Chapter 11: Lupus

7.2K 469 65

Longspear didn’t hesitate as she quickly stepped between two massive Tigris workers laboring to brace the final section of wall on the last of the elven-designed fortresses that protected the alliance camp.  Normally she would've avoided the big creatures, considering their formerly hostile mutual history.

But today her business was too important for her to be diverted by memories of troubled times.  Eyes intent, she instead walked steadily forward, almost ignoring the organized chaos that churned around her all about this, the final fortress.

As she came around the northeast corner of the front wall, she caught sight of the person she was looking for through the lightly falling snow.  Tugging her cloak more tightly about herself, the lean human operative quickened her pace, calling out as she went.

“Princess Kata, if you have a moment.”

Kata looked up from the parchment plans she had been looking over as she assisted in the fitting of the sally ports for egress outside of the main gates.  Catching sight of the approaching Longspear, she smiled.  The two had become friends of sorts since Kata had joined the mission at Ven Devisol.  But that smile faded when she saw the grim look on the human’s face.

“Is ... is there something wrong, captain?”  she asked quietly when Longspear finally came abreast of her.

The slender operative threw her a quick look then, after a slight hesitation, nodded.

“I only wish this news would've come at a better juncture.  However, perhaps there isn't such a thing with what I bear,” she began, pausing slightly as if thinking over what she would be saying next.  Her dark eyes came up to gaze into Kata’s concerned face.

“It’s your brother, your Highness.  Long range scouts have found what was left of his Lupine bodyguards several kilometres southwest of the Ryon-Protectorate border.”

“No,” Kata hoarsely whispered, eyes flying wide as she felt the responsibility of her people abruptly descend onto her shoulders.

“I'm afraid so, Highness.  From all accounts, it looked like an ambush,” Longspear continued in a low voice, now staring at the ground.  “The Lupus accounted well for themselves, literally building a mountain of Primiad bodies around them.  But in the end the Primiad numbers were just too great.”

“Were ... were they able to recover my brother’s body?”

Longspear shook her head.

“Not according to the reports we just got by bird.  As it were, they didn’t have much time to linger and investigate.  The main body of the Primiad advance force was closing on their position quickly and they risked being overrun themselves.  They had time only to send the report then retreat into the woods.”

“Then truly I am by myself,” the Kanid princess husked, her mind whirling frantically.  “Novid, what will the Imperium do without you?  Without its Heir?”

“Survive, I would think.” Longspear interjected grimly.  “This is no time to fall apart, Highness.  The Primiad are only days from our position.  You need to talk with the rest of your people and reassure them that the Royal Family of the Imperium is still functional and still watching over them.  Without you, they are lost.”

“When?” Kata began hesitantly before Longspear reached out to take her by the arm.

Now is as good a time as any!”

The blocky centurion looked up as Longspear approached, a still shaken Kata in tow.  He frowned at the seemingly casual way the human was handling his monarch.  But, considering what he knew of this particular human, a companion to the Gideon master spy, van Joss, he wasn’t about to make his feelings known or protest her actions.  Instead he turned and bowed smoothly to them both.

Hand Over FistRead this story for FREE!