• Closed • An Imperial Audience

Edd meets the Empress

A blistering desert that stretches for hundreds of miles around Nashaki, with very little relief from the baking heat.

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• Closed • An Imperial Audience

Postby Basilisk » Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:57 am

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23rd of Zi'da, 717

Things had been quiet in the Hotlands since The Eternal Empire had laid claim to the Northern Reaches Fortress. Granted, military campaigns always slowed down in the winter, due to the difficult of transporting food, so it wasn't unexpected, this period of quiet. However, for one group, it appeared things weren't going completely silent just yet. The Rhakrii raiders had been instrumental in felling the Northern Reaches Fortress, and it appeared The Eternal Empire had further business with them. Or at least, that's likely what the guards of their fortress would think when one of the black armored imperials rode up to their base. "I have a message for Commander Brodon." the soldier said, looking up at the guards.

Since the two groups were nominal allies, the soldiers message was taken to Eddrick, and it was very short and to the point. "Empress Raskalarn wishes to speak with you at the Northern Reaches Fortress as soon as possible." The message was signed, "Centurion Vierka Gardise", the commander of the Imperial legionnaires during the battle for the fortress, a woman who had fought side by side with Eddrick on the cliffs during the battle. When Eddrick said he'd return to the fortress alongside the messenger nodded, and the two left when Eddrick was ready.

Once they returned to the fortress, Eddrick was lead to the big building in the center, which had a crude entrance made on the lower floor now. There was evidently some construction going on to turn the building into a more suitable command outpost, and Eddrick was led to a room with closed doors and two imperial soldiers standing guard. The soldier motioned for Eddrick to wait a moment, then went in the room, evidently announcing Eddrick's arrival. When he returned, he held the door opened and beckoned Eddrick inside.

When Eddrick entered the room, he walked into a wall of what could best be described as a wall of pure radiating power and authority. In the center of the room was a table covered with maps and reports, around which stood the several high ranking Imperials, including Gardise, with a space left open for Eddrick to join them. However, all that power, all that presence came from one woman, who stood behind the table. Though she was dressed simply, black leather trousers and boots, a black cloth shirt, and a black leather over coat with white trim, there could be no doubt as to who this was, especially when she looked up and made eye contact with Eddrick. "Commander Brodon, welcome. Join us, please." Raskalarn said, gesturing at the empty spot at the table. "It's been brought to my attention that our standard cavalry is woefully unsuited for desert operations. We've been looking at camels as an alternative to our horses, but as one familiar with the area, I am curious as to whether you have any suggestions?" she asked, her tone calm, but intent.
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An Imperial Audience

Postby Eddrick Brodon » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:37 am

In retrospect, the Rahkrii Chieftain imagined that a good deal of the laughter he'd heard had probably been directed at him. But it did not bother him. If anything, it evoked a sense of importance that his performance, and that of his men, had drawn enough notice for him to be so recognized. He would hardly begrudge the rough laughter of soldiers. He understood its source. It made the likelihood of his incarceration easier to bear.

What would not be easy to bear would be any like treatment of his men. He approached the cleaned-up war council room in the newly captured fortress with both trepidation for his own fate, and determination that such would not befall those that had followed his lead. He knew his own history; how it had coursed straight to his current standing with little opportunity for change. Fate had destined him to be a bandit, and he'd accepted that. And while it would be a lie to suggest he had the same intimate knowledge of the tribulations each of his men had suffered, he doubted it was too far removed from his own.

He'd already resolved that he would insist on bearing the full responsibility for the past actions of his men. Surely as a military force, this Raskalarn would appreciate the sentiment. It was only a matter of whether or not she was the same sort of two-faced opportunist that the leaders of Nashaki had proven themselves to be when they'd withheld the promised amnesty with which they'd coaxed his raiders onto their side of this conflict.

He would stand now before the highly disciplined and brilliantly capable Immortal leader of a force that his men had spent previous cycles ambushing and looting, trampling and torturing with no effort to hide their collective identity. They had aided nomads in resisting the advance of the northerners, poisoned water sources that were going to be lost to the invaders, and had even raised an army of undead, with many of their own fellow soldiers numbered among their undead ranks. The only mercy he should expect would be a quick execution. But there would only be begging if the same verdict was handed down to his men.

