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I never considered it before, but when someone calls you childish, you feel the overwhelming desire to prove them wrong.

 

Pouting the whole way, I walk over and take a seat across from the stony-faced knight. I fold my arms and cross my legs with a look of defiance on my face, which doesn't make much sense when I think about it because I'm the one who gave in and followed her directions.

 

“There, happy?” I sulk.

 

“Ecstatic,” she dryly remarks, proceeding to set down her teacup.

 

Now that I'm directly in front of her, I get a better view of the blue-haired knight. I didn't notice it earlier, but she's shorter than I initially realized. It was hard to tell with her sitting in her armor, but based on the length of her legs; she can only be maybe five foot four, max. And though she's keeping up her rigid military persona, she has contradicting delicate facial features, especially around her eyes.

 

If she weren't wearing armor and slouched her posture a bit, I'd say she'd look like the average mom next door.

 

But I don't let her appearance fool me; she's strong. Really strong.

 

And like Pacore, she has quite a few magic items hidden around her body. Her mana obscuring ring is better than mine, and I have to focus to push past it and scan her other gear’s enchantments, especially the beautiful set of armor she’s wearing. Tabitha's armor isn't as unique as Pacore's, but his was enchanted to remain invisible all while deflecting magic, making it a mana obscuring tool in and of itself. Still, the runes in Tabitha's armor and other gear are incredibly complex. I've only seen around a dozen basic runes so far, and none of them allow me to guess what her armor can do.

 

Using Sense Mana, I can see the runes' general shapes, and I'm sure they're at least tier 4. I still have no idea how people can make such beautiful three-dimensional runes inside the metal like that.

 

Maybe she’ll let me take a closer look at her armor sometime?

 

No, Alayah, stop that! I berate myself. You're angry at her for calling you childish, not impressed with her gear! I shift in my seat, still staring at Tabitha with a frown on my face.

 

Tabitha just watches me with cold eyes, not perturbed by my open hostility in the slightest. We watch each other like that for a few minutes before Tabitha moves to break the ice. “My name is Tabitha Leres, student under Master Pacore the Deathless. It is a pleasure to meet you.” Tabitha introduces herself like we haven’t been in the same room with each other for the last half hour.

 

Tabitha proceeds to offer me a polite salute while I look over my shoulder to make sure someone isn’t standing behind me. I point a finger at my chest and give Tabitha a ‘are you talking to me’ look.

 

“If I’m going to be overseeing you, it is only right I formally introduce myself. It would be polite for you to do the same,” she informs me in her mechanical voice.

 

A wicked smirk crosses my face. "Greetings, Tabitha Leres, student of Pacore," I say in a grandiose manner. I even wave my hand out in front of me like I’m addressing a crowd; a bit of showmanship never hurts. “My name is Aaliyah, protector of Spotted Creek Village. Slayer of goblins. Forger of epic swords…” I have to pause to make up more ridiculous titles. “Youngest sage in existence. Hunter of magic beasts!”

 

"Are you finished?" Tabitha, matter-of-factly, asks me.

 

“Give me a second to come up with one more,” I tell her.

 

Tabitha patiently waits for me to finish, but I can’t think of anything else. “Never mind, I’m done," I reluctantly tell her.

 

“You have the same title as I do,” she reminds me.

 

I refold my arms. "So far, I've only had one teacher, and it isn't Pacore. I'll call you master long before I address that old man as such."

 

Again, Tabitha angrily narrows her eyes at me, but she quickly relaxes herself this time and returns to giving me a blank look. "I'm aware of the circumstances behind your joining master as an apprentice. I won't ask you to change your mind about Master, but I will ask you to respect his name in my presence. Master Pacore might not be the strongest warrior in Scholl or the best mage, and he might not be able to single handily kill beasts higher leveled than himself. Still, Master Pacore has participated in countless battles and is one of the oldest humans in the world. As someone who’s fought him, I’m sure you can at least acknowledge that much.”

 

Tabitha starts to show more emotion the longer she talks about Pacore, and the worshiping look in her eyes tells me a lot about how she views her master. It’s hard to argue with someone like that. But I’ll admit, even though I hate Pacore for coming to our village and forcing me to join him, I fully recognize his strength. Pacore’s level alone show’s how much he’s been through.

 

The average villager is lucky to hit level 50 by the time they die; Pacore's level is three times that.

 

Tabitha takes my silence as agreement and continues. “If it makes you feel any better, I don’t want to be here anymore than you want me here,” she flatly tells me.

