The Shot Across The Bow

Whilst the naval ambush at Lamburg is widely considered to be the first act of military aggression in the Revolutionary War of Arcania, there was one incident prior to it that foreshadowed coming events. This event occured in Copper Docks, Jamille (An area recognised in modern times as part of the coast of Softwind Desert, having been largely subsumed by the desert following the fall of the Empire).

“What gives you the right!” he cried, staring down the Imperial lapdog that barred his way. The middle-aged man clutched a battered satchel tightly to his chest, snarling as the little girl hid behind him. “Bastard watchdog, let us pass!”

“I’m sorry sir, but you will have to return to your home. No ships are to leave port today, by order of the commander.” The faceless soldier tried to be diplomatic, though truth be told he would have boarded the next ship right alongside the man had he the option.

“Why? There’s no winds, the skies are clear, hell you’d have better luck finding a whore in a temple than you would a wave!” The little girl clutched at her father’s trousers, as a crowd rapidly began to surround the group. Soldiers instinctively formed a line to bar their passage further. “It’s Arcanon, isn’t it? That bird that landed her last week? You think we’re traitors, is that it?”

“Sir, we are not accusing you of anything, please return home.” The soldier, wearied by the past half hour of tense, strained, conversation, held up his hands in mock defense.

A cry went up from behind the man from a man stumbling about the street, “Oi oi, he’s crafting something! Goingta blow us all up!”. Quickly, others joined him, and a crowd grew fierce infront of the soldiers.

“There’s three ships leaving today, you gonna stop them all? Eh, witch?”

“You can’t do this, we have rights!”

“Crime to read paper now, is it?”

“You’re all a bunch of thugs! Bitches on leashes!”

“We just want a fresh start!”

Patience grew thin, vulnerable perhaps to a slight wind, and all illusion of a simple shouting match vanished the moment the little girl tripped on her shoes and fell to the cobbled street. Cries of anguish, anger, hatred, and drunken slur filled the street, as the crowd rushed the barricade line. In retaliation, a greater cry, one to shatter windows, let loose from the vocal chords of one soldier amidst the crowd. Agonised, the adults scattered, fleeing into bars, taverns, stores, houses, and all manner of exit route from the scene. All but one remained, as the little girl, frightened by the commotion and dazed by the noise, struggled to get to her feet.

Her father, cowering in a bakery nearby, whispered to her to rush to his side once again, but mildly deafened she could not distinguish his words, nor those of the angered solder that approached her. “Move aside brat, get out of the way!” he yelled, as she looked at him with teary, confused, eyes. “I said move! Back to your rat hole!”

Unable to tolerate the masses any longer, the soldier drew back his heel and readied to forcibly evict the girl from her resting spot.

The moment froze, as all around watched, trapped and helpless to stop what they knew was about to happen, a crime for which no man could escape the noose in the court of public opinion. The girl, seeing too what lay in her immediate future, pressed her eyes tightly shut and girded herself for the strike.

The strike that never came.

In a flash shorter than the blink of an eye, a figure stood between the soldier and the girl. His arms by his sides, and a defiant look upon his face, his fingers clutched tightly into the fists that would surely have struck down a capricious god for what would have transpired had he arrived a moment later, his arrival was quickly announced by the monstrous blast of wind and concussive sound that nearly blew the assembled mages off their feet. His speech was slow, prepared, and final.

“No.”

He glared at the mage, all the anger that had until recently been turned upon the girl behind him now focused through his eyes square into the cowering orbs of the man infront of him.

“You will not treat these people this way.”

Slowly, amidst gasps and hushed realisations of the strange arrival’s identity, the crowd once again drew into the streets, though many times its original scale. The stranger helped the girl to her feet and handed her over to her panicked and weeping father. He turned momentarily back to the quivering remnants of military protocol, his face crumbled into an angered snarl.

Leave.”

None misheard him. And no seat aboard a ship remained by the time the last set sail towards the island once thought a legend. And none would ever mistake Michael Arcanon for a simple stranger ever again.

Posted by: Lying

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