Lochan is left outside the circle

13th October 1103

“I understand what it is I have done to offend with my woman body that is such affront to these men. But I must wonder why it is you sit back here also?” Atust’s voice was warm and melodious.

It was a good question. The other men clustered around the fire, extra chairs provided so they could huddle around and murmur about war. Only Lochan and Atust were excluded from this circle, sitting on a bench away from the coals, struggling to hear the hushed tones of conversation.

“I don’t know,” he murmured back to Atust, “I imagine they see me as a sort of trumped up upstart. The last time we met I was just a whelp, playing at battle, drinking too much and spending more time than I should staring at the breasts of serving maids.”

He suddenly remembered who he was talking too, “I’m sorry, I did not mean to be rude.”

“You do not offend. I also would stare at them too. It is hard in this country. They do strap them in a way, well, it can be hard to look to another place.”

He choked a bit a that. She was smiling slyly at him, “I cannot imagine it is comfortable for them, both the corset and the eyes of men following their every move.”

Goodness what a strange sort of creature she was. He smiled sheepishly and turned back to the conversation, straining to hear what was being said.

Polas was speaking of numbers, “Well, I suppose Ulaanbaat could spare around two hundred and fifty. It might be a stretch though. I do not want to commit my men if I cannot be assured that we are all in this together.”

“Hmmm, that’s a fair commitment Polas. What say you Endar, how many could we spare?” Brosul asked the Earl.

“I would say that it would be a struggle for us to provide more than one-hundred and fifty men,” he intoned.

“One hundred and fifty,” Polas cried, “I don’t understand. You have many more people here in Lomorrad than Ulaanbaat, how can you only spare one-hundred and fifty? That doesn’t make any sense?”

“Boy shouldn’t have shown his card so early in the game,” Atust whispered beside him.

Lochan was inclined to agree.

“We can certainly afford more than one-hundred and fifty Endar,” Donagh entered in the fray, his voice flat.

“Now it will get a bit of interesting,” Atust murmured.

“What I cannot understand,” Donagh continued, “is why you don’t seem to realise what a threat we are facing here. Branwhuld is the most important port on this continent. N’nkhasha is holding the key to undo us all if he just finds the correct lock. You think he won’t come up here? You think we are safe in the mountains? Branwhuld was the strongest port in the western world. If he can crush them do you think he will stop there?”

“Donagh,” Brosul said, his voice softer than its usual boom, “we have to think of our own people. Lomorrad is safe in the fortress of the mountains, but she must be protected. We are the first bastion on the long march across the continent. If we fall it will open the way west and Ulaanbaat, Irusk, Kimor, Inadda, Talmasia, they all risk being overrun.”

“And now the boy will bite back. He think sometimes with heart not head,” Atust murmured with a smile.

“It is still a paltry number Father, I don’t care what you say. These are Madlenka’s people now. Your own daughter. You sent her away and now she is living on some godforsaken island, in exile. What would mother have said?”

“Don’t you bring your mother into this boy,” Brosul said coldly and turned to Kilid.

“And what say you Kilid. Can we spare more men than Endar claims.”

“Why yes your Highness, I believe we can as a matter of fact. I can show you exactly how we can adequately manage the defences and match young Polas his two hundred and fifty. It won’t be as much of a stretch as you think.”

“Can you now,” Brosul growled, “well we’ll see to that later. How many men would that give us?”

“Two hundred and fifty from Ulaanbaat, two hundred and fifty from Lomorrad, fifty from Mhalwae, how many can you spare lass,” he asked throwing a glance at Atust.

“I think we can find eighty warriors to send and the Iruskans are like to send forty men,” she replied.

“That gives us almost seven hundred men. I suppose you’ll be heading by Fjaerland?” he turned to Eanraig, “how many do you think they’ll pledge. We’ll be needing their ships.”

“I’d say we can get them to send ten ships and probably one hundred men. Possibly another fifty who’ll fight in Branwhuld,” Eanraig replied.

“It’s a big risk,” Aodhan said through gritted teeth.

“That it is my friend,” Kilid replied, “ but if we do this no point in doing it halfway and getting our arses handed back to us ugly on a plate.”

“Do you think there’s any chance of getting the Inadden and the Kimorese on side. Do they still think that great river of theirs is going to be protection enough?” Eanraig asked.

“We can send emissaries and try but I don’t like our chances,” Enbar answered him,

“The Innaden are content with burying their heads in the sand and hoping that N’nkasha doesn’t notice their hairy backsides sticking up out of the ground,” Kilid growled in agreeance, “The Kimori will follow suit, incestuous little cravens. I don’t think they’re like to give us a second thought though N’nkasha may stake all our heads to the walls of Branwhuld.

