flASH fiction: Volume 3: Underhanded Chivalry (17)

FB flASH fiction

Underhanded Chivalry
By
Jason Pere

Dimona Odinstar reread the councilman’s letter for the third time. It seemed as though the situation across the Bone Sea had only degraded since the conclusion of the conclave in Viros. The reports from Rustwatch had gone from bitter to dire with rapid speed. The Rayward queen let her eyes dance across the shaky scribbles of ink. She absorbed the palpable sense of fear and foreboding in the text that belonged to the hand that had penned it. The chimera had breached the seal wall of the Iron Lord’s city more in the past fortnight then they had in the past three years. The streets of Rustwatch were in a panic and nearing total anarchy. No less than five brigades of Iron Men had lost their lives in the recent attacks. It was glorious and Dimona wished she could revel first hand in the pain and suffering that Coal Roarkwin must have been enduring while the twisted beasts lay waste to his city.

“The chimera are on the verge of crushing the Iron Lord, General,” Dimona said to her wisest military leader as she poured herself a goblet of chilled red wine. “Read for yourself. The brother Councilmen assigned to Rustwatch are so frightened that they can scarcely write a proper letter,” Dimona continued with a cruel laugh as she let the piece of correspondence float across the desk and land in front of General Bosk-Hailey.

The General picked up the letter and scanned the scrawled plea of its desperate and frightened author. “This is shameful. For a city and people that claim to be as proficient at warcraft as Rustwatch and her Iron Men the state of their affairs are in a shambles. My condolences, your majesty,” snorted the general with haughty disdain and arrogance permeating his words.

Dimona raised her right eyebrow and pursed her lips in curiosity. “Whatever do you mean, General?” she asked before sipping a long refreshing taste of wine. After she lowered her goblet, Dimona proceeded to pour a drink for Bosk-Hailey. She offered him the splendid polished silver chalice and sweet biting beverage within.

The seasoned warrior accepted the chalice with a deferential aversion of his eyes and nod of his head. “I feel it is regrettable that it seems the chimera will be the ones to finish the feud that was started between Rustwatch and your nation. I had hoped that it would come to pass in my lifetime that Rayward would have the honor of storming the Iron Lord’s home and ending his slight against your honor,” responded the general with a lilt of remorse and wistful longing. After he had finished speaking the man glanced down at the cup in his armored hand before partaking of a small polite sip of its contents.

Dimona gave a sly and villainous smile as Bosk-Hailey imbibed of the red wine. “I think that you may be giving the chimera more than their due. What is more, despite my open contempt for the Iron Lord, I will confess he is a wily and resourceful man. He may yet survive this latest turn,” she said before raising her cup to her dark red painted lips once more. After she drained the contents of the chalice she placed the cup on her desk and began pacing her chambers in front of the grand fireplace. “I will admit I have spent many days and nights entertaining fantasies of Coal Roarkwin’s demise at Rayward’s hand. In no small part these thoughts have been a great source of motivation for me over the passing age. I have been considering what we spoke of when last we talked and I think that there is an opportunity here,” Dimona said as she prowled back and forth in front of the smoldering embers.

“Beg your pardon my queen, but an opportunity, you say?” queried Bosk-Hailey as he finished his drink, placed his cup back upon the desk and resumed a posture that befit a career military man.

“Yes indeed. As much as I would love to crush Coal Roarkwin’s troat in my armored fist and feel the life spill out of his body I can think of something more painful to inflict upon him,” Dimona said before turning to her chief military aid and swelling with ambition. The woman’s eyes swirled with a bright potent mixture of intrigue and wrath. “I will kill the Iron Lord one day. That I promise but before that time comes he will have to suffer with the humiliation of having his pathetic little city saved by someone that he hates. I will see to it that until the end of his days, The Iron Lord is ever in Rayward’s debt,” she continued with a marvelously wicked smile.

“I see, your intent become clear, your majesty,” responded the Rayward general with a sympathetic inflection. Though his outward overpowering sense of propriety tried to conceal it, he was unable to full hide the hint of a grin pulling at the corners of his mouth.

Dimona suddenly swept away from pacing in front of the fire like a sudden gust of evening wind and returned to stand before Bosk-Hailey. “What is the current disposition of my forces on the main continent?” she asked with a hungry quality about her.

The general squinted his eyes ever so slightly as he recalled the latest facts and martial reports from his memory. “You have a menial quantity of knights dispatched across the face of Aeors aiding other cities and patrolling the travelers path. Otherwise half of Rayward’s standing army and our Master of Arms are entrenched on the regions southwestern border and keeping the chimera at bay. The remaining number of fighting men remain garrisoned here within Rayward’s Gate, your majesty,” said the General with a raised chin and spine as straight as a flagpole. He delivered the state of his queen’s military like a court herald announcing the entrance of royalty at a great harvest feast. It was clear to see the man took great pride in the splendor that was the Rayward army.

“The engagement to the southwest, it continues to be a stalemate?” queried Dimona.

“Yes, my queen. Master Highbrand has well-fortified the boarder and the beasts have ceased making committed attacks. The battles that goes on along the southern front are little more than a series of sustained skirmishes and the like. I would be so bold as to say that your forces could repel the chimera indefinitely provided your men remain properly supplied,” responded Bosk-Hailey with continued pride and respect in his words.

“Excellent,” Dimona said reflexively upon hearing the favorable news. She pondered with foggy eyes for the smallest of moments before speaking next. “See that half of the fighting men in the city are readied to mobilize. I want my fleet prepared to sail by the day after tomorrow. Send for our Councilman, I need Father Andall to pen a letter for me. I feel it only polite to write the Iron Lord and let him know that I will be coming to lend aid. Coal Roarkwin can rest easy knowing that Rayward will win the siege against the chimera that Rustwatch can not,” Dimona said with thinly veiled sarcasm.

“At once, your majesty,” Bosk-Hailey said with a clack of his heels and a deep bow before departing to execute the will of his mistress and sovereign.

Within the confines of her chambers, Dimona poured herself several more chalices full of wine. She spent the night drinking and quietly laughing as she imagined the utter disgrace that the Iron Lord was on the verge of experiencing. When Dimona Odinstar finally fell to sleep that night she did so with the widest of smiles etched on her face.

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