Zachania II

Zachania II

The epic tale continues..........
The Zachanian army taking their first step to freedom after centuries of solitude and confinement, finally set foot back onto the sacred soil of Kratos.
The Empire after suffering the devastating and surprise defeat at Death Valley and the Holy town of Zanlia fall back to their fortress base of Kallick Town.
The Zachanian army led by Talon the Zararhakzar is now on the advance, striving to avenge their ancestors and break free from the hand of tyranny.
What happens next is a tale of heroism, sorcery and sacrifice..
Once again the island of Kratos is thrown into war, this time there will be no surrender and no mercy as each side battle for their very survival and future.......

It was a time of great heroes.
My blessed master led his Zachanian army back onto the sacred soil of Kratos.
What surprise my master gave them.
What nightmares my master provoked in them.
It was the time of Talon of Tallasian, the Zararhakzar.
A time when men were men.
And blood was the currency of the land.
Never again!   Never in the sands of time will such courage and valour be known.
They didn’t see it coming….how could they?
No one imagined the wrath my master would inflict…..



Chapter 30


Six Zachanian months later….

 After the historic battle at Death Valley and the holy town of Zanlia was liberated on the north coast. Lord Heikan and Ganasis with the assistance of the Kesains headed south obeying the King’s orders to conquer the seaport town of Tallasian. The Zachanians rampant with the smell of victory in their nostrils took just three days for Lord Heikan to enter the castle of Tallasian and take the imperial commanders as their prisoners. Days later the entire south-western region fell to the mighty Zachanian and Kesain warriors.
Now six full moons later and the land of Kratos was split into two separate lands, starting from the great river Gansis everything to the west was now conquered Zachanian land. The Empire, just as Ganasis predicted, retreated to their powerful imperial city of Kallick Town on the northern coast, where everything east of that town was still under strict imperial control.
The Zachanian armies stretched out across the west of Kratos with large concentrations in the towns of Vilsillius and Tallasian while the holy city of Zanlia contained the main strength of the Zachanian army.
As word spread of their triumphs, civilians from Zanlia and Tallasian flocked to join the Zachanian armies, swelling their manpower to fight the Empire.
Lord Zalon had arrived in Zanlia heading an armada of ten battleships which sat in the town’s harbour ready to attack or defend any advance from the sea.
Day to-day life in Kratos still continued as some of the old trade routes which used to run from Zanlia to Vilsillius had now been re-opened where tradesmen travelled freely between them, with even a select few now entering Zachania to peddle their trades.
King Arun had returned to Zachra, the capital town of Zachania and had given complete control to Ganasis and Lord Heikan to strengthen their positions in Kratos.
After his near fatal injuries at the onslaught of Zanlia, Talon was nursed back to health by the Pangkors, where he remained at their temple in Zanlia. Seldom did he attend council meetings anymore, instead he chose his time to study and meditate, he chose solitude within the confines of the temple.
When people heard about his miraculous recovery, the name Talon became revered amongst the common people, gossip of his powers were exaggerated greatly amongst the townsfolk, every evening at one of the Zanlian taverns you would hear talk about Talon’s invincibility as patrons made chatter over their jugs of wine and ale.
His name had become a word for honour and strength, weak men would use Talon’s name as an inspiration and strong men would use his name as a role model for valour, his reputation was now unparalleled, he was a man amongst men, becoming almost godlike.
Occasionally Talon would break from his solitude and speak at large gatherings within the temple grounds, Pangkors would travel from all over the western provinces to see and hear him preach the words of the Pangs.
Zanlia was now the centre of all Kratos for the Pangkor religion, pilgrims and holy men flocked in their thousands, just in the hope of seeing or hearing the ‘Pangkorgower’ or lord of all monks as they now called him. Even the Kesain’s seemed to revere him as they gave him their own secret name which was totally incomprehensible in the language of man.
When Ganasis returned victorious from the south he also made Zanlia his new home, the wizard set up residence in the south-western quarter of the city, commonly known as ‘the merchant quarter’.
