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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction that combine worlds created by the original content owner with names, places, characters, events, and incidents that are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, organizations, companies, events or locales are entirely coincidental. Authors are responsible for properly crediting Original Content creator for their creative works.
Valdemar world, characters, events belong to Mercedes Lackey and Tor Publishing

Tests of Blood - 12. Chapter 12

“Dalen, what is going on down there?” The worried expression on Herald-Prince Dellinar’s face was clear for all standing in the command tent. Dalen had gotten his silver scrying bowl out of the rescued saddlebags that had been left with the pack animals. At least the Holderkin hadn’t rummaged through them when the animals appeared back at their farmstead. Instead they’d just kept them separated from their own animals until the Guard arrived.

Prince Dellinar’s image was standing in the bowl of purest olive oil that Dalen had in his bags. Golden firelight from deep in the bowl cast a glow on all their faces, but it at least allowed them to tap into the teleson network and specifically the teleson device located in the Palace. Behind Dalen stood Paet, the two officers, and the unit’s Healer, a brown-haired woman by the name of Elsa Loamwell.

“We separated from Herald Landir and Trainee Junie.” Dalen reported as succinctly as possible. He had a nagging feeling that their time was extremely limited.

“I know that.” Dellinar replied sharply. “The Foreseers started going crazy about two days ago saying there was danger on our Southern border. The Farseers can’t see anything down there, it’s being blocked, and I was conversing with Herald Landir when we were interrupted.”

“You were interrupted?” Dalen asked in surprise.

“It was like he was yanked out of the communication.” Dellinar replied. “I was hoping to hear from you right away, but he told me why you separated. They were telling me that they got to the farm too late to do any good, but were following the bandits. It sounded like the bandits had taken nearly half the folk at the farm as hostage while killing the other half.”

“They aren’t bandits.” Dalen said firmly. “Paet and I found their main camp, inside the Valdemar border. They’re mercenaries, an unbonded company from their insignia and they’ve still got one blood-path mage with them.”

“Still?” Dellinar asked.

“I took out one of them when they caught Paet and I.” Dalen said with a sickly sensation inside his gut. There was a buzzing sound to Dellinar’s voice on that last word, and the image in the bowl was starting to get fuzzy.

“The Crown is sending reinforcements already.” Dellinar said with a nod of his head at Dalen’s words. “The King’s ordered the Company at Burnham to deploy immediately and we’re getting a locomotive put together. It’ll bring another full company, including one of the new artillery units and I was going to deploy a few Heralds with them. We’ll add a Herald-Mage to the mix as well. Until they get there, I want you to use what resources you have to…”

“What are you doing?” Shouted Lieutenant Falworth as Dalen’s hand swept the silver bowl and its contents from the table. The image of Herald Dellinar disappeared as the oil spilled onto the ground, but before Dalen could explain a shriek escaped from the bowl as the silver began to bubble. Everyone in the tent stared at the bowl while Dalen fought a wave of dizziness. His reaction hadn’t been fast enough and his shields still caught the edge of the blast that had been sent down the communication channel. He only hoped the safeguards built into the Haven teleson protected Dellinar.

“Now I know what killed Herald Landir.” Dalen said when he recovered his voice and the bowl had finished melting into a blob of tarnished silver. “No, don’t anyone touch that. It is tainted now. We’ll need to get some iron tongs to pick it up and find an ordinary fire hot enough to melt it back into pure silver. Until we get a fire hot enough for that, I’ve got a box in my gear we can keep it in safely.”

“What happened?” Paet asked. “I’ve got a headache from whatever that was.”

“So do I.” Elsa added with a grimace.

“What about you two?” Dalen asked the two officers who shook their heads. “That is what I expected. Those of us with Gifts were affected at first. You did notice the fuzziness in the image towards the end?”

“Yes.” Lee said with a pale face.

“That was our opponent, or one of his Gifted henchmen.” Dalen frowned. “I don’t know exactly what we’re facing, whether it is coordinated from Menmillith or just a rogue mercenary company with a couple of blood-mages, but they are strong. They detected our communication and attacked us through that link. From what Herald Dellinar said, it sounds like they used the technique to take out Herald Landir.”

“What about Junie?” Paet asked in a weak voice.

