OOC The fortress town of Namban was once more thriving with the hustle and bustle of dailiy activity. From the sight of children playing in the streets, to workmen plying their craft, to the sweet aromas of the evening meals being prepared by the community's mothers in their respective kitchens, all was as it had ever been in the small but prosperous town. Were it not for the regular imperial patrols and the military encampment erected just north of the town's walls, one would easily forget that they were on the eve of a great battle. According to the last scout reports, the plague's movements had scheduled their arrival for the next morning, sometime between dawn and mid-day. In as little as eight hours the men and women of the imperial procession, as well as all their enlisted supporters from the mage college and namban's own forces, could be engaged in bloody, brutal combat with the enemy. In as little as twenty four hours, the enemy plague will have been wiped out and preparations to strike back at the cowards of Xine will be under way. However, to most not bearing an imperial seal, today was simply another quiet day. Unfortunately for Captain-Commander Gismere Daemorrund, she was indeed bearing an imperial seal, and making the final preparations for the impending battle had left these last few days as anything but 'quiet' for her. She, her troops, and the accompanying mages from the college had all arrived in the town little under four weeks prior, and the captain-commander's every waking moment since had been spent in preparation for the upcoming battle. It was her duty to take accounts of all the soldiers at her disposal, arrange them into specialized units, and draw up the plans of attack once the plague hit. She had to work with the town guard, the mages, the knights, and even the townsfolk who volunteered to lend a blade or bow in the upcoming battle, and ensure they could all work together cohesively and follow orders properly. This was not her task alone of course, she was aided by the captain of the guard, the magi from the college, and had even been granted a high noble born as her lieutenant-captain. However, thanks to the scrutiny of the illustrious Ison Daegran, one of the king's generals, she would be made to bear the full responsibility of any perceived defeat come the morrow. Ison had been appointed as an 'overseer' of the campaign, which was a fancy title that meant that his job was simply to criticize ever decision made by Gismere, overrule whichever command he saw fit, take all the glory should the campaign be a success, and pin all the blame on her should it fail. And the standards for failure were quite low. While their forces were far from everything the Atlusian kingdom had to offer, King Alant had still spared no expense in sending forces to crush the plague. This was not to be a battle, this was to be a one-sided massacre intent on showing the Xinean necromancers that even a fraction of Atlusia's forces would be enough to repel whatever measly attempt at invasion they launched. As such, should the battle take too long, or too many imperial lives be lost, it will be reported as a grievous lacking of Gismere's skill as a commander, even shoudl the battle still end in victory. Tomorrow's operation had to be flawless in execution, and Gismere was fully intent on making it just that. In her thirty two years of life, eighteen had been spent in military service to the crown. She had grown used to Ison and his lot, pretentious old men who thought lesser of her for lack of a worm to dangle between her legs. But she had overcome their prejudice countless times in the past, and now sat poised to become the kingdom's first female general. This campaign would be her magnum opus, and she would finally prove herself the better of all the men who stood in her path so far. Finally she would silence the venomous whispers of those who claimed she had gotten to her position riding solely on her father's name. *** Having finished overseeing the training of the city's marksmen, Gismere made her way back to the Guard's northern watchtower. A final debriefing would take place there this evening, and she needed to ensure that all knew their roles for the upcoming confrontation. As she rode upon her steed through the town streets, she found herself thinking back to a particular archer she had witnessed. Every time Gismere went to oversee the archery training, there was one woman who stood apart from the crowd, both physically and metaphorically. She was neither enlisted with the guard, nor was she a knight, but her skill with a bow paralleled that of some of the greatest imperial sharpshooters Gismere knew of. When the captain-commander had inquired to the woman's identity the Guard Captain had only said she was a huntress who made her home in the nearby Fami Woods. Gismere hadn't been given the time to seek out the huntress and speak with her, but it warmed her heart and gave her courage to see another member of the fairer sex make a name for herself with weapon in hand and legs closed. She hoped that once this was all over, she could talk with the woman and learn more of her story, as well as hopefully bring her back to the capital and bring her into military service. Such skills were wasted hunting wild game. Abruptly, Gismere was brought out of her reverie as her horse neighed loudly and she stopped. A few children had run by swinging wooden swords and startled her steed. Gismere calmed her horse and looked at the children who ran off with a frown before continuing her trot. She was not upset that the children had barred her way of course. Regardless of her position in a male-dominated field, Gismere had always held a certain softness for the innocence of the young. It was her own childhood dreams and idolization of her father that pushed her to chose this walk of life after all. No, what caused her brow to furrow was the presence of those children within these walls period. Had Gismere been given her way, all the women and children would have been evacuated the moment she set fort in Namban. However, Ison had overruled this decision. He reasoned that, as the battle would be an assured victory, there was no need to evacuate. In fact, the shame put on the Xinean necromancers would be doubled if they could not even breach a town still occupied by harmless civilians. Of course this all went without mentioning that sending the women away would rob him and his knights of their ability to waste away their nights in brothels or the sheets of drunken inn maids. Gismere did not enjoy the situation. No battle is ever completely assured, and she did not feel right putting at risk the lives of innocents only so a pampered old man could send an extra middle finger Xine's way. But orders were orders, and she only took this as more reason to ensure the following battle went perfectly. If even a drop of civilian blood was spilled, she would make sure Ison was the one to pay for it once she was made General. *** Finally arriving at the guard tower, Gismere wasted no time in making her way to the Guard Captain's Office. There, she found the captain himself, one of the college Magi, Ison himself, and his nephew wallace -- her lieutenant-commander -- standing next to him. So she was last to arrive, perfect, the crooked old general would be sure to get one last jab in at her for that. "I see you are all here already," she said as she closed the door to the office behind her, "I thank you for all coming here once again and hope you were not made to wait on my presence." she spared no more effort in explaining herself. Nothing she would say would appease the old snake, who she could already see smirking in contempt. It was best to simply let the old man have his moment of self-satisfaction. "You've no need to concern yourself commander Daemorrund," chimed in Ison with his raspy, dry voice, malice glimmering from behind his leathery eyes, "none here are unknown to a lady's tendencies to let time slip away from her." "Then I appreciate the courtesy," replied the woman shortly, not paying mind to the expected jab at her sex. "Now, I would like to begin this meeting with the final reports on Namban's personal defense forces. Captain Aenurin, if you would."