In the vast expanse of hinterlands a forest broke cleanly into a field; de jure Arangothian land but de facto Gulanadurian, unknown, unheard of, and unimportant. And it was perfect for the Reshalians. While they had finalized the remaining points of the Empire’s alliance with the subterranean dark elves, the Gulanadurians still required time to set up the foundation and logistics of the Imperial garrison that was to be stationed there. In the interim this place, this little bit of nowhere served as their forward operating post.
Already, frenetic activity dotted the camp—and a camp it was in truth, no more than tents in the grass—as men of all the branches of the Reshalian military went about their daily business with a clearly defined purpose. Though many sub-races mottled the landscape with their various shapes and colors, an unusual percentage here we Doshbannon dwarves, a recent acquisition that would handle well underground when the barracks were complete.
Some of those dwarves were attempting to take inventory of the crates that littered the ground, a monumental task that was nearly futile as every so often a Reshalian Gatemaster—a snub-nosed chap with a peacock feather cresting his helmet—would cry “Clear the ground!” and on cue, with a flash of white light like a bolt from heaven, another inter-planar transport would arrive carrying more goods in tow.
Perched at the zenith of this wasp’s nest stood the lone permanent fixture the Reshalians had elected to build: A longhouse made of simple wood and stone hastily erected by the wildmages. It looked positively quaint until one caught sight of the massive banners draping the sides of doorway in all their Imperial splendor. The double-eagle of Resheel lay on the one side, and on the other, the personal ensign of Lord Marshal Camden Howe, a dragon rampant with a serpent in its talons. Howe’s motto shone in thread of gold: The wicked shall know fear. It was a common Templar maxim, and though his order was essentially disbanded over a decade ago he still bore some mementos of his former life.
It was a former life that Howe would have given anything to return to right now. Or on the sands of Takana`opa`ua. Or maybe just in one of the lesser pits of hell. All of those sounded much lovelier than this longhouse. His mind lapsed into a brood. So far as he had heard, the Orthenni back on his homeworld finally surrendered, putting the Empire in a period of almost unprecedented peace. What could possibly be worse? That thought made him chuckle, but it was a bitter thing. The end to his legacy might very well be that he was here in Veth when the action was hottest. “Damn that backwards savage.”
Camden started and peeled his gaze away from the window that held his fascination, suddenly remarkably aware of where he was and that he had spoken aloud for the first time in a half hour. The abruptness had shut up everyone, his aides, his scribes, and most importantly the two bickering fellows center stage that had insisted on airing their grievances.
It took Howe a minute to recollect why they were even there to begin with. On the one hand a dwarf, and the other a red elf. There weren’t very many of the latter on site, but numbers never mattered with their kind: They were masters of asymmetrical warfare. He had always made a point of deploying a troop of them to every garrison but never too many—their egos got in the way. But in small, compact groups? Very useful. He had a far less kind opinion of the dwarves who without their mechanical doodads weren’t the most skillful with a pike or a sword.
Ah. There it is. The dwarf wanted to set up a temporary smithy for repairs. The red elf objected on grounds that the smoke would be seen for miles. Before he could say anything, though, one of his Imperial guard—Glummer, perhaps—poked his head through the door and announced a woman was requesting to speak to him. Specifically. Every head turned round as they tried to focus both on their lord and whatever girl could possibly be outside. The camp had no companion women, after all.
At a loss for what to say, Camden shrugged his massive shoulders with a clink of plate and after making the appropriate excuses to the arguing duo commands Glummer to let her enter. A girl, indeed—a mere slip of a thing—and in half a Reshalian uniform no less. Everything sparing the jacket. Women weren’t unheard of in the military, at least in non-combat roles, but it was generally considered beneath a woman’s station, enough to warrant a second and third look from all parties.
The finger of his gauntlet was keeping excellent time through this thick silence, beating on the desk in front of him as the girl in front of him tried to work up the courage or the wit to speak. He really couldn’t tell which and he just didn’t have the time. “May we help you?”
That seemed to knock her out of her stupor. After staring at each of the some seven or so men in the room she manages to present her papers and announce herself. “My assignment letter indicated I was to report to Lord Field Marshall Howe as soon as realistically possible after arriving.”
