I hadn't been able to see off the rescue party as they went about their mission, though a part of me had to admit that this was probably a good thing. I wasn't sure that I would be able to stop myself from going with them, to aid in the rescue of Eliza.
I could remember the day I first set eyes on Eliza, and the promise I had made to her mother to ensure she would be safe, no matter what. I had failed that promise in my absence and so she had ended up in the one place I had promised to never allow her, Handrin. That side of the border held too many dangers. And yet my Eliza had always been a headstrong thing, following her own path, even when that path led to where she should not be, with me helpless to save her.
All I had been able to do was stress the importance of my daughter to Sebastian, and hope that that would be enough. For Eliza was important, more important that even she . Too important to be risking her life on such a foolish mission.
And yet I could not even take the time to worry about my Eliza. Our scouts had reported action from the enemy camp this morning, the positioning of troops that would surely mean an upcoming battle. And Fredrick had brought with him more than just the news of the spies, he had told of a weapon the Handrin army had, a weapon we knew next to nothing about from this news, but which we at least knew existed. Perhaps the weapon was now ready and the Handrin army was preparing to use it against us.
Because of this information anyone who of importance was had gathered in the same tent, plans laid before us as we had quickly discussed just how we could deploy our own troops against this threat. Shouts were being heard, as no one could agree on the nature of the weapon or our best defense against it. The noise had escalted, getting louder by the minute, until the sound of breaking glass had us all turning to face Sir Hamilton.
"What are we doing? We are supposed to be the best this army has and we stand here, squabbling like children, every minute we argue meaning another minute less our men have to prepare. We need pick a deployment and send them out, and be ready to make any future plans on our feet. This is not a battle for great strategy, and talking about it any more will just be getting more men killed."
"Sir Hamilton is right. We need action and we need it now," I added, holding up the piece of paper in my hand. "Let's deploy the troops in this formation and have messengers on hand. We will need to be fluid and changing like the river in this battle, not strong and defensible like the rock."
We had dispersed shortly after, each to ready our men. And now, as explosions rocked the world around us, I began to see the wisdom of that decision. No matter the formation we would have been unprepared for the explosions rocking the world around us and the seemingly innocuous powder that caused them, powder the army was able to ignite with a bang.
Our plans had changed throughout the course of the battle, and no matter what we did men died. We had learned quickly that whatever the enemy was using to fire the powder seemed most effective in short quarters, though it surely had the potential for ranged attacks. As a result we had relied heavily on our archers from the distance. And while wood shields burned to a crisp, we had learned that the shields made of metal provided some meager protection. These shields were in a shorter supply than their wooden counterparts, but we had managed to scrounge up enough to arm a front line who as slowly but surely advancing on an enemy we hoped would be reluctant to use the powder when their own men joined the fray.
Yes, we had learned from this weapon, but I did not know if it would be enough. Silently I offered off a prayer to god to allow us to live through this battle, to allow these brave soldiers to return home, before turning to the messenger who had just arrived, ready to adapt our strategy once more.