On the road, part three

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"Camp's silent tonight," Trindai noted.

"It's the trees," Kalvar said.

"Not much in the way of forests back home, unless you count the plantations around Krante."

"Sir?"

"You didn't know? It's all planted. Most forests in Erkateren are as well, but there's a bastards lot more of it here."

Major Terwin shrugged, but Trindai saw the discomfort in his eyes. He sympathized with his officer. Apart from a few missions on the Ming peninsula he had little enough experience with forested terrain himself. A few men under his command, all scouts of course, were familiar with the absence of free sight. They came in handy when rooting out troublemakers, but this was an escort mission and he didn't expect to hunt down reluctant taxpayers or some hothead who'd inherited grand delusions together with a title when a family elder died in one of Keen's client states.

Stupid way of running things. Hereditary rights. Keen made away with the idiocy over seven eightyears earlier.

"Darkness cursed work crossing the mountains," Kalvar said, interrupting Trindai's thoughts.

"Berdaler's squadron will help, and we're hiring more men in Ri Khi."

"We need more than two squadrons, sir?"

"With the political bribe accompanied with a choice set of lies we sent to Ri Nachi, yes," Trindai answered.

"Sir, that was a little more information than I needed."

Trindai growled. "Think like a commander, not like an officer! If I choke on the piss they call wine here you're responsible for seeing this charade safely to Braka and back."

"Right, sir!" Kalvar straightened, but he was smiling. "No one's listening, so spit it all out," Kalvar demanded, "sir," he added almost as an afterthought.

Trindai grinned back and started explaining. He'd give Major Berdaler the same information when they had some time alone.

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