As the air elemental carried the orc to the center building, my choice was before me: use the crystal or sentence everyone to death. However, it is a thing of chaos and difficult to control. As I tried and failed repeatedly, it dropped its orc on the roof, and another one appeared and did the same. As I struggled with the zoggin rock, I heard sounds of a battle and figured Ash and Miara must have gone up to meet the orcs.

The rock gave me encouragement, which both encouraged me and scared the shit out of me. Finally, I gained control of the first air elemental. I couldn't see it, as it had headed back to pick up another orc, I assumed. I merely commanded it to come up to me, and it obeyed. While it moved towards me, I had time to look around a little, and saw three fire elementals, and figured Carmella was busy. After a short while, the air elemental I now commanded appeared, holding another orc from below. I told it to drop it, and it did. It screamed all the way down. Briefly, I wondered if I had broken my vow: did that count as using a weapon to cause harm to another? But I had no time for philosophy then.

Then I figured I could help Miara and Ash, and I told it to go pick up one of the orcs on the roof. I saw my mistake: Ash was not on the roof and I didn't know where he'd gone; Jason was fighting beside Miara instead. I was glad to see him up there, but wondered where Ash was.

Before the air elemental arrived at the tower, Jason felled one of the two orcs he and Miara were fighting. I told the elemental to grab the one still standing, and it moved to comply, but one of the fire elementals appeared and attacked my air elemental. I yelled at Carmella, who hadn't realized I was controlling the air elemental, and she pulled hers away. The second orc wasn't getting up, and the first was quickly failing under the combined blows of Jason and Miara. It was interesting watching them. Jason fights simply and powerfully, landing strong blows on the orc one after another — very workman-like. Miara, on the other hand, doesn't hit with the same power, but looks like a whirlwind, swinging her two blades in a blur around her. She was very showy, but no less effective.

Since they had that battle under control, I recalled the air elemental to me. I wanted to move to the tower that would let me see both arms of the army below. Since there seemed to be several air elementals grabbing and dropping off orcs up here, I wanted to be able to see them before they appeared and gain control of them if I could.

The elemental picked me up and carried me to the other tower without incident. Riding within something that looked a bit like a dust devil was bizarre and awesome. It surrounded me, and the sound of the winds whipping around me drowned out much of the sound from outside. Although I floated freely in the air within the thing, the winds left me untouched, as if I were in a glass box inside the storm. As I floated gently to the other tower, I saw José in the courtyard below, apparently speaking with three fire elementals. I was glad to see he had extricated himself from the rubble somehow. Unfortunately, two more air elementals appeared and dropped off two more orcs for Miara and Jason, and its winds swept the two fighters off their feet.

Once I was dropped off on the tower, one of the other two air elementals started back down towards the army, while the other stared directly at me. It had no eyes, or face, but it still stared at me somehow. I told the one I controlled to attack it before it attacked me.

"My" elemental hit the other one pretty hard, but it didn't move and never stopped staring at me. I told it to move out of the way, and it obeyed me! Somehow I had control of two elementals. I told Number One to go grab one of the orcs from the center building roof and Number Two to attack the third one that was heading to pick up another orc from the army to bring up here.

Number Two obeyed, but somehow I lost control over Number One, and it veered away from the roof, probably to pick up another orc from below as well. Directing my attention to it, I re-gained control of it and sent it back to the roof, but I lost Number Two and it didn't attack the third one. I did have success with Number One: it picked up Miara's orc without blowing her or Jason down, and it dropped it to the ground far below as I commanded it. The third one appeared from below, holding an orc. I told it to drop it immediately, but it ignored me and placed its orc on the roof for Miara and Jason. This time, they were prepared for the blow of the small windstorm, and braced themselves against it.

I told Number One to attack Number Three, and they fought far enough from the roof that Miara and Jason could fight the orcs. I hoped Three would be kept busy for a short time so I could try to gain control of Two, who I knew would appear in a few moments carrying yet another orc.

This was like trying to remove water from a basement with a beer mug while a river poured in through the window. And this was only part of the battle: down at the gate was the other half of the battle, with only Hy, Goldrim, and a few guards against the army. We were fighting a holding action and destined to lose it. I realized that I could float away to safety within an air elemental, and hoped Carmella could do the same in a fire elemental.

Ravenna, A Monk of the Biancan Order

Part the First:
Blood and Mud

Part the Second:
Murder and Mayhem

Part the Third:
Puzzles and Crystals

Part the Fourth:
Dwarves and Rocks

Part the Fifth:
Diplomacy and Daggers

Part the Sixth:
Crystal and Chaos

Part the Seventh:
Sheer Insanity

~ The End ~