Ganasis had been awake all night holding various meetings; he looked frustrated as he waited for the Lords to arrive to an emergency council meeting that he had called for the night before. When Lords Heikan, Tanaga, Krazmos and Talon’s grandfather Lord Zalon arrived he wasted no time in addressing them.
“Gentleman, for six months Zanlia has been a town of peace ………. Now I must tell you that last night three warehouses full of grain were burned to the ground.”
“Who is responsible?” asked Lord Heikan interrupting him as all the Lords found themselves thinking the same thing.
Ganasis threw his hands up into the air and curled his top lip showing ignorance to the Lords question,
“Our defence is watertight here, no way could anyone slip through it.” added Lord Tanaga
“Are you saying this sabotage has come from within?” asked Heikan.
“Indeed!….We have traitors in our midst.” replied Ganasis.
Lord Zalon who had been silent up to now looking very concerned suddenly asked Heikan a question.
“When you say from within, what are you implying?”
Ganasis raised his hand and then sat down to reply,
“Lord Zargar in Tallasian has been sending me reports for weeks saying that he has been experiencing similar events, now with these events happening here in Zanlia, I fear that a belief I have had… might be coming true.”
“What belief is that?” replied Heikan Sternly.
Ganasis looked around the room before he answered in a lower tone of voice,
“It is my belief that the Empire left men here in Zanlia and in Tallasian, men who have been integrated into the Zanlians and ordered to cause as much disruption as possible.”
“How many men Ganasis?” snapped lord Zalon.
“Who knows lord Zalon, they could be working as fishermen, farmers, merchants, they could be everywhere.”
“So what do we do, I for one do not feel comfortable not knowing whom I am speaking to.” added lord Krazmos.
“Ganasis, we are on the verge of preparing our armies to attack Kallick Town, what we do not need is a secret army at our backs burning our food, I say we take drastic measures now, we should put Zanlia under curfew.” snapped lord Heikan.
Ganasis shook his head strongly in disagreement at what Heikan had just said.
“Heikan we cannot put these people under curfew, they have suffered enough under the Empire, they have opened their arms to us, we cannot reward their friendship with cruelty.”
“Ganasis, today they burn corn, tomorrow they might burn a ship, then they may start killing us, whatever needs to be done must be done to stop this before they grow in confidence, we should make the town aware we know there are saboteurs in our midst, today we have a problem, tomorrow it might be a catastrophe.” added lord Zalon.
“I agree with what you say Zalon, there must be action from us.”
“I say we send for Falkan, it’s his town, let him find these rats for us.” Heikan added.
“I am meeting him this afternoon.” replied Ganasis
“Tell him what you told us Ganasis, see what he says, then we will talk again tonight.” barked Heikan sternly.
As Ganasis walked amongst the townsfolk of Zanlia in the afternoon he found himself looking at the Zanlians in a new light, the sun was shining as it was yesterday but today he looked at everyone through suspicious eyes, as people greeted him he smiled but found himself asking himself if they could be imperial soldiers, he knew how damaging this new way of thought was, strangers could now be his enemy, Ganasis tried to rid his mind of the thoughts but no matter how hard he tried he could not see any friendly faces anymore, frustrated he changed direction and headed towards the Pangkor temple.
“I am here to see Lord Talon!” he announced as two Pangkor monks opened the large wooden gates.
“Is the Pangkorgower expecting you?” answered one of the monks which offended Ganasis straight away.
“No he is not and my business with Lord Talon is none of your concern!” snapped Ganasis clearly showing his anger.
“It is Okay,” replied the other monk recognising who Ganasis was and ushering him in,
“Please come in.,” he added politely.
Ganasis was then escorted across the temple courtyard to a room where he was politely asked to wait while Talon would be informed of his visit, Ganasis was just about to ask where Talon was when he heard his voice,
“Ah my Lord Talon is in the gardens.” said the monk also hearing the voice.
Ganasis quickly made his way back out into the temple gardens where he found Talon sitting cross legged on a large red rug amongst the flower beds.
