Greetings and salutations, faithful reader! Welcome back to another entry in the Left of Midnight novel! Here, we have the start of section three of Left of Midnight aptly called ‘Left of Midnight’ (whereas the first two sections are ‘Survival of the Fittest’ and ‘Prisoners of Wrath’). I don’t know currently how many micro-chapters will be in this section (I, uhm, am actually still working on finishing the novel so by the time this pops up as a post, I hope to have the rest of it finished. But, we’ll see…)
Alright, I hope you’re enjoying this book and I appreciate your continuing to come back and read my work. I do try to let my own work speak for itself rather than suffocating it with too many words and descriptions about it. So, I hope I’ve been successful in that fashion. Anyhow, let’s not dawdle any longer. Please enjoy the first few micro-chapters of section three:
LATE JULY 1945
FAREDIIN FEDERATION COUNCIL CHAMBER
THE COUNCIL SAT around the horse shoe shaped council table in a near silence. It’d been two days since Adjudicant Er’ra Zel’s report on Shoenden being in lock down and they’d yet to hear word from Prefect Nindemus himself on just why he’d taken it upon himself to isolate one the major hubs of Farediin.
All of the other reports were unnerving as well. The Halik Peoples Republic had forged an alliance with Shoenden and gone into lockdown as well. Either by force or convincing, nobody on the council could say. Only that the mindian councilor had stopped showing up for the sessions and all other communications with the Mindian Primacy had been cut off. The city-state of the tydons, Barrus, was in defensive mode setting up weapons of war along every corridor leading into their territory. Something the council had desperately been trying to argue against, to little avail. Which left the Hy’lian Confederation and Farediin Republic Prime to be the only two city-states not actively engaged in some sort of aggressive display.
Regent Sendima leaned forward and placed his head in his hands, his elbows on the table before him, and let loose a sigh. There was a burning deep in his chest and he knew he’d have to take his medication soon. Matters of state weren’t making his acid reflux any better.
“Look,” Sendima started, “we can’t keep at each other’s throats like this. This action your people are taking are only going to inflame tensions and—”
“It’s the general who is causing the tensions, Regent!” Councilor Chronda arched her back and pointed a long, lithe finger at Sendima. “If not for the actions of the Cos Curan, Beria, we’d be forced into servitude of Nindemus as well!”
“Prefect Nindemus is no general anymore, councilor,” the daninite councilor, Umiberege, spoke in her harsh tongue. “Even so, the Prefect’s rash actions do not represent the majority of Farediin. We cannot presume that he has coerced the mindians into joining his consortium. It’s very well possible they’d already been in talks over growing their territories. I recall Councilor Alno confiding in me just a few weeks ago over a matter of great urgency to the Primacy. Something involving a mining operation that inadvertently ran into Shoenden borders.”
“Leave it to a daninite to take a mindian’s side in matters! You always were their preferred knee droppers! Literal toads for their pleasure! Perhaps that’s why so many of your kind dwell within the Primacy’s reaches!”
“You’ll take those words back now, Chronda!” Councilor Umiberege made to stand and Sendima lifted a hand, his sigh growing deeper.
“Ladies, please. This is getting us nowhere.”
A snicker came from Councilor Whetion, an average sized man with aquatic features, a flat nose, and skin colored greens and whites. Folds of flesh covered his pate like flat hair running down towards his neck where it became flushed with his shoulder blades. His dark green robes hung off his shoulders and ran down below the table. He leaned deeper into his chair, his right hand resting comfortably on the table top before him.
“You use the term ‘ladies’ so loosely, regent,” he said with a smile.
Both Umiberege and Chronda affixed him with dark stares. Umiberege bared her pointed teeth in a vicious grin of her own. “You always did know how to put that webbed foot of yours into your mouth.”
“You assume that I’m embarrassed by my jest, councilor.”