But as he entered the chamber, this folly was stripped away and he knew his wretchedness. As he was brought before the glory of Raskalarn, his knees sought to fold of their own accord and his eyes focused on the dirt before his feet; his heart finding certainty in the belief that this dirt was higher than his worth ought to be to this being. His hope that his attempt at honor for his men's sake would be acknowledged now sank to the surety that it would be properly perceived as the grasping, conniving ambition of vermin, seeking only another chance at low theft.

This wondrous deity before him had been cheated and defiled, if only indirectly, by the killing and stripping of her soldiers of their weapons and armor, their trinkets and accessories, sold for the sustenance to prolong his raiders' unworthy existence. Shame stabbed his soul, so pervasive as to rob him even of the resolve to shake loose the arms of his escorts so he might throw himself prostrate on the floor.

Timing spared him this humiliation though, as the voice cut through the misma of his enfeebled mind to welcome his presence at her table! Laughter once again shook him loose form his self-effacing reverie to see that a place was being kept open for him. Insignias of high rank mocked his modest status, displaying standing beyond anything he could have ever imagined while a youth in Athart, daring to think he might someday become one the slave raiders.

Her eyes shattered his self-loathing with no more than the assured look that she knew he had advice that could be of aid to her efforts. His spirit soared even higher as the slightest of gestures, perhaps imagined, indicated the chair that was granted him at this exalted table. He stammered briefly, "How...How do I earn ...this place ...at your table? I have been an enemy..." It nearly broke his heart to think he should deny himself any part in this council.

But speaking in his mind against such foolishness was a second voice, berating his arrogance for suggesting that he should purport to know better than she of what use he might be. There came sudden realization that she surely knew all about him, and what he'd done. And yet she'd welcomed him; even calling him "Commander". He noticed a grin on Centurion Gardise' face, and struggled to keep one from his own. He suddenly wanted to sing, but of course, he only cleared his throat, stiffened his back and strode resolutely to take the offered spot.

He heard the Immortal's need and realized her wisdom. A mobile force of nomadic hit-and-run raiders, long since accustomed to the most suitable means of desert travel, was obviously the best source of such information. "Well, your...Grace?...Eminence?... Forgive me, I do not know how you would have me address you." he began, making the greatest of efforts to maintain eye contact.

Once informed he continued on, speaking at length of a few of the breeds of desert horse that had useful adaptations to their anatomy, or particularly useful attributes, separating them from their temperate zoned cousins. Many possessed amazing endurance capabilities, stemming from odd physical features, extra organs or dermal features. Some with almost supernatural abilities to locate hidden water sources; or curiously "veiled" facial features which prevented the desert sand from affecting their respiration.

But ultimately, it was the Poko he recommended, the giant desert insect he himself chose as mount; seemingly impervious to the heat; gracing its rider with a smoothest gait; its wide shelled back and edge flanges perfectly suited to strap down incredible amounts of materiele, or multiple riders. He did not want to state the chariot-like benefit this would provide to the serpentine raskithecal troops, their bodies so unsuited to horse or camelback.

He'd pointed out locations on the map as he spoke, citing deep sands or rock formations and mesas where the capabilities of these creatures had served him so well, also broaching the subject of the "sand lion", a predatory, insectoid cousin of the Poko, the latter of which had some innate capability to pass its aggressive kin virtually unnoticed, or to draw it deliberately to make use of its aggression against an unsuspecting, nearby enemy.

When he'd exhausted all the lore he could bring to mind on the subject, he stood to attention, nodded crisply and took a step back to allow the ranking members of the assembly to have the vacated spot. He would not leave without permission though.
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An Imperial Audience

Postby Basilisk » Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:46 pm

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Gardise grinned slightly at Eddrick's stuttering question, while Raskalarn seemed to have a note of resignation in her voice. "You've already earned your place here, Eddrick. Your assistance in the battle to claim this fortress was invaluable. And you're far from the first enemy I've recruited." she said, her tone not unkind. When he recovered himself and joined them, she smiled slightly his question of honorific. "The appropriate title is "Your Majesty", commander. Unlike the so-called "empress" of Rynmere, I actually rule my empire." she said, her tone slightly amused.

