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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 - 28. Chapter 28

“Huh?” Dalen asked as he pushed his way back to consciousness. Opening his eyes he saw the semi-familiar green fronds that grew around his bed in Burnham Vale and the green ivy that hung from the banisters of that bed. What was unusual about it was the white horse’s head that was resting at perpendicular angles on the far side of the bed and the glowing blue eyes filled with worry.

It’s about time you woke up, sleepyhead. Jadev told him in mental tones overlaid with a great deal of worry. Dalen felt weak, but at the same time he felt like he’d had a really bad fever that had just broken.

What happened? Dalen asked as he tried to sit up. The dizzy feeling in his head caused him to stop and just lay back down though.

Blake’s bringing some potion from the Healers that you will drink. Jadev’s voice brooked no argument. It’s been well over two days since we escaped from Haven, and you’ve spent most of that time lying here in bed suffering from massive reaction shock to that fool stunt with the Heartstone in Haven followed by leading the charge against ten times of our numbers of troops. The Healers and Herald-Mage Pyotr say it was damn lucky you didn’t die on us.

Burnham? Dalen asked while trying to ignore the tingling of his head as he used his Mindspeech ability. He knew doing anything with any of his gifts would be difficult for a while.

Safe and free of the Haighlei. Jadev replied with satisfaction. I will warn you, Nevin is quite furious with you. Something about not following orders.

We needed every sword after we took out the mages. Dalen replied. I didn’t do that bad.

No, but that was because I was there with you. Jadev snorted. If you did have a normal horse instead of me, you’d be dead three times over.

I am grateful for you. Dalen said as he reached a hand out and scratched Jadev’s head.

I am not a pet to be patted. Jadev snorted as he got to his feet. Now that you are awake I am going outside and getting something to eat.

“Radev said that Jadev told him you were awake.” Blake’s voice came from the entrance just after Jadev had left. Dalen was surprised the Companion had made it all the way into the bedroom from the entryway.

“I feel like manure.” Dalen frowned as he tried to sit up again. This time there was less dizziness and he managed a sitting position.

“You look as bad as Dellinar.” Blake snorted as he sat down on the edge of the bed closest to Dalen and handed him a goblet. “Here, this is some of that restorative fruit juice. The Healer’s took out the nourishment line this morning when they said you should wake today.”

“How are things out there?” Dalen asked with a weak gesture of his free hand as his other took the goblet. He had planned to sip the drink, but it tasted so good in his raw, dry throat that he ended up drinking it down all at once.

“Calm.” Blake answered with a slight grin. “Dell’s here now. The Healers are in a tizzy because they say he should still be in bed, but he’s got one of those wheeled chairs. From what I understand, he’s taken over your old cave in the Retreat.”

“The Haighlei?” Dalen asked.

“Dead or under guard.” Blake supplied the information he was really after. “Burnham is free of them. We’ve started releasing prisoners from the local jail, and we’ve liberated that camp they set up on the north side of town. Mavren set the gate to a village a day north of here where a team went through and tore up a bunch of the rails. She says they’ll start moving the rails through the Gate in the next few days.”

“That’s good.” Dalen said with a sigh.

“His majesty will be in here in a minute to talk to you.” Blake continued and Dalen winced at the title Dell now held. It seemed odd for it to be applied to anyone besides Rothar. “He wants to make sure you’re lucid and able to have a real conversation with him before he comes in here. I know he’d rather wait, but the Healers want him back at the Retreat as soon as possible.”

“Why?” Dalen asked with a frown.

“The Healers say you’ll be up and around in a couple of days and things are moving fast.” Blake said. “There’s unrest all over Valdemar and Dell’s trying to take maximum advantage of it while we can. All the Adept-level Heralds are being sent out, but before they go he wants to talk to you about something. He wouldn’t be specific.”

“I see.” Dalen said with a frown. “Well, I’m feeling better after that drink.”

“I’ll get him.” Blake said with a worried smile as he touched Dalen’s hand. “I know we haven’t really known each other long, but I was worried.”

“I was too, my friend.” Dalen smiled at him. “I saw the way you were flailing around with that sword. Radev’s lucky you didn’t hack his head off.”

“You are cruel.” Blake laughed as he stood up and left the room. Dalen felt firmer, more relaxed and in control after the conversation with the Chosen of his Companion’s twin.

