A Crimson Shore 33.2 The Heart of Darkness

It took him a very long time, but Thrak finally learned that decisions came quickest to the Celns after a good meal. It was one of his larger discoveries about the world in general and he was proud of knowing it. At mealtimes, he knew there would be stories, and gossip and talk of fighting, which was his favorite part. It was one of the things that he had in common with the humans. Quickly briefed by The Lords of Carr Alpha, the Lords of Three Harbors plotted to infiltrate the lair of the Host, and find Iricah’s brother. The plan was not a simple one. Nor was it easy.

Thrak did not see that coming, which wasn’t a surprise for him. If it wasn’t thrown, hurled, or heaved, he didn’t often know how to handle it. And it’s not easy to duck something that you can’t see. Lately though, he had realized that  it wasn’t wisest to dodge some pieces of information. This thought intrigued him. He was a product of muscle and sinew, bone and blood.  Rage wasn’t a state of mind, it was all the pre-planning he needed in the jungle.

After all the adventures, he was still learning to remain an easy target when information was aimed in his direction.

Most of all, it wasn’t easy for Thrak to understand these plans. But some of it, he couldn’t help figuring out.  He liked the parts where he’d get to attack something. Realizing this, his comrades often added a flavor of battle to their discussions so that Thrak would feel welcomed. It had worked once more, and so Thrak had collected a few bits from the latest sit down. First, he knew that Taryn, Mesilla, Bolvist and Roscoe would each command small fleets of the remaining Celn ships. Few had survived the naval battle at Ferroun’s Station, but those that had were arranged into small groups. The men and women left were fighting Celns, hardened by battle, well trained and thoroughly pissed off.

They’ve also just had a few good meals, Thrak noted. I’m starting to get the hang of this thinking thing.

Furthermore, Genoran’s un-named flagship, would sail into the Circle Bay, attack the Host’s forces, and they would all kiss their ass goodbye. That was a phrase he particularly enjoyed hearing Andril say once. He didn’t understand the meaning until he lost his tail and tried sitting like a person would. But that was a time he tried to forget about.

Finally, Thrak and his three tail-less friends would ply the coast for a means to rescue Gaelon, and end the Sasser threat by killing what spirit remained of the goddess known as Wrath.

Thrak hadn’t been that far off. Genoran had summed it up at the war briefing like this: “Like the Flame in the East, the Host is a single source of power, distributed in the manner it deems fit. The Holy Flame guides that power to heal, to inspire, to do good works for all goodly folk. If so willing, that power could manifest itself in many ways, but the Keeper of the Flame, in Cillandar prevents it’s corruption in that sense. The Host however, uses it to manipulate the spirit of others. to enslave, to do her will. In essence, we believe the host is powerful because of those she has enslaved. But that door swings both ways. Kill the Host, destroy Wrath herself, and you destroy her army.”

“So if your enemy suddenly becomes a bit confused, you’ll know we’ve done it,” said Frank pointedly in his usual dry humor.

Thrak, not picking up on the joke, continued, “And if they keep killing you, kill them back.”

“Thanks, Thrak,” said Genoran. He tried to keep his face straight. Thrak was staring at him with his beady little black eyes. His green lizard face made it impossible to tell what he was thinking, or if he was thinking anything for that matter.

“Anytime,” said Thrak repeating a phrase that Frank often used.  Frank winked at the lizard man. Thrak double blinked back. Frank couldn’t help himself and double blinked back at Thrak. Thrak looked thoroughly pleased.

Then he smiled at his comrades around the table and spoke loud enough for the others to hear.  “So it’s basically like every adventure we’ve ever had, right?”

Iricah had been sorting through her bags on the table where the map and battle figures were kept. She was looking for a this or a that that might help them, but was only really annoying Lord Taryn, who was very keen on his precise battle depictions prior to combat.  “Yeah, only this one is probably going to get us killed,” she said all too matter of factly. “Now where in the darkness of Ket did I put that jar! Not the type of thing you want to go around losing.”

“It all soundsssss the ssssame to me,” said Thrak, shaking his head. He climbed up the ladder and out of the galley. His axe handles clunked against the rungs as he went.

Below him, the Lords of this and that planned and plotted on into the night. All knew that an attack would not come until the morning. Even the shelled beings that the host resided in needed light to do her bidding.  When they died, if they died, it would be in the light of the rising sun.

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