Dolthe 22, 5682---Fighting alongside the Queen of the Sea, the Great King did not know what to expect. She might provide the basis of a plan, but he found her too unpredictable. She would just as soon deviate from the plan as keep to it. The plan was to sail to the stone docks, and unload as many solders as possible in as short a time as they could. The royal navy would take the right, she the left, and the other pirates would guard the flanks and rear. They were almost to their destination, without any other ships between them and the docks, and he could see great masses of soldiers awaiting their arrival.
Commander Pyron walked over to the Great King. “What does she think she’s doing?” he asked. It was a good question. The Queen of the Sea’s flagship had all the oars in motion, its sails at full spread, and utter silence from its decks. “The way she’s going, she’ll reach the docks long before the rest of us.”
“Match her speed,” the Great King ordered.
“But my King,” Commander Pyron replied, “that would leave us sailing too fast to stop in time as we near the docks. That’s a collision course for sure!”
“So that’s her plan,” the Great King decided. “She put her life into this assault, and is willing to destroy her ship in the process.”
“Not that she has much left of that ship to destroy,” the Commander added. “She’ll lose the mast for certain, and probably a large portion of her bow, but her ship is already so rickety with repairs that she might not even notice.”
“Match her speed,” the Great King ordered again. “Clear our bow and pull back the forward rowers. Signal the two nearest ships of the royal navy, and make sure they do the same. The rest should maintain their current speed. I will not have it said the Great King was unwilling to provide his full support on this assault.”
“Yes, my king,” the Commander replied. “Still, I fail to see the benefit of crashing four ships into the docks.”
“Splinters,” the Great King told him. “She destroys the ship, but the splinters clear the dock. That makes it much easier to disembark from the ship than if they were trying to walk straight into the waiting spears.”
“I guess the idea might work,” the commander decided, “but it still goes against conventional military strategy. A ship is a valuable weapon of strategic importance; I advise against throwing it away.”
“You do what is needed to gain the upper hand,” the Great King said. “If throwing away a ship does that for me, then so be it. Give the orders I requested.”
Commander Pyron bowed. “Yes, my king.” He turned and hurried away.
As the speed of the ship increased, the Great King turned to one of his advisors. “Bring my sword and shield. I might walk into this with a large circle of guards, but I still need to appear ready to fight.” As the advisor hurried away, the Great King took one more sip of his wine, and tossed what remained from his goblet into the sea. He glanced at the Queen of the Sea’s ship. It seemed they were going to pass her on the way to the docks. He smiled mischievously. If she wanted to be remembered for being the first into this battle, he would steal from her that notoriety.
The docks were nearer and nearer. The advisor soon returned with the sword and shield, and helped the Great King into position.
“Only a few more minutes,” Commander Pyron soon called out. “Brace for collision.”
Everyone knelt down, and held tight to the deck fixtures, their shields placed in front of them to deflect incoming arrows. The soldiers standing on the dock backed away from their rapid approach, some of them turning to run. Moments later, the ship struck the dock. The bow splintered, sending pieces of lumber in all directions.
As soon as the ship’s forward momentum ceased, the Great King stood up. “Forward!” he shouted. “Take the docks, and leave this wreck to sink.” The first lines of soldiers began to advance with their spears across the ruined bow of the ship, placing boarding ramps over the gaps.
The Great King glanced at the Queen of the Sea’s ship again, just as it struck the dock nearby. The front of the ship crumpled against the stone, and the entire mast fell forward, tearing up the center of the ship. However, the falling mast also cleared the dock of soldiers, or at least trapped them under the large sail and rigging. Her women soon rushed from their places on the deck, and onto the dock. They had little choice. The ship was sinking too fast for them to disembark in an orderly fashion.
One of the guards tugged at the Great King. “Sire, we need to leave the ship,” he said.