“I see the sleeping slouch-off has finally woken.” Dell said as Blake wheeled him into the room. Blake pushed the wheeled chair to the side of Dalen’s bed and then left the room quickly while Dell studied Dalen. “You look as bad as me.”

“At least we’re both sitting up now.” Dalen said with a smile. “A fine pair of leaders we make.”

“Yes, quite.” Dellinar laughed with good humor although there were pain lines in his forehead that had not been there before. “I am lucky to still be sane. There were times when I doubted I’d come through that experience with my sanity intact. We are all lucky for you being there.”

“I am sorry it took me so long to get you out.” Dalen said gently.

“Nevin’s told me what happened and how you came to create a Permanent Gate.” Dell said with a look of disbelief on his face. “I would never have imagined something like that happening. It seems like something out of an old story.”

“It does, doesn’t it?” Dalen asked with a chuckle.

“Yes, it does, but it couldn’t have happened at a better time.” Dell continued. “How soon can you create more of those Gates?”

“I’m sorry, but that won’t be possible for a while.” Dalen said with a frown. “First off, I’d have to prepare the area with proper nodes and power sources. Then the construction of the physical frame has to be done while infusing it with the proper magics. After that, well the process of establishing it and activating it takes at least a month. All told, a new Gate would take at least six months to create. Maybe longer. It took Windfire twenty years of experimenting to create his first Gate, and he failed at that. I’ll be lucky if it doesn’t take me at least a year, much less six months.”

“Damn.” Dell frowned. “I was hoping you could either teach other Herald-Mages to make them or create a bunch of them yourself. We could use a network of them right now.”

“For now, Burnham is going to be our only Permanent Gate.” Dalen said firmly. “I know we’d prefer it otherwise, but those are the facts. I can’t wave my hand and make it happen.”

“No, I know that.” Dell said with a comforting smile. Dalen felt himself relax even further. He’d always respected Dell, and talking to him like this was comforting, even if both of them were as weak as newborn puppies.

“You sound a lot better.” Dalen offered and Dell nodded.

“The Healers tell me it will be just a matter of regaining my strength now.” Dell said with a smile. “I do not look forward to their regimen. It will be like being a Trainee all over again.”

“Poor Dell.” Dalen joked. “King of Valdemar and hounded by his own Healers.”

“I never wanted to be King.” Dell said flatly.

“I never wanted to be a Herald.” Dalen countered.

“Nor the Heir.” Dell added, causing a frown to appear on Dalen’s face. “Yes, Dalen, you are the Heir. I have publicly confirmed it unless one of my kids are Chosen sometime in the future. It’ll be years before they get close to that age, so for the foreseeable future, if anything happens to me, you’re the next King of Valdemar.”

“Please don’t let anything happen to you.” Dalen said and it was not a joke at all.

“I’ll try not to let anything happen.” Dell answered just a seriously. “Now, we have a lot to talk about, and I want to get it over with while the Healer’s let me stay here. Why they think the cave is safer than this place, I don’t know.”

“You know.” Dalen said firmly. “The Haighlei know where this place is located, but they do not know the location of the Retreat.”

“True.” Dell sighed. “That brings up the first order of business. By normal Valdemaran law, it is forbidden that the Monarch and the Heir place themselves directly into danger. With the agreement of the provisional Council I am forming, that law is being suspended for the duration of this immediate emergency. As much as I don’t want to risk your life, I may have to send you on risky missions.”

“I understand and agree.” Dalen said with a grim smile.

“Good.” Dell replied. “Now, your little friend Bart has been Chosen by the new King’s Own Companion, Anton. Bart is still in Grays, but has been given an advisory vote on the provisional Council. He’s a born organizer it would seem, and we need his natural skill right now as I try to turn this little government in exile into a real government. As Heir, you naturally have a seat on the Council and I will be moving its actual location to here, in Burnham once things are stabilized a bit more. The Council needs to be visible to the people, and this location is the most secure visible location we have.”

“That sounds smart.” Dalen agreed.

“Yes, well I need to expand the Council so it includes more than just the people we have here.” Dell continued although his voice was beginning to grow tired. “We’ve been in contact with your father, and once the Menmillith situation is resolved, he will join us instead of returning to Haven. I am making him my Lord Martial and placing him in command of the Guards.”

“He’s a good man for the position.” Dalen said with a hint of pride in his voice.

