Shaintar_J&L_Rangers of Sog

Artivan and the Beast

Cue the Bassoon and French Horn

The ledger lay open on the desk. Though innocuous in its appearance it represented weeks of effort and a small fortune in supplies in a way few understood and even fewer fully appreciated. Cairos was one such individual and as such poured carefully over the records before speaking. “The Corporal sends his assurances at the current rate we will have enough supplies for winter by the first snow.”

Artivan looked up from his weekly patrol reports. He raised an eyebrow at the eldekar. “While I have full confidence in our quartermaster I have problems accepting that statement from someone who has admittedly never seen snow.”

“He has been consulting with Felosia a great deal as of late.” Cairos had to admit Kassegore was highly competent around a battlefield and a bureaucracy. The quartermaster was something less than competent everywhere else. The mix resulted in varying degrees of amusement and exasperation for all those involved.

“I’ve noticed Magpie and Vhen with that pair the past few days.” Kassegore didn’t casually socialize and had no problem attracting trouble. Magpie liked experimenting too much for anyone’s comfort. Vhen was too oblivious to stop either of them. “Should I be concerned?” Hopefully Felosia would keep them out of too much trouble.

Cairos shrugged. Children would be children regardless of race. Most of them lived to adulthood and a few scars usually brought a modicum of wisdom. “As far as I know it’s Felosia’s project.”
Artivan didn’t know if that should relieve or worry him. Before he could decide the dregordian in question stooped through the doorway. Kassegore took one look at Cairos and commanded, “You are dismissed, Scribe.” Cairos merely nodded to Artivan, gathered his things, and quietly exited the room.

Kassegore remained standing even after Cairos was gone. The first time he’d been in Artivan’s office he tried sitting. He was uncomfortably oversized for the furniture meant for humans and looked slightly ridiculous for it. It was far easier to be taken seriously when the Sergeant Major wasn’t laughing at him. Once the door was closed he spoke. “I require bait if I am to destroy the Prelacy.”

It was, Artivan thought, everything he’d come to expect from Kassegore, short, rude, and incomprehensible. Cairos had once mentioned something about dregordian curtesy but he couldn’t recall the particulars. “What bait are you talking about?” Best to decipher this thread of whatever passed for logic in Kassegore’s mind quickly.

“Camon,” was the only reply.

He turned to retrieve a bottle and a glass from counter behind him. “Camon is not bait. It is a country and one ruled by the Prelacy.” The liquor was a gift from Rok-tar from the grand opening of the dwarf’s café. He poured a measured amount and took a sip, allowing the taste and promise of more to fortify him for the conversation.

The human was listening. It was always an encouraging sign when Artivan spoke back instead of screaming obscenities. “When I crush the armies of the Crusade it will weaken the Prelacy and allow the tension and unrest in Camon to escalate into a civil war.”

“How do you plan to defeat these armies?”

“When I kill enough of their soldiers they will dissolve.” There were details but he saw no need to burden the other man with such things this early.

It was as simple as it was impractical. Artivan worried Kassegore might actually believe himself capable. Thankfully winter was coming and the season of war would end soon. It’d give him enough time to save the dregordian from himself. The mention of internal problems was more serious. “The Rangers are already supporting the civil war in Kal-anar. We don’t have to resources for another.”

“We don’t need to be involved. They will war with themselves and when enough have been slaughtered and the nation broken it will be bait.”

There it was again. “This word bait, I do not think it means what you think it does.” He began to finish his drink but paused and realization came over him. He paled and set his glass down with shaking hands. “You’re not using it wrong, are you? You mean use Camon as bait for Shayanor.”

“Shayanor,” he said carefully as if trying to name out. “Yes, that is the name of the land of Darkness. They will not be able to resist being so near to wounded prey. They will move and when they do I will be waiting, ready to hunt.”

“I have been called crazy but I am a bastion of sanity next to you!” Artivan grabbed his hair with both hands as if trying to hold onto his sanity and not go mad.

He seemed impassive in the face of the human emotional display. Only another dregordian would have would have known the slight shift in posture indicated eagerness. “The Prelacy is an ideal and a belief. Shayanor will excise it from Camon and what is left will be so desperate for any help by the time we move they will accept non-humans willingly. I will then hunt the dark ones instead.”

“You’re talking about genocide!” Artivan accused.

Kassegore merely tilted his head. “I am planning to destroy a philosophy. It is considerably more difficult than anything else I’ve attempted to kill before. The dead bodies are merely collateral.”

“I can’t listen to anymore. Get out!” His eyes were wild as he shouted.

“It is imperative we plan for Shayanor. I assure you they will be planning for us.”

“GET OUT!”

He did not expect so much resistance, though he probably should have. The other races usually denied the demands of logic when first presented, especially when they needed listen most. He’d give it some time. Artivan would eventually accept it. They always did.

He didn’t watch the quartermaster leave. He desperately hoped Kassegore was wrong but as he stared at the map on the wall he only saw war.

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