Mesphito and his army of minions, stood on the high hills to the west of the vast, and often divided, city of Humor’s Rest, They stood outlined by a fading blood red sunset. Humor’s Rest sprawled below Mesphito, split in two by a river running straight north and south, a lone central island sat empty in the middle save for the towering Humor’s Keep where Mesphito knew Aym was, right now, looking back at light glow of his army’s campfires in the fading sun light.
The city had long been divided evenly between The Minions of Mesphito and The Agents of Aym, separated by the river, each controlling their own part of the city. The western valley normally controlled by Mesphito was known as Humor’s End. The eastern half, perched above the valley on bluffs long ago created by the river was known Humor’s Rise, was controlled by Aym.
As the sun continued to set behind Mesphito, he gathered his generals around him. Turning his back to Humor’s Rest he addressed them, “Aym has the tower, and will have the majority of his agents there to protect it, we must strike down into the valley tonight, under cover of darkness.”
His generals shuffled and grunted approval, excited about the prospect of the upcoming battle.
“Tonight we must have a sacrifice to Resheph. We will offer the agents that Gothal’s legion captured last week to ensure victory!” Mesphito said, pounding his fist into his palm.
His generals growled approval and bowed in deference to their master. Mesphito noted the clear bloodlust on their faces and was pleased.
Turning away from his generals with a sweep of his arm, Mesphito commanded, “Prepare the offerings, I will personally sacrifice the leader Hintal – it will be pleasure to devour his soul before this great battle.”
The generals all bowed once again and left in the direction of the prisioners, while Mesphito stood looking down at that city.
Aym stood with his closest advisors on the observation deck of Humor’s Keep looking to the west. His concern was clear to his advisors by his countenance alone. Mesphito was to the west and raising his minions – they knew war was all but inevitable and the last thing Aym wanted was his agents and their work devoured by the Minions of Mesphito.
“Look at them up there,” Aym said, as he squinted and he focused his mind on telescoping his vision to where he could more clearly see Mesphito and his generals. “…just standing there, sure and proud of himself. I fear the red sky is a bad omen, Resheph is surely on his side,” he said, turning to his advisors, and shutting his to return his vision to normal – his blue cloak appearing purple in the red of the sunset.
Solan stepped forward, bowed lightly, and spoke, “Sir, we have fortified the western gate, we must move more agents away from the tower to protect Humor’s End. You must not let the The Minions gain a foothold in the city.” His emphatic use of must carrying the air of a command.
Aym appeared consider this a moment, looking down at the worn wood decking below him. Then with a suddenness that caught all the advisors off guard, Aym grabbed Solan by the front of his light blue cloak, lifted him off the floor, and hefted him over the edge of the tower – letting him dangle there.
“You mean to command me,” Aym questioned, shaking Solan, which caused him to let lose his bladder.
“You weakling! Pissing yourself? I should let you drop,” Aym exclaimed. “Never command me, if you want to keep your life,” he said as brought Solan back over the edge of the tower and set him down.
“Now go, clean yourself, and report to the western gate. You will be my lookout there from now on,” Aym commanded as he turned his back on Solan and once again surveyed the glow of fires in the hills west of the city.
Solan was about to protest when Aym shouted, “Go!” making all of his advisers shrink back from him.
“Do any of you have any real advice, or should I send all of you to the wall,” he asked without turning to address them. They all remained quiet for a moment, looking at each other. Eventually Yaln stepped forward, bowed and cleared his throat.
Aym turned and faced the young advisor – his impatience obvious.
“Sir, we could make it appear they have the upper hand by giving them limited resistance in Humor’s End, while we muster forces on the east back on the river after destroying all bridged and ferries,” he paused as if you judge Aym’s reaction. The other advisors, fearing Aym would be furious at this suggestion, step back and all shook their head as if to distance themselves from Yaln.
Yalm continued, “This would mean few causalities as we gathered forces and prepared a plan to completely retake Humor’s End. May I also suggest we create a shadow force of agents which we will insert into Humor’s End to covertly attack Mesphito as we muster a larger force?”
Aym turned again to survey the glow of fires in the hills. Standing quietly, armed crossed, he considered the proposal for some time, raising the anxiety of his advisors with each second. Finally he turned back to Yaln smiling, “Bold! A bold plan, I like it.”.
Yaln, and the other advisors relaxed visibly – and Yaln bowed.
“We will give Mesphito the illusion of a great victory, making it appear our forces are few and that he is assured victory over all of Humor’s Rest – I like it. Make it so,” he said, putting his arm around Yaln, saying, “A bold plan young one, you have impressed me today, I am going to make you head of this ‘Shadow Force’,” gripping Yaln tighter, to the point of pain, he continued, “and I expect results.”
Yaln nodded his assurance as convincingly as he could, worried now that the plan rested solely on him.
“I assure you sir, this plan will work…or….or…you make a sacrifice of me when all is said and done.”
Aym smiled again at the young advisors boldness and willingness to offer himself up in the face of failure – an admirable and honorable quality sorely lacking among the rest of his advisors.
“Let us go then, we much to plan and set in place before they attack – which I am sure will be tonight,” Aym said, leading his advisors off the observation deck, back into the tower.