Chains of Loss

Chains of Loss by Robert Read Free Book Online

Book: Chains of Loss by Robert Read Free Book Online
Authors: Robert
were a dozen or more operations already active.  The star was just one more complication, and it had landed deep inside enemy territory.
    James reached out and moved a pair of blue figures towards the coin.  “They've probably sent troops from Raashran to investigate.  They'll be there in force, by mid-morning if they’re not there already.”
    Kharrix reached out and slid a few more markers.  “They will also go from Gansala.  It fell between the cities.”
    James bit his lip.  “It lit up half the continent.  Probably every city north of the site is on alert.  They’re probably boiling over right now.”
    “It sounds like opportunity.”
    “No shit.  They're vulnerable all over the place, but they're going to converge on that star like a pack of rohqui on an injured cat.”
    The orc clucked.  “What we do about it?”
    “I think we probably should do nothing.  If it's just a hunk of rock, we can leave it, good riddance.  Let them have it.  They'll probably make an altar or something.
    “If it's not just a rock...there are legends back home of what ancient humans did before the Sundering.  My ancestors could fly.  They say that if you go far enough south, you can see the stars that man put in the sky.  They're not just there to be pretty.  They're tools, but nobody knows what they were for anymore.”
    Kharrix flicked his tongue.  “These man-stars...I may have seen them.  They sit in the same spot all year?  They move only if you head north or south?”
    “I don't know.  Doesn't matter.”
    “Would it still work?”
    James laughed.  “That’d be the day.  Nothing from that age works anymore.”
    “It called as it fell.  It may be different.”
    “It also fell .  It stopped calling out suddenly, right?  Some parts of it might’ve been working, but they broke when they hit the ground.”
    “And if they did not?”
    “Well, this is just a guess, but I don't think it was easy for the ancients to put it way up in the sky.  If they put it there, it was because it had to be up there to do what it was supposed to.  Down here, it’s probably worthless.”
    Kharrix nodded.  “As what it was.  Worth has many meanings, yes?  As what it is now, who would want it most?”
    “If it’s just a scrapped relic…”  James trailed off.  He’d been focusing on the idea that denying it to the Overarchy would be their most effective course of action, but  Kharrix’s question had opened up a line of thought that he’d written off years ago.
    “Falden.  Cloudshadow’s always buying relics.  Even tiny ones.  This could be a good bargaining chip.  If it's useful or recognizable, there are humans who would do anything for such an artifact.  This could be it.”  James found himself grinning.  “Yeah, this could really be it!  This could make the perfect opening offer up north.  If there's anything to it, anything even resembling ancient technology, we could use it.”
    Kharrix twitched appreciatively.  “We should try, then.  Yes, try.  Who can we send?”
    James looked over the figures on the map.  “Nobody there has enough to guarantee a capture...and only Amanda and I have seen tech artifacts before...damn.  Amanda's busy with Lethis.  The Reaver’s probably near Gansala.  He’ll be checking it out.  This isn’t going to be easy, but it's worth doing.”  He traced some lines with his fingers, trying to do the math.  “Send out a semaphore for Amanda.  She can probably make it in three to five days after she's done.  I’ll take seventy rangers from the Redmere area and three dozen fighters from upland and rendezvous with her south of Gansala in six days.  Make sure that our spies have enough intel to describe it when I arrive and we'll make a decision on how to proceed.  Worst case scenario – it's useless and we'll do some extra raiding while they're playing with it.”
    Kharrix cocked his head in the orcish affirmative and removed all pieces that they

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