Night of 14-15 April
"The enemy is contained, bound by broad rivers on three sides. Our Orc partners bar their retreat by land, and our encampments block the only fords." So report my returning spies.
Little do I trust these Orcs — alleged allies, imposed on us by the Great One — but their malice towards the sea-kings exceeds their hostility to us. They will not waver... for now.
Time to spring the trap!
Yet no great commander risks battle without the ritual consultation of the skies. I summon my faithful soothsayer; well does he know his duty.
The heavens must first smile on our plans.
Three days have I fasted, awaiting leave to proceed, uneasy that the Stinging Scorpion's heart — smouldering ember-red — lies hidden below the horizon.
Midnight arrives; I gulp the bitter seer's draught, stumble outside, and face the wheeling stars.
The Circling Wain, standing upended, betokens the North. Eastwards, the Crouching Lion offers no omens. The Blue Blaze honours the Victorious Warrior, his sword dripping... still no portents.
But the Rutting Oryx bears a flaming red eye and more: the Blood Raider pierces its pulsing heart!
I sink to my knees, dizzy with relief.
Now my lord will allow me food and drink.
Our venerable commander speaks of auspicious stars and anointing ourselves with enemy blood. Mindful of duty, I join the acclaim when expected.
My forefathers were but humble traders; by good fortune, the brave swordsman Ulbar saw fit to favour me by teaching me warrior ways. He said I resembled his son, nine winters — my age! — when he fell. Were Ulbar's eyes shining?
The commander concludes, "By the Will of the Great One, today we triumph!"
I mouth the expected response... until the banner-bearer raises high the Scorpion on Blood. My heart swells. We shout as one:
"To victory! Victory! Victory!"