Next to The Custard

0 Conversations

The City of Elders fell within days. The Aisorbmii spent that time

well, bringing Rene Ponit to fighting shape as the General Manus iw Elbirt

gathered together his army and the army of Commander Reglan and started

his march for the fortress.

Meanwhile, in the west, someone made a small effort to bring peace to a

loved one.

The following accounts are taken from historical records.

Episode Twenty-Three – Rene Ponit

The hunter Terid gu Dagda moved through the woods. He was hungry, and

somewhat angry, since the nobles had taken much of his town's harvest to

feed their troops, and other nobles were taking far too long transferring

surplus supply to the town. The way of the world, he thought, but it was

not a fair thing.

He heard a voice in the bushes and he paused, remaining silent. 'What

strange fates have befallen you and I, dear Endam,' the feminine voice

said. He moved closer, peering between leaves and branches. A man was

digging a grave for another man's body; he could not see the woman.

When the grave was dug the man knelt beside the body and held it up

into a sitting position. Terid could see it more clearly. It was old...

weeks old. And the back of the head was missing. Then the digger kissed

the dead face on the lips, and said something softly. Then he reverently

picked up the body and placed it in the grave.

Terid rose to get a better look, but the digger turned around. 'Can the

fathers not allow a woman one peaceful moment to say goodbye?' he said, in

the feminine voice Terid had heard earlier. Then the man said more words,

and a smell of fire began.

The blast, and the heat, hit Terid gu Dagda full in the belly, and his

body flew back through the woods, where he hit his head on a rock, and did

not rise.

There were less of them now. Not many. The security around the supply

wagons had increased since the Second Fall, so casualties were higher. But

the remains of Paladin Legodatiperi's unit were resolute.

Marshal Senodenilapa bobbed his head over the ridge and saw the wagon

approaching. He turned and squatted in a circle with the second squad.

'Five,' he whispered. Three or four others in the group backed away,

moving to specific positions, and started angling mirrors at pre-defined

angles. Then they used simple sign language to alert the other squads to

ready their bows.

Senodenilapa's own squad drew their swords. Today it was their turn to

charge. 'Now remember, lads. No unnecessary risks. If yer 'as ter pull

back, yer pulls back. Yer more important than them wagons. The more o' yer

comes back from each the raid, the more of us there are next time. So stay

alive, yer got it?' There was a hum of general agreement from the squad;

they'd heard it all before. 'Good. That's all I've got ter say.'

They'd heard that before too. It was Senodenilapa's catch-phrase. He'd

used it all the time he was at Anilomes, and at the Great Meeting before

the War, and every time he spoke since, but he also had a cool head under

pressure and he wielded a sword well.

'First squad ready, Sen,' said Farofasigala, putting away his mirror.

First squad was the Paladin's squad. Paladin Legodatiperi had been a

Defender with the Iron Jamtins, and they all looked up to him, now more

than ever, because he'd kept them alive this far.

They could hear the chatter of riders now, in the pass. The first squad

would make the first move, firing arrows from in front; then the third

squad, harassing them from behind. Then the second squad would charge at

those who fled in their direction, if any.

Arrows flew. A wave, then a second. A third and fourth, as the archers

drew more arrows. A fifth, a sixth, and then Senodenilapa rose and

charged. Now the archers would shoot more carefully, lest they hit their


The second squad charged down the ridge. Careful arrows had killed a

dozen guards in scant seconds, and the survivors drew their swords to

counter attack. The lead guard suddenly stopped and fell with a bolt in

his forehead. The rest charged into the fray.

Senodenilapa slew one across, the second up, the third in the back. A

fourth leapt back from Farofas's sword and caught Senodenilapa with a foul

blow in the ribs.

He screamed, 'Aaaaaargh!' but that was all he had to say.

Squire Benopelicora lay back and looked at the sky, and the way the

Rene mountain range stabbed into it from all sides. The mountains were

huge, serene, peaceful... completely oblivious to the ravages of siege

warfare which was spilling Companies-worth of blood at the first wall.

