TERA: For the Federation 4 – Outlaw or Hero?
By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), OnRPG Editor-in-Chief
The day following the tree incident was rather uneventful. After the surprise betrayal of Fadora er.. High Priestess Akia, Platy and I were shaken and knew not to trust what we had seen to anyone. Anyone except Leander, who was noticeably missing from Tribune Adria’s tent. We kept our mouths shut and our head low, and got through the day relatively uneventfully except for some busy work dispatching a tree known as Vekas the Wicked, who had been corrupted by Lok’s magic and grown an unusual taste for pigling.
The next day we were startled awake by Leander, who handed me a sealed envelope. His urgency was contagious and we soon found our bags packed and a one way ticket to Velika resting in both our hands. He assured us to leave before morning patrol and speak to no one on the way to the pegasus platform. Should we be questioned, tell them we are on official business to gather supplies for Leander’s research. He would fly ahead and make preparations with the Allemantheia Embassy to provide an escort to the HQ from the pegasus port.
The letter was addressed to Seir, Commander of the United Federation Forces. My eyes grew wide at the thought of meeting him in HQ on a mission from Leander. My Popori curiosity was so strong I thought my hand would burn straight through the envelope and force me to read it, but before I could act on my whim Leander warned that we wouldn’t live to see sunrise if the contents of that letter reached anyone but Seir first.
Without a moment to lose, we hastily snuck through camp, using the full focus of our soothing presence to not draw attention from the sergeant on watch. Upon reaching the pegasus platform, the girl on duty looked questioningly at us. Before she could ask what was really going on, I flashed my badge showing I was a member of Pora Elinu’s court and stared intently at her. Platy and our drowsy eyed pegasus manager were both caught off guard by this revelation, and within moments two pegasus were saddled and set to fly. She had pulled the Officer Class Pegasus to ensure we arrived asap. I couldn’t help but grin at the thought.
Seconds later my stomach disagreed with my previous enthusiasm. Our surroundings blurred by as my eyes watered trying to make put the growing outline of Velika’s cityscape. The thought of those metallic walls in no way helped calm my stomach. One wrong step and I might never see the sun again once landing within those walls. As we entered the approach the normetal forged walls rose around me on both sides, and that unnerving unnatural shade darkened the fur of Platy and I.
Upon landing three guards wearing armor unlike anything I had seen outside of books knew exactly who we were. The Allemantheia Embassy would not have sent humans to escort us; that much was clear to me. Fight or flight instinct raced through my mind, but I knew I was on their home turf and my lance had been destroyed. A third option, obedience, suddenly seemed like the best option of the three. Platy eyed me and we made an unspoken agreement. We were in this together and, as so many Popori before us, refused to give up without a prank and a fight.
The citizens going about their business shopping and chatting with friends immediately cleared the path as we approached. I knew from their reactions that this was no simple escort we were dealing with. I gazed up into the eyes of the soldier to my right but saw nothing except a hallow shell of a human male.
The guards formed a triangle around us as we pushed through the doors into Valkyon HQ. We passed through double doors, followed by a personal mail room, and finally through larger ground doors into the planning chambers. I should have known. There was Samael looking even more glum and uncaring than at the “welcoming” ceremony.
“So, Dizzy the Queen’s little bunny,” he uninterestedly glowered in my direction. I half expected him to spit. “Everyone is asking me about what you did on the Island of Dawn. Well I assure you I have little patience for glory hounds like you. And what have we here?”
Samael lifted Platy’s face to meet his own. I gazed at the stand-off and saw not one, but two total strangers. Unlike me, Platy didn’t shy his eyes away from Samael’s. He glared straight back as if it was Platy who had come to interrogate him.
“A raccoon with blood in his eyes. A murderer, thief, and traitor to the city of Velika. Or is that not so, Private Wodin?”
