Siege (The Warrior Chronicles, 5)(7)

By: K.F. Breene

Without a word, or even a glance in their direction, her people fanned out into the practice area. Only Rohnan went with her. The rest took up stations evenly along the outside, their focus on the army, their orchestration perfect and silent. In opposition, the Shadow looked confused, jerking to a stop in some cases, and then altering their final destination. But no one opened their mouths to ask for directions.

Sanders had to admit, it was a damned effective way to communicate. He half wished he could use it with his own men.

Sanders noticed the stormy-eyed Kallon, one of those slinking off to the side. He rested his forearms on his knees, his gaze rooted to the Captain.

“How you have not answered that challenge yet is beyond me,” Sanders said, crossing his arms and hoping that Shumas would direct his fire-sparked stare in Sanders’ direction. “That warrior is sizing you up.”

The Captain didn’t even shift. “He’s still deferring to me.”

“It doesn’t look like it,” Lucius said in a low tone, watching one of the female Shadow lunge forward in the sword practicing area. Her wooden point struck her training partner in the side. He bent and held up a hand, yielding.

“They are always connected to Shanti, as am I.” The Captain didn’t sound pleased by that. “The Shadow are starting to merge in as well. They are trying to learn Shanti’s elaborate system for silent communication. Within that merge, Kallon is deferring too. Until he doesn’t, I can’t challenge. I would be seen as insecure.”

“You have more patience than me, sir.” Sanders dropped his hands, ready to yell at a cadet who was wandering too close to the archers. Before he could open his mouth, the boy staggered and grabbed his head. He looked around in fear and confusion, connecting eyes with one of the Shumas. She shook her head no before pointing at the line of archers. The boy, his eyes rounded, jogged away in the other direction.

“Effective,” Sanders said. “And she didn’t even have to get up.”

“We’ve gotten word.” The Captain’s stare was still rooted to Kallon’s. Sanders could almost see the electricity and violence crackle between them. “Xandre has moved a large faction of his well-trained men. They are still to the southeast, but are slowly headed in this direction. Burson’s messages are coming daily, and each one is more disconcerting than the last. He says our window of opportunity is closing.”

Sanders stayed silent, as did Lucius. There was no point in beating a dead horse.

“Daniels is working on the map. He spoke with Rohnan about their prophecies.” The Captain’s jaw clenched. He looked away from Kallon. “I want more information before I leave the city again. I need to know that they can protect themselves in our wake.”

“Are there any more strong Shadow on their way?” Lucius asked. “If so, we could leave most of those currently in the city behind to lock it down and meet up with the others.”

“Sonson knows of a few more groups on their way.” The Captain looked out at Shanti. “They are coming from a different direction than the remainder of Shanti’s people.”

“Then we take those here as the others arrive.” Sanders’ gaze skittered across a pair of light blue eyes. He did a double take, seeing that woman Mela staring at him. “They have some serious social issues.”

“Shanti thinks that her people will find her if we cause a noteworthy event.” The Captain shifted. “That is in line with what Daniels is thinking. They have very similar thoughts about what comes next.”

Lucius said, “Causing an event?” as Sanders asked, “What kind of event?”

“We would need to take a Graygual stronghold. Or maybe another Inkna stronghold. That would send a message about our ability to the land. Shanti’s people would know where to find us; Xandre will react, and hopefully reveal his location. Those hoping to join our cause would see that we are a strong adversary. Burson is adamant that we will bring others to our cause—they are just waiting for the sign. Taking a Graygual or Inkna city would be that sign.”

“So, let me get this straight, sir.” Sanders frowned at Mela before directing his focus elsewhere. He didn’t have that mental mumbo-jumbo. If she kept staring, Sanders would take that as a challenge and rock her world. The practice yard was used on his terms. “You want to take some of these warriors and go pick a fight?”

“Basically, yes. Hopefully it’ll force Xandre to show his hand. Or at least his general location. After that we disappear for a while, and get in position.”

Sanders shrugged, his gaze returning to those light blue eyes. “Sounds like a treat, sir. Now excuse me—I have to go kick a woman in the teeth.”

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