeting. My travels with the spirits when combined with the events of the previous day have left me exhausted and my strength failing. I must rest before we lead the charge to hold Talija.”
Kevyl had been summoned and escorted Maikyl back to his tent. As he steadied Maikyl, he noted that he was actually cool to the touch. He made a mental note to add additional furs to his sovereign’s bed. As Kevyl finally got Maikyl back to the tent and into bed, he was swept with a sudden wave of loss. He looked at Maikyl and knew that he was the loss but not how he would be lost.
Maikyl settled into his bed and found it cold. Unlike at Sovereign’s Rest, the combined energies of the previous leaders did not keep this bed at a comfortable temperature. He also found himself feeling exposed and in danger.
He looked over and smiled at Kevyl. “Kevyl, I know that you will try to bury me in furs to keep me warm. Furs can’t provide the warmth I need right now.”
Kevyl turned around, his pale skin having lost its normal pinkness. “My Sovereign, do you need a healing man?”
“Kevyl, ask the Benjyl the Medicine Elder to come here as soon as possible. Also, ask the Keeper of the Land,” Maikyl paused briefly, “what is his name? No matter, ask him to come with him.”
“Yes Maikyl! Right away!” and Kevyl disappeared out through the tent flap recalling that Jonyl was the Keeper of the Land.
A few moments later, he returned with Benjyl and Jonyl with him. After a brief examination, Jonyl understood what was happening and explained it to Benjyl and Kevyl.
“Most Revered Elpa Maikaj is dying, just not in a traditional sense. He is the leader of Taljira and as the attackers take control of even small parts of Talija, a small part of him dies. Normally, it would not affect one this strong, but he is yet un-mated. There are many who have sought his holy hand in mating but he has accepted none of them. The only one that has caught his eye is unaware.”
Benjyl smiled at Jonyl, “Does she know that is the one that our Maikaj wishes to be mated with?”
Jonyl turned and looked at Benjyl, “No, he does not know. Both have feelings for the other, but neither will do what must be done to bring them together.” Jonyl paused as he turned to Kevyl, “Please, we need to speak with Maikaj in confidence.”
Kevyl slipped out the door and headed to the food stores to find a meal for Maikyl. His name is Maikyl. Stop calling him Maikaj. He thought to himself as he started to gather up the evening meal for Maikyl.
Back in the tent, Maikaj looked at Benjyl, “Jonyl is right. However, he is a commoner and as such, would the people accept him as my consort and would he accept me as mate?”
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