Author Topic: Interlude 2  (Read 8718 times)

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Offline Daen

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Interlude 2
« on: October 10, 2022, 05:00:00 AM »
Interlude 2: Lieutenant Marsden

"Sir?" A soldier spoke from just outside the command tent.

"What is it?" Governor Sterling responded harshly, not moving from the map table.

"Scout unit fourteen has returned early, sir," the nervous man answered. I felt for him- he was used to dealing with ordinary lieutenants such as myself, not the highest authority in the land! "The team leader has requested to be debriefed immediately."

"Send him in," The Governor said dismissively, and let out a sigh to punctuate it.

"Do you want me to handle this, sir?" I offered. Ever since the Governor had arrived, my on authority had been entirely replaced. I was effectively a manservant now: superficial and irrelevant to this campaign. It would be a welcome change to have something valuable to do.

"Go ahead," he said derisively, and I tried not to take offense at his tone.

As I took the scout unit leader aside and spoke with him quietly, I wondered again at the Governor's attitude. He was almost a magical figure back home- a tactical genius who had always been three steps ahead of the Queenslanders! Despite their numbers, he'd been able to outmaneuver them again and again. He seemed to know their plans before even they did.

Then he'd abandoned the entire western front on a whim, recalling almost half our standing forces to this insignificant wasteland. Chasing a Munga myth. Was our beloved Governor losing his mind?

The scouting report was interesting as well. Sterling must have sensed it in my walk as I returned, because he immediately asked about it.

"The stranger we found in the wilderness two days ago, sir; the one who took his own life rather than be tortured? Scout unit fourteen passed by that position again this morning. They report that the body is gone. They did a limited search, and found what the unit leader believes to be a grave. Someone found the body, buried it, and then moved on."

I practically heard the Governor's muscles tense up, and he went completely silent, barely even breathing. Finally, he spoke. "I read your initial report. Your men assumed he was a Munga villager, correct?"

"Yes, sir. He was armed with a simple blade, but it was sharp enough when he used it."

"Take me to this grave, immediately," he snapped his fingers.

I knew better than to question his orders, strange though this one was. The guard announced us leaving, using the horn that was unique to the reigning Governor, and I hurried out in the direction the scouts had reported.

I worried about the Governor at first, but soon found those worries dispelled. He was at least fifteen years older than me, but could apparently move quite fast all the same. Rumor had it that he was of the same bloodline as the original Governors who had ruled this land before the Great Fall, and he seemed happy to maintain that rumor.

After about half an hour, we arrived at the location, and I felt the sand underneath my cane shift as I tapped it. There was a road here. I found the grave after another moment, marked by a simple arrangement of sticks in the Munga way. "Over here, sir."

About the last sound I expected, began emanating from him. It was a low laugh, gaining intensity as it went on! It cut off quickly, but as he spoke, the mirth in his voice continued. "Of course. It's so simple. I can't believe I didn't realize it before now!"

"Sir?" I asked in confusion.

"They've delivered themselves to me, Marsden!" He said triumphantly. "I would have found this grave eventually, but by burying this man, they've only sped up their own destruction!"

Utterly mystified, I wasn't sure what to say. This might be an important clue as to their motivations, yes, but it was hardly definitive, and it certainly gave no sign as to where they'd gone.

"Run back to the camp," Sterling ordered. "Send out messages to all our forces. Redirect them here, and from this position, have them head west into the desert. It won't be long before we've found the Sanctuary. I know it."

He sounded so certain that I even believed it for a moment. I knew that the Governor had gained power very quickly back home, and rose to command the Senate after only three years of being a part of it, but logically, there was no way for him to be certain. And yet, he was.

I acknowledged his orders and obeyed, putting my faith in him. We all had up until now, and he'd never led us astray.