The Word Is Given

The Council sat in silence, staring at the fire burning in front of them. The only sounds to be heard were the crackling of the fire, and their breathing. Seven battles fought, and four of them victories. Each battle seemed to be harder than the last. Each took a toll, not only on the warriors, but also on the entire Legion. The colder weather and shorter days created a weighty aura that added to the trials faced by the Legion.

Dez Urbanus stoked the fire again, urging the flames to come forth. The fire had been burning since early evening, and the Council welcomed its warmth. They all hoped for the messenger to come soon, so they could return to the comfort of their homes.

The fire burned long into the night.

The first signs of dawn were evident when the hoof beats first echoed in the distance. One by one, the Council looked towards their leader. Dez Urbanus, stiff from sitting through the cold night, drew himself up with his staff. Looking to the west, exhaustion in his voice, he said simply, “He comes.”

The rider and his horse seemed to tarry long. The Council dared not turn towards him, knowing that only Dez Urbanus had the right to receive the messenger. Time seemed to pass more slowly with each breath.

Finally, the messenger dismounted, and in one swift movement, bowed his head while handing a scroll to Dez Urbanus. Not waiting for acknowledgment or dismissal, he climbed onto his horse and turned westward, retreating at a full gallop.

After the rider was gone, the seal of the scroll was broken. The council could only wait as their leader read what was written on the document. As the scroll was lowered, no one breathed.

“We knew this day was forthcoming. It has arrived. The Soldiers of the Plains are coming. We know they are a strong army. We know they have defeated us before. But we now know something we did not know until this day: They fear us.

“We cannot let this pass. We have let weaker forces defeat us too many times. I have grown weary of seeing the name of the Legion spoken with dishonor. This must come to an end. The Legion has a proud history. We must correct what is wrong, so we can tread the course to victory.

“Go forth, spread the word. I have had enough! We must win the forthcoming battle. I will not accept defeat.

“Tell the Legion. Defeat will not be accepted....I have spoken!!”