Mastery

This is a fantasy story I'm working on. It's a bit hard to explain so just give it a go and see what you make of it.

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7. Chapter Six

Chapter six

Dathan had killed one of Aluna's private guard. The other four had escaped. Soon Aluna would know everything. Decisions had to be made. A meeting was called, late that same night. Every warrior gathered in the hall. It was time to redraw the battlefield, the sides had changed, allegiances had shifted, it seemed, amongst certain soldiers.

This whole affair could be quickly remedied, things could go back to normal. First the leaders sought to discover if this is what their men (and woman) wanted. If the overall feeling was of loyalty to Aluna, they could tell her the problems had been caused by a minority who'd now been dealt with and go on exactly as before. But this did not seem likely. Gradually the attitude had begun to change. This was the point at which the leaders realised it was no longer clear who they were actually fighting.

Despite the grudges and complaints starting to surface, they had always been Aluna's guard. For years they'd been fighting of the fire-breathers, the enemy. Indeed, many of their friends had been killed by their own hands. Here they were deceiving their mistress Aluna, sheltering not any fire-breather but Gaeldum himself. Many of the men had been friendly towards Gaeldum. Aluna doubted them, if she trusted her men, she would have had no need to send her spies.

Gaeldum stormed in a few minutes after the leaders of the camp had opened the meeting. His eyes were glowing a brighter red than usual, he looked dangerous. Each stride came long and powerful. It was an intimidating sight. Mid-sentence, the speaker stopped abruptly, the entire crowd turned all at once. The one figure filled the room, as he walked he seemed to cut the room in half. Once he'd crossed the room he stationed himself on a raised platform, were the music was often played in the evening.

"Listen, Aluna is a ruthless woman, you do not have time for even a seconds indecision. Now, since we don't have time for you to waste the evening deciding what is to be done, I shall tell you what you must do. There is an option you have not considered, which, given time, you'd have thought of for yourselves and would have seen that it is the only option. I'm saving you the time. Do not choose between me and Aluna, we stand for the same thing. Our day is over, neither side is any better than the other. Join the new movement. This is no mere power struggle, this is a revolution. Support your own champion, one whom you all love dearly. I propose we make Morella Queen of Caleddrielos. I do not take credit for the idea. It was she who saw the need for a ruler of men separate from the rulers of the elements." At this Morella stood up and shouted out.

"Not me. I didn't mean myself." Gaeldum looked at her. He glanced up and down, narrowing his eyes thoughtfully.

"Not you? Who else? The rest of them sit and grumble about Aluna while you stood up to take action. This alternative is your solution, I expected you to be the sort who has to see a dream through to completion. Besides, you are in an ideal position. You unite two old enemies. My men admire you, these men adore you, they will all follow under your banner. Time is short. Discussion over. Morella you get one vote but be prepared, I think this will be a clear cut decision. The details can be arranged between ourselves as we go, the question is, will you support Morella, is she you Queen?" The response was delayed. All the men were still trying to understand. This would be no minor change. There'd be consequences. Most of them liked the idea but were unsure of the reality. It seemed unlikely to work. Impossible even. Unsure though they were, they didn't want to protest as they enjoyed the fantasy. They were all extremely fond of Morella. Completely opposite to Aluna, she was warm, affectionate and passionate. Aluna grew into less and less of a person. Soon she'd have no emotion at all. Maybe that would be equally dangerous as this insane plan. Weighing this new plan up silently, the men would have remained silent a long time were they not interrupted by Dathan. He stood boldly, demanding their attention.

Morella, you are my Queen. I swear I will continue to give you my absolute loyalty until I die in you service." Before the entire crowd he dropped down to his knee and bowed his head in respect to this girl, younger and far more inexperienced than he. Finian still did nothing, it was too late to compete with either Dathan or Gaeldum. Whatever he did now would only seem like a half-hearted attempt to catch up.

Lately his feelings for her had deepened, making it harder for him to give her up than he expected when the casual understanding was agreed. There was no time to change the arrangement, with her finally having her chance at happiness, unaware of this change. Morella had real worries now, she'd outgrown him and had to move on. Letting her leave demonstrated his love better than any other gesture he'd ever made, it was a shame he'd learnt unselfish, unalterable love too late. There was no nobody else to teach him.

"Morella, take command, we answer to you. Take power for we'll tolerate no other. We serve Aluna no longer. You must lead, for you and only you will be followed. To the end of the world, not that we despair already, the world is a strong fortress, it will survive. No, we bid farewell only to the world as we now know it, for that world, we have confidence, will crumble in your fists. From this pure dust we will shape a new reality." This was their first in command, Jedrek. Sitting down, he nodded at Aurik. Although officially Jadrek had authority to pass decisions without going through the other leaders in a crisis situation, Aurik was known to be a wise, fair warrior. Without consulting him, Jedrek would not be able to secure support. Aurik's opinions were held in the highest respect.

