“The mistake everyone made when it came to them was underestimation. They thought them just a band of misfits with a run of good luck.
“Valasar was the first one that took them seriously as a threat.”
— “Chronicles of the 4th Era”
Inside the temple, all heads turned to Balax. The grizzled scalar exhaled slowly, closing his eyes.
“Captain Gaur, step outside please!”
Balax grimaced, opening his eyes and flicking them over to meet Karith’s briefly. He turned to face the stone doorway.
“Captain, you can’t…” began Karith.
Balax nodded once.
“Captain, they’ll execu—”
“I know,” cut in Balax quickly. He turned his head and torso backwards to face her. “The Commander has a plan. I hope.”
Vroth put a heavy ebon hand on Balax’s shoulder as the other soldiers murmured around the scene. “Captain…”
Balax exhaled quickly through his nose, looking up to Vroth and then back to Karith. “Karith, you have the captaincy. Consider it a field promotion. We should be able to buy you your freedom – wait until they depart, then find Sargon and the rest of the Legion.” Balax glanced at the pensive Blackbarb in the corner. “Belxiros knows the way.”
“Captain Gaur!” came the call from outside. Balax glanced quickly towards the door then back to the wide-eyed soldiers.
“Our Lady willing, we’ll return.” He locked eyes with Sora across the room, concern painted on the hard lines of her face. “Until then, you answer to our queen.” He saw her bristle at the title.
“Captain, there must be another wa—!”
“No.” Balax shook his head. He cast his eyes over the remnants of his Legion, dipped his head, then raised it again. “Stay safe.” He faced the door, placed one gnarled hand on it and eased it open, moving to face Captain Vesaad outside.
The doors to the throne room swung open with the shimmering sound of glass on glass, a blue-scaled emissary gliding into view, their long robes trailing along the polished floor behind them. The figure on the throne leaned forward from their reclined position to regard the newcomer. Torchlight danced off the walls, the midnight sky visible above the palace.
“Your Highness, our war wizard assigned to the Vth reports that the separatist leaders have been apprehended.”
Valasar smiled slowly, the expression spreading widely over his face into a sinister grin. “Excellent,” he said, the word practically dripping with glee. “Their destination?”
“Directly to the capital, Your Highness. Wing-Captain Thrann and his unit are on their way as we speak.”
Valasar sighed slowly, closed his eyes as if savouring the moment. “Excellent news. Clan Ulriss will be…justly rewarded for their part in this.”
The emissary bowed deeply. “Your Highness.” They rose and turned to leave.
The emissary stopped and turned. “Your Highness?”
“We will of course be requiring appropriate…facilities for their detainment when they arrive.”
“I’m sure Clan Ulriss will appreciate the…unique risks posed by these separatist leaders.”
“I wish for cells to be prepared ahead of their arrival. With the most rigorous proofing against sorcery. I trust this is something Clan Ulriss can take care of?”
“Of course, sire. I will see it done.”
Valasar smiled. “Excellent. Ulriss once again prove their value. Dismissed.”
The emissary bowed once more, then shuffled quickly out of the throne room.
Valasar reclined against the hard glass of the throne, a shallow smile fixed on his face. The situation would be quashed by sunrise.