“If she tried to link with Landir to figure out what was happening, she’d have been caught in the attack too.” Dalen said. “Because they were using mind-magic to converse, I am assuming that Dell was too far away to be affected. This time we were using pure magic to communicate on our end, and a teleson on his end. Telesons have safeties built into them in case of an attack like this. They will melt down before harming their user. This end of the spell doesn’t have those safeties built in, so I had to break the connection.”

“Oh.” Lieutenant Falworth said with a frown.

“It’s like I’ve been trying to tell you, Conn.” Lieutenant Lee Mayweather said to the slightly senior officer. “Magic has a lot of rules and we can’t expect to know them all. We have to trust the mage.”

“Herald-Prince Dellinar confirmed your authority, sir.” Falworth said with as much dignity as he could muster. “We stand ready to follow your orders.”

“I’ve warded this camp as well as I can, but from what happened, you can assume that our enemy knows where we are right now.” Dalen said after a moment of silence. “What do you think we should do? Look at it from a purely martial perspective, ignoring magic for the moment.”

“We should move.” Falworth said with certainty, pulling a map from the bin near the table and spreading it out where the bowl had been. It was a detailed topographical map of the area, complete with information on every source of water, landmark, and type of vegetation. “You’ve estimated that their camp is in this valley here, roughly three days travel by normal horse. From what we just heard, it’ll be five to seven days until the first reinforcements, and our superior officer gets here. Give it three to five days after that and the reinforcements from Haven will be here, including senior officers and Heralds who can take over. If we move a day’s travel to this valley here, we will have a defensible position, and be better situated to keep an eye on raiding parties they send out.”

“That way we can intercept them before they hit any more farms.” Mayweather added with a nod of his head. “The way I understand blood-magic, the more victims they get the more power they have to use.”

“Yes, and I am in many ways limited in how much power I have to use.” Dalen said with a sigh.

“What?” Falworth exclaimed. “I thought you were a Master-Mage. You can use ley-lines, right?”

“Yes, and I can even tap into nodes.” Dalen added. “My rank is Master, my potential is Adept.”

“Then what is the problem?” Falworth demanded.

“The problem is that there are no nodes nearby.” Dalen retorted hotly. “There’s only one damn ley-line where we are right now, and if I’m lucky there’ll be two where you want to go.”

“Can’t you move those lines and make them into a node?” Mayweather asked.

“I wish.” Dalen snorted. “The Tayledras can do that, and maybe a few of our mages like Dell can do it, but I don’t have the training or the skill for that yet. Hell, I’m not even fully through my training. It was cut short because of the war and I’ve been focusing on combat magics since then, not stuff like moving ley-lines.”

“Oh.” Falworth said with a grimace. “So what you’re saying is that they have a power advantage.”

“They probably do, yes.” Dalen said with a sigh. “There might be more lines they can tap into that I couldn’t sense when I was near their camp, and maybe even nodes. Whatever there is, they have plenty of victims for their blood magic and just a couple of those can match a decent-sized node for one-time draw of power. The node is better over time of course because it recharges naturally, but blood-magic gives you more power now.”

“It’s the equivalent of a wind-storm that lasts an hour versus a smaller storm that lasts for two days.” Paet added his own explanation. “Both of them will do the same amount of damage, but one happens all at once and the other takes longer.”

“That’s a close analogy, but not quite perfect.” Dalen said. “Rather, I’d say a node was like a series of storms all spaced a few days apart. That is because a node recharges naturally from the life in an area. The larger and more numerous the life, the more power it generates. This area is sparsely populated, so not as much free power floating around out here.”

“How does that affect our position tactically?” Falworth asked.

“It means that the position you want to move to is better for us.” Dalen said with a long sigh that he let out slowly. “If I’m right and I can access both this ley-line and the other from there, well you’re almost doubling my available power. Not only will I be better able to shield our camp, but I’ll be able to scry and do other spells a lot easier and I can easily lock those ley-lines.”

“You mean block the enemy from tapping them?” Mayweather asked.

“Yes, Lee, exactly.” Dalen nodded.

“Inform the sergeants that we will break camp an hour past sunrise.” Falworth ordered and then paused, waiting for a nod of approval from Dalen. For his part, Dalen paused a moment in silent rebuke of Falworth taking charge and then he gave the nod. “Healer Loamwell, I know it’ll take you longer to get things broken down. We’ll tell off a half a squad to escort you and the medics to the new camp.”

