The Last Chapter
Night's Rise, 27 Y.C.
Ielis knew her last winter was behind her. In the months since the declaration of military action, she and Second Cavalier Sasamata had amassed their knowledge and manpower to terrifying effect.
And yet, while sortie after sortie out on the frigid black waves proved successful, each triumphant serviceman returning to herald news of victory, every inch of ground to be gained towards resolution falling to the mercy of Coghan, Ielis suffered the most exhausting winter she ever would. The cold had taken its toll. So had her age. So had her legacy.
For such an easy victory, she told herself, she paid with her very breath.
All due merits to the Redjacks, they were still merely pirates. When threatened with force, they would surrender or die quickly. Their ambush tactics and rapid escapes proved equally successful against the red pirates as against the shores and ships of Ighodia. They weren’t interested in malice aside from what their fleet captain demanded of them. And when that fleet commander was taken at spearpoint on his own vessel, a bronze stake driven through his throat, the penultimate chapter of Ambassador Premiere Ielis Raghn would similarly choke out its last words.
Still, she counted it a victory—personally and on behalf of Coghan. Ighodia was safe once again, and with any luck its ports and navy would flourish as they had before. And as for her, she proved to the forum that Coghan was no longer a nation of isolation: it was capable—formidable, even.
Even now, she proved to herself something that even she had begun to doubt— that she could see her last act to its close. She had no winters left.
Ielis wiped the mucus from her thin, cold lips with a snow-white cloth. Even still she felt cold under her blankets, her frailty catching up to her at a speed only comprehensible in the fact that it had evaded her—rather, she evaded it—for so long.
The future is out of her hands. She serves–served, perhaps–for life. The Executive Council already has the Priority Election in the back of its mind. She has no goals left. No ambitions. Nothing for which to strive. She smiles in spite, wonders if this is what all old people feel when they die with their affairs in order. Everything behind them, finally—nothing more to worry about, and nothing but futile sadness to show for it. She sighs.
All she can hope for is a warm death.