18 Between Calmness and Passion
(From the point of view of Damian Carmichael)
A state of emergency had been immediately declared throughout the city of Duibhne after the news of the king's death spread. One thing is for sure now: the giants have succeeded in taking over Izrecael. Since Duibhne is a city affiliated to the empire, the poor merchants, sailors, and practitioners living in here are feeling nothing but fear for themselves and sadness for their family and friends that they lost in the sudden war that erupted in the north. Thus, an emergency meeting between the Supreme of Duibhne, Lord Allusien, and his fellow constituents began immediately along with the three of us.
We never really managed to find who or what exactly it is that we're supposed to battle, but based on eye-witness reports of the brave Crespas who courageously flew above the empire while the war is brewing on the ground, it seemed that we're facing a never-seen-before race of giants along with a tremendous amount of summoned monsters in their disposal. This report from our allied Crespas has also been legitimized by Uncle Bert; after all, he saw what appeared to be the giants' leader. He also explained the full details of how the king... met his match in his throne room—none of us were ready for the graphicness of the scene. Needless to say, the five leaders of Duibhne could not contain sadness, anger, and fear in their hearts.
"We must prepare for an attack." Duibhne's Supreme, Lord Allusien, whispered weakly as he deliberated on the information we gave to him. He sat on his wooden chair and faced us while his four other constituents stood from all over the room.
I looked around the Supreme's office as the three of us sat on a comfortable chair that didn't really give us any sort of comfort since we're here facing the inquisitive eyes of the elderly gentlemen before us. There's documents, scrolls, books, and shelves all around the cramped and dimly lit office, which elevated the tension of the surroundings.
"We don't have people for that, sir." Duibhne's thin and small Chief of Staff said as he stood beside the Supreme with trembling hands.
"Well, we have skilled sailors!" Duibhne's middle-aged Navy commander thundered while pointing at the map laid on the table. "We can just intercept them when we find them approaching in the sea!"
"I agree, captain, but we should also understand that our sailors are no soldiers. If the enemies manage to enter their ships, they're done." The fat and tired-looking leader of Duibhne's Merchant's Guild carefully articulated to the haughty naval commander. He then continued looking through the small window of the Supreme's office, seemingly thinking about the crowd forming outside.
"We have to face it, Lord Supreme, Duibhne is simply unprepared for any attack at this moment." The middle-aged but still muscular Commander-in-Chief of Duibhne's police force reiterated slowly as he leaned his body on one of the office's shelves. "There's only about a hundred people I know who can fight right now, and even if we gather the city's citizens to fight for us, it would simply be futile... It would end in less than a day at best."
The Lord Supreme listened to all of his constituents solemnly while gently massaging his throat.
"Permission to speak, Lord Supreme." Uncle Bert said as he slowly stood up from the sofa explicitly placed for us.
"Permission granted, Lord Carmichael." The Lord Supreme said, which took me by surprise because I thought he was referring to me. It must have been the remaining arrogance within me since I had already relinquished the right to be called a Lord or a nobility when I enlisted to be a knight.
"I think we can still have a chance to defend the city if we start training the citizens now." Uncle Bert articulated firmly, which made him sound sober for once.
"Ships would only take a week before they get here from Izrecael, Lord Carmichael. I think no amount of training will suffice even if we start now."
"I know, Lord Supreme, I know, but if you allow me to explain, I am confident that you'd also agree to my recommendations." Uncle Bert said as he took a step forward while looking intensely at the Lord Supreme.
"You have my ears, Lord." The Lord Supreme said as he leaned his body back onto his hardened metallic chair.
"Thank you, Lord Supreme." Uncle Bert then cleared his throat as he continued, "It is true that the king is dead in Izrecael, no doubt about that, but I am fairly certain that the soldiers, citizens, and scholarly magicians of the empire would not back down easily even after knowing that fact."
"True." The Lord Supreme nodded while the rest of his constituents silently looked at Uncle Bert with curiosity.
"I also seem to have seen that the ship sending relief efforts from Duibhne to Izrecael actually docks on the northeastern part of Luxael first, somewhere near Valencia before sending the supplies on foot using large caravans. Would it be fair for me to assume that the reason behind such an arduous change in the ship's trajectory can be attributed to the fact that a large storm has begun to rage in Cresca Sea?"
"Yes, indeed, wise Lord Carmichael," This time, the naval commander was the one who replied on behalf of the Lord Supreme. "Because of Chateau d'Valencia's generous support of our relief efforts, we still managed to send our support to the war in the north with or without the storm."
