Chapter I. Laying the Foundations
A week after the raid on the palace in Huatepec and Lady Ailea's assassination, General Cordell called another council of war. The Legion and its Itzapan allies had reached the Zlatan Empire's frontier, just outside the city of Guatyl. Colonel-Chaplain Demetrious and cavalry Captain Romnor were in particular favor with the general, given his angry demeanor since the murder of his consort. The officers first heard from Assessor Slevak, who estimated the Legion had already made two million nobles from the trade goods brought by the fleet—especially the imported steel blades and hard alcoholic drinks unknown in this land. He noted General Cordell had hidden and magically protected the loot not already sent back with the 14 ships to Southold.
Paymaster Hieronymous gave the second report to the council, noting work on Fort Cordell and Port Nuada were going well. The Legion's supply wagons were also full, ready for the campaign. However, in Itzapan there were outbreaks of disease, sicknesses the “Ticans” were not familiar with and their herbs did not cure. Latna-So was tasked with making sure disease did not spread among the Itzapan troops, who remained relatively healthy under a regime of curative magic.
Captain Gelben followed with a briefing on the Legion's status; 95% mustering with 1,193 soldiers ready, including 350 native recruits. Their Itzapan allies mustered 5,000 lightly armed troops, though some 500 of these were highly skilled eagle knights. Cordell admonished his officers to treat any conquered Aztalticans well, but to hold the lives of the legionnaires above all. He noted there was no need to interfere with the priests of Qotal, but that all priests of Sotek must be executed as well as those who bore the Viperhand cult symbol on their chest. Enemy Jaguar Knights would be given a chance to renounce Sotek's faith, otherwise killed.
Captain Winkwillow presented the intelligence report next. He noted the Itzapan allies had secretly kept 10,000 troops in reserve to the rear, suggesting Revered Counselor Caxal doubted the invasion would succeed and wished to preserve his force for defense. The 10,000 troops in the mountain kingdom of Huatepec to the west would probably remain static and neutral after the Legion's assassination of the pro-Sotek Prince Haramal, but would not ally with his assassins either. To the east, Zlatan's Atlan client state could muster 8,000, but they would be slow to mobilize for an unpopular cause like defending the empire. However, there were 5,000 Zlatan occupation troops there who could eventually cut off the Legion's retreat if the invasion bogged down. To the south, a large swath of mountains protected the heart of the Zlatan Empire itself. There were 20,000 Zlatan troops directly opposite the Legion at the main pass at Guatyl, 5,000 guarded the far south pass at Tizoc, while in Zlatan city itself were some 20,000 troops in reserve. However, those numbers could double in a month as the Empire mobilized troops from the provinces. There was also a disused high mountain pass between the Guatyl and Tizoc passes, with a small garrison because it was haunted and so needed little defense. Kincade noted the enemy leader, Revered Counselor Nahuatyl, dreamed that the Feathered Snake Qotal was returning, and that the legionnaires might be his messengers. However, Zlatan's High Priest of Sotek, Garkuna, and the Jaguar Night General Tacuba prevailed on him to swiftly defeat the Legion.
Only at this point was Kultec, General of the Armies of Itzapan, and his aide Atahuelpa invited in. Cordell described their options; continuing along the Via Ultima through the pass at Guatyl, turning east and defeating the Atlan client state, going through the haunted pass straight for Zlatan, or marching across the desert and hitting the lightly guarded pass of Tizoc. There was much debate; several officers, Dmitry most eloquent among them, argued there were simply too many enemies and a conservative strategy was called for. Cordell called for opinions from the two leading aspirants for the next captaincy—Lieutenants Gilgareth and Arkane—and both counselled boldness. He decided to send an advance scouting party to investigate the haunted pass—Gemnia Pass by name—and march the army through it straight to Zlatan city if possible. Captain Gelben noted that they must succeed quickly, for through bypassing Guatyl, they would leave 20,000 troops in their rear who could server supply lines and cut off the Legion's retreat.
On the 4th day of the march, Captain Romnor's cavalry rode down some makeshift village defence forces, slaying many civilians in the process who were allegedly helping in the fight.
That night, Atahuelpa sought out Romnor in camp, calling him a murderer for killing fleeing women, noting that Aztaltican females do not fight, and at worst might have been tending to the wounded. Kincade interposed himself between the two before the scene could turn bloody. General Cordell was attracted by the commotion, and put an end to the squabbling. He assigned Kincade's own Silver Raider light cavalry to scout forward of the Legion and assigned Romnor's cavalry as reserve. The General also made it clear to the Itzapan that there would be no wanton looting or killing of civilians.
