Even surrounded by death, Guijus Tellador had never felt so alive. Perhaps this is how it should always have been: ruling with a sword and fist, doing what was needed; forcing the present into the future, rather than waiting for it to happen. He had entered the city with the third wave, finding streets filled with a sticky, burning tar that disrupted their maneuvers, diverting them down side passages and away from the planned, optimum route, thus slowing their advance - which was no doubt the intent. Nevertheless, the Bruckin forces were meagre and largely inconsequential compared to the might and overwhelming numbers of Guijus' forces. Bruckin had ambitious and optimistic city guards but posed no real threat, not against the combined opposing power of all the valley.
Guijus had pulled in recruits from all parts of Lagonia, forming an army unlike anything seen since the old wars before he was born. It marked a return to a prior age, when the glory of combat prevailed over the slow churn of diplomacy. It felt raw, and hot, and real - none of the stagnation and interminability of politics. Each of his soldiers was there because they wanted to make a difference and build a better Lagonia, and Guijus was filled with a pride and confidence he hadn't experienced in years. Bruckin would soon be his and he would either find or avenge Kirya, and then a new chapter in the valley's history would begin, when things would be done differently and done better. His life had purpose, for the first time in what felt like years.
The arrival of foreign vessels had provided a further challenge, of course, but even they couldn't stand against the sheer size and momentum of the Lagonian army. Guijus did not know from where they had come - perhaps secret technology developed by the Liefs behind closed doors, kept away from the court. Yet more proof that Bruckin was not to be trusted and should never have been allowed to prosper for as long as it had: they had clearly been following their own insurgent agenda for quite some time. He'd never trusted them, but had never fully suspected Baron Lief of actively working against the crown.
Bruckin was built on the side of a mountain, lying on its inclines and gullies, forever rising up towards the unreachable peaks. Entering from the southern gates, almost every street angled up, making the push challenging and tiring: it was a city which demanded physical fitness even under the best conditions, let alone during conflict with many streets impassable and hostiles waiting on rooftops. Even higher above were the walkways and suspended platforms of the upper levels, where the Bruckin nobility raised themselves out of the steam and stench of furnaces and industry. He knew that Lief and his brother had always liked to present themselves as being somehow closer to their people, more in touch with the common man and woman, even while ruling from their bronze towers.
They had broken through the initial barricades, swept aside the feeble resistance that had been mounted and had navigated an improvised path around the worst of the street-level sabotage and blockages to reach the central square of the city, where all roads met. Bruckin was an unusually pedestrianised city, its streets often too narrow to accommodate vehicles or even a horse and cart, outside of the specific trade districts. That made its interior difficult and dangerous for any attacking force, but Bruckin had clearly been caught unprepared for the assault. As Guijus had suspected, visibly preparing for a long, drawn-out siege had been the perfect misdirection prior to this definitive action. After decades of stable rule, he was enjoying the thrill of unpredictability - his opponents did not know what he would do next, which had strengthened his hand and emboldened him to go further. If only he'd done this earlier, years ago, then the valley might have been in a very position - perhaps even have avoided this open conflict altogether.
He had regrets to fill two lifetimes; at least, now, he was doing something positive, to change Lagonia's path towards slow decline. Seldon had reminded them all that the outside world still existed and Lagonia needed to be ready: ready to venture forth, and explore, and defend itself when necessary.
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The Mechanical CrownFantasy
An explorer, a princess, a slave and a sword. A belief that the world can be better. The Mechanical Crown is an epic adventure full of intrigue, mystery and romance. When Tranton Seldon becomes the first to cross the mountains in hundreds of years...