The Great King turned his attention away from the Queen of the Sea, and back to his own ship. He could hear the gurgling of water rushing into the hold, and knew it too would soon sink. He followed the guards off the ship, and onto the dock. The fighting was fierce, but the soldiers of Irata were poorly trained to fight against his professional spearmen. Several more ships crashed into the docks nearby, and the other ships were not far behind.
The Great King noticed the Queen of the Sea standing on the dock, appearing serene as she gazed toward her intended throne while her subordinates fought around her. “To the Queen of the Sea,” the Great King ordered. “We’re supporting her. Don’t leave her alone.”
It took some hard fighting, but they eventually reached the Queen of the Sea. “What took you so long?” she asked.
The Great King grinned. “Considering the distance we came to catch up with you, we’ve made more headway than you.”
“And what of it?” the Queen of the Sea asked. “Until the rest of the ships finish landing, we’re badly outnumbered. We won’t be getting far very fast.”
“That is not a problem,” the Great King said, glancing back at Commander Pyron. “We brought extra spears. The enemy will not stand against a wall of those points.”
Several soldiers stepped forward, and set bundles of extra spears on the dock. “Take a spear, and form into a wedge,” the Commander ordered. We will drive through the midst of this enemy, and divide its army asunder.”
“You don’t give me and my subordinates orders,” the Queen of the Sea argued.
“This is hardly a time to get snippy,” the Great King replied. “If you think your swords can keep the enemy at bay, then don’t use the spears. If you want to keep the enemy swords at a safer distance, then by all means, use the spears.”
“And why did you not see fit to spread out such weapons prior to the battle?” the Queen of the Sea wondered. “Why wait until we’re hard-pressed on all sides?”
The Great King shrugged. “How was I to know you didn’t have spears in your armory? They’re standard issue for my soldiers.”
“Very well,” the Queen of the Sea agreed. She turned to Ila’Mun. “Issue the spears as you’re able. We’ll hold this ground while the rest of the ships dock, and then advance.”
After a tenuous wait with the enemy attacking from all sides, the rest of the ships disembarked their soldiers, and the army began to move forward from the docks. It was slow going, but the wedge formed by the Queen of the Sea and the Great King pushed farther than the flanks. Eventually the rest of their army joined the formation to form a giant wedge.
They fought their way to the throne before the large black wall that divided the docks from the city. Upon the throne sat the Overlord, a pompous man wearing a mask. As they approached, he stood up. “Welcome to Irata,” he said calmly. “What drives the Great King and this miscreant of a woman to bring an army against me?” The two armies slowly ceased their fighting, and retreated a few steps.
“It is the opinion of Atalan that the Overlord sitting on the throne of Irata no longer serves in the interest of Atalan,” the Great King replied. He thought the voice sounded familiar, but could not place it. “As such, the removal and replacement of the Overlord is our just and only recourse for this situation.”
“And who could replace me?” the Overlord snickered. “You already have a throne; so another would not do. Moreover, the thought that you might consider setting that false queen on a throne that she spent her life fighting is absurd. Acknowledge the facts. There is no one among you who can have this throne. Why take it from a man who can?”
“Remove your mask,” the Great King ordered. “Show me the face of the man who defies the authority of Atalan.”
“Would you remove the mask of a man disfigured?” the Overlord asked. “Would you remove what little shroud remains to keep others from running in fright? Would you leave me indecent and exposed for the world to scorn? I will not reveal my shame to my allies or my enemies.”
The Great King felt a tug at his cloak, and heard Terli’Dab whisper behind him. “The mask hides his origin. He is far from his brothers east of the Red Mountains.”
The Great King’s eyes widened with realization. “No man rightfully sitting on the throne of Irata fears to show his face before the Great King,” he said. “You are a curse to be hunted down and removed. I name you Dark Magician, enemy of Atalan and the world, friend of the Dark Lunari.”
“Don’t be absurd,” the Overlord laughed at the accusation, but his own soldiers backed away from him. “There hasn’t been a Dark Magician in this land in centuries.”
