A Story for an Age Distant and Past (Interlude)
Year 3 SC (1511 Stayatam), on the western boundary of the Miktaban territory
Kalem Iqashit followed the path to the riverside. It was a long walk from the stronghold on the hill, but the night was calm as the summer heat was beginning to wane into fall, and it was overall pleasant. The river flowed calmly north to the far-off sea, silt and thick reeds obscuring the water. On the sand stood another figure, tall and cloaked, looking east.
“Was it wise to invite me here alone, friend?” Kalem asked.
Shilna Badhit turned to look at him. The chieftainess of the Badhit clan smiled and gestured for Kalem to stand next to her. She turned to look back out over the river as he obliged. “I have taken extensive measures to ensure our safety, as always.” She nodded towards the desert mountains across the water. “Besides, is it truly in the spirit of our enemy to send assassins? I do not believe so.”
Kalem looked out, glowering. “I’m not sure I would put any treacherous acts of violence past those destructive traitors. Their willingness to destroy knows no bounds.”
“Kalem, you are a wise and respectful leader of your own people, but you misunderstand our enemy.” Shilna lowered the hood of her cloak. “The Mikat are not heedless destroyers. They destroy, yes, but they do so in clever and hidden ways. They are really quite principled. In fact, blind devotion to their ideology of egalitarianism and radical freedom is what makes them dangerous. Without clans, without the traditional families of our people for them to fight for, all they have to cling to is the false promises found in their precious books.”
“I… I see,” Kalem said. “Well regardless, is there a plan?”
“Yes, my friend. I thank you for allowing us to merge our forces, and we will soon be prepared to strike.”
“The troops are fully prepared, Shilna. To be perfectly honest, I am not sure why we don’t attack already. The summer is nearing its end, the rains and floods are coming, the time to march is perfect!”
“This is all true,” Shilna said. “But it is a simple matter of patience. The Bkhanif and the Mikat still stand together. If we were to attack now, it would be Iqashit and Badhit against Mikat and Bkhanif. They are too strong together for us to reasonably expect victory.” She crouched, letting her fingers run through the flowing water for a second before calmly grabbing a handful of dry sand from the bank. “But the cracks between them are widening. Many Bkhanif resent their alliance, and our own whispers are spreading even more discontent throughout their people.” She opened her hand slowly, and the sand grains slowly and methodically began to fall between her fingers and into the water. “We have only to wait a year or so, and we will have the Bkhanif as allies, rather than enemies.”
Shilna stood back up, her cloak flowing in the wind. “And with all the clans thus united, the Mikat will be crushed, and their destruction of the clans will be put to a righteous end.”