The group at the table fell silent and listened as Eddrick listed off the various mounts they could use in place of the heavy Imperial horses that currently made up their cavalry. As he spoke, Eddrick would notice that Raskalarn occasionally raise a hand over an open jar sitting on the table next to her, then put her hand down with a slightly miffed expression, though her attention on his mount listing never wavered. When he finished and stepped back, she gestured him forward again. "Sit back down, Commander. Until I say otherwise, you're considered a commander in my forces here in the Hotlands, so sit down and try to relax." she said, holding her hand back out over the jar. After a moment, a spire of sand rose out of the jar in a sharp point. Raskalarn, looked at that and grinned. "Excellent, the territory assimilation is complete. That should make it easier on reinforcing this base, at least." she said, and then in a moment, that massive aura of power and authority just...vanished. Raskalarn still gave off an air of someone who was very much in command, but it no longer radiated off of her in a solid wall.

"Now then, as to the Poko. That honestly does sound like the best mount overall. However, I need some more information. How available are they as a mount, and how difficult are they to train?" she asked, her voice intent. "In addition, you mentioned calling the sand lions as a possible tactic. Do you know if anyone has ever managed to train a sand lion?" she asked, much to the surprise of her commanders, it seemed.

Gardise recovered before the others, and spoke up. "Your majesty, we've been lucky enough to avoid having to deal with the desert super-predators, I don't know how willing our soldiers would be to risk trying to train one. And, for that matter, what tactical benefit could there be to such a thing?" she asked, her voice respectful, but genuinely curious.

Raskalarn smiled slightly and pulled out a map of the fort they now occupied, one that had been heavily annotated. "As you know, and to catch you up Commander Brodon, we're going to build the walls of this fortress out to the cliff walls, then create alternate means of getting around. However, look here." she said, pointing to right in front of the building they were in now. "Right here, if we can arrange it, would be the perfect place for a tame Sand Lion. We'd be able to open up the ground beneath attackers, feed them to the beast and more easily prevent enemy access. And as for training, I know some of the scouts would be willing to try." she said, looking around at the dawning comprehension of the Imperial commanders, before looking up at Eddrick. "Do you think it's possible, Commander Brodon?"
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An Imperial Audience

Postby Eddrick Brodon » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:09 am


Perhaps it was a testament to his emotional resilience. Where moments before, Eddrick was near to prostrating himself before the Immortal, he now felt a spike of resentment for being put on the spot by her. With his answer, he would be defying either the Raskithecal Centurion he has begun to form a battle bond with, or her Supreme Commander, who had just shown him mercy beyond anything he had expected.

It did not help that many other faces turned his way; some with lingering disdain, which Eddrick fully understood; some with hope that this human interloper might actually have the means to make this work; and others who were simply amused by the discomfiture of a former enemy, respected or not.

Eddrick could understand those that felt he may just be milking the situation to spare a few more trials of life, by painting a rosy picture while he calculated the odds of an escape opportunity presenting itself. And his delay was only fortifying that assessment. He shook his head, ready to concede the lack of any hope of success in "taming" a Sand Lion. A few snorts of contempt, accompanied by insults stating that his worth was only represented by that of his poko, drowned his words.

But that turned out for the best, for his initial feeling that Sand Lions could not possibly be employed in the manner presented, was drowned in the collective groan. It was the mention of his poko that gave the inspiration he needed to salvage the idea. Gardise apparently noticed the surge of eagerness in his face, and waved down the ruckus to let him speak. Eddrick locked eyes with her and nodded to show his appreciation for her support. He would not let her down.

He took a step forward, though it was not really necessary; a gesture only to herald a comment. "Your Majesty, though I must agree with those that say the Sand Lions cannot be tamed, this should not be taken to mean they cannot be used." He gave just a bit of pause to let interest focus more fully before continuing. "Again, the poko is the answer. I admit I do not know the origin of this instinctive technique, yet I have come to learn that, when threatened by a situation where they cannot simply run, a poko will begin an odd stamping pattern; one that draws the Sand Lion to its location."

Now there was genuine silence as many hands stroked many chins with speculation. Brows began to furrow as the ramifications began to dawn on the assembled officers. "Rather than attempting to train and position a Sand Lion in this spot, tie a poko there. Being tied in place will most likely make the sense of being trapped much more swiftly perceived by the beast, and it will go into its...'dance'...and draw any nearby Sand Lions."