The Great King held up his sword. “Remove this usurper,” he ordered loudly.
For a moment, nobody moved. Then the Queen of the Sea lifted up her hand, and sent a bolt of lightning toward the man, surprising almost everyone. The Overlord seemed to deflect easily the lightning. Many of the soldiers from both armies ran or cowered in fear.
“Get the Great King out of here,” Terli’Dab hissed at his guards. She hurried past them, and joined the attack against the Dark Magician. Three other members of the Sisterhood of Jadela’Mar joined her.
The guards did not hasten away with the Great King, but they did push him to the ground, and formed a protective barrier with their shields. He could not see what took place, but it soon ended. When the Great King managed look up from beneath his guards, he saw the smoldering remains of the Dark Magician impaled by a spear, and laying on the ground beside the throne.
He also noticed the three women from the Sisterhood of Jadela’Mar standing suspiciously ready to attack the Queen of the Sea. “Stand down,” he ordered them. He looked at her. “The throne is yours. Sit on it. Later I will expect answers about what just happened.”
She nodded, and stepped up to the throne. She walked around it, letting her hand slide over its smooth surfaces, before finally sitting down. “The Queen of the Sea now sits in Irata,” she announced. A cheer spread through the assembled armies, although most of it was from the Queen of the Sea’s sailors.
She clapped her hands for silence. “Tend the wounded, and clean up the dead,” she ordered, “and tell the city behind this wall they serve a new Overlord.” Many of the soldiers began to do as ordered.
The Great King stood up, helped by his guards, and stepped toward the throne. “As the official representative of Atalan, it is my honor to congratulate your ascension to the throne, and assure you that Atalan will quickly provide a tally of back-tribute required of Irata, to be remunerated to Atalan immediately from your coffers.”
The Queen of the Sea raised her eyebrows. “Back-tribute?” she wondered. “I think not. The new throne of Irata disavows itself of all debts incurred by the previous governing authority. Any parties seeking compensation can find it there.” She pointed at the dead Dark Magician.
The Great King chuckled. “You will make a fine Overlord,” he decided. “I wish you a long and prosperous reign.” He turned to face the soldiers who still stood near the throne. “Atalan supports the Queen of the Sea as the new Overlord in Irata. May everyone within her domain obey her commands as if they came from me.”
“That means clean up the mess left by this battle,” she added, shooing away the soldiers who remained nearby.
Once the soldiers were gone, Terli’Dab stepped toward the Queen of the Sea. “Where did you learn to use the powers of the Sisterhood of Jadela’Mar?” she asked.
“Is it wrong to do what I can simply because I lack your formal training?” the Queen of the Sea replied. “Perhaps I should ask the same of you who also uses the power of the Dark Magicians.”
“It is a valid question, Ivee’Lyn,” the Great King said, and I want an answer. “Who taught you to do that?”
“Does it matter?” the Queen of the Sea asked. “I only learned it was possible last year.”
“Tora’Sor!” Terli’Dab groaned. “That woman would be the ruin of the Sisterhood of Jadela’Mar if we didn’t keep her under control.”
The Queen of the Sea shrugged. “Meeting Tora’Sor was interesting, but hardly the source of my learning. You can ask and speculate, but take no offense if I choose to keep secrets.”
“We know of your mother,” one of the members of the Sisterhood of Jadela’Mar said, “but who was your father?”
“Hush,” Terli’Dab told the woman. “She chooses to keep that secret.” Terli’Dab knew the truth, but very few others did. She looked at the Queen of the Sea. “Your secrets are yours to keep. The Sisterhood of Jadela’Mar will not contest your ascension to the throne of Irata, but if you ever produce a male heir and seek the throne of Atalan, you will only find opposition from us.”
“You’ve no need to worry about that,” the Queen of the Sea told her. “I am content where I am, and have no children.”