Four days after the victory in Raspil, Ime returns to Kellahn with Gaeren, who provides a much-needed twenty-five thousand men and women to the army. During the fight, Ime’s forces suffered a loss of one hundred and twenty-seven soldiers.
Gaeren’s army is shown to their spot along the western cliff and set up camp. Ime, Gaeren, Kylii, and Deven head down into the city to meet with the rest of the allied leaders in the Great Hall.
“With Gaeren’s addition we’re now reaching close to one hundred and thirty-seven thousand soldiers,” Jaxon says. “Still less than Klaeon, but not a death sentence.”
The shock in Gaeren’s face is doubled as he meets Ime’s eyes. “I was under the impression you had a bit more.” The annoyance is clear in his voice.
Ime meets his eyes defiantly. “You saw what we could do with a smaller army. With your addition we have a fighting chance.”
“Still, two hundred thousand is a lot of men.”
“Two hundred and fifty thousand men,” Kylii says.
“Rumored two hundred and fifty thousand men,” Daniil says angrily.
Before anyone can speak, the sound of horns and drums ring out into the canyon, surprising all gathered at the table. They stand and rush to the large windows, peering towards the tops of the canyon. The people of Kellahn stop what they’re doing and stare up at the noise, confused.
“What is that?” Jada Boor asks.
“It couldn’t possibly be Klaeon attacking, could it?” Aryd Candok adds.
“Not possible, we would’ve known about any major movement from his lands long ago,” Jaxon says.
“You should all come up top,” a voice calls from behind. The group turns and spies Lyrrel and others from Eraunel standing in the doorway.
“What’s going on?” Ime asks.
Lyrrel waves his hand for everyone to follow. By the time everyone reaches the top of the canyon the causes of the noise become apparent. Numerous armies are approaching from the East.
“Who are they?” Meah asks Lyrrel.
Smiling, Lyrrel faces the group, focusing most of his attention on Ime. “Besides our assistance with information gathering, we’ve been in contact with Wynsil and informed him of our need for more fighters. He sent messages to the armies destined to join the fight.” His smile falters and his eyes shine blue for a moment. “The choice has been made.” The light fades from his eyes and his smile returns.
Ime and Meah glance at each other, remembering Wynsil’s words about the choice that would decide the future of the war. There’s no stopping now. The future is set.
Room is made for the new armies and those given the task of leading meet the group. There’s an army from the Forest of Spirits, gathered by Wynsil from throughout the forest’s hidden cities and villages. There’s an army from the Great Mountains, those who refused to side with Klaeon, fearing for their own lives should the Blood King be victorious. There’s even a small army from Foula Valley to Meah’s surprise. She recognizes a few of the young men from her village who smile and wave to her, relieved to find her alive.
Ime turns to Jaxon, “How many do you think are here?”
“Fifty thousand if I had to guess, but possibly closer to sixty thousand,” Jackson answers. “That brings us closer to two hundred thousand.”
Ime steps forward to greet the armies. “Welcome to Kellahn. We thank you for your aid. For now, rest and explore the city and those who also gathered here. Food and water is plentiful and should you need anything feel free to ask.”
The armies disperse to find spare areas of land to make camps. Horns from behind signal the arrival of a new army from the North.
The leader, a woman with black curly hair pulled back from her face with a scarf, wears strange armor made of mysterious material. A long curved sword sits at her side and she wears a long coat with a sash. “A most high and excited greetings!”
“Same to you. Where do you hail from, friend?” Ime asks.
The woman smiles and winks at Lyrrel, who immediately faces away. “We don’t receive many messages from Myldea. It was quite the shock when your messenger appeared before us asking for an army.” She stretches her arm across her chest. “Of course, I was the only one who accepted the request. Most of our leaders are only interested in their own hides and not for others, especially those from these lands.”
Confusion fills everyone present. “You call this land Myldea. What are you referring to if I may ask?” Altan asks.
“All of this land, everything on this side of the Great Sea.”
“Are you saying you’re from lands across the sea?” Jaxon asks.
“I come from Deirak. But my realm is the Great Sea itself. My name is Audra Sellin and I’m the pirate lord of the east.”
“Pirate?” Kylii asks.
“A bandit of the sea,” Jaxon explains. “But they’re rare in our lands, even in the coastal cities.”
“But they do exist here. I’ve met the one who will one day become the pirate lord of the west. His ranks are small now, but grow every day.” Audra eyes the gathered armies and makes an impressed sound. “You’ve quite the army here. When your messenger appeared before us, I was under the impression you’d have a lot less.”
“Speaking of, how did you think to ask for help beyond the Great Sea?” Ime asks Lyrrel.
“There’s more to this war than simply ending the reign of the Blood King. The fate of the world depends on the outcome of this war.” Lyrrel eyed Audra. “It’s always been possible that should Klaeon be victorious, he’ll set his sights far higher than simply conquering this land. He’d continue until the entire world was his.”
“And that possibility, slim as it may be, is why I’m here,” Audra adds. “Plus, it ticked off the others of Deirak who believe Myldea to be…backwards in some regards.”
“Backwards?” Daniil demands.
“Many believe you rely too much on magic. The truth is they’re afraid of you. Magic isn’t as prevalent in our lands and some of the remote areas view it as a thing only of evil.” Audra shrugs. “I for one, have no opinion on that, except I think many are simply jealous.”
“How many have you brought to fight with us, Audra Sellin,” Ime asks.
“I’ve brought ten thousand, a low number for an army, but high for pirates.”
“And we welcome it. There’s plenty of room for your men. Rest now from your travels and we’ll all meet tomorrow to begin the final preparations for war,” Ime says, facing the group.