“Talon.” Ganasis said warmly seeing his friend.
“Ganasis, how are you my friend, it has been a while since I saw you.” said Talon rising to his feet to meet Ganasis.
Ganasis greeted Talon by shaking his hand and then sat down on the rug next to him.
“You look troubled my friend.” Talon asked noticing the frown on Ganasis’s face.
“We have been attacked.”
“The fires.” replied Talon surprising Ganasis.
“How do you know about them?”
“Ganasis there is not much that happens in Zanlia that misses the Pangkors attention.”
“Do the Pangkors know who is responsible then Talon?” Ganasis snapped back with sarcasm in his voice.
“No Ganasis they do not!”
“Neither do we, it is a mystery, no one saw or heard anything, all we have is ash, ash that was once food which was to feed our soldiers.” replied Ganasis clearly showing his frustration in his voice.
“Then there is three possible conclusions, firstly it was an accident, secondly it was Zanlians who dislike us or thirdly and what I think most likely, the Empire have men hidden in Zanlia and it is they who are responsible.”
“I suspect the third theory.” replied Ganasis.
Talon then walked towards a table and picked up a large scroll then brought it back and gave it to Ganasis.
“What is this?” asked the wizard.
“It is a beginning my friend.”
“A beginning?”
“This is a list of names, hundreds of them, men who have made Zanlia their home over the past year.”
“Where did you get this Talon?”
“It is called a census, for years the Pangkors have been documenting the families and homes in Zanlia, in this scroll you will find every person who has moved to Zanlia to find work.”
“Excellent!” snapped Ganasis.
Ganasis and Talon then devised a plan to find the men responsible for the fires, it was decided that Graval Should command a group of men to keep watch on the more likely men on the list, hopefully they would find the saboteurs.
Ganasis then said his farewells, saying he was going to find Graval and give him his new orders, Talon told Ganasis that he was talking at a Pangkor seminar tomorrow and asked if the wizard would like to attend.
“Of course I would, where is it?”
“At noon tomorrow at the south gate of the temple.”
“Then I shall see you tomorrow Talon.”

The south-eastern outskirts of Zanlia were commonly known as the farming quarter as it hosted dozens of barns and countless fields of wheat, the farming quarter also employed hundreds of Zanlians working every day for long hours nurturing the land and harvesting the crops.
Sharsaan was a huge man who was well regarded as one of the best workers on the Klaneck family farm, Sharsaan had arrived in Zanlia nine months ago when the town was still under imperial rule, because of his size and strength the Klaneck family hired him immediately. Sharsaan was regarded as one of the Klaneck families most trusted workers and he had access to all the buildings.
Sharsaan had been working since dawn under the blistering sun and when lunch time arrived he was thankful to escape into the shade, Sharsaan had some lunch and then made his way to one of the barns on the far side of the farm where six men were inside waiting for him.
“Captain.” one of the men greeted him.
Sharsaan walked into the barn and closed the door behind him, once inside he placed a note which was sealed with the Empire’s crest down onto a large bale of hay.
“General Krustov gave me this note and told me not to open it for six months.” he said as he began to rip open the note.
“What does it say?” asked one of the men.
“It is an order.” answered Sharsaan still reading the note.
“An assassination …….we are to kill the Zachanian called Talon.” he added.
“The Zararhakzar.” replied one of the men sounding concerned.
“Yes.” replied Sharsaan.
“It is a suicide mission Captain!”
“It is our orders.” replied Sharsaan coldly accepting what his companion had just said.

Learning of the Empire’s crushing defeat at Death Valley and the loss of Zanlia, the Emperor Tash Von Kallick was so outraged so he personally took control of his Imperial armies, he ordered all of his soldiers to retreat to Kallick Town where they would be joined by a hundred legions sent from the Palace lands to strengthen the borders and halt any further advances east from the Zachanians.
