“We’re half way there, we had a good wind so we made bonus distance. The Northern area is mostly farmland off the mountains in Robin Territory. We have a couple of bunkers and have increased the watch at the Norther mountains. Plus one of the knight ordered the refurbishing of the mountain posts, only now the work might have interfered with communications. Plus the fortresses. The east of Avisland is the Bramble forests. The south is the milder climate for Macaw with more farms as well. Roost has less troops there but more judges. And the west has the Bedded Order, or Tribe bedded informally. They’re underground. We call them a tribe but they refer to themselves as an order. So medieval. ”
-Personal Notes: Marshal Verner-
Avisland: Robin Territory, Roost Barracks. Hours Previously.
“I want you to tell Kaiser and the other High Guardsmen. Tell him you tried to stop me and got help. In fact, keep clear, the less involved the better this will smooth over. I wouldn’t wish any judgement or accusations against you Stark. I’m angry but I don’t want it to cost you anything. Tell the Lord of the High Guard: Gold is planning a rescue for Wren Koko of the Robin tribe. You’ll hold no secret Stark, your hands are clean of this.”
Gold fashioned a small sword to his side, donned two metal gloves, and tied a studded knuckle to the fists of metal he wore as armor. Gold made sure all metals were dulled down where ever possible. Most just weren’t polished to begin with.
Most Roostmen enjoyed the flash and shine of steel and gold. Anything reflective was very attractive to most Roost Guards.
But armor was only polished and bright to draw enemy fire off others, and even to be irritating to the eyes when stared at. Perfect battle tactics for a diversion or a protecting role but worthless when the situation demanded secrecy.
Something a bit subtler would be needed in Gold’s position, a rogue attack required no markings to identify him. Which was a disadvantage having gold feathers. But black bands and paint in a worst case scenario did the trick.
“Fine. But listen Gold, I’ve known about these people. I’m not sure if it’s some conspiracy or if we’re being lied to but I had a cousin go missing once. My uncle was beligerent but a week after he was going about like normal. We never spoke of Danny. But if this is anything like Wren then I don’t think we’ve seen the last of her.
“So people around here don’t know how to grieve properly?”
“You young oaf, hear me out. I don’t think Wren is gone for good. I hate what ever this Raben thing is as much as you do but we need some info. You’re charging in blind! It’s suicidal. You were recently chained to a tree Goldfuast!”
“I’m doing what needs to be done.”
“My, you’re stubborn. Hear this then: don’t die. Raben doesn’t typically kill people who didn’t’ do anything wrong. But don’t give them a reason, do that for me will you?” Said Stark.
Gold would ride on to the dreadful place of legend from atop his keeper, his bi-pedal, strong jawed bird mount. Only this time it was stripped of armor, Gold had speed in mind. He journeyed on the trails to the Corvus Castrum. The Crow Castle.
Stark entered into the stable at the Roost barracks. “I need to speak with Kaiser. Is the High Guardsman Kaiser here?” The building was busy nearly all day and most of the night.
A man in bright gold armor stepped out of his plates and his piston powered war gear.
“Do I hear a a call for Kaiser? Stark my man, what new do you bring us this evening?” Said Kaiser. A brown mustached and a short bearded man greeted him. His hair was longer than most but stoic and rough. He was significantly older than most of the others in the barracks. A woman strode next to him in a brilliant suit of armor unlike any other. She wore Cataphract armor.
Named after ancient war gear of old, the armor was piston powered, and too heavy by far to be normally worn. A system of electronics and complex machines allowed for movement.
Kaiser’s squire was Joan. She was much younger but was extremely skilled and Kaiser always had an eye for talent. Her armor put her almost an extra foot taller than Kaiser was since he had stripped his armor for the evening.
“It’s Goldfuast sir.”
Joan laughed, “Of course it is. How many times is it this year?” Her voice was mocking, but secretly she was jealous. Squire positions left little time for patrolling the country side, or traveling about the country. An action Stark and Gold performed almost everyday.
“Thats enough Joan.” But even he couldn’t help but smile. “What’s it this time?”
“He’s pursuing Wren Koko to the Corvus Castrum. Raben was spotted at our borders.” Stark said with a wince. Gold had asked him to sell him out in the first place.
“Hush, Stark...” Joan whispered instantly at his response.
Kaiser’s peace was destroyed in an instant. The color from his face drained. “That stupid upstart! Young foolish oaf! Why is he hellbent on charging from one disaster to the next?”
“I called him the same thing sir.”
“You don’t understand, tensions between the tribes are rising! Arbiters are sorting this out fairly well, they tell me. I disagree and poking Raben could get someone killed. And not just Gold, Wren Koko has become a monster! Gold can’t even hope to pull her out of there. She’ll have his blood flowing off the castle walls.”