 

“Really?” I sarcastically say and roll my eyes.

 

“My master is fighting for our country. My friends are holding the line at Teeburn. When I received a letter from Master, I assumed he wanted me to join him, not ask me to go guard a small village out in the middle of nowhere. I had to forgo the honor of battle to watch over you.”

 

I cringe under her powerful gaze. Her eyes had a crazy look to them when she talked about missing the chance to fight with her fellow soldiers. Is this chick a battle maniac or something? Where did the expressionless woman go? “I didn’t ask for Pacore to send anyone,” I grumble.

 

"That is true," Tabitha gives me a slight nod. "But the fact that Master saw fit to send me here shows how much he values you."

 

“Or your precious master sent you here on a whim,” I point out to her.

 

"My master wouldn't do that," Tabitha tells me without a hint of doubt in her voice. "Master takes his role as a pillar of Scholl very seriously." Tabitha notices my look of doubt and explains herself. "Master only reveals his playful side to those he finds interesting or those he respects. I wonder which were you?” Tabitha gives me a kind look that catches me off guard. “Because I respect my master’s decisions, I agreed to come out here.”

 

“And you coming out here means what, exactly?” I ask. “To make sure I don’t run away?”

 

Tabitha shakes her head. "If that were the case, Master would've instructed me to rush here. No, Master sent me here to protect you and to offer you training should you ask for it."

 

"What!?" I ask in astonishment. "Forget about the training; why would I need your protection?" It isn't like I have enemies or anything. People fight over me, not attack me.

 

"Master's letter explained your situation with Silver Herd. They have people in their employ that could be quite dangerous." She must be talking about Two and Reel. I admit they're pretty strong, but it's hard for anyone to sneak up on me.

 

“Why would Silver Herd attack me?” I ask, dismissing her concerns. I've already agreed to work with Giovanni for as long as possible, and Grey thinks I'm ignorant of his contract's purpose. Why would either of them want me dead?

 

“What will happen when the two factions in Silver Herd finally clash?” Tabitha asks me like she’s trying to lead me to an answer I can’t see.

 

I assume Giovanni would win, but I doubt that's what she's looking for. "Then they fight, and one of them wins," I state the obvious, not sure where she’s going with this.

 

Tabitha nods. “That’s right, and one of them will win. What do you think the loser will do once the other wins?”

 

I shrug. Does she want me to predict the future or something?

 

"When someone losses, they rarely take the loss well. Both groups know about you, yes? Once it becomes apparent which side will lose, what do you think will stop them from making more drastic decisions?" Tabitha asks me with a small grin.

 

I feel the blood drain from my face when I finally see what she’s getting at.

 

"That's right; my master is not the only one who knows about your value. When things get heated inside Silver Herd, you can't be sure which side might try to abduct you or your family, maybe even try something worse. I'm here to make sure nothing like that happens until Master can come to pick you up and take you back to Scholl with him." Tabitha reaches over and sips her tea, happy to let me ponder over this new bit of information.

 

I wouldn’t put it past Grey to try something shady but would Giovanni do the same thing? I can’t predict how either of them would react if they were about to lose everything. “And the training?” I ask, trying to change the subject.

 

Tabitha doesn't press me on the Silver Herd issue and thankfully doesn't gloat as I’m sure Pacore would. "I was told you were talented for your age but that you don't have any fighting experience. You won't be forced to train with me, but the offer is open should you chose to."

 

“That old-!” I start to complain but stop myself when Tabitha’s brow creases. “Pacore, said I didn’t have any experience fighting?” I ask in a more measured tone.

 

Thankfully, Tabitha doesn’t look mad at me for addressing Pacore without any titles. “He wrote that you didn’t have experience fighting other people, though you didn’t seem hesitant to kill him, which was a start.” The hair on the back of my neck stands up when she casually compliments me for trying to kill her master. “Have you had to kill people before?”

 

“Once,” I tell her. “Some bandits ambushed me while I was on a run.”

 

“Did you find it easy?” She asks a little too enthusiastically.

 

"The fighting or killing them?” I ask for clarification.

 

“Both!” I once again feel Tabitha’s eyes light up with passion, just like when she talked about Pacore. So, she is a battle maniac.

 

What kind of people did I get mixed up with? She was so quiet a minute ago. "I was tired after a long run, but I got lucky with a large-scale fire spell and managed to kill all of them. I did what I had to do," I tell her the short version of my run-in with the bandits.