Later that evening, the scouting party to the Gemnia Pass departed under Captain Winkwillow, including Latna-So, Gilgareth, and Arkane. They aimed to survey the pass and if possible continue reconnaissance to Zlatan city using limited three-day hats of disguise to pose as natives. A second group under Captain Gelben were dispatched on another mission at the same time to seek out a powerful battle standard of pluma magic.
The mission to the pass initially went well, as the small Zlatan garrisons and patrols were simple to elude in the night. After days of climbing, at the height of the pass they came upon a great crevasse with an ancient watchtower on a pillar of rock rising from its center and connected by two stone bridges on either side--a perfect defensive position possibly borne of ancient magic.
The band approached the edge of the canyon, and a wall that blocked the road. As they surveyed the closed portcullis in the wall's center, a hail of crossbow bolts hissed down at them, as 16 spectral defenders in full Videssian Imperial armor materialized atop the battlements. The legionnaires were surprised, never having seen undead in Aztaltica. It appeared they were pre-Cataclysmic soldiers from the imperial occupation, so Latna-So summoned the power of Selune and turned their fell spirits. Many fled, turning the tide of battle, as fighting them was difficult because so many blows passed right through their incorporeal forms. Soon, the legionnaires had climbed the battlements and slain the last of the undead—Vigilant Haunts as their bestiary back in camp would later identify them. Inscribed on the wall in Videssian were two riddles, overlooked by the statue of a Videssian cabalist wizard. The first riddle read:
Heads were crushed beneath the wheel,
As they died they formed a meal,
Cast they were as into hell,
A staff was forged with auburn shell.
Best break it into pieces few,
For when it's served it does serve you.
Yield this treasure unto my teeth,
Lofty wisdom I'll then bequeath.
The officers were stumped by this one, and so turned to the second riddle, which read:
From the heavens and from below
In all who live, but does not grow.
It flies, it runs, it falls, it creeps
It runs away from he who weeps.
For some a road, for some it's home
For many death when it should roam.
Give unto me this substance clean
And mighty powers will be seen.
Arkane quickly answered “water,” and the band deduced that they must place some water in the receptacle under the riddle; the wizard statue's expression changed to a smile. Kincade meditated on the second riddle while the others climbed over the wall and started crossing the bridge to the tower. They soon came under fire from more Vigilant Haunts within. Wounds began to mount despite Latna-So's repeated turning of the undead—without which they would have been doomed. After 15 minutes of thought, the realization hit Kincade; the answer was bread. When he placed a piece of bread in the statue's mouth, it animated and said “Who disturbs Panivorous, Cabalist of Goap, servant of the Empire?” Kincade explained that the Videssians were driven out fifteen centuries ago, and he must have been the first who knew Videssian and could answer the riddles. The statue sighed and explained:
My time is short, but know that I was here defending the great tower at the Gemnia Pass under Captain Marcus Venator as the natives rose up after the great Cataclysm on the ides of Eleasias, in the third year of the reign of Emperor Serverus. Amid the chaos they turned on us so swiftly, our coastal cities fell to the Itzapan, and the enemy were hard pressing on Erma. There, the Governor of Ultima Thule, Julius Augustulus, gathered the refugees and remaining legionnaires--no more than 1,000--and planned to head into the jungle until help from Videssos arrived. He asked for volunteers to guard the pass against the main enemy host heading south, to buy time for the retreat.
Marcus Venator and an elite group of legionnaires volunteered to remain at the pass's tower, and swore a solemn pact to Donablas that they would never give up the tower's defence. I remained with them to provide magic support--both with my spells and a great enchanted bow I wielded. They first defended at this wall, but when it began to be breached, they fled, first to the tower, then making a last stand on the far side of the canyon. I tarried too long, and was struck with a poisoned arrow, last to flee, and lay here by this wall to die a slow death. The heathens scrambled over and past me without thought, so I used the last of my Art to create this Videssian riddle here that would summon my spirit when activated. I hoped to bequeath my ward to fellow Videssians, but you are the next best thing. Behold the Bow of the Seven Sisters, or simply the Rain Bow. And with my duty discharged, I return to the fields of Elysium."