Rene Ponit, mountain fortress of the east. It was here that the last

war had been ended. It was here that that last war began, a thousand years

ago, hordes of exiles forging their new country of Aisorbma beneath this

mountain when the mad King had proclaimed cold rice pudding-eaters as


It was here that the Aisorbmii had fought and won all their great battles.

The only reason this time might be different was the Sword in the Stone.

The Sword captured by the enemy.

Benopelicora felt himself being lifted and moved to a bed. His heart

wasn't racing as much as earlier, when the Kingdom soldiers in their

really awful uniforms had started climbing the ladders. It was

exhilarating... more so than that last lacrosse match, months ago...

though it lacked the basking in adoration part, sadly... between every

moment of striking, killing an enemy direct or watching him fall off the

ladder into the spears of those bustling around below, there was a

sweet taste of life.

It seemed so sweet now he couldn't feel the ground beneath his feet. He

couldn't feel any part of his right leg, either, since that dagger had

landed in it. He'd heard about wounds like this. He hoped he wouldn't lose

the leg. Next season he was going to need it.

There was a lot of blood, though. The doctor's hands were covered in

it. Someone mentioned the word 'artery', but he didn't know what that


The sky was grey, and the white mountains stabbed into it. Huge

mountains, he decided.

How insignificant we are.

Milosarituva was on wall two when Genokefirica found him. The siege had

paused, since the Kingdom had run out of ladders again and the bodies were

impeding their assault. Soon sorcerors would use their magic to remove the

bodies, and if they could, use some of their more deadly spells to attack

soldiers on the wall. The nobles would take this time to raise morale

among the soldiers, reinforcing their belief that the walls would be

taken. No-one had yet made it, but the Aisorbmii were taking heavy losses

and the Paladins were taking as much rest as was available.

Paladin Genokefirica was the Iron Jamtin Captain. He was the one who'd

told everyone else about the deaths of their coach and their winger at the

last match. Since the siege started he'd been the one to tell them about

all the other deaths.

This time he hadn't said anything, but Milosarituva knew. 'That's

seven,' he said.

'I wasn't countin',' said Genokefirica. 'But it's too many, no matter

how many it is.'

Milosarituva heard the stress in the Captain's voice and realised then

just how much their lives had changed, from players to paladins. Gen

seemed suddenly old. The Striker's shoulders slumped, failing to

alleviate the tension he felt. 'The walls are holdin',' he offered.

'Great why didn't we 'ave these walls at No Man's Land? Or th' City of

Elders? Might've been useful.'

The two men stood quietly for a while. Cool winds blew across them from

the north.

'When are yer next fightin' on't wall?' Milosarituva asked.

'I'm standin' on't wall next charge,' Gen said. 'Got me sword blessed

by one of the priests a bit ago. Might do a bit more damage. Doubt it'll

be as powerful as Setovarinesa's, though.'

'I think he's sittin' the next one out. Don't blame 'im. 'E's fought

every fight goin' since we got 'ere.' Milosarituva considered for a

moment. 'I think I'll ask ter borrow 'is sword, an' join yer on the


'I'd like that. Defence needs a bit more team spirit.'

'Oh, in that case I'll ask some of the ladies ter start a cheerleadin'

squad.' Milosarituva smiled wanly, and he could see humour in Gen's eyes

even if his face didn't show it. Damn, he looked older.

He left the wall, leaving Gen to watch the world go by, and marched

along the wall to the tower, where Minister Setovarinesa could usually be

found watching the Kingdom forces.

'Benopelicora died today,' the Striker said.

'Him and two hundred others,' said the tired Minister. 'I think there's

somewhere over four thousand dead in the last month or two. And no rice

pudding to cheer them on their way, either.'

Milosarituva sighed. 'I wasn't countin',' he said. 'I just came ter ask

– I heard yer were sittin' the next fight out. May I use yer sword?'

'Yer heard wrong,' said the Minister. 'I'm fightin' the next one, and

the one after that. Have to be seen fightin', Milosar. Raises morale.

