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[personal profile] sabremeister
I said I'd be posting a specially thought-of passage from near the end of the book. Spoilers are redacted.

There was a pop! of air, and suddenly a mage was standing in the middle of the throne room of the Sultan of Ras Natara, His Most Excellent and Learned Majesty Moorzary Mershea men-a El Kuffuro. She wore tatty chainmail over her robes, carried a mace, and in the carefully-directed light of the throne room it was easy to see the eldritch glow around her hands. She looked around, and before the guards could react, raised her arm in the air and launched a fusilade of small fireballs from her hand toward the ceiling.

"Your Most Excellent and Learned Majesty, I bring you greetings from His Majesty King Dashell of Turnobae-Galorndan!" she bellowed.

"Hold!" the Sultan held up his hand, and the guards stopped in their tracks. "What does my Royal Brother have to say that required sending a killing mage into my throne room? Has he despaired so of the war that he seeks to resolve it by assassination?"

"My name is Serpenita, Imperial Warlock to the Court of King Dashell." She strode towards the throne, keeping her eyes on the Sultan, and stopped one pace beyond the discreet mark on the floor that indicated the proper distance. "I am here as an urgent Embassy to Your Majesty, in light of the turn of events the war has taken."

"What turn of events would that be, Warlock?"

"Please don't pretend you don't know. We know the mages with the Sword Bearers have been sending messages." [REDACTED]


"My business is to be a mouthpiece for King Dashell as he discusses the situation with you," Serpenita told him.

"I see. And when is that discussion to take place?"

"Now. Here." She closed her eyes, breathed deeply a couple of times, and...

"Ah, Moorzary, excellent," Dashell's voice came from Serpenita's lips. "I am here to discuss surrender."









The Sultan considered for a moment. "What are your terms?"



"I am not finished. You will also declare the Sword Bearers to be an unlawful conspiracy against your authority, and all members traitors and outlaws. You will then take active steps to destroy their organisation and fanatic sect of M'hushtlamism. This entire war came about because a few corrupt men whose religious fervour and ambition far outstripped their intelligence, and were able to play on the ignorance of your people, and the fear of the unknown that ignorance engendered. Your schools will begin teaching of the world outside Ras Natara, of the way other countries do things, and why they do things that way - and priests will no longer teach in school. If someone wishes their child to learn religious dogma, they can take them to the temple.

"You will build either a Cajonic or Picktish church in every city in Ras Natara, and you will welcome a large community of Northerners to live there and tend the church. Your crown will guarantee their safety. In return, a M'hushtlamite temple will be built in every city in the North, and a likewise large community of Natarans will live there and tend it, with their safety guaranteed by the appropriate ruler.


"Those are the terms. Do you have any questions before you accept them?"

"Do you speak for the whole Alliance, or just Turnobae-Galorndan?"

"These terms are on behalf of the whole Alliance. Take them, and we will have peace. [REDACTED]"



"And what guarantees do I have that the temples to M'hush will be built in the North?"

"My signature on the surrender document, authorising these terms to be delivered, right above where you will sign to accept them."

"I believe you, Dashell. You were always a man of your word. But the rulers of Chalgan, and Inpokkar, and Yalkat and Morat and Doronatha, not to mention Akallmil and Demona - they will surely not agree to build holy places of their enemies."

"They will build them; at the point of my sword if necessary."

"You would make war on every country in the world?"

"Simultaneously. Turnobae-Galorndan has tools in its' armoury to do so, and Morat has already agreed to assist in enforcing the terms of this treaty – to all parties, Alliance or Nataran. Inpokkar and Chalgan will be among the easiest to persuade."

The Sultan was quiet for a long while.

"Well, Moorzary? We cannot wait all day. Our Warlock has been ordered to proffer you the scroll with the terms as soon as this communication is over. [REDACTED]"

"Who will tend these churches and temples in foreign lands?"

"We have taken plenty of prisoners; I'm sure enough of them will accept the offer of relocation and a pension. The Sword Bearers tended not to take prisoners, I know, so the citizenry of Turnobae-Galorndan, Chalgan and Morat, who were untouched by the war, will be made similar offers."

The Sultan still hesitated. "I will sign," he eventually said, quietly.

"Thank you. You have just saved a lot of lives."

Serpenita twitched and blinked. She reached into her robes and withdrew a large scroll, heavy with regnal seals, and proffered it towards the Sultan with a raised eyebrow. Moorzary Mershea men-a El Kuffuro stepped down from his throne and took it, examined the seals, and unrolled it. He called for a quill, signed at the bottom, and confirmed it with his signet ring. Serpenita took the scroll from him, smiled, and Teleported out.


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