The Lady’s Hand: Part Three – Alexander Rahl

–==Official Submission==–
FROM: First Sergeant Alexander Rahl
RE: The Lady”s Hand: Part Three

Alexander walked through the camps towards the Circle,
trying to ignore the muffled comments from the troops as he
passed that he was “walking funny”. Most of them rarely
thought his relationship with the Lady was funny, excepting
of course mornings like this one.
He topped the hill and started his descent into the Circle;
a huge ring of intricately carves stone arches. Waygates.
The largest of the structures on the far side of the ring
was a sight to behold, even though it was unfinished. The
CS-722 Waygate was a masterpiece of magic and
craftsmanship. Over fifty meters wide and twenty high at
its peak, it would allow him to march entire divisions into
the Britannian wilderness without fear of reprisals waiting
at the entry-point on the other side. A tiny, one-cubit
diameter Waygate sat beside it, hastily thrown together to
allow communications to pass through with the remnants of
Kishara’s minions trapped in CS-722. Or were. Alexander
winced slightly at the memory of destroying the CS-722
Waygate along with the remaining Priests who were
stranded.
Alexander strode up to the Foreman and patted him on the
back.

“It’s looking better and better every day, Reg.”

“Thank ye sir,” responded the gruff foreman, “I was hopin’
ye’d be proud of me handiwerk. Ye’ll be able to march yer
whole bleedin’ army through when I’m done wit’ it.”

Alexander smiled at the thought. “Yes indeed. And there
will be songs sung.”

Just then, the tiny Waygate sprang to life, the space
between the arches filling with a magic field that looked
somewhat like water. A tiny shadow sprung out of the gate,
and flitted through the pre-dawn darkness to the Watch
Captain and dropped a tiny scroll on the ground before
flitting back through the gate just as it closed.
Alexander raised an eyebrow at Reg and strode over to the
Captain, who was stowing the letter in his satchel.

“Captain,” he said, waving down the salute and posturing
that followed the man’s realization of who had called to
him, “who’s shadow was that?”

The Captain looked at the gate and back to his
General. “Well, ehrm…I’m not rightly sure sir. They always
come sealed for the Lady’s eyes only sir, so I don’t ask
questions.”

“A wise choice. How often do they come?”

“Once or twice a year sir since we’ve had the temporary
gate up.”

“Which is nearly weekly in CS-722…. Always from the same
shadow?”

“Well, ehrm, sir, I could never tell the little blokes
apart really, but he flits and flutters around the same the
last two times I’ve been here to see it.”

“I wasn’t aware that we had any operatives remaining in CS-
722….”

“Well ehrm sir,” stuttered the Captain, thoroughly
flummoxed, “I wouldn’t know about such things sir.”

“Very well then Captain. I’ll deliver the letter to the
Lady,” he said, holding out his hand.

The Captain looked lost for a moment, but finally managed
to stutter,” but ehrm, sir..it’s for her eyes only, rules’r
rules sir.”

The Lady’s Hand responded with a stony stare.

“Ah, yes sir,” he said, handing over the scroll and
promptly finding a Corporal who desperately needed
disciplining.

Alexander took a last look at the new CS-722 Waygate and
began up the trail back to the tower. He stopped just out
of sight of the work crews and the camps and broke the seal
on the letter.

‘Mistress-
All goes according to plan here. The taint within the
man ages him years every day. He will not likely survive
the winter, if he even lives that long. I am honored that
you appreciate the gift I gave you last year. From the
sound of your letter it would seem that things worked out
greater than I had imagined. I with the two of you well.
I will inform you when the man finally succumbs.

-Your will is my breath.

High Priest Ehrlich’

Alexander crumpled the note and set it aflame with a
thought.

“Ehrlich…,” he whispered, eyes narrowed in rage.

–====–

Later that evening, after the day’s work was done and the
sun had set, Alexander sat behind his desk, trying to
remember all of the little details that had been tortured
out of him and left behind nearly two decades ago. He was
interrupted by Kishara entering the room from the hall, a
sneer of victory twisting her delicate features.

“I have a present for you dear heart,” She cooed, with a
dangerous edge in her voice.

“And what would that be?” he responded noncommittally. She
glided up to the desk and kissed him furiously, when She
finally pulled away, Alexander noted a small pile of dark
powder on his desk. He looked at it for a moment, then
smelled it, then shot a small bolt of fire into it,
igniting the substance and producing a loud bang.
“This the same stuff that the Ishan Nomads in RT-38 use to
scare off their enemies?”

“For the most part,” She replied, obviously disappointed at
his lack of surprise, “but we’ve made some improvements.”

“I deemed this stuff too dangerous to be deployed to the
troops…”

“That you did, but as I said we’ve made some improvements
in the lab. Instead of loading the chamber manually, we
encompassed the entire assembly in a sheath of copper,
which reduces misfires and dramatically increases firing
times.”

“I never knew you had a passion for invention.”

She smiled at that and plopped herself down on his lap.

“Imagine if you will,” She said,” entire divisions armed
with these weapons. They would be-“

“Unstoppable,” he finished. “Yes. How fast can the
artificers make them?”

“They’re not magical, Alexander, the Blacksmiths can make
them and the Priests already have enough of the powder to
equip an army thrice our size.” She rose then and glided
into the bedroom, humming a tune to herself that was older
than recorded history.

Alexander looked at the scorch mark on his desk for a long
time. Unstoppable. Ehrlich. Salmnow. CS-722. The
Waygate.
He wasn’t sure why, but Alexander suddenly found himself
paralyzed with fear.

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