Grarlin the wizard grand who had only just managed to escape the wrath of the Zachanians at Zanlia was summoned to stand before the Emperor where was punished severely, the wizard was publicly flogged by the Emperor himself before being exiled to the barren land of Degrain where he was to oversee the training of a new breed of one hundred warriors created by the Emperor. These elite warriors were called the Kinjouras, whose bloodline had been doctored with various other beasts to create a formidable creation, the Emperor had also bestowed them with magical powers and an infallible will to kill.
For the last six months the Kinjouras had been trained by the Emperor’s finest assassins, new weapons had been crafted and created for them; their teaching was relentless as they excelled in the art of battle. They were resolute, stoic, robust and their sole existence was to assassinate leading members of the Zachanian hierocracy with stealth and total obedience, even the evil wizard Grarlin was fearful and careful around these cold blooded killers, their nature was terrifying as they lived only to kill for the Emperor.

The morning sun in Zanlia was struggling to burn through the clouds as hundreds of pilgrims and holy men began to gather at the south gate of Pangkor temple, there was an excited feeling in the air as they waited in eager anticipation for Talon’s seminar to begin. Ganasis had arrived early at the temple and was sitting in the gardens having a discussion with Talon.
“Have you spoken to Graval yet?” asked Talon.
“Yes I have given him his orders and I have spoken to Lord Falkan as well.”
“Falkan! How is he, I have heard he has formed his own army of Zanlians.”
“Yes he has, they number almost fifty thousand.”
“I think lord Falkan is an honourable man but his hatred for the Empire is greater than his loyalty to Zachania.”
“Falkan knows his limits Talon.”
“I hope so Ganasis, we don’t need fifty thousand men deciding to do their own thing.”
“Anyway Talon, have you seen your grandfather lately?” asked Ganasis changing the subject which made Talon smile hearing his grandfather's name.
“Yes he shouted at me yesterday, said I was spending too much time with the Pangkors and neglecting my responsibilities with war.” added Talon smiling.
Ganasis then grabbed Talon by the arm and leaned closer to him.
“Talon ….. Is the war over for you?” Ganasis asked looking him coldly in the eye.
Talon half smiled then paused for a moment before giving his reply,
“This war is embedded deep within my heart Ganasis, it will never be over for me but for now I feel my presence is needed more by the Pangkors”
“The council misses you my friend ….. I miss you Talon, we still have much to do to win this war.”
Again Talon smiled looking slightly embarrassed.
“Ganasis if we prevail in this war and defeat the Empire then we also defeat their laws, I hate the Empire but some of their laws are good, a new Kratos without the Empire will need new leaders and laws and I firmly believe we will need men of faith for that task, men who want to care for his brother rather than kill them, for me the Pangkor way is the only way forward for a new Kratos.”
Ganasis tilted his head at Talon’s reply as he agreed with some of what he had said but also disagreed as well.
“Talon, you speak of things that are far into the future, no one can say what will happen.”
“Ganasis you have lived very long my friend; you know how fast the future arrives. Once the Empire is gone, much of Kratos will be barren land, lawless land, land that can bring much power to those who wish to seize it. We must have faith in Kratos or we will get warlords hungry for land and power.”
“Talon, you cannot change everyone and it is foolish to believe so, men will always want power and war.”
“We must try Ganasis.”
Ganasis shook his head slightly frustrated by Talon’s stubbornness, he decided to have this conversation another day so he asked him another question .
“Talon, do you remember the spell book you retrieved from the cave of Apollo?”
“And you remember our plan to find the artefacts?”
“Of course I do.”
“You are the only man who can find these items Talon.”
“Ganasis, my life is with the Pangkors now.”
Ganasis sighed loudly as he was growing more and more frustrated.
“What is all this Pangkor poppycock!...We agreed to find the artefacts Talon!”
Talon shook his head at his friend as he knew what Ganasis was saying was the truth, but Talon was now living in a conflicted state of mind, the desire for revenge was still very much in his heart, but after a dream where Apollo told him to stay with the Pangkors and seek out and read the holy book of Pang in Varanasa he felt pulled in all directions.
Talon and Ganasis were then interrupted by a monk who came to fetch Talon for the seminar
“My lord, it is time for your speech.” the monk said quietly.
