By EM Malachi
“Any requests?” asked the bard as he tuned the strings on his lute. Even at the bustling war camp in East Side Park, enough were off duty that Iolo had drawn a crowd. A young recruit requested the song Stones, and Iolo frowned slightly but nodded. Testing his lute one final time, he settled into the tune and started singing:
And the heart and the will and the power:
They moved earth; they carved stone; moulded hill and channeled stream
That we might stand on the wide plains of Wiltshire.”
Dupre understood his friend’s reluctance. While a favorite of the former king, it was a somber and sobering piece. He took his mug and moved away from the crowd. A gargoyle dressed in heavy armor walked up to him and stood at attention. “Troop Leader Bolesh, reporting for duty!”
Dupre waved the gargoyle over to his tent. Inside, he grabbed a second goblet and filled it. The paladin offered it to the other warrior, and surprisingly, Bolesh accepted and raised the drink, “To the health of your king!”
“To the success of your queen!” Dupre finished the toast with a smile. They each took a few sips while listening to Iolo’s song:
That they wrought standing stones of such size.
What was done ‘neath our shade? What was pray’ed ‘neath our skies
As we stood on the wyrd plains of Wiltshire.”
Dupre moved over to a map table with the current deployments around Britannia. “Each city has its own fighting force ready for its defense. With the bulk of our forces here in Britain, we can bolster any city we need to. May I ask how many from Ter Mur we can expect to be part of this operation?”
“Half a company?” Dupre asked with a frown.
“No, half of Ter Mur’s forces. The rest are needed to maintain our borders.”
Dupre whistled. “That will help tremendously.”
Bolesh smiled. “My queen is nothing if not bold. She believes it important that this threat be dealt with decisively.”
Dupre finished his drink as he let Bolesh study the map and the current state of Britannia’s war effort. The other warrior asked pointed questions about how best to defend each location and where to best deploy his forces.
Rid the stink and the noise from our skirts.
But you haven’t got the clue and perhaps you never will.
Mute we stand on the cold plains of Wiltshire.”
A messenger ran into the tent and handed a scroll to Dupre. The paladin tore open the seal and quickly read the report. He dismissed the messenger and picked up his sword and helmet. “Looks like your people won’t get a chance to rest, Bolesh. There has been a major attack on Trinsic, and we are needed there as reinforcements.”
As news of the attack started to move through the camp, Iolo finished his song:
And we say of our folk, “they are here!”
That they built us and they died and you’ll not be knowing why
Save we stand on the bare plains of Wiltshire.”