Saturday, January 23, 2016

The King's Challenge #179 and #180

TKC 179 and 180

After a rousing speech about the need to secure the territory near the rim of the mountains until we are able to find the solution to again leaving, Damin explains about the work team idea in greater detail. There will be two to four teams for each task, in order to cover more ground in the same time frame.

Please, he says, come to the table for your task, so we may record your name and with which team you will be. This way we can keep track of who is where in the event something happens. He does not explain what that ‘something’ is, but folk use their imaginations and no one speaks against it.

Studying him, I realise Damin has the kind of presence people trust. If they know why he summons them individually, trust will evaporate.

It begins. The task list is long and the line of people is endless. Damin sits behind a makeshift table with a scribe’s tools before him and looks up at a man or woman, asks for a name, then records it in one of two places. He has a smile for everyone, but his tension is evident in a ticking jaw. He has not revealed to us what he sees, but it is clear the images are overwhelming.

When a team comprises of twelve members, he sends them to Kay. The westerner hands to them tools they will need. Each team is then sent on its way.

Watching all this, I understand it will be days before all are marked as either Glonu or Ilfin, days before they are separated north and south. We do not have that kind of time and yet it must be done. The next issue is how to summon Glonu to the barrier without raising suspicion …

Mirlin comes to rest at my shoulder, startling me. “Notice the difference in terrain,” the man murmurs. “South is rockier, has more obstacles, while the northern slope is smoother.”

Casting my gaze in both directions, I see his point. “He sends the Glonu south.”

“He makes it difficult for them to defend themselves,” Mirlin nods.

“Because he intends to go to battle with them.” Again I focus on Damin. The Marsh Devil. The man understands that the time wasted in separating this host will need to be recovered. He therefore plans for a mighty event, one that will be over swiftly. Diabolical, but smart. I agree with him. Lifting my gaze to Lyra further up, where she dispenses food for the day, I also understand she will not be pleased.

I need to have words with my sister soon.

“Horin, start marking the potential soldiers Damin sends north,” Mirlin says. “We will soon have need of them.”

My lips tighten, but I nod and Mirlin moves away. It seems I am not as forward-thinking as the others are. They have already understood what must come next, while I twiddle with my sword here, watching and wondering. Mirlin’s retreating form reminds me of his talent. One able to see in darkness. Blinking, I see it will be a night battle. Damin will use Mirlin to advantage. Diabolical … the mind of a general.

Lyra is waving at me. I make my way through gathering work teams to her side.

“Horin, will you tell Damin to add a search for clay as a task? We need to make more vessels.”

She barely looks at me, merely sending a fleeting smile. She has her hands full with dispensing stores. Around her is a host of children, all trying to help. I blink at the young ones, my stomach dropping.

By the stars, we will have to deal with this situation also.

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