With that, the portcullis gate opened and a secret compartment slid open. Within was an ancient bow finely crafted out of polished ebonwood while the quiver held a single arrow of amethyst and sixteen unfletched shafts of deepest dark wood. Etched into the bow itself were the images of seven women. Carved into the quiver there was a poem in the Yazakh tongue. This had obviously been a spoil of war the Videssians had won when fighting the Yazakhs centuries ago, and Kincade resolved to give it to Latna-So later. For now, he had tarried long enough, and ran across the bridge to join the fight at the tower.
The fighting was fierce as the band finally gained entrance to the tower, clearing it level by level and finally defeating the centurion at the top. The legionnaires were seriously wounded and decided to rest in the tower until they could replenish their spells and heal. However, Kincade decided to scout out the other side of the chasm first; an error he would soon regret.
The halfling made it halfway across the bridge when he took crossbow fire from more Vigilant Haunts on the far side. Their leader was a Videssian officer clutching a blackened battle-axe that pulsed with an evil, red glow. He shouted in Videssian “I am Captain Marcus Venator, charged by Governor Julius Augustulus to hold this bridge. You shall pay for your trespass! Begone! We shall defend this pass to the last!”
Captain Venator, a Guardian Spectre, led his troops very well, directing them to bull rush Arkane into the chasm. He had various fell abilities, from a panic-inducing frightful moan, corrupting gaze, and a horrific appearance which shocked his opponents. He also used telekensis to make rocks leap from the chasm at the legionnaires. Further, his battle-axe Arcanus Morti would cause wounds to continue bleeding until bound. Latna-So had exhausted her powerful turning ability, and was now having little luck with her short bow.
Indeed, the situation was looking grim after a few minutes; Arkane was nearly dead from a 60-foot fall into the chasm, Latna-So was down, and Kincade was barely standing, when a miracle occurred. An invisible creature—evidently following the band--whispered to Arkane that his life was needed yet, and used a powerful heal spell on the ranger, then levitated him up to the ledge. Even so, the spectre swiftly wore him down again, and it was only with Kincade's aid attacking from behind that Arkane was able to slay the phantom. They bound the wounds of the fallen, ran back into the tower, and this resolved they would bar the doors to the tower and not venture out for any reason.
After much healing, and some speculation about who Arkane's strange savior in the chasm was, the legionnaires headed down the pass into the Zlatan Valley. A plume of steam hung over Mount Zatal, the volcano overlooking the city. Soon the city of Zlatan itself came into view, surrounded by the four lakes, linked by massive causeways. The central plaza was huge, a collection of pyramids dwarfing those seen anywhere else in Aztaltica.
The legionnaires wore their temporary hats of disguise and infiltrated the city, entering the sacred plaza itself. At the vast pyramid of Sotek, they saw Revered Counselor Nahuatyl himself, watching at a human sacrifice conducted by his High Priest, Garkuna. The legionnaires stood disgusted but transfixed; there were simply too many enemies to even contemplate helping the captured Itzapan scout, whose heart was cut from his body. Garkuna raised the heart toward the now-vanished sun, then threw it into the mouth of the statue of Sotek beside the altar. Meanwhile his attendants took the body and tossed it into the great gaping pit of flames below. Garkuna then pressed his bloody hand against a kneeling Jaguar Knight's chest. It seared the diamond-headed shape of a viper into him. To this and several other branded initiates he said “You are brave, true men, and members of a sacred order—the cult of the Viperhand. Our purpose is the destruction of the strangers from across the sea, who threaten not only our land, but also our very gods themselves! Go forth and do Sotek's work.”
While Kincade and the rest moved about the city noting the garrison locations and making troop estimates, he decided to leave a farewell omen that might harm Zlatan morale. Back in the Legion camp, the halfling has hatched the idea of pouring red dye into the city's water supply, fed mainly by Grasshopper Spring across a large aqueduct. And so, the band approached the spring by night, evaded the guards, and completed their task. As they fled back up Gemnia Pass, Kincade's familiar, Kiya, a saw-whet owl, flew over the city and saw the alarm and panic the water flowing with “blood” sparked. They returned to the Legion pleased with a well-executed mission.
Meanwhile, the second scouting mission under Captain Gelben was also facing some difficulties. General Cordell had wanted them to recover the Totem of the White Feather, a battle standard which a priest of Qotal named Teazco noted had the power to mass heal units on the battlefield. The young priest said the pluma totem originated in Tulom-Itzi, ancient seat of learning of the Itzapan. Teazco had found a fragment of a diary indicating the Totem was placed in a way-shrine along the old stone road in the jungle to the east, though he could not say why. Demetrious objected to wasting time on “heathen totems,” but the General would not be swayed, claiming the Legion needed a magical boost given the death of Lady Ailea.
