I’ve just come back from the surgeon’s tent. He’d told me Paddrek wasn’t going to survive, but I hoped he was wrong. Why is there no pouvra for healing? I even tried the binding pouvra, but it did nothing. As usual. Though I suppose if that’s what it was for, the Castaviran mages would have known.
I’ve been trying to tell myself it could have been worse, that he’s the only mage who died and only three others were wounded, none of them seriously, but Paddrek wasn’t a number, he was a man, and a friend, and it was so stupid—he’d gotten out of formation, concentrating on maintaining fire, and our unit of defenders let some of the God-Empress’s soldiers through. They didn’t get any further than Paddrek, I saw to that, but that wasn’t much comfort with him screaming and clutching his stomach to keep his intestines from sliding out. I guess I should be glad he’s not in pain anymore, but I’d rather he was alive.
We struck camp early so we could reach a place Mattiak’s scouts, i.e. Nessan, had described as a good place for us to stage our attack from. There had been a lot of discussion about where to put the mages, mostly about whether it was better they stay on the ground where they didn’t look like anyone else, or be in the wagon where they could have a better view of the battlefield but also be more exposed.
In the end, we decided on the ground, mainly because of my repeated insistence that we have no shield pouvra (I still can’t work out what Cederic did, damn him for being so brilliant, he’s going to teach me that when we’re reunited) and are better off being slightly less effective at fighting if it means being better protected. So we were assigned a unit (as I mentioned above) to keep us from being overrun by the God-Empress’s army and sent to where we’d be out of our army’s way.
Then we waited. Not very long, though. We saw them approaching, of course, long before they reached us; one of the good features of our position was that it was just over a low rise, which gave Mattiak a view of the whole battlefield and put him in a position to dictate changes in strategy. Not that he does much of that. His officers are very bright and are good at understanding how they fit into the army, and altering their tactics accordingly. Not that I have any idea what those tactics are—that’s just something Mattiak told me over dinner. The memory of all those dinners is sour now.
Anyway, the mages didn’t have anything to do until we could see the army clearly. We could tell it was a lot smaller than ours, of course; I don’t know what we would have done if the entire army had come marching down the road. I was straining to see the mages, and half-listening to a conversation Rutika and Ryenn were having, and then there was a cry, and the sound of trumpets, and the front of our army surged forward and met theirs with an enormous clash of sound that rippled over our heads. Fire blossomed here and there along their line and arched from the battle mages to fly into our army, making spots of fire the soldiers shifted to avoid. I grinned because I knew they wouldn’t be able to do what we could.
“There, left of center—oh, and right, too,” Elleria said. “They’re spread out in a line like their range is limited.”
“They aren’t outside our range,” Ryenn said. “Shall we attack?” He’s one of our upper class mages and his language sounds elegant no matter what he’s saying.
“Let’s give them a surprise,” I said. “Count of three, and let’s see if we can hit all…yes, there’s ten of them.” I counted off three, and said, “NOW!”
to be continued…