Table of Contents: https://www.bungie.net/en/Forums/Post/244705039?page=0&sort=0&showBanned=0&path=1
[b]Chapter 9, Part 2[/b]
When the scout found him, Timur was in the midst of a pensive silence. The scholar sat on the cold earth, seemingly entranced by a bronze medallion which rested in his palm. The artifact was surrounded by a strange, shifting light, which marked its presence even in the dark of night. Shallow carvings covered the object’s surface, but these were indecipherable to the messenger. Despite this, he gazed upon them with great intensity, mesmerized by something in the medallion’s nature, though he knew not what. Yet still, he wondered...
“Yes?” Timur asked, looking up from the artifact.
The scout’s head snapped upward, and he gazed at the scholar-both mentally and physically unresponsive-for several moments before answering. “The Host of Albios is camped less than an hour’s ride to the west, Lord Timur-in a pass between two bluffs. Their numbers are far greater than our own, though their ranks are chiefly men. They have lit many fires, and do not seem to care for secrecy. I think they are waiting.”
“For us?” Timur questioned dryly.
“It is likely, sir.”
“Then let us not disappoint. Inform the others. We leave at first light.”
The Warlord SynIva sat gazing into the flames of a roaring inferno, surrounded first by a circle of his fellow Chosen, and then by a host of his men. Many other fires burned throughout the camp-both within the pass and atop the cliffs which framed it-, but all were dwarfed by this, which sat at its heart.
The smoke of these multitudinous blazes was left to drift freely into the early night, in the hopes that it might draw the Wolves to their doom.
Unfortunately, this announcement of their presence had not come without cost. Thanks to the frigid climes of their home (and the consequent sparsity of vegetation therein), many of those trees and thistles that they now burned had had to be felled leagues away, and were then borne to their fate on the shoulders of his subordinates-Risen, men, and boys all the same. Not all had proven capable of withstanding the burden, and so their path was marked with the graves of those weak of frame, though strong of heart.
[i]There is honor in death[/i], SynIva asserted to himself.
But the deaths of his men, no matter how honorable, would be in vain, should the Wolves elect to refuse his challenge.
[i]And if they do[/i], the Warlord mused, [i]then they are cowards, and they ought to be damned.[/i]
He knew that they would not.
SynIva stood, and his lessers bowed in response, as was ritual. Spreading his arms outward, and closing his eyes as if in meditation, the Risen allowed himself to be enveloped in iridescence. When the radiance about him faded, SynIva’s form was clad in the stark white of his armor, and a sleek helm reminiscent of those once worn by the Spartans of Greece rested on his head, topped by a crest of deep purple. A cloak of similar coloration flowed from his shoulders to the gray earth at his feet. In one hand he clasped a great rounded shield of exceptional craft, and the shaft of a slender spear stood in the other. The ring of Chosen about him followed suit, emerging into their fellows’ sight armed and armored much as their Lord, though their helms were without bristles.
As the Lord of Albios and his companions made for the mouth of the pass, he spoke a command. The men not already perched atop the surrounding cliffs took flight at this, winding up steep passes to reach their summits, and there setting watch.
“Why does [i]he[/i] get a rifle?” Charillus whined, flinching at the sound of his own voice amid the whispers of the camp, which were themselves few in number. His father and brothers stared at him in surprise for a moment, the prior, along with the second youngest of his sons, still grasping the item in question.
“Because I’m older, and I-” the elder boy began, but was halted at the rise of his father’s hand.
“Because [i]you[/i] are not to fight, Charlie,” the man asserted, grinding his teeth. “Do you understand?”
The boy only nodded, his eyes cast downward in an effort to avoid his father’s ire.
“I [i]said[/i] do-,” the latter started, his anger mounting.
“Yes,” the boy replied, his own tone conveying great annoyance. “But [i]you[/i] said that [i]none[/i] of us were going to fight. [i]You[/i] said that SynI-“ His father’s eyes hardened. “[i]Lord[/i] SynIva-and the others-would handle it.”
“So why do [i]they[/i] need guns?” Charlie questioned, motioning toward his brothers, both of whom were armed with marksmen’s rifles as well as sidearms.
“Damnit, boy!” his father exclaimed, his volume far exceeding that of his son’s earlier outburst. He took a moment to calm himself before continuing, looking into the eyes of his youngest child with a brief softness seldom outwardly expressed. “I only want to keep you safe. The Wolves, however wretched, follow the same code as we. None will harm you, so long as you are unarmed.”
“Okay...” the boy conceded. “But can’t I at least have a pistol or something? Just in case? I could hide it. No one would know.”
“You will have no need of any weapon, Charlie,” his father assured him.