The man sitting to Howe’s left, Colonel Reese, took the girls documents. “Quinn Stanwick.” He announces with the monotonality of roll call, adding in a more thoughtful cant, “It seems she’s the new orderly from Home Office, my lord. It’s all in order.”
That triggered his memory. She was the Expedition child, washed ashore in Drache and taken back in. Quite a story and he didn’t believe a word of it. Another Ka`ana`ana problem. Smiling brightly, he gets to his feet. “Ah! Just so. Why didn’t you say so in the first place, girl?”
At least she was far more interesting than the duo she was replacing. Brushing past their objections, he issues his decree like a judge from the bench: “I get where your head is at, lad, but nothing changes. No open fires, just low embers. I’d really rather not cause more than a few hubs and very little bubs. If your boys have a problem with it tell them they are more than welcome to stuff their heads up their own asses for warmth—come in, girl, come in!” He beckons again. “Terribly sorry, what? We were expecting you yesterday and you caught us with our knickers down and our cheeks in the breeze.”
By the look of her-- taken agape at the moment by simple soldier talk-- she wasn’t exactly everything the Marshall had hoped for when he filled out the request, but these days good orderlies were hard to find. “I say,” He asides out loud to his Colonel, “Whatever happened to the old one… Ah…” He raps his knuckle on the wood. “Devon, was it?”
“He had the front half of his skull cleaved off by an Orthenni Solarian a fortnight ago.”
“Ah, yes. Too right.” Howe sighs. “Dreadful business. Damned irritation, too. The man wouldn’t stop screaming for ten whole minutes. Very distracting. Sit, Stanwick.”
In minutes the meeting was over and Stanwick was leaving much paler of color than she was when she entered. Howe was a man of many talents, but dealing with the emotions of a woman was most certainly not one of them. “My god. You’d think they’d give her basic training before shipping her off.”
No one in the room dared say anything about it. She was chosen by Major Ka`ana`ana personally due to her superior knowledge of Arangoth, for some inscrutable reason, no doubt, but those reasons did her no favors. Being the orderly of a Field Marshall was considered a position of huge importance, and anything that even vaguely resembled favoritism would be hard for the other aides to swallow. She’d need to get a thicker skin than what she showed today, that much was certain.
Speak of the devil. A Takana man appeared in the doorway like a thief in the night to offer up the latest intelligence about Drache. It wasn’t Ka`ana`ana but in Howe’s mind they all looked alike so it was near enough the same to him and he could care less what that made him. As always, the fellow left with no more than a bow. Just damn unsettling, all of them.
“What’s this, then?” The page he turned to first was enough to make his caterpillar brows climb up in a failed attempt to escape his head. “Reese, have a look at this. Says the duke—Sithire?—“ Arangothek was a ridiculous language. Gutteral. None of the grace of Reshalian. “… From the south had his grain raided. Or attempted to, anyways.”
They all poured over the meticulous notations in Major Ka`ana`ana’s personal scrawl. The band of thugs were wearing royal colours, and it was highly suspected that they were, in fact, King’s men. Howe knew the Major well enough to know that the remainder of the pages in his hands were nothing more than the analysis and logic that led to this conclusion. The Takana wouldn’t dare make such a bold claim without strong evidence to back it up.
But what does that mean? A schism? He turns his mighty frame back towards the window with a frown. Worse still… “What sort of person would steal food from his subjects in a drought?” He swings his leonine head back towards Reese, who had no reply. Though a Duke’s grain could conceivably be argued as property of the Crown, taking it per force was a morally bankrupt thing to do, if true.
“Lieutenant Pullings, take this down.” Contemplation slowly coalesced into action even as the words were forming in his mind. “To Major Ka`ana`ana. The Lord Marshal Camden Howe, et cetera, hereby commends to you the authorization of use of all necessary resources to act with the Major’s discretion towards the pursuit of a comprehensive surveillance and reconnaissance of the current supply status of King Arlok, namely holdings of victuals, non-perishables, grains, and all other foodstuffs in addition to the methods of delivery, and their places or nations of origin. Furthermore….”
Outside the city of Drache lies a number of cities, towns and provinces of varying size and populace. Most of the people living outside Drache are natives who speak Arangothian and observe the native customs and rituals. Click here for a list Arangoth's locales, and here to view a map.
1 post • Page 1 of 1