“Okay. Order, please,” Sendima growled and leaned back into his own chair. “We have to figure out the best way to address this situation and bring Shoenden as well as Regent Nindemus back to the bargaining table.”
“Surely, you jest?” Councilor Whetion questioned, his eyes narrowed to slits and his tone more serious as he remained in his reclined position. “There will be no more bargaining. No more diplomacy. Nindemus has made his case and it’s been ignored. How often has he sued for a place for the Cre’Nomanor on the council only to be rebuked? Don’t get me wrong, those scaly bastards have no rights to be seated here. Yet, that grievance alone is what’s led to this ‘situation’, as you put it. Nindemus means to take Farediin for himself.”
“Preposterous!” Sendima grumbled and placed both of his hands on the table. He was about to say more when Councilor Suto of the Diliron Hegemony, who had no city-state of their own and relied mostly on the assistance of the other species in Farediin, cleared his throat and folded his own delicate hands before himself on the table.
“I have to concur with Councilor Whetion’s assessment, regent,” the fair faced man let a small smile break his youthful countenance. He had always reminded Sendima of one of the human’s elves. A myth from fairy tales. Even complete with pointed ears and a near pure white for hair. Streaks of magenta ran here and there through his own. “I don’t believe Prefect Nindemus is looking for peace. The mindians despise him and all of his kind. They would never willingly join with him or Shoenden. There’s just too much bad blood between them. As such, the only conclusion to be drawn here is that the Prefect invaded the Halik People’s Republic and captured the Mindian Primacy for himself. Which implies, he’ll be coming here soon enough. It might behoove us all to double down on our defenses before we cease to have the opportunity to do so.”
Sendima frowned. “Councilor Er’ra Zel will figure out a means to bring him back to the table.”
Councilor Umiberege shook her head. “You put too much on the shoulders of the Constable Prime, Sendima. She’s just one woman. Just one woman. And Nindemus is a murderous son of a bitch.”
Silence reigned once more and this time Sendima could only stare down the table at Umiberege. The other councilors had their own gazes to the table deep in thought and looking less than hopeful.
THE DEPTHS OF FAREDIIN
CORRIDORS REVERBERATED WITH the clunking sounds of an ancient doorway opening. The door was at the head of an old stone hall that let out into a small pavilion, now full of detritus and wandering vines reaching for the stone ceiling a dozen feet up overhead. The door slid upwards into the ceiling as if a trap letting into a tomb. Loose rock pebbled down and skittered across the floor. Years old mud that had turned brittle and dusty, wafted into the air forming a muddy mist flowing out and away from the air blowing out of the old corridor the door had been hiding. The light from behind that door beamed out into the pavilion showing a great room a hundred feet across and sixty feet wide.
Prush’e marched out of this opening and into this pavilion, that looked unused for the better part of the last century, and hurried into the center of the room. Her eyes took in the scene. Where once there might have been vendors and booths for various festivities, now only stood a decrepit stone chamber full of debris, dirty floors, vine covered walls, and an old stairwell leading up towards Farediin proper to the far side. A bluish light there cascaded down the stairs. That along with the yellow light from the corridor she’d just exited were all that lit the ancient place.
“Congratulations. You’re now home, adjutant,” one of the armed Cre’namonar spoke, the chuckle deep in his throat. “I’m sure Kendle here would be happy to escort you all the way back and up.”
Kendle Bryinn walked towards Prush’e and stopped at the words. He turned towards Adjutant Inine and scowled, what passed for a beak on his youthful face turned down in almost a parody of a bird of prey. “Say all that nonsense that you wish, Jint. All Master Nindemus wished was for that human to be brought to him. Prush’e was only trying to keep him safe. And you too, now that I think about it.”
“What are you rambling about?” Inine shook his head, the rifle in his arms resting comfortably over his right forearm. “We’re adjutants. Our job is to serve the Master. Not question him. We were never in danger.”
“That man would have fought us all if not for her!”
“And? I welcome a good fight!” Inine laughed.
