Alutar: the Great Demon [Demonstone Chronicles Book 7]
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by Richard S. Tuttle
Category: Fantasy/Young Adult
Description: Using the enemy's own portals, King Arik sends the elite forces of Alcea to Zara to crush the Federation. Woefully outnumbered, the Alceans join forces with the indigenous rebels to battle the massive armies of Emperor Jaar while the Knights of Alcea scheme from within the enemy's leadership to foil the Federation's ability to respond. While the world focuses on the battle between King Arik and the Federation, Fakir Aziz gathers the most powerful mages in Zara to carry his own battle directly to Alutar, the Great Demon. Should the Mage fail, all is lost. Alutar: the Great Demon is the seventh and final volume of the Demonstone Chronicles.
eBook Publisher: KBS Publishing/KBS Publishing, 2009 2009
eBookwise Release Date: September 2009
10 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [1.0 MB]
Reading time: 630-882 min.
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Council of War
Herinak Castle was a massive stone structure rising high over the Koroccan coastal city. On any given day, thousands of people scurried about both in the castle and in the city around it, but in the dead of night, all was quiet, all but one restricted level known as the Lair. The Lair was restricted to hide the presence of the heirs of the Federation thrones. It was the perfect place to hold a meeting of the Council of War.
One room of the Lair was a large meeting room. That room hosted a large table and dozens of chairs. On a dark and foreboding spring night, people silently filed into the room and sat around the table. It was an unusual mixture of races for the Occan lands, but many a nod of recognition was shared as the people entered and sat down. There was no talk as the dignitaries sat and waited for the final member of the council to appear. When Garth Shado finally entered the chamber, he escorted a young woman who was unknown to most of the attendees. Many an eyebrow rose at the unannounced inclusion, but no one verbally complained. Garth closed the door and ushered the woman to a seat at the table and then sat next to her.
"If I might add something to the agenda for this meeting?" Garth asked King Wendal of Korocca. With a nod from the king, Garth continued. "This woman is Sheri. She is a Knight of Alcea. I brought her with me tonight with a particular mission in mind. Before I brief you all on the results of the war in Alcea, I would like to explain her presence. The time is fast approaching for the demise of the Federation. The young heirs that reside on this restricted level will soon ascend to thrones of the Federation, and we need to be certain of their fitness for those lofty positions. While the fairies have monitored the conversations of the heirs, those conversations have not focused on politics, yet they must for us to be assured that our path is true. I wish for Sheri to be given a suite in the Lair. Absolutely nothing will be mentioned regarding who she is, but she will be allowed to mix with the others. Her task will be to turn those conversations to topics we need to evaluate."
"Done," Baron Stikman stated gruffly, impatience evident in his voice. "What about the war in Alcea? Would it hurt to give even a hint as to what has transpired over there?"
Garth smiled. "We won," he announced. "We have 175,000 prisoners. The rest are dead."
Gasps rippled through the assembled group.
"How is this possible?" asked one of the Koroccan barons. "We were led to believe that Alcea's armies were small."
"Our armies are small," answered Garth, "but the Federation troops were facing more than just our armies. The people of Alcea have tasted freedom, and they are not anxious to give it up. I am hoping that by the end of our campaign here in Zara that the same will become true of those now living under the boot of the Federation. But enough about the war in Alcea. We are assembled here to initiate the war in Zara. Many of you gathered here tonight have little time for talk before returning to your own people. If anyone wants specifics on the war in Alcea, I would be happy to remain after the meeting to discuss it."
When no one objected, Garth continued, "Boric, Karamin will be the first country to fall. How are your plans coming?"
"We have made great strides," Boric replied hesitantly, "But I do not think we are ready." He looked at Yortana beside him and smiled as he continued, "The addition of the Rhodans in our fight has been a blessing. We have managed to get over one hundred of them employed in the castle. When the time comes to attack, we will already have a friendly force inside the walls."
"How have you managed that?" asked Karl Gree. "We have been unsuccessful in getting anyone into the keep in Ur."
"Max Caber is handling that task," answered Yortana. "He is finding women who work in the castle and persuading them to leave the city. He pays some of them and merely talks to others, but once the position is open, he manages to get my people employed."
"What is causing your lack of confidence?" Garth asked Boric.
"Just the numbers," Boric replied. "Even with the addition of the Rhodans, we number only two thousand. The Federation has over ten thousand men and they hold the fortified positions. We need outside help."
Garth nodded. "We will discuss Karamin after the meeting," he declared. "For now we will presume that all will go as planned. Queen Romani, what about Vinafor?"
"We are ready," declared the queen. "Crusher tells me that it will be a bloody affair on both sides, but we can do it. That is, of course, counting on Karamin falling as planned. If Karamin does not fall, we will be facing overwhelming odds. We are anticipating that Emperor Jaar will demand that General Nazzaro send a large force into Karamin to quell their revolt."
