Chapter 6 Blood War

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Chairs have been brought to the table as Altan, Deven, Jaxon, and Meah spoke. The sun is lowering in the sky, sending the canyon into an early twilight.

Ime moves on to the map with the smaller realms drawn in. “And what about these? What can you tell me about our minor allies?”

Kylii hands Ime a paper with names. “The Green Pilit Warriors are a ragtag group that escaped lands taken by Klaeon. Their leader, Jada Boor, watched her family murdered before her eyes. In a rage, she killed twenty men before escaping with the group she now leads.”

“Twenty men on her own?”

“The lands she and her bandits are from are…were known for the size of their people. Jada Boor herself stands about seven feet and she’s average for her people. Every one of her men and women stand above six feet and bear massive weapons.” Kylii smirks. “Twenty men is a simple feat for their strength.”

Daniil elbows his brother in the side. “Kylii is very excited to meet these bandits.”

Shrugging, Kylii’s smile grows. “Why not? Gigantic women that can take on dozens of men? Who wouldn’t like to see that?” Ime clears his throat and Kylii motions to the paper he handed Ime. “Their numbers currently stand at two thousand, but each of them equals at the least two of our men.”

“The Veran Desert Bandits are led by Gradyen Hutch,” Daniil begins before Kylii can say another word. “They live in the harshest part of the Desert and prey on travelers and caravans passing through. Recently, they’ve noticed more and more of Klaeon’s men moving across their lands. It has them nervous, as they’ve heard from other bandits about groups disappearing. Namely bandits that refuse to align themselves with the Blood King.”

“They’ve fought for us before,” Deven adds. “They prefer the realms divided as they are and don’t want change.”

“Roughly one thousand seven hundred and fifty of them are said to be on their way,” Daniil finishes.

“Farrow Klighdan and her beast tamers will be bringing about five hundred men and anywhere from five hundred to one thousands beasts. From what Altan and Deven have gathered over the years, they oppose Klaeon’s use of beasts in his games and have lost many to numerous attacks. Normally, they abhor joining forces with anyone, but the threat of Klaeon has made Farrow realize the need for allies,” Meah explains.

“Farrow’s beast tamers and Kordeaux Fellet’s mages are groups that have only recently made their ways into our lands. As such, we know very little of their backgrounds. But they’ve assured us their hatred for the Blood King makes them loyal allies,” Deven says.

“What can you tell me about Kordeaux Fellet’s group? What kind of mages are we talking about here? High level? Well-trained?” Ime asks.

“Fellet’s mages, seven hundred and fifty as of last count, are of all levels in magic. Fellet gathered runaways from lands conquered by Klaeon and promised to protect them from the Arena. Some say there are mages of the most unusual magic in his group.”

“Though for being a relatively young group, they’re trained well and even the weakest of their mages will provide much needed strength,” Altan adds.

“And this mysterious other group from further in the canyon, who are they?” Ime asks.

Altan shifts in his chair. “They call themselves Shadow Watchers. Though if they’re truly part of that group we have doubt.”

“Shadow Watchers?”

“A group of legend. They were said to be behind every war in this world. They’re assassins, highly skilled in darker magic,” Jaxon explains. “At least, that’s what records claim, but most of their history is gone.”

“This group claims they were forced from their sacred grounds during the Blood King’s original rise to power. They claim he tried to wipe them out, afraid of their reputation.” Altan eyes Deven. “Though from our experiences with them, if they are part of the legendary group, then it wasn’t as powerful as the records say. We’ve easily been able to keep them at bay with little damage to our men.”

Sitting back in his chair, Ime rubs his chin and glances over the papers in front of him. “Of these allies, who would be most likely to betray us?”

“The only true ally one can depend on is himself,” Jaxon says, causing many to glare at him.

“Are you suggesting we can trust no one?” Deven demands.

“I merely want an honest dissection of the men and women fighting with me. I need to know who will cause the most trouble when I give orders,” Ime says.

“In two days, four rulers, five including Altan, and five leaders of rogue groups from all backgrounds will be sitting in this room,” Kiphy, who’s remained silent throughout all of the war talk, stands and crosses his arms. “In the past this land may have assisted each ally in some way, but this is war. There can only be one person to give commands. Treating allies with blinded trust will only lead to confrontations within the ranks. They need to understand this is not a democracy. They have to be willing to follow orders even if they disagree with them. They must understand that they won’t be treated as rulers, but as generals.”

A smile cracks on Altan’s face and an amused laugh lightens the air. “None of them will like that. But I guess,” he looks to Ime, “that places the burden on you. You’ll have to beat them into listening to you. They won’t hand over control easily.”

“They handed control over the moment they agreed to fight,” Ime says. “If they’re unwilling to face that truth, I will gladly enforce it.”

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