A Glibertarians Exclusive: Fire and Ice Part VI

by | May 8, 2023 | Fiction | 75 comments

On a longboat

“Smoke!”  A wind-magic user standing in the prow of the lead longboat was pointing to the shore south of their position.  Several columns of gray-black smoke were rising there, from where Mabinne knew there was a small Beretanian town.

Again, Mabinne said to herself.  There’s someone new in charge of the Ikslunder troops, someone who is taking them on the offensive.  Their General, what was his name, Gustafson, he would not be so bold.

Mabinne shook her head.  Whatever was going on, there was a Beretanian town ablaze, and General Kokko’s infantry was still straggling down the coast.  “Wind users,” Mabinne called out, “move us towards the shore.  We’ll see what’s going on.”

Aalis Pummeroy stood up, looking at the pillars of smoke.  “General Kokko’s troops may well be an hour or more’s march away.  If we land, we won’t have his support.”

“It may be just bandits,” Mabinne suggested.

“But if it’s not?  What if it’s Ikslunder soldiers?”

“We have almost all of our magic-users in the fleet.”  Mabinne reached into her pouch to make sure the soul crystal was safe inside.  “And we can always retreat to the ships if we are outmatched.  Our wind-magic users can move us quickly offshore.”

Allis nodded.  Her face wore a reluctant look, but she held her tongue.

A wind came up, guided by the several wind-magic wielders, and the longboats approached a good landing site to the north of the burning town.  As the prows of the boats touched shore, the magic-users jumped off.

“Form a line,” Mabinne ordered.  “Fire magic, to the left of the line, near the trees.  Ice in the center.  Wind-magic users on the right.”

We should have brought a few of General Kokko’s runners with us, Mabinne thought.  If I could get word to him somehow, have him move as quickly as possible to join us…  We could wait until he arrives, but there may be people still under attack in the town.  No, we’ll move in.

“All right,” Mabinne called.  “Let’s move.”  The mages sorted themselves out and slowly, cautiously moved down the beach towards the seaside town.  Mabinne and Aalis walked a few paces behind the line, watching.

None of them noticed a small movement in the tumbled grass under the nearest trees.  There, in a concealed hole covered with woven grass, hid General Gustafson and one of his captains.  The younger man was twitching nervously.  “There must be forty of them, magic-users all!”

“Let them go past,” the General whispered.  “Remember the plan.”

Hengist had placed a hundred archers in such concealed holes, completely flanking Mabinne’s magic users.  Every one of the archers had a powerful Ikslunder bow and iron-tipped, barbed arrows.  Hengist himself was the only one above ground, watching from a thick patch of brush as Mabinne’s line of mages moved slowly ahead.  The left flank of the line passed a broken stick stuck into the sand…

Hengist raised a large ivory whistle to his lips and blew a loud blast.

Sixty of General Gustafson’s best archers threw back the covers on their holes just inside the treeline.  Standing up, they exposed just enough of themselves to draw bows and loose arrows.

Mabinne’s force mustered forty magic-users on a long line, facing south along the beach; the Ikslunder archers had them horribly flanked.  The first round of sixty arrows lanced into the line, killing or wounding half their number.  Before any of the magic-users could react, a second round of arrow stung the line, killing or wounding more.

Mabinne’s fire-users, being closest to the tree line, suffered the worst, with not even one of them surviving the two rounds of arrows.  The next most powerful group, the ice wielders, fell in large numbers as well, with only three unhurt.  The wind-users, while least able to affect the battle, retained half their number.

Hengist blew a second blast on the whistle.

A hundred Ikslunder infantry burst out of the town and charged, shouting like demons.

Two wind-users struck from Mabinne’s right flank, conjuring a series of whirlwinds that swept away part of the Ikslunder attackers, sending them screaming off over the ocean to be dumped two hundred paces away from the beach.  Mabinne moved forward, Aalis at her side; the two summoned their powers as they ran.

Why aren’t the archers targeting us?  Mabinne looked to her left.  She could see the line of Ikslunder archers, standing in waist-high pits, drawing bows for a third volley.  She stopped, grabbed Aalis’ arm, pointed.  “There,” she said, “The archers.  Burn them out.”

Aalis raised one hand.  She took a deep breath.  Fire danced over her fingertips.

In the trees, Hengist unleashed the final signal, two short, sharp blasts on the whistle.

Behind Mabinne and Aalis, under the tumbled grass, the sand erupted.  Two buried wooden doors, covered with sand and each over a shallow pit in the sand, were suddenly tossed aside.  General Gustafson leaped up from one pit and his Captain Munnin from the other.  Munnin held a heavy lance.  As soon as he was on his feet, he took aim and cast the lance.  Gustafson ran forward.

