The general was standing in the middle of the War Room, slightly bent at the waist and leaning against the edge of the command table.  His fingers feverishly drumming the polished cream-colored marble table-top.  There were two highly decorative vipers with their tails entwined and necks coupled, bearing sharp fangs and split tongues forming a large O directly in front of the general in the form of a golden inlay upon the magnificent marble.  This was the crest of The Order.  Gold and scarlet runners lay neatly upon the long walkway leading to the
door and around the command table.  Three giant tapestries bearing The Order’s crest were draped from the high ceiling covering the left, right, and back walls of the octagon shaped
room.  Light clicking and whirring sounds could be heard coming from a fairly large and intricate looking hourglass, attached to some kind of golden mechanical gyro-scope. 
It was sitting upon a thick, stout marble pillar directly behind the general, slowing spinning on its vertical axis while crystal clear grains of golden sand swirled from the top portion of the hourglass to the bottom portion, changing in color to a brilliant black as though it were being manipulated by some kind of magic.  
     The general continued to drum his fingers on the marble table in a fit of silent rage.  He stared at the same spot on the floor just in front of the command table and didn’t blink for what seemed like minutes.  His face was expressionless, but his eyes were roaring with anger. 
How could he allow them to escape?!  He screamed at himself in his own head.  He had no
answer.  As he continued to flay himself for his blunder, the room began to echo uncomfortably with the sounds of his violent finger drumming and the clicking noises coming from the gears in the hourglass behind him.  The generals first officer was standing off to his right, nearly pressed against the wall, looking as though he were afraid to come any closer to the general, as if he were a volatile explosive device.  He stood silently with his arms held stiffly behind his back and was struggling to keep himself from fidgeting.  His head was tilted downwards slightly, like a scorned dog, and he stared at his toes for the majority of the time, only occasionally adjusting his gaze to the general when he could no longer fight the urge to look at something other than the floor.  The tension in the room was now terribly uncomfortable and the air seemed to get denser, making it difficult to breathe.  Finally conjuring the courage to say something, the first officer swallowed hard and cleared his throat.               
     “Ahem…umm, Sir, perhaps we sh-“
    His attempt to speak was cut short by a bellowing voice coming from the allway.      
     “GENERAL FERINUS!” yelled the voice.
    The general snapped out of his silent fit of anger. He stood up straight upon hearing the voice, and his right hand gripped the hilt of his sword tightly.  The yelling soldier came barreling through the doorway.
    “Sir…SIR!”  Yelled the soldier, running up to General Ferinus and looking as though he might topple over with every step.  He stumbled to a stop directly in front of general.  He was bent over with one hand on his knee, and the other one clutching his ribs.
    “Catch your wind soldier.” Said General Ferinus, grabbing the soldiers shoulder with his left hand.  His right hand still clasped tightly around the hilt of his sword.
    “Sir…we just got word…Banon and his companions... one of our scout teams… they spotted them, Sir!”  Gasped the soldier.
    “WHERE?! Where were they spotted?!”  Demanded Ferinus, his hand clamping down on the man’s shoulder, causing him to wince slightly.
    “The Black Forest, Sir.”  Said the soldier.
    Ferinus shot a hurried look over his shoulder at the hourglass behind him.  He watched as the sand in the equalized between the upper and lower bulbs, indicating it was mid-day.
    “We haven’t much time!” exclaimed Ferinus. “Quickly, send word to the western outpost and have them send a large regiment into the forest to intercept them.  We must catch them before nightfall or we may never find them in that forest.”
    “Yes, Sir!  Right away, Sir!” Barked the soldier.  He stood up straight, clacking his heels together and jerking a clenched fist to his chest, placing it firmly over his heart in salute.  Ferinus gave him no reply, and the soldier walked hurriedly out of the War Room.
    “Raspier!”  Said Ferinus, addressing his first officer.  “I need you to go down to the pens and have my Bengal prepared for travel. You and a group our finest men will accompany me to the western post immediately.”
    “Right, Sir.” Replied Raspier.
    “I must go and inform Lord Vilen of these recent developments at once.”  Said Ferinus.
    “Oh, and Raspier...” Ferinus added, “…be sure to keep my Bengal light, I would like to arrive at the western post beforethey return with Banon and his… friends.”
    The generals face turned to a grimace when speaking his last  word.
    “Of course, Sir.” Replied Raspier, nodding his head and immediately making his way down to the pens.
    Ferinus, now alone, began pacing excitedly back and forth across the room with his hands writhing in front of him and a sinister smile spread across his face.  Maxwell Banon.  He thought to himself, gripping a fist tightly in his hand and squeezing it so hard his knuckles
cracked loudly.  Banon… the traitor.  He knew nothing of loyalty.  He had turned against Lord Vilen, running off with Azvaran’s son and that pathetic rabble he had the dishonor of calling his friends. His face immediately turned to disgust.  He stood up straight, lattening his collar and rolling down the sleeves of his shirt. He walked over to one of the marble statues around the outside of the room where he had hung his dress coat.  He picked it up and swung it behind him, putting it on.  He put on his gold cuff links and straightened the crest that was pinned to the front of his coat.  He took a deep breath, preparing himself to break the good news to Lord Vilen.
TO BE CONTINUED...
 


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