Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chapter 2 of the Chronicles of Granorda

Greetings, fellow bibliophiles!
Here is chapter 2 of Granordan history...By the way, the viewpoint changes to a different character at each chapter.
Chapter 2
Collin Elanessë
I am not entirely certain why this part of the chronicle was given to me to be written. I was the last of our small group to arrive in the Mines. Technically, the first and therefore the most qualified would be Avriel, but she is helping the others right now and could not be persuaded to write this chapter.
My name is Collin, and I am the son of a human and an elf from Drant. Our family was cast out of many social circles because we were neither fully human nor fully elf, therefore neither race would own us. It was an awkward existence for some time, and then I was framed for a murder and sent off to the Mines. There I met Curufinwë, Maratan, Amras, and Avriel. Our stories were surprisingly similar, almost as though we had all fallen afoul of some sinister plot. The one exception was time, Avriel explained. In what was then a marathon of words for her at the time, she said that she had been accused of Crimes against the State several times before she was fifteen, then she was framed for murder when she was eighteen. After her arrest and consequent deportation, Curufinwë was framed, then Amras, and finally myself.
“Apparently, I was the test for a mode of causing panic and keeping the true wrongdoers from the punishment meted out by the proper authorities. After the success from my little escapade, they tried it against you three and met the same amount of success. Why, then, becomes the main question.”
“Yes,” Amras agreed, “Such as, ‘why the border towns?’ Why would an anarchist group decide to attack the extreme territories? It makes more sense to attack the nerve centers of the nation, like the capital or a large trading hub. Why the coast and the Far South?”
We were all silent for a moment, trying to formulate a hypothesis that made sense. I personally thought that the anarchists wanted to create unrest in the territories in order to drain resources toward far-flung rebellions and away from Vrielorn. I was about to state my opinion when Curufinwë spoke up. “These aren’t anarchists.”
Everyone stared at him. Eventually, Amras asked, “How do you come to that conclusion?”
“I may be wrong,” he admitted, “It all depends on the mode of murder. What can you all tell me about the murders?”
We told him, and he nodded. It was the same method in each case. “The knife used in the murder in Banaj was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It was certainly more expensive-looking than anything that an anarchist could afford. The scrollwork on the blade was the kind that you would see from the master craftsmen in Icetae or Abdien. A nobleman would pay about fourteen hundred byzants or more just for such scrollwork to be engraved on the blade. If these are anarchists, they have backing from a source of large amounts of cash.”
“Do any nobles have reason to wish the overthrow of the current ruling order?” Avriel asked.
“Certainly none in the South,” I replied. “All of the Southern nobles are staunch supporters of Rundsvark. It must be either the North or the lords in Greandor.”
“Ah.” Avriel shifted uncomfortably. “Greandor would make sense. Rhi Ninvaar has been very aggressive lately, even to the point of annexing the area just north of The Mountains of Death. He has been asserting rights reserved only for a king, which he was not until he claimed independence. Since then, he has cast his eyes farther south towards an empire.
“The murder of high-ranking officials within the hierarchy on The Edge has to be some new form of attack against Granorda. Whether he is attempting to soften up the frontier lands in order to invade on multiple fronts or simply trying to sow discord within the system doesn’t matter. In any case, we fell afoul of traitorous agents of our enemy in the north. Now, the State gets free labor off of a misunderstanding.”
“Did you all come with weapons?” I asked. All of the others nodded slowly. I smiled slowly. “Why do we not just break out of our prison and warn the king? The only problem is the absurd number of guards and we don’t know where the weapons are kept.”
“It’s not the worst idea that I’ve ever heard,” Curufinwë muttered, “but it’s pretty darn close. How do you expect to get past the guards? These men are loaded for Minotaur and have the hearts of daëmons.”
“That is their greatest weakness,” asserted Amras. “Because they are so hard-hearted, they are far too involved in stopping minor quarrels with violence. If we could begin a fight in one of the chambers, then conceivably we could siphon guards away from the areas where we were being held. After we distract the guards, we could break through the barracks, find our weapons, and fight up to Vrielorn.”
“Fair enough,” Avriel said, “but we still have no idea where our weapons are held.”
“The guardroom. All of the weapons that are kept here at the Mines are kept in the guardroom,” I answered.