“HE IS BUSY!” snapped Ganasis angered at the interruption.
“Come Ganasis, we will speak of these matters another time.” Talon replied as he rose to his feet.
Talon and Ganasis then walked off with the monk leading them to the south gate entrance where a platform had been erected so that the crowd which was now in its thousands could see and hear Talon. The sun was now high in the sky making the crowd hot and uncomfortable but their spirits were high as they waited excited to see the man they called the prophet of Apollo.
Everyone was in jovial mood, smiling and greeting people from all parts of the island except a group of twenty men who were dressed heavily for the weather and did not seem to be sharing in the good will and joyful atmosphere, their face’s could not hide their nervousness as they jostled and fidgeted for positions. This group was then joined by another hooded man who walked through the crowd and walked up to the leader who when noticing him leant down so that the man could whisper in his ear.
“Captain all five hundred men are in position and are awaiting your signal.” he said.
Sharsaan pulled down his hood to reveal his cold eyes and scarred face, he glimpsed around at the crowd and gave his comrade a sinister grin.
“It is perfect, not a Zachanian in sight, only these pitiful pilgrims.” he replied.
“We have a boat prepared at the east of the docks.” replied the man who joined them though it was said half-heartedly as they all knew escape was just a slight possibility.
“Good, take your positions and wait for my signal.” replied Sharsaan.
The crowd then burst into applause as Talon and Ganasis accompanied by a few monks walked into sight onto the platform, Talon smiled at the crowd then raised his hands asking for silence so that he could begin talking to them.
“BROTHERS! …..BROTHERS! …..I want to speak to you about a subject I feel we must all attain, spiritual purity, when your spirit is pure, your mind is free, free from desires and free from evil. The time has come where your lives have been freed from the oppressive ways of the Empire, we must now all seek to free our minds from the dark places they have been subjected to. War is now across our island, men have and will be killed, families have become bitter and engulfed with desire to revenge their loved ones, strong bonds and loyalties are being formed. While this war goes on these feelings will grow stronger, these desires for revenge will remain until this evil Empire and its minions are driven from this land, but we must control these feelings, we cannot allow these desires to overwhelm us. Pangkor is the answer, Pangkor can help us control these mixed emotions, we must never become what we fight. If we replace an evil man with a cold blooded man then what have we achieved, we must strive to be better, strive to be examples of what a man should be, honour, decency, clemency, these are what we must be to defeat evil.”
The crowd then burst into cheer making Talon stop for a moment where he took a quick sip of water, when he returned to face the crowd again he noticed out the corner of his eye a few heavily dressed men making their way through the crowd towards the platform, Talon’s instinct told him that these men looked out of place, one of the men had now reached the staircase of the platform and was standing close to one of the Pangkor monks, Talon looked carefully at the man and noticed an outline under his garments which looked like a sword, the man then spotted Talon’s interest in him and quickly looked away nervously not wanting to make eye contact with Talon.
Moments later the man threw off his outer garment to reveal his sword and knives around his waist, he pulled his sword and with one swift move he cut the Pangkor monk down who was standing next to him, suddenly the whole crowd burst into panic and began to scatter everywhere.
Talon shouted to his wizard friend before turning back to face the sword wielding man who was now half way up the platform stairs and advancing quickly towards him.
Talon half crouched and waited for the man to attack, then with blistering speed Talon attacked first with a mighty kick to the man’s chest causing him to fly through the air dropping his sword, quickly Talon ran over to him and raised his leg and then brought the sole of his foot crashing down onto the man’s face knocking him into unconsciousness.
Talon’s attention was then drawn to a violent scream from amongst the crowd, turning quickly he saw more men with swords in hand running towards the platform, Talon looked down and grabbed the sword on the ground from the fallen man and then readied himself, the first soldier attacked Talon but was slain swiftly from a masterful manoeuvre from Talon where the soldier ended up being stabbed through the chest, then two more soldiers jumped onto the platform and attacked, Talon moved gracefully with amazing speed and moments later two more soldiers lay at his feet bleeding, Talon swished his sword through the air in a circular motion to face more attacks, his face was now determined and lost in the state of battle, then out of the corner of his eye he saw that Ganasis and two monks were being attacked on their way to the south gate entrance, he felt a shiver run down his back as he realised that his wizard friends life was in desperate danger, with a manic action Talon jumped from the platform and began fighting the soldiers who barred his way towards Ganasis.
