Last Rite

How will you choose to die?

Caiatl and Saladin sit alone in the council chamber. Two metal bowls bearing the inscription, Perun, sit between them. Each holds a pile of small smooth stones that rattle along with the hum of the Eligos Lex V's engine.

Saladin rolls a stone in his fingers. He leans forward and places it on an intersection of lines seared into a thick leather mat. He taps the table beneath it. "These stones are like legions raising your banner. Each one placed is a claim."

He leans back in his seat and gestures to her. "Turn."

Caiatl's eyes remain on the spot where Saladin placed his stone. She flicks an azure stone from her bowl onto the mat, then nudges the stone adjacent to Saladin's last placement.

"Aggressive. But the object isn't to kill. Establish borders. Hold territory." Saladin's words are measured as he places a counter-stone.

Caiatl considers a flanking maneuver, then a defensive line, or—

"Speaking of… borders…" Caiatl flanks. "You place too many between yourself and your Legionaries."

Saladin looks up, then back to the board.

Caiatl continues. "It is how Tarnth chooses to die. Rather than ossify into an immobile monument of bone, drawn on a cart that the young may hear their wisdom."

Saladin shoots her a look, then connects a line of stones in defense. "I'm not an executioner."

"You carry a large axe," she spars, placing another stone by his.

He groans and places a stone away from the clash.

"Tarnth respects your command, she bears your Iron Banner." Caiatl continues, "Death by your hand would be an honor."

Saladin sighs. "That's not how I see it."

"Because it is not YOUR custom. In the Age of Conquest, warriors nearing death were gathered into legions and deployed at the tip of the spear. A final, glorious death charge. Seen by all."

Caiatl considers her next move.

"Calus did away with the practice. Denied our greatest their glorious deaths. He surrounded himself with a host of petrified elders, soaking in their council. Those who resisted were shown the fighting pits, to reclaim lost honor. Most soldiers were called home to Torobatl to live out their lives in the empire, paid as citizens. But many still chose to die on distant battlefronts when the opportunity presented itself."

"This is comfort for her." Caiatl captures her first of Saladin's stones.

"Fine. But this is my last rite of proving."

"Very well. She wishes you display her bleached skull in the barracks."

Saladin glares up at her and moves to secure a corner of the board. "You're joking."

"Yes," she snorts, "It goes to her family."

IV - Shutdown

Category: Caiatl

Legion Lost – 11

It Stared Back

Category: Emperor Calus

Leviathan's Breath

Ketchkiller's Grips

Category: Lords of Iron

Legion Lost – 17

Iron Forerunner Strides

Category: Lady Perun

Ghost Fragment: Mysteries 3

IV - Shutdown

Category: Lord Saladin

Legion Lost – 17