“The scar on his chest, what is that?” Beth asked eventually.
“It’s self-inflicted,” Mary sighed. “He had it before he came here, I understand.”
“Before he was twelve?” she asked, astounded.
“Whenever I’ve asked about it, he’s avoided answering, though I think it’s some sort of cultural thing. Similar practices still take place in the lesser races, when a family member or loved one dies. Storm still grieves for those he lost, though he wouldn’t admit it if you asked him.”
Beth stayed silent, unsure of what else she could say. Mary released her hand and led her back to the room they’d left a few minutes earlier.
“He’s just coming,” Mary said to the men in the room.
Evil nodded once, to show he’d acknowledged her.
“What about the Jagged Pass?” asked one of them, a sword hanging from his hip.
Evil shook his head. “I’m not discussing the Pass until Storm is here. Without his input, it would be too dangerous to proceed. He knows those paths.”
“Until then, I suggest we talk about the setting up of field hospitals before they’re needed,” Lucius said, looking pointedly at one of the generals.
“Again, Storm’s forte, though we can talk about where they will go,” Evil replied.
“My lord, I would suggest here,” said another of the generals, pointing to an area a while away from what Beth assumed was the front line on the map.
“Too far,” Storm’s voice sounded from near the door, making Beth and Mary jump as they hadn’t heard him enter.
“Captain,” greeted the officer that had suggested the area for the hospital.
“Lieutenant,” Storm replied harshly. “That hospital would be too far from the front line.”
“It is near the officers’ quarters.”
“My point exactly. Divisional HQ is too far to carry the wounded and dying. With two men carrying one stretcher between them, it would take at least two days. It’s not possible to use that area as a field hospital.”
“Lieutenant, your superior is speaking,” Lucius snapped.
The lieutenant fell silent, waiting for Storm to continue.
“Divisional HQ could be used as an after-care hospital, but not as a hospital for the fatally wounded. They would not make the journey. As well as this hospital, you need one that’s just behind the lines, with trained nurses and doctors, to make sure that our soldiers survive the first battle, let alone those that will undoubtedly follow.”
“My lord, I would like to be the one to choose these nurses, if it would suit,” said one of the obviously more senior officers.
“I know my team, Major Alopare,” Storm said coldly.
“Well, that’s sorted then,” Evil said, nodding. “Storm, what do you think about taking the Jagged Pass?”
Storm walked over to the table and examined the map scrutinously.
“It would certainly speed up the trip to the battlegrounds, though the narrow passage means we would have to march in threes at the maximum. The high ridges would put us at a higher risk of attack, and would prevent us from fighting back,” Storm explained, not taking his eyes off the carefully drawn chart before him.