Just then the doors broke open, with Leander waving his arms and yelling in protest as Seir and three Elven warriors shadowed close behind. I couldn’t follow the conversation but it seemed Samael had been completely out of line detaining me in this manner. Leander explained that we may have abandoned our post that night on the island, but we were integral in the process which prevented a conspiracy by the Scions of Lok’s that would have led to a repeat of the Dawn Massacre, as well as finding proof that Elleon is alive and on the run from the Scions of Lok.
“What is this nonsense about abandoned posts? I’ve detained these two for far more serious crimes. Dizzy is wanted for forging papers to serve in the Vaklyon Federation Forces as well as directly contradicting the Queen of Pora Elinu. Wodan is wanted for murdering his superior officer and abandoning his squadron in Val Kaeli! They should both-”
Platy refused to stand idly by and let Samael finish his sentence. He took a swing at him but was restrained by the hollow eyed guards before he could reach him.
“It was a death sentence and you knew it Samael! We were outnumbered by Argon corrupted Basilisks 5 to 1 and you wanted us to march on their encampment? I killed your petty officer because if I hadn’t he would have killed any of our Popori regiment’s members that were smart enough to make a run for it and save themselves. I took one life that day to save 4. I stole only from the supplies my regiment had gathered so that we could make it back to Kaiator without stopping. From the stories I heard the three closest front-line camps were wiped out completely the following day, and without those supplies we would have been damned right along with them. I refused to return to HQ to report because I knew you would be too pig headed to listen to reason!”
“Silence this pigling whelp! Throw him into 100 years of hard labor… no possibility of parole.”
Platy struggled but was no match for the overbearing strength of the two humans detaining him. I could tell the Elven warriors were eying Leander closely for a queue of how to act. Leander and Seir looked at each other for a sign of what to do. Leander’s pleading eyes were met with a smug slow shake from Seir indicating that this was the law of the Federation. I thought through the chapters of books on law I had read as page 12, chapter 18 of The Early Federation returned to me.
“I invoke Queen’s Law!” I shouted as I blocked the door the guards were dragging Platy towards. Seir’s eyes lit up in amusement as Samael’s burned with fire. I knew I had them.
“That’s an outdated code meant for easier times rabbit. Queen’s Law has no place on the Argon Front!”
“Queen’s Law,” Leader spoke up, “was the law that bound Kaiator and Pora Elinu to Velika in the early days of the Argon invasion. It is the law that if a member of a race is accused of wronging a member of another race, a higher ranking officer may vouch for their innocence in exchange for putting their reputation and freedom on the line should the offending soldier be caught breaking Federation law a second time. If Dizzy wishes to risk everything for Platy’s freedom, you have no right to stop him. Unless of course you believe Platy’s punishment is more valuable than Pora Elinu’s support in this war.”
Samael looked to speak, but stopped himself short. He knew he was stepping out of line and motioned for his guards to leave with him. Seir grabbed his shoulder as he exited and forcefully told him he would be overseeing Platy and my promotion ceremony that evening as a sign of good faith to Pora Elinu. He would also assign the Amani to prepare officer standard armor and weaponry for the two in honor of their new position among Leander’s Elleon investigation team. Samael’s lips curled into a snarl and he assured Seir they would speak more of this later as he slammed the double doors open with ease.
11 hours later I found myself before a military procession, with Platy just behind me. This new armor and weapon was nothing like I had ever felt before. The Amani truly are impressive metalsmiths. As the ceremony came to a close, Samael revealed two black amulets that he placed around each of our necks. The amulets swirled a dark purple and grey and were said to be able to unleash the true potential of a soldier. He assured us we would need it for our first assignment. Effective immediately, we were to fly to Val Aureum where the leader of the Scions of Lok was said to be pinned down in an abandoned mine.
“Their leader is a dangerous and unstable elf that has mastered the art of the twin blades. He will say any lie to get you to drop your guard. He will kill his own men to escape alive. Bring me back his head or you had better take a lesson out of Wodan’s book and not return at all.”