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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. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
Stories in this Fandom are works of fan fiction. Any names or characters, businesses or places, events or incidents, are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Recognized characters, events, incidents belong to Mercedes Lackey, Tor Publishing and their inheritors.

Tests of Blood - 13. Chapter 13

The series of caves in the western hills had proven to be more than adequate for the needs of both Healer Elsa and Dalen. When she’d arrived that afternoon after Dalen and the cavalry units had begun setting up the camp, Elsa had looked over the caves with a great deal of satisfaction. After a brief discussion with Dalen over what he needed as far as space, she had six soldiers assigned to her and began to make the caves ‘suitable’ for her needs.

Dalen had helped with some of the work, using his power to scour the walls and floor of the caves, and push the dust and dirt out so it was a solid stone floor underneath them. He’d already begun working on the small stream in the back of the complex of six caves before her arrival and it was now pooling nicely into several stone depressions he’d formed with magic when she inspected the beginning of his work. Working with the limited magic of the nearby ley-lines it took another couple of days to fully form the stone into bathing depressions, but by the time he was done there was a series of three bathing pools for the Valdemarans there.

He also formed two smaller depressions that the cooks and their helpers used for cleaning and another series of small depressions for the Healer to use in cleaning her medical supplies. That was all he could coax out of the small stream, but it sufficed for their needs, even when reinforcements arrived any day now. Dalen was quite proud of what he’d accomplished, even though he knew there were plenty of mages who might have done a better job, none of them were here, and he’d completed the work successfully.

Other magic work was proceeding as expected. The larger ‘water’ cave was in the back of the complex of caves. The entrance cave was turned into a ‘triage’ area by Healer Elsa, and had yet to be used for that purpose. The cave off to the right was her ‘recovery’ ward that could hold at least ten wounded comfortably. Beyond that was a smaller ‘workroom’ where she would treat the most gravely injured when the fighting started. Off to the left of the entrance was a passage that branched into two forks, one leading to the water cave, and the other to a series of two caves, one after the other.

The first cave was the ‘war room’, where the officers had set up a small meeting area, complete with their maps of the area. They still bunked out in the valley with their troops, but when it came time to plan their deployments of scouts each day, they used the war room. When the reinforcements arrived, this cave would see a great deal of use as it could fit up to fifteen people standing comfortably.

Just after that was a smaller cave that Dalen claimed as his workroom and quarters. After establishing the protective shields over the valley, and the numerous wards and other small spells that made a military camp safer, he established the work room shields in the smaller cave that would enable him to work some slightly more dangerous magic without endangering the soldiers around him.

All the magical supplies he’d brought with him were stacked in this room on some foldable tables that had come with the healer. An enterprising soldier who was also a hobbyist carpenter had rigged him up some makeshift shelves for some of his supplies using dead wood found in the valley. The same soldier had also helped him set up a slightly steadier version of the standard Guard cot for sleeping. Two more soldiers had been sent to find suitably smooth rocks that he used to create the mage lights that now lit the cave better than the gas lamps the troops had with them.

This was what he was doing now, making some more, stronger mage-lights that the Healer could use when treating the wounded. Elsa had asked for them and Dalen had been more than happy to comply. He had locked all three ley-lines so only he could use them for as far as he could sense, and was using that weaker line that flowed out of the node that was beyond his range.

Of the three ley-lines, the one connected to that out-of-reach node was the most reliable. Because it was fed from a node instead of the normal accumulation of mage energy given off by natural life, he could drain it and expect it to be resupplied fairly quickly. In fact he’d drained it completely twice already only to sense it coming back to full strength rather quickly. The other two ley-lines would recharge, but much more slowly and so he used the weaker one for these tasks while letting the others alone in case he needed them in an emergency.

“Mage Dalen, the Lieutenants need you at the entrance!” A young soldier’s voice interrupted him and he bit back a curse. He’d fumbled when the voice interrupted him and would have to restart the light he was working on, but he didn’t curse aloud. When he looked at the soldier he realized how foolish it was to call him young. The man was several years older than him.

