Chapter 14 - A Meeting of Forts

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Fort Squall

Davi stood in the corner of the packed conference room, surveying the attendees for today's meeting. The conference room at Fort Squall comfortably seated twelve with its high-backed chairs and dark mahogany table. There were far more than that in attendance. Fourteen stools were brought in for the remaining Drengr and Riders crammed into the now cramped chamber. The turnout was both unanticipated and welcome. Representatives from each of the forts were in attendance, including some of the king's own Shields.

He could not have hoped for better, though he wished Reyr was amongst the Shields present today. His brother still owed him a proper visit, and his presence would have made everything easier: Reyr's levelheadedness could have helped them. His wise words might have driven them in the correct direction. Everyone respected Reyr.

Davi sighed. He would make do without his twin, for now.

The city of Squall's End was growing crowded. Refugees from the northern villages were pouring in. Fear of wild dragons sent many south. Could Davi blame them? Hardly.

He gave the chamber's occupants a few more minutes to settle down before taking a position at the head of the room. He alone remained standing. The meeting would need a moderator. As leader of the host fort, the task rested with him. If only Reyr were here...

"My love, we both know he wanted to come." Emmy's voice was always a pleasant interruption to his brooding thoughts.

"Yes, yes, but it would be a lot easier if he had made a way."

"I agree, but we must do the best we can without him," she said. "Shall we get started?"

"I think we shall." He cleared his throat and spoke, "Thank you all for coming." He glanced around the room making eye contact with many of those in attendance. "For most of you, coming here was a long journey. Know that you have my gratitude." Several of the members from Fort Lin and Fort Edge were among those who had traveled the farthest. They had flown nearly a week to be here.

"I will not waste your time on small talk. Let us get to the point. We are here because wild dragons have invaded our homeland." A few shifted uneasily in their seats. Talk of wild dragons had a way of instilling fear in the bravest of souls. Even after fifty thousand years, their bloodthirsty reputation remained. Belnesse was evidence of that.

"The purpose if today is simple. We must devise a plan to defeat these beasts. How do we protect our kingdom and ourselves against them—successfully, I might add?" He let the silence soak up his words. The biggest problem was their lack of planning as a whole. He was sure the king had several tricks up his sleeve, but those tricks had not yet trickled down. In truth, the meeting should have happened weeks ago, but the king was busy with other things, such as the strange woman he had taken in as his ward.

"Before we jump into this discussion, I thought I would first give you Fort Squall's status. Regarding attacks, Belnesse was the first of several assaults we have suffered. You all know that the raids following this, some of which killed ten of our own—Drengr and their Riders. You all felt the sorrow—same as I." Many grim faces gazed upon him, bowing their heads in acknowledgement. "Aside from these cripling attacks, we have had strange rumors in Vestur of unnatural creatures stalking the land, especially Vodar." There was more than one pale face in the room

"We have sent sweep teams to evaluate these strange claims and should have answers soon. Closer to home, here at Fort Squall, our swordsmen and spearmen have been training twice as long. Our forge fires are lit day and night. They have produced extra weapons, shields, and the like. Our siege masters have successfully mounted mechanical dragon lance throwers on the walls should there be a direct hit upon the city. The commander has his men working alongside our Drengr. Until now, little attention has been paid to fighting tactics between a human and dragon. Our Drengr-Rider teams assist where they can, demonstrating week points and fighting techniques.

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