Politics and Plausible Allies

He sat pondering upon his predicament. Nothing could stop them, at least nothing at the present moment. Unconsciously outlining his scars spread across his face, Taron stood as an impassive marble statue in his wooden throne lost in thought. How to break them, that was the crucial question. His thoughts were soon interrupted by a faithful soldier pulling aside the entrance drape to his tent.

"Sir, the storm riders have arrived" the dark haired soldier muttered after a quick bow, "should I let him in?"

"Yes, please do" answered the paladin, his voice merely a whisper

Soon afterwards a young man walked in wearily into the war commanders' tent. Taron observed him carefully while the soldier glanced around his whereabouts. He was a handsome man in all cases, wearing a long and threaded leather armor all over his body while holding his eagle shaped helmet to the side. His short black hair matched his dark almost black eyes and his V shaped brows. Suddenly shifting uneasily the man muttered a quick and polite greeting, Taron simply nodded and caught the soldiers' gaze and held it in check. The man held the generals stare and returned his looks with doubled intensity.

"What news do you bring from the heavens?" asked the general breaking the overall tension. Taron had heard of this young leader and had heard of his exploits in battle. He was a legend in the rising, a future hero. Gabriel was his name. His battles and tales had crossed the paladins' ear more than once he had never had the opportunity to meet this promising warrior.

"My eagles are tired and my men also grow weary," the soldier paused for an instant as if recalling his thoughts, "we have been picking scattered orc groups in the mountains and unexpectedly they offer more resistance than usual."

"Really?" asked a worried Taron furrowing his brows in concern

"Not that it matters, an orc is an orc nonetheless" retorted Gabriel drawing a wide grin from the paladin. Yes, he thought, so far Taron had proved himself the great man Gabriel had always wanted him to be. Somewhere along his travel he had dreaded meeting the man standing in front of him. He expected him to be less than what the tales offered, he was afraid of being disappointed. The man that stood in front of him was the legend, almost a god amongst men. Taron had tested him and he knew it, the staring contest was Tarons' way of weighing himself. He felt that he had passed that test and his comment was aimed to lighten the mood. From now on he was to report to Taron before and after all missions and he wanted to please and do his duty to king and country flawlessly.

"Indeed, but a more pressing issue concerns us now as you must have seen yourself." Taron stated flatly

"Yes" Gabriel nodded grimly

"We have to find a way to break through their ranks and hold foot" Taron continued talking more to himself than to the Storm Rider.

"How" came the logical question

"This, my friend is my dilemma" the general muttered under his breath his discontent clearly showing.

Gabriel stared intently at Taron and finally spoke out.

"I'll harass them, if the elves fall the next in line is our kingdom. I'll pick the easiest target from the sea of dark and slow their progress and if chance is with us my men and I will kill a few leaders."

"Indeed, that is yet one more load of my back, but not quite enough. Surely you will do that but I need you to be my eyes and messenger. You will need to be my voice. I have to contact the king and other allies." Taron stopped and stared blankly at his sword, "we will need more men. The Dark army knows we are here and yet doesn't attack us. That is more than troubling it borders on insanity."

"They are organized and not wandering aimlessly, they have a goal." Gabe heard himself saying and he suddenly felt a shiver run across his spine. Orcs, Trolls, Ogres, Goblins and Giants all in alliance with each other seemed far fetched enough but now he understood they had a goal, an objective, and again he felt a shiver run down his spine and almost felt his legs letting go but held fast. This he reasoned was far more dangerous than he had expected.

"Yes, I feel your concern, but as much as I want to know who is orchestrating behind this army I need allies now more than ever." Replied the battle hardened general punching his wooden throne heavily.

"I more than understand," answered the rider with a look of sheer terror mingled with determination

"Now, to more pressing matters." Continued the paladin, "You will have to go to our beloved king and ask for reinforcements, three thousand at least. Then you will need to plead our case to Citadel Axezoun and their dwarf king Halbor Axethrower and their dwarven kin Strenbar Hall"

"They will come to our aid I am sure" the warrior quickly put in

Nodding, Taron continued his instruction, "Afterwards head for the elves of the Shining Realms and ask for the help of the high elves. I understand this assignment will prove to be more difficult but feasible nonetheless and finally I ask of you to head for the northern mountains and recruit the fierce barbarians. You shall address all tribes in their annual meeting and by far that is the hardest assignment." Concluding with a wink Taron smiled openly and got up from his throne. Gabriels' matched Tarons' height but then came the unexpected hug from the paladin. Gabriel felt crushed under the bulky mass of his general and slightly amused by the act of outwardly affection. After a long minute Taron let go, a smile wide across his bearded face. Finally the paladin saw a glimmer of hope. It wasn't the allies, it wasn't the numbers but what had awakened him was the simple look of fierce determination in the storm rider's face. Not even he could understand the hug but the young man had given him hope.

"Dismissed," Taron declared cheerily

Gabriel bowed low and quickly retired from the room leaving a warcommander to start a war. Taron in Gabriel's thought had more than exceeded his expectations he had given the rider purpose and more than aking, more than acountry and agod to fight. Taron had given the warrior a father figure. He had put a face on the reason whyhe had joined the riders so many years ago, he had put a face on the goody folk. Hope.