The great northern fields of Glodan stretch for many miles in every direction. Their beauty captivates any soul who sets eyes upon them. I’ve ventured many miles across its landscape, my destination that lonely mountain at the center. Along the way I have seen so much wildlife. Insects with swift yellow wings that glint in the Summer light. Great tri-horn stag herds grazing for food. I even caught a glimpse of a sky serpent before it vanished among the clouds. Soon though I shall reach the mountain, and there I hope to find the true treasure of these fields. The Primordial Tower. I highly doubt I will be able to break into its grand walls, but just setting my eyes on it will give me great satisfaction and accomplishment.
-Baxter Kuluq, Notes of an Explorer
The light drizzle of rain left a freezing chill over the huddle of coated figures. A mist hung low in the air, drifting slowly across the land. Puddles formed at their boots to be added to the muddy depths of the trenches.
High above them the first moon shined brightly with its silvery rays of light piercing the gray clouds. The clouds drifted slowly with the low wind in the air, more on the horizon promising further rain later in the night.
Natalia hugged her coat tightly to her body, shivering all the same in the chill of the air. Her canteen held in her hands beneath the coat.
“Why do you suppose we’re fighting to get into that tower?” Marxun asked aloud to no one in particular.
She looked off to the west toward the lonely mountain that pierced the clouds. The tower itself hidden within the rocky walls.
“It doesn’t matter to us,” Teiver said from her position up against the wall, binoculars in hand as she studied the distant Union lines.
Krieger took a long gulp from his flask, “I bet you it’s filled with riches!” He chuckled before letting out a loud belch.
“Riches? Treasure? Was your past life a pirate out on the Eastwind Sea?” Hukven asked. He punched Krieger in the arm lightly. “Is that flask full of grog?”
Krieger pat his belly. “Alright, how about a grand feast within?”
“Food and drinking, do you think of anything else?” Lulilia questioned and rubbed her smooth chin. “We have to be realistic. Whatever is in the tower, it’s something worth drawing the attention of every nation.” She leaned back and kicked her feet out atop the crate she was sitting on. “I bet you it’s some kind of magical power, wouldn’t you agree, Natalia?” She eyed the esper with a catty look in her eyes.
Natalia nodded her head. “I’m sure, something like that.”
“It’s weapons, a destructive force that can wipe out every opposing nation,” Hukven said with conviction in his voice and a raised fist. “Exactly the reason why we must fight strong for the Imperium to claim it for the Father!”
“And you’ll be the one to use it to save us all with that dull head of yours!” Lulilia exclaimed before laughing at Hukven.
Hukven growled and slammed his fists together. “You trying to start something, Lulilia?”
“Yea, I am!”
“Stop it, both of you!” Vykter snapped and looked to either one before returning to his mug of coffee. A thin trail of steam wafted off the top of the mug to dissipate into the cold night.
“Sorry, I posed the question, Vykter,” Marxun said.
Vyker ignored Marxun entirely and added, “It’s likely to be both a weapon and something magical based.”
“See, I was right, Lulilia!” Hukven exclaimed.
“Vykter said we’re both right, you idiot.” Lulilia turned to Vykter and smiled. “What kind of magical weapon could it possibly be though is the question.”
“Who knows, the most knowledgeable one here would be Natalia, for that one.”
Natalia shook her head. “Why’s it matter what’s in there? None of us will see it.” She sighed and took a swig from her canteen, the water within cool to the touch. “It probably won’t be opened in our lifetime.”
Everyone became silent as they turned inward to their own thoughts. The wind picked up briefly with a howl before it settled down once more. The drizzle of rain continued, seemingly with no end.
“Like I said.” Teiver lowered herself and folded up her binoculars back into a pocket. “It doesn’t matter to us.”
“Did you see anything?” Vykter asked.
Teiver turned to Vyker. “There are movements in the distance. I’d like permission to head to one of the listening posts to get a better look.”
Vykter nodded his head and looked over to Natalia. “Do you mind joining her, Ludmila? We can’t let them sneak up on us with any tricks.”
“Sure, I can go.” Natalia stood up, her boots squishing into the mud. Better than sitting still all night.
Teiver nodded to Natalia and took off at a brisk pace toward the nearest listening post.
“Don’t take too long ladies! The next cespaut should be here soon to relieve us for the night!” Hukven called out.
The tight path was dimly lit by sparsely placed lanterns. The light of the moon illuminated the spaces in between as the two women made their way to the listening post. Weaving past several other soldiers on guard duty, they reached the intersection and paused before the tunnel heading into the dead land beyond.