A dirt stained and weary soldier made his way into Geraldo’s throne room and dropped down onto one knee in front of Geraldo. Geraldo glared at the soldier out of his eye and scowled. “I don’t recall summoning any soldiers into my presence. What do you want?”
The soldier swallowed the lump forming in his throat before replying. “I come with news from General Elymas. He believes that Aldrick is working with the rebellion. They were far more organized than any of our reports had suggested and as a result, they were able to deal us a staggering defeat. General Elymas requests more troops be sent to replace the ones that fell in the rebellion’s attack.”
Geraldo stared at the soldier wordlessly for what seemed to the soldier like minutes. Sweat beaded on his brow and flowed down his face, and he quivered when Geraldo calmly said, “Do you want to explain to me how one of my Generals, one that superior numbers means nothing to, was dealt a defeat by that sad excuse for a rebellion?”
The soldier whimpered back, “It’s General Aldrick! He is the one that…”
Geraldo interrupted the man with an angry eruption. “I don’t care if Geraldo is there! General Elymas had a force that he has molded over years into something feared everywhere! Aldrick has had less than a week with these people! If Aldrick’s presence is enough to change these rebels into an unstoppable force, then he was clearly the greatest of my Generals, and he was severely under ranked! Elymas had better do better with the reinforcements I’m sending him.”
The soldier let out a relieved breath. “Thank you, Lord Geraldo. I’m sure that General Elymas’ next report will be filled with accounts of how the men that you sent him helped him to win a great victory for you.”
“No.” The soldier looked up at Geraldo with confusion. “Elymas won’t receive another man in backup from me. Men are weak, treacherous, and incompetent, and I have lost my faith in them. Not like my Acerbi.”
The soldier cringed and said, “Actually, the Acerbi you sent with us were all wiped up in the attack as well.”
Geraldo quivered in rage and shouted, “Out! Get out of my sight before I end your life right now!”
The soldier got up and stumbled across the room. He lost his balance and collapsed onto his face, but immediately scrambled his way back up to his feet and made his way out the door. Geraldo watched him go with contempt and snorted at the man once he was gone. He turned his gaze onto his shadow on the floor and said, “Come forth, and cover the land in darkness, my Acerbi!” Geraldo gripped the arms of his throne tightly as tigers emerged one after another from his shadow. His face contorted in pain and he writhed on his throne as more and more tigers joined those in the room. Geraldo’s breath came in short, pain filled bursts as the last tiger emerged from the shadow. He looked at the seventy tiger Acerbi filling the room, watching him with the quiet grace of a predator. “Go to the Falance province and aid Elymas. Make sure that he knows that the price of further failure is death.”
The tigers dropped down into puddles and darted out of the room. Geraldo slumped back into his chair and fought to stay awake.
A man made his way through the small camp to General Elymas’ tent. He pulled back the flap of the tent and made his way inside. He dropped down to one knee and waited for Elymas’ command to speak. Elymas was looking over a map of the Falance province covered with notations from the reports from his scouts. Without looking up he said, “Report.”
“I have come across the remains of what would appear to be campsites scattered throughout the area, but none of them seem to very old. It’s almost as if the rebellion never stays two nights at the same site.”
Elymas nodded his head. “That seems to agree with the reports I’ve been hearing from the other scouts. Have you seen any of the rebels at these campsites?”
The scout nodded his head. “Yes, at one. I came across something quite strange while exploring a clearing to the west of here; a stationary camp building up its defenses. There weren’t many people there, just a handful.”
Elymas looked up from the maps and shook his head. “You found a camp setting up permanent bulwarks? If the rebels have turned into a mobile force, why would they want to set up a permanent place like that? Has the rebellion split into two different factions?”
The scout shrugged. “It is difficult to say without speaking with them, General.”
Elymas nodded his head. “Yes, I suppose it would. Take several of the scouts with you back to these permanent fortifications and try to slip into their ranks. I want you to spread rumors that Aldrick is the one that is calling the shots in their rebellion and watch for their reaction. If Aldrick is lying to them about who he is, we may be able to shatter the rebellion and turn them into easy pickings.”
