By Gatlin Peavler
Gatlin Peavler is an author with a love for ye olde fairy tales, myths, and chivalric romance. He has an admiration bordering on obsession with the knightly ideal, found in books like "Le Morte d'Arthur" and "The Song of Roland", and he hopes to evoke a piece of that in his fiction.
Sir Lusant looked up and thought there had never been a moment when the sky so perfectly captured the reflection of the affairs of the earth beneath it.
Dusk had settled unevenly across the heavens. In the north, the palette of twilight colors was still blue and clear of cloud or star, stretching into strange violets as the celestial painter moved his brush southwards. Like gilded stones, spears of distant sunlight skipped and bounded upon the westward ocean. Their gentle warmth struggled to cross the waves and touch the paladin, fighting a battle against time before the sea would swallow the sun whole in the coming hours.
Directly above him, pale yellow clouds knit themselves thicker and thicker, like a tapestry. Tendrils of black miasma reached towards them, rising from somewhere behind the impenetrable Alt’Rhazian mountain range: heralds of yet-unseen engines of war. The air was at once still and restless. Wind buffeted the grass at his feet and drew the cloud cover further north, the darkening front threatening to suffocate him as it enveloped the world entirely.
Sir Lusant could not yet see a moon. He could not remember if any would be shining tonight.
A voice, deep and coarse, brought him back to earth.
“Behold our knight in shining armor, up here with his head in the clouds,” it scoffed.
Sir Lusant blinked once before refocusing on the reality below him. With a sigh, he turned to the square face of a man scowling at him.
The man’s rough features seemed marble-esque beneath the dignified uniform that marked him as one of Tarith’s captains. His brown eyes met Sir Lusant’s in a moment of mutual acknowledgement before they re-focused on the field beneath them, watching the men he commanded preparing for war.
“Any reason you’re not down there?” the captain asked.
“Prayer, contemplation – paladin things.” Sir Lusant smiled gently.
The captain snorted. “You’re nervous.”
“You know what they say about knights in shining armor,” Sir Lusant admitted as he gestured to himself, highlighting the contrast between them. The young knight nearly sparkled in comparison to the veteran; Sir Lusant was fit but unscarred, features fair and only barely stained by long hours in the sun. His armor was resplendent with the shining symbols of his order and of his god. In contrast, Captain Peter only entertained the absolute minimum of ostentations for his uniform so that his soldiers would recognize him as captain.
“You couldn’t have picked a better battle to test your mettle on,” assured the captain. “It’s not Scythe Fort – well, grel, that’s the point! It’s a hole in the damn mountains, leading right into their gods-forsaken country.”
“Through the Reaches,” the paladin reminded.
“A hole,” corrected the captain, “that they don’t expect us to come through.” He chuckled at a joke only he seemed to know. “They’re going to learn buying information works both ways.”
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