Chapter 4 Blood War

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“As it stands now, we have twenty-one thousand men ready to fight here in the city. We’ve sent messengers to all allies of Kellahn. Until today, we hadn’t heard any response,” Meah explains.

A large table made up of several carved, stone slabs, now sits at the center of the Great Hall. It takes up most of the large room, with an opening at the center to allow the hok mosaic to still be seen. Though those seated at the table sit far apart, the natural acoustics of the Great Hall make it easy to hear whoever is speaking. Chairs have yet to be brought in, so for the time being the group stands around the table, poring over papers.

“Who are we expecting to arrive tomorrow?” Ime asks.

Deven hands Ime several papers, but Ime focuses on a map of the surrounding land divided into six realms. He can see the lands beyond the Forest of Spirits is left out, signifying Klaeon’s realm.

“Herbart Slayer and Marin Varth from the North, Pilian Grout from the East, and Aryd Candok from the South,” Deven points to each realm as he names the rulers. “They’re our major allies and each will bring us between twenty thousand to twenty-five thousand men to fight.”

Meah pulls out a second map with locations of smaller realms drawn in. “Minor allies who’ll bring us anywhere from two thousand to five thousand men each are Jada Boor of the Green Pilit Warriors, Farrow Klighdan who is the leader of a rogue group of animal tamers, Gradyen Hutch of the Veran Desert Bandits, Kordeaux Fellet and his group of magic users, and a group from further down the canyon Deven has been in communication with for some time.”

“They’ve tried to attack us in the past. In exchange for their lives, they vowed to fight at our sides whenever we call for them,” Deven explains.

“Our estimates at this time are around one hundred thousand men,” Altan states, handing a ledger with projected numbers.

Ime furrows his brow. “One hundred thousand.” He looks at Jaxon. “How does that compare to Klaeon’s forces?”

Crossing his arms, Jaxon releases a shaky breath. “No one has ever seen the full Blood Army, but rumors have placed the numbers anywhere between two hundred and two hundred and fifty thousand. If there’s truth to that, we’ll need more help.”

The room grows quiet.

“We’ll have to hope our allies bring more than we estimate, then,” Ime says, laying all the papers in his hands on the table. “Are there any other possible realms where we may pull fighters?”

“There are other smaller groups of bandits we could attempt to contact. Though many of their ties lie only with the one with the deepest purse. Klaeon has us beat on that front, I’m afraid,” Altan says.

“What about enemies of Kellahn who may have a reason to fight against Klaeon?”

Jaxon, Altan, Deven, and Meah meet eyes, but it’s Deven who responds. “We’ve sent messages. None have responded positively.”

Thinking carefully, Ime places his hands on the table. “We’ll see how many arrive tomorrow. Then we’ll discuss the possibility of appealing to them again.” He turns his head to stare at Altan. “Have we sent anyone to spy on Klaeon’s army? See who, if any, have allied themselves with him?”

“Yes, but it takes many days even for our fastest flyers to reach his realm and even when a message arrives the information may already have changed during that time,” Altan speaks solemnly. “The Seers who traveled with you from the Forest of Spirits have been helpful on that front, but they can only retrieve certain pieces of information and need time to regain their strength between information gatherings.”

Ime’s thoughts reflect back to when he spoke with Wynsil in Eraunel. Some things can’t truly be seen because they involve a choice. Until the choice is made the outcome won’t reveal itself. Ime knew that choice was keeping the Seers from being more useful. But he also knew they were working hard to provide what little information they could.

“We do know that he’s gathered many from the Great Mountains, brutish men that work deep inside the mountains to mine the minerals and ores hidden in the earth. Our guess is he’s using their materials to arm his men,” Deven announces. “As with the bandits, these men side with the deepest pockets. And I’ve heard tale the weapons they make are of the highest quality.”

“However, most of those men don’t particularly enjoy risking their lives in wars. They prefer the profit to the outcome,” Jaxon adds.

“Tell me about our allies. I need to know all of the details before I meet with them,” Ime says.

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