In an era of blood, sin, and subterfuge, Taliya found the blood commander Arius intriguing, but she couldn’t comprehend why. Arius, a man feared by most, was the commander of the Black Cloaks, an army of ten thousand men adept in the art of killing. The battle of Aethica comes to mind, the battle between the Invaders and the Black Cloaks. The Invaders came from the south of Aethica in more than fifty beast-like vigorous naval vessels with over twenty thousand men in body armor made out of Damascus metal, rendering the swords of the Blacks redundant. Aethica, comprising of more than ten thousand acres of crops was the land of farmers. When the battle began and the sound of metal clashing filled the air, Arius’s eyes fell dead at the sight of his men being slaughtered in hundreds and they couldn’t counter the attack as their armaments were useless against the accouterments of the Invaders. Barrock, the captain of the Invaders, wore a devilish grin on his face as he cut through Arius’s men, heading straight for the blood commander himself. It seemed as if he had calculated all possible outcomes and prepared contingencies, but the only thing he had failed to count on, was the wit and dubious mind of the blood commander.
” Go for the aperture in their armor” Arius yelled as he plunged his sword into the gap between the helm and the gorget of a charging invader, but it was to no avail for every Invader that succumbed to death, ten more Black Cloaks fell. Seeing his men fall dead to the ground Arius knowing well that it was harvesting season commanded his men to fall back, and as the trumpet of retreat blew, as on que Black Cloaks carrying flambeaus surrounded the field and on Arius’s command set ablaze the crops, burning the invaders along with captain Barrock, the screams of the men and the smell of flesh burning didn’t seem to bother the blood commander, he glared at the crops now ablaze, knowing well that the people of Eathica would starve for the months to come.
Taliya was brought back to the present as sudden silence engulfed the room, the lords and ladies stood up in response to Arius’s presence in the hall. He wore a grim expression on his face showing little to no emotion as he announced that his brother, the commander of the king’s army is dead, killed by Edmund, son of the King of the West Land. Darius now the late commander of the king’s army, was a strong man with many principles and a fearsome warrior, but Arius considered him to be weak, a memory of his brother flashed in his mind that brought him a moment of grief,
“Your principles will get you killed brother,” Arius said as he swung his sword at his brother,
“A man with no principles is nothing short of an animal, my dear brother” Darius replied, countering the attack and pinning his brother to the ground.
“But you forget brother that’s what war reduces a man too” Arius said brushing his brother off him, he was only fifteen, ten years younger than Darius.
“Nothing can reduce a man to anything, unless he wills it, always remember that little brother.”
This made the commander clutch the letter sent through raven crushing it, but his face remained calm as still water. Taliya sitting across from the commander, with nothing but the stiffness of his body, a cold look on his face and a clenched hand under the table knew exactly what he was contemplating.
The chatter in the hall sored, “what do you think the king will do now?” Lady Aditi whispered. “The more interesting question is who will replace the late commander,” Lord Harlom muttered.
“It most probably might be Aruliya, she’d make a good commander.”
“A lady commander, what would she do, dance our enemies to submission” lord Woodstone blurted.
“Misogyny, now what would your dear wife think of that lord Woodstone” Taliya said, unable to hold back.
Lord Woodstone’s face fell.
Arius smirked at Taliya’s comment, his face lighting up just for a second. Lord Woodstone’s wife Lady Tanaya was the brain behind automating the forging process of metal, who is also the lady of the South the land of the Black Smiths, Lord Woodstone was the charming son of a local blacksmith and nothing more, wedded by Lady Tanaya solely out of love, but was it really love who knows.
“I see my brother’s death has cast a shadow over today’s festivities, but he was someone who fought to protect our land and its people, so let’s toast to his spirit and resume the festivities, he would have wanted that,” Arius said and took his leave.
Taliya followed the commander and not to her surprise saw him talking to Captain Trask his right-hand man “Gather the Ten we sail to the West at sunrise” he commanded.
To be continued….