The victory at Descar was a boon to the state of the Revolution. The Crown was drawing closer to its fall every day. There remained obstacles to the glorious day of the King’s demise. Obstacles which could only be overcome by the skill set she had spent years developing. She was beginning to wish she had focused on gardening or metal work instead. She was growing quite tired of consistently walking among the enemy.
The Academic was arriving by steam carriage to the town Calostadt. Many of her former neighbors and colleagues fled here when the siege of Tirr broke and those Loyal to the crown abandoned their homes for safer places. She knew she would be recognized, likely viewed with mistrust. She had not come to the safety of the loyalist community before the army’s defeat at Descar, why would she suddenly need the refuge of a loyal stronghold? She had at the ready a long and harrowing tale of living behind enemy lines, trying to keep the words of the king fresh in the minds of his subjects. She rehearsed it quite often before a mirror, but was still prone to laughter or finding the sudden and alarming taste of her last meal showing up in her throat again. The whole thing was unsettling.
Calodstadt was a coastal village built on brick and mortar. It was a city not for the feint of heart. Hurricanes were common during their season and any other time of year the sky could suddenly bubble gray and open on the citizens below. It was a far cry from where the loyalists came from where the weather was predictable, if a little boring. She wondered how the fat man Charles Crinswick, a banker from home, was faring in a town that always smelled of fish and rotted sea weed.
The loyalists were most interested in helping the king survive the rebellion in a manner they were most familiar with; spending money to great excess. Calodstadt was home to the largest landship factory in the king’s dominion. The Academic knew exactly how she wanted to see it fall.
The horseless carriage pulled to the town’s first checkpoint. A guard in the lavender coat she had seen so often bloodied and torn, stepped to the carriage and exchanged words with the driver. The engine behind her sputtered and popped as it idled. For a moment she was full of dread that there was no refuge for her, only prison followed by a gallows date. When the engine roared back to life, her fears subsided. If she was going to be caught, she was going to be caught in the act of sabotage, not before.
She peered through the carriage windows and examined the layout of town. Roads were orderly, streets were clean, the air smelled awful but she understood there was little to be done on that front, the people looked happy with the situation. She could not tell local from refugee. On every building the king’s flag waved with pride and soldiers marched two by two in defined routes. It was not until the soldiers appeared that she remembered why this town had to crumble.
The carriage slowed as it approached a factory. Towers poured thick black smoke to the sky. workers carried heavy steel girders from one end of the grounds to the other. Cannons stood next to each other in seemingly endless rows outside the building. This was the source of the king’s greatest asset. Landships moved troops quickly and had the firepower to take on regiments all on their own. She reviewed the scene, memorized every little detail and told the driver to continue on their journey. Her heart raced knowing that when night came she would become a saboteur once more. At least, she thought, it is not another gala.
Night fell quickly. There were no gas lamps or electric street lights in Calodstadt. The streets were black as pitch and quiet as could be. The Academic walked the streets from her rented room that was more lean-to than hotel, to the factory and looked at the source of so much destruction. At the battle of Descar, she saw the ships drive over hills and troops alike. The metallic beasts leveled buildings to help navigate the streets of Descar. She knew her words would have extra meaning this night.
She pulled a book from her bag. A book written by an architect some two hundred years prior. The architect’s name was lost to the ages, but some of his words remained. The tome was hand written by a scribe, likely new to the job as spelling and grammar were poor, but the Academic knew that mistakes happened and she let them slide as any member of a polite society would do. Her Greek was a little rusty, but she said the words from the book as best she could.
The sky above rumbled, the dirt below rattled. A plume of fire reached from the center of the factory floor straight to the sky. In one brilliant flash the flame stretched to the entire length of the building. The factory engulfed and the earth still moving, the Academic closed the book and returned to the cover of darkness. The sound of crashing metal and exploding furnaces filled the night air. The smell of fish and sea mixed with that of burning steel and brick.
Her task was complete. In the morning she would flee the town alongside a horde of freightened loyalists, all afraid that the terrible night was the work of some resistance fighter who slipped into their peaceful town bent on their destruction. She would say they were half right. She was never there to end the loyalists, just the thing they were loyal to.
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Thanks for reading!
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