“Herald-Trainee Paet will accompany you as well for added protection.” Dalen added and both the Lieutenants nodded in agreement.

“Why?” Paet asked glumly.

“Because if we get attacked on the way, young man, you will grab me off my horse and your Companion will speed us away to safety faster than the enemy can follow.” Elsa Loamwell said grimly and Paet looked at her with wide eyes before turning to Dalen.

“Oh, I didn’t…” Paet stammered.

“She’s right, Paet.” Dalen said. “We need the healer, but we can’t wait for her to get everything ready for travel. She thought we were going to be here for a few days instead of one night. If you get attacked, your sole mission is to get her here safely. The men with you will know they are to give their lives to give you the chance to save her.”

“That doesn’t seem right…” Paet murmured. “Heralds are supposed to save people, not run away.”

“I don’t like it either.” Healer Elsa said grimly. “The truth is that my survival will probably mean more lives saved in the long run than the men that sacrifice theirs in that moment.”

“People are not a game of numbers!” Paet growled, a refrain growing more and more common amongst Heralds.

“No, they are not.” Dalen agreed with his friend while noticing the two soldiers were remaining silent. “But, in the end even a Herald must agree that sometimes we have to think of the big picture as well as the small. What if Herald Vanyel had said that throwing away his life in the Northern Pass against the Dark Servants was simply playing a game of numbers?”

“He saved Valdemar that day.” Paet said with quiet pride in his voice. “Every Herald knows that story. His death in the Pass destroyed an entire army and a deadly incarnation of the Sorcerer Ma’ar. Valdemar wouldn’t have survived as a kingdom without his sacrifice. Even with it, we suffered greatly in the years that followed.”

“I think you’ve answered your own question, son.” Healer Elsa said. “Now, why don’t you come with me? I got a good look at Master-Mage Dalen before dinner. I want to look you over before we get some sleep. You need to be in top condition.”

“Okay.” Paet agreed and he left the tent with the Healer who was in her early thirties and nodded at Dalen with approval.

“It is said the needs of the many…” Conn Falworth started to quote, but stopped when Dalen lifted his hand in the gesture for silence.

“It is also said that for every saying there is an exception to the rule.” Dalen said firmly and with a stern look at the two older men. “Gentlemen, now is not the time for philosophy and trading old sayings like two Shin’a’in trying to stay awake on the night watch. We ride at first light and I have had very little rest. Tonight I have a cot and plenty of blankets and can sleep the night through. Do not waste more of it for me.”

“Good night, my lord.” Lieutenant Falworth said with a formal bow of his head, echoed by a grinning Lee Mayweather. Dalen left their tent and found his way to his own tent. It was just a simple thought to turn down the mage light ensconced on a tent pole so that it gave off just a dim glow. There would be enough light for Paet to find his own cot but not enough to keep Dalen awake. Dalen found he was asleep before his head even hit the rather thin pillow.

The next morning, Dalen was up with the first rays of sunlight peeking over the horizon. He was in overall command, but he knew better than to get in the way of the two officers and their senior noncommissioned officers as they broke the camp down. There was some grumbling about having worked half the night digging the ditch perimeter only to pack up and leave again, but even that was short lived as the two Lieutenants explained to the senior enlisted soldiers what had happened the night before when they contacted Haven.

Word spread quickly through the camp after that, and Dalen noticed how the experienced men and women of this Guard company picked up the pace even more. For most of them, it had been a night of little sleep, although for Dalen he had gotten much more rest than the previous several days. As he ate his first hot breakfast in a while, he watched the soldiers ready for the day and the riding ahead of them.

They broke out in song about two hours later, as the Guard now kept time, when they set out from their temporary camp. It was an old song, from the war with Ancar of Hardorn, when Valdemar fought against true magic for the first time in seven hundred years. The song spoke of marching into battle knowing that failure meant the death of Valdemar and its people, but even success would bring only more bloodshed and tears. Those times had been hard, the darkest Valdemar had faced in several generations, but Valdemar had survived.

“We’re a little behind, but we’ll make it up on the road, Prince Dalen.” Lieutenant Falworth said as he finally brought his horse up next to Dalen’s in the middle of the formation. “Part of the delay was to give the troops more time to rest, and part of it was I wanted scouts out ahead of us and to the sides. To be effective, they needed some distance from us.”