He turned a slow circle with raised arms to quiet some expected counter remarks, "Yes...yes...this IS trusting to there being any of the predators near enough to make a timely arrival." He stopped turning to look at Raskalarn directly, "But we can do better than that. The one thing that is as close to training as we can get is to "seed' the locale area with tidbits of meat, and begin a program of scheduled poko 'dancing', and rewarding any Sand Lions that respond."

Murmurs of agreement began to echo around the room as the bandit chieftain went on, "The only issue is determining just how much to feed them. Too little and they will not be interested enough to respond; too much and they could get overfed and, again, not bother to respond."

Anything else he could think of was just repetition. He nodded once to himself, to confirm that he'd finished, then looked back up to the Immortal with a crisp bow, "That is about all I can suggest, Your Majesty." This time, he did not step back from his space at the table.
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An Imperial Audience

Postby Basilisk » Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:51 pm

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Raskalarn didn't react to her commanders sudden outpouring of scorn towards Eddrick, at least not on the surface. When Gardise got the rest to shut up, the empress listened quietly to Eddrick's description of how Sand Lions could not be tamed, but could still be used. "Another issue is makin' sure we don't attract too many Sand Lions. But I see both your point and your logic. Not every animal can be tamed or trained, but their behavior can still be modified." she said, smiling slightly before she scowled around at the rest of her commanders, barring Gardise. "The rest of you would do well to remember that Commander Brodon has proven himself a skilled leader on the battlefield. In addition, he has far more experience with both the terrain and the wildlife in the desert. His ability is proven to my satisfaction, and you all will remember the Law of Ability." she said, her voice stern. The rest of the commanders looked shamed and apologized to Eddrick for their poor behavior.

After a moment, Raskalarn nodded at her commanders, Eddrick included. "Now that we have that settled, the next order of business is determining how Nashaki will react." she said, looking up at Eddrick. "Commander Brodon, you've worked both for and against Nashaki prior to servin' with my forces when we took this fortress. Do you have any information on how they're likely to react? Our best guess, thus far, is that they'll reinforce their other desert fortresses, then seek aid from either Athart or Yaralon. Do you believe we missed something?" she asked, her voice calm.
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An Imperial Audience

Postby Eddrick Brodon » Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:00 pm

The question touched on many elements, some of them touching equally on both the soldiers of Nashaki as well as Eddrick's own men. And though he felt a wish to clarify some of these particulars, he knew that now was not the time; and that it was likely that his willingness to forego these topics for now was part of the assessment the Immortal was making about him. "I only fought with them once, at the Claypan. I do not count the various ambushes and traps we have sprung as joint efforts, as these were done on our own."

He did not look around as he spoke, feeling like a betrayer now, to be in the company of soldiers and commanders who no doubt knew many of the men who'd been killed in these actions. But there was no grumbling to be heard, and he was astounded to think that these men might truly have set aside any lingering animosity stemming from it. He did not believe he could have made the same claim.

There was also the sense of certainty that he would come off as an empty flatterer with his next comment, but again, he was coming to think that the causes of this sort of hesitance was already known and accepted and would not be dwelt upon. "I may not be the most objective person to ask. I was promised an amnesty for myself and my men, and when the battle was lost, it was withheld from us. So I have reason to believe there is cowardice and dishonor at some level of their military. I can not honestly say that I witnessed it in the behavior of the troops, or the commanders in the field. But I will say that they seem to hold to a strategy of quick withdrawal, to conserve resources, rather than to press for victory at added costs."

The subject of the amnesty was naturally one of the elements he was concerned about, as it was tantamount to an admission of guilt for numerous crimes. Would this detail now be a technicality upon which this Immortal would also reverse the mercy she'd shown thus far? Eddrick felt it best to press on in the face of this uncertainty. "It is my understanding that Nashaki is the seat of...one of...your cousins? brothers?...forgive me, I do not know how you would have me refer to them. But, pardon my candor, I do not feel he is of a military mindset. Where you take an obvious hand in the running of your troops, I have not seen any indication that he does. So perhaps his troops are less inclined to go to the same lengths for him as do your own?"

