Sesskia’s Diary, part 199

7 Seresstine

We struck camp and moved east this morning. The strategy, as I understand it, is to intercept that weakened division so it can’t rejoin the army; it should be easy to defeat and will give our mages practice before we face however many dozens of mages the God-Empress has in her camp. I’m just glad to be moving. Mattiak estimates we’ll encounter them sometime tomorrow morning, and after we defeat them, we’ll reevaluate our position with regard to the main army. “After we defeat them,” his exact words, which makes me wonder if he’s really that confident or just good at optimism.

He invited me to eat with him tonight and I declined, saying I was going to eat with the mages so we could talk about what they might be able to do. He just smiled, and said, “Another time,” and the look in his eyes told me he knew what I was doing, and he wasn’t offended. That made me angry, that he was so confident of winning my heart that he could humor my coldness toward him. Nothing I can do about it but endure. At least he won’t attack me—I’m certain he won’t be happy unless I come to him voluntarily.

We’re going into battle tomorrow. All the mages are nervous and excited, but none of them seem afraid, or worried about being able to perform. We’ve talked about tactics, and I’ve told them something of what the Castaviran mages can do, and how to recognize them—they’re usually mounted, to give them a better view of the battlefield, I think. And I’ve made it clear that disabling them is not enough; we can’t afford to have them coming back to attack our troops. They all say they understand, that they can kill if they have to, but it’s not the sort of thing you know until you’re at that point.

The spies are the most relaxed, probably because we’re not sure they’ll have anything to do in this battle. Nessan joined us just after dinner and said the same thing. He’s going to scout ahead tonight; I volunteered to help, but he shook his head and said, “This isn’t something I can hand off to you,” and then he was gone. I wonder what Mattiak told him.

Sleep, now, and we’ll see what the morning brings.

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