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PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2016 7:36 pm 
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The Long Plan
by razorborne
Status: Private :bmelee:
Word Count: 1931


Content Warning: Murder of Women and Children



---The Year 2748, 7th Passage, 11th Day---


Basilian walked along the Slatefall, its eyes studying the expanse of the Infinite Sea. It had heard strange reports of late, tales of floating devices drifting on the deadly waves. Devices manned, it had been said, by other beings, beings the Gargoyles had not seen in millennia. Beings that should not still be alive. Beings that should have drowned in the Flood.


Change was coming. Basilian could sense it. All of Teth could sense it. A new tide was rising, and the children of stone would have to be prepared. This was a development they had not seen coming, one they’d need to react to swiftly. If there were others out there, they could not be allowed on Teth. They would spoil the precise order the Gargoyles held so dear.


An object drifted into view on the waves below. Basilian watched it. Carved stone, floating on the tide, not past the cliffs like the others but straight for it. It appeared unmanned, adrift, but it moved unerringly toward the Isle. A smile cracked Basilian’s smooth stone face. It seemed their turn had come. With one last glance across the sea, it began the long climb down.



---The Year 2750, 3rd Passage, 9th day---


Basilian crouched behind a tree, listening to the silence on the other side. It clenched a curved blade in one hand, bracing itself with the other. across the clearing was Orichaum, and somewhere in the forests was captain Pegma. Basilian couldn’t understand the dryads. How had they survived, with their frail wooden bodies? How had this forest grown when the waters around it were flowing death? It made no sense. Telimar made no sense.


The crew of the Oculist had been called to this tree-covered waste to quell an uprising in anti-Teth sentiment. One of the Vinechildren was speaking against the children of stone, turning the trees against them. The raid seemed shortsighted to Basilian, picking off a single enemy in a hostile sea, but it did its duty. Above all, above even its own life, it did its duty.


Basilian was called to attention by the quiet snap of a twig. It peered out from its hiding place, saw Orichaum staring back at it. The two locked eyes and nodded. The captain’s work was done. Now all that remained was the retreat. Pegma slipped into the clearing, a fresh scar scratched indelibly into its skin, and the two lieutenants stepped out to meet it. Together, the three moved toward the shore, back to the safety of the Oculist, when Basilian froze.


The sound had not been loud. It could’ve almost been the wind. Almost. But the wind was calm that night, and could not account for that soft rustle. Basilian turned, quiet as the night. Between the trees, hiding as best she could, was a young dryad woman. As it saw her, she opened her mouth to scream, but quick as falling stone Basilian was in front of her, one hand covering her mouth, the other sliding a curved blade gently into her throat.


Sap poured out onto its hand, and the body beneath it went limp. Orichaum was there then, and, without words, the two lifted the body together. It had not been a clean kill, and they could leave no evidence of their passing.



---The Year 2753, 11th Passage, 3rd day---


Basilian stepped off the Oculist for the last time. It glanced at the assembled Grotesques and walked down the docks to where its new ship floated. It surveyed the construction, observed the crew, then once it was satisfied turned to the crowd and nodded.


“You’ll do well,” Orichaum stated from beside it. It wasn’t an encouragement, merely an observation.


“They chose wisely,” Basilian agreed.


Nine days earlier, the Whisperer had sunk off the coast of Kemil, and with it Diamyre, Steward of the Long Plan. The Memoriam pools would be poorer for the loss, but in the short term a new Steward was needed, and after much deliberation from the Grotesques, Basilian had been chosen. Was it an honor? Basilian had heard the word from offlanders, but the concept was strange. It was simply duty.


The new ship was larger than any Basilian had served on before. At the heart was the map room, the Steward’s primary chambers. Off the sides hung runners for darksea raids. It would serve.


Basilian’s head was filled with possibilities. Things would change. The Long Plan would be different now, would be better. Diamyre had been efficient, but it had been a brute, swatting at pests as they cropped up. Basilian would be an artist, crafting Ossia to its whim with a chisel of death.


“It needs a name,” Orichaum observed. “Have you decided?”


Basilian nodded. “The Sculptor.”



---The Year 2755, 1st Passage, 17th day---


Basilian looked out across the sleeping herd. The sentries had been easy enough to evade; Centaurs were loud and obvious, and they expected their enemies to be the same. Sleeping… It fascinated Basilian. So inefficient, yet apparently necessary for the flesh-and-blood. With their already short lives, how could they justify the time? It had attempted it a few times, lying still in its cabin to see what happened, but so far its experiments had produced nothing.


Basilian surveyed the scene. At the center slept the herdmare, Tarak Bladesinger, surrounded by her most trusted lieutenants. It would be a simple thing to take her life, silence her cries for war against the Isle of Faces. That’s what Diamyre would’ve done, it knew. Blunt, simple, and only marginally effective. No, chop a foe down and another will rise in its place. But turn your foes against each other, open their flanks, and they’ll forget about you entirely. Basilian turned and moved slowly toward the foals.


There she was. Tarak’s first child, curled up on the edge of the circle. Even so young, she was strong. She was destined to be a herdmare herself one day, destined to lead on the Redgrass. But destiny was a strange thing, and with a slight flick of a razor-sharp blade that destiny fell silent.