Munnin’s lance transfixed Aalis, entering between her shoulder blades and exiting between her breasts.  The flame dancing on her fingers went out.  She looked down, saw the blood-covered iron point of the lance protruding from her chest.  “Oh,” she said.  She fell to her knees, then to one side.

Mabinne saw Aalis go down.  She screamed.  “Aalis!

She heard running feet on the sand.  Before she could react, before she could even turn, General Gustafson hit her, knocked her to the ground, stunning her.

Mabinne struggled.  She raised her hand, frost forming on her fingers, but she felt the cold metal of a binding collar snapping around her neck.  Gustafson tapped the contacts, pressed his thumb on the jewel, and Mabinne felt the horribly familiar sensation of her power fading away.  She reached into her pouch, grabbing at the one soul crystal she had left, but Gustafson grabbed her wrist.  “Oh no,” he said, grinning.  He took the soul crystal from her pouch.  “I don’t know what this is, but I think it best I keep it for now.”

Gustafson looked up.  The Ikslunder infantry was cleaning up the magic-users.  All was going according to plan.  He turned towards the treeline, placing one boot on Mabinne’s waist.  “General!” he roared.  “We have her!”

“Good,” came a voice from a shadowy figure under the trees.  The voice was gravely, damaged somehow, yet strangely familiar…

Mabinne gasped as Hengist stumped out onto the beach.  “You!  How…”

Hengist limped to where General Gustafson held Mabinne the Merciless to the sand.  He looked around; her magic-users were either dead or collared.  There was still the matter of her infantry, presumably closing in, but Hengist had a moment to gloat.  “Yes, my sweet, it’s me.  Surprised to see me alive, are you?  Well, I am.  You hurt me, Mabinne, you hurt me badly, but I’m alive.”

He reached down, grabbed the collar, hauled Mabinne to her feet.

“Now,” he said in a conversational tone, “Tell me, Mabinne, where you and your army have been hiding in between raids?”

Mabinne suggested Hengist perform an act that was both unhygienic and anatomically impossible.

“Now now,” Hengist chided her.  “That’s not very polite.”

Meanwhile, General Gustafson was shouting orders.  “All of you,” he roared at the infantry, who were just finishing the clean-up of Mabinne’s magic-users.  “Form a line on the beach facing north.”

“I’m moving Mabinne the Merciless off the beach,” Hengist called to his second-in-command.  “We’ll take one of their longboats.  Call off a crew for me.  We’ll wait a hundred paces offshore.”

“Very well.”  Gustafson pointed at ten men.  “You lot.  Go with the General.”

“And us?”  Hengist turned to see the twins, who had been left out of the battle.

“Come with me.”

One of Gustafson’s soldiers came forward with a length of hemp line.  He bound Mabinne’s hands, tightly, uncomfortably, behind her.  “Come on,” Hengist ordered Mabinne, shoving her towards one of the longboats; the ten-man skeleton crew was already swarming over the captured boat.  “Get in.  Agneyastra and Kristol, come along.”

A scout ran down the beach.  “Infantry coming,” he shouted.  “Three to four hundred.  Maybe a half-hour away.”

General Gustafson started shouting his men into line.

Behind him, Aalis stirred.  She took a bubbling, agonizing breath, extended a hand.  General Gustafson was enveloped in flame, transforming him in an instant to a screaming torch.  Aalis waved her hand; the bulk of Gustafson’s soldiers burst into flame.

From the longboat, Kristol gestured and encased Aalis in a block of ice, but the damage was done.

“Shit,” Hengist breathed.  He shouted at the remaining infantry; no more than forty had survived the fire-users’ final, overwhelming blast of power.  “Seize the longboats!  We move away from the coast!”

How suddenly things can change in war.  Hengist turned back to Mabinne.  “Tell us where you have been hiding,” he ordered.  “Tell me now, or I’ll pitch you over the side.”

Mabinne thought very rapidly for a few seconds.  She hadn’t left the island untended…

“South by southwest,” she said at last.  “Sail south by southwest.  There is a chain of islands.  The largest is on the north of the chain.  That’s where we have been resting.”

About The Author



Semi-notorious local political gadfly and general pain in the ass. I’m firmly convinced that the Earth and all its inhabitants were placed here for my personal amusement and entertainment, and I comport myself accordingly. Vote Animal/STEVE SMITH 2024!


  1. Gustave Lytton

    Always double tap when moving over the objective.

