Legends of Cobalt

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Plots and Plans

“Thees weell be diffeecult no matter how many allies we have.” Fayaad unrolled a gridded map of Spinel castle and the surrounding grounds.

Aramil sharpened a knife by the fireplace. “The keep is always crawling with White Guardsman and that’s on the one day a year when the gates are open.

Althaea said, “We can sneak in. We’ve done it before.”

Katsu shook his head. “It won’t work again. Master Orryn and I found one way in, but they blocked it up after they killed him.”

“Besides,” Bucephalus added, “Not all of us are as quiet as a pixies fart.”

“Why do we not attack the castle head-on?” Wyanet pointed to a drawbridge on the castle. “With some help, Bucephalus and I could pull that down and we rush in.”

“You want to storm a castle keep,” Aramil buried his knife in the floorboards with a well-practised motion. “With only nine warriors.” He took several intentional strides toward Wyanet. “Against an unknown number of hostile individuals and no clear exit.” Aramil put both hands on Wyanet’s shoulders. “That’s the kind of reckless plan I can get behind!”

“Despite Aramil’s enthusiasm, a frontal assault has too many variables to be anything but mass suicide.” Katsu sank into a chair.

Wyanet braced herself on the table opposite Katsu. “What is wrong with my plan?”

“Many things,” Katsu rubbed his temple. “For starters the aforementioned unknown hostiles. Second, the iron portcullis behind the drawbridge. Third, we wouldn’t be able to fight for long. We’re assassins, not soldiers like you and the priest.”

“Then we will start a rebellion.” Wyanet slammed her fist on the table. “If the people suffer as much as you claim, they will fight beside us.”

“How would we feed and equip a rebellion?” Katsu mirrored Wyanet’s posture. “Not to mention training a rebellion. Have you ever seen what happens when a mob tries to fight disciplined soldiers?”

“We can train them.”

“Enough,” Serephina snapped from the corner. “We are not enemies.”

Katsu fell back into his chair and Wyanet took a step back from the table.

“If we wanted to try forming a rebellion,” Phebes interjected, “How hard would it be? We’ve done it before and won.”

Katsu remarked, “Not well enough to matter.”

I studied the map. “It would take time we don’t have. William is at most five days behind us.”

“The White Guard are trained like the Draconic Legions,” Althaea added. “With what we have, any rebellion we start would be like throwing a jellyfish at a kraken.”

“The White Guard is only one obstacle.” Serephina cut in, “We also face a vampire lord. How do you intend to beat them?”

“Percy will…” Phebes started.

Bucephalus interrupted, “We have a way around that. Don’t worry about the details.”

Aramil wagged a finger. “It’s not nice to keep secrets from friends.”

“Especially when those secrets could kill your friends,” Althaea added.

“How can we weaken the White Guard?” I asked, “Is there another person or place we could attack and draw them out first?”

Serephina slid from her chair and pulled a stack of papers bound in twine from a shelf. She sighed and set the papers on the table. “I fear our enemy is more hydra than serpent.”

Wyanet unbound the papers and lifted the top sheet. “Who is Sypax Masinissa?”

“Sypax Masinissa is Sofka’s principal advisor and archivist. He’s a lizardfolk shaman who fled The Cradle after Drako and the Serpent-folk went to war. Masinissa is the one who closed the ports.”

“Why close the ports of a starving city?” Phebes read over Wyanet’s shoulder.

“He claimed sheeps brought the blight,” Fayaad explained.

“The White Guard will protect this man?” Bucephalus rounded the table to see the dossier.

“They already do.” Althaea grabbed a leather map case from the mantle. “Masinissa is one of the two advisors who don’t live in the landing district.” She rolled out a map of Spinel and its various wards. Althaea pointed at a section near the harbour labelled ‘Dawnsky Wharf’. “Masinissa lives here in a light tower house overlooking the merchant docks.”

Phebes tugged at the map to get a better look. “Where are we?”

“We’re here in Trader’s Alley.” Althaea moved her finger on the map.

‘You said there are two people who do not live near the Duke.” Wyanet asked, “Where does the other one live?”

“They’re in the Iron Cloister.” Althaea stood up and crossed her arms.

“Can we attack them both?” Wyanet leaned over the map looking for the ward. “Spread the White Guard even more.”

“That’s not a good idea,” Fayaad replied.

“The Iron Cloister is a fortress.” Aramil elbowed Fayaad and his sister out of the way and traced the outline of the district. “It’s the barracks, armoury, training ground and storehouse of Sofka’s standing army. The entire district is separated from the city by a separate defensive wall. The White Guard never goes there because it is better defended than the palace keep.”

“Even if we could get into the Iron Cloister,” Katsu stated. “We can’t assassinate someone we’ve never seen.”

Bucephalus snorted, “How do you not know what a politician for your city looks like?”

“No one has seen the true face or heard the true name of the War-minister,” Serephina interrupted. “The people of Spinel call them Ironhelm because they never remove their great helm. Ironhelm doesn’t leave the cloister, but when they do, they terrify all who witness them.”

Aramil pulled his knife out of the floor and slid it into his belt. “If you want to live, avoid Ironhelm and the cloister. Let your friends in the army you allege is coming deal with them.”

“It’s settled then.” Katsu crossed his arms and made eye contact with Serephina. “Tonight, I’ll go with two of my brothers and assassinate Sypax Masinissa. Tomorrow, we’ll combine our strength and assassinate Sofka and the rest of his house.”

“That will not work,” Wyanet replied.

“What’s wrong with it? It’s basically your plan.”

Serephina smiled. “Think it through again, Katsu. What is our goal in attacking Masinissa?”

Katsu thought for a moment and looked at the map again. “To pull some of the guards away from Sofka and his keep.” A torch blazed behind Katsu’s eyes. “New plan. Tonight we’ll raid Masinissa’s tower house. Once we do enough damage and spook Masinissa, we’ll pull back and regroup here.”

I stood up beside the table. “I’m going with you.”

“No,” Fayaad blurted out. “You don’t know our ways.”

“We’re assassin’s, not babysitters.” Aramil started for the stairs. “You’ll get in the way and slow us down.”

“I’ve trained for more than half my life to be able to manipulate the shadows around me,” I protested. “I’m just as skilled as the rest of you.”

Serephina returned to her chair and stroked her chin. “Katsu, Percy will join your raiding mission. If he trained in the way he claims, you might learn something from one another.”

Katsu grinned, “Try to keep up.”

The story will continue, October 1st,  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

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