We move onward while the wind howls fiercely, darkness lay abound as lady twilight goes to rest. Marching upon the orders of our king, we were to subjugate the rebellious citizens within our borders. My men begin to feel the cold enter their bones as the wind gusts between our ranks.
“Light the torches! Stay together, maintain formation!”
Roaring to my men, giving them focus and hope. I recall, not long ago we fought a rebellious group. In this profession, to cut down men and women was not uncommon, but to maintain morale, our sanity may have blurred in the process. Lately the usefulness of subjugated women has reached its peak. The men have grown tired and have laid their partners to rest. Properly burying the dead or incinerating them is a common task to prevent the dead from rising. We do not need to create a nuisance at our backs as we continue to patrol.
It has been more than a year since we’ve patrolled our borders. And just under a month since the last rebellious group was subjugated. In turn the subjugated women we had brought along all have passed.
Completely subjugating a rebel force, soldiers entertain themselves by bedding these women in the presence of their lovers. Riling the rebel men, before another soldier beheads them, it was a fitting punishment for those who denounce our country’s king.
“Commander! A light grows bright in the distance!”
One of my vice-captains call out, in turn I face the direction of this reported light. Indeed there is a light, far off in the distance. What a strange light, it flickers in a very odd manner, growing bright and then dimly disappears. Over and over, I observe this strange light, and in turn I call for my vice-captains.
Arriving to my lead, my vice-captains match the speed of their steeds to mine. Gathering in order, so as not to disturb our marching formation.
“Have you all seen the mysterious light?”
“Commander, it may possibly be another rebel group in the distance.”
Replies, a disgruntled vice-captain, with a short stature and a beard that reaches his waist. His axes clang together as he tries to prevent his steed from bucking him over.
“Nay, we have clearly subjugated all the rebels of the region. Commander it may just be passing spirits, preying on passerby’s or curious adventurers.”
Chimes, the missiles vice-captain, superstitious of the light, he grips his bow tighter.
My cavalry vice-captain remains silent, though he is also the one who brought the mysterious light to my attention. Narrowing my eyes toward him, trying to glean what little knowledge I can grasp off his expression. Detecting my stare, my vice-captain prepared his answer.
“Commander, according to our knowledge that light is in a region where no frontier settlements have been made. Our nearest town is but a few weeks of travel from here. The light is very suspicious.”
“It is but the passing of vengeful souls, their lights burn to attract the living. Commander we should continue our route and proceed to the nearest settlement.”
“Orc-wash, they must be rebels. From the last subjugation did you not hear of a haven for rebels. This must be their gathering place, a way to call more rebels.”
As my vice-captains raise their opinions, so do their voices. It appears the rest of the men are getting anxious of the mysterious light as well.
“Silence, compose yourselves, you are leaders to your own platoons, do not be unsightly.”
Realizing their blunder, the vice-captains ceased squabbling over the matter.
“We do not know what that light may be, and you may all be right in some way of what it could possibly be. We will not know by useless banter, return to your men and prepare, we will march towards that mysterious light and determine what it is.”
‘ “Yes Commander.” ‘
After a swift salute, the vice-captains re-positioned themselves alongside their platoons and prepared to follow.
“All units march towards the flickering light.”
The men are slightly restless, many are fatigued, but with the assumption that we may face a battle, vigor returned to the youthful bunch. After all no one is unfamiliar to the possibility of death. Veterans of their craft, they make ready their armor, tightening any loose fittings as well as verifying their weapons for assault.
We are seventy-eight soldiers strong, a slightly smaller band of patrolling soldiers. The standard patrolling border guard is a strength of a hundred-sixty men, and yet a small as we are, the Capital nobles claim us to be the elites of the border guard. Winning countless battles and proving our loyalty to the King.
“Elites of the border guard…” I whisper under my breath, the phrase of the Capitals praise. Observing my men, I tell myself in my mind, if only that were true.
Continuing towards the flickering light amidst the dark terrain, the wind howls with the surroundings turning cold. During the time of frost we were to take shelter at the nearest town. But if we encounter a rebel settlement, we are to subjugate it before it becomes a problem. The sight of the light becomes brighter and from our march we begin to see a strange structure.
‘How could such a thing be built here? Or rather why was there no report of its construction?’ Questions began forming between my thoughts and I turn to examine my men. The vice-captains all carry baffled expressions the closer we reach the structure. ‘Could this be a watchtower for another country, mere rebels should not able to accomplish such a feat.’
“All units halt.” I call over my leaders once more to plan our strike.
And in unison they respond. ‘ “Commander.” ‘
“This unknown tower is within our borders, although it appears unguarded. Reed, I want the Missile platoon to ready their weapons once we are in range of its base. If its of feeble structure I want it to burn to the ground.”
Responding with a nod, Reed the Missile vice-captain acknowledges his role.
“Bovair, you will lead your men to the towers base, if you encounter resistance, remove it.”
Bovair the bearded vanguard vice-captain raises his ax, “By your command.”
“Orwen take your men to the northern area, I want you flank the towers left side, support Bovair if the enemy appears to outnumber our soldiers. I will take the southern area and flank from the towers right side.”
Orwen my Cavalry vice-captain knocks an arm to his chest “Yes Commander.”
“If you have any suggestions to my directions, say it now. Otherwise return to your men and make ready for my signal.”
Promptly my leaders take their places in front of their men, and I signal our units to advance towards our designated areas.
This tower which lies along the barren plains, exudes quite a peculiar aura. It is far more welcoming than it is daunting. I question if I have fallen to a mages illusion.
Once in their respective positions the men begin to move cohesively to each other. Bovair increases his pace and his men prepare their bucklers in case of missile attacks. Concurrently Reed has already stationed his bowmen to an effective range, ready to cover our engagement. To the north Orwen has matched his cavalry’s pace with mine on the south side and in a few breaths we launch our pincer upon the tower.
Anxiety grows in me as our mysterious target shows no sign of resistance. I begin to wonder if there may have been a trap we were not able to foresee. Bovair has almost reached the base of the Tower, yet no rebels appear to confront him. Orwen and myself are also halfway to the Towers base, and in about twenty breaths we will be assembled to support Bovair.
Bovair’s men surrounded the tower’s base expecting an ambush, yet encountered none. Discovering a lone entrance, Bovair hastily tasked several men to enter the Tower alongside him.
It’s walls rose high, from a distance we assumed it to be a watchtower. Yet as we stand before it, the structure is more grander making it even more suspicious. I had determined that it was made of a strong metal and stone. Shaking my head, I knew we would not be able to raze it to the ground.
“Who could have built such a thing without causing alarm to the Capital much less the nearest settlements?”
Having observed the situation from a far, Reed had already made his way to join our forces. Appearing just as I had loosed my thoughts aloud.
“Such an arcane structure. Perhaps we have come upon an Elder beings creation?” Reed expressed his concern, noting that a powerful wizard or witch may have created this tower.
“Whether it belongs to an Elder being or not, this tower still resides within our country’s borders. Commander we are not equipped to handle magic folk, at most only a handful of soldiers carry magical defensive armament.” Apprehensive, Orwen pleads that we withdraw and return with a stronger force.
“Even if we retreat, we cannot leave our men to be captive.”
Distinctly, I directed their focus, Bovair still has not returned. Our men had already assembled around the tower, completely scouring the area for possible enemy attack. And yet our vanguard vice-leader has not returned to make a report.
Looking at the tower’s lone entrance, its metal door ajar from Bovair and his men, not a single sound exits. Before having anyone enter after Bovair’s group, the men call out through the doorway, shouting the names of the men that entered. Silence. Silence is all that is returned.