“I’ll be right there.” Dalen said with a sigh, setting the rock that had almost become a mage-light aside for the moment. He stood up, stretching a bit and made sure he wasn’t too rumpled. His horse had been found by one of the scouts and brought to their new camp, so he had a few changes of clothes, but the black jeans and brown shirt he was wearing were showing the hard use he had been putting them through. Still, they were relatively clean, if a bit worn.

The messenger waited for him and followed him out of the cave. Along the way he passed several other soldiers still at work making the caves a little more habitable under Elsa’s demanding attention, and two of the cook’s helpers were taking in a load of cooking utensils to be cleaned in the water cave. The cooks had been slightly upset when he took one of their larger steel cooking bowls to use as a replacement for his silver scrying bowl that had been destroyed, but a few words from Lieutenant Falworth had calmed them down.

“What is going on?” Dalen asked the messenger, remembering his name after a few moments effort.

“I think one of the scouts have spotted the reinforcements.” Talen said with a wide grin. All the soldiers were getting nervous about being out here all alone, especially after finding a campsite used by the enemy. The dead bodies of two Holderkin boys had not been pleasant, and Dalen had been sick after riding to the spot with a detachment of Guards. Still, he was able to confirm the boys had indeed been slaughtered in a bloodrite, which meant that one of the blood mages was abroad in the land.

“That’d be good news, Corporal Talen.” Dalen said and the man grinned at the sound of his name. It seemed foolish, but he’d found in the last few days that the soldiers around him appreciated it when he remembered their rank and their names. Ranks were easy since they wore insignias that told their rank on their uniforms. Names were a little more difficult, but not much.

“We’ll get these bandits now for sure, sir.” Talen opined with a wide grin and Dalen nodded, although he wasn’t quite so sure. His every attempt at scrying their location had been blocked and the one time he’d tried scrying the camp location he’d seen, well it was a good thing he’d broken the connection before he had to steal another bowl from the cooks.

Dalen had to blink a bit as he exited the caves and headed down the slope of the hill towards the southern entrance. The paths leading out of the northern entrance were much steeper and so weren’t commonly used except by those troops assigned to guard them. The wide southern entrance had been buttressed by freshly cut wood pikes as well as several rolls of the new barbed wire that the cavalry units carried with them. Outside of that they had dug a shallow trench that had helped Dalen establish the defense spells that kept enemy magic from being used directly against them.

At the foot of the western hill were the camp cooks and their firepits as well as the temporary oven they had begun constructing. The Guard traveled with canned rations and dried meats, but already the scouts were busy bringing in the occasional game animal to add some variety to the diet. When the reinforcements got here the ‘mess’ section of the camp would grow even bigger as it was expanded to support more soldiers.

Following the area where the food was prepared and eaten, the first tents were pitched on either side of what was fast becoming a dirt street. These were the larger tents that were assigned to the two Lieutenants, as well as the tent used for Paet and the one that had been used for the Healers but was now reserved for Heralds likely arriving with the reinforcements.

There were only a few rows of the smaller two-person tents after the officer’s area. Once the reinforcements arrived the rows of standard Guard tents would stretch all the way across the valley and up to the northern paths. The section between the tents and the southern entrance was reserved for the horses and other animals of the military unit. Already they had set up rough troughs which were supplied with water from the caves, currently being carried down in buckets three times a day. As soon as Dalen built up enough power in the local lines to support expanding the water flow, they’d be able to pipe the water down with pipes usually carried by the engineering detachment with the company from Burnham.

“It seems like a lot of work setting this camp up when we don’t know how long we’ll be here.” Dalen said as they finished walking through the tent area and made their way through the horse pens.

