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May 24, 1740 EQ, Temporary Salmonil Camp Just East of Cah Bel

PROLOGUE
i Nursing Home

CHAPTER 1
i Disputed Territory
i Cah Bel
i Salmonil Camp

 



Eastern Exterior Wall of Cah Bel

Consus entered the sanctum of his masterís tent.  He had to wait a moment to allow his eyes to become accustom to the darkness.  He could just make out the outline of his masterís throne turned away from him.  A pit five paces before the throne, the only source of light, emitted a sickly green glow.  At the periphery of the lightís reach stood what could be called pillars.  Their twisted shapes looked like they grew up thickly out of the ground only to die and wither into their present form, black, glossy supports of the tent roof above.  Consus, who frequented this chamber more than most, dreaded every visit. 

With reverence, he began his approach to the throne.

His master was growing quickly in power among the Salmonil tribes.  Consus had to admire the way he was usurping the authority of the Counsel of Tribes, the old order that passed and enforced inter-tribal laws.  Soon his master, Araknik the Gray Wolf, would take their place.  He ruled with a heavy hand that some saw as oppressive, but others saw long overdue.  The old pride of the Salmonil was being restored through conquest and to many, a glorious new age was about to dawn.  The entire world might someday owe allegiance to this formerly backward nomadic herdsman, and Consus wanted to be at his side when it happened.

Yet something about Araknik bothered Consus.  Do I really owe allegiance to this man, he had to ask himself, if man he truly is.  Rumor had it that he had lived over a thousand years.  Consus doubted that, but could guess that the Gray Wolf, as he liked to be called, was somewhere around ninety or a hundred, a withered and wasted man.  This did not mean that Consus considered his lord weak or feeble.  On the contrary, his master often chose his own tent guards as his sparing partners. 

On either side of the throne, now stood examples of his Tent Guard.  These men were specially chosen at birth for this service, huge men with shoulders of great girth, trained for years in all forms of combat and other arts.  They stood with arms crossed and eyes closed.  In their training, they developed a heightened sense of hearing that almost allowed them to fight with their eyes closed.  This is probably good, thought Consus, because in this tent the strange lights and deep flickering shadows might hinder more than guide a fight.

No others were in the room with them.  This was not a good sign for Consus.

He stepped up to his usual spot and presented himself.  The back side of the throne faced him.  It was made of the same glossy, black, dehydrated look that characterized the twisted columns.  The throne did not turn around. 

 

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