“Yes, he is.” Dell agreed. “I’ve got the Adept-level Herald mages deploying to major cities in the North and the East. I was hoping we could establish Permanent Gates between here and there, but we’ll make do with the one Permanent Gate we have at our disposal. From there they will select candidates for the Council and ask them to come here to join it immediately.

“What about the West?” Dalen asked.

“The West is my major area of concern.” Dell admitted. “The Plebiscites made it their home and have strong support in the region. Most of the people in that area have not made any real protest about the Haighlei or your mother’s Regency. The proposed elections she’s set for Midwinter are quite popular in most areas except one.”

“Forst Reach.” Dalen supplied and Dell nodded.

“I’ve received some good and bad news from that area.” Dell said. “I’m sorry, but the word is that your Grandfather suffered an accident while working with a horse.”

“Damn.” Dalen said as grief welled up inside him. Dell reached out a hand and Dalen took it, letting himself be comforted by the gentle squeeze of support from Dell. He’d loved his grandfather, but then he knew the man would not have chosen to die by any other method, not even dying in bed could have beaten being thrown by an unruly horse.

“I hope Meke gelded the beast.” Dalen growled and Dell smiled.

“That’s what I heard happened.” Dell answered and Dalen grinned.

“I bet they buried the horse’s balls with Grandfather.” Dalen said with a fierce grin on his face.

You Ashkevrons are vicious. Jadev snorted in Dalen’s mind.

That’s why you need to be careful with me. Dalen countered. I know horses, and you are in the body of a horse.

Beast! Jadev replied and Dalen returned his attention to the Prince who was smiling at him.

“I can’t say how good it is to see you with a Companion at last.” Dell reiterated an earlier comment.

“I can’t imagine why I didn’t want it to happen earlier.” Dalen said with sarcasm for Jadev, who just snorted mentally and went back to grazing.

“I understand Jadev has quite the sarcastic streak.” Dell smiled as he spoke and Dalen just rolled his eyes while he got another mental snort. He still was getting accustomed to holding what was in effect two conversations at once.

“That is a mild statement when compared to the reality.” Dalen offered and Dell laughed gently.

“The Haighlei are putting pressure on Forst Reach in the form of two thousand soldiers.” Dell said and Dalen blanched. “If they push it, Forst Reach cannot defend against that size of force.”

“Where are they getting all these troops?” Dalen growled.

“Our sources in Haven say that for the past day there have been massive troop movements via Gate.” Dell answered. “It sounds like they’re moving them up in relays from the far South. At least ten thousand came through today and our agents tell us that they’ll likely move out from there in the next few days once local mages recover enough to form new Gates. There have been more civil demonstrations than just those in Burnham and Haven as word of your appearance spreads. In several places, there has been actual fighting between Guard units and the Haighlei. From what it sounds like, they are preparing for a full-blown occupation force.”

“They won’t be able to muster enough troops for that.” Dalen growled but Dell shook his head.

“Dalen, we have less than ten thousand Guards confirmed loyal to us.” Dell reminded him and Dalen’s eyes opened wider in surprise. “Before the war started, we had a Guard force of just over twenty-thousand and we suffered heavy casualties down south. Word was that the Black Kings have an army of nearly two hundred thousand at their disposal.”

“That’s…” Dalen couldn’t find words for his stunned disbelief.

“I know.” Dell said. “They’ve been building up their army for nearly a generation now, just for this and we never got word of what they were doing.”

“We have to warn the Tayledras.” Dalen suddenly remembered. “There’s a Haighlei army moving on one of their Vales…”

“Not anymore.” Dell assured him. “The army was Gated through and is now in Haven. One of our agents was able to confirm they had been heading for k”Treva Vale and got that message to us last night. As soon as I can I will get a message out to the Tayledras and warn them.”

“Yes.” Dalen agreed. The Tayledras had always been Valdemar’s allies and deserved that warning at the very least.

“I want you to take a detachment of Heralds and Guards to Forst Reach and bolster their defense.” Dell continued and Dalen sat up a little straighter in surprise. “Now, I know you’re not ready to go today, but the Healers tell me most of what you’re suffering is drainage shock and that you will be rested and ready to go in a few days.”

“I should be ready.” Dalen said uncomfortably. “Are you sure you want to send me out to Forst Reach?”

“Is there something wrong with you going?” Dell asked him with a raised eyebrow. “I promise, any important Council meetings that affect Valdemar’s future in a major way won’t be conducted unless you have a chance to Gate here.”