“That’s why you command the troops, Lieutenant.” Dalen reminded the man with a nod, and then realized that it was the Lieutenant’s way of reminding him that while he commanded the mission, the Guard officer was still in charge of his troops. They locked eyes for a long moment, sharing mutual respect for the other’s position before the officer reined in his horse and moved off a bit. Lee Mayweather soon took his place.

“He’s never worked with someone who wasn’t an officer in the Guard or a Herald.” Lee told Dalen in a low voice. “He’s a little unsure that you know what you’re doing, and he wants more proof besides my word. We’ve only worked together for a very short time in this posting and he’s a little sensitive about his own rank.”

“Why is that?” Dalen asked with genuine curiosity. Despite the occasional friction between them, he found he liked Lieutenant Falworth, and that the man was a capable commander who appeared popular with the troops.

“He’s not a noble.” Lee said with a sigh. “Conn thinks that because he’s low-born that he has more to prove, and I think that’s because at his last command he was treated badly because he wasn’t noble-born.”

“That’s ridiculous.” Dalen snorted. “Noble birth does not automatically make someone a good officer. Could you imagine Daltry as an officer?”

“Hells no.” Lee laughed at the image Dalen’s words called up in his mind. Daltry was one of the Ashkevron cousins and far more suited to the life of a scholar than a soldier for all that he was nobly born. His face became more serious as his laughter faded though, and he leaned in his saddle towards Danel as he spoke very softly. “You understand that, I understand that. We were both raised by the Lord Ashkevron, and you will not find a more open minded and accepting man in the Kingdom outside the ranks of the Heralds. That doesn’t mean that the rest of the Kingdom shares our outlook on things.”

“What are you talking about?” Dalen asked sharply. “My father is a General and you won’t find anyone thinking he’s prejudiced in favor of noble-born officers.”

“You won’t find anyone from the Ashkevron family with that opinion.” Lee assured him in that same, low voice. “Let’s just say we’re in the minority these days. Most officers, and that includes the senior staff, if they’re nobly born look on commoner officers as being less capable. I wish I could say Conn’s experiences are unique, but from what I’ve seen with my own two eyes, it’s fairly standard.”

“That’s just plain wrong.” Dalen fumed.

“It’s the way things are.” Lee countered with a shrug of his shoulders. “The natural backlash is that officers like Conn who are quite good resent nobly born.”

“Ouch.” Dalen said with a frown. “Gods above and below, my pulling rank on him has to have rankled him bad.”

“At first, but since you’ve left all the decisions he should be making to him, well he’s starting to think you’re not as bad as he assumed.” Lee said calmly.

“What did he expect me to do?” Dalen asked with confusion. “Was I supposed to give every order for him?”

“He’s had nobly born officers give him very exact instructions in front of the troops.” Lee said.

“That’s insane.” Dalen fumed. “He’s a damn officer and he damn well better know how to give all the necessary orders. All I should need to do is tell him we march to a destination at a certain time. He doesn’t need me telling him to do things like send out scouts and all that. It’d undermine his authority and be useless since he knows those things better than I do.”

“Still, that’s how some nobly born have treated him, and officers like him.” Lee pushed his point home and Dalen frowned.

“I am going to have to speak to the King about this, when we get back to Haven.” Dalen said with a frown.

“I know for a fact your father gave him an earful before this war started.” Lee said more casually as he leaned back in his saddle. “The senior staff denied it of course, and General Ashkevron was deployed south before he could prove his point.”

“Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Lee.” Dalen said and now there was a broad smile on Lee’s face.

“I was hoping to run into you in Burnham, but our paths never crossed.” Lee said and there was a hint of caution back in his voice.

“To be honest, I didn’t know you were there.” Dalen said with a shrug. “I’m sorry, but it seems like I’ve lived most of my life doing more to keep people at a distance than I should have.”

“We understood why, Dalen.” Lee said gently. “Still, it’s good to see you finally striking out on your own. You’ve always had a good heart.”

“Thank you.” Dalen said quietly as the compliment left him with a warm feeling deep inside.

“You’re welcome.” Lee said with a smile and a slight lift of his hand from the reins. They rode in silence like that until a sergeant came up with some questions for Lee and the officer rode off with the woman, leaving Dalen alone.