    • R.J.

      Double stab?

  2. Sean

    Action packed.

  3. Tundra

    Twists and turns!

    Great chapter, Animal.

  4. EvilSheldon

    Wasn’t there something in The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries about disposing of prisoners as soon as they’re no longer useful?

    • EvilSheldon

      Apparently there is not. This seems like an oversight.

      • robodruid

        From a mercenary perspective, its cheaper to deal with POW vs. people fighting to the death.

      • EvilSheldon

        And from a geopolitics perspective as well.

        But I was thinking more in terms of keeping dangerous prisoners around in the hopes of ransom, or an intelligence payout.

  5. ron73440

    Hengist would be a fool to trust her.

    He might have been a little naive when he was keeping her before, but probably not now.

    Great story Animal.

  6. Sean

    So if the general is now bbq’d, how can the collar be removed?

    • kinnath

      When she’s dead I presume.

    • EvilSheldon

      It comes off along with Mabinne’s head.

    • Animal

      In the first story, Mabinne was told that only the person who applied the collar could remove it, and that if he died, she was stuck with the collar for life.

      • Gustave Lytton

        Told. So may be correct. Or may not.

      • Not Adahn

        Yabut, magic. Just got to get a wizard who has more wiz than the collarist.

    • ron73440

      I forgot that detail.

  7. Fourscore

    Again the collar. Hengist and a few of the boys have a way of getting info out of a reluctant female captive, I’d bet.

    Thanks Animal, need more!

    • EvilSheldon

      What info could Mabinne have, that justifies keeping a prisoner who can destroy your entire cohort with a gesture, and who has already defeated a binding collar once before?

      • kinnath

        defeated a binding collar once before

        She didn’t. She talked Hengist into taking it off.

      • EvilSheldon

        Like I said, she defeated the binding collar before. Social engineering counts.

      • kinnath

        The guy that put is on is now dead. Social engineering is off the table.

      • Drake

        This. Kill her immediately, cremate the body, and spread the ashes all over the place. Then take other prisoners for questioning.

  8. Grumbletarian

    Mabinne thought very rapidly for a few seconds. She hadn’t left the island untended…

    “South by southwest,” she said at last. “Sail south by southwest. There is a chain of islands. The largest is on the north of the chain. That’s where we have been resting.”

    Hm, the old Dantooine tactic?

    • Not Adahn

      I read it as the “lead them into an ambush “ tactic.

    • EvilSheldon

      I understand the urge,* but I feel like I could get the same sense of satisfaction by buying an old busted safe on eBay and seeing if I could drill it open.

      * – It’s a fake of course. I hope…

      • Sensei

        +1 The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults

      • robc

        There was nothing in Al Capone’s vault.
        But it wasn’t Geraldo’s fault.

      • Nephilium

        At least they found the road maps in Al Capone’s glove compartment though.

      • Compelled Speechless

        They wouldn’t have if they let Geraldo open it.

  9. kinnath

    Hengist and Mabinne go to the bottom of the sea together. They deserve each other.

    • Not Adahn

      I like this option.

    • R.J.

      There it is. Now I want to see what Animal has ended with…

    • Lackadaisical

      I don’t see the prob-

      ‘The energetic production features the use of American Sign Language, a revolving set and dance sequences.’


      • mindyourbusiness

        For some reason, John Barrymore came to mind. He played Richmond in a production of Richard III, and in the penultimate scene Richard cries out, “A horse! A horse! my kingdom for a horse!” This caused a member of the audience to come out with a loud, raucous laugh.
        Barrymore pointed to the offender with his sword, and exclaimed, “Make haste, and saddle yonder braying ass!”

    • Not Adahn

      They rewrote it to make R3 the hero, right?

      • Compelled Speechless

        At the very least, she’ll be misunderstood. Everything she does is because of all the white supremacy she had to endure during her upbringing in Medieval England.

      • Drake

        If you like that story-line, you’ll love this one.

      • Lackadaisical

        I did not see that coming.

  10. Gustave Lytton

    Setting up a thermal label printer to use for shipping labels and UPS is beyond dumb. Their print label to thermal printer option on the website doesn’t generate just a simple 4×6 image/pdf and send it to the printer dialog. Oh no! It’s trying to open a high number port on local host and if it can’t, it takes you to generic help webpage instead of a specific error message.

    Apparently their model is you need to run their printing app even if not using a UPS supplied printer. An app that opens up a high number port and sits listening. 🤦‍♂️

    • R.J.

      Can you trick it to print to Adobe and then send the Adobe to printer?