 

"You won through your own strength; that's all that matters," Tabitha gives me another half-smile.

 

"I don't like fighting," I try telling her before she gets the wrong idea about me.

 

Tabitha just lightly shakes her head. “Don’t worry, that will change. Everyone has a tough time killing for the first time.”

 

She definitely misunderstood me there. I don’t have a problem killing to save myself or other people, but I don’t take pleasure in battle to the point I want to go searching for a fight. Something tells me Tabitha won’t understand me even if I try spelling it out for her. That said, I’m curious about her offering to train me.

 

Master is like me and only fights when he has to, Camden has defended his village for years, but that's mostly against monsters; if I'm going to leave the village soon, I need to know how to defend myself against other people, and Tabitha is the best person to teach me those skills.

 

“You’ll teach me to fight people like you and Pacore?” I question Tabitha.

 

Tabitha gives me a real smile, not one of her small half-smiles, but a genuine smile, and honestly, it freaks me out. "If you want?" She grins at me.

 

I’m confident I’m talking to a demon disguised as a woman. I don't know if this is a bad idea or not, but here goes nothing. "I would appreciate it if senior sister Tabitha would instruct me," I ask, bowing my head respectfully.

 

"I would be happy to!" Tabitha's smile widens, and I don't think it's because I called her senior sister. “First, we should spar to see where you’re at,” Tabitha eagerly stands up, reaching for her gauntlets. How can a person change their personality so quick? She was calm and collected when I walked into the room, and now she’s acting like a child that was just given a present.

 

“Wait, wait, wait,” I quickly try to stop her.

 

“What’s wrong?” Tabitha gives me a questioning look.

 

“I can’t fight you right now.”

 

"Need some time to prepare? Alright then, I can wait an hour," The previous stony-faced knight is gone, and her place is an unreasonable battle junkie.

 

"I mean, I can't fight you today," I clarify.

 

“Why not?” Tabita frowns at me.

 

"I have other stuff I need to do," I tell her. My parents are probably waiting for me back at home to hear about Tabitha, and I'm sure Master Del is waiting for my return as well. Just because I agreed to let her teach me doesn't mean I want to fight Tabitha this exact moment.

 

"What could be more important than working on your fighting skills?"

 

“For one thing, I was preparing to do some forging with my master today,” I flatly tell her.

 

“You mean with the Stone kin,” Tabitha blankly looks at me before sitting back down.

 

“Yes, my master,” I stress. “I’m a crafter by profession. I can’t spend all day every day sparring with you. And don’t you need to move into Sandra’s room?”

 

The disappointment on Tabitha's face is clear to see. But as if a switch is flicked, all the emotion slowly drains from her face after hearing we won't be sparring today. "I didn't bring much with me, so unpacking won't take that long," she answers in a detached voice like when I first met her.

 

How!? Is she screwing with me? There’s no way someone can flip-flop emotions like that.

 

“When you’re ready to train, you can come and find me,” she tells me in a dismissive tone, moving to reach for her tea again.

 

I don't think she's screwing with me! Does she only show emotion when she's talking about her master or fighting? I'm curious; I need to test this out.

 

“Sister, Tabitha,” a little brown-nosing will go a long way if I’m wrong about this.

 

“Yes?”

 

“Could you tell me a little more about Pacore? It’s hard for me to accept him as my master when I don’t know anything about him,” I ask in a sickeningly sweet voice.

 

Tabitha's eyes light up again as soon as I ask about Pacore. For someone who said they were used to dealing with people like me, Tabitha doesn't appear to realize I was feigning excitement to get her to talk about her master. That, or she doesn't care and was just waiting for an excuse to talk about Pacore.

 

"Master has been serving the Scholl royal family for generations," she happily tells me. "Most rulers invest heavily into their Vitality stat, but master has outlived the previous king and will certainly serve young prince Kaliks when he takes over for the current king!"

 

Tabitha continues to talk about how Scholl's previous king supported Pacore for his bravery in battle and how he was always on the front lines of any conflict.

 

I recoil as Tabitha starts going on and on about Pacore like she's teaching a history lesson. She covers his major battles all with a bright smile on her face. I only half-listen to her as she talks about battles that happened before my parents were even born.

 

I use this spare time to check my status page for the week.

