“This site was flattened during the Markex Rebellion of 397, while the rebel forces were fleeing through these mountains – the Altean symbol etched into the rock here is the only evidence of the divine temple summoned to harbour them, a strategy that many have since attempted to employ with far less success.
“Military strategists claim the missing element is the ‘reckless abandonment’ and ‘bold, brash approach’ taken by the rebel commander, which ‘flew directly in the face of any established military theory and, indeed, all common sense’.”— Copper etching recovered from a Scale mountaintop, circa 5E
Baldaar stoked the fire, the pop of the wood and the crinkling of the shifting coals drifting out into the woods. He looked up towards the approaching footsteps and smiled as Sargon approached.
“Alright?” asked Baldaar, propping his stoking stick next to him. Sargon eased himself down onto the log opposite. Concern was written on his face.
“No troops today,” he said, scratching at his throat.
“Any word from the Commander?” asked Baldaar.
Sargon shook his head. “Nothing since he mentioned the spy.”
Baldaar nodded absently. “Maybe they’re…” He shrugged. “I dunno. I’m sure the Commander has a plan. It’ll be fine. They should be in the mountains, right? Not many trees there, I suppose.”
Sargon flashed his browplate. “I guess not. I just don’t like being in the dark like this.”
Baldaar looked up to the starlit sky, then back to Sargon. He smirked.
“You know what I mean,” said Sargon, smiling slightly.
“It’ll be alright,” said Baldaar, “and besides, it’s not like we can do much about it.” He shrugged. “We’ll just wait here and proceed as instructed, and if it so happens that something terrible’s befallen the Commander and the rest of the Legion we’ll just, you know, slowly starve to death as our supplies gradually dwindle or wait for Keldrath to eventually find us!” He grinned.
Sargon frowned, then chuckled. “I’m glad the prospect’s so appealing.”
Baldaar shrugged, then laughed. The pair drifted into silence as Baldaar took the stick in one hand again and shuffled the coals. Cinders drifted upwards into the winter air.
“Do you…” began Baldaar after a few moments. He rubbed a nostril with one knuckle, then snorted, and looked at Sargon. “Do you think Keldrath will find us?”
Sargon sighed. “Eventually, yeah. Probably. It was only ever going to be a matter of time. I’m surprised we’ve stayed hidden this long.”
Baldaar nodded. “You think we’ll win?”
Sargon looked at Baldaar, then stared into the fire. He set his jaw. “I don’t know.”
Baldaar grunted and nodded.
“Probably not,” said Sargon. “I don’t really see how we can, we’ve not got the…well we haven’t got most things. Our only hope was really to try and take the small victories and build from there. If we go toe-to-toe with Keldrath they’re always going to win. But I think the Commander knows that. The Captain does.”
“So what do you think we should do then?” asked Baldaar.
Sargon shrugged. “I have no idea. It’s not my decision. Thankfully. I… They always think of something.”
Baldaar nodded, then turned northwards, holding up one finger.
Baldaar shushed him, listening intently for a moment.
He sprung to his feet. “Get the fire out.”
Sargon stood. “What?”
“Snuff it!” Baldaar called, dashing off.
Sargon began to stamp out the coals and Baldaar returned seconds later, throwing a heavy linen sheet over the fire, reducing it to a dull red glow that began to slowly fade. Baldaar held one finger in the air, listening intently, before a gust of wind and dark shadows passed over the pair.
“Drakes,” hissed Baldaar. Sargon looked up and saw, indeed, a group of them gliding into the distance, framed against the dark grey night sky as they flew southwards, hazy figures in saddles on their backs.
Baldaar breathed a sigh of relief. “That was close. Do you think they’re looking for us?”
Sargon shook his head, turning to face Baldaar. “They’re headed for the Commander.”