    • Scruffyy Nerfherder

      The only thing worse than a printer driver is a label printer driver.

      • Gustave Lytton

        It’s a Brother so it works.

        Figured it out sort of. I can print the regular size label but just need to scale it and choose the correct single page of multiple to print.

        Adobe is no longer an option. It’s been removed from work laptop because reader is no longer supported. Instead browser handles all pdfs (poorly and no functionality).

      • Gustave Lytton

        I do like being able to print shipping labels on dedicated printer. Beats loading adhesive labels manually or packing slip style envelopes.

      • Scruffyy Nerfherder

        Oh, I agree. I just have spent way too much time trying to figure out why the $#(^&*#!! labels don’t print correctly.

        Once I get it set up, I ban employees from messing with it. And then Microsoft adjusts their printer dlls and blows it all up.

    • Fourscore

      Well, I laughed. At first I thought it said Libertarians and I thought what’s up with that?

    • Not Adahn

      Since it’s not a Browning action, it’s a natural suppressor host.

  11. Penguin

    Mabinne suggested Hengist perform an act that was both unhygienic and anatomically impossible.

    Well put.

  12. Tundra
    • The Other Kevin

      Marcus is doing 5-3-1 and loading protein. Don’t judge.

      • Tundra

        “Everyone who is stronger than me is on steroids.”

  13. Sensei

    What does it say when I’m combing Amazon for the cheapest decent non-OEM refill for a MontBlanc pen? Back in my Wall Street days somebody left it in the trash when they left for another job. I came in looking for abandoned office supplies and scored!

    OTH, when I made a “hurried” exit at a different place I lost my HP-12C in the move. That was a bit nostalgic more than anything else. I another one at home that is now my only one.

    • Tundra

      I’ve got my 17BII from like 1992.

      Still works like a champ!

      • Bobarian LMD

        I have my HP15C sitting on my desk. Once you go RPN, you never go back.

    • whiz

      32Sii of GTFO!

      My dad had a 12C, and now I have it, although I never use it.

      RPN FTW.

      • robc

        I use an rpn calculator on my phone. I can’t use regular calculators.

    • Grosspatzer

      I collected fountain pens before a certain someone came around with budgetary restraints. Waterman, Parker, Mont Blanc, Diplomat… Highly impractical, I only use them for crossword puzzles, but I do love them.

      • Sensei

        For me that was vintage American wristwatches.

        Still occasionally wear one, but usually just wear the Omega Seamaster.

      • R C Dean

        See, that’s how you humblebrag.

  14. robc

    sloopy mentioned 3 big games in the relegation battle in the morning links. Two are done. Fulham beat Leicester city 5-3, Everton won @Brighton 5-1. The third is Nottingham Forest-Southampton. This is the last chance for Southampton. If they lose they would be 8 points behind 17th place Everton with 3 games to go. They would have to win all three: Fulham, @Brighton, and Liverpool to stay alive mathematically and they would need everyone else to do absolutely nothing (that last part is at least possible). With a draw, they would be 6 pts behind 17th place Forest and the situation would be almost as dire. With a win today, they would be 3 pts behind 17th place Leeds, and still have some sort of fighting chance.

    If that latter happens, you can probably stick a fork in Forest. They will be done if they can’t beat the last place team.

    • robc

      Also, if you combine his results with Everton and Chelsea this season, I am pretty sure Lampard should be relegated.

    • robc

      Also, also, the difference with a healthy DCL in the Everton side is amazing. It was criminally incompetent to not find a decent backup striker for him for when (not if, unfortunately) he got injured. He missed almost all year and playing without a striker who could score is how you end up like this.

    • Certified Public Asshat

      Looks like Forest want to stay up.

      • Certified Public Asshat


      • robc

        Not a lot of defense being played today. 17 goals thru almost 2.5 matches.

      • robc

        Now 3-1 just before the half.

  15. Grosspatzer

    Thanks, Animal. I read this while having brunch in a little joint on A1A featuring passable omelets and friendly, attractive waitstaff. When I call Mrs. Patzer later I may leave out the part about the waitstaff lest I fall victim to powerful magic. Mabinne’s got nothin’ on her and I don’t have a collar handy.

    • Animal

      By howdy do I ever understand that. Nobody, least of all me, wants to see Mrs. Animal go into what I call “Dark Angel Mode.”

      • mindyourbusiness

        Something along the lines of Azrael on steroids?


  1. Animal’s Daily Stupid Idea News | Animal Magnetism - […] we start, check out the latest installment of Fire and Ice over at […]