"Will Emperor Jaar really do that?" asked Baron Ohmson of Zarocca. "That would leave Vinafor vulnerable. Surely, he must realize the danger in doing that."
"Grand General Kyrga will give that order," interjected Clint. The Alcean Ranger was known in Zara as General Forshire, Commanding General of the A Corps. His Federation uniform gave credence to his words. "Kyrga will order a sizeable portion of the 31st Corps towards Calusa. He will immediately reinforce the Vinafor garrison with General Tauman's 1st Corps."
"And leave Camp Destiny unguarded?" asked King Myer of Tyronia. "What of the portals there?"
"The Federation has already learned that all of the Alcean portals have been sunk in the sea," answered Clint. "Camp Destiny is no longer worth guarding. The 1st Corps remains in the hidden valley because it is not needed elsewhere. He is perfectly placed to react to problems on either side of the Barrier."
"Is A Corps in position to attack the 1st Corps?" asked Garth.
"We are at full strength in the Dark Forest near Camp Destiny," Clint replied with a nod. "I have two thousand men ready to seal the exit from the hidden valley. It will take them a long time to overwhelm us."
"What of Olansk?" frowned Garth. "I thought you were to leave a sizeable force there to block any undesirable Federation movements."
"I have three thousand men in Olansk," smiled Clint. "Granted, most of them are recently released prisoners, and they have no mobility because we have no horses for them, but they can block the roads through Olansk. I saw no need to leave my trained men just to guard a road. Their blood is needed to block Tauman's exit from Camp Destiny."
Garth nodded, but it was evident that he was growing uneasy about the readiness of the Zaran groups so far.
"There is one concern that I do have," Clint offered. "There are dozens of black-cloaks in Camp Destiny. While I am confident that I can contain Tauman's army in the valley for weeks if need be, I do not understand enough about magic to determine if those black-cloaks can cause me a problem."
"They most certainly can," offered Sigfrid, the Royal Sorcerer of Korocca. "While your men might be able to block the exit from the tunnel, black-cloaks can easily fly over the peaks and attack your men. Your force would be destroyed in minutes."
"Those black-cloaks would also be extremely vulnerable while in flight," Garth retorted, "but your concerns are well stated. Perhaps the A Corps is not the right group to attack Tauman."
Garth sighed as he turned and looked around the room at the various groups assembled. He mentally berated himself for not taking a more active role in the planning of the war in Zara, but he had been consumed with the war in Alcea. Eventually, he sighed again and nodded to King Myer of Tyronia.
"We have the men necessary to storm the keep," frowned King Myer, "but as Queen Romani said, it will be bloody on both sides. We also have black-cloaks and a K'san to deal with, and the loss of Theos hurts in that regard."
"There are two main problems," interjected Karl Gree. "We have not been able to infiltrate the keep. That means that our losses will be high when we storm it. The second problem is the large Federation army present in Ur. Once we commit to attacking the keep, General Marashef's army will attack our rear. The truth is, there will not be many Tyronian Patriots left after we win. Even if you could come up with more troops to help us, they would never get into the city without a fight."
Garth sighed and shook his head as he saw Baron Stikman rising to his feet. He did not know why the Koroccan baron was rising, but he knew that trouble was soon coming to the Council of War.
"What is the purpose of all of this?" groused the baron. "It serves no purpose to rebel when all of the good people die in the battles. Somehow you Alceans have managed to remove 240,000 Federation soldiers from Zara. I am not sure how you accomplished that feat, but I applaud it. Let it end there. The Federation has only 80,000 men left, and they need every one of them to police the countries that they already hold. They are no longer a threat to the horse countries, and there will be no free men left alive west of the Barrier if you insist on fighting them. This Council of War no longer serves a purpose."
"So that is it?" snapped Prince Saratoma as he rose to his feet. The elven prince glared at the Koroccan prince and continued with a tone of anger, "The horse countries are no longer in danger, so the rest of us should just die or wither under the boot of the Federation? My people have already committed to this fight against the Federation. We have fled the Elfwoods. What are we supposed to do now? How are we to live in safety as those in the horse countries do?"
Garth quickly rose to his feet to halt the arguing. He glanced pleadingly at King Wendal and asked, "May I have leave for a few minutes?"
King Elengal gently placed his hand on his grandson's arm and urged him to sit. The elven prince silently complied. King Wendal nodded to Garth and then nodded to Baron Stikman in a silent command to sit down. Garth turned and left the room. As soon as the door closed, soft conversations erupted around the table. Sensing a dangerous return to the bickering, Tedi took the opportunity to distract the attendees by telling them about the war in Alcea. The interest in the war was keen, and no one seemed to notice that over an hour had passed before the door opened again. Garth and Kalina entered, but they did not close the door or move to take seats at the table. Two Red Swords entered next and flanked the doorway. Baron Stikman's eyebrow rose at the entry of foreign soldiers, but he soon understood their need. King Arik and Queen Tanya strode into the room, and Garth closed the door. All of the Alceans in the room rose and bowed low to the royal couple.
