“King Eliron,” Lancel said as he leaned over the map of the south, “We will eventually take enough to capture the eastern side of The Knife but I may take years. Unlike many of the other borders we have taken, the Lakeshore border was the most maintained modern wall and now that we have taken the others, it is well manned.”
Eliron leaned over the map as well, with different markers showing where their army was and the know positions of their enemies. His hair was dark and cut short for practicality. His beard was kept close and cropped like his hair and his eyes were dark. He was a handsome man who clearly held a heavy weight upon him. Lancel wanted this war to end so that the south might have peace and Eliron a quiet reign.
“Can we circumvent it like we did the Stone Border?” Eliron asked looking at the first of the borders that fell.
It had been a truly brilliant attack; he marched his army right around the first wall, through the sands for six days before coming around back. In the past, men would not dare for fear of the predators that hunted below the sands. The sand sharks and the sand snakes were the worst but they did not like the hot sun of the day so they were only a danger at night. He had spoken with the People of the Dunes and discovered that they used tar taken from tar-pits in various places in the Dunes.
They spread the tar upon the ground around their camp and lit it on fire so the sand sharks and snakes would not bother them. Eliron had done the same, marching his men deep enough into the desert to avoid detection before swinging back and attacking from behind. It had been their first true victory and it had given the men a newfound determination.
That wall had stood unconquered for three hundred years and yet it had fallen to Eliron. Eight long years later only one of the six walls of Sadar remained unconquered; though it was proving to be the most difficult. Eliron had accomplished in ten years what his ancestors had been trying to accomplish for centuries. His people believed in him, and in a way they feared him, but they did not truly love him.
They feared him because of the price that had been paid to get those victories. The lives of many men and women had been lost in pursuit of what many were calling ‘The Endless War.’ Though the army believed in him and loved him for all his greatness, and that he fought beside them, the rest did not. Many even called him the Water King, Conqueror of Land; an insult because they prayed to the Water God.
Yet Eliron didn’t even hesitate, that was the kind of king he was. He was a man that Lancel could believe in and fight for. He heard the concerns of his people but strove to make Vargos better despite what his people believed a folly. Lancel had thought on this for days as the army had sat, carefully out of range of the archers.
“We cannot, unlike the other walls, this one extends all the way back to The Knife.” Lancel responded, he too had wished their early ploy could be used again.
“What suggestion do you have for me?” Eliron asked. His king was wise and always sought council.
“We offer terms,” Lancel responded and saw the disappointment on Eliron’s face, just a moment of disappointment but it was there none the less, “The Maiden’s Harbor for peace.”
“Rodrick is no fool, those terms are not in his favor,” Eliron frowned; he did not like uncertainty in situations.
“He thinks we are winning, as he does not know we have not figured out a way past his walls. We get control of the Maiden’s Gate and the harbor, it is all you ever wanted,” Lancel pointed out.
Eliron stood, and began to pace, restless in his thoughts. He ran a hand through his hair and Lancel could all but hear his mind working. He stopped to glance at the map twice before he finally stilled. Lancel waited patiently, confident it was a good plan.
“This is the determination all my Arms made?” Eliron said, staring at the wall of the tent.
“Your Arms were in agreement that this was the best plan, if this should fail we will attempt to take the Maiden’s Gate by force.” Lancel answered, though he did not like the idea of taking such a stronghold by force.
“Walk with me,” Eliron said as he strode from the tent.
Lancel stayed close with him as Eliron moved from tent to tent, from camp fire to camp fire speaking to his men. Many asked him to join them around the fire and Eliron did for some time, speaking to them as both their King and their fellow fighter. Lancel followed like a shadow watching as his presence inspired those around him.
Eliron was a man with a powerful air around him. He had taken hold of his kingdom with both hands and led them towards his vision of a better Vargos. He was a clever man who wanted the best for his people and having the Maiden’s Harbor would allow them direct access to the North. Now they only traded with the People of the Dunes, and they would only trade their very expensive potions for water. Lancel had to admit, though, that those potions had brought many back from the brink of death.
They meandered through the camp, until they came to the edge and Eliron stared at the wall. It was a great wall that was marked by the blood of fallen soldiers. It glared down at them, challenging them to try and overcome its greatness. Lancel waited silently, his eyes following the torches of the watchmen that paced out their patrol.
“We should begin the construction of siege weapons, and place many of them throughout our ranks, so they know we are planning an attack if they do not yield what we ask.” Eliron said and Lancel knew his plan agreed with Eliron’s goals.
“As you command.”
“I will leave the battlefront in your care and I shall return to our stronghold at the Towers. I will have it drafted in my own hand.” Eliron informed him and Lancel was once again honored by Eliron’s trust.
“What do you intend to offer?” Lancel asked, his curiosity getting the best of him.
“A choice,” Eliron responded vaguely and they continued to stare at the wall in silence.
Keep Reading, Chapter 3