The sky was already growing dark, an indication of the nearness of Cylus. "This will be the time of arc that Nashaki will rotate or reinforce their holdings, due to the darkness and the more temperate climate. And there are pathways not shown on the maps that allow this to be done unseen by most surveillance. My men have made much use of them. I think right now, the other fortresses, in the eastern and southern areas at least, will hold tight, figuring on you to halt and secure this area. I do not believe they realize to what extent you have already done so."

His enthusiasm was beginning to rise, as he warmed to the subject, "I think their morale will mirror Nashaki's own. If they believe their capital will bring forces to break any siege, they will hold out. It is to be assumed that some avriel scout, unseen above us, has already brought word of how this battle went down. I would assume the other fortresses are already amending the poor structure designs we exploited so successfully here. On a larger scale, if we can turn a clear advantage quickly enough, the mercenaries of Yaralon will be more likely to side with YOU than Nashaki."

There was a pause, clearly indicating that he should present just what he thought might accomplish this quick advantage, and he had it ready. "Nashaki lives and dies by trade. And that is most accommodated by their docks on the Crescent Sea, as well as being the very means any Yaralon troops would use to travel to Nashaki. If you do not have ships to blockade it, then I say we march as if to besiege Nashaki itself."

There was immediate uproar, prompting Eddrick to raise both his voice and his hand, "BUT...BUT...but we bypass it. Consider...As we advance, they will withdraw everything inside, assuming an impending siege, and trusting to their walls and their oasis to give them the edge. Even as we begin bypassing, they will assume some trickery to gain the benefit of some position. We will have three or four trials' advance toward the sea before they truly venture out to confirm that there is no attack on the city. By that time there will be no halting our takeover of the docks."
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An Imperial Audience

Postby Basilisk » Sun Feb 04, 2018 1:19 pm

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If he'd been standing in a room full of civilians, or field rank soldiers, Eddrick might have noticed some of the bitterness he'd expected. These people, however, had been soldiers for a long time. They knew that the deaths of soldiers in war were part of the risk, and did not hold it against Eddrick for having fought against them. Given their aggressive expansionism, and the poor reputation that often gave The Eternal Empire, such things had almost become expected at this point.

Gardise shrugged at Eddrick's mention of Nashaki's tactics. "Raid military tactics. Hit and run, very conservative of losses. But it means they tend not to have as much staying power. If we can keep going in spite of the losses, we've got a good chance of simply outlasting them. If we can corner them outside of the fortresses, we can pretty much crush them. In the Hotlands Claypan battle, Commander Brodon's forces were the only reason Nashaki lasted as long as they did. The downside to that is that they're likely to be aware of that weakness, so they're going to avoid being cornered if at all possible." she said with a shrug.

At the mention of Chamardarst, Raskalarn nodded. "Cousin, sort of. Chamadarst, son of Ati'el, most well known for being the reason Idalos uses Nels as a global currency." she said, before laughing slightly. "Was never entirely sure if that was to make commerce easier, or if he just wanted it to be easier for him to rub his wealth in peoples faces. Regardless, no, he's not a field commander, or even a warrior in general. Incredibly intelligent, however, and if he comes in on Nashaki's side, it'll make things significantly more difficult. He might now, however, he likes to keep himself neutral." she said thoughtfully.

When Eddrick presented his plan, the rest of the room was silent for a bit, clearly mulling over the strategy. After a moment, one of the commanders, an elderly man who looked like he'd seen more warfare than most of the rest of the room combined, pulled a map off the table. "It has possibilities, Your Majesty. But I don't think we'd be able to successfully do it right away." he said, pointing at the Central Reaches Fortress on the map. "If we don't neutralize this fortress, they could cut off our supply and reinforcement lines. Granted, we could secure the docks, but we'd be pinned down ourselves. If they get naval allies, we'd be caught between two forces." he said, grimacing slightly.

