To Serve and Protect

Thank the gods for the old man, thought Tanamier as he watched Younard walk off to meet with the king.

King Archbold of Nyrond, desperately hanging on to relevance and making himself more irrelevant with every attempt, had summoned Tanamier from Blazebane for another ‘strategic council’ with Grand General Basmajeen and himself. After only one session, Tanamier knew all he needed to know about their ‘strategies’ and made a vow with himself that he would not attend another. Thankfully, General Younard, the ‘Forgotten General’ as he had been known, volunteered to take the burden off Tanamier‘s shoulders and attend these sessions for him.

He’s the real hero of Nyrond for volunteering. I wonder if I will ever have as much patience as him?

Tanamier grinned ruefully. Probably not. And speaking of impatience, where in the Hells are Tiemel and Bajastelle? It’s been over 24 hours; that’s a bloody long time for a fact-finding mission.

That Duke Szeffrin had access to some sort of planar artifact was becoming more obvious all the time. It was also clear that he was experimenting with it against Nyrond. Sometimes Tanamier wondered if his command at Blazebane along with the now well-known members of the Scourge inspired the Iron Duke to engage them. Maybe if Nyrond had demonstrated no strength, Szeffrin would not see the country as worth the bother, even to experiment…

No, that was not true. Szeffrin was less a person and more a force of death now; one couldn’t expect to anticipate him because he no longer thought like a real person, but an Animus. Any loss of life, on either side, would barely register to him, as long as he learned what he wanted for his inevitable march on Rauxes.

The latest experiment shocked the Nyrondese beyond what they had seen before. In fact, they could see the effects from the battlements of the keep, even though it appeared to be well behind enemy lines in old Almor. Fire lit the sky, then what could only be described as a meteor seemed to strike the earth. Waves of red energy swept out from the impact and the sky remained scorched for days. Tanamier‘s network of diviners could only conclude that some sort of portal may have been opened to another plane, likely the Elemental Plane of Fire.

“Last bloody thing we need are elemental shock troops to go with the demons he has coming in from his Abyssal gate,” explained Tanamier. “We need to see what that meteor strike was all about, and if it is a gate, disable it if we can.” He looked at the team he was sending on this mission, headed up by Tiemel and Bajastelle Rendarin, the cleric they had discovered protecting the small group of refugees from Almor. Now a captain in the Nyrondese army, Bajastelle often went on missions in her homeland, her knowledge of the place was invaluable. For his part, Tiemel was the preeminent commander for skirmishing tactics and so the pair made a natural fit for this mission.

But they had yet to return…

Szeffrin either had an ability to fog out divinations or something worse had happened since the spy network could not pick up any sign of them at all. A cold feeling had begun to form in the pit of the half-elf’s stomach.

“Still have yet to return?” came a melodic voice from behind. Caelynn stepped into the room, a faint sound of music accompanying the bladesinger’s steps. He looked at Tanamier quizzically, hoping for good news, expecting worse.


“What shall we do about it, then?”

“I don’t feel comfortable sending others when I can’t even determine what happened to the initial team… there’s more to this than meets the eye. I’ll have to go myself.”

“When do we leave?” asked Caelynn pleasantly. Tanamier knew that, in addition to caring for his lost friends, the bladesinger needed action, needed a distraction.

“As soon as we can, at first light. We’ll need to prepare…”

“Already taken care of,” came a harsh voice from the door. J’afrock eased his bulk into the room and stood before his general. “I took the liberty of preparing for a search mission. I have no intention of leaving my brother-in-arms behind; I was coming just now to request permission to…”

“Permission granted, my friend,” interrupted Tanamier. “On one condition: you consent to your general accompanying you.”

“As well as a bladesinger,” added Caelynn.

“And, hopefully, a scholar,” came a soft voice from the entryway. “Brother Griften Insaith, ‘civilian advisor’ at the service of the military. You needn’t sacrifice any more soldiers while you have volunteers, general.”

J’afrock let out a grunt of approval. “Works fine. The carpet seats six.” He hesitated. “General…”

Tanamier smiled. “It’s your mission, J’afrock. You have tactical command.”

The half-orc smiled. In some ways, he was easy to please. Unless you were his woman.

“At first light, then!”

Author: Eric