“We do it all the time on summer maneuvers, sir.” Talen said in a helpful voice. Dalen looked at him with a raised eyebrow and the soldier grinned at him. “It’s kind of a joke among the lower ranks. We spend two weeks setting up a camp, getting it all nice and comfy and then they have us break camp, return the area to what it was like before we came, and then we go repeat the process two valleys over. This here valley is one of the best I’ve seen. Those northern passes are great for escape if we got overrun, but not big enough for the enemy to use them to attack us in force. The hills on either side are high enough to keep mounted troops from coming over the top, and those caves there with the fresh water supply is really great. Plus, we don’t usually have a mage like you that can do all the stuff you’ve done with the water cave. Heck, we’re usually lucky to get a hedge-wizard that can tell us it’s going to rain tomorrow.”

“Thank you for the compliment, Talen.” Dalen said with a hint of a smile on his face.

“Hellfires, sir, we’re all glad to have you here, you and the Herald Paet too.” Talen said with a shake of his head. “Between the two of you and the Lieutenants, we won’t have a problem taking care of these bandits as soon as we can find them.”

“I hope so.” Dalen said as they cleared the horse pens and he got a good look at the southern barricades. Both Lieutenants were standing near the center of the barricade where a makeshift gate had been created. A female soldier had the gate opened and Dalen reached them just in time to see the first figure on a white Companion come through the gate that was barely big enough for two horses to pass through at once.

“A Herald.” Dalen said with surprise in an undertone to Lee as Lieutenant Falworth stepped forward to greet the Herald.

“The Heralds from the Haven reinforcements caught up with rest of the 14th yesterday.” Lee said in an undertone as well. “Apparently most of the Heralds coming down were Gated here instead of waiting for the locomotive.”

“Oh.” Dalen said with surprise as two more Heralds came through the gate. All three Heralds, and Lieutenant Falworth went to the side of the gate so they wouldn’t block the entrance, just as several more mounted officers came through the gate. Two of Falworth’s senior sergeants stepped forward and began to discuss where the new arrivals were to go with some of the sergeants that came in behind the mounted officers. Lee left Dalen’s side to go to the Captain who was in command of their company and he snapped off a salute to her while taking the reins of her horse as she dismounted.

“That’s Captain Martha Helgenberger, the commander of the 14th.” Talen offered helpfully and Dalen nodded his head.

“I’ve met her before.” Dalen told the man who looked slightly sheepish and then snapped to attention as the Captain came over to them. She returned the corporal’s salute before extending her hand for Dalen to shake. “Captain, it is good to see you again.”

“You’ve made quite a stir, young man.” Captain Helgenberger said grimly. “From everything I’ve seen and heard so far, it’s a damn good thing we had you out here to help out. Mayweather informed me this valley’s got a natural cave system that you’re turning into a halfway-decent support center.”

“It’s a decent setup, and Healer Elsa is keeping the floor clean with her sweeping it five times a day.” Dalen said and she smiled.

“If the Healer’s got enough time to sweep the damn floor than we’re doing okay here.” She said with an approving look at Mayweather. “Those Heralds caught up to us last night nearly riding their Companions to death. I swear, if one of my cavalry treated a horse as bad as those Companions were last night, I’d have had them flogged. Whatever Herald-Mage Dellinar told them before Gating them down here has them in a tizzy.”

“Herald Landir is dead.” Dalen said with a shake of his head. “Their bodies were found and well, these enemy troops have some powerful mages with them.”

“Then it’s doubly good that we have you and I know at least one of those Heralds that came in is a mage, so that will help.” Helgenberger said tightly. “Ah, here they come.”

“Sorry for the delay Captain, but I wanted to make sure Lieutenant Falworth here had the supplies our Companions need.” The middle-aged Herald in the lead said with a tight smile. He was tall, slightly taller than Dalen actually, and had graying black hair as well as one of the little goatees that had been fashionable ten years ago. Dalen remembered seeing him once or twice, but had never been introduced. “We rode them pretty hard getting here and I was dreading the conditions here for giving them the rest they need. This camp seems to be well-established already.”

“I should probably give them the key to the ley-lines as well.” Dalen said as an afterthought. It was known that Companions used magic energy to increase their stamina, which was one reason that ley-lines and nodes were rarely locked in Valdemar.

“When you get the chance, that would be helpful, your highness.” The Herald said with a slight bow of his head in Dalen’s direction. “Now that we’re here and everyone is getting settled, do you have a command tent set up where we can get down to business?”