An female Raskithecal looked at the maps as well, her uniform marking her as part of the Imperial cavalry forces and she shook her head. "Speed is also a factor. We'd have to be able to move fast enough to secure the docks and fortify them before they pin us against the sea. Scouts and Agents could perhaps secure the docks, but they aren't suited for sustained combat on their own. Our infantry could delay enemy forces that would set out from Nashaki once we passed them, but then we'd be relying on my cavalry to build fortifications, then provide a gap for the infantry to retreat to the docks. While we can do that, we need better desert mounts and perhaps lighter armor for the cavalry before we can pull it off." she said, grimacing slightly.

Another of the Imperial commanders, this one with a truly massive wolf next to her, leaned over the maps as well and pointed out a mountain range. "The Eastern Reaches Fortress could also cut off our lines, couldn't they. Through this mountain range?" she asked, her voice curious.

It was Raskalarn who shook her head. "Luesco's Wall isn't a natural mountain range. The location of that fortress genuinely confuses me, since there doesn't seem to be a tactical reason for it, mostly because of that mountain range. It's all sheer cliffs and goat trails, unless they've been building roads through it. That, however, would make collapses likely. It's horrifically unstable. I was there when Luesco made it, and the only reason there weren't massive earthquakes because of it was because Luesco stopped them from happening." she said, grimacing as she spoke. Then she turned back to Eddrick. "Do you have an answer to the objections to your plan, commander?" she asked, her tone intent.
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An Imperial Audience

Postby Eddrick Brodon » Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:18 am

Eddrick swallowed hard, realizing he had let himself get caught up in the details of a grand campaign he'd kicked around in his mind in the safety of his Rhakrii stronghold. Brought to light in the face of counter strategies, proposed on behalf of the enemy, by military leaders that had already established themselves with the Immortal, he grimaced with the fear of humiliation. But the die was cast; he did have a few thoughts on the means of negating these proposals, most of them being fairly predictable.

A sound strategy however, was not negated to a great degree only because it was predictable. Many a campaign was successful, despite predictability, simply because they were clearly logical and easily accomplished. He took a moment to collate his thoughts, "Well, of course, my proposal was on a grand scale, not coordinated with any current detailed knowledge of your resources in the areas in question. Give me a moment..."

There was some muttering and Eddrick raised his arms for a measure of indulgence. "Now...now I realize that sounds like excuse-making. But in all fairness, much of what I might say to counter Nashaki's options hinge largely on logistical capabilities that I have not yet seen. So these mountains could perhaps be triggered to collapse any roadways. I honestly do not know what your views on magic are, but a master earth Defier could probably do this."

Two map symbols featured largely in his next point, "Otherwise, you have both the Belmar and Frieda nomad camps in areas that could be swiftly brought to bear upon any paths this Eastern fortress may try to exploit." He followed that up with a like focus on numerous other nomad camps in locations well-placed to pose a similar obstacle to the free movement of any troops that might be dispatched from the other Nashaki outposts.

There were some furrowed brows, indicating doubt that this was of any strategic value. "I don't know what efforts you may have made to align these nomads with your goals, but I have sat down with the elders of most of these camps. I think if your policies are presented by someone they know..." He paused to let the obvious choice sink in, "...they might agree. I know they have no love for Nashaki. But I cannot deny this will take some time."

"Mobility is obviously a major issue. I completely endorse the development of a poko branch of your cavalry. They not only traverse the sands easier than any other mount; when confronted, they can be trained to act as a mobile shield wall with their carapaces." He turned a slight grin to those gathered near, "Some of you may remember how we used this tactic at the claypan. Nashaki only uses them as pack animals. But this too, will take time."

A voice raised the point Eddrick knew would be expressed some time soon. It was true, he had proposed a drastic plan, requiring tight timing, and then proposed back-up support strategies that could not be implemented for at least a full season or more. He nodded in agreement as the point was made. "Yes, I admit, I am now responding with counters that require setting back my initial proposal considerably."

He focused once again on the symbols as he continued, "So we come back to logistics, the logistics of numbers; the numbers of our enemy's ally, that make their sorties secure as they attack our supply lines to the docks. It would not be a failed strategy if, by relinquishing our goal of taking the docks, we instead ransacked all their outposts as they issued forth to exploit supply lines that did not truly exist. But that is a deception we would have to decide on ahead of time, and 'sell' its legitimacy to them."

