“What do you think?”
Saphara looked at the grizzled red dragonborn before her. She fixed him with a stern glare, before moving to leave. “I’ll think about it.”
Captain Gaur followed the woman out into Meriden’s busy streets. It was an effort to keep up with the younger soldier as she strode towards the Aetherrail, a hundred or so paces from the tavern. “You’ve seen how things are on the island. Our people are dying. They live,” said Balax, shaking his head, “but they are not truly alive. Not like they were. Valasar is bleeding our country dry!”
“Look, I’ve done my time. I’ve served my tours. And I’m not sure the soldier’s life is right for me.”
“Not right for you? You’re 14th Legion — without your unit our losses would have been doubled in Tairis!”
Saphara stopped and turned. “I didn’t say I wasn’t a good soldier, Captain Gaur, I said I wasn’t sure it was right for me.” She continued walking.
Balax followed her, insistently. “A war is coming, Lieutenant. Our people need strong shields to defend them, and a strong hand to guide them.”
Saphara scoffed. “And you’ll defend them by marching on the Glass Palace?! Scale needs unity—this war is a result of the very same division you’d bring upon our people! What makes them better to rule than Valasar?”
“You’ve seen the scale.”
The bronze Scalar rolled her eyes and boarded the waiting railcar. Balax followed her. “It’s one scale,” she said, taking a seat. The car doors shut, and the vehicle lumbered away from the station, an arcane hum filling the air.
“When gold scales return, and rule the palace of—”
“Peace will reign once more, I know. It’s a wives tale. It doesn’t mean anything.” Saphara didn’t make eye contact with the Captain sitting beside her.
“But what if it did?”
“It does to the people.” The lieutenant wheeled around, exasperated, and Balax continued. “Let me ask you a question, lieutenant. Why did you approach Lord Zorgar? Your paths needn’t have crossed, and yet you sat with him, and you told him who you were. Why?”
Saphara sighed, and looked at Balax for a few seconds, before speaking. “When I was young, little more than a hatchling, my village was being harassed by raiders. Bandits. They were nothing, but at the time, there were none able to stand up to them. We sent to Karan Taul for aid, but it was weeks. The bandits waited us out. They burned the farms, they razed the fields, they killed the merchants. We began to starve. People died. My mother died. And then, aid came. I don’t even know what unit it was, but they rode in, in Scale livery, and all of a sudden, those bandits weren’t an issue anymore.” She shook her head. “The troops weren’t even there a day. Zorgar was the standard bearer, he led the men in. He was the first one I saw, and it’s something I never forgot. That was why I joined up.”
Balax nodded. “You wanted to make a difference.”
Lieutenant Vorden shook her head. “I wanted to protect people. The two aren’t always the same,” she said.
“Then you should join with us.”
“I’m just one woman — even with my companions we number only eight. Whatever it is you need, Captain, we will not be enough.”
Gaur sighed, and spoke softly, “We need change, lieutenant. And change begins when a few are willing to stand for the many.”