“Enough of this prattle,” the adjutant next to Inine grumbled. His name was Horrin Crake and Prush’e thought he was one of the more pleasant Cre’Namonar. Until now, anyhow. “You two, get to walking. We’ll seal this exit. You can sort out your lives after that.”
“You’re really kicking Kendle out as well?” Prush’e asked, the incredulous tone evident in her voice. “He’s been nothing but a model adjutant.”
“He’s always been wishy-washy,” Inine put in. “‘Sides, I have no qualms abou—”
The two Cre’Namonar adjutants turned around raising their weapons, battle cries coming forth, as laser blasts ringed around them and into their torsos. They collapsed under the assault. Prush’e and Kendle saw half a dozen Shoenden soldiers racing down the corridor firing towards them. Both of them threw themselves to the side of the entrance’s view and rolled out of the line of fire. Kendle rose up and pulled his sidearm, targeting the initiation pad on the side of the wall just as a soldier was coming through the doorway. The stone door fell from its railings and crushed him underneath its weight, the rifle the soldier had been holding sailing outwards and towards them.
Kendle stood up and kept his weapon trained. There was maybe an inch of space left under the doorway as the soldier groaned and cried then went still. Shouting came from the other side.
“What, what was that?”
Prush’e gave Kendle a sympathetic look, her mouth pursed and her eyes soft. Kendle was still a young man. A new recruit even. Just out of training camp not even five months prior. She’d seen the others teaching him the ropes of the adjutant routines, but he’d always seemed uncertain of his own role in the corp. At five eight, he was short for a solidan, a species many called ‘birdlike’ due to the feathers covering their bodies. But she knew they weren’t really feathers, as most would know them. Rather, they were fine hairs that formed featherlike coverings over the skin only minus the quill. His were a light blue with darker navy splotches along his neck and back of head. A layer of the hair fell over his forehead where dark grey eyes continued staring at the fallen soldier.
“I guess Nindemus had second thoughts about our leaving,” Prush’e said forcing a semi-smile.
Kendle looked towards her, the beak on his face (not so much a beak, really, than a harder nose of flesh that covered a mouth flushed into its underside with two slits for nostrils tracing a path between the folds of flesh) giving him a deep look of distress. “You speak as if you don’t appreciate the Master. He is still our sovereign. Still the head of our order. We live only to serve—”
“I know. We live only to serve him,” Prush’e scowled and waved a dismissive hand. “You think I’m happy about this? I was training to be his right hand lieutenant. And then he had me make Shōtō’s acquaintance. It’s been… strange this last month or so. He’s acted… strange.”
“How do you mean?”
The shouting grew louder beyond the stone door and they saw dust collapsing from the edges as the soldiers were working to move the doorway upwards.
“I’d like to explain more, but I think our time has officially run out. We need to find Adjudicant Er’ra Zel and inform her and the council just what’s going on in Shoenden. Also, we need to act fast to save Shōtō. I have the worst feeling Nindemus has just taken him to the down.”
“To where? Did you say, ‘the down’? What the hell is the down?”
“A dark place. What he’s about to unleash on us all… you don’t want to know about it. Not really.”
Kendle growled. “We can’t just walk into the council chambers and expect an audience. Not now. We literally just exited Shoenden. And it’s locked down all the way across the board. I’m certain that’s been noticed by now.”
Prush’e frowned. “You’re right. Come on. I have another idea. I just hope they’ll be happy to see me and not angry I left the way I did.”
Prush’e turned away from the doorway being edged upward, the bluish lighting from the stairwell competing with the thin strip of yellowish light pouring out from under the collapsed entryway into Shoenden. It made the room feel even more of the ancient tomb and she was eager to get out of it before those soldiers beyond made the room just that for them both.
Alright, we’ve reached the end of this posting so I hope you enjoyed the story. I’ll have another set of micro-chapters next. Please do come back for more. Thanks for reading and read to you again soon.
~Timothy S Purvis
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