Talon fought using all his speed, anger and passion as he felt himself fearing for his friend, four soldiers quickly hit the ground slain as Talon fought his way closer to Ganasis, the sound of Talon’s sword crashing against the soldier’s swords and bodies filled the narrow pathway.
“AAARRRRHHHHH!!!!” Talon screamed as his fighting became so frantic he lost all control of his anger, soldier after soldier fell as Talon fought relentlessly to reach his friend, then he saw out of the corner of his eye a soldier raising his sword at Ganasis.
“NO!” Talon screamed in terror as he saw his wizard friend fall,
“GANASIS!” he screamed before launching into the most frenzied attack anyone had ever seen and caring nothing for his own life, within moments fifteen soldiers lay dead as Talon jumped across their bleeding bodies to reach Ganasis who was still slumped on the ground. Talon was then joined by Zachanian warriors who drove the remaining soldiers into retreat, chasing them into the streets of Zanlia.
“Ganasis, Ganasis!” Talon emotionally cried as he cradled the wizard's head in his hands
“GANASIS!” he screamed again.
Ganasis opened his eyes barely and then grabbed Talon’s arm, blood was coming from his mouth and he mustered all of his strength to talk.
“Talon …….help the King win this war…… find the artefacts, find the artefacts.”
“Ganasis, Ganasis, stay awake, you’ll be alright Ganasis!”
Talon then called over two monks and together they picked Ganasis up and ran into the temple with him, he was taken to the nearest room where more monks arrived and immediately started to help him, they removed his garments and put wet rags on his wounded chest, Talon saw one of the monks pushing his chest hard as they struggled to stem the flow of blood.
“My Lord he is bleeding badly!”
“If he dies then so does everyone in this room.” Talon snapped back.
Talon was then disturbed by an arm coming around him and pulling him away from Ganasis and the monks, Talon turned angrily to see it was Heikan pulling him away.
“LET THEM DO THEIR WORK!” Heikan shouted forcefully as he pulled Talon from the room, once outside Heikan used his heavy bulk to push Talon up against a wall, he grabbed his arms and looked him close in the face.
“TALON!…relax, relax, what happened?”
“They came from the crowd, they were soldiers, we were attacked.”
Talon then noticed one of the monks coming from the room with an armful of blood soaked cloths.
“Is he alive?” Talon asked clearly showing fear in his voice.
“Barely my lord.” replied the monk though not looking very optimistic.
Talon looked at Heikan as they both felt their hearts drop at the thought they were losing Ganasis.
“What the damn happened Talon?” Heikan asked again.
Talon sighed loudly as he wiped away some of Ganasis’s blood from his face.
“How did you get here Heikan?” he asked.
“We were returning from the fields, as we passed the crowd we saw all the commotion break loose.” replied Heikan.
Kinlan then burst into the corridor covered in blood with a frantic look on his face.
“Are you alright?” barked Heikan.
“Yes my lord it is not mine.”
“We killed the rest of them, we have also taken two prisoners.” he added.
“You have two of them alive?” asked Talon.
“Yes my Lord.”
Talon turned to Heikan and spoke to him determined.
“No matter what, I want them kept alive, keep them alive till I see them.”
“We will try lord Talon.”
“KINLAN! … ALIVE!” Talon shouted back at him.
“Yes my Lord.”
Heikan looked at Talon and gave him a look that he understood his last demand, Talon half smiled at his friend before walking back into the room, when Talon entered he felt sick as he saw his friend lying still on the bed, blood was everywhere as the monks tried to clean it away and were rubbing herbs into his wound, Talon walked slowly over and reached out to grab the old wizard's blood soaked hand, Talon then knelt down and cupped the wizard's hand into both his own, he looked deeply at him and concentrated,
“Ganasis… if you can hear me in your mind then understand that I am ordering you to live… I am ordering you to refuse death, together and only together can we win, I need you by my side when we walk into the Palace lands as free men…. Live Ganasis…. Live Ganasis… if you die then Zachania dies with you.”
