Page 16Mature

             “You are sure that the threats are increasing to the East?” Armand asked, turning his head to Alwyn.

             “Yes,” He responded in the prominent lilting Coeden accent that Armand had become acquainted with. “These reports don’t lie. The Shifters are not only becoming more active in the territory, but they have stepped up their raids, and many of them are pushing deeper than the fringe that they inhabit.”

             “Damned beasts,” Armand swore. “Perhaps this is a bluff. They might be growing desperate.”

             “They might be growing daring,” Strider quipped. “Captain, we have seen firsthand that this mistake has been made before. The last time that Shifter expansion had been left unchecked, half of the frontier burned.”

             “I understand, Captain, but we have to tread carefully. With the Draconites practically knocking on our gate to the North, we can’t afford to chase rabbits that we see as wolves.” As much as Armand hated to say it, that was the truth. Though the Shifter barbarians were a plague throughout the countryside, tensions were intensifying to the North. The Draconites were a warrior race of xenophobic reptilian humanoids who valued physical prowess above all else. They believed that their monstrous race was destined to prepare the world for their god to reign over it, which meant exterminating every other sentient race in Brifel. The various races of Deyras of course shared space on that list.

            However, the Shifters weren’t much better. Shifter was a slang term that the Deyrians took to calling the men of the Bwystfil tribe. They were savage barbarians who lived in the hills, mountains, and valley plains on Deyras’ Easternmost region, the frontier claimed nearly half a century ago. The Shifters had protested that the land was theirs, but the races that made up Deyras’ council were insistent that the land belonged to them, and things turned violent quickly. Thus the first Shifter war began.

            In that time, a newly rejuvenated Shifter army had risen, now again ready for war.

             “With due respect, Captain, we cannot simply sit on our hindquarters and wait to see the demise of so many,” Commander Strider asserted.

            Captain Velarois spun on his heels, now facing the lot of them as they stopped. “Enough! We have larger problems to deal with right now. The Draconites have sent a diplomatic envoy that will no doubt be unhappy about us stepping up our border defense, a consultation with Her Ladyship in mere minutes, and if that wasn’t enough, may I remind you that those anomalous rifts are still popping up and we still have no king.”

The End

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