“It is a Belarian’s duty to pursue justice and protection for all. Our tenets must apply even to those that work in direct opposition to the Justiciar, or else we are no better than the evil we seek to excise. In the practicing follower’s life there will be times when this makes for difficult decisions, when apathy or vengeance courts you, when unrepentant wrongdoers tempt you to forsake His teachings.
“You must remember those are the people that need you most.”“The Belarian Treatise”
Karth stood, arms crossed, his war host arrayed against the seven figures opposite, separated only by a few feet of trodden dirt track. He watched with narrowed eyes as the red vak, two tridents slung across his back, addressed the gathered troops.
“Karth. I see you’re tracking us.”
Karth nodded. “How astu—”
“You’re too far behind,” the vak interjected. “We’ll reach Orminth long before you.”
“And you and your traitor brethren shall die upon its—”
“And it turns out,” came another interruption from the vak opposite as the oselan flanking him began pulling threads of aether together. Karth made a swift motion with one hand addressing the archer to his right as the vak continued, “there is no adventurer’s license.”
The loosed arrow lanced through the air, passing cleanly through the commander opposite – a shimmer passed over his dark scales but he continued unperturbed, seemingly oblivious to the projectile that ought to be lodged in his eye. The arrow skittered thinly along the ground behind the opposition and out of view.
“You lying dick,” said the vak, an outstretched finger pointed squarely between Karth and the soldier to his left. The oselan finished her arcane movements and the seven figures vanished in a searing beam of unnatural light.
Karth grimaced and spat on the ground as a murmur spread through the ranks behind him. “Illusions,” he muttered, shaking his head.
“Orminth, captain?” ventured the archer.
Karth glanced at the archer, then looked southwards over his shoulder. “Gaur is not fool enough for such a thing. Which means the pirate is either an oaf or a liar.” He turned back towards his troops. “Perhaps both.” He cleared his throat, projecting his voice to address the soldiers. “Either way we have them scared. We continue – ten leagues by sundown or it’s half rations!” His voice was a snarl, the command met by a wave of salutes that rippled backwards through the legion.
“You cannot run forever, uncle,” he muttered under his breath as he turned and began to march.
The legion snaked across the land, a great mass of iron and glass marching inexorably in pursuit of its prey, the rhythmic thump of marching boots and shimmer of shifting mail echoing around. Hours passed, Karth lulled into a meditative state by the steady march, before he felt a soldier’s hand on his shoulder. He turned.
“Over there, sir. Look,” said the warrior, pointing into the distance. Karth followed the finger’s line to see a figure hobbling towards the host. Karth raised a fist, bringing the legion to a halt. “Spyglass,” he said, opening a hand. A cool metal cylinder was placed in it swiftly and he raised it to his eye, training it on the approaching figure.
“What is it, captain?”
Karth lowered the spyglass, raising it into the air for it to be reclaimed by its owner. “He wears our livery,” he said quietly. “Injured.” He gestured and the legion began to trudge slowly towards the distant figure. Karth saw it wave weakly.
A few moments passed as the distance closed. Karth could see the soldier clearly now, his clothing caked in dirt, one swollen eye welded shut with dried blood.
“Hail,” called Karth warily when the vak was within earshot. By way of answer, the soldier collapsed in the dirt. Karth broke into a jog, the legion following behind him.
The soldier groaned as Karth approached, and he knelt down by him, casting an eye over the surroundings quickly in case of a trap. “Gods,” he said, looking the soldier over, “what happened to you?”
The soldier made a wordless vocalisation.
Karth set his jaw. “You’re a separatist,” he said.
The soldier shook his head. Karth narrowed his eyes. “What’s your name?” he asked.
The soldier’s one good eye rolled round to make contact with Karth’s gaze. Trembling, the vak curled his lip back and opened his mouth. Karth recoiled instinctively. The wound was still fresh. He looked over one shoulder to address the legionaries standing at attention. “Who is this vak?”
The legionaries murmured and looked at one another. “Torvax, sir,” one ventured after a few moments. “I think. We bunked together during training.” Karth nodded and turned back to face the soldier.
The soldier nodded.
“Did the traitors do this to you?”
The soldier nodded.
“Where are they now?”
The soldier rolled his head to face eastwards, and raised a trembling finger towards the distant mountains.
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