Brenda W. Clough by The Crystal Crown # also as B. W. Clough

Brenda W. Clough by The Crystal Crown # also as B. W. Clough

Author:The Crystal Crown # also as B. W. Clough
Format: epub
Published: 2013-06-22T16:00:00+00:00

Chapter 12: Storm Over leor

Well before first light everyone was up. No fires were lit other than the usual watchfires, to keep the camp as normal-looking as possible. In the unaccustomed darkness the stars seemed to lean down close and bright. The cold was intense but had in it for the first time a hint of mildness to come. Spring was far away, but coming nevertheless.

I envied Warlord Prince Melbras, for he was doing what I had wished to do—striding up and down the lines, inspecting bowstrings and axe handles, exchanging profanities with the sentries, inspiring courage with his strength and confidence. But as with fire, one has to have courage to share it. In any case I had not the face to go and encourage the men to die bravely, when I would not be risking so much as a scratch.

As the fists armed up they formed in their battle column, ready to march. General Horfal-yu had briefed each fistleader on his proper place and the plan of battle. Now in the pre-dawn twilight heavy bronze armor and shields gleamed in rows even as the scales on a snake’s back. The column seemed incredibly long, twining around tents and hummocks of rock—a serpent more deadly than any viper. The Caydish archers who would provide covering fire assembled behind and to either side. When everything was ready the Prince leaped to a ledge sticking out of the central hill so that he could be seen. I looked forward to a fiery battle oration, as generals give in plaivs. But in his deep harsh voice he said, loud enough for all to hear, “You all know the terrain and the plans. We can’t lose. Let’s castrate the mudfoots!” He leaped down again and they were off. The Viridese marched in step, with the stolid and competent air of craftsman at their labor, while the Caydish trotted alongside, joking and bragging of the deaths they would deal today. It took a long time for the combined forces to march past, but I waited to see them all. Then with mingled regret and relief I went around the hill to the magi’s pavilion.

The Master Magus had chosen thirty magi to come with us, of which almost half were the geomants who would destroy the dam once we won it. The rest were hydromants and hierognomers, so that three of the four loose magi divisions were represented. The hydromants and hierognomers had been brewing their weatherworks all night, gathered for quiet in a rocky dell nearby. All I could see when I passed was the faint glow of magery from the tips of glass wands and folded fans. The other magi were scrying so that the storm might be broken at the critical moment. When I peeped past the rush mats screening the sides of the pavilion I saw the Master Magus bending over his mirror and tapping his glass wand softly into his palm.

“Do they know we’re coming?” I asked.

“You shouldn’t be here, Majesty,” the Magus said absently.


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