Desmon dispersed the altered grains within the indigenous ones as Razife vanished into the wind. The former magistrate member shook his head as he wondered whether or not the three of them could accomplish this goal, given the conflicting components.

He knew that he was taking a chance in sowing this part of the plan relatively alone, having dismissed those who had accompanied him to join the others in battle below. While he understood that Allen and Jalem planned to make their way through the battle to get to the destination, Desmon was tempted to just use the Vanishing spell on them both, to spare them the chance of injury before the standoff.

Looking at the pillar of smoke still rising in the distance, thinner, but ominous as ever; Desmon noted a change in the message. The fact that Miga, the one who was supposed  to lead the way towards peace while protecting different cultures, spoke of the secrets of the storytellers’ code infuriated him.

Granted, the message itself wasn’t of the language of the storytellers, but the technique worked in the language spoken only in the dark, distant districts that Desmon had learned when he was tricked into the studies.

Yet it was during those challenging times that Desmon dug deep into the beliefs of his ancestors. Even now, during the fights alongside Orbaj, he found his faith strengthening with the older man’s words of encouragement.

Yes, Desmon gave Allen a hard time for taking on the stance of opponent’s advocate. But now, more than ever, the defender knew he had to have faith that the three of them would succeed in taking back the leadership and guidance, to hold the place for the younger generation they helped prepare.

Desmon sighed. He didn’t care if the others didn’t like it; he was going to bring them up to the plateau, to get them to prepare for the inevitable confrontation. Altering the pillar of smoke before him – artificially created from his wand – he sent a message that the receiver alone would understand. The fires raging below, the spells and storms swirling above, he knew, one of them would die before the moons set. And Jalem would kill him if she knew.

Watching the others forging their way through the brush, Jalem reluctantly accepted the fact that many who had taken up arms were practically children forced to grow up too fast. And yet they seemed ready to fight, something she wasn’t sure she would have been at their age. True, there were minor arguments in the courtyards or scrimmages behind the school, however if anyone had asked Jalem years ago if she could or would fight, she was uncertain of her answer.

“So much for taking the oath of healing,” she muttered, as he saw Orbaj, one of the clerics from the mountain cities, help another fighter make arrows and spheres. Many trades-people put their skills to different uses during these battles, some for the better and some with unexpected results. Orbaj was one of the latter. While many thought he’d be there to simply provide prayers for strength or words for the violently departed, he was one of the first to hone skills of weaponry.

“Quinton, help us,” she prayed, the havoc morphing into a maelstrom.