Thursday, December 12, 2019

Dark Armor 003

The camp was carefully organized atop the bluff. 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 brief moment, Pallian wondered what it would be like to be able to slip past those sentries the way the Shadow of Edrias had slipped past him. Given the choice, he would have preferred that approach. But the Champion of Teregor was the wizard-king's creation, and the wizard-king had wanted a champion who would face his enemies in open battle, and cow them with unstoppable power. And a very large lance, Pallian thought, as he drew the weapon from its holder at the front of his saddle. No particular symbolism there, Dad. Thank you so, so very much.

The command tents were obvious, but then they always were; the largest, the fanciest, the ones placed securely at the center of the camps. The sentries were no barrier; they would only be able to call out the alarm as he passed, and most of the rest of the camp was asleep. So Pallian would keep with his father's vision, and smash into the center of the camp like a speartip into a heart: a nameless, faceless figure in a suit of darkened armor, implacable and unstoppable. And Black, his warhorse, would carry him through.

Or else he'd die.

Word had come to the capital of a farmer's rebellion in the south; instead, they'd marched headlong into an invading army, albeit not one smart enough to have chosen a battlefield to benefit themselves. It wasn't impossible that the entire confrontation had been arranged to draw him out, to isolate the Champion of Teregor from his lines of support and slay him. That would be a great blow to his father's power and reputation, after all. The Shadow of Edrias might not be trying to kill his brother at all; it might be closing in behind him, waiting for its moment.

Or perhaps his brother would die instead.

It could just as easily be that the entire situation had been orchestrated to draw out Ravaj, and perhaps a few of their top officers into the bargain. He was the heir, after all. Their father's hopes rested on him. And he was a sorcerer as well as an initiate, a fit inheritor for the Onyx Throne. Perhaps the Shadow of Edrias had declined to challenge him because it had other business and didn't wish to risk a confrontation.

Well, thought Pallian, 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.

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