Family! So much crammed into one week! Hubby's new job is going well, and he likes the guys he's working with which is always a bonus. My oldest had her school spring concert. I got the video camera to work properly, and the youngest to stay (mostly) quiet, so now I have proof that singing and dancing in front of an audience are things my 6-year-old can add to her list of skills. Being as she's had stage fright in previous concerts to the point of immobility and mumbling, this was a HUGE DEAL and I'm SO PROUD! My youngest impressed me in other ways this past week... I'd like to state that a 3-year-old left unsupervised for more than five minutes (less than ten) can make an astounding mess with a bulk sized bag of Rice Krispies. The impressive parts were that she kept snacking even after discovering the sand-like piling qualities of the cereal, the mess was mostly contained to the 'picnic blanket' protecting the family room carpet, and she was full enough to go to bed and sleep happily. Didn't even wake up for the vacuum. Win! Hope you have a good weekend!
Enti paused for a rest. He glanced down at the dark shape in the dugout; the one that had left the dark red trail that stretched back into the trees where Addint had charged.
Addint still hadn't moved.
Enti curbed the grief threatening to overwhelm him and channeled it into more hatred, more rage. Those were productive emotions right now. Those fueled his body and stopped his muscles from shaking with exhaustion. They made sure his grip was always secure. That was the only way he would get up the final seventy-five feet.
The crack he had chimneyed in up until now was quickly running out; there was maybe ten feet of it left. After that, he would be free climbing in the basin of the now spoon shaped cliff. He looked out over the valley below where he could see the edge of the army from his current perch, but not the main body of it yet. That was still hidden by the trees that edged the deeper part of the valley that they were setting camp in. He grasped the crystal at his neck anyway.
“Commander Archer,” he rasped.
The crystal grew warm in his hand, glowing softly in the pit of his clavicle.
Archer cut off his heated rebuttal and pushed the council member out of his way, springing across his office as his view cube glowed to life. Luinda, who’d been reluctantly sent to assess the validity of Archer's continued worries and was currently trying not to slap the old fool she’d been forced to spend the past hours with, huffed at being so rudely shoved.
“I don't know if you can hear me or not, Archer, but I'm going to talk to this little rock anyway.”
Luinda slunk across the floor, nursing her wounded pride, but wanting to see what Archer thought was so important.
“This is Trainee Torinson, sir. Master Catsh –” Enti hesitated, his throat hitching. “Catsh said that you could see through this thing somehow. Do you see that?”
Enti twisted the amulet so it better faced the edge of the army he could see. Archer's countenance grew grim at the glimpse of the corner of the Arkin Army. Luinda quit her huffing and grew silent. She paled as the young man at the other end of the view cube began to climb again and recounted the events of the day since they’d reported in, the events which had led him to be climbing the cliff that now filled every side of the view cube.
Enti's briefing grew more and more broken as the climb got harder. Fighting against gravity for the last twenty feet as the cliff's angle forced him over backward, his haggard breathing was the only sound as he concentrated on clinging on to the nearly non-existent hand and foot holds.
Finally he reached the end of the overhang. Enti carefully pulled himself around it and up the final rise to the top of the cliff. He lay, gasping and shuddering for a few moments, gathering what strength he could from the frozen air burning into his lungs. Sky and clouds covered the cube in Archer’s office.
With arms and legs that felt like water, Enti rolled onto his belly and crawled to the farthest point of the precipice he had climbed up beside. He could see the entire army now, like Catsh had said he would.
Enti tried three times before his fumbling fingers could untie the knot in the leather thong at his neck. He forced his cramped hands to hold the amulet tight enough to be sure of its security.
“You'd better be seeing this.”
He held the amulet out in front of him, over the edge of the cliff, so that he could look through it and be certain that the army was filling its entire scope.
“I am, kid,” Archer answered, holding the view cube in front of himself with whitened knuckles, knowing the limited abilities of the amulet meant that Enti couldn’t hear him.
Luinda had gone frightfully pale, her own white knuckles clenched around the lapel of her robe, clutching it to her breast. Archer saw the shadow and yelled a warning. Enti couldn’t hear him through the one-way amulet.
The scene in the view cube lurched once, and then began to spiral down.
Distant ground, hidden in evening shadow...
The entire Arkin Army, hundreds of sections making camp for the approaching night...
The mountains across the valley...
The sun, beginning its descent behind the peaks...
The lazy afternoon sky...
The griffin-riding sentry, drawing back his bow for a second shot at the Trainee...
Enti's hands, hanging limp over the edge of the precipice...
The scene in the view cube Archer held faded to black. When he could finally tear his eyes away, the Mage was shaking and pale. Archer held out the cube to her.
“Contact the council,” he ordered quietly.
Why are Authors crazy? I can't answer that, but I can provide bits of my own thoughts so that you can piece together why I may be.