There was a soft knock on the door and Nicodemus Darkwater, High Priest of Borean, head of the Church of the Griffin God looked up from his reading. He took a bookmark from the small side table next to the large, plush chair that he was relaxing in and placed it among the gilded pages. He carefully closed the large book, an illustrated copy of the holy book of the church, from which he had been seeking guidance. His wrinkled hands, skin the texture of thin parchment, shut the book reverently, and he grunted with the effort as he lifted the huge tome from his lap, setting it aside.
Laris crumpled up the parchment bearing the official seal of the Chancellor of the Senate and hurled it into the fire. “She thinks she can command me?!” He nearly spat the words, turning away from the fire and beginning to pace. Yokir sat in the royal apartments, calmly regarding his master, the new Emperor.
“I’ve held the crown for barely a week and already the Senate thinks it can order me around? How DARE she summon me to speak to those simpering fools?”
Rodrick slashed his blade, the steel whistling through the air as he aimed it at the neck of his latest opponent. The man ducked quickly and thrust his own blade in response. Rodrick spun to his left, using the momentum of his own swing to avoid the slim blade. Around him, the sounds of steel clashing on steel rang out, along with screams as men on both sides died. At least he no longer had to dodge bodies falling out of the rigging, or listen to the loud thump they made as they hit the deck. His archers had proven very effective.
Aboard the MOW Rebellion
The ships closed on each other slowly. Rodrick had ordered a gradual approach to the enemy vessel, lest the captain of the other ship decide to flee. That would give early warning to his opponents, without any gain for Rodrick’s fleet. He needed to close the distance slowly and only spring the trap once escape was no longer an option. The Osh’riyons may be the finest sailors alive, but even they wouldn’t be foolish enough to take on 10-1 odds.
Aboard the MOW Rebellion
High Admiral Rodrick Tarkas stood on the foredeck of his man of war, the Rebellion. An appropriate name for the flagship of a proud people. He was about to see that she earned it. He had been picketing off the southwestern coast of Osh’riyo for nearly a week. During that time, he’d seen several Osh’riyon frigates sailing off the coast of Coren’s Landing, but they had remained on the far horizon. It probably helped that his fleet looked like nothing more than a merchant caravan on its way to Caranth in Ethbola. No reason to come and investigate.
The Battle of Ethbola – Late Afternoon – First day
Arrows arched over Kilthanis’s head as his order was carried out. Most of them fell back behind the Imperial lines, avoiding the men fighting for him, but several fell indiscriminately among the knots of men fighting where the line had broken. Screams rang out across the battlefield and Kilthanis knew that some of his men had fallen to friendly fire. He wanted to turn away, but forced himself to watch as another volley raced toward the lines. If was to order men to their deaths, the least he owed them was to watch them die.
“Well my Lords,” Kilthanis said. “Let us try again.” He was surrounded by representatives from the four Orders standing near the edge of their camp. Three times he had approached the city of Debobat and three times he had been rebuffed. But he was not going to let that stop him. He needed to convince the Desert Folk to join his cause. Without them, he and his allies would have no chance. As it was, even with the aid of the Desert Folk, the Empire’s forces would still badly outnumber his own. And they would have the griffins. But it would be a start.
Kilthanis waited in the dark, shivering with fear and cold. His face was swollen from their fists, and his wrists chafed under the ropes they'd constrained him with. How had he gotten into this ridiculous situation?
Oshim knelt down on the white clay walls of Debobat, looking out over the armed camp that ringed the front of the city. He had been on watch for the last three days, but nothing ever seemed to change. The men had arrived in a fleet of somewhat ragged ships, pulling into the harbor in greater and greater numbers. Armed men had disembarked and began the orderly business of setting up the tents.
Iliar the Solitary, Lord Keeper of the City of Magic, known to men as Dhereshu, stood upon the adobe parapet of his high tower. He looked off to the northwest, towards the capital city of the Empire, where even now Laris the Cruel was being crowned Emperor. Of course, Iliar didn’t have any agents in Dhekar. That was far too dangerous for his people, even in light of the Court’s ruling in their favor. Sometimes, he cursed the accident of birth that restricted magical power to the Desert Folk.