Grakus Ironskull, of the Dark Isles Ironskulls, has never been very comfortable at a desk. His armour is designed for battle, not a war of words and intrigue and as such keeps catching on drawers. His six foot seven, broad-shouldered frame also doesn’t help, as the desk itself is built for a clerk, or a dogsbody, or anyone that has never seen battle in their life.
Somebody knocked at the door. “My lord Ironskull!” Arden Shipman, his second in command, called through. “Captain Havisdotter has arrived.”
“Send her in.” He shouted back, looking down at the reports before him. This was not going to be a fun meeting, to say the least.
Fjonna Havisdotter stepped into the room and snapped to attention. She was every image of the dutiful soldier, leather armour moulded to her body to allow for greater range of movement, hair cut short to prevent the enemy getting a handhold in close combat. By her side hung two blades that danced on the line between long knife and short sword, both singing as they cut the air as she walked.
“General Ironskull, Sir.”
“Havisdotter. Take a seat.” He raised a mailed glove, gesturing to the seat before the desk. She broke from her rigid pose and sat down, placing her hands on her knees and giving every impression of being as at attention as before. “Last week, I asked if you would become Captain of the Seventh. What did you tell me when I first asked?”
“I said no, Sir.” She swallowed, not in a fearful way, more of a challenge. “I specifically requested I stay with the Valkyries.”
“Indeed. I then asked once again. I told you I’d not seen a warrior of your prowess since my own youth. You then told me, what?”
“That I had much more to learn and that the best place for me was the Valkyries.”
“Exactly.” Grakus lifted his hand to his chin, scratching the rough beard covering a healing wound. A close call with a Mallian death squad had nearly taken his jaw off. The Seventh, his chosen warband at the time, had almost let him die. Their captain, Mors Stormsearch, had disappeared at the first hint of battle. “I then insisted. I said that the Valkyries had other capable leaders rising through the ranks and that you, personally, should be commanding. Not following the orders of Niamh Seacrest. I instructed you to take charge of the Seventh.”
“So, Havisdotter, I’d like you to tell me what happened at Barock Pass. Then I have to make a decision as to whether I release you from your duties or kill you where you sit.” Grakus smiled as he slid the plate gloves over his hands. “Move for the knives, you die. Move at all, you die. Talk and I’ll make my decision.”
Fjonna thought for a moment. She was considering making a run for it, making an attack on the General. Here at Portin’s Keep, she wouldn’t make it fourteen yards before there were three crossbows pointed at her. Those options were out. She analysed other possibilities, going for the window, calling to her sisters in arms. None of them came through.
“Very well. Barock Pass.” She took a deep breath.
The Idiot in Tin Foil