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Sat Jun 10, 2006 21:29 (XFF:

Locke surveyed the Gateways idly from atop Sim, his gray-dappled black horse. The porters were coming through, now, the main perimeter of their staging area. First the spearmen, then the archers, then the select crossbowmen, followed by the light foot and channelling men, with their swords and axes. As it was, the line would be defensible from any direction; they had do nothing to repel any kind of surprise assault but sit quietly, as the enemy ran into the spearwall, and then summarily got turned into pincushions by the archers. Officers would be felled by the crossbowmen, and any stragglers would be silenced with the Power, and by melee combat. Locke and Rianyll were stony and grim, silently reflecting on all that need be done. Adjusting the uncomfortably familiar strap on his blacked field plate, Locke narrowed his imperious gray eyes and spurred Sim forward. Off to the right, Jack was issuing silent orders to the archers using his hands. Wei was to the fore, cheeks puffed out, his arms looped around his heavy iron spear, which was balanced precariously across the back of his shoulder blades. The man is stretching. Imagine, pre-massacre exercises! Locke smirked at him, the only non-channelling officer of his Seven, and he was given the polite return of a behemoth grunt, coupled with a nod of the gnarled, brick-shaped face. That man was a good man.

The last of the porters carried the carts though, and left them idle, behind the secured line. More silent hand signals, this time from Shin, sent the Soldiers amongst the assembled men into a frenzy of activity, each man shouldering a hulking rucksack. Still, there were many, many more, and the foot also took their loads. After all the carts were empty, their provisions having been equipped, the porters rolled them back through the Gateway, and it snapped shut. The troop of seven hundred was alone at last - alone with only a few hours to get everything in the plan done, before scouts discovered them. Locke knew that nothing would work, if they were found. As it was, there should be plenty of time. Then again, if everything that could go wrong did go wrong, seven hundred people would be dead, including him. It was an interesting balance.

A fisted hand up, two fingers, point left, fist, point left. Half the spearmen and half the regular foot progressed left, their enormous packs encumbering their silent walk. The same motion repeated, but right instead of left, and the rest filtered out that way. No words, no running, no heavy breathing - nothing. No sound. The occasional jingle from chain mail was the only sound, and that was indistinct - everything had been heavily oiled before embarking. Clicking his tongue inside his cheek shrilly twice spurred the archers and the channelling men ahead forward, at a slightly faster pace than the two wings on either side - forming a "V" spear progression through the woods. The topography indicates that the southern path, which is what we're on, is wider than that of the Northern path. That's good. They'll retreat this way, in favor of the more maneuverable ground. Northward retreat, and they'll be cut off, and in enemy territory, falling victim to attacks from the countries they want to prevent from assisting in the defense of Illian. Quite a prickly situation for them. The leadership, these... ten captains... will most likely attempt to break my line, when they fall under pressure from both sides, and I'll let them. They'll fall directly into this trap they've put themselves in.

"You look pleased, Locke." Rianyll peered over his warhorse, interested, but not intruding. He was far too tactful for that kind of affront.

"I am. The enemy thinks they're on Secured Ground, but they aren't." Locke swivelled in his saddle, examining his spear, strapped and holstered to the side of his saddle at a diagonal, spear point upwards. It was pure steel, no wood, no adornments, no gilding - weighty, agile, and all business. The blade was a beautiful thing, a stylized take on a spined leatherleaf, all planes and angles. An eviscerating weapon - a gorgeous weapon.

"But they're not!" The blondheaded man whispered gently, his golden braids swung slightly, rubbing against his blacked chest plate. "They're on Dying Ground."

"It's true. Of the Nine Grounds, they are on the one that will destroy them all. But remember what the classics say." Locke narrowed his eyes slightly, but didn't have to say or signal anything - a crossbow bolt from Shin twanged loose, flying straight to the Seanchan scout's throat, removing the possibility of a scream.

" on the Dying Ground fight like they're on the Dying Ground."

"Nothing to lose." Locke watched the man struggle on his knees momentarily, before another bolt pierced his head, square through the temple - one of Shin's crossbowmen. "They'll miss him not reporting in - we need to move quickly."

With one dead, so begins the friction that will beget sparks... sparks that begin fire... that begets total destruction.

Three Hours Later

"All the rucksacks have been set, Major."

"And the satchels inside the rucksacks?"

"They've been dispersed throughout the foliage as you ordered. The rucksacks have all been covered with the leaves and underbrush, as well."


  • Two InterludesMajor Lemain, Sat Jun 10 18:04
    1 The frontiers of nations are either large rivers, or chains of mountains, or deserts. Of all these obstacles to the march of an army, deserts are the most difficult to surmount; mountains come... more
    • Friction — Major Lemain, Sat Jun 10 21:29
      • SparksMajor Lemain, Mon Jun 12 21:05
        "It's almost time, Major Lemain." Rianyll had matured quite a bit since his first outing. It had been nearly a year since he'd embarked on the doomed expidition which Locke had saved - the two had... more
        • FlamesMajor Lemain, Thu Jun 15 13:04
          The last of the scouts had reported in - Jack's man. According to him, the final preparations in the forest had been made - the tar had been spread on the trunks of the trees, hay had been stuffed... more
          • The InfernoMajor Lemain, Thu Jun 15 13:28
            The Airwall was completed, and being held steadfast by more channelers, secreted away quite a ways from the battle - Jack and Mat were doing a fantastic job from the safety of the slightly elevated... more
            • The WhirlwindMajor Lemain, Thu Jun 15 15:51
              Locke span the warm blood of his compatriots out of his mouth disdainfully, impaling an attacker straight on with Prodigy, kicking him to release the black blade, and then burning him to ashes with a ... more
              • The Blazing ForestMajor Lemain, Sat Jun 17 18:45
                The silence in the now wrecked camp was deafening. The thin strip of plains where the bulk of the engagement had taken place, 'twixt the releif unit and the Dedicated, was smashed with the Power to a ... more
                • The ImmolationMajor Lemain, Sat Jun 17 18:46
                  The bitter smell got stronger, catching on the Southward wind, the mouth of the forest giving off heat, hotter and hotter. Then, suddenly, from the silence, came the first explosion. The black powder ... more
                  • Traditions of the TradeMajor Lemain, Sat Jun 17 20:15
                    Feeding off the enemy was a universally accepted power manuever in the traditions of war. The troops were fed fat, the casks of wheat and barleey having been opened, the water kegs, the wine, and the ... more
                    • The Broken ArrowMajor Lemain, Mon Jun 19 19:58
                      The fragments of the enemy were assembled haphazardly about the foot of the narrow, switch-backed trail that led south, that led home, off the heights and stiflingly claustrophobic ravines throughout ... more
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