"I apologize for my tardy arrival," the Alcean king declared. "I understand that we have some problems regarding the war in Zara. I am here to pledge whatever support is necessary to see the Federation destroyed. Garth has informed me of the conversations so far, so I will not delay this meeting any further by asking that it be repeated."
The Alceans sat back down and King Arik approached the table. He turned and looked at Boric of Karamin.
"Boric, you will have the extra men that you need," declared the Alcean king. "I have already given the order to dispatch one thousand Alcean Rangers to Karamin. I consider them to be some of the world's greatest warriors. The Alcean Rangers will be in your camp when you return home this night." Turning his gaze to the rest of the assemblage, he continued, "Garth and I have also come up with a plan that will temper the problems in Vinafor and Tyronia. The details of the changes can be discussed later in smaller groups. What we need to discuss now is the attack on the countries east of the Barrier."
"With all due respect, King Arik," Baron Stikman objected without rising to his feet, "I see no need for any such attacks. The Federation armies are not large enough to threaten us any longer. There are only 80,000 of them."
King Arik smiled thinly. He was ready for the baron's objection.
"Your information is woefully inadequate, Baron Stikman," declared King Arik. "In the last month, Grand General Kyrga has increased the number of men under his command. Six new armies have already been formed. Three of those armies have been dispatched to Giza, Farmin, and Valdo. The other 30,000 men are still in Despair, and we do not know where they are meant to go, but that is irrelevant. We have in our grasp right this moment a chance to destroy the Federation once and for all. If we do not take that chance now, the Federation will reform and attack again. I will not let that happen."
"You won't let that happen?" growled Baron Stikman. "I thought this was a Council of War. Are we all now under Alcean rule to do whatever it is you wish?"
King Arik shook his head. "No, Baron Stikman. I do not presume to hold any control over the forces of Korocca, Zarocca, or anyone else outside Alcea, but I know the hearts of many in this room. I know those from the countries west of the Barrier want their countries back, and I know that the elves will die without the destruction of the Federation. I know that the dwarves of Tarashin have pledged to join us in this battle, as I thought the horse countries had, but I will not force any nation to fight against their will."
"You will not shame me into committing my men to a senseless battle," retorted the baron. "Our castles are built to defend our homeland. That is the way we Occan people fight. Let the Federation send their extra 60,000 men against us. They will not conquer Herinak."
"And what of the 175,000 prisoners that Alcea now holds?" asked King Arik. "My word has been given to them that they would be repatriated, and I always honor my word. Where do you suppose they will end up if the Federation is not entirely destroyed? No, Baron, we will destroy the Federation with or without the help of the horse countries. It is the only path to a lasting peace." King Arik turned to face King Wendal and asked, "Can I persuade the Koroccans to temporarily move the portal here? I need it placed somewhere secure on the ground level."
King Wendal looked at the Alcean king with a crease of confusion on his face. "I can see to that," he replied, "but to what purpose?"
"The attack on Giza must come from the north," King Arik explained. "Otherwise we place ourselves between the armies of Giza and Farmin. I plan to bring three thousand Red Swords and their mounts through the portal. The stairs of the castle would be a great impediment for the mounts."
"Three thousand?" blustered Baron Stikman. "Are you daft? Those men will be going up against 20,000 Federation troops which are camped in a walled city. Even my promised 20,000 Occan warriors would be hard pressed to win against a fortified city. A walled city always has the edge. Do you so easily send your men off to die? Do their lives mean so little to you?"
"I will not be sending my men off to die, Baron," retorted King Arik. "I will be leading them in the attack on Giza."
Gasps echoed through the room, and Baron Stikman stared at King Arik in disbelief. Garth seized the moment to speak.
"King Arik is called the Warrior King for a reason," Garth explained. "He was born to combat evil and bring peace to the world, and he has won the allegiance of many peoples in doing so. For whatever reason, the gods have bestowed the Warrior King with the gifts needed to conquer evil, and conquer evil he will. I pledge my life to him."
The other Knights of Alcea present also pledged their lives, and King Drakarik rose and kneeled before King Arik.
"We know you as Garala," the dwarven king said reverently. "While we were not in Alcea for the fulfillment of the Prophecy of the Dwarven Ruby, we are here now. The people of Tarashin are in your service. If you wish us before the walls of Giza, then we shall be there."
King Elengal of the Dielderal rose quickly and knelt beside the dwarf. Prince Saratoma was taken by surprise by his grandfather's quick movement, but he hastily rose and followed the elven king.
"And we call you Valon," declared King Elengal. "As with the Elderal and the Sorelderal, the Dielderal are yours to command. Be mindful of our blood, but spend it where you must. If we are needed before the walls of Giza, we will be ther