XI – The Battlefront


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TOC: Prologue | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11

“How go your preparations?” Tovorash said to the gang leader.

“The wall is coming along nicely, Master, but we will need a few more days at the very least. Our men our tired, and the mortar does not dry quickly enough. If the flamewarden was here to help us…”

“You’ve told me that before, Geof, but Marthulus cannot just run around at the whim of gang workers to help them dry their mortar. A few days is not good enough. The Vith will troops will arrive before then. Will you be able to go faster if I leant you some of my soldiers?”

The gang leader seemed to take offense. “My men are the best, Master. Your soldiers would merely get in the way. If a few days is not satisfying to you, I’m afraid there is not much more we can do.”

Tovorash sighed. Since the war, he’d had to leave his position as bodyguard to the Everking and return to his own lands which were at the border of the kingdom. How had the blasted Flamelord of Vithr known to attack them at this time? He had no intel on their weaknesses, yet he always seemed to know where they were. There had to be someone on the inside feeding him information, but Tovorash could not imagine how costly it would be to try to find said person.

The knight-guardian still did not understand what had happened in Vithr. It had just all come so quickly. The succession, the growing tensions, then suddenly the announcement that the Asythians were suspected of having sent the assassin in the first place?

“Master?” the gang leader interrupted Tovorash’s thoughts. “Are you done with me? I have a wall to build.”

“Yes, yes,” Tovorash waved tiredly. “Do your best. If it comes down to it, I will have my men try to distract the Vith advance.”

“As you say, Master,” the gang leader said, bowing and exiting the war-tent.

As the man left, a woman, a straight stick in her hand, entered, tapping the ground in front of her. For a moment, Tovorash was surprised at her strange behavior, but when he looked at her face and saw her eyes, everything was clarified.

“What do you want—”

“Evermistress,” she offered with a slight smile.

“Pardon me,” Tovorash said, getting to his feet and touching each of his shoulders in respect. He instantly felt ridiculous doing so, realizing she could not see it.

“Sit back down, Tovorash,” the strange woman said with familiarity.

The knight-guardian did as he was told, but studied her face in the meantime. Despite her disability, she was quite striking, and her features carried with them a sharp beauty.

“What is the purpose of your visit, Evermistress? I don’t recall being notified that someone of your rank would be arriving. As I’m sure you are well aware, Vith troops are nearly upon us.”

“There are few that know of my visit, Tovorash,” she said, seating herself as well. How did she know there was a chair there? “And you are correct in assuming my knowledge of your predicament. I am here to offer you my assistance.”

Internally, Tovorash groaned. Another courtier believing they could help him with their political intrigue.

“I’m sorry, Evermistress, but unless you can conjure up more gang workers for me, I am afraid there is not much you can do to help.”

She smiled and leaned back in her chair. “You judge me by my title and by the fact that I cannot see. But let me tell you, Tovorash, that this blind woman can see better than you can.”

Tovorash groaned internally again. A crazy courtier.

“I am sure you have the best intentions, Evermistress, but as I said before, we need more manpower. I don’t think I understand what you mean by seeing.”

“How do the Vith know where to attack? How do they know where our weaknesses are?”

“There must be an informant or a spy, no doubt.”

“And this informant is giving their armies sight, albeit a different kind of sight, but sight nonetheless.”

“Are you offering me spies?” Tovorash exclaimed in disgust, rising to his feet. “There is no honor in underhanded means and deceit.”

“No. I am offering you sight,” the woman said quietly. “Sit back down.”

Instantly realizing his mistake, the knight-guardian quelled his outburst and sat back down. “I thank you for your offer, Evermistress, but I must decline.”

“As you say, Tovorash, but I will tell you this: The commander of the approaching Vith army keeps his palanquin in the rear right corner of his army. Cut off the head of the serpent, and the body will writhe around helplessly.”

Rising, the woman turned, her intricately tied hair cascading over her shoulders, and left, her guide stick tapping gently on the ground.

Tovorash sat back in his chair, silently brooding. Whoever she was, she had intelligence and was not some simple courtier. This concerned him. The stupid ones he could deal with, but he was not a man given to political intrigue and subterfuge. If he got on the wrong side of someone like her… he feared the worst.

She had given him valuable information, even though he hadn’t asked for it. The rear right corner of his army…. It wouldn’t be difficult to send a band of his best-trained men around to flank them and capture their commander. That would throw the rest of their army into chaos, which might force a retreat.

It was decided. He summoned his elite captain and informed him of the new plan. The man listened quietly and nodded, before making a few suggestions, which Tovorash took into account. He may have been the leader, but this captain had a certain knack for strategy that sometimes left Tovorash feeling dumb.

The battle went exactly as planned. The Vith army broke the instant their commander went down, and Tovorash had the satisfaction of watching his own men stand firm and advance in an orderly manner that left nothing wanting.

It wasn’t until he had returned to his tent that Tovorash realized he would have to thank the courtier who had given him the information. He sighed. It still rubbed against his honor slightly that he had used information that she had most likely gained through undercover means. The knight-guardian was honorable to a fault, and he could not imagine stooping low enough to send out spies.

