Chapter 1 (Sample)
The wind whipped Tes’s cloak about. Her armor covered in black cloth as was appropriate for the occasion did nothing to stave off the cold of the day. It was not the winter morning, nor the metal armor that provided the chill in the woman. It was the burial of yet another.
“Who is it this time?”
“Abandor.” Hef pulled his black mourning cloak closer around him.
Tes bowed her head, saying a silent prayer.
Hef cleared his throat, unwilling to discuss their fallen comrade, “You just get back?”
“This very morning. From the southern front.”
“And the status?”
Tes shook her head. The war had been going poorly for the realm of Navarune for a half score of years. The outlook of which became bleaker as each day passed.
“We can’t win this war.”
“That kind of talk is treason,” Hef put his hand on her shoulder.
“Treason or not. It is a fact none of us will escape.”
“And what do you suppose we do? Let them take the land. Cross our borders. Mate with our women!” Hef’s last question, more of a statement, was said out of frustration. He had forgotten he was talking to a superior officer and a woman. “I—”
Tes held up a hand. “There is no need for apologies. As you have joked many times. I am female, but I am no woman.”
Tes turned, walking down the hill, Hef by her side as always, “Truth is I don’t know what to do. I only know each day that passes we bury more of our friends. And although the other side has losses, they do not compare to ours.”
“We are outnumbered.”
“Yes, but that is not the deciding factor.”
Tes nodded, “You cannot win battles when the enemy knows your strategy.”
“As I have always said, kill the seer.”
Tes took a cup of water from the community well, “And how many have tried. A score? More? The woman they follow is not of this world. You cannot kill the devil.”
Hef pulled out paper and tobacco. He started rolling his smokes when he was young. Before he even joined the army. It was a habit he carried for many years, a habit he never could break. “What about Blackspear’s idea?”
“What, to go to Hell? Find a devil for our side.” Tes chuckled, “That’s almost as good an idea as Markin’s about the flying boats.”
“No. We will fight this war. We will die in battle, and the enemy will run amok across our lands long after the birds have eaten our flesh.”
Hef felt a chill, “You are a notable fatalist, Tes.”