Deconstructing fate

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Pienya Martoc felt lighter than air; she had done since leaving the capital and heading to the plains outside Bruckin. It was her time, with Queen Anja - Kraisa, she had to remind herself - in ascendence and the rest of the valley unprepared for what was to come. They would sweep aside the insurgents to the north, return peace and stability to the valley and usher in a new age of prosperity. Seldon had proved that passage out of the valley was possible: Pienya was determined to be the one to lead the return expedition. Four hundred years ago the Headland army had marched into the valley; now she would redress the balance.

She stood alone in her sizeable tent, in the centre of the encampment. Beyond the fluttering fabric walls she knew she was surrounded by legions of Treydolain's army, assembled from conscripts drawn from around the kingdom. There was no option for Bruckin but to be crushed, though it may take conviction and time to break through their gates. The generals had been busy, ordering the construction of siege weaponry and anti-airship defences. Bruckin posed little direct threat to the crouching army, unless they managed to get their ships airborne. Fortunately she had seen to it that the Mountain Breaker would not be a viable weapon.

The thought prompted her to think of Roldan Stryke, that elusive King's Eye who had vanished from the city just before the meeting in the palace. The final meeting of the King's Eyes, before they were plucked out. Pienya gazed down at her bare arms, her armour set aside on its stand in the corner. She turned her hands over, one way then the other, observing the ringed items she had been given by Kraisa and which were now threaded onto the index fingers of each hand. What had happened in the palace on that day had not been of her choice or doing; she had not learned of it until after the fact, and after she had sworn fealty to her newly revealed queen. She knew it had been done for good reason, and perhaps the entire cohort had been too tainted over the years by Fenris Silt's words to be salvageable, but she still would have preferred a chance to turn them around and show them what she saw - in Lagonia, in the queen, in the valley.

Still, she couldn't be expected to bear their guilt. They had made their decisions, had cast their lots in with traitors and insurgents. In war sides had to be chosen, and they had chosen unwisely.

She had been practising with her newly gifted devices whenever she had a moment alone, which wasn't as often as she would have liked due to the demands of making preparations for the attack. Though she was technically outranked - quite significantly - by some of the older soldiers, she carried Queen Anja's influence with her and therefore demanded a seat at the strategic table. That made her pleased, but didn't change the truth that she would rather be exercising her newfound skills.

She raised her left arm until it was perpendicular to her body, then formed her hand into a loose ball; fingertips touching to the end of her thumb and leaving a gap between them and her palm. With a gesture, the ring on that hand made a series of clicks and whirrs, a structure growing out of it in both directions simultaneously. The pieces formed in mere moments, telescoping out in a manner identical to Seldon's sword. Instead of a blade, the protrusions solidified into the arc of a bow. The transformation concluded as a slender, spiders web-thin strand material flicked out of one end and connected to the other, as if magnetically attracted. Lifting her other hand, she took hold of the drawstring, nestling it into the groove on the second ring. As she pulled back, from the right on her right hand emerged an arrow, forming in the air before her. The bow's aim was true; the arrows flew with perfect accuracy. If there was a limit to the number of arrows the ring could produce she had not yet encountered it. If she'd had this weapon when they'd located Seldon and Silt in Bruckin, they would not have escaped.

A noise at the entrance to the tent caught her attention and she quickly concealed the weapons back into their housings. The heavy curtain was pushed aside and a man's face peeked inside. He opened his mouth to speak.

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