It was odd, Basilian mused. She looked the same. The sleeping had become the dead, and yet still the body lay there. Though the child’s life had drained out onto the grass, nothing had changed. Time ticked away, her last breath faded into the winds, and yet, at the end of it all, when everything was said and done, nothing had changed.


The sun would rise soon. Carefully, quietly, Basilian lifted the body and began the long walk toward the Cloudfoot’s herd.



---The Year 2759, 9th Passage, 1st day---


“Steward?”


Basilian looked up from its maps, studied the figure in its doorway. “Ambassador. Can I assist you?”


“I suspect so.” Pumik entered the room, glancing at the assorted cartography. “You know the Isles well? Their people, their politics?” Basilian nodded, waiting. “Good. This war is destroying our people. The Long Plan has worked thus far, but we can’t keep quelling problems one at a time. We don’t have the stone. Teth needs a new approach.”


“And you have one?”


“The beginnings of one. We meet with leaders from across the archipelago. Form a council to unite Ossia. Leverage their influence to broker a peace.”


Basilian shook its head. “There will be no peace. Maybe some will join, but not enough. The trolls, the centaurs, and the djinn will not agree. The bats won’t even listen.”


“We’ll find sympathizers, talk in secret. Where we cannot make leaders into allies, we’ll turn allies into leaders.”


“We can’t trust them.”


“I don’t see that we have a better option.”


Basilian turned back to its maps, considering. Complex machinery ground away in its head, plotting ramifications and consequences. The ambassador was right, they were losing stone. Not a lot, of course. Basilian was cautious. But even small losses were grave. If peace could be found, if a way could be forged to end the war, Teth could be kept safe without further loss. Its eyes traced lines on the maps, planning routes, carving the future in its mind. It came to a conclusion.


“We approach the dryads first.”



---The Year 2764, 15th Passage, 18th day---


“The Dryads?” Piker asked cautiously.


Basilian smiled patiently. This was the sixteenth bat he’d spoken to. The others… They hadn’t gone well. The nice thing about the Unspoken was that no one missed them.


“Tenel has agreed to join us,” It answered. “He leads the Council of Sophisticates. A powerful ally.”


“And the Djinn too?”


“Mil’Tar, of the Frigid.”


Piker swallowed hard. “So… it’s just us left?”


Basilian tilted its head to one side. This was unexpected: Was this one actually considering its proposal? “Yes,” It answered, in time. “Only Chirom is missing.”


“But… But what you’re asking…”


“There is no other way. There can be no peace with Chirom so long as the Masters remain in control.”


“The Unspoken won’t fight for you.”


Basilian closed its eyes, shook its head, tried to remember the words. “No, no, of course they won’t. They’ve been beaten, battered, bent to the whim of the Masters. They won’t fight for an outsider. They’ll run, hide behind their keepers as they’ve always done. They won’t fight for me, Piker, but perhaps they’ll fight for you.”


Basilian saw a faint glimmer in the wretch’s eye, there for a second then gone. It almost laughed. Kolif’s words had felt strange in its mouth, but it had to admit, the wolf’s script seemed to have worked. Perhaps there was something to Pumik’s plan after all. It had taken years, but the last of the pieces was sliding slowly into place. It just needed a steady hand to guide it.


Basilian watched Piker carefully, ticking away seconds as the half-breed slowly wound his way through the path laid out before him to the inevitable conclusion. And there it was: A slump of the shoulders. A quiet sigh. Acceptance.


“Alright,” Piker moaned. “I’ll do it. But I can’t do it alone.”


Basilian smiled again. “You’ll have more help than you could possibly imagine.”



---The Year 2770, 5th Passage, 12th day---


Basilian stood silently as Obsidius stalked across the map room. The argument had been raging for hours by now. Basilian could only listen and watch, fascinated by the dance of words playing out in front of it, two giants of Teth intent on tearing each other apart.


“Let it go, Pumik,” the Watch Commander insisted. “It was a desperate plan and it has failed. There can be no peace while they still infest the archipelago.”


“You can’t know that,” the ambassador replied. “Give it time.”


“We’ve given it time. The Council has had ten years and they have not delivered. We lose stone by the day, drowned forever at the bottom of the sea. Our people erode while you play mediator between petty children.”


“They learn. They grow. We can’t win this war by strength, Obsidius. There’s too many forces at play. We wait.”


“We wait as Teth crumbles.”


“We wait as Teth survives.”


Basilian raised its hand. “Enough. The ambassador has chosen. The Council stands.”


The two fell silent. After a pause, Obisidius turned to face it. “This is not your place, Steward,” it hissed.


Basilian nodded. “Nor is it yours, Commander, but you are in my chambers and there is work to be done. The Council stands.”



---The Year 2775, 3rd Passage, 2nd day---


Basilian studied its maps. There seemed to be no way around it. It was a shame, really. Piker would be missed.



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 2:41 am 
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Dangit Basilan, what are you planning with Piker?

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2016 6:20 pm 
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TPmanW wrote:
Dangit Basilan, what are you planning with Piker?

the world may never know

:duel:

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:04 pm 
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Edit: corrected "sixteeth" to "sixteenth".


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