With the sudden death of every prince among their ranks, the Scoubarrran Third Regiment retreated to their base camp to consult about what had happened. Yet there they found no living princes either, dead at approximately the same times. Since they held a defensible location the sub-colonel took command and ordered the men to fortify their position. It was inexcusable to just give up on the ground they had gained. Meanwhile, he sent messengers at the greatest speed into Testror to receive guidance.
There were no contingencies in place for what should be done if every prince died. There were clear lines of command for which prince would take over if one died, of course, but all of them? At the same exact moment? Normally that would have come with the devastation of the armies and thus little thought would be necessary. But few beyond the princes died. So they waited.
The coming days and weeks painted a grim picture of the situation as every report that came in indicated not a single surviving prince. Any more than that was speculation. Was the Mage-King really dead as well? It seemed impossible. Some said he still lived, but the disruption was enormous regardless. When a supply convoy failed to arrive and armies from Dalgare arrived with mages still among them, the sub-colonel decided that retreat was proper.
In Testror nothing was more clear… except that nobody was in control. He considered the situation. He was still in command of the Scoubarran Third Regiment. If the princes and Mage-King were all dead, the best he could do would be to leverage that. If they weren’t, stabilizing the region would still look good. Securing the border would be important as well, in case anyone thought to attack while things were chaotic. Surely Dalgare would like to expand its own borders, and those in the alliance might help them.
Throughout the alliance, word of the Mage-King’s death and the death of the princes was slowed as much as possible. The previous attempt on the Mage-King’s life had appeared successful, and they didn’t want more false hope. However, the many eyewitness accounts of the deaths of princes were incontrovertible, and just because the information spread ‘more slowly’ didn’t mean that it wasn’t throughout every country within a few weeks. And beyond that point they were able to confirm that if somehow the Mage-King survived, every known prince was dead. Those at Secure Vantage and in the mage’s alliance were more certain that every bloodline relative of the Mage-King was dead. Even if they hadn’t witnessed every death with their own eyes, in a way some of them had been closer than that.
Sarah and Douglas had been at the center of the spell, holding things together- they witnessed some of the results through their connections. They felt the deaths. On a larger scale, most of those capable of magic felt it. The ripples of power had echoed across the continent with unmistakable power- some simply didn’t know what it meant at the time. The only uncertainty was if the Mage-King himself had perished. Unlike others, news came to them after a week. Some of the Sisters in Aysgarth had chosen to protect themselves from the magic rather than contribute to it. Yet even they were unable to use further magic for more than a few days, the backlash of powerful magic nearly burning them out.
The eyewitnesses of the Mage-King’s death were inconsistent. Some said he was struck by lightning from the sky, some said he exploded, some said he threw himself from the highest balcony of the palace. It wasn’t clear if any of them were wrong in their accounts. There was quite a distance to the castle from where most people could be watching- in the entire city only a few were looking in the direction of the palace at the proper moment.
The most important detail, however, was that the palace itself split and cracked during the event. The majority of it continued to stand, but the numerous wards and runes throughout the palace found themselves broken and burned out, with some walls collapsing into hallways and contributing to a greater sense of chaos. With concerns about something happening with the Mage-King just months before tensions were already high in the capital- and when he didn’t appear within a few days to assuage worries, nobody knew what to do. Worried that it might be some sort of strange trick, nobody did anything for another week. Those with plans to take over the country in any way would have been princes- and they were dead. Ambitious merchants only considered the thought in their dreams… but as time dragged on those with military or financial power saw an opportunity.
The city didn’t suddenly erupt into chaos, but soldiers roamed the streets. Their numbers were made up of mercenaries and former military, acting under command of lower ranking officers or those who promised to pay them. The difference between them was more a matter of equipment rather than how they operated. The main target of control was the palace, but some enterprising souls aimed for the Library. It wasn’t well known that there was a passage through the Library to Vospia, but the rumors were there and some had better reason to believe them. Either way, seizing great stores of magical knowledge in a former magocracy was a sensible goal. Yet no one group was able to gain control.
