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Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Day at the Plateau of Forever Part I

This coffee is wretched”, Cade thought sourly gazing down into his metal cup. He sucked down half it anyway, enjoying the warm feeling that it invoke in his guts despite the bitter taste. Cade let the hand holding the cup drop down to his knee and looked out of the tent. His eyes took in the camp, lingering on the pennants and flags that adorned many of the tents, proclaiming one noble son or another, officers, military units and other offices.

Stinking full of the worthless rabble who think they can fight his year” Cade groused internally, face showing nothing of his internal feelings. He took a deep breath, stretching, some how juggling a half cup of coffee in the process while scratching energetically at an itch through the padded undercoat. It was a welcome relief but pulled at the scars along his ribs, making old wounds ache. Not that he paid much attention.

Figuring it was about time, Cade poured the rest of the coffee down his throat and stood. The pile of armor waiting for him wasn’t going anywhere but his unit was and if he wasn’t there, in line and ready, they rest wouldn’t exactly spring up and he’d end up kicking down tents waking up the good-for-nothing lot he had for a unit.

So with an internal sigh Cade pulled the stool closer to the pile of armor and sat down. He stared at it for a moment, gloomily brooding, while a finger absentmindedly rubbed at a scar along the underside of his chin.

Most people start with the leggings or the breastplate when they put on armor, Cade noted idly. Its not tradition or nothing but plain simplicity. Its hard to bend and stretch properly to work on greaves, much less boots when you can’t flex your torso due to the steel encircling it. Of course not that what he was wearing was exactly normal in any regard.

Cade snorted and picked up the boots, checking them over for wear or damage. They looked okay but he let his eyes linger over the rune etched patterns anyway, ensuring the matrix still looked seamless. The center pattern was a silvery trail of strands mixing and intertwining between knots of intricate weave. Surrounding it was a sea of spidery rune strands, waves cascading every which way.

Once, when Cade served his first year here, he’d tried to follow the rune weave, spending night after night tracing and studying it. Of course, he never succeeded and while still beautiful to the eyes the wonder behind its working had long since died away.

Cade checked the bottoms, noting the pattern was still intact, though slightly more worn than elsewhere. Satisfied, he kicked off his camp boots into a corner of the tent and slipped on each of the rune woven boots. They slid on easily and Cade felt the first tremors slide past his toes up into his legs. Ignoring them as he always did, Cade reached for the greaves next, checking them like he did the boots. Content with his inspection, he held them against his legs, waiting for the spidery feeling that always accompanied the armor adhering itself to his body. The first time Cade put on the armor it repulsed him. Now, he thought while slipping on more of the armor around his body, it didn’t bother him at all. Cade paused for a moment, thinking, have I become jaded or just accepting? He held the thought for a moment then snorted softly. Soldiers don’t have time to think about such things he told himself.

Getting on to business, Cade went through a series of calisthenics, adjusting the armor here and there before giving it the final command to lock in place. Done, he slipped his heavy gauntlets into his belt and picked up his helmet, inspecting both one last time. Pleased with their condition, he went back outside in time to see the first rays of the rising sun beaming across the plateau.

Just in time he thought. Cade looked over them as the sun rays dappled across the camp and the torn green field beyond to the giant monoliths. Massively built of dark hewn stone, they seemed to absorb the sunshine as its played across them. Still as the sunlight grew in strength it seemed to light the giant stones with a sullen fire, illuminating the giant steps of the base, creeping with increasing speed upward towards the pyramidal top where the great columns rose like spears jutting towards the face of the sky.

It never grows old, Cade thought as he took a deep look at the awe inspiring majesty of the stone pile. Then, breathing it all in, he turned away, ignoring it as his boots pounded a path towards the not too distant spot where he would soon muster his company.

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