With a grunt, Tovorash stood up, grabbed his battle hammer, and headed outside. Asking for directions turned out to be fruitless, as few had taken notice of the humble-looking blind woman and her small retinue when they entered the camp. After almost an hour of searching, Tovorash finally found something of note. The courtier had been seen just on the east fringe of the camp earlier that day.

When Tovorash arrived, the watch told him that she had spent some time moving back and forth along the east side, as if looking for something, but had then abruptly turned and left when their battle had started. They informed him that she had headed to the nearest town, which was an hour-long walk across the border into Vithr.

At this point, Tovorash considered giving up. She probably didn’t even care whether or not the battle had gone well, and if he told her that her information had helped, he would most likely have to fight her again over not accepting her league of spies. Beyond that, she seemed like a crazy courtier anyway. Regardless of whether or not she had appeared intelligent before, Tovorash had never met someone of her rank who walked everywhere. Beyond that she had spent the afternoon pacing outside of his camp?

But honor eventually won Tovorash over, and telling his men to continue keeping a sharp watch, the knight-guardian headed out towards the town.

The sun had fallen low on the horizon by the time he arrived. Dirty-faced children fled as Tovorash walked boldly into the town. He knew there would be no garrison here after the battle that had just transpired. Farmers stared grimly at the knight-guardian who did his best to ignore the attention while also trying to find the woman he’d come to find.

In the end, she found him.

“I thought you might follow me, Tovorash,” a strong, clear voice rang out from behind him.

He turned, surprised that she’d snuck up on him.

“I came to offer you my thanks for your assistance. The battle went smoothly due to your information.”

“Sight, Tovorash. It was sight.” She smiled.

Before the situation had a chance to become awkward, both Tovorash and the strange woman sensed a shift in the air, and they tensed. In the tense seconds that followed, Tovorash scanned their surroundings, taking in any possible hiding places.

There was a tall bush nearby that offered substantial cover for potential attackers. The corner of a cottage six cords away could hide four or five men. Tovorash glanced briefly at the gap between a nearby tree and the cottage, but looked past it, telling himself that it was too open for attack.

Then, out of the corner of his eye, a shadow moved. He turned, instinctively raising his hammer. There was a clang of metal on metal as he blocked the attack, but he saw no one. He groaned.

Of course the attacker had to be invisible.

Tours yruly

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X – War [Eternity: P1]


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TOC: Prologue | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11

Five years later, in a small farmhouse on the outskirts of a small town on the outskirts of a small city in Vithr, Nita sat awake, holding the little money they had left in the palm of his hand. They’d had to sell most of the land around them off, which had fetched a tidy sum, but most of that had gone now, and no one wished to hire the son of someone whom the North Wind had taken.

Nita looked over at his sister, asleep. She looked peaceful, even after all these years of hardship. She had never lost that childlike confidence, and it now manifested itself in a kind of beauty. Nita wished he could have that same kind of peace. Even now he still suffered from terrible flashbacks; his father leaving quickly, the house falling apart around them, him nearly getting beaten half to death.

He was twenty-two now and had been a true no-a for two years. Yet he felt no more powerful than he had felt all those years ago. Outside, the wind howled and screamed as it threw itself against the house. It stood firm, though. After North Winds began to blow with more frequency, everyone had started constructing out of brick and mortar instead of wood. Buying that upgrade was one of the things that had put their finances under the water.

It was funny, how the very same thing that killed his father was now considered commonplace. The thing that had driven him and his sister to abject poverty was talked about as if it was simply ordinary weather. Had everybody forgotten what these winds meant? Did no one realize that their Flamelord was leading them headfirst into calamity? He nearly slammed his fist on the table at the thought, but looking at Vir calmed him.

She stirred in her sleep, as if sensing his tumultuous emotions. He could have sworn that she had some sort of sixth sense. The times he’d gotten into trouble, trying to disguise his easily-recognized face so he could get work, when he’d been attacked by a pack of wolves while delivering a parcel in a North Wind. She even knew when his mind traveled to that bitter place where he railed against his father and cursed him for leaving them.

Yes, his sister was special, and he would do everything he could to provide for and take care of her. She kept his humanity alive. She was the only source of joy in his life. But now he had to leave. There was only one place he knew of that would accept him and pay him wages: the army.

Two years after the Firelord had supposedly been given the throne, he declared war on Asyther, building off of rumors that the assassin had come from the Asythian kingdom, and thus the Everking and his subjects were responsible. After three years, the war still raged on with no less fury than before. Nita was surprised that their Flamelord had kept up as strong a front against the Asythians as he had. Asyther was, after all, the bigger and stronger country.

The wind outside had died down to the occasional gust.

Nita shrugged his shoulders and let the coins slip out of his hand and onto the table. They barely even clinked, there were so few. With a glance over to his sister, Nita picked one up and set it spinning for good luck, then he left.

When Vir woke up the next morning with the sun shining in strongly through the window, she knew something was the matter. Nita may care for her, but he would never allow her to sleep away precious daylight, not with the way their finances were. Their finances! She caught sight of the small pile of coins on the table and instantly knew what had happened.