Joan and stark froze but the two of them stumbled their words over each other. With a hesitation Stark gestured to Joan to speak first.
“What are your orders sir?”
“Joan, ditch the armor, take a fresh patrol to the Corvus Castrum, take your banner.”
Kaiser sprinted the through the white barracks stable and burst open the exit door. He ran across the paved path to a loudspeaker installed into the grounds.
“This is High Guardsmen Kaiser! I need the fastest, and the freshest of Keepers, we have an emergency!”
“Joan will go and you will stay Stark, Joan is much lighter, and you’re also exhausted I imagine.” Kaiser said dismissing Stark.
Kaiser retreated to his office, a windowless dark room at the moment. Kaiser hated what the lights had become in the Roost tribe. He despised the electric illumination and couldn’t stand for the reflection in the very floor of the polished barracks. The vanity of it all undermined the strategic purpose he was taught in his youth. Roost had attracted the vainglorious individuals in the years of peace. They were softer than he would have liked. Only a few had ever know real war before.
The patrol was off and Gold would be brought back a changed man or a dead man. That was the line every officer would arrive at in their line of work. Kaiser sat down and poured himself water. With a sip, he flinched at the cool sensation.
A voice ran through the office air in his moment of peace.
“Don’t worry Kaiser,” It was an old friend’s voice. “He’ll live through the night if he doesn’t reach the New Bird, and if he does then he might live through the night if he’s strong enough to survive a Drohende Schwester. My beloved and I were not so different.”
“Lord Folter...” A man adorned in hundreds of scraps and rags stood hunched in the corner. A pale man of thin composure but aged with humility and wisdom. Pale and bleached long hair adorned his old face. Withered and dying black feathers resembling crusty crumbling leaves in the a dry fall.
“The Corvus Castrum can be made more guarded or less guarded at my command. We’ll disarm the traps and lower security. We wouldn’t want a lookout putting a hole in him, would we?”
“Thank you, I appreciate this Lord Folter.” Kaiser responded to the old friend. Kaiser’s uniform was thick with steel and flakes of silver on the outer layer of armor. The weight was too much and he took off the upper gear. Speaking casually in an old shirt, devoid of any defense, he smiled at his old companion. He growing into a tired man over the years.
“Oh don’t thank me yet. I don’t command the new bird at this moment. If your Roostman finds a way to reach her, she’ll identify him of course and with her new found strength and with her speed, he might not last very long. It might start with love, or hate, or guilt you know. But ultimately she’ll want his blood flowing free from him.” He said with a wily grin.
“I’ve heard the rumors.” Kaiser said. “But what occasion draws out the Lord of the Nacht Knights to a Roost barracks? Surely a rough and young Roostman who challenges a Raben Marshal is not a major issue? Nor is the same ego slighted individual any more of a threat. His childhood friend was just swept away by very foreign looking agents.”
“Correct. But I remember my own dearest gallivanting after me... You put a stop to that I remember, and I thank you for it to this day. She would have chased me to the ends of the earth and I might have slit her throat in my confusion.” The voice from the shadows echoed to the High Guardsman.
A cloak of black feathers and armor was just beneath the rags.
“I intended to ask if you wanted a to get a drink. I need to speak with you about an issue I cannot discuss here. Good old Folter and Krieg... we used to be close friends you and I.” Folter said.
“Aye, but it was not with the Folter you are now. It was with the Vlad you were. You went by Vlad those days, and I by Feuer Schnell.” Kaiser responded.
“My, we were merely children.”
“I can tell you part of my message anyways, I trust no one other than myself can spy on you. My scouts have detected mutant creatures off the northern border.”
“You have traitors among your ranks too.” Folter accused suddenly. “There is an Arbiter Convoy moving through the pass and we have detected Roostmen moving out off their normal escort duties. It’s not same migration as usual. Its a smaller incursion but it could rival a death toll if that caravan can’t get out of there. How many were lost last time Krieg...”
“Don’t claim me ignorant of tragedies Folter! I lost too many guards in those days, devoured alive, still in much of their armor! Some were torn apart swinging their swords. I saw a magnificent bird, one of our feathered riding keepers eaten out from under their riders!” Kaiser picked up his desk and hurled it forward.
But Folter was gone as suddenly as he had arrived.
“In the coming days, stock the Festung. Raben cannot be trusted. Too many Raben operatives have been scattered in patterns I’ve never seen. We’re being manipulated. All of us. Raben moves in the dark and I cannot see through this gambit. I fear someone has made the first move. This is the early game. I have already stayed too long. We will have to speak again later. I hope there will be a chance to counter.” And Folter’s voice left with his final words.