Talon’s eyes were firmly closed as he tightly gripped the wizard's hands, the Pangkor monks looked on at Talon’s scowled face from the concentration he was showing trying desperately with all of his will to talk to Ganasis with his thoughts.
News of the attack spread quickly throughout the city, Talon stayed with Ganasis holding his hand as Talon’s grandfather lord Zalon burst into the room making everyone jump. Zalon saw Talon on the ground besides Ganasis and then slowly walked over to his grandson and placed a hand on his shoulder to comfort him, Talon knew it was his grandfather instantly; he opened his eyes and looked up at him, his face still stricken with grief.
“You are safe!” Zalon said quietly and thankfully.
Talon tried to give his grandfather a smile but failed miserably, he then turned his head back towards Ganasis, Zalon walked over to one of the monks and asked him how Ganasis was,
“He is gravely ill sir.” whispered the monk back to him.
“Is there anything I can do?” asked Zalon.
“We can pray.” replied the monk solemnly to him.
“Pray!...What bloody good will that do?” answered Zalon before nodding at the monk and turning around just about to leave the room when he was distracted by a growling noise coming from Ganasis; Talon raised his head as he felt Ganasis grip his hand.
“Ganasis.” Talon whispered as a sudden rush of hopefulness swept over him.
“Ganasis, come back to us.” Talon added now smiling.
Everyone in the room focused their attention on Ganasis’s twitching hand and when the old man coughed, smiles and sighs of relief broke out amongst them; he coughed again only this time louder which made a monk rush to his side and lift his head.
“More cushions.” he asked another monk who quickly grabbed one and carefully placed it under the head of the wizard.
“Ganasis.” Talon said focusing on the wizard's face.
“GANASIS!” Talon added raising his voice.
Slowly Ganasis opened his bloodshot eyes and scowled as he saw Talon.
“Why is everyone fussing over me?” he gasped which made everyone smile.
Ganasis then looked deeply at Talon and tried to smile.
“I heard you my friend,……..I will be with you…..The Palace lands.” he just managed to say as he closed his eyes again.
“I will be waiting for you my friend.” replied Talon before rising to his feet and kissing the wizard on the forehead.
“We must let him rest.” one of the monks then said, where Talon agreed and left the room with his grandfather.
“Talon are you alright my son?” asked Zalon as soon as they got into the corridor.
“Yes grandfather I am now.” Talon replied emphasizing that Ganasis looked to be out of danger.
Zalon then grabbed his grandson by the arm and raised his voice.
“What did I tell you about this damn Pangkor dream of yours, by the gods it is a miracle that it is not I on my knees in there holding your hand?”
“Grandfather this has nothing to do with the Pangkors, they were after me.” replied Talon his voice filled with anguish.
Zalon gazed into the ceiling and sighed loudly.
“Nothing to do with the Pangkors you say, have you lost your mind?”
“How was this anything to do with Pangkor!” snapped Talon now raising his own voice.
“Where has your sense gone grandson!, It was advertised all over Zanlia where you would be, everyone knew in the city that you were speaking at the gates of that damn temple, no guards, no warriors, just cowardly pilgrims with you, Talon you were a sitting target.”
“Grandfather this is Zanlia, I did not think I would need guards, we have an army out there.”
“ZANLIA!” barked Zalon.
“This is Kratos! And as long as the Empire remains in Kratos then your life will always be in peril…..Damn Pangkors, for six months you have hidden behind the walls of that temple and within six months it has turned you into a fool, look at you in those silly robes, where is your sword? Six months ago you would have seen this trap a week before it was even planned, by the gods, you are acting like a woman!” added Zalon now enraged but cursing himself silently for cursing Talon so harshly.