The meeting ended with preparations to depart on the morrow, but overnight, the priest Teazco was slain and one of his servants fled. Cordell assumed the servant was a spy, and ordered Gelben's team to depart with all haste, as he guessed the Zlatan would also send a party to recover the Totem. Captain Gelben, accompanied by Lieutenant Sett, Sergeant Vogon, and Specialist Kyte, set out with three native guides to lead them to the shrine. With Gelben's magical assistance, the group was able to march for 12 hours each day without suffering from exhaustion, making excellent time and outdistancing the group of Zlatan Jaguar Knights that, unbeknownst to them, were also racing toward the same objective.
The group's first challenge came when they reached a wide jungle river, spanned by a simple rope bridge. Rather than teeter across the sagging ropes, they decided to cross using Gelben's water walking spell. But they still attracted the attention of a trio of hungry giant crocodiles that lay concealed along the shore. The party easily slew the animals, though not before one of their guides was eaten.
The following morning, the group stumbled across the camp of a hunting party of short jungle demi-humans. Unmistakably halflings, they appeared to have gone feral, wearing nothing more than skins and carrying simple stone and wood weapons. However, they used a powerful paralysis poison on their weapons, and showered the party with poisoned darts while their shaman entangled the party to slow them down. After killing several, the rest disappeared into the jungle.
Finally reaching the area of the former shrine, the legionnaires found a depression in the mound that marked the site of a crumbled pyramid. They began to dig into the rubble, hoping to find a collapsed chamber, while Specialist Kyte kept watch for any danger. This was a wise decision, as that evening the group of Zlatan Jaguar Knights also seeking the Totem arrived and promptly attacked. The legionnaires finally slew the six jaguars, though Vogon had to shrug off the effects of nearly a dozen poisoned spear wounds.
Completing the digging, the party found a collapsed cellar room containing the fabled totem, a considerable wealth in gold, five cure serious wounds feathertokens, and a bronze acid halfspear called “Sotek's Tooth” claimed by Terwyn.
Chapter II. Scrimmage
General Cordell was pleased that both scouting parties were successful and had returned on 13 Nightal within their allotted 12 days. He told the officers that the previous night, the Nuadan Irregulars under Captain Guerrero had eliminated the small forts guarding the entrance to Gemnia Pass; and now that Captain Winkwillow had dealt with the undead guardians at the tower, the way was clear.
However, before embarking on the final march to battle, he wanted to give the Legion some entertainment. He heard from Atahuelpa of a strange contest played by the villagers of Gulan on an “arena” consisting of a small island surrounded by the Pirhana River (aptly named for its denizens). On the island were two forts, six flags, and a cenote between them. The goal was for each team to capture as many flags as possible and hold them for points. The general decided that the two leading contenders for the next captaincy, Lieutenants Gilgareth and Arkane, would lead two teams of five members each. The winning team leader would receive promotion and command of the new Tazumal Recruit native unit. Nonlethal spells were allowed and all weapons were to be padded to subdue rather than kill.
Arkane won the first pick and chose Vogon, going on to select Latna-So, Sett, and the Nuadan cleric Ariansus. Gilgareth first chose Sergeant-Major Garrant, as well as Dmitry, Kincade, and the Nuadan cleric Tirol. Arkane's side suffered a serious reverse in the opening moments when Dmitry managed to successfully cast Hold Person against him after several tries. Garrant held Gilgareth's main fort and quickly pummeled Ariansus into yielding, but he had started attracting serious spellfire from Latna-So.
Gilgareth's side had a serious advantage and appeared likely to prevail, despite a clever stratagem of Sett's to cast illusions on the flags making people think the flags had not been switched. However the game was interrupted by a great earthquake which struck the island. The cenote area between the two forts collapsed into a deep cavern, and dozens of reptilian monsters scrambled out to attack. They were the same Saurians the legionnaires had encountered at the Battle for Balul the year before. Worst were the pair of giant kroxigor, who chased Kincade and Latna-So from Arkane's team fort to Gilgarteth's team fort, where the entire band began assembling to make their stand. The legionnaires who had been watching the contest across the river ran for their weapons and readied boats to cross the swift river and aid. However, for several minutes, the teammates on the island would have to fight alone.
