Reach for the Light


The Princess and Her Sultan Chapter 5 part 3

The Khuluq tribes kept raiding here and they needed to not only be put down, but also be taught a lesson. Invasion of a single faction of Ghayyur, means a challenge to the Emperor himself. 

“You may rise, my lords.” Mehmed allowed them to get up after an interminable interval. “Take your places and report, starting with Lord Qadir of Lalahar.” 

Immediately, everyone sprang into motion, arraying themselves around the table in order of eminence. The Grand Duke stayed at Mehmed’s right hand, while Abdullah strode forward and occupied the seat on his left. 

Lord Qadir of Lalahar stood from his seat and with a grim set to his mother, set about reporting the current situation. “Sire, since my last report, three weeks ago, The Khuluq have attacked two more border villages of Lalahar, near the city of Faiz. The villages were pillaged and in total the lives of thirty-three peasants were lost, along with upwards of seventy captives and livestock loss in the hundreds. Thankfully, both times, a phalanx of the Muthi reached them in time to prevent burning and further looting, however not before damages were dealt. The cowards retreated at the first sign of trained soldiers. Pah!” He looked like he wanted to spit, at the thought of the barbarians, but he refrained, as he was in His Majesty’s presence. 

“Well, that is why they are rightly known as barbarians, no? I say we find their camps and release the Andrugai on them. The annoyances will be dealt with by next week.”  Grand Duke Ahmer spoke up. 

He was met by silence at his suggestion, a look of unease on the faces of the majority of the nobility present. No one liked to be reminded of the ever present threat of total annihilation, especially as many of these lords had been part of the empire for only the last decade or so. 

“What, difficult to stomach?” Ahmer raised a brow and reaching forward, took a grape and popped it into his mouth. 

“It’s not the strength of our stomachs that is the issue, cousin, but rather the unnecessary casualties, such an action could result in,” Mehmed cut in, his brow furrowed, “unlike those barbarians, we are not butchers, I will spare their women and children, so long as they surrender and swear to me. Further, they have our own people as captives, and as long as they do, we cannot even think of taking such a course.” 

Abdullah, raising his hands to his chest in the traditional salute to ask for permission to speak, and granted permission by Mehmed with a wave, chose to add, “Another major factor in this decision, disregarding humanitarianism and strength, is the question of where it is, that the barbarians actually are camping, as you may recall, Sirs Travis and Delacroix were deployed with their Phalanxes to locate the savages in the last meeting. I would prefer to hear their report on the location before asking His Majesty for a final decision, as depending upon the terrain, it can completely change whether the Andrugai are a suitable strategy to employ.” 

“A sound point, Duke,” Mehmed nodded, the flash of relief in his eyes recognizable only to Abdullah, he raised his hand to the two men sitting at the foot of the table, “give your reports, commanders.”

Sir Travis Waterford, stepped forwards and bowed, fist on his chest, “Muthi Phalanx 48, Commander, reporting to the Supreme Kahraman, on the third sun of Calegin, Year 46 of Aahir Dominion. Your Majesty, we investigated as ordered. Two weeks ago, I set out westward with three of my most trustworthy men, Lieutenant Dan,  Corsairs Smith, and Hasad. We ventured out among the thickets of the West Lal forest, all was quiet, but we maintained stealth and traveled only at night, attempting to track the savages. We discovered some old trails, but no concrete proof of habitance. We met no one and nothing else during our scouting. Please forgive us for our failure!” So declaring, he fell to his knees with bowed head. 

Before anyone else could react, Mehmed was already out of his seat, striding across the space and grabbing the soldier by the arm, hauled him up and thumped his back, “You did well. Do not be too disappointed.” 

He turned his head to the second commander, “Report, and skip all the courtly embellishments.”

Commander Delacroix stepped forward and to his credit, clearing his throat, launched directly into the report, “I similarly took two of my trustworthy men, Lieutenant Awa and Corsair Zubair, Northwards to the Bahar Mountains. We quickly covered a large area as we were a-horse, and moving during the day, due to having the talismans provided by the Andrugai. We soon discovered their tracks and sire we stashed our horses and ventures forth afoot, till we came across the barbarians’ camp, t’was in a well hidden valley, however, the bad news, and relevant to our endeavors is that the valley is upwind from and upriver to the village of Carnuk. Therefore it is inadvisable to launch the Andrugai, as it may result in poisoning the area for our people.” 

“Good work on locating the camp, thank you for your reports commanders. We appreciate your loyal service. Reward them!” Decreed Mehmed, turning away in clear dismissal

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