It was different riding in a formation of soldiers than it had been with the Heralds, and definitely different than riding at Forst Reach. The men and women around him rode in a loose formation, keeping ranks in a way that Dalen didn’t quite understand, talking with each other and occasionally moving forward and backwards with their mounts. He’d known the basics of how Valdemaran cavalry moved from letters his father had written, but he’d never experienced it first hand.

Whatever Lee had said about conflicts between noble and common-born officers, the men and women of this cavalry unit seemed to get along well and enjoyed each other’s company. There was plenty of laughter and a few bits of singing as they went along, mostly marching songs or war ballads. He realized that one of the horsemen was actually a Journeyman Bard and was responsible for a good part of the singing. The young man moved from one group of soldiers to another with a casualness that was amazing.

While there were ninety-six soldiers, Dalen realized as the hours went by that there were more people in the formation than that. He realized they must be some of the support personnel that regularly deployed with Guard units. In the case of this cavalry unit, they were all mounted as well and many of them had strings of pack animals as well as remounts with them.

Unlike infantry units, the cavalry didn’t have wagons following them. All their supplies were packed onto four-hooved mounts, mostly broader-chested horses rather than the actual mounts used by the soldiers. This enabled the units to travel much quicker than if they had to stay at the pace of wagons.

They still traveled far slower than when he’d been with Paet on the back of Dana. A Companion, even carrying double, could move far faster than a normal horse. Their pace was even slower than when he’d ridden with Herald Landir and both the Trainees while on a regular horse. It was a simple fact that smaller groups could move faster than larger groups like the two squads of Guard light cavalry.

Then there were the breaks. Horses, unlike locomotives, were living creatures that had to be cared for, even in the middle of a march. Most of the cavalry had remounts that they switched with their regular mounts in order to allow the horses to rest. The riders themselves needed small breaks to relieve themselves (while the horses just voided their bowels on the move). Still, horse and rider needed water breaks on occasion and whenever scouts returned, there were even more pauses while the two Lieutenants took their reports.

Dalen got updated by either Mayweather or Falworth shortly after, usually well after the scouts had moved back in formation and fresher scouts had been sent out. Every two hours the scouts would come back in and rotate through after delivering their reports. As the day progressed Dalen began to grow more and more nervous that the scouts didn’t have much to report at all.

It was late in the afternoon when the forward element of their forces reached the valley that was their intended destination. Dalen had already noted that he could now reach both the major ley-lines that were in the area, and a third, weaker ley-line at the extreme distance of his range. That last ley-line had the feeling of a drainage line from a node that was far to the north, and while weaker in raw power it was easier to tame when he tested it while waiting for the two officers to begin the process of setting up camp.

“There’s a set of caves a little ways up the hill there.” Lee said as he drew his mount up beside Dalen, pointing at the western hill. The hills were nice and steep, but the scouts reported there were two good egress points on the northern side of the valley, and it would be very difficult for the enemy to get mounted troops over either western or eastern cliffs. The southern approach into the valley had the advantage of being the peak of another slope, giving them a natural defense. Any enemy coming up that slope would face an uphill charge into enemy fire. The terrain was mostly grassland with groves of oak trees and the occasional solitary tree. Further up the foothills to the south was where the pine started, but here the visibility in all directions was fairly good.

Even better, the valley was long enough that it could fit an entire company easily.

“I think the healer will probably want to set up shop there in the caves.” Dalen said and admitted that he’d probably make use of the caves himself. It was easier to cast some of the defensive spells away from the troops, although some would have to be cast on specific locations to be most effective.

“The scouts say there is a natural stream further back in the caves.” Lee continued and Dalen nodded.

“I’ll see what I can do about making it more accessible.” Dalen said. There was earth-sculpting magic he could use, and while he was not as practiced at it as he might like, he could do some basic work. A Tayledras would probably laugh at its simplicity, but it would get the job done at least.

“Fresh water supplies are important.” Lee said in a serious tone. “Believe it or not, being able to bath makes for happier troops, and as Elsa will tell you, camp hygiene keeps soldiers healthier.”

“You don’t need to lecture me on the importance of camp hygiene.” Dalen snapped.

“Whoa, I didn’t mean to get you riled up there.” Lee said quickly and Dalen frowned.

“Sorry, I’m feeling a bit edgy right now.” Dalen said with a shake of his head.

