So it had been decided. There would be a council to govern all of Sudia. Niobe was relieved. It took the burden off her shoulders, removing her as possible ruler. It gave all cities an equal say in the destiny of the southland. Now they needed a centralized location from whence the council could govern.
Tyrannos was too close to the northern border. It put the city at the front lines in any invasion from the north. Yndarr was too far south to be effective as well. Perhaps Magus. Or Soporiel Rexus. Or Spartica. Or even Polycarpus. But Elysidele was too far north as well.
Perhaps they should place the council in a hamlet. Or a village of less importance. Or maybe build a new city simply to house the council deeper within Sudia’s heartland. Whatever they decided, they would have to make two council realms. There would have to be one for the alliance that would grow between Sudia, Estryn, and Nordia as well as that of the council of the realm. That council would also have to include members from allied kingdoms from beyond the Renge’s borders.
The Saidome and the kingdoms of Muspel. The barbarian hordes. The nations of the eastern wastes. The eastern and western mountain kings. Not to mention the coastal kings and whoever lay beyond.
Both the Sudian council and the council of kingdoms would decide upon whether the course of war would ever be pursued. The Sudian Council would decide upon all actions taken by the southland. Both councils would decide an overall course and whether the allies would be needed or if the three Renge lands would be strong enough to handle the attacks.
It was perfect. Well, almost perfect. But perfection was never an attainable commodity. One could only hope that the noble idea would create the best governing body. But Niobe felt it would.
Each city was to hold elections to determine which representatives would be on the council. Those members would convene to find where the Council would call home. But now, it had been set that there would be a council. That was what this meeting had been for.
There had been a decision to send messengers to Austryn and Nordia, as well, to announce the formation of the Sudian Council and to invite those two lands to ally themselves to Sudia and to form their own councils as well. Niobe only hoped that they would agree. It would mean the dissolution of the empire of the Renge. And it would leave Austryn open to attacks from any enemy of the empire.
Still, Kyrzhad would wage perpetual war on other kingdoms before facing the triple threat of the other three Renge lands. She knew her brother would do anything to anger those who surrounded the Renge thinking that it would send retaliation toward Sudia or one of the other two lands. But with the council of kingdoms, the retaliation would be returned upon the empire’s remaining land, Austryn.
Niobe had made a plea that all Seekers sent from Valthrid be executed on sight and it had been enthusiastically received. No representative of the Inquisition would be allowed, knowingly, within Sudia’s borders. Let Kyrzhad allow something so evil exist in his own kingdom. The southlands would harbor no such evil.
Twenty-four messengers for the twenty-four lords of Estryn. Twenty-four more for the lords of Nordia. Zarange would deliver the message to the Orders of the Dark Ring and the White Ring and the City of Prophets would be searched for and invited to return to Sudia. All mages and seers would be protected within the southland’s borders.
Messengers also went forth to all the kingdoms upon the conjoined continents. These messengers invited the neighboring kings to form a council, an alliance, with Sudia and her future allies within the Renge. Times were beginning to change. The gods had returned and given the southland new hope.
The sentries along Sudia’s northern borders were to be reinstated and reinforced. Patrols would be sent out from every city to clear away brigands and highwaymen. The southland would be cleaned up and lawlessness would be brought to an end. Those who were free agents would be given the choice of joining the Guilds or being executed for crimes against the people.
Word began filtering out into the general public of the coming changes. The majority were pleased to hear of the return of order to the lands, but Narcyl was not. He had spent 30 of his forty-nine years breaking every law he could. He was the lord of a small band of outlaws and proud of it. He had killed thirty men, robbed thousands, and terrorized several small hamlets and villages. Now, it was all coming to an end.
The laws were going to become stricter and patrols were beginning to strengthen. It was time to migrate into Austryn. At least there, they would be welcomed by the Inquisition as recruits or perhaps by the new lord of Korlabdis as soldiers. Narcyl frowned. It had become too hard to be an honest criminal anymore.
“What’s wrong, Chief?” a voice snapped him out of his thoughts. He turned to see his second in command, Lorodias.
“Tell the men we head for Austryn,” he replied, “things here are getting a bit too hot for us. Our safety is now questionable.”
“Alright, Commander,” came his lieutenant’s answer.
He watched as the man turned and walked away. The rest might not react so coolly to the news. They might try to remove him as their leader. But a leader had to do what was in the best interest of his men. And Narcyl was going to do just that.
A mass migration was taking place. Every loose cannon and ne’er-do-well was leaving the southland. It was a bad time to be lawless in Sudia. It was a bad time to be unwilling to join the Guilds.
It was impossible for Kyrzhad not to notice the heightened patrols at the Sudian border with Austryn. Word was beginning to filter to him from his own sentries that more soldiers were being seen along those borders. It was almost as if Niobe had incited open rebellion.
After all, he had decreed that the border sentries be removed. He had decreed the open and unguarded border be accepted by all. But now, Sudia seemed determined to defy him openly. The border sentries had gone from almost nonexistent to about one hundred per every road leading into the southland. That did not tell him how many patrolled the forested regions and byways.
Now, the outlaws were pouring into his little piece of paradise from the south. What angered him the most was that Estryn and Nordia were also seemingly expelling their unwanted underworld as well. Strangely enough, the Austryn Guilds were disappearing as the Inquisition began growing in power. It was almost as if those who controlled the criminal element were vanishing, leaving him with a rising population of lawless depravity that topped even the depravity of the nobilis. No one topped the nobilis at anything. No one.
Yet, he was receiving everyone else’s rejects. Perhaps he would conscript them all or, at least those that the Inquisition didn’t recruit first, for his army. And he knew that he would need new soldiers. He would need to replenish as the precious resource of trained soldiers was depleted. He would need to keep ahead of the demand.
But what would he do when he had used up all the resources available to him? What would he do if he ran low of those old enough to conscript? Who would he use in his wars then?
He decided that he would never be able to run low of such people. Even if he got close, he could always pause his warmongering and allow a new generation to grow enough to press into service. Besides. He had a secret weapon.
He had the Inquisition. Golmagug had legions at his disposal. Ungodly legions. Legions of demons.