The scout stood up. “It will be as you say, General Elymas.”
The scout turned to go but paused when Elymas said, “And don’t forget to leave your uniforms behind.” The scout continued out of the tent.
Six men dressed in gray rags made their way out of Elymas’ camp shortly before seventy tiger acerbi prowled into camp. One of Elymas’ sorcerers hurried into his tent after their arrival and Elymas emerged from his tent shortly after. Elymas eyed the tigers appraisingly and said, “Where are the humans that Geraldo sent with you? Will they be arriving soon?”
One of the tigers stalked toward Elymas. “Geraldo has lost faith in humans, so we will be all the support you will be receiving, and we should be more than enough. Is that a problem?”
Elymas shook his head. “Unless they know magic, human’s are no better than Acerbi. You will do fine.”
The tiger growled in reply, “You should know that Geraldo has lost patience with you, Elymas. If you continue to fail we have been ordered to take your life.”
Elymas glared at the tiger. “I was taken by surprise, but I am prepared for the rebellion’s tactics now. As long as you Acerbi can follow orders, victory should be assured. Know this; I refuse to be punished for your incompetence.”
The tiger snarled, “Know your place, human! It won’t be long before there is no need for humans like you any longer!”
Elymas stopped, turned and looked at the tiger. “Do you wish to continue to make threats, or may I go and make plans for our next attack on the rebellion?” The tigers watched Elymas stalk off toward his tent.
Henry snuck through the forest toward the rebel’s camp. The other five men that had came with him were approaching the camp from different spots. They hoped that if one of them should be caught trying to sneak in, that the others would be able to make it in undetected. Henry stopped to watched for any guards and shook his head. He didn’t see anyone that looked like they were watching for an attack. Were the rebels really that arrogant that they thought that their little stunt had sent them packing?
Henry wasn’t going to complain about it though. It sure made it easier for him and the others to sneak into camp.He approached a gap in the dirt wall and was almost into the camp, but he froze when he heard someone call, “Hey!” He turned and looked at man who had called out to him, fighting to keep panic off of his face. “What do you think you’re doing? Come and help me with this wall.”
Henry relaxed and made his way over to where the man was digging a trench in front of the wall. “Sorry, I was just going to get something to drink. Working on this wall builds up quite a thirst.”
The man snorted. “Don’t I know it. It’s not break time yet, though. Some of the women should be around with the water buckets soon though. Help me with this trench.”
Henry picked up a shovel and started to dig at the side of the trench. Henry knew that he had been sent there to spread rumors, but what was the best way to go about doing that? “So, did you hear about the new guy in charge of the rebellion?”
The other man leaned on his shovel. “Do you mean General Adrick? Has he sent new orders in for us?”
Henry paused. This man knew that Aldrick was a part of the rebellion? And they were okay with it? He couldn’t believe it; how had Aldrick managed to convince these people to trust him so quickly? “Yes, I heard that he wants us to finish up with this soon. He expects General Elymas to attack us soon.”
The man frowned at Henry. “When did you hear that? The scouts didn’t bring any news anything like that the last time that they were here.”
Henry shrugged. “Maybe I just dreamed it then.” Henry started to dig harder and hoped that the man wouldn’t ask him any more questions. He started trying to think of an excuse that would allow him to slip away. He had a lot of information to report to General Elymas, including the number of men at this camp, and the fact that they were part of the other force. He just need a chance to get away without making this rebel suspicious. Well, more suspicious than he already was.
Thank you for checking out my story, if you liked this and want to see more of it, come back on Wednesday when I will publish part two, and check out the other stories I’m working on writing, here: Tales of the Imagination, check out my facebook page to connect with me and give me some feedback: Facebook, and follow me on Twitter here: @EJBorchardt. Please like, comment, and tell your friends if you like what you’ve read, and don’t forget to check out my new book, The Kids on the Case! You can find it here: The Kids on the Case: Our First Case.