Rallying The Troops

Halls and doorways passed by in a blur as Elric ran. Or rather, Elric's body ran. Elric's mind was far away from the situation at hand, information being churned and sifted, plans sparking into life and fading just as fast. He knew the basics; Avak had the best interest of the house at heart, not its occupants. For some reason, Avak had chosen him to be some kind of champion. There was something or someone in the house threatening the lives of everyone inside.

His mind continued to throw plans together, but he knew the process was futile. They couldn't leave the house and diplomatic avenues were probably not going to be an option, so one of the groups had to die, and he was the slightest bit partial as to who he hoped would win.

It dawned on him that he had no idea where he was going just as he rounded a turn and nearly ran right into a set of grand double doors. Golden handles, intricate carvings, solid oak, the works. Why am I here? he wondered. He truly didn't expect a response, but one came nonetheless. "To rally the troops of course."

He spun on his heel, trying to find the source, but all was quiet and empty behind him. "I'm in your head, in case you've forgotten, " came the condescending tone of Avak. Normally Elric would have had some witty retort to arrogance of that sort, but at the moment he had larger concerns.

"What do you mean, troops?" he asked aloud. There was the sound of hollow laughter, and then "Exactly what I said. You're going in there to rally my troops and give them a battle plan, just like a good Commander should."

"And just how am I supposed to do that?" Elric shouted down the empty corridor.

There was no answer except for the reverberations of his own voice, and with a shrug he turned his gaze to the door. He figured that Avak needed him alive, so he wouldn't be intentionally led to his death, but this did little to quell his nerves as he grasped the golden handle. He took a deep breath like he was about to dive under water, and gave the holder a firm twist.

The room behind it was vast. It was as long as an airplane hangar and at least as tall. The intellectual side of his mind told him he must be underground, for he would surely have seen something like this from the outside. As he looked, he noticed there were no lights in this room even though it seemed to have a slight ambient glow. Quite a puzzle surely, but it was not what had grabbed his attention.

The place was completely deserted. Maybe a few dozen people could have hidden behind one of the odd pieces of furniture that seemed to be strewn about, and a few more in the deep shadows, but if his army was only two dozen strong, he hoped that Avak had been exaggerating the strength of their foe.

That's when he noticed the movement. At first he thought it was someone emerging from the shadows, but he soon realized just how wrong he was. It wasn't movement inside of the shadow, it was the shadow moving. They flew around the room, converging to form perfectly straight rows of identical figures as far as he could see. A pair of piercing ice blue eyes starred back at him from each, all glowing with intensity. Literally. The room was soon bathed an an eerie blue glow, and he realized that this was the ambient light he had seen upon entering.

The first row of shadows simultaneously saluted him, followed a second later by the row behind them, and as if they were a massive set of dominoes the row behind them saluted, and the one behind them, and on until he couldn't make out the individual shadows anymore.

It was safe to say that Elric's confidence grew a little as the thousands of soldiers peered back at him, waiting for his command.

The End

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