The Shadows Chapter 4

Command and Consequences

By Keith Adams

The ground was broken. There was no other word to describe what had happened to Truce Canyon. A force of unknown power had ripped the once-idyllic mountain. It was a huge area of dirt scattered everywhere, rocks broken into hundreds of parts, the ruined remains of a bridge, broken into it's coponent planks a testament to the power of what had happened here.

"What did happen?" asked a man in his late thirties, clad in gold armor, with a sad, mournful face hardened by the horror of war, a memory forever replaying itself in his head, seeing friends fall to forces greater than any human could be. The man, Captain of the Knights of the Square Table, defenders of Guardia, was not suited to the recent peace. Ozzie was dead, Magus was gone, and the Kingdom had been saved. Mystics had been negotiating over Magus and Ozzies former isles for the past 2 months. The Captain, called Alexander Roxeambuex, was uncomfortable with negotiating with the mystics. The mystics had attacked without provacation, gave no quarter, were utterly inhuman in every way .... and the King was negotiating with them. Why? Why would the King do something like that? They had won the war, and now they were negotiating with the fiends that had nearly exterminated humankind. Alexander's hands wrapped around his sword hilt, knuckles becoming white underneath his gold-plated gloves.

"Sir? Sir? Sir?" said a junior Lieutenant by the name of Gaston, a young, brown haired man with brilliant brown eyes, and toussled hair."Sir, are you okay?"

"No I'm not they ... " stated Alexander angrily, but then he remebered himself. He was the Knight Captain; he could not lose control. "I was just going over some unpleasant memories."

"Of the war, sir?" questioned Gaston.

"Yes. Why would the King ... "

"Uncomfortable with dealing with the Mystics, sir?" said Gaston, noting the Captains emotional state.

" Yes. I saw so many good men die in that war," mourned Alexander.

"The war is over now, isn't it, sir? Why carry a grudge? It's been nearly two tears," the Captain had gone down several notches in Gaston's estimate. The Captain couldn't let go, wouldn't move one, blinded himself to what the Mystics could bring to Guardia.

"Go away. Now," shouted Alexander at Gaston "I don't care what you had to say. Back in my day, I would have had you court-martialed. Leopards don't change their spots. Now leave."

Gaston backed away from the unstable Captain. The man was unfit for command; always angsting, bursting out at people for posing questions. Why hadn't whatever wounds healed? The Captain, from what he had heared, always had distanced himself from the other Knights. He didn't care about them. He wasn't fit to command.

Gaston turned around, bumping into a small man in Green Robes and an oversized green bere, his large beard gray with age. It was the Chancellor, Louis Faisions.

"Sir, we have found nothing. The Knights are a military organazation, and not suited for investiagations," stated Gaston boldly. The Codes of Conduct for Knights were like a sacred book to Gaston, and one was to make any suggestion to someone who could take action.

"King Guardia came to the same conclusion. The King has established a new Buerau, one of Unusual Affairs, to replace the military in investigating Magic and Temporal Occurences. The Knights of the Square Table are being moved to Dorino." said the Chancellor to Gaston.

"May I ask why?" asked Gaston of the Chancellor.

"The negotiations with the Mystics fell through. Porre has it's own defense, but Dorino is relatively defenseless, and if Dorino falls, so does Zenan, and then communication between North and South. Apparently some new faction has gained power; they call themselves the Shadows. They kept the same negotiator, but he became much more agrresive. Tell Captain Alexander. I have no wish to ... he and I are good friends," the Chancellor had an odd mood, one that was somewhat melachony. "Here is the order; give it to Alexander," the Chancellor handed a scroll sealed with the Royal Brooch of Guardia to Gaston, then the Chancellor walked south, into Truce.

Gaston took the parchment and headed towards the shimmering form of Captain Alexander, clad in his gold armor atop a hill, looking at his men search through the dirt, head downcast. Gaston approached the Captain, but the Captain did not hear him until he Gaston was right behind him.

"I told you to get out of my sight Lieutenant. Do I have to dismiss you from the Knights to make my point?" said Captain Alexander with a touch of viciousness.

"The chancellor gave this to me, sir," said Gaston, handing the scroll over to the Captain. He would not let this bufoon intimidate him; Gaston kept his voice perfectly level, ignoring the Captains threat.

The Captain broke the seal and unrolled the scroll. He intensely read the contents, then crumpled the paper up and ripped it in half. Looking at his men, bumbling along with an air of not knowing what to do, Captain Alexander was forced to agree with the documents conlusions.

" Men," shouted Captain Alexander at his men "We are being transfered to Dorino. The Mystics have recalled their ambassador and destroyed the peace treaty. Be ready to depart at zero six-hundred tommorow morning at the Inn. Dismissed."

"I knew they would," muttered the Captain under his breath, inaudible to all save Lieutenant Gaston.


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