“Fuck this war shit.”— Bathroom scrawling, Keld Rock, author unknown
“Captain Vesaad.” Karth’s voice was deep and raspy. A long night, Vesaad thought. He nodded at the younger captain, standing at attention. Sunlight filtered through the tree canopy, catching Vesaad’s glassmail in just the right way to make Karth’s eyes squint in their maroon sockets.
“Captain Karth,” Vesaad said.
“How fared you in the Spine? We saw the drakes last night.”
Vesaad nodded, puffed his chest out slightly. “The separatist leaders have been captured,” he said, turning his head and gesturing towards the legion at his back. “They surrendered in the face of greater forces. Should be in Karan Taul by now.”
Karth nodded as his 8th Legion erupted into cheers behind him. His jaw was hard. “We saw only five drakes last night.”
“Five drakes for five separatists. By all accounts their elf companion remains on the mainland and the wizard turned tail and fled.”
Karth nodded. “We understand that to be the case, yes. What about Cap—” he began, catching himself. “What about Gaur? That should make six.”
One half of Vesaad’s mouth flashed a smile. “We have him in our custody.” He turned to face the vak behind him and made a gesture. The legionaries parted as Balax was thrust forward, stumbling into the dirt between the two captains, manacles jingling. Balax righted himself quickly, looking up at Karth.
“T-Tarek!” he began. Karth shot him a withering look, and Balax slumped into silence.
“Exemplary work, Captain,” said Karth, addressing Vesaad.
Vesaad nodded sharply.
“If you turn the prisoner over to our custody, we’ll be returning to the Rock by way of Karan Taul and can deliver him to the appropriate authorities. Let you resume your journey to Orminth.”
Vesaad narrowed his eyes. “With the nullification of the separatist threat, Orminth will manage fine for the moment. Lord Keldrath and the Scalelord will wish to hear the truth of the confrontation from the source. We’ll continue on to Karan Taul with him.” He smiled. “Your offer is appreciated, though.”
Karth sighed. “Orders are orders, Captain. And our orders were to capture the separatist lieutenants as well as Gaur. Yours were to reinforce Orminth, no?” He grinned. “I’m sure Lord Keldrath and the Scalelord won’t mind waiting. We’ll take Gaur from here – it would be foolish to send two legions where one would do, eh? And we’re already travelling that road.”
“Send a separatist leader as a prisoner of the unit he once commanded? At the mercy of his nephew? That seems the foolish plan to me, captain.”
“Lord Keldrath certainly didn’t expect any problems with that arrangement,” said Karth. He smiled. “You aren’t insulting Lord Keldrath’s judgment, are you?”
Vesaad grimaced. The young captain had him and he knew it. “Very well, then.” He reached down and hauled Balax to his feet, then pushed him forward to Karth and the 8th. Karth nodded.
“Thank you, captain. Enjoy Orminth.”