Given the series of powerful spells coming from the cave below, there was clearly some powerful caster—definitely not one of the minor skink shamens the band had seen before, perhaps some new type of Saurian. Sett and Terwyn were the last ones to make it inside the fort, as the saurus and skinks threw themselves at both entrances. Ariansus had a tough time trying to hold the fort's door closed, wrestling back and forth with the Saurians outside and trying to spike it shut, before falling to their blades. Vogon also went down but was swiftly cured by Latna-So. Garrant moved to defend the sole escape route up the stairs as the Saurians now flooded into the fort's ground floor unrestricted. But this manuever left Dmitry, who'd been spellcasting, vulnerable to attack. The wizard just made it up among a flurry of blows, and the fighter was then able to cleave all who approached the staircase, one by one. The band's spellcasters were handicapped, having learned nonlethal spells for the contest, but they continued to help from atop the fort. Then, just as quickly as it began, the attack stopped and the saurians fled back into the cenote, probably because the other legionnaires had finally crossed the river and were ready to join the fray.
General Cordell concluded that the attack must have been directed at killing the Legion's key officers before the upcoming battle, though several of the officers guessed it might have been a revenge attack against those who had foiled the Saurians at the Battle of Balul. Whatever the motive, Cordell decided not to continue the contest, instead awarding the captaincy to Gilgareth, whose team had a comfortable lead when the game was interrupted. He congratulated Captain Prindle, remarking on his rise from the ranks and expressing his faith in Gilgareth's leadership and abilities.
Chapter III. Battle of Gemnia Pass
The following morning the Legion began a forced march through Gemnia Pass, even treading through some snow in the highest reaches, and soon began descending in the Zlatan Valley. The Zlatan were evidently caught by surprise, but swiftly sent their troops marching into the lower reaches of the pass. On the night of 24 Nightal 1513, both armies were encamped barely two miles from each other, though the Legion's campfires were dwarfed by the thousands of the Zlatan. Atahuelpa assured the Legion officers that a night attack was unlikely, as such went against the Aztaltican military tradition in which battles were a stylized affair, with a primary goal the capture of prisoners for sacrifice. Gelben had a horrible nightmare on the eve of battle, his yelling causing many to fear another assassination attempt, but he refused to discuss the dream afterward.
As the war drums played and both sides lined up for battle, the Zlatan sent one final emissary, Amaxac, offering to spare the legionnaires lives if they turned away. But Cordell was in no mood for diplomacy. The enemy battle line was a spectacular sight; the colorful Zlatan pennants and plumes and symbols and banners all floated magically. Many of the warriors danced, and their tall, feathered headdresses swayed like graceful birds. Jaguar Knights prowled among the companies, their spotted armor appearing clearly for a moment and then vanishing again in the whirl of color. Eagle Knights--not nearly so many as the jaguars--preened and strutted, proudly aloof from the activity around them.
The Legion held the center of the field, with Itzapan allies on either side. Given their position in the pass, the Zlatan host could only attack in small waves, channalized and unable to bring their massive numbers to bear at once. The Legion infantry set up behind some small, makeshift fences around an abandoned inn, while the archers remained under cover in a small wood. The Zlatan had little subtlety, marching straight forward as they knew there was a crush of other troops behind them. The initial wave, which contained many Zlatan nobles, nearly broke the defensive line. At one point, an entire unit of eagle knights flew in bird form and landed behind Legion lines before transforming back into humans, but they too were decimated. However, the decisive factor was Romnor's cavalry, with General Cordell at the head. The horsemen mowed through the natives, riding down countless hundreds in terror. Cordell himself slew General Tacuba the Jaguar Knight, sending morale and order on the Zlatan side plummeting.
Yet still the enemy kept coming, hemmed in and barely able to breathe for the press of people. Battle became massacre as thousands were killed before the deadly efficient mercenary army. At some point that afternoon the Zlatan lost all spirit of resistance; having seen their countrymen slaughtered by the thousands by an enemy who does not fight to take captives for sacrifice, but slays mercilessly. It was but one of many imbalances that so stacked the odds against them, wizardry, better generalship and morale, steel versus stone and leather.
At sunset, Cordell called another council of war, barely four hours after the battle had ended. He called off Romnor's pursuit, as there seemed little point to continuing the slaughter. Initial estimates suggested that between the Legion and the Itzapan allies, three thousand Zlatan were killed, seven thousand wounded or captured. The Itzapan allies had nearly collapsed, suffering 500 dead and as many captured. Still, all believed the war would turn to siege, expecting the Zlatan to pull up the causeways on the lakes and prevent the Legion from seizing the city.