His expression grew troubled for a moment, but as he nodded to himself, a steely resolve filled his gaze. "But there is another option, based on the existence of this ally, the avriel." Many heads nodded in appreciation of the fact that this newcomer was finally getting around to them. They knew he had dealt with a small strike force that had inflicted a brief bombardment on their positions during the last fight. But that was negligible compared to the contribution, theater-wide, that the flying troops brought to the struggle.

"Some time ago..." he began, "I had the good fortune to intercept a Nashaki delegation heading to Yaralon. At the time I only wanted the facts of why I was betrayed and blamed for the murder of a Nashaki diplomat some arcs earlier. It is essentially the reason I became a bandit." The troubled look returned as the warrior wrestled with his honor. "I have to say, I fear I am resorting to rationalizing my honor in revealing this."

Some murmuring intruded on his thoughts, but his decision was made, "No, I promised that ambassador I would not hold what he told me in ransom against his city. But if I give it here freely, I am doing no such thing." he waited to see if any would speak against this information. There was clearly some faces registering distaste.

Eddrick hoped to set the stage for acceptance, "Every aspect of this involves deception and dishonor on the part of our enemies, so I feel it to be only what their treacheries have brought upon themselves." He turned to Raskalarn with lowered eyes, "Your Majesty, if you would have me withhold this, I will try to envision new strategies. But know that this stands a good chance of breaking the alliance between Nashaki and Athart."
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An Imperial Audience

Postby Basilisk » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:03 pm

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When Eddrick brought up collapsing the roads on Luesco's Wall, Raskalarn let out a quiet laugh, but shook her head. "I don't have any problems with magic. In fact, I encourage those interested to study openly, as opposed to in secret. Safer for them. But using magic on Luesco's Wall is akin to throwing a torch at a lake filled with a thick black liquid that may or may not be oil. It could work fine, but it could also sink the entire Eastern Hotlands into the ocean. Not something I'm inclined to risk or ask anyone to attempt." she said, shaking her head. Certainly, it would solve the problem of the Eastern Reaches Fortress, but it would also kill who knows how many innocents.

At the mention of the nomads, the older soldier leaned forward. "We've been working on integrating the tribes in the Northern Hotlands into the Empire. We're actually having some success at the matter. Apparently, any time Nashaki forces showed up, it was raiders from the Tower of Flesh looking for new slaves. The fact that our soldiers actually provide security instead of death and misery has gone over remarkably well." he said, his tone dry. "But we are strangers in this land. Commander Brodon being our emissary to the nomad tribes could go over very well." he said, his tone thoughtful.

Gardise, who had been at the Hotlands Claypan as well as the Northern Reaches Fortress, smirked at the mention of the Poko Shield Wall tactic. It had indeed been effective, but she remained silent with the rest as Eddrick detailed the changes they could make to his proposed his plan. "With enough of us, we could even do a few things at once." she said, looking at the map. "Sent a blitz force to lure them out of position and strike when they aim for nonexistent supply lines, while a slower, concealed, force actually aims to take and hold the docks." she said, her voice lost in thought.

When Eddrick brought up his concerns about sharing information that could be deemed dishonorable to reveal, there was uncomfortable shifting around the table. As Eddrick had no doubt realized, the Imperials considered honor a matter of great importance. It was their insistence on honorable behavior that had given them the moral high ground in the war, their honor that had given Eddrick his seat at their table. Raskalarn, however, looked like she was considering something, then leaned forward.

"Was this agreement with their ambassador made before or after they reneged on their agreement to give you and your men amnesty?" she asked. That caused a brief stir of mutterings before Raskalarn silenced her commanders with a wave of her hand. However, Eddrick would be able to pick up that the muttering was aimed at Nahaki, not his own men. Clearly, Nashaki's backstabbing was not well thought of in these circles. "If it was made before, then you owe them nothing. If made after, I leave it up to you to decide if their own treachery and dishonor means their is not dishonor in saying. We, I, cannot decide what being honorable means for you, Commander." she said, her voice firm, but not unkind.
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An Imperial Audience

Postby Eddrick Brodon » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:21 pm

There was clearly some conflict in the bandit chieftain's heart, but it might not have been of the exact nature that those present would assume it to be. His eyes wandered briefly as he inwardly questioned himself, but he soon nodded and looked in the eyes of the gathered assembly, resting finally, albeit briefly, on the eyes of the Immortal herself.

