As part of the Worlds of Wonder blog hop, today’s post is an excerpt from the soon to be released fourth book of The Brotherhood of Dwarves series:
From Chapter 3
The Life that Should Have Been
In the faint light of dawn, Crushaw squatted and drew a crude map in the dirt near the gate to Kwarck’s farm, outlining the western mountains, the Mother of Ice, and the plains. Then, he marked where he wanted the ogres to set their defenses, several miles south of their border within the lands of Rugraknere. From traveling those lands with Roskin, he remembered an expansive field north of the last town they had stopped in that would serve perfectly. Across from him, Vishghu and Kwarck quietly watched, each staring intently at his scheme.
“The Great Empire is here already,” he said, indicating the majority of Rugraknere. “So they’ll want to march north, clip the ogres’ western flank, and then turn against the Kiredurks. You must convince enough matriarchs to hold them here.” He dug the stick deeper into the dirt.
“I know that area well,” Vishghu returned. “I’ll convince my mother, and she holds sway with many others.”
“Good. I’ll approach from here,” he said, drawing an arrow from the east. “General Strauteefe is in command. He’ll want to wait for the spring thaw before advancing, but if you press forward in winter, he’ll be forced to meet you. I’ll arrive on the Winter Solstice.”
“Does that give us time to train the army?” Kwarck asked, uncertainty tingeing his voice.
“No, but it gives us the advantage of bad weather.”
“I don’t know,” Kwarck said. “Extra time would be a better benefit.”
“I agree with that,” Vishghu said. “My people could use the time to build better fortifications.”
Crushaw dropped his stick and rose to full height. Despite his age, his presence became commanding and imposing. Clenching his jaw, he stared at them for several heartbeats, and their expressions changed from questioning to submissive. He exhaled sharply and pointed his right index finger first at Kwarck and then at Vishghu:
“Do you know why I’ve never lost a pitched battle?”
“I don’t doubt your judgment,” Kwarck said, lowering his eyes.
“You’ve charged me with leading this army,” Crushaw snarled. “So do me the courtesy of answering me.”
“No, I don’t.”
“Because I always choose the time and place,” he said, his voice a low growl. Shifting his attention to Vishghu, he continued, “Control those and you dictate the kind of battle fought. Strauteefe is cautious. He’s planning a siege up a mountain in the spring and summer. Do either of you know what that means?”
Both shook their heads. Behind them at the gate, Vishghu’s buffalo stamped its front hoof, the sound startling in the quiet of morning.
“He won’t have many long bows. Mostly crossbows for close range. And catapults and trebuchets. And infantry, heavily armored.”
Vishghu nodded, a look of comprehension coming over her.
“One thing the elves already know how to do is fire long bows accurately. That’s about our only advantage, and in heavy snow, I like long bows against armored infantry. I like knowing that catapults and trebuchets will be hard to maneuver. And I really like hitting my enemy before they want me to.”
“You’re right, Crushaw,” Kwarck said. “I’m sorry.”
“If you want me to lead, we do things my way.”