Chapter IV. Victory
The next day was given over entirely to burying the dead and tending to the wounded, but that evening, the Itzapan allies held a victory feast. As the officers sat swapping stories, a small, white-haired old man in a plain white, cotton robe sat beside them.
“One war's end is another's beginning, you know, before you celebrate too much. You no doubt remember me from my pyramid near Balul where you came asking questions. I am Uxma. Thanks to your “intervention” so many months ago--he says looking at Gelben, Gilgareth, Dmitry, and Sett--there is no reason for me to keep vigil on the lost city of Quetza, or the evil entombed there, any longer. But it was only a matter of time in any case--do not feel guilty, you were mere facilitators. Perhaps you should feel guilt for what you have done in Huatepec--I do not know, not for me to judge, I simply know some greater good must come of it all.
It is the way of things, is it not. You come and conquer, like so many others, because you have better weapons, stronger armor, stronger will, but most of all, because you can. But do not rest lightly, outlanders from across the sea, for you are hunted from many quarters. Beware the Viperhand, Sotek's minions come from many quarters. I just hope your lust for gold doesn't foil the role you may yet play in the fate of Aztaltica, as it balances now on a razor's edge.”
The legionnaires fired a barrage of questions at the old man, but he excused himself to get some more turkey, and soon disappeared into the throng of guests. Arkane noted he'd always thought there was something strange and powerful about the old man.
The next day, the same emissary Amaxac from before the battle returned, this time more humble. “I beg your pardon, we knew not that we strove with the emissaries of the gods and not men, with monsters from the depths of hell on their side. The Revered Counselor sends great gifts of featherweaving, and of gold, for we have heard that you eat this metal. My chief begs you not use your godly power to destroy Zlatan, but that you come to our city as honored guests, and we shall be at your bidding.”
After consultation with the officers, Cordell decided to march into the city the following morning.
The scene was surreal after the carnage of the Battle of Gemnia Pass; the causeway was strewn with flowers, lined by a great crowd along the entire route. The Revered Counselor of Zlatan rode upon a feathered litter hovering several feet off the ground, a canopy of pluma swinging gently over his head. Unlike in times past, his people were allowed to look upon him, a break with tradition no doubt due to the recent defeat. “My great general from the heavens and beyond the seas, I welcome you and your men to my city. I invite you into my father's palace, there to stay as my honored guests!”
Cordell smiled bowing slightly, “This is an invitation I am grateful to receive. Our reception to other places in Zlatan has not been so pleasant!' Then the haggling began over arrangements. The Zlatan had prepared for the Legion the quarters of the great pyramid of his father, Axalt, but on Arkane's insistence, the General demanded they barrack in the temple of Qotal instead. There was great debate about the Itzapan troops; the Zlatan did not want to allow the in the city as they were ancient enemies, but in the end, they bowed to Cordell's will and allowed them encamp around the temple of Qotal in the Grand Plaza.
Inside the vacated Temple of Qotal, Cordell continued to intimidate the Zlatan ruler. “Know that any treacheries planned against us will be found out! We will learn of such acts through ways you cannot possibly imagine! Is this not so?” At this prearranged signal, Dmitry cast a magic mouth on the nearby wall, which formed into a crude pair of lips and replied “It is so.” The legionnaires pressed their advantage, forbidding future sacrifices in Sotek's name, though Nahuatyl warned that his people would fear the sun might fail to rise and revolt. But as the sun dawned the next day on occupied Zlatan, no such revolt took place. The legionnaires were vigilant, but relieved, as Cordell gathered his officers to him again for some final words of encouragement.
“Be enheartened my friends, we need survive but a few more days in this precarious situation to consolidate our victory and see our loot safe. Then we can consider the next steps, for after taking our just spoils won by our swords, we face the more difficult task of showing these people the light of Nuada, and of punishing the evildoers, like those who slew Lady Ailea. Do not worry Battle Chaplain, I have not forgotten despite my façade of diplomacy. We will temper our justice with mercy, but will not let these people forget we are the superior force, and routed them on the field of battle. I shall see this place become the capital of New Southold, and Zlatan shall forever be consigned to history. And you, my brothers, shall share in this, great landowners, the new nobility, based on merit rather than being born into some inbred, self-important family. It is a dream I have, and now I am going to back to bed.”
Go to next section of the Log, Interlude III: Occupation