“It’s not that.” Dalen said with a shake of his head. “Nor is there a problem with me going, but you don’t need to send me. You can send any old Herald to do that. They’re Ashkevrons. Their loyalty to the Crown is not something you have to worry about.”

“I am not worried about the loyalty of the Ashkevrons.” Dell said flatly and he shifted in his wheeled chair uncomfortably. “Damn it, I want to be up and pacing right now instead of stuck in this chair. Hellfires, I’d take being back in Haven with no hint of war on any damn horizon. Nor do I want to send you so damn far away or put you in another damn risky situation, but I need you. Frankly, you’re more popular than I am right now and if anyone can make a difference out in the West, it is going to be you and you alone.”

“Oh.” Dalen said with shock.

“Yes, after Forst Reach is protected, I want you to head out into the western sectors.” Dell continued in an angry tone. Dalen understood the anger was not directed at him, but rather at the situation. “If you want my suggestion, I’d head for Highjourone after Forst Reach. It’s close enough that you can spend a few days there and move on throughout the region. Hit all the major cities, go through as many of the villages as you possibly can during the winter.”

“During the winter?” Dalen asked with a frown.

“Yes, you know this election your mother wants to have?” Dell asked and Dalen nodded.

“She says she is forming a Council made up of people from all the regions directly.” Dalen said. “Unfortunately, she’ll only let landowners and Guild members vote, not everyone, and no women voting either. That was the Haighlei reigning her in a bit. Then there’s that loyalty test and Valdemar history test she’s imposing on anyone who wants to run. The thing is skewed to a weird distortion of our History and folks who aren’t fluent in the crap being put out in the Plebiscite pamphlets don’t stand a chance of passing their tests.”

“Ah, so you do know about them.” Dell smiled. “Yes, those were the elections I was referring to just now. We’re going to participate.”

“Huh?” Dalen asked in shock again. That was happening to him a lot in these conversations.

“Before the war with the Haighlei started, Rothar and I had spent many hours locked away in his office, planning this.” Dell said with a sly grin. “The Plebiscites have the right notion, even if their motivation is corrupt. Most of the Plebiscite leaders are men and women who failed to gain a place in our government, or who were kicked out for corruption. They seek to use this ‘election’ as a way of regaining power.”

“That is the reason for all their restrictions on voting.” Dalen said with a nod of agreement. Even his mother recognized this now. “The written tests they are requiring and the fake version of Valdemar’s history that they are pushing are all ways they are attempting to ensure their people alone are elected.”

“Yes, and take a close look at those histories of theirs.” Dell said with a grimace. “We found out that they’ve actually written texts of them for the classrooms in the western sectors. When they tried to spread it to the northern areas, the educators there rejected them and reported them to Rothar, but that was two days before the war started.”

“Oh.” Dalen said flatly, imagining the twisted histories being taught as real histories in their classrooms was a frightening thing. “How long has this been going on?”

“It started when Pelidorous and his cousin were sent to prison for corruption.” Dell replied with a frown, referring to two prominent figures on the Grand Council that had been convicted of treason after an investigation by Heralds. “The two of them have been funding this Plebiscite movement from the beginning, we’re sure about that fact. Unfortunately, we were not able to get enough evidence against them to bring them down. Rothar was planning a pre-emptive strike against their call for general elections.”

“How was he planning to do that?” Dalen asked and Dell grinned while pulling out a packet of papers he had been sitting on until now.

“If you thought you were going to just lounge around during your recovery period, you were greatly mistaken.” Dell laughed as he tossed the hefty packet of papers onto Dalen’s bed. “You have a lot of reading to do, and I understand that Heralds Nevin and Thorn have lessons planned for you while you’re an invalid.”

“What are these?” Dalen asked as he leaned forward and pulled the packet to him.

“This is the new Charter of Valdemar that Rothar and I were developing.” Dell said with a satisfied grin on his face. “It is a new framework for how Valdemar will function, now and into the future. Many of the Crown and Council powers are being passed to a new Assembly that will be elected from across Valdemar. We had quite a few arguments regarding the actual distribution of elected representatives. If you base it on population, the rural areas will be under-represented. Base it on region, and the cities suffer the same fate.”

“How did you resolve that?” Dalen asked.