"We must be careful not to underestimate Aluna, she'd make a dangerous enemy. You seem to have forgotten that Lady Aluna is the most powerful being on Caleddrielos. No individual can defeat her, in all likelihood, no army we could ever muster could defeat her. Her support is strong indeed. I am not saying that we should not break from her side, I only feel we need to give this idea deeper consideration. Even if there is a small chance of victory, the fighting would be intense. If you are going to support this endeavour, you must have full faith in the cause. There will be huge sacrifice before there can be any success. Still, you must act as your conscience dictates. Whatever you believe is right you must do, only give it serious thought that you do not come to regret your choice. You must make this decision for yourselves, not under pressure or obligation for it is your life that may be sacrificed. Are you prepared to die for this cause? For a dream that may or may not become some sort of reality?" Discussion went on all through the night until all arguments had been put forth clearly, each factor weighed up and balanced.

All the men agreed, in theory, this was the best option. It was fear that caused the rift. There would be no middle ground. Anyone was free to go back to Aluna and have no part in their rebellion. Once they'd committed however, they were expected to stay. There could be no middle ground. Aurik was right, success was not certain. By the next morning, Morella couldn't stand the noise any longer so took Gaeldum outside with her for a change of scenery to refocus her mind. She was one of the majority exhausted from being wide awake all night.

Together they strolled slowly, hand in hand. Knowing the men had to make up their own minds, that there was no more to be done, Morella was calm. Gaeldum, on the other hand, was agitated. He kept on sighing and twitching. Morella could feel the tension running through his body. She stepped in front, turning to face him. Letting go of his hand, she ran her hands down over his arms.

"Those cowards, they all know what is right yet they hold back from taking a stand. A man should never hesitate to take action for no better reason than fear. A clear conscience dissolves the fear, for it is better to die knowing you are doing good than to live on in guilt."

"Forgive them, they are not so brave as you."

"It is not about bravery. Put your principles first and then you will always do whatever it is you have to do. You follow your conscience instinctively, there is no decision if you have already determined always to do the right thing no matter how difficult. The less you think, the less you fear. It is not about bravery, it is about determination."

Though she admired him for his strong beliefs, she didn't agree entirely. People always talk about good and evil, right and wrong, black and white. In her experience there was no such thing as "evil" people. Sometimes people did bad things. Some worse than others. Usually there was a reason, no one is born wicked, there is always some reason for wickedness. It's not something that you can be, it's something you can act on.

"There is no such thing as good against evil. Not on this world, only the conflict between ignorance and understanding. A battle between good and evil would be simple, we only ever have to choose between evils. It is about being able to perceive those lesser from those greater. And to be able to distinguish the good in a bad situation."

"Personally, I think your pure goodness. I certainly wouldn't call you the lesser of two evils."

"Ah, but that is different. You are in love, you're allowed to be a little deluded." Morella smiled up at him. "By the way, I was going to thank you for taking me seriously," she said, already grabbing hold of his face. She managed to bring her face close to his but couldn't quite touch him. It felt too bold, Gaeldum was the only man to ever intimidate her, she felt like she needed some sort of permission before going straight in for the kiss.

" You always see things to completion, so now you've started, I'm afraid you have to kiss me. I would finish off for you but you have a standard to uphold. Go on." This was more than enough encouragement.

She closed up the gap, it felt unfamiliar to be taking the lead. In all other areas, Morella would fearlessly go out and get whatever she wanted. Romantically it was different. She wasn't used to being so assertive.

"I love you."

She hadn't actually meant to say that. It fell out her mouth, she hadn't even realised she'd thought it untill she'd already said it. "I didn't mean to say that. It's true, now you know there's no point in me trying to take it back. So know that I love you but understand that I'm still with Finian and nothing can happen between us until I've spoken to him. It's not fair we keep going behind his back like this. Let me end it all with him so that when I am with you, I can be with you completely. I would willingly give you all of me but it is not mine to give, not yet. When Finian releases me, my heart is yours." They returned to the hall before anything else could accidentally happen.

"It seems to me, it's not just Finian who has a piece of your heart. I never asked for all of it, however if you offer me your compete heart, I believe some still belongs to Dathan. I am far more concerned by Dathan, he will not give you up so easily." She wanted to deny it, to tell him her and Dathan had been a long time ago. Then all she could think about was that kiss.

Long hours of deep discussion had at last reached a solid conclusion. Gaeldum's passionate speeches trampled down any fear. He managed to inspire the men, to make them see his dream and to believe in it. By the time the dusk set in it was only minor details left to be agreed. These were put off until the next day as all the men were weary from being up all night and then through the following day.

However, some preparations could not be put off. As soon as Aluna's spies reached her, she'd send out an army for them. Surprisingly, it was Morella herself who was most hesitant to believe in the dream.  Her instincts, through habit trained on survival, made her want to run. All her senses were registering danger, she was strong but surely this mission would find her breaking point. She’d made herself strong; still, she’d never pushed herself that far. Once she’d committed herself to this mad, impossible endeavour, she’d have to fully it through completely. However far it went, she’d have to go.
 Morella dutifully assumed her new position as leader. Only she would be obeyed by both fire-breather and the border warriors. The only problem was, she was relying on Gaeldum for the plan. Her men were not so trusting, she had to convince them to follow a plan she didn’t even like. To her it seemed too bold, an outrageous stand which would require so much sacrifice for what? They couldn’t seriously hope to win; this was about an ideal not a reality.
 Morella quickly set to preparing for the coming battle. They were geared for the wrong war, now the battlefront had been drawn anew. Barricade the walls, double the guard, prepare all weapons, pile supplies in the hall, her orders came without let up. Yet again, Gaeldum made the two hour trek over the marshlands back to his own territory.

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