“We have better than that, Herald Nevin.” Lieutenant Falworth said with a proud smile on his face. “Thanks to Mage Dalen we have a real war-room established in the support caves.”

“Then lead the way, Lieutenant.” The Herald said and Dalen noticed that the Captain didn’t even react to having the Herald issue orders like that. For his part, Dalen felt odd with the realization that he was no longer in command of this mission. Part of him was jealous that somebody else was giving the orders, but at the same time he was relieved. Now, instead of having to decide what to do, he could just offer his opinion and let the decision be made by someone else.

It was something that made him feel happy and sad at the same time.

The trip back to the caves took longer than the trip out to the entrance as Lieutenant Falworth explained what preparations had been made with the camp. Several cavalry soldiers rushed by, and Dalen looked back to see them leading the six companions in the direction of the special troughs that had been built for them. That was when Dalen actually bothered to count and discovered that there were indeed six full Heralds with this group. Four of them were men, and two were women. Herald Nevin was the oldest, although most of them looked like they were in their late twenties.

Dalen knew two of them: Herald Loishia and Herald Mavren. The two women were both mages with years of experience in their craft. Neither of them was more than a Journeyman-level mage in power, although their years of experience had left them quite capable mages. The two women noticed him looking at them and nodded to him in a friendly way, although they didn’t dare interrupt the senior Herald and the Captain as they questioned Falworth on what protections had been established and the patrol schedule as well as the sentry arrangements.

“It’s a bit light on sentries, but with the troops we’ve got now we should be able to beef them up to a respectable arrangement.” Captain Helgenberger said with approval and then they began the climb to the support caves. As soon as they entered the triage cave, Healer Elsa was coming forward and shaking hands with the Captain and asking after the healers that usually deployed with the 14th Valdemaran Guards. She seemed quite happy that all three Healers were there, and took off to greet them herself. “It looks like Elsa’s got things set to right here.”

“She does, ma’am.” Falworth said with a nod of his head. “We’ve had no one out from sickness yet this deployment.”

“That’s good.” Helgenberger said with approval. “Now, show me the other rooms before we go to this war-room of yours.”

“Yes ma’am.” Falworth said and showed the entire group the rest of the healer’s caves as well as the water cave.

“We’ll have to set up a rotating schedule for these baths.” Helgenberger said with a chuckle after inspecting the facilities. “The troops are going to be more spoiled than they are in their barracks.”

“Prince Dalen has done amazing things with his magic, ma’am.” Falworth said and Dalen almost blushed at the strong note of approval. “He won’t admit it, but I know he hasn’t slept more than a few hours each night with all the magic he’s been doing.”

“I’ve gotten plenty of rest, Lieutenant.” Dalen said quickly, but he didn’t bother to deny the truth. Most of the work in the water cave had been done late in the night.

“I sure hope so, because now is when things get truly interesting.” Herald Nevin said with a shake of his head. “Why don’t we see this war room now and get down to business?”

“It’s right this way, Herald.” Falworth said and led the way out of the water cave. Once they all assembled in the war-room, with its maps on a cave wall and on the table in the center, the Captain and Herald nodded in approval. This was the largest group that had been in there so far, and Dalen wished Paet wasn’t out with the scouts right now because he was going to miss out on what looked like the start of a planning session.

“Captain, why don’t you go ahead and introduce the rest of your officers here.” Herald Nevin said once everyone had a chance to look around. “It looks like we have just about everything we need in here to get started on a planning session.”

“Yes, we do.” Captain Helgenberger said and began introducing the three lieutenants that Dalen had not met yet. Both young men were in charge of the infantry units while the female officer was in command of the support units that included cooks, healers, and engineers. Elsa arrived a few moments later, dragging three other Healers with her. Two of them were in the greens of full Healers while the third had the pale green uniform of a trainee Healer. She took the hint and introduced all of them.

