Of Armor and Bone: Chapter 21
Kensley marched up the stairs perched along the crag up to Edrian’s hut. He pushed aside the fur covering across the door and peered into the dim tent. Inside, Edrian crouched at the side of the smoldering embers of the fire pit. The General pushed around the black and white powdery cinders with a long stick, hoping to quell the heavy smoke escaping from it.
Kensley cleared his throat. “You called for me, Sir?”
Edrian tossed the branch into the middle of the pit. He stood up and extracted the well-used handkerchief from it’s place tucked into his belt, wiping his shiny forehead with it.
“Yes, yes. I apologize for calling you out so late.” He grumbled in a low voice. “It’s simply that I’ve made up my mind, and I wish to hear your thoughts.”
“Anything, sir.” Kensley nodded and stepped inside. Respectfully, he planted his feet in place, and his arms crossed behind his back.
The general examined the stern stance and waved him down. “At ease, Mr. Kensley.”
The lieutenant took a deep breath and slumped his shoulders.
“Good, good.” Edrian continued. “Are you familiar with that pass to the south of here?”
“Yes, sir.” Kensley nodded. “We used it to return from our attack on Tulefore; Bently, Scarborough and myself.”
“I figured so. Just over five years ago, Tulefore passed its forces through there for the first of their attacks on this land.”
Kensley nodded slowly. “I cannot remember the event more clearly. My squadron was one of the first on the battlefield.”
“An important role was played by your men, stopping them from flooding into Xiandol uncontested.” Edrian paced around the room, before finding a seat in his hefty chair by the map table. “I doubt they would have done much to our em battlements here, but we had to make sure the women and children here at the front were protected.”
Kensley eyed the general silently as he continued to reminisce. His arms twitched as he continued to hold himself from shifting to a more stiff posture.
“Do you remember when the battlemages arrived at the battlefield?” Edrian finally made eye contact.
A shiver ran up Kensley’s spine. “Yes.” He answered shortly. “I was fortunate enough to be on reserve when they began strewing fire among our men.”
“You were able to find a sense of reprisal upon having their blood on your hands, then.”
Kensley peered down at his dry hands, cracked from the cold air. “You can say that.” He smirked. “To be honest, though, the way they were packed in, you couldn’t swing your sword without chopping into one of the magi. That is the first time I saw Mandabus with a weapon in his hand, too. The man was very skilled.”
“I’m glad your Captain is still fresh in your mind.” Edrian stood. With a slow stride, he passed Kensley and pushed the fur aside to look out the door into the cold darkness. “You’ll soon be able to take your vengeance on Tulefore for his death.”
Kensley glanced back at the general briefly before scanning the scribbled-upon map unfurled on the table. “So, we’re making a move, then?”
At the side of the room, a wooden chair creaked. Kensley turned to see Boughlin sitting off in one of the dark corners, a smoldering cigar sitting between his fingers. The ridges of his rough face shone in the dim light of the candle atop the table. “Tomorrow morning.” He stood, and a few gray cinders dropped from the end of the cigar and smoke drifted up towards the ceiling.
Edrian patted Kensley on the shoulder before moving back to the map. “You know best of any of us the way there, and how their settlement is guarded.”
“You’ll stick by my side then, boy.” Bouglin spoke up. “You’ll be comfortable taking orders from me, I assume?”
“I’ll make due.” Kensley frowned. “Is this really the best time, though? Mr. Chin and Bently gone?”
Edrian cleared his throat. His gaze remained fixed on the messy lines scribbled on the map. “We’ve been delayed for too long, especially by the weather. The men are getting restless.”
“No doubt.” Kensley sighed. “Scarborough, then?”
“I’d like him assigned to be at my side.” Edrian announced, sending a short glance Kensley’s way. “As it stands, it’s the best place for him to be.”
“Bently has been working with him on calming his nerves in battle, being more steadfast-”
“It is late, Mr. Kensley.” Edrian interrupted. “There is no need to worry yourself over things that have already been decided. Now rest. We must be up early.”