SCALES-43

"How did they even get in here?" I asked incredulously, "The moat should be impenetrable!"

Lucifer shrugged.

"I guess Purgatory has upped their game. Last I checked they were as stealthy as an elephant in a fine china store."

That was concerning.

"We should concentrate our forces around the castle."

I looked up to see Eversio leaning on Manara for support, his forehead quickly developing a nasty bruise. 

I glared at him incredulously.

"Are you kidding me? We just learned firsthand how easily they can get in here!"

"Then we obviously need more protection."

"If they already have a means of getting inside, we could be leaving ourselves vulnerable to an attack from behind." I hissed, "As far as we know there could be others, hidden, waiting."

Eversio's eyes narrowed.

"We sweep the castle. You think it's hard to find soldiers that are entirely gray? We can easily secure the premises and form a stronghold."

"Last I checked, I was the Commander. We leave the castle as it is. There's no time to distract ourselves with searching the grounds."

Manara looked at me pleadingly.

"Z-"

"It's too risky!" I hissed.

"There's always going to be risk," she sighed, "The castle is as good a fortress as we can get."

I folded my arms.

"Fine. Search the premises. I'm calling a council meeting to discuss this."

I sheathed my sword at my side, making it disappear. 

"Let's put it down to a vote. Who wants to use the compromised castle as a base of operations?"

Everyone except me and Athena raised their hands. Dammit.

"Are you for real?" I muttered, "How am I the only one that-"

"The majority rules." Eversio stated, "Would you like me to send for the troops?"

"Knock yourself out." I replied scathingly.

Or else I will.

The council members left the room, with the exception of Athena.

"I don't like this." she said as soon as we were alone, "It's too risky."

Coming from our best tactician, that wasn't a good sign.

"What can I do about it?"

Athena watched me for a few seconds.

"Our strategists don't like it either. Napoleon thinks it's le suicide."

"What about Genghis?" 

"He says we should hang the heads of the attackers from the battlements."

Genius. I sighed exasperatedly. 

"Keep an eye on things out there, okay?" I asked, "If you so much as smell an attack-"

"You'll be the first to know." she said firmly, "I have no intention of losing this war."

She stood straight, saluted me, and walked out of the room with the trained stride of a soldier.

I glanced at the chess board lying on the table and noticed that the black queen had been knocked over.

I replaced the piece, moving it to take out the first pawn.

The game had just begun.

The End

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