“Grandfather when this war is won we will need men who wi.” replied Talon only to be rudely interrupted by his grandfather who spoke abrupt and angrily,
“THE WAR IS NOT WON YET! … We have had this conversation before and I have already heard what it is you have to say, but now you will listen to me….forget this damn Pangkor nonsense and pick up your sword again and get back to what you,… you started!”
Talon felt like he had just been hit in the stomach as he looked at his grandfather’s rage.
“I thought I was doing the right thing grandfather.” he sighed quietly looking like a child being reprimanded by a parent, Zalon looked down at his grandson and for the first time realised how much expectation and pressure he was under and he also realised that he was still only a young man, a young man who was being hailed as the saviour of a civilisation.
“Come here.” Zalon said as he pulled his grandson to his chest.
“You have the weight of the world on your shoulders my boy,  do not leave me again.” he added warmly rubbing his hair.
“It is the life I chose grandfather but how I inspire the men pulls me in every direction.”
“Talon it is by fighting that you inspire the men, you were born to fight, trained to fight, when you fight and lead men into battle you make them show more bravery, average men become better men when they stand by your side.”
Talon listened to his grandfather’s words as they hit him hard, he then told his grandfather about a matter that had been troubling him for some months.
“When Heikan captured the town of Tallasian, I thought it better that I am not involved in further plans of attack, it was almost as if I felt I was no longer needed.”
“Tallasian, what has Tallasian got to do with anything? You were wounded when we took that town.”
“But it was I grandfather who wanted to lead an army into Tallasian that was once our hometown grandfather, It hurt me that it was not I who defeated the Empire there.”
“Talon, we were both there, in our spirits we were there, we started this war, you and I.”
“I just thought the Pangkors needed me more.”
“Talon you have been so blind, you speak of the Pangkors needing you, but open your eyes, we have been static here in Zanlia for months now, the Empire is preparing, but we have no plans for battle.”
“Why grandfather?”
“Because no one wants to make a decision Talon! No one wants to commit themselves to attack Kallick Town for fear of defeat, the King has returned to Zachania and in my opinion unwisely placed command in the hands of Heikan and Ganasis.”
“Lord Heikan is a good man grandfather, why do think it was unwise by the King?”
“Yes lord Heikan is a good man and a great warrior, but a King he is not, Heikan is better being led than leading.”
“Yes I can see that but he has Ganasis by his side to advise him.”
“Ganasis is old Talon, Heikan is old, I am old, old men like to plan and hold meetings, war is for young men full of energy and ambition, men like you and the King, one in Zachania and one behind a temple wall, two men who have turned their backs on this war.” answered Zalon trying to show his grandson some of his wisdom.
“I have never turned my back.”
“In your own way you have grandson.”
Talon felt lost for words at his grandfather’s words, Talon then smiled as he felt pride at how wise he sounded.
“It pains me to say, but all of this is because of you grandson.” Zalon then added pointing to the door that Ganasis was behind.
“You blame me for Ganasis!”
“Not directly, but there was a time when it was strictly forbidden to kill a wizard, no man would dare attempt it for fear of what would become of him and his family, but since you killed the wizards at Korvak castle, people have seen that it is a crime that can go unpunished.”
“That was my action and my decision; surely people do not think that.”
“Talon, everything you do is spoken about; your actions are copied across the land.”
Talon lowered his head from his grandfather’s stare and looked at the door that Ganasis was behind.
“What do you think I should do grandfather?” he said turning back.
“You must take back control of the council, Heikan will willingly stand down for you and when Ganasis regains his strength you must concentrate everything on attacking the Empire at Kallick Town!”
“Kallick Town!” Talon snapped back suddenly feeling refreshed and invigorated as he found himself enjoying the thought of getting back into battle.
“Talon listen to me, the time is now, never have we been so strong, since our victory at Death Valley we have been rebuilding our armies, we have had thousands of men from all over the island flock to join us, over seventy percent of all Zachanian males are now in one of the great houses armies, Talon we must seize this moment, if we dither now then I fear we may lose everything.”

Zachania Tome two
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