The wind swept across the plains and out over the bluff as Pallian reined up outside the enemy camp. It was carefully organized, the tents all neatly arranged around cookfires, weapons placed in neat stacks for easy access. They hadn't bothered with earthworks or even fascines, but then they likely didn't expect to be encamped here for long. They had, however, put out a double ring of watchfires with sentries gathered around them in groups of three.
For a moment, Pallian wished he could slip into camp unseen the way the Shadow of Edrias might have done. But the Champion of Teregor was his father's creation, and the wizard-king had wanted an indestructible black knight, something that would smite his enemies with irresistible power. So Pallian would attack the camp, stabbing into it like a speartip into a heart, spreading death and chaos in his wake.
Or else he'd die.
Accidents happened, especially in battle, and this army was better-prepared than it looked. It would be easy enough for something to go wrong. But there were other reasons to worry: someone had arranged for word of a farmer's rebellion to reach the Citadel, knowing that the wizard-king would dispatch a lesser force to deal with something like that. Perhaps even knowing that Ravaj would be in charge, though that would require either some excellent intelligence or a traitor in the court. And there was no reason to assume that the Shadow of Edrias had spoken truly, that it was on its way to assassinate Ravaj; it might just as easily have doubled back behind him, waiting to catch him when turned his attention to the camp. Destroying the Black Knight would weaken his father's magical power, and it would be a terrible blow to his reputation; this entire situation might have been engineered to such an end.
Still, with the training he'd been given and the resources he had available, there was only one way to find out. He would have to attack, and hope that the armor would protect him and Black would carry him through. He considered that for a moment longer, reviewing the spells he knew and the initiations he'd been given. Well then, he thought to himself. Let's find out.
He touched his heels to Black's flanks, couched his lance and raised his shield, and started forward through the tattered remains of the night.