“Good, now with me here are Heralds Jarvis and Litton who are experienced fighters having recently returned from the southern campaigns against the Black Kings. Herald-Mages Loishia and Mavren were also down south but have said they’ve replenished their energies and are capable of being on duty again. Herald-Trainee Paet I haven’t met yet, but was assured he was here.”

“He went on patrol with one of our scouts this morning, Herald.” Lieutenant Falworth said. “Herald-Trainee Paet has been of tremendous help to us so far.”

“Good.” Nevin said with a nod of approval before turning to Dalen. “Now I assume everyone here knows this is Prince Dalen Ashkevron, son of General Lofar Ashkevron who commands the Alliance troops in the Dhorisha Plains and has been fighting the Black Kings to a standstill. I met with the King himself before Herald Dellinar Gated us down here two days ago. There are another four Heralds on the locomotive with the further reinforcements that are coming, but they wanted to make sure you got the help you needed now.”

“I’m glad you’re here, Herald.” Dalen said after a long moment of silence in which all the eyes in the room were on him. “I hope the preparations we’ve made are adequate. I’ve been trying to scry their locations but their magical defenses are quite extensive.”

“Herald Mage Dellinar sent some additional supplies with us that he thought might be beneficial to you, sir.” Herald-Mage Loishia said. “He was quite insistent we pack them over even supplies for our Companions.”

“I’ll be glad to take a look at what you have when we’re done here.” Dalen said with a appreciative nod. “So far I’ve locked out the ley-lines so that the enemy can’t tap into them. There are no nodes in this area, but the bottom line is that we are dealing with at least one blood-path mage who is Master status, the same as me. In fact, with enough victims for his blood magic, he might very well be more powerful than me. He’s also older, so we must assume he is more skilled as well. I was hoping one of the adepts at Haven would be recovered enough to come down here.”

“You’re the best as far as the mages are concerned, Prince Dalen.” Herald Nevin said with a shake of his head. “From all I’ve heard, that’s more than enough by me. I’ve got Mindspeech as well as a bit of Farsight that’s come in handy from time to time. In fact, all of the Heralds here have enough Mindspeech to reach out within a day’s ride in any direction from here. Loishia and Mavren are both experienced Journeyman-level mages as well. Jarvis has excellent Farsight along with a bit of Foresight and Litton is a strong Fetcher. The two of them have been trained to work as a team as well and are quite experienced at it.”

“During the campaign we managed to take out two Black King Generals using our gifts.” Litton said in a matter-of-fact tone that was neither prideful nor ashamed. It was a simple statement.

“It sounds like we’ve got a good strong detachment here then.” Captain Helgenberger said with approval. “Who is coming down on the locomotive?”

“In addition to the Heralds, the King has deployed the 6th Guard and portions of the 23rd Reserve as well as the A Battalion Engineers.” Herald Nevin answered and she whistled.

“Your highness, what do you really think is going on down here that his majesty would send the best troops not already deployed to a combat area?” Captain Helgenberger asked her question of Dalen directly.

“I haven’t really wanted to say it aloud, ma’am.” Dalen admitted with a frown as all the eyes shifted to him and he moved to lean on the table in the middle of the room, the one with the map showing the general southern border. “When we first saw the raiders, well I thought it was bandits raiding farms and taking off what they could carry. Herald Landir and I decided to split up. He and Junie followed the trail that led towards a Holderkin farm. We figured that was another raiding party. Paet and I followed the trail heading south.”

“Don’t blame yourself for the man’s death, lad.” Nevin said consolingly. “We’re Heralds, and it made sense for him to take what looked to be the more dangerous mission.”

“I’m upset that he’s dead, but I know it wasn’t my fault.” Dalen said. “He wasn’t killed following the bandits. He was killed by the danger that we didn’t know about when we split up.”

“This camp you spotted here?” Captain Helgenberger asked while pointing to the spot on the map that Dalen had marked in blood red ink.

“Yes, Paet and I snuck up on the camp and discovered there were blood-mages with these so-called raiders, and that they were building a camp a lot like this one here.” Dalen continued his story with a sour expression. “After that, we headed north to get the word out but we weren’t careful enough. They ambushed us the next morning, although we were able to fight them off. Then we headed back and were eventually able to rendezvous with Lieutenants Falworth and Mayweather.”

