The Lord of Stone, Part 1

Dorian clutched the mahogany table, his strength straining the wood almost to the breaking point. The maps laid out atop the table, neatly marked with troop locations and outlines of supply chains, were the reason for his barely contained fury; they were three weeks behind the schedule, and it was he who would suffer the consequences for failure, not his incompetent officers. The command tent was sweltering, his men sweating in their armours, but the heat did not seem to touch their commander. It was just a trick of the mind, a matter of concentrating and distancing oneself from his body, but it was known to few, and very useful in awing the lesser minded, like his subordinates. The tent’s flap opened and a man stepped in, the last of Dorian’s officers.

“My Lord, the city still refuses our offer of surrender,” he said in mid-bow, “the siege must continue if we are to crack Illaryon’s walls.”

“No! We have no more time for this foolishness. We must take Illaryon by nightfall. We already know the siege is not working, else they would have fallen a month past. Someone is managing to smuggle food and goods into the city.”

“Sir, that is impossible! Our ships have surrounded the nearby waters in a perfect blockade, there is no way for a smuggler to get past them,” Captain Droevoss complained; he would, as he was the one responsible for neutralizing the enemy’s resources. If someone had been able to bypass the blockade, the failure was his, and very likely his head would fall for it.

“Silence, Droevoss,” Dorian commanded in an imperious tone. He so loved leaving out his subordinates’ titles when chiding them; it irked them to no end that a commoner like himself had risen to command noble-blooded officials, and they could never talk back to him, no matter what he did. The nature of his command, and who it came from, ensured so. “If your precious blockade has been broken or not is of no consequence now; the damage is long done. What matters is that we must take the city now. To that end, I’m ordering a full scale attack on the city.”

“Wh-what?” Droevoss sputtered, though he was not the only one to show shock and doubt. All of them did. All of them where fools. “But Illaryon is one of the most fortified cities in the world, and its defences are said to be impenetrable! No one has ever directly breached the city’s walls in living memory!”

“Relax. I’m taking to the field myself.”


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