“Excellent,” Curufinwë declared. “Collin, Amras, you two are to create a diversionary quarrel between two of the hotheads in the West Chamber. Avriel and I will begin a fight in the Northwest Chamber. We’ll meet in the corridor next to the water supply.”
As a rule, I hate subterfuge. I always prefer a plan that is straightforward, where the good guys and the bad guys fight it out and no people outside the plan get hurt. This plan was the first time I broke my rule. By noon the same day our group formulated an escape plan, we were in the West Chamber, looking for our two marks. One was a murderer named Angrod, and the other an anarchist named Caranthir. The two hated each other with a vengeance. Also, both had considerable followings among the other prisoners. If these two came to blows, then nearly the entire occupancy of the Mines would be drawn into the altercation.
Amras and I had a plan. I would make Angrod think that Caranthir had grossly insulted him, and Amras would make Caranthir think that Angrod was out to kill him. If all went well, the two would come and try to kill each other. Then, if the guards were alert, they would come and try to break up the fight, thereby actually inflaming the fight to biblical proportions. I sauntered over toward where Angrod was chipping away at the rock face of the cave with a chisel and a large stone hammer. “Just to let you know,” I muttered in a low voice, “Caranthir called you a spineless lout whose only crime was that you were so ugly you frightened small children.”
Angrod had always considered himself devilishly handsome, so this stung his pride a great deal. “Did he noo,” He growled, a murderous gleam coming into his eye.
I nodded. “Speaking of Caranthir, here he comes now.”
Caranthir was indeed striding towards Angrod with pure hatred in his eyes. “You bone-crushing, hatemongering, stupid idiot! Did you really think that I wouldn’t hear about it eventually? Well, I’m here to inform you that you were wrong.” Almost lazily, Caranthir sent his fist into Angrod’s face. The murderer, already convinced that Caranthir needed killing, now was doubly so. He leapt at the shorter man, and they began to pummel each other. Amras and I dutifully spread the word that the two enemies had finally come to blows, and soon the entire chamber was a mass of struggling bodies. The guards subsequently came in to stop the fight, which brought even more prisoners into the area. This massive fight allowed us to slip away unnoticed to the water supply corridor that Curufinwë and Avriel were waiting in.
“Well?” Avriel asked as we entered the tunnel, “How did it go?”
“Everything went completely according to plan,” Amras confirmed. “Yours?”
“They took the bait perfectly,” Curufinwë reported. “There were actually two separate fights occurring by the time Avriel and I left.”
“Well,” Amras stated, “let’s not wait for the guards to restore order. We need to be out of here. Collin, can you take us to the guardroom?”
I bowed slightly. “Indeed. Right this way lasses and lad, let us go arm ourselves.”
There was something that some dead poet said once about mice and men and their schemes going awry. Well, we almost had a similar experience toward the end of our plan. Unbeknownst to us, the other guards were not in the barracks, as we had assumed, but housed in the guardroom. The barracks were used to hold levies from the outlying hamlets, and therefore were not dangerous. By going to the guardroom, we were trying to get through the most heavily guarded portion of the Mines. The nighttime air was filled with snores from the guardroom. Forsaking stealth, I shoved my shoulder into the door with a loud crack. The guards were surprised to see us and lightly armed after being awakened, so we had a fairly easy go at it. Avriel grabbed two soldiers and banged their heads together. Then, she stole their daggers and ripped into some of the others with reckless abandon. Amras went for a sword that one of Avriel’s victims dropped, and I picked up a spear. Curufinwë looked noticeably lost in this sort of mêlée fighting, so I grabbed another spear and thrust it into his hands. “Take this, stab and jab at anyone who tries to kill you, and don’t get killed.”
Curufinwë growled at me. “Like I didn’t know that much?”
Together, we made relatively short work of the guards. Armras was bleeding from a gash on her arm, Avriel had accidentally sliced her arm on a sword, and Curufinwë and I had various bruises, but beyond that, everyone was fine. Curufinwë found a bow and a skauf of arrows, and Avriel armed herself with more knives. Amras was almost inconsolable because we couldn’t find her sword, which was made by Eàrçandil the Old, so she made us all help her search for it. Eventually, it was found under one of the guards’ beds and we were off, disappearing into the inky blackness.

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