“Why is that?” Lee asked him in a concerned voice. Falworth was approaching them, and Dalen thought about not answering, but decided he’d better get it out in the open.

“I’m feeling a little bit inadequate.” Dalen admitted with a heavy exhalation of pent-up breath. “Most of my studying in magic has been in creating things or dealing with mechanical/magical combinations. I can recharge mage-lights, I can create mage-lights without a problem. Same thing with the hundreds of other little magical machines we make these days. I can shield damn well too, because a lot of creating magical items requires good shielding on them and it’s always been something I’ve been really good at doing.

“So?” Lee asked him gently. “Where does the inadequate part come in to all this?”

“I’ve been learning combat magics for the last few months, since the war started.” Dalen answered with a sigh. “I understand the basics of soldiers and camps and all that from letters I’ve read from my father. The stuff that happened before we met up with you guys, well I was able to get through that because of my strength in magic, and the lessons I’ve had, but I’m worried about being able to do everything that needs doing. This is a real combat situation here.”

“If you’re so uncertain of yourself, why did you insist you were in command?” Conn Falworth asked sharply. “Do you think you’re incapable of doing the job?”

“No.” Dalen said with a sigh. “I just feel… untested I guess is the best word. Yes, I feel untested.”

“You never get to be a veteran until you’ve been in a skirmish or two.” Lee said with a laugh. “New officers get told that when they get their first commands, they should listen to the veteran sergeants under their command. Sergeants have been around the block a few times, and know what needs to be done. A smart but green officer will listen to the sergeants before making a decision. It doesn’t mean the officer isn’t capable of doing their job”

“On the contrary, it means an officer knows how to do his job.” Falworth said firmly and with a nod of approval towards Lee. “A smart officer listens to his sergeants, but in the end, it will be the officer who makes the decision, not the sergeant. I’m not saying that we’re sergeants, but the situation here is similar. You’ve done fine with the magic stuff so far, just be sure to listen to us before you make a decision and you’ll keep doing fine.”

“Thank you.” Dalen said with a sigh to Conn Falworth, who seemed happier by the conversation than he had been before.

“Now, we better get the troops started on fortifications so you can do your magic stuff.” Conn Falworth said with a nod to Dalen before moving off.

“Don’t worry, Dalen, you’re doing fine.” Lee’s reassurance was appreciated as he too led his horse off to issue his own orders to his squad. Dalen just hoped he was indeed doing well, or they would be in serious trouble before too long.

Valedmar and its world belong to Mercedes Lackey. Everything else belongs to dkstories. Copyright ©2013; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction that combine worlds created by the original content owner with names, places, characters, events, and incidents that are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, organizations, companies, events or locales are entirely coincidental. Authors are responsible for properly crediting Original Content creator for their creative works.
Valdemar world, characters, events belong to Mercedes Lackey and Tor Publishing
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Chapter Comments

You've hinted that the Black Kings have a perhaps good reason for this war, but I don't see how there can be peace without major concessions from them. They are attacking Heralds and Mages directly and are spreading death and destruction along the alliance. Then again, a quick internet search revealed that this is 46 or so chapters long, so there is plenty of room for more storyline to develop.


I continue to enjoy Dalen's character growth and the situation seems to become more dire with each chapter. It's a shame that we have proof that the Herald and trainee died. I still had hope that they were alive.

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On 01/26/2013 12:25 PM, Rebelghost85 said:
You've hinted that the Black Kings have a perhaps good reason for this war, but I don't see how there can be peace without major concessions from them. They are attacking Heralds and Mages directly and are spreading death and destruction along the alliance. Then again, a quick internet search revealed that this is 46 or so chapters long, so there is plenty of room for more storyline to develop.


I continue to enjoy Dalen's character growth and the situation seems to become more dire with each chapter. It's a shame that we have proof that the Herald and trainee died. I still had hope that they were alive.

When writing this I had considered 'showing' the death of the herald and trainee, but decided it had a little more impact as an off-camera event.


Another thing to remember is that I don't have any compunction as a writer to have everything seen or heard be 'the truth'. Just because someone tells you something in the story, don't automatically assume it is the truth, or even a partial truth. Also be careful when Dalen is presuming things - he CAN be wrong.

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well at least Dalen sees what his tunnel vision caused, he was just so haped up on one thing sigh, so the Herald is probably dead eh.

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