 

LV: 73 Experience: 571,837/ 956,780

Health: 2,430/2,430

Stamina 1,561.71/1,650

Mana: 907.39/1,020

Vitality: 243.00

Endurance: 100.04

Strength: 152.01

Dexterity: 150.02

Senses: 62.42

Mind: 65.26

Magic: 102.84

Clarity: 78.81

Status Points: 0

Skills:

Tier 1:

Meditation (LV78), Running (LV77), Blacksmithing (LV72), Hammer Skills (LV61), Axe Skills (LV60), Cleaning (LV53), Chanting (LV50), Mining (LV50), Drawing (LV46), Trading (LV45), Cooking (LV41), Sword Skills (LV40), Dagger Skills (LV34), Acting (LV33), Wood Carving (LV31), Sewing (LV30), Alchemy (LV9), Pugilist Skills (LV8), Spear Skills (LV2)

Tier 2:

Sense Mana (LV79), Double Step (LV63), Charm (LV50), Measurement (LV47), Hammer Arts (LV43), Axe Arts (LV39), Writing (LV32), Intimidating Shout (LV31), Mathematics (LV30), Steady Hands (LV24), Increase Price (LV21), Lower Price (LV20), Sword Arts (LV17), Dagger Arts (LV13), Gourmet (LV7), Marching (LV5), Shout of Valor (LV3),

Tier 3:

Expel Mana (LV62), Mana Manipulation (LV61), Precise Strike (LV40), Double Strike (LV40), Weighted Strike (LV40), Flash Step (LV26), Contract (LV14)

Tier 4:

Mana Skin (LV55), Mental Resistance (LV55), Inject Mana (LV53), Extract Mana (LV34), Magic Blacksmithing (LV29), Empowered Spell (LV14), Air Walk (LV12), Magic Threads (LV10)

Tier 5:

Sense Soul (LV40), Soul Manipulation (LV11)

Tier 6:

Soul Devourer (LV2)

 

Increased Skill Levels

Hammer Skills (LV61) 3,050exp

Sword Skills (LV40) 2,000exp

Alchemy (LV8-9) 850exp

Pugilist Skills (LV8) 400exp

Steady Hands (LV24) 2,400exp

Flash Step (LV26) 3,900exp

Magic Blacksmithing (LV29) 7,250exp

Air Walk (LV12) 3,000exp

Magic Threads (LV10) 2,500exp

Soul Manipulation (LV11) 5,500exp

 

Skill Experience: 30,850exp

Crafting Experience: 22,716exp

Fighting Experience: 254exp

 

Total-experience Gained: 53,820exp

 

Not my most impressive week ever, but I managed to raise almost a dozen skills while working on my forging. I finished another five kaglese spears and three matching swords. Then, I added another four steel spears to our new armory, along with eight more bucklers. I wanted to make some helmets today, but at the rate Tabitha is talking, I don't think I'll be getting to it.

 

It's annoying that I won't finish what I had planned today, but I'm ahead of schedule, so I can afford it.

 

My stock of kaglese weapons is growing a lot faster than I thought it would. I've forged a total of thirty-one spears and thirty swords, but my inventory of kaglese is rapidly depleting as my stock of completed weapons grows. It's only thanks to all the steel in my kaglese alloy that I haven't run out of material yet. I have maybe another two weeks before I run out and have to switch to making the arrows I’ve set aside for later.

 

I'll have to keep this in mind as I move forward in my craft because even though I tried to plan ahead when it comes to materials, I couldn't correctly predict how long my supply of kaglese would last me. This experience only proves I’ll need a steady supply in the future and not to rely on one-time large deliveries.

 

Still, I made a decent amount of experience from all the crafting I did. I even gained a small amount of experience in practicing alchemy with Sandra. We haven't produced an actual vial of engraving ink yet, so the tiny bit of experience we're getting is only a consolation prize, just like the experience I gained from practicing my swordsmanship with Camden.

 

While I gained a good amount of experience from my crafting, the bulk still came from leveling my skills. But looking at my status page, I'm starting to see a slowing in the speed at which I level my skills. Besides Hammer Skills, only my lower-leveled skills saw any significant growth.

 

“Then master charged the blagist and blocked the beast's claws with his hands!" I turn my attention back to Tabitha, who's still praising everything Pacore has ever done. I've been tuning her out for a while, and I don't even know what a blagist is.

 

"That sounds amazing," I interrupt her before she can start telling me Pacore's next harrowing tale. "Thanks for telling me so much, but I think I must be going now."

 

“Oh, alright.” All the excitement Tabitha was just expressing talking about Pacore quickly dries up.

 

Tabitha watches me stand up with her stony expression back on her face. I need to get going, but there's still one more thing I wish to ask her. "Sister Tabitha, why did Pacore make you sit in place for two days?"

