Kaithel’s Song of the Pale Stone, part 2

Building this story here as sketches with the hopes to flesh it out more. Set in the Augur’s Lore: Song of the Pale Stone Universe.

Part 2

It was a bitter cold and windy day by the sea. General Ferio rolled out a map onto a large table at the center of the tent. The map displayed, in surprising detail, the claimed lands that make up the northern border of the Empire of Thelea, as well as the disputed borderlands surrounding the Ommultic Sea. A hush fell over the tent as Supreme Regent Meira began to study the map. The wind settled momentarily at the same time, calming the tent’s thick canvas walls. This silence made the pained moans of battle-injured soldiers just outside seem uncomfortably loud. The General looked expectantly at Regent Meira. Though she had just arrived not more than a half hour ago, she insisted on collecting him and his seven legion officers to an important meeting. This was the first time in five months that the Supreme Regent had left the capital city of Thrennum, and the first time she had ever gone to the front lines in the North.

“When will we have taken the Ommultic front?” she asked bluntly after looking over the battle map for a time, finally gazing intensely at Ferio. Meira was a born leader, not only because of her lineage or even due to her great command of military strategy, but because of her extremely dynamic social presence. She had a curious sobering effect on others. It was as if she was able to see directly into anyone, look through their eyes and into their mind, and see what they were thinking and what they intended to say even before they themselves knew exactly what the words would be. She certainly could not read minds, but it did seem to many as though she could. Yet she was always poised and patient in her knowledge to let people speak for themselves. It dictated a certain intensity to every one of her conversations that she had grown accustomed to. It was not that she was an overly serious person, she just seemed to have a way of inspiring and intimidating others without intending to do so, and the intelligence to be able to use that to her advantage when it suited her. This calm patience and intense presence was, of course, exacerbated by the sharp features and contrasts of her appearance. She had strikingly dark, coarse black hair and extremely pale skin. Her high cheekbones rose above gaunt cheeks and a pointed chin. She had large eyes that were a deep, almost glowing green. Her armor was painted bright red on its seams and its metal was polished brightly. She continued to stare at Ferio, with that intense look of knowledge on her face. The wind once again battered the east side of the tent.

“In two days time, if the battle progresses as it has this past week, my liege.” Ferio waited while her evaluation of the map continued. He respected the Supreme Regent a great deal, and was honored to receive her in the north. But he knew that she had ventured all this way because she wanted results that he had been thus far unable to provide. The current border conflict in the Northern Wastes that concerned the disputed territories of the so-called “King Tannith” around the Ommultic Sea had escalated to an actual war that has continued the better part of the past two years. The leather joints of Ferio’s armor creaked as he adjusted his shoulder plate harness. “You should know, Regent, that we have been unable to access the waterfront this week due to the large weapons that Tannith’s men have employed. I believe that if we can destroy those catapults and defeat the men controlling them that we will succeed in taking the front, and ultimately Tannith. His resources are exhausted and he has nowhere left to run and hide.”

The Regent stared at Ferio a bit longer after his response, then looked around the battle tent. “I would like to quell this uprising by tonight. The Empire does not tolerate this sort of revolution, and this war has gone on long enough. Prepare your soldiers for an assault, here,” she commanded, pointing her long finger at the southernmost bay of the Ommultic waterfront. “After tonight, it won’t matter where Tannith is, his name will mean nothing.”

“Your word,” responded Ferio. He saluted in the traditional manner, with a fist firmly colliding the banded leather chestpiece directly over his heart. All of the General’s Legion officers saluted in kind. The eight men all filed out of the tent in formation leaving the Regent alone with her confidant, a tall and thin man with long, straight, brightly blonde hair. The wind died down again and he spoke in a soft and thinly drawn out manner.

“The General seems skeptical.” He paused and thought deeply about his next statement. “Tannith isn’t to be underestimated, Meira, nor are those dedicated to his cause. He is capable and ruthless.” The Regent stared at him, knowingly.

“You know him better than anyone,” she replied. She couldn’t know how right she was. Tannith repaid his years of service by leaving him for dead in the Painted Hills. The Regent’s closest advisors say it was his deep connection with the Lak’riah that sustained him, but if he were to talk about it he would blame dumb luck. He rarely discussed it, though. The Regent continued. “But my thought is we should strike unexpectedly–”

He tucked his blonde hair behind his right ear and leaning in, interjected. “He has to know you’ve come, which means any next move will be expected. He’s ready for your army.”

Meira thought for a moment, looking once again at the map of the area. “Still, the south bay gives us a tactical advantage.” The toe-headed man gave a nod. “Then let them be ready for the army,” she said with finality as wind pushed the tent like a sail. “I doubt Tannith is ready for you.”

“He likely thinks I am dead, Regent.” He almost sounded disappointed.

“Let’s hope so.”

“Supreme Regent!” the interrupting shout came from just outside the entrance flap.

“Come.” A Legion officer entered, tired and disheveled from the wind. He saluted, which made a bright clanging sound on his chain looped armor.

“We are ready to march, Supreme Regent. General Ferio humbly requests your presence.”

Meira looked at her confidant, raising her eyebrows. It was time to move, and she wanted to be sure he was ready to do what he had set out to do two years ago. She thought she might say something like “The Empire needs you,” but she realized that he was not someone particularly moved by what he saw as the trivial politics of the world. She held her tongue, giving him a knowing stare. They were on this course, after all. This was as much his story as it was the Empire’s.

“Very good,” she replied, looking back to the wind-beaten Legionnaire. “Then let’s make our way to the bay.”

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