Attacking Cossack, by Charles Matthias

Story name: Attacking Cossack
Author: Charles Matthias
Publication date: April 13, 1998 (on TSA-List)

Date: Sunday, 1 week after Easter
Location: Metamor Keep (Charles's room, the throne room)

Overview

Matthias returns from the patrol, but his mind is on the breaking point, and one wrong move nearly causes him to commit an act of treason.

Summary

Kimberly eagerly awaits the return of Matthias from the expedition he was sent on, asking Bernadette for help choosing a nice dress to greet him with. She goes to the gates and is shocked by Matthias's unkempt appearance; he meekly tells her to wait for him in his room.

After an hour or so of waiting, Matthias finally returns, his mood lifting a bit as he sees her. He is ashamed to have done so much killing, and Kimberly asks why. He explains that he cannot stop thinking about the innocent families that he destroys with each death, and that he is forced to commit the act himself, especially after making him break his promise not to kill.

Kimberly begs him to forget about what happened for the day, when they are interrupted by Kee, with a message from the Duke. Charles reads it and stiffens. Without a word, he quickly marches through the Keep to the King's throne room, snapping the guards' weapons and pushing them out of the way.

At the moment, Loriod is accusing Jon of stealing a statue that was discovered in a forest on his property. The guards try to stop him, and Jon joins in by shifting to his raptor morph, but Matthias knocks them all aside, even tearing through the prime minister's magic wall of air. Two more guards hold Kimberly as Charles leaps onto the throne and angrily shoves the letter in front of the Duke, angry that the Duke doesn't know what he went through to kill.

The Duke stares back, and Charles comes to his senses and collapses. The guards regroup and pin him, and Kimberly pleads for mercy, tearing her dress in the process. The Prime Minister declares that the two of them will be executed, and Thomas silences him, as Charles had not touched him, and therefore will not die, but will spend one week in the dungeons, and spend the rest of his life on patrol.

The guards haul off Charles, who has fallen into a miserable stupor. Thalberg suggests that the Duke's sentence might be too rash, and the Duke decides to lessen Charles's patrol to one month. Thalberg then discusses the need to improve the Duke's security. The four of them express confusion over Charles's display, although Loriod is less concerned than the others. Thomas notices Kimberly, and asks that she be taken to her room; she is not to see Matthias until tomorrow.

Kimberly is tossed into her room, her dress in ruins, and her future with Matthias in doubt. She cries.

Characters

Main characters:

  • Kimberly: Matthias's beloved. She is timid and afraid of violence. Her one wish for the day is to see Charles again and to see him happy. She is unable to get through his anger, and she is left in misery in her room, with her blue dress, retailored by Matthias for her new form, in disrepair.
  • Charles Matthias: A rat morph who detests violence, and has come back from a violent expedition. He is in miserable hygienic condition when he returns; he barely has time to clean up before he gets Kee's message. For his actions, he is thrown into the dungeons for a week and given one month of patrol duty as punishment, although he leaves thinking it will be patrol duty for life.

Supporting:

  • Duke Thomas: The Duke of Metamor Keep. He sends a message of thanks to Matthias, which triggers an aggressive response. He has a more subdued anger than Bob, maintaining control of
  • Prime Minister Bob: A powerful wizard and an advisor to the Duke. He is enraged by Matthias's actions and tries to give a harsh sentence, but is quickly overruled by the Duke.
  • Thalberg: The chief steward for the Duke. He does not react to the attack on the Duke; instead, he uses the opportunity to stress the importance of justice and security for the Duke.

Cameo:

  • Bernadette: Kimberly's fellow servant, a mouse morph. She is at least twenty years older than Kimberly, and is a bit shorter than her. She is kind and supportive to Kimberly. Here, she helps Kimberly put on a suitable dress to meet Charles.
  • Copernicus: Leader of the expedition that Matthias is in. He is more concerned with Christopher, though.
  • Bryan, Christopher: Other members of the expedition, whom Kimberly does not recognize. Christopher is still stuck in his feral bear form.
  • Kee: A Keep messenger. He is seen delivering two messages, one to the Lothanasi temple, another to Charles from the Duke.
  • Jon: A quartermaster of the Keep. He wears an amulet that lets him transform into a raptor.
  • Loriod: A fat and entitled nobleman. He is pleased to see Matthias being taken away.

Mentioned:

  • Harthan: The man whom Kimberly was betrothed to, before she ran away to Metamor.
  • Magus: The most powerful mage in the Keep, off discussing the weather with Saroth.
  • Saroth: The weather dragon. He is concerned about the ongoing heat wave.

Points of Interest

  • Thalberg "served under [Thomas's] father, then [Thomas's] mother before he left on his journey". This suggests Thomas's mother was gender-changed and left the throne for Thomas to go on a journey. The syntax is ambiguous, however.
  • The only heir to the throne, Princess Malisa, is missing. This was a reference to the non-canon story Distant Voices.
  • The exact technique Matthias uses to counter Posti's spells is the Longfugos technique, as revealed in Keeping the Lamp Lit.
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