 

“Master was messing with me and wanted me to read a book or something; I just remember it being pointless,” she lazily informs me.

 

I don't think Pacore was trying to mess with her; I think he just wanted to see if he could get her to read a book. I've only known Tabitha for a couple of hours, and it's obvious the only two things she cares about are fighting and her master.

 

Sarette and Camden are going to love hosting her. In my head, I offer the two of them a silent prayer. I hope I get to see Sarette's face when she realizes her houseguest has no real interest in tea or gossip.

 

“I’ll see you around,” I give my farewells to Tabitha. She doesn’t say a word as I leave, only giving me a nod goodbye.

 

I open the drawing room door and walk into the hall. Making sure the door closes behind me, I start grinning to myself. I might have lucked out with Tabitha.

 

My family and I were worried Pacore was going to send someone who would try and supervise us. Not only did Tabitha say she wasn't going to force me to do anything, but she sounded content to leave me to myself until Pacore showed up.

 

I'll have to watch my smart-ass mouth around her when it comes to Pacore, but unless I'm wrong about her, interacting with Tabitha can be a bigger blessing than I ever thought. I still want to see what lies in the deeper parts of the forest, and I have a feeling I know a knight in shiny armor that would love to go with me. While the monsters are trying to eat her, I can enjoy the scenery.

 

"What's done is done, Dad!" I hear Sandra arguing with Camden from the direction of their front door. Walking down the hallway, I see the two of them are arguing in the entryway while Richard is standing nearby holding Sandra's clothes chest. Sarette is standing next to my brother, watching the argument play out.

 

“You’re not moving out; you’re too young!” Camden argues.

 

Sandra just gives him a ‘really’ look. “Dad, I’m twenty already, and I’m pregnant. I’m moving in with Richard whether you like it or not.”

 

I thought this was resolved a while ago; have they been arguing this entire time?

 

Camden tries to search for a convincing answer, but the longer he stays silent, the deeper the hole he digs himself into. I’d love to stay and watch this play out, even if the ending was already predetermined, but I need to tell my parents and Master that I’m ok.

 

“Excuse me, can I get through?” I grab everyone’s attention. They were so busy arguing they didn’t notice that I finished my meeting with Tabitha.

 

"Aaliyah, dear, are you done talking to Lady Tabitha?" Sarette asks as soon as she notices me.

 

"Yeah, we hashed out a few things," I tell her.

 

“That’s wonderful,” Sarette happily claps her hands together.

 

Camden looks like he's trying to decide whether he wants to continue his argument with Sandra or ask me for the details about our conversation. Too bad for him, Sandra notices when Camden turns his attention towards me, and she secretly motions for Richard to follow her. Sandra quickly opens the front door for Richard, and the two of them take off.

 

"Wait, we're not!" Camden shouts after his daughter while Sarette starts to giggle.

 

I see my opening and follow Sandra's and Richard's example by running past a stunned Camden out the front door.

 

“Wait, Aaliyah, I need to talk to you about Lady Tabitha!” Camden calls out after me. Sorry Camden, but I have places to be.

 

I rush home with a smile on my face and some good news for my family that’s long overdue.

 

**********

 

Master Pacore the Deathless’ Point of View:

 

I stare up at the three war machines in front of me. Each war tower is being constructed from hundreds of nearby trees and all the metal we could scavenge. The frames and wheels are reinforced with the strongest steel we could form with magic. Large stones were carved up and attached to the towers' front and sides to help protect them from projectiles.

 

The three towers are taking longer to build than I expected, but it shouldn’t be long before they’re ready. My engineers aren’t trained for this sort of thing. Their job is to help find flaws in my opponent's defenses, and only one of my engineers had any experience building siege weaponry. So, I made him the projects leader.

 

I wonder if this will make it into the history books? The day Master Pacore turned to common siege tactics; I'm sure future historians will eat that up.

 

"Master Pacore, sir," the leading engineer salutes me as soon as he finishes directing a few builders.

 

I give him an approving nod to reduce some of the tension my presence has on the man. "Are they almost finished?" I ask him, gesturing at the masses of wood, stone, and metal.

 

“The two flanking towers frames are complete; we just need to attach the outer paneling. The breaching towers mechanism is giving us some trouble, but that was expected with the limited resources at our disposal.”

 

“They’re almost ready then,” I dryly remark.