That's what the noble's 'aven't worked out. They're all fine an' dandy

makin' speeches about how the fortress will fall, but they don't lead.

They just pat 'em on the head, tell 'em ev'rythin's goin' ter be all

right, then point 'em at the wall an' sit back. Men need ter be

led, fer cryin' out loud.'

'Best keep quiet about that,' said the Striker. 'Don't want 'em ter

hear yer, they might try it. But as fer you... Setovar, yer only human.

Gen an' I are goin' ter lead the next one. Come to think of it, I'm hopin'

there's a couple of Fireballs down there, wantin' a rematch, so's I can

tell 'em what for with the sharp end of a good sword. Get some rest, man,

an' lend me yer sword.'

'Best not,' said Setovarinesa. 'I think it's only lucky fer me.'

Milosarituva was about to argue the point further when there was a cheer

in the west. Both men exited the tower and took the rope ladders down to

wall one, where they looked out at the enemy.

Several men were carrying the Sword in the Stone towards wall one,

moving to a point well in sight of the defenders but well out of range of

any attack. The besiegers began to move back to the fortress, the earlier

bodies teleported somewhere else.

Someone yelled attack, and fresh ladders started to rise towards the

walls. Ropes were quickly tied around the tops, and then pulled sideways

as men began to reach the top, but the attackers were picking secure sites

for their ladders now and the intended cascade of Kingdom soldiers didn't

occur. Instead they proceeded to fight.

Setovarinesa weaved his sword in glittering arcs, slaying several, and

he pulled Milosarituva back to point out an activity behind the Kingdom


'They're trying to pull the Sword from the Stone,' he said.

A fresh wave of Kingdom men dressed in blue started over the wall and

the two moved straight in. Setovarinesa seemed tireless in battle, and men

just fell before him.

Milosarituva wished the Minister hadn't shown him the nobles' tactic,

because it was working. If the Kingdom succeeded in pulling the Sword from

the Stone... times were truly dark. Perhaps that's what the prophecy

intended, he thought.

The middle of a siege was never the place for such complacent thought.

The fear would kill you before the enemy would.

But in one distracted moment they arrived at the same time. He collapsed into

the dirt and blood and said 'That's eight,' before he died.

Rabit de Turson bowed in proper time, spoke slowly and calmly, in every

way befitting the position of messenger. He hoped the detail that he

wasn't a messenger would be overlooked, and that he could get on with a

more pleasant business of carrying a message or two home.

When he had finished the Lord General Manus iw Elbirt summed up the

situation. 'There is a lack of food in the Kingdom, because of food

supplies being sent here. And so, after several peasants tried poaching

rather than starvation, and have been found dead... there is a


'Yes, lord general,' said Rabit. At the General's look he knew he had

made a mistake: interrupting.

'I don't recognise you,' said the General, slowly. 'But at the moment,

I think we can relax discipline. Get a sword. Join the warriors at the

ladders. I think you'll do us more good there.'

Rabit began to protest, but the General drew his sword. 'Go,' he


Rabit moved away, without bowing, and then the General moved swiftly

towards him and cut him down. 'Definitely not one of mine, and such a

waste, too,' said the General. He moved out of Rabit's sight, back to his

desk, musing.

'The peasants are revolting.'

Rabit was no loss to the Kingdom army, being among other things a

dissenter and a coward. The loss of another Iron Jamtin, however, was

another blow to Aisorbmii morale. The first wall did not fall that day,

but it would not stay held forever.

In the west, the revolt began, and so strife begin in Kingdom

territories. Violence spread. As has been noted, people have rarely

learned that violence is not the answer.

The King and Queen responded in their own way, as we will explore next


The Next to the Custard


12.06.03 Front Page

Back Issue Page

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Conversations About This Entry

There are no Conversations for this Entry



Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry


h2g2 is created by h2g2's users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the Not Panicking Ltd. Unlike Edited Entries, Entries have not been checked by an Editor. If you consider any Entry to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please register a complaint. For any other comments, please visit the Feedback page.

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more