“The Siege of Orminth was a real turning point for our effort. I think up until that point, nobody really believed we stood a chance, not even in our own troop. Perhaps not even the commander. But seeing that flag hoisted for all to see, we realised there would be no turning back.”— “The Markex War”, Sargon Telar
There was a knock at the door, and both Raikos and Valasar halted their conversation, looking expectantly towards it. The heavy glass door eased open, revealing Sarix Keldrath standing at attention.
“Sire,” she saluted.
“What news?” asked the Scalelord. Raikos raised a browplate.
“Orminth’s fallen, sire.”
Valasar’s eyes widened. “Fallen?!”
“Aye, sire. The separatists have seized the city chambers and the garrison are no longer giving resistance.” Sarix shut the door behind her, stood with her hands clasped behind her back.
Valasar slammed the table he and Raikos stood before, looked incredulously at Lord Keldrath. “What say you now, Raikos? Hmm? Still feel they’ve not the force for it?!”
“Sire, I…” Raikos began, faltering.
Valasar fixed Sarix in his gaze. “How did this information come? We’ve reports from Orminth already?”
Sarix shook her head. “Not yet, sire. The Ist’s wizard reported it directly, sire. Scryed the chambers not an hour ago.”
Valasar closed his eyes and was silent for a moment. “How are their forces now? They’ll have taken heavy losses.”
Valasar looked expectantly at Sarix.
“…We’re still awaiting a full appraisal, sire, but…no. The majority of their force appears to be intact.” The Red Claw delivered the sentence with a rare level of trepidation in her voice.
“That’s preposterous,” said Raikos, “a force that size attacking a fortified, garrisoned city like Orminth? They’ll have lost half their vak if not more!”
“Regretfully, my lord, it appears not.”
The three stood in silence for a long moment, before Sarix eventually spoke.
“Have you any orders, sire?”
Valasar looked to Raikos. “Your suggestions, Lord Keldrath?”
Raikos set his jaw. “…It might do well to proceed cautiously, sire. It’s possible that this is some sort of trick, some doing of the wizard… Until we can verify the Ist’s intelligence, I’d advise we keep our forces in station.”
Valasar nodded slowly, stroked his chin. He didn’t say anything for a long time.
“It may well be that when we have reports from the Vth the situation is rather different, sire,” Raikos continued.
“Mm,” said Valasar. “I think not.”
Raikos and Sarix looked warily at the Scalelord.
“Send a force immediately.”