“These indicate where you’ve sent scouts out?” Captain Helgenberger asked as she pointed at a few other lines on the map.

“Yes, ma’am.” Falworth answered. “Prince Dalen wanted us to make sure that we covered the immediate area and that we could spot any more raiding parties.”

“Why?” She asked with a direct look at Dalen.

“The camp that we saw, well we recognized that they weren’t just regular run-of-the-mill bandits.” Dalen said calmly. “They are mercenaries, one of the unbounded companies, or rather a company that the Guild seized their bond and kicked ‘em out. They aren’t much better than bandits in practice, but they are a real military fighting force.”

“You think they’ve been hired?” Nevin asked with a worried frown. “Do you think Menmillith has hired them?”

“I hope not.” Dalen admitted. “But it is a possibility we can’t overlook. It could even be just a local lord, and not the crown of Menmillith, or it could be that this blood-path mage took over a northern Lord’s area and is now calling the shots.”

“What do you think is really going on, my lord?” Captain Helgenberger asked him again and Dalen frowned at the directness. She wasn’t asking his opinion on what might be going on, she wanted real answers.

“There are a couple of things that bother me about this.” Dalen said with a sigh and he looked down on the map. “Menmillith has always been everyone’s poor cousin. When Karse and Rethwellan fought each other, they did it through Menmillith for the most part. The people of Menmillith there have grown to resent that – even if it hasn’t happened in the last hundred years.

“Next, we have the point that there were two blood-mages working together. Sure, I killed one that ambushed us, but that leaves the stronger mage that we saw at their camp.” Dalen continued after taking a deep breath. “Plus, well, I don’t know for certain that we’re facing just one mage in this right now and blood-path mages almost never work together. The only time the histories I’ve read speak of them working together, is when they all fall under another, more powerful blood-mage who has the backing of a crown or great deals of money or power.”

“What histories are you thinking of?” Herald Nevin asked with a frown.

“Well, two that come to immediate mind are King Ancar of Hardorn.” Dalen said with a grimace. “He and Hulda were both blood-mages, and we know that most of the mages in their court were all blood-path mages. Another would be Mornelithe Falconsbane. After the war, the Tayledras found the Keep he had lived in and had to clean out the blood-path mages that had taken it over after he fled. Those were quite nasty and it is estimated that they had been powerful, Master-level mages that had once been in allegiance to Falconsbane.”

“You’re right, both are excellent examples that point to something similar here in Menmillith.” Nevin said with a nod. “You think some powerful blood-path has moved in down there and taken over?”

“Either that or they’ve had help from the crown who willingly brought them in.” Dalen said with a shrug. “Think about it, this is the first time since the Ancar Wars that most of our troops have been deployed elsewhere. Not even when the Empire invaded Hardorn were we as hard pressed as we are now. If Menmillith had tried this then, we’d have had six Adepts down here blasting the crap out of them. Now, well I may one day be an Adept but I’m not there yet. Are there any Adepts on the locomotive coming down here?”

“No, in fact there are no Herald-Mages on the locomotive.” Nevin said with a frown. “I know Dell wanted to come, but we can’t spare him in Haven. Right now the only Adepts who can take the Heartstone are you and him. All the others are still recovering from their injuries, or they are in the thick of things down South. Maybe if this truce that they’ve got now holds, we can get one or two back up here, but wouldn’t expect it any time soon.”

“I didn’t have any scouts approach the area of the camp because every attempt to scry down there has failed.” Dalen said as he took a deep breath and prepared to have them criticize his decisions. “We need to see what’s going on there. If it is just the one Company of mercs, well we might want to start planning on assault, or at least that was what I was thinking. In case it is as I feared and they are streaming troops and more blood-mages down there, well sending scouts down there when we don’t have enough troops here to defend ourselves would have been suicide. I tried to stay focused on getting established and ready to make the scouting runs once you had gotten here and taken over.”