"Then, I am certain that the giants will not be able to reach Duibhne unless they manage to kill every single living person in the empire. Even after that, if they do manage to defeat Izrecael, they still have to cross the storm in Cresca sea. We barely managed to survive such feat, and most of their ships would not live to see another day in that storm, especially since it's even getting stronger and bigger now as the days go by."
"That is a very valid point, Lord Carmichael." The Lord Supreme uttered after hearing Uncle Bert's lengthy explanation.
Uncle Bert then continued his points further. "Now, if they are aware of the storm in Cresca sea, there are still three other ports they can reclaim to reach Duibhne. First is the port of Caelum at the far reaches beyond the mist valley, but I'm sure all of us agree that the giants would never be able to live through the Mist Valley without prior knowledge of the Old God sleeping within it. It would not even take an hour before the Old God of the Valley would swallow them whole as they try to go towards Caelum."
"They could also try their luck in heading towards Defuntalac..." The Leader of the Merchant's Guild finally opened his mouth after staying in silence for so long beside the office's window.
"And I understand as to why you think the giants might be in cahoots with Defuntalac; even I would be inclined to believe that! But even that journey requires them to pass a more peaceful portion of the Mist Valley. If they do manage to survive the Mist, they would still have to pass through the arduous Wainrith Mountain Pass. AND if they do manage to live through that, they still have to build their ships in Defuntalac. At best, the entire thing would take months, if not years!"
The police force's Commander-in-Chief then gasped before saying, "Then their best choice here is..."
"Valencia, my Lords," Uncle Bert articulated as he walked straight to the now awed Lord Supreme. Uncle Bert then pointed at somewhere in the map, and I am inclined to believe that he's looking at the positions of Valencia on the map. "Valencia might be the giant's next target. If even we get through Valencia with ease, I am sure the giants are thinking the same."
With a weak sigh, the Lord Supreme then spoke, "I believe you're from Valencia, right, Lord Commander-in-Chief?" Lord Allusien said while looking at his Commander-in-Chief.
"Yes, Lord Supreme, my family lives in Valencia..." The muscular Commander-in-Chief said with a saddened scowl as he starts to think of the possibility of an attack in Valencia. The large man then suddenly began to look as if he's a scared kitten, trembling in the cold.
The Lord Supreme then paused for a moment and looked at the trembling Commander-in-Chief before saying, "How long do you think it would take for the giants to get from Valencia to our city."
"Less than a week, my Lord." The Commander-in-Chief uttered while looking at the map on the table with a grim expression on his face.
"And how long can Valencia defend itself in the case of an attack?" The Lord Supreme uttered as he leaned his body forward towards the Commander-in-Chief.
"Forever, my Lord," The Commander-in-Chief said with a newfound strength seeping out of his determined gaze. "if that's what it takes."
"Well, that's because they have their walls to do it for them! They also have men who have been training to become soldiers since they were naught but children! The citizens of Valencia are literally all soldiers!" The Chief of Staff said with a worried gaze while shaking his head weakly. "Besides, can we expect the people's full compliance with this? I think the best we could do is to relocate all of Duibhne's citizens to Valencia instead of expecting a fight! At least there we could use the people's skills to mass-produce weapons and armors!"
"Oh, you think too lowly of Duibhne's people! This is their home; this is where they grew up with their mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters! How could you possibly think that relocating to a foreign land is something they would accept more than defending their own home?" The Naval Commander roared as he smashed the wooden table, making the map shake for a bit.
"As much as I would like the idea of fighting for our land, it is still a farfetched idea, if you ask me." The Leader of the Merchant's Guild uttered as he gently fondled a golden coin on his hand. His cold expression showed his calculating nature, but the water on his eyes presented the care he has for Duibhne. "I'm afraid the city's finance couldn't take such a massive battle without expecting some repercussions—I'm talking about grave repercussions, Lord Supreme. In the case that a battle would really erupt in our city, we have to expect bankruptcy right away if we do manage to nab a momentary victory."
"Even after that, what makes us so certain that the giants wouldn't march towards our doorsteps again while we're struggling?" The Chief of Staff wearily uttered with a helpless look.
"But what you propose is just as stupid as dying for Duibhne, Lord Chief of Staff!" The Commander-in-Chief uttered in disbelief after seeing such a show of cowardice before him. "I'm from Valencia, I've seen Valencia, and I know Valencia all too well to say that your plan is also just as dumb as preparing for a battle! If we do go to Valencia right now, we would need to store all of our people in the cramp spaces of our ships. Then what? Once we arrive in Valencia, there will be no places for us to hide in the walled-city! At best, they would store us at the unoccupied places in their giant prison towers! Just say it, Lord Chief of Staff, you don't want to dirty your hands!"