“The Grand Council will still exist as an upper chamber of the Assembly.” Dell answered with a smile. “The Monarch’s Own Herald will sit as chair and have tie-breaking vote, and the Heir will also have a seat along with all the regional nobles and the Trade Guild representatives. In addition, there will be forty-six representatives elected at large from regions based on the sectors of Herald Circuit routes. The Council will advise the Crown on Guard force levels, diplomacy, and ratifying the signing of Treaties. The Assembly will pass laws for approving funding and taxation levels and other things relating mostly to domestic issues like funding of education. The Grand Council must give final approval to whatever the Assembly votes on and the Crown reserves the right to veto any bill that does not meet its approval. If Crown, Heir, and Monarch’s Own all support the veto, there will be no way for the Assembly or Council to override the veto. Otherwise, if three-fourths of the Assembly and Grand Council agree, they can override the veto of the Crown.”

“It sounds complicated.” Dalen said as he stared at the packet.

“Look it over, and give me your comments before you leave for Forst Reach.” Dell told him. “Valdemar is facing several crises and let us be honest – the way we have governed our kingdom has worked up until now, but times have changed. Our people are far more educated than they were even two centuries ago. They are more than capable of leading themselves for the most part. All that is needed is some type of check against corrupt or power-hungry individuals worming their way into power. It is the same type of check that the Heralds were first created to perform.”

“And in the form of the Crown, Heir, and Monarch’s Own, they will still perform that function.” Dalen agreed with a nod of his head in agreement. I take it the function of the Heralds in this new government is spelled out here?”

“Yes.” Dell said with a pleased grin on his face as he leaned back in his hard wood chair.

“Well?” Dalen asked.

“I can see a time when Heralds riding circuits aren’t quite as much of a necessity as they are now.” Dell said with a shrug. “In the old days, when it took an entire season for word of new laws to reach the remotest regions, and when it would take just as long for a circuit magistrate to come and hear a case, Heralds on circuit were what held this kingdom together. Now though, most areas have their own judges or can reach one in a matter of days. News travels faster around this kingdom than even the fastest Heralds could ever manage.”

“So are the Heralds going to become redundant?” Dalen asked with a raised eyebrow and Dell responded with a simple shake of his head.

“Never.” Dell breathed. “The Heralds are people we can trust to be uncorrupted by power, to guarantee the truth in investigations, and that really is where our strength lies in this modern Valdemar. This Charter established the Heralds as the Kingdom’s Protective Service. Their role will be a mix of impartial judges, truth-finders, investigating serious crimes that local forces can’t handle, and serious threats against the kingdom. I have it in mind that they will also form the core of our Ambassadorial program as well, as they have always done, but there is a role for them in this Charter and it is spelled out clearly.”

“That is a good thing.” Dalen agreed.

“Yes.” Dell affirmed. “The requirement that the King, Heir and Monarch’s Own are Heralds is also affirmed in the Charter.”

“Now the question I have is how do you expect to get the people of Valdemar to vote on it when the votes are being counted by people who will oppose the Charter?” Dalen asked and Dell smiled.

“That’s the beauty of this plan.” Dell said cryptically.

“Oh, don’t go all Tayledras-cryptic on me.” Dalen snorted. “I’ve had enough of that for one damn lifetime.”

“Watch your language around the King, young man.” Dell mock-chastised him and smiled at Dalen’s chuckling.

“Well?” Dalen asked and Dell smiled at him before explaining.

“The old Charter was set forth by King Valdemar and approved by his Royal Council.” Dell explained with a casual wave of his hand.

“Yes.” Dalen agreed. “Every time it has been amended it was with approval by Crown and Council. The last time was sixteen years ago to include the Guild of Locomotive Operators as a recognized Guild.”

“You did pay attention during your history lessons.” Dell said with amusement. “Now, if the old Charter was set in place by Crown and Council, what would it take to replace it with this new charter?”

“A vote by Crown and Council, which you are forming.” Dalen said with a frown.

“Yes, but I have included clauses requiring ratification of the Charter by a vote of the people.” Dell added.

“They just have to put ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on the ballots they fill out.” Dalen said with wide eyes and Dell frowned at him.

“You stole my thunder.” Dell complained but there was a smile of approval on his face as he looked at Dalen. “You got it on the first guess. We tell people that they have to simply put a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on the ballots they are given. Then we make sure they demand to see the ballots being counted. The Plebiscites will have a difficult time keeping control of the voting that way.”

“But what about their voting requirements?” Dalen asked.