Once more Lucy found herself surrounded by soldiers. She had hoped that the wars would be over already with everything that had happened. That was mostly true. Scoubar as a single giant entity was no more. It was currently in the process of breaking up into smaller pieces. Dalgare and Othius were currently returning to a state of peace, though they were hardly the same countries as they were several decades before. Dalgare had passed into and out of Scoubarran hands while Othius had been forced to accept the presence of fey within their borders and the use of magic. Not everyone was happy about it, but while the hatred of magic there had been old, that also made it easier to give up. Nobody had fresh memories of what drove the fey into hiding to begin with, except some of the longer-lived fey themselves. Yet most of those had died due to refusing to seek help from the humans.
Bryria apparently hadn’t been done, though. After all, this was a prime opportunity. Vospia was just there for the taking! Bountiful land and abundant magical knowledge and resources, just waiting to be snatched up. Except for the remaining Scoubarran soldiers and of course Fotharia, Eshela, and Yaspal thought they might like some of the territory as well.
Even Lucy couldn’t entirely disagree with the idea that just leaving Vospia alone was a bad idea. If Scoubar’s remnants weren’t driven out, they could certainly cause trouble in the future. The part she disagreed with was that Bryria would be keeping the territory they ‘freed’. Though she supposed it made little difference to the common folk. Being ruled by magely nobility or the typical kind was of little consequence to them either way. Not having a choice was a problem, but everyone spoke Bryrian already.
She had to admit it was a bit tempting to take over the Endless Library. More than a bit. Having never been there herself she could only go on the descriptions of others, but it contained much more than the Bryrian Grand Library with its sections of empty shelves. Yet there was danger as well- as already shown by the Scoubarran invasion of Vospia. Even if Scoubar itself was no threat… who could say nothing else was either? Perhaps Douglas had the right idea about cutting off a section of the Library and just settling with that.
Douglas looked at the rolls of cloth in front of him. They were nice. High quality, durable material. Thick enough to take stitching a bit of extra into them without issue. Once he cut them into the right pieces they would be stitched together to make a nice series of bags. Then enchanted with magic, of course. Storage bags were good. They never hurt anybody. They just held things.
Storage bags didn’t burn the magic out of people. They didn’t make people explode from the inside or the outside. They didn’t kill innocent women who were unable to properly keep up a complicated spell to protect themselves. They didn’t kill children of those who had escaped from Scoubar, unaware of what was currently happening. They didn’t have to feel all of it as it happened. They didn’t have to feel anything.
That was why he liked them. They were nice. They kept his hands busy and his mind occupied. Measure and cut and stitch and sew inscribed runes into the material with expensive threads. The only actual magic he had to do was to activate them. That was something he was able to do, after a few weeks. He could probably do more magic. Bigger magic. But he didn’t want to. Sarah wanted to make sure women who used magic could give birth without dying. Douglas wished he could help with that, but he really couldn’t. So he made magic bags. Nice bags. Stylish bags. He made non-magical versions too, to keep himself occupied. They were much cheaper, of course, and likewise didn’t sell for as much- but it did take some special materials to properly sew in the runes.
Douglas nodded to himself. Yes, this was good magic. Magic bags and practical spells that cleaned things and made the world a better place. Not fireballs and drowning people or crumbling buildings or ripping magic out of them or exploiting their bloodline to kill everyone. None of that. Just nice, simple spatial magic. People could put things in and take things out. It didn’t get more complicated than that. Though he did think of the puzzle. Puzzles were good. Maybe he would make them too, though he might need help with the materials side of things. Nobody wanted puzzles made out of cloth.
Douglas almost smiled as he let himself work. The view from the top of the mountain was nice. He didn’t have to think about the wards they had to keep themselves safe, nor the other more extreme measures. He could just work and sell and make people happy. Yes, that was what magic should be about. He hoped that other people could learn that too.