“At least you’ll make a prettier addition than the rest of us lass,” he turned and winked at Atust.

She curled her lips up into a dangerous smile.

“Then they are fools,” Eanraig muttered, “and what news of the Tassril, the Emori?”

“We’ll have no help from the Tassril,” Brosul grumbled, “they’ve made their bed with N’nkasha now, given him a pretty wife to add to his filthy collection. One of the princesses of Tassril I’m told. Bloody cowards.”

“And the the Ewori are like up shit creek with a turd for a paddle,” Kilid said, shaking his head, “poor sods wedged in between Branwhuld and Tassril with a wall of mountains up the side and only the sea to run to on the other. Oh, I’d say they’ll be switching sides if they haven’t already though thy mightn’t like to.”

Kilid stretched lazily, “I’ll want to come with you on that Albatross of yours Eanraig. I’ve always wanted to see this mythical Mhalwae with my own eyes and you’ll need my help preparing for war if all you’ve got back there are a bunch of green boys and farmers.”

“Of course, your presence would be most helpful,” Eanraig replied before Lochan had opened his mouth to say that it wasn’t a good idea,

Bloody Eanraig. It was important that they kept their location secret. Why did the man not seem to care? If Mhalwae were attacked now they wouldn’t survive.

And now Eanraig had invited the Bastard of Callanach in. It was like inviting the wolf to survey your flock and pick out the most succulent lamb.

“He don’t let you make many decisions does he,” Atust was gazing at the expression on his face, which he imagined was one of dismay.

“No, he does not,” Lochan replied, teeth gritted.

“If I where you, I would watch that one,” she hissed.

Eanraig was continuing in a congenial tone, “but Kilid, you’d best make yourself scarce when we land on Fjaerland and stay safely on the boat. I don’t think Queen Inaris has yet forgiven you for Auda.”

“Sure and certain the lass was begging for it Eanraig. I’m sorry that the wee bairn died, that it even came about in the first place but it certainly wasn’t my idea. You know those Fjaerla girls, they’re always willing to come and warm a man’s bed and take what he’s offering while they’re there. You should know, you married one. Hell, half the men in the room here have.”

Eanraig grinned sheepishly. Beside him Aodhan gave a knowing chuckle. Donagh’s face looked slightly flushed in the candlelight.

“But I take your point Eanraig and I won’t make a peep, I’ll stay put on the boat and entertain myself with my hand and try not to think of the fair Fjaerla girls just a stones throw away.”

“When is it proposed for this war to start,” Gilfrid was aksing softly, probably desperate to change the subject.

“We should prepare during the winter, ships setting off when the sea-ice begins to melt. I recommend we meet again in Fjaerland if they will join us, and make our plans from there. At the beginning of Spring,” Brosul replied.

The other men nodded in agreement.

“So then. Looks like we will meet together again in the spring for war,” Atust was turning to him, looking almost cheerful.

“Yes, I suppose so,” he replied, feeling a little ill.

They were really going to do this.

Hwratar, Murchadh

2 responses to “Lochan is left outside the circle”

  1. Van says:

    Brosul needs to pull his head out of his ass. Either the Wicked Stepmother has his balls in such a tight vice that it’s a miracle they’re still attached, or he has some specific grievance against Madlenka that we haven’t heard yet. Donagh is clearly concerned for his sister, but Brosul doesn’t seem like he gives a shit about his daughter or his grandson or their people.

    And yeah, I’m with Lochan on Mhalwae’s location. I’m not getting any secret-N’nkasha-ally vibes from Kilid at this point, but if the continent falls, Mhalwae is the last safe haven; at this point, they can’t afford to be showing just anybody where it is. Eanraig just kind of does what he wants for the sheer sake of it, doesn’t he? That sort of “I’m the best and I’m invincible” attitude is going to get him killed. Morven needs to smack some sense into him when he gets back.

    When they do go to war, my vote is for either Lochan or Atust to deal the big death blow on N’nkasha. That would show the rest of the guys in this room.

  2. verity says:

    Yeah, it is really crappy of Eanraig to be so willing to let Kilid visit Mhalwae. I think he is placing being diplomatic above the safety of Mhalwae. This may be because he wasn’t with them at the beginning when they fled there, he didn’t experience the massacre at Branwhuld. He is behaving as though Mhalwae is it’s own new country rather than a hidden safe haven. Which maybe isn’t entirely unreasonable if they can’t win back Branwhuld, Mhalwae may need to become a country in its own right.

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