"Of course, I don't! WHO DOES!? Can you safely say that the people out there would be willing to just, oh, I don't know, agree on killing men twice their size!? I'm sorry if my frankness irks your bird brain, Lord Commander-in-Chief!"
"SILENCE!" Lord Supreme Allusien roared, finally fed up with the unharmonious talks of his constituents. The men around him then slowly backed away from him as they nodded their heads respectfully towards him. After a brief pause, the Lord Supreme nodded as he gazed back at Uncle Bert, who's not standing before him. "How do you propose we train our citizens then, Lord Carmichael?"
The Chief of Staff could be heard weakly sighing after hearing the Lord Supreme utter these words, but the rest of the men remained silent as they slowly raised their bodies when the Lord Supreme gestured them to do so.
Uncle Bert then slowly moved his body to turn towards Violet and I. "I believe they can help with that, Lord Supreme. My nephew has been wielding a sword since he was but a wee boy. I'm sure this might come off as me bragging about my nephew, but I am very confident of my nephew's skill at teaching neophyte soldiers."
"M-me?" I said while pointing at my shock-filled face.
"Yes, you, Damian! I've seen you train those young squires every single day, and I have also seen you turn even the softest boy into a hardened monster!" Uncle Bert then moved his head to face the Lord Supreme. "I am certain that he can turn our citizens into soldiers if he was given about two months, Lord Supreme!"
"I have no qualms with it." The Lord Supreme nodded with his head placed on his knuckles while looking at me. "One does not need to observe Sir Carmichael carefully to know that he's a seasoned soldier. Besides, he's the only legitimate warrior we have here in this city. With or without his teaching skills, I am still inclined to accept your proposal."
"Thank you, Lord Supreme!" Uncle Bert said as he knelt on the floor immediately after hearing what the Lord Allusien had just said. He then swiftly turned his head at me while subtly gesturing to me to do the same with a frown.
"THANK YOU VERY MUCH, LORD SUPREME!" I shouted, filled with vigor as I knelt on the ground.
"My, youngsters really are full of energy, eh?" The Lord Supreme chuckled along with his five constituents. I remained kneeling on the floor with a reddened face while listening to them talk about me. "And I believe Lord Carmichael will then propose to make Madame Violet teach the city how to use their magic properly in a battle, no?"
"Yes, Lord Allusien!" Uncle Roberto exclaimed while still kneeling on the ground. "I will also do my very best to aid the city with my extensive knowledge, my Lord!"
The Lord Supreme then chuckled. "Extensive knowledge, eh? You're quite a proud man, Lord Carmichael!" He then looked at Violet with a sigh and said, "Of course, I have no qualms to request Madame Violet to educate the masses about magic... I just hoped that maybe Duibhne can protect her this time..." Lord Allusien bitterly uttered, perhaps remembering what had happened to Violet in the past.
Violet then slowly moved her body to kneel on the ground with her right hand on his chest. "I am more than willing to serve Duibhne and the empire, my Lord! You have done enough to house the princes and us in your home!"
"Of course, I will, Madame Violet..." Lord Allusien uttered with a hoarse voice. "They're my grandsons... I have to do my best for them! Now then, Violet Belladonna, Roberto Carmichael, and Damian Carmichael, I give my official decree to have you aid our city in the ensuing battle to come!"
"Yes, Lord Supreme!" The three of us voiced out loud.
"Now, leave me. I wish to be alone for a few moments."
None of us voiced any objections to what he had just said and quietly left the Lord Supreme's office immediately.
"Damian!" When we all left the office, Violet suddenly pulled my arm and dragged me far away from the other gentleman who's exiting the Lord Supreme's humble home.
"Wh-what is it, Vio—"
Violet suddenly pulled my face towards her and kissed my lips gently with her eyes closed. I was panicking so much that my eyes remained outstretched throughout the entire thing. I could feel her gentle lips on mine, which made me shudder in excitement, delight, and shock! I then gently moved my hands on her shoulders and slowly dropped my eyelids when I saw that she had her eyes close. After a few moments, Violet then gently pulled her head away from me, but her hands are still wrapped around my reddened face. I then slowly opened my eyes and saw that Madame Belladonna is looking at me with a determined smile.
"Damian Carmichael, when this ordeal is done," Violet uttered as I looked at her moist, pink lips. "be my husband."
I didn't have time to think—nay! I refuse to think further more than this! My answer has always been with me throughout this journey!