“Well, we’re here now, Prince Dalen.” Captain Helgenberger said with a tight smile on her face. “Given your situation, I can’t see how I’d have wanted to do anything differently. Now what are your orders?”

“My orders?” Dalen asked with surprise. “I mean, aren’t you or Herald Nevin in charge?”

“Sorry, Prince Dalen.” Herald Nevin said with a chuckle as he pulled a packet of papers out of the pack on his waist. “You have a number of correspondences here that I was given, including a letter from the King himself who had me promise I’d hand it to you directly. There’s also a sealed order placing you in command of all forces in this area and charging you with the protection of Valdemar from any and all enemies.”

“You’re in charge, Prince Dalen, and we are standing by for your orders.” Captain Helgenberger said as she snapped to attention. Everyone else did the same, except for the healers who all gave him grave looks. It almost felt like the room was spinning as Dalen picked up the first letter, which was indeed an order from the King giving him quite a bit of authority, even Crown powers for negotiations if they proved necessary.

“I, uh, I hope you will tell me if I’m about to step off a cliff?” Dalen said as he regained control of himself and gave the older people in the room a look of near-desperation.

“Don’t worry lad, the King’s a good judge of character.” Herald Nevin said gently.

“I served directly with your father on the front, Prince Dalen.” Herald Loishia said with a gentle smile. “If you prove to be half the commander he is, you’ll have these bastards dead or running for their lives inside of two weeks.”

“I hope so, Herald.” Dalen said while taking a deep breath, squaring his shoulders and looking down at the map again. “I certainly hope so.”

© 1987 - 2022 Mercedes Lackey, Tor Publishing; All Rights Reserved; 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. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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With this turn of events, I definitely believe the king that he would name Dalen heir if he is Chosen by a Companion. They must think extremely highly of him if he is given command over full Heralds or captains of the army.


Now the stage is set for a series of battles and I'm worried about Paet. I know he's only on quick scouting duties but I have a feeling something is going to happen.


Great chapter.

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On 01/27/2013 12:22 PM, Rebelghost85 said:
With this turn of events, I definitely believe the king that he would name Dalen heir if he is Chosen by a Companion. They must think extremely highly of him if he is given command over full Heralds or captains of the army.


Now the stage is set for a series of battles and I'm worried about Paet. I know he's only on quick scouting duties but I have a feeling something is going to happen.


Great chapter.

If Dalen was a Herald-Mage at this point, giving him command would likely have been a foregone conclusion.


As it is, it's important to remember that while he commands the mission, he isn't being put in a position to command troops directly. We're talking a company size force here (in Valdemaran terms that's close to 500 or so) If he really starts to screw up, the senior heralds or commanders will step in and take over, but as long as he keeps his head about him, he's in charge.


Personally I think the King is trying to push him into being ready to be Chosen, pushing him to accepting responsibility whether he wants it or not, and is canny enough to know Dalen is not the top to turn away from what he sees as his duty.

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Leonard: What would you be if you were attached to another object by an inclined plane, wrapped helically around an axis?

Sheldon: Screwed.


I wonder if Dalen feels the same way with Rothar's order. Lol! But he's gotten a taste of command and a taste of the bond between Herald and Companion. ... Let's see how he develops.


A thought came to me that even though Selenay doesn't seem to be Mage-gifted, I wonder if they tested her capacity with dark magic ... Perhaps she's the blood mage behind all this? It would be a fantastic hero-cycle storyline! Hehehe!


And not to seem ungrateful, but don't you owe us another chapter for today? I missed my morning read. Have been off-balance all day! ;) lol!

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yes i did make that conclusion that both the king and heir wanted to push Dalen in to responsibility so that he can understand that his fears are ungrounded and that not only heralds die young so to speak lol. But i understand this situation that can become rather nasty is frightening for one so young.

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nice chapter.

for those who might be interested , i uploaded a map of Valdemar in the pics gallery : didn’t see how to put it there 😞 

you can see most of the countries mentionned in this story, except Menmillith because it doesn’t belong to the Valdemar’s universe 😬

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