The oppressive heat and humidity had lifted briefly and the overcast conditions were now sunny and perfect weather. At least perfect weather as the party was concerned. This lead to them now sunning themselves on what was once the roof of a massive granary. They were eating and drinking along the roofline, except for Riku who was leaning up against the sun warmed stone about a hundred feet away.
Riku was sitting leaning on the ledge with his eyes closed as his armor dried in the sun. He’d spent the last fifteen minutes scrubbing the stink out of his armor. Two weeks in the swamp was not place one went to reduce the smell of one’s clothing. So the armor and other clothing lay in the sun, along with the contents of his haversack. All Riku’s worldly goods were sunning themselves as Balazarius picked his way through the scattered items and sat beside him. The fighter’s guisarme clattered to the ground, as the dragonborn made himself comfortable.
One of Riku’s eyes opened and he looked over and raised himself up into a sitting position. “You need something my friend? What exactly..”
Balazarius cut him off, “You need to stop being an asshole. Your attitude is going to get us killed. I can understand your reasoning, but it’s been two weeks and no one waits this long to attack someone when they’re right in their grasp”
Riku’s eyes widened and he glared, “So tell me how your really feel? Don’t judge me, big fella. I was naïve enough in my youth and I paid for that sin back then, I don’t intend to pay twice. The Arctus Incursion was a valuable wake-up call and I’ll not let that lesson go to waste…so keep your judgement to yourself!” The last few words were much louder than the rest and the other members of the party stopped and looked down the way at the two former soldiers.
After a couple seconds of silence the dragonborn spoke again, “So, you did serve with Marshall Arctus, you’re indeed lucky to have escaped execution. Were you there when the officers revolted after the…(Riku was silent and Balazarius changed tactics) However, that doesn’t change what I said. We need to get these kobolds trained. Your paranoia about our being attacked and not trusting them might be warranted with other humanoids, but not with these ones.”
The magus seemed ready to yell something back, but he closed his mouth and thought for a minute. Then he answered, “I’m not in the army now, because I don’t want to be someplace where I can’t use my skills to help. Someplace where I’ve got the ability to react as quickly as I want to…I was still really green only barely out of training when Marshall Arctus took us over the border. My arcane skills have always made up for my lack of skill with a blade…I mean I’m decent enough I suppose, but straight up you’d gut me. I’ve had to use my talents to even things out. In any case I’d been assigned with his reserve guard, because I could fight and deal with ranged attackers. We figured out pretty quickly after we crossed the border and sacked Unlation Pass and Joss that something was wrong with the man. But you know that when you’re a soldier you follow orders, even if those orders are wrong, even if those orders are coming from someone who’s not even fit to slop hogs. You also need to remember that in any confrontation the losers are most times just suckers following orders. You are right about my being lucky, I knew a lot of the guys they hung and if I’d been a grunt I’d of joined them. Magic saved my ass then, and I’m counting on it to save it here. I was too valuable to kill, they needed as many casters with military experience to go into the Nestor Forest and hunt the Goblin mages that had wiped out the half-elves down in that part of the woods. I spent that next year fighting the most twisted bunch of sick bastards you can imagine.
You wonder why I’m paranoid…I fucking earned it.”
Riku seems a bit spent as he unloads on the dragonborn fighter who sits calmly taking in all the magus is saying and then responds, “That was some rough shit. I’ve served and dealt with it too, I’m just saying that for the here and the now, you’re going to raise problems for us with the way your behaving. The others haven’t put me up to this, but as a fellow brother-in-arms I’ve come just to talk. It’s my life on the line too. If what they’ve been telling Cordell is true…we are going to need them. I’ve always trusted my skill too, but I didn’t earn them doing things the wrong way. These little buggers are ready to lay it all out there and with our help I think we’ll be a lot further along than with it. The two of us have indeed seen some shit…why don’t we turn that back somewhere it will be of use? We’re here and have a lot to do, why not make it easier on ourselves and use the tools we’ve been given (he motions over to a half-dozen kobold warriors who’ve been watching the party members relaxing)?”
The magus’ hard stare slowly fades and he begins to laugh and then raises his head up to the heavens, “I’m not saying you’re completely right, but for some reason you’ve made a number of good points…you must be lucky too. I agree these folk are as different as any kobold that I’ve seen. We would be foolish not to use the tools provided to us to do something to help ourselves through this. Well I’m sure you’ve got some other stellar ideas in mind??”
The dragonborn chuckled and he outlined a couple of drills he’d been running some of the interested kobold warriors through. Riku nodded and they planned a couple of highly effective drills they’d run tonight.