"Your Majesty, forgive, if you will, the blunt honesty of what I must say. When I made this promise, it was in the belief that yours was just another brutal culture bent on conquest, regardless of the hypocrisy of claiming one conqueror to be better than another. And while I can not blame the Nashaki diplomat for this misconception, I CAN blame the culture of Athart. So, yes, I admit, the promise was made well after Nashaki reneged on their promise to my men and I."

His gaze had lowered somewhat as he spoke. He now raised it again, clearing his throat and speaking loudly, "But at the time, I felt I was honoring a legitimate fear that this revelation would simply land the world into the hands of a tyrant. And I would not have myself profit from sacrificing the world to such and end." He paused to see if offense registered in the Immortal's eyes, but he could not really tell from her inscrutable gaze.

"Well, I have come to realize how wrong this notion is. But I fear I must state this information for its honor to be judged. Like the information itself, it will be in exactly how it came to be suppressed, and the circumstances of its revelation, that will determine this. And if I am to be cast out or imprisoned, I will still feel I did the right thing."

He paused again to assess how much detail would need to be recapped, "I was born in Athart, and came to be a proud member of their slave raiders, one of the few goals a human can strive towards to obtain a measure of fair treatment by the avriel. Secretly, they hold considerable contempt for Nashaki, but maintain diplomatic civility with them because they long since saw them as a buffer against you.

"Some several arcs ago, a Qi'oran diplomat came to town as part of an entourage. I had already stricken up a romance with her from previous visits. But there was something different about her demeanor on this visit. She was then murdered and I was blamed. I understood there was nothing truly personal in the deed being blamed on me. I was handy, and my romance with her made tales of a jealous rage and a crime of passion very believable. I had been nowhere near at the time, but it became obvious I was not going to be given a chance to speak.

"My brothers had betrayed me, my father was undoubtedly pressured to disown me, and the woman I loved was dead. So I left and became a bandit. Last arc, when I came across a Nashaki diplomat bound for Yaralon, I captured him and discovered why they had done this to she and I..."
He paused a moment to allow a theatrical tension to build, "She was going to inform the Grand Aeolian that Nashaki did not truly have a formal standing treaty with Athart. That in fact, there has not been a written alliance with them for decades, possibly centuries."

It did not surprise him that there was not an immediate realization of the potential ramifications of this news as he continued, "I was only a necessary patsy, which did not surprise me. But for a moment I did not understand why this would be a detail they would feel to necessitate a murder. But his panic soon confirmed my own growing suspicion."

A few faces began to register understanding as he went on, "We here, I'm sure, are all aware of the impulsive belligerence and insanely reactionary attitude of the avriel. He and his city feared that the avriel would fly into a rage, feeling they had been duped all this time. That they'd have felt as if they'd been the butt of a joke decades-long in the making. Nashaki honestly feared that they'd switch sides on the spot and join your army. Having grown up under their shadow, I truly sympathized with his concern. It is not far-fetched at all."

Several hands were now stroking chins as gazes were lost in thought. "While I can not say that they'd go to THAT extreme, or that you'd even want them, I agreed with the man that they would at least immediately pull out in the belief that they'd been tricked into a non-existence alliance. He went on to say that they had, of course, considered telling them themselves. But the current Nashaki administration had only discovered this situation as well. Some Grand Aeolian in arcs past struck some deal that was never put to contract, and it has been honored ever since."

One of the commanders asked the very same question Eddrick had asked back then, 'Why not make it official?' Eddrick laughed grimly, "I asked him the same thing. He said they didn't dare. That they might ask to see the previous treaty to make sure it matched. And the they'd find out there WAS no 'previous treaty'. They were worried about the avriel's reaction either way. They didn't want to admit openly that there wasn't one, OR do or say anything that might make them suspicious. So they've been concealing this detail from the avriel this whole time. And, of course, with each passing arc, the likelihood of an angry reaction by the avriel just becomes greater."

Eddrick took a deep breath and looked back to the Immortal woman, "So, there it is Your Majesty. I stand by your judgement. I say there is no dishonor in my having told you the truth. I likewise say there is no dishonor in telling the avriel the truth. Let them decide how they feel about it."
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