Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Great Weapons - Atop The Rampart 06

Miledha was standing atop the gatehouse, looking out at the enemy legions. Their camps were calm and neatly arranged, spreading out and back as far as the eye could see. I should be out there, Miledha thought. I should be killing their adepts, poisoning their troops, disrupting their supplies. They shouldn't be able to just sit there, as if they had nothing to worry over.

She drew a breath, seeing fire and death in her mind. No. I shouldn't. If she did, the men of the camps would assume that the attack had come from Langoish Keep, a dishonorable betrayal of their captain's offer and the flag of truce under which it had been made. They would attack immediately, before the keep was truly prepared, and they would overrun the walls and kill everyone inside. She couldn't allow that, let alone provoke it.

Dezarr the Dreadful had given them an opportunity, and she would be a fool not to take advantage of it.

"Sha Miledha. You've been busy."

Miledha turned. She wasn't the only one staring at the enemy. One of the knights, Sha Lindlen, had come up to join her. "You're the second person to award me that title," Miledha said quietly. "I don't deserve it."

"You do," the knight corrected her. "I saw that adept. He wasn't preparing some general malefice. He was looking directly at the Viscount... and you turned his sorcery back on him."

Miledha looked away. "That wasn't heroism," she said. "That was desperation."

"What's the difference?" asked Lindlen. She was tall and strong, with a square, heavy musculature. Her voice was sure and certain. "You saved the life of our lord, and wiped out a dozen of the enemy in a single stroke. Titles have been granted for less. I'd knight you myself, if I thought you'd take the oath." She paused, then added: "I suspect a great many of history's heroes would laugh at what we've made of them. Fate has always had its jokes."

Miledha sniffed, but found herself smiling against her will. She'd never thought much of heroes.

"And what have you done today?" continued Sha Lindlen. "Restored our wounded, healed our mounts, strengthened our arms. Am I wrong?"

Miledha turned to look at the knight. Lindlen's hair was pale, and cut short enough that it seemed to disappear against her skin. Her eyes, unlike the rest of her, were dark. She stood in a simple tunic and pants; if the cold of the gatehouse stone bothered her bare feet, she didn't show it. The only thing that marked her as a knight was the blade at her hip, a slender piece designed for a single hand. It was as much a part of the way she stood and moved as a mount would have been part of the way she rode.

"You've been tracking me," said Miledha.

"You don't show yourself willingly," replied Lindlen. "I had to know."

Miledha closed her eyes, turned to face the ramparts, and opened them again. "You're not wrong," she said. "I'll help if I can."

"Good," said Lindlen. "The Lady of the Keep would like to speak with you. So would the young lord, but he can wait; the lady leaves in the morning."

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