Friday, November 8, 2013

Page a Day: One Hundred Fifteen

            “A lightspear,” I nodded. “For attacking at range, out to three hundred paces. It emits both energy and bolts of material that erode Profusionist armor. Historian Estrel used three hundred of them to defend the fortress of Island against five thousand heavy infantry. The first Faith used them during his campaigns to remove operators of Profusionist artillery. Plint suggests they have been useful in the elimination of key officers. ”
            He grunted. “This world has not lost all knowledge. Fifty times you may fire it, then place its butt end in the soil and its top in sunlight for a full day. When it hisses you may take it up again. The standard in this world has been to carry three lightspears, two across your back and one always in your hand.”
            Taking up one end, he peered down its length. “Once, these carried their own targeting systems, so that their operators could not miss. Now I suppose we must rely on whatever intuitive guidance we carry.” He let it go.
            “I don’t really understand much of that,” I said. “When do we practice?”
            He shook his head, smiling. “Sometimes when men train with each other, they worry about comparing themselves and forget to focus on success. Or perhaps they worry overmuch about the approval of their superiors and get lost inside their heads.”
            He pressed the lightspear against my chest. “This is yours. Don’t get lost, but take it and go away beyond the horizon. Shoot at some bushes. Have fun. Come back when you are satisfied. Tomorrow, I will get you your other two. I will cover your duty with Marcus and Jerem Cozak. You may not be important. You may be a scribe. But everyone should be able to defend themselves.”
            “No,” I said. “I will also carry things. The new men will carry and skirmish, too. Why shouldn’t I? I assume I’ll be in the fighting.”       
            He nodded. I do not know if he approved. “We are at war,” he said. “And this is the army of Jerem Cozak. You’ll rejoin your mastodon, and defend artillery. Practice well, because today we load, tomorrow we march, and in another day we reach the first of what you call the Free Cities of the Fackablest.”
            “And then?”
            “Then everybody fights. Everybody fights every day at every city along the Dicean River. We do not stop until we reach the port city Wesing, which stands a continent away. We stand ten thousand strong. And Jerem Cozak is going to show us the very meaning of war.”

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