Recruiters had just passed through their town. While they’d been there, she’d kept a careful eye on Nita, knowing that he would try to join the military, but she’d relaxed her guard when they left. Apparently she’d relaxed too soon.

“Sha take you, you idiot,” she cursed, grabbing the money and slipping it into a pouch.

She rifled through her few remaining clothes and found the worn traveling cloak that had belonged to her father. It was too big, but it would have to do. Putting on a couple of layers of her threadbare clothes — she had no idea how long she would be out — she shrugged on the coat.

Hurriedly, she filled a small sack with their remaining food. How long had it been since Nita had left? She should have suspected something when he insisted on staying up. How could she have been so stupid? Why could she never wake up early on her own?

Having packed food, she glanced hurriedly around. A weapon, of course. She snatched their kitchen knife out of the drawer and slipped it into her coat pocket. Then, putting on a pair of boots, she ran out the door.

Where had those recruiters said they were going next? Vir wanted to ask the passersby about her brother, but she knew they would not speak to her. Why did she have to be cursed because her father had died trying to save her mother? It made no sense. She hated small town superstitions.

That was it! The recruiters been headed to Hearthlord Rhin’s lands, Rhineground, complaining about their small farming towns. A small voice warned that she should take their hyshum, so Vir headed for the stalls, but when she heard no scraping of hoofs, she knew what she would find. The stall was empty. Nita had ridden off. How in all of Sha had she not heard him gallop off on a Sha-bound hyshum?

A look of determination settled on her face. She would walk if she had to. But he would be much faster on a hyshum, the small voice whispered. No, she decided. She would walk. Even if she didn’t catch the recruitment party in Hearthlord Rhin’s lands, there nobody would know her as cursed, and she would buy a hyshum to carry her.

With this resolution in locked firmly in her mind, Vir headed out onto the road in the direction of Rhineground.

Hours later, as the sun began to set and the moon started to rise, Vir continued to stumble forward. Her feet were sore from all the walking, and her mind had gone numb just thinking about the endless plodding. She had no idea how much further Rhineground was. Perhaps it had been rash of her to just rush out after Nita like that. But she couldn’t let him go to war. He had been through enough for her sake already.

This thought drove her further onwards, and gritting her teeth, she continued to walk. But as the sun sank below the horizon, its warmth drained away, and she could feel the chill of the night creeping in. After a North Wind, the following evening was always especially cold. People used to say it was because a darker fate approached, but now everybody just said it was bad weather.

Vir realized her mind was wandering, and caught herself as she was about to walk off the road. She had nearly fallen asleep while walking? Unbelievable. Why did she have to enjoy sleep so much?

Then her long, sensitive ears picked up on a rattling behind her that grew increasingly louder. She knew that she should get off the road, in case what approached was not friendly, but she felt so tired that she could not bring herself to care enough.

So she stood there, wrapped in an oversized cloak, hunched from exhaustion, holding a hand out in the hopes that whoever was coming would give her a ride.

By the time the merchant pulled up beside her, she could barely mutter out a sentence. When he reached down to help her onto his cart, she stared at his hand blankly for a few seconds before realizing its purpose, and the instant the wiry man cracked his whip and the cart started moving, the young girl fell fast asleep.

Tours yruly

Memoirs


the-austerity-diaries

Hello everybody! Firstly, sorry for not getting this post out yesterday. I ran late with homework, and then was too tired to write, but I’m back today with yesterday’s post, and below I’ve transcribed something I wrote in English class yesterday. It was an in-class exercise where we were given several lines and just asked to write, and this is what I came up with. It’s made up off of some ideas I have running around in the back of my head, but that’s all I’m going to say for now. 

I couldn’t stay to take care of him. Duty called me forward. All our memories together, all the time we had spent side-by-side, training, I pushed it all away. I had to. Because I knew that if I didn’t, I would stay frozen, unable to move, caught in a decision I knew one day I would have to make.

For days I forced him to keep moving. We couldn’t stop. Death came from behind us, and nothing lay before us. He did not want to continue. He complained about his wound, but I knew. I knew he wanted me to carry on without him, that he was worried about slowing me down. I chose not to heed him.

They passed eyes at each other, knowing we were brothers. Our reputation preceded us. But oh how striking the difference now. Men who had seen death never were the same, but my brother’s eyes were not those of a man who had seen death. No. They were those of a man who had seen something so terrible that nothing else could exist. Nobody knew what had happened to him after I left him. Not even he.

He swore that he hated me, that he could never trust me again. I expected it. He couldn’t even recall our best times together, let alone our worst. I didn’t want him to recall. He had been through enough already. Why tell him of the tragic moment when he forced me to abandon him?

“I was at their mercy,” he said today. Before I could ask him what he meant, officers showed up and took him away. They claimed that because he remembered, they had to debrief him. They do not understand. My brother is a broken man.

That’s it. The first lines in each of those paragraphs were extracted from a poem we went over in class. It was a very interesting poem to say the least: 911, by Gil Cuadros. It contains some graphic language, which is just a forewarning in case you decide to go read it. Not exactly my style, but hey, it’s English class, what can you expect?

Tours yruly