“It is your job to make sure those are dropped while you’re making your rounds out west.” Dell said. “Don’t provoke the Haighlei after Forst Reach unless you have no other choice, but focus the message on letting all of Valdemar vote, not just a privileged few. The Bards are making sure you’re going to be a folk hero after they tell of you rescuing all the Heralds in Haven.”

“Yeah.” Dalen agreed with a frown. He hated the idea of the message the Bards were sending, but there was no escaping that it would be useful. “So, the plebiscites are going to get their vaunted election after all, but on our terms. What’s the old saying?”

If you can’t beat them, join them. Jadev provided with a smug-sounding thought.

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

I haven't had a chance to review in the past few days so here's a big one. Forgive the word vomit.

 

I'm still mostly on team Bart but I could be converted to team Blake given the time. You've left us with so many possible romantic interests that its hard to keep track of everything. Dalen still needs to grow in order to have a full relationship but I think that the relational work he's going to have with Jadev will speed that growth along. Unfortunately for us, Dalen is going to be a bit too busy to make much progress on his love life because of his upcoming responsibilities. I'm looking forward to seeing him interact with his relatives. I'm sure they're all awesome.

 

How many people live in this world and what are the total populations of Haighlei and Valdemar? The army numbers are daunting. 10-20k against 200k? Ouch.

 

Back to Dalen, he's had a lot of character growth but it's good to see that his stubbornness and sense of duty are unchanged. He ran into that battle and almost died after using so much magic and ignoring orders from others to protect himself.

 

Finally some thoughts on future chapters. I can't wait for Dalen's next (maybe final?) confrontation with the Haighlei King's brother. Someone is going to have to die. I also want to see the Plebiscite leaders get the fate they deserve for betraying Valdemar. They all need to burn right along with the Black Kings. I don't see how peace will be possible with out the Haighlei King's death. One monarch for one monarch seems fair to me.

 

Great chapters!

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Sorry for butchering the name of the poor Haighlei, I admit I was too lazy to look it up.

I know the Haighlei only change every 20 years, it was more a general thought than an actual idea to solve the problem.

Seeing the amount of troups the Haighlei amassed, I can't help but feel less than optimistic they will care for elections much longer.

Great chapter.

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i'm not sure what to make of the direction this chapter took the story, it seems that you like throwing us curved balls (not that i have ever played baseball). I was so sure on the direction now i'm not sure anymore, guess i have to wait and see.

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On 02/04/2013 03:11 AM, Rebelghost85 said:
I haven't had a chance to review in the past few days so here's a big one. Forgive the word vomit.

 

I'm still mostly on team Bart but I could be converted to team Blake given the time. You've left us with so many possible romantic interests that its hard to keep track of everything. Dalen still needs to grow in order to have a full relationship but I think that the relational work he's going to have with Jadev will speed that growth along. Unfortunately for us, Dalen is going to be a bit too busy to make much progress on his love life because of his upcoming responsibilities. I'm looking forward to seeing him interact with his relatives. I'm sure they're all awesome.

 

How many people live in this world and what are the total populations of Haighlei and Valdemar? The army numbers are daunting. 10-20k against 200k? Ouch.

 

Back to Dalen, he's had a lot of character growth but it's good to see that his stubbornness and sense of duty are unchanged. He ran into that battle and almost died after using so much magic and ignoring orders from others to protect himself.

 

Finally some thoughts on future chapters. I can't wait for Dalen's next (maybe final?) confrontation with the Haighlei King's brother. Someone is going to have to die. I also want to see the Plebiscite leaders get the fate they deserve for betraying Valdemar. They all need to burn right along with the Black Kings. I don't see how peace will be possible with out the Haighlei King's death. One monarch for one monarch seems fair to me.

 

Great chapters!

Valdemar has a population of a couple million total - and growing rapidly. Karse (country to the southeast) is about the same. Rethwellan is actualy bigger (to the southwest). Hardorn on the eastern border is smaller in population although about the same landwise and is the weakest member of the Alliance. Iften to the East & North (above Hardorn) is...weird. It's population is human and non-human and numbers somewhere between Hardon and Valdemar. There are more nations to the south, below Karse and Rethwellan, all are smaller. The Shin'a'in live in a huge crater that was once the home of Urtho, the mage of silence. To the west of Valdemar is wilderness and a very big lake with more wilderness past that.
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