 

The leading engineer must think I'm displeased with construction speed because he starts to sweat. "I apologize for the delays, Master Pacore. It's one thing to know how something works, and it's another actually to build it from scratch," he stutters.

 

"Will they hold under Blaiton's barrage?" That's the only thing I care about.

 

“They will!” The lead engineer hastily assures me.

 

“Then the extra time will be well spent,” I remark to the man before walking off.

 

Behind me, I hear his relieved thanks. “Thank you, Master Pacore!”

 

I make my way back to my tent, overly conscious of the many soldiers stealing glances at me. We've been camped outside Blaiton for days now, and other than capturing a few supply wagons trying to enter the city, we’ve hardly done anything else. I’ve had the mages toss a few spells at their walls, but only so much that our mages could refill their magic by the next day.

 

The men are getting antsy over the long wait, and I understand why. These men and women are Scholl's pride; most volunteered after the dragon took up its nest and pushed everyone away from the Heart of Scholl. They're here to fight for their families, knowing time is of the essence. If anyone else were leading, there'd probably been a revolt by now.

 

But with the war towers almost done, we can proceed with the next steps, though I'm not sure how well they'll be received.

 

When I make it back to my tent, I address the communication mage stationed outside. At least one communication mage is permanently stationed around my tent should I need to give out orders. "Call a commander meeting," I order the female mage. She salutes me as I walk past her into my quarters.

 

In the middle of my tent is a mud mockup of Blaiton that was crafted using earth magic. The miniature shows all of Blaiton’s gates along with all their defenses we’ve been cataloging.

 

While I stare at the battlefield model, it doesn't take long for the commanders of the various units to start showing up. Each one of them has an excited look on their faces, and it's infectious.

 

“Is it time, Master Pacore?” Darrell, the head of one of our archer divisions, asks me once everyone who’s supposed to show up has arrived.

 

My tent is quiet as everyone awaits my answer. The communication mage from out front has joined the meeting and will convey everything that happens to all the leaders who couldn't leave their posts.

 

I want to smile, seeing my men's excited faces, but I can't. "We start our attack tomorrow morning," I confirm their suspicions. "I want everyone to gather around. You all know the stakes. Each soldier we lose, our overall chance of victory diminishes." I convey the severity of our situation with my eyes.

 

We are almost guaranteed to take Blaiton; no one doubts that. The city would've been ours the same day we set up camp if we pushed ourselves, but the cost in blood would’ve been too high.

 

I point at my model, "Blaiton is only the first city we must take. I'm aware of the whispers around the camp." A few of my commanders flinch back, but I continue pretending not to notice them. I don't have time to worry about insubordination. "But we need to change our tactics for this battle, or else we'll lose the overall war. As soon as Blaiton falls, we need to march on Yleles."

 

"We'll need to leave behind at least 40% of our troops to secure Blaiton while the other 60% finishes our campaign. We cannot lose more than 10% of our forces. If we do, there's a chance our overall mission won't succeed." I pause and look each of my men in the eye.

 

"Scholl is a kingdom based on strength! Battlefields are merely testing grounds for us! Those who die do so for the kingdom; no sacrifice can be more honorable! These are the values we live by!”

 

"These are the values we die by." A few of the commanders start to cheer but stop when they see the pained look on my face. This is the only time I'll show weakness to my men; that's how important this is.

 

"It pains me to say it, but we have to set our core beliefs aside this time." A few murmurs break out amongst the commanders, but they all quiet with the raise of my hand. "Too much is at stake should we fail our mission. And I will not tolerate failure," I release my pressure, "nor insubordination. We will forgo our honor this one time, and in doing so, we will save everyone counting on us back home. Our friends, our family, our kingdom, they all hinder on our success!”"

 

"We won't like it, but we will hide behind our war towers. We will chip away at their forces. And in doing so, we shall win. Any objections?" I bellow.

 

I’m not surprised when no one answers me.

 

I start thinking about how I'm going to convince everyone to forgo their honor and follow my plans when the first commander steps forward. "I follow Master Pacore the Deathless!"

 

“As do I!” Another commander steps forward.

 

“I will serve!”

“As will I!”

“Me too!”

 

A few of my commanders still look hesitant knowing my plans, but one by one, they all pledge their loyalty. And I'll need all their support to keep the soldiers in line.

 

"Good," I address them. "Then gather around and listen; we have a lot to cover before the sun rises tomorrow."

 

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5,250 words.

 

Thanks for reading my story, I'm glad to see so many of you are still interested in it.


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kosnik4

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