The sounds of argument bellowed from the tent as I approached – there was no doubt that I had arrived at the right place. Graven Ashe, the Archon of War and leader of the Disfavored, was yelling back and forth with Voices of Nerat, the leader of the Scarlet Chorus. Each blamed the other for recent earthquakes and pass closures. The soldiers stationed near the tent’s entrance merely shrugged as I approached, conveying this was a normal spectacle to which they had grown numb.
“I am here to proclaim Kyros’ Edict,” I announced as the tent flaps closed behind me. “The valley was sealed in preparation for this moment.” My tone was flat and brooked no argument.
Ashe’s second in command began to speak, undoubtedly to lavish some measure of unwarranted praise or express honor at my arrival, but she was wisely cut off by her master before getting too far. To cover for his underling, the leader of the Disfavored eagerly asked about the Edict, about what terrible curse or destruction I was about to unleash unto the oathbreakers in Kyros’ name.
I unfurled the Edict and spoke its contents slowly, deliberately. “The Overlord’s loyal servants must hold Ascension Hall,” the historic seat of power for Vendrien’s Well, “by the 26th day of the Month of Swords or all in the valley will perish.” With each word the earth seemed to sway, the air thickening with warmth as I pronounced the tersely-phrased command, its every syllable drafted by the divine hand of Kyros. Everyone in the valley had eight days to live, unless the citadel could be taken.
After a moment of stunned silence, the two generals began bickering again – excusing themselves and accusing the other for this most heavy-handed sentence. I let their tirades go on for a few moments, standing impassively, waiting until their shock and anger had run its course. “Get to work, gentlemen.”
Plans had been drawn on a map hanging on the tent wall showing the Disfavored advancing and holding a nearby river, allowing the Scarlet Chorus to secure the outer valley which surrounded the Vendrien citadel. I pointed wordlessly and was pleased to receive a prompt explanation of the assault. Both sides had been waiting for more troops before committing to the plan, in my opinion because they wanted to keep a wary eye on the other army. With no time to waste, and no reinforcements coming, I ordered them to march at sun-up.
I would find time and opportunity to attend both of their assaults. Though I had no strict right to give orders – my role being that of adjudicator of the law only – both generals knew I carried the trust of their superiors, and would work with me, whether they wanted to or not.
I took for myself suitable assistance in the person of Barik, a well-seasoned Disfavored, and began to inspect the camp’s readiness for the upcoming assaults.