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Authors: Martin Scott

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Thraxas and the Oracle

BOOK: Thraxas and the Oracle
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Book ten in the Thraxas series

Thraxas and the Oracle © Martin Scott 2015

This edition published 2015 by Martin Millar

ISBN: 978-1-4835491-8-7

The moral right of the author has been asserted. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the copyright holder.

All characters in the publication are fictitious, and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

For more about Thraxas visit

www.martinmillar.com

www.thraxas.com

Cover Model -
Madeline Rae Mason

Photo by Jason Duda Photography

Make up by Chereine Waddell

My thanks to Peter Judge for his help.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Introduction to Thraxas Book Ten

It’s time for Thraxas to march back towards Turai, in an army led by Lisutaris. When I started the series, I didn’t envisage that Thraxas would ever be given an official position, but now he’s a Captain. I didn’t foresee that Lisutaris would become War Leader either, and I certainly didn’t foresee that Makri would ever be welcomed into the army. These characters just seemed to grow into their positions.

Thraxas would prefer to be in the Avenging Axe with a flagon of ale, though at the moment, he’s not certain if the Avenging Axe even exists any more. Makri is still determined to go to the University in Turai, even though that might also have been destroyed. If you’re wondering if I have this all carefully planned out, I don’t. At this moment I don’t really know if the Avenging Axe still exists either. And If Makri ever does make it to the university, I don’t know how she’ll get on. I’ve never been a very good planner. I just start off with the characters and see where the stories go. That can lead to difficulties. A little more planning might not go amiss, actually.

Martin Millar

**********

Chapter One

“You understand, Thraxas, that you’ll have to remain sober? We can’t have any repeat of your past behaviour.”

I’m puzzled by Lisutaris’s words. She doesn’t seem to be making sense. “What exactly do you mean?”

“I think my meaning was quite clear. You are to remain sober at all times. We’re about to embark on a desperate fight for survival and I don’t want you rolling around in the gutter when you may be needed for vital work.”

I’ve been getting along with Lisutaris, Head of The Sorcerers Guild, rather better in recent times, but I don’t like the sound of this.

“Firstly, Lisutaris, I do not
'roll around in the gutter.'
I may quaff a flagon of ale every now and then, for relaxation. No one has ever accused me of taking it to excess - ”

“Everyone has accused you of taking it to excess.”

“ - secondly, I really don’t see that my level of intoxication is going to be a deciding factor in the war against the Orcs.

I might have added
'thirdly, who the hell are you to tell me what I can do?'
but as Lisutaris, Mistress of the Sky, has recently been appointed War Leader and is now the supreme Commander of the western armies, she does have a good claim on being able to tell people what to do, even me.

“Thraxas, I’ve just given you an extremely important position in my inner circle. I’ve promoted you to Captain, against the advice of everyone who’s ever met you. So stop arguing, get ready for action, and stay sober.”

I could argue further, because really, as a free Turanian citizen, I’m perfectly entitled to drink as much as I want. It’s a matter of principle, even if all free Turanian citizens have been driven out of Turai. Our city may have been conquered by the Orcs, but our laws remain. True, I am back in the army again, but that never stopped me before. Lisutaris halts any further discussion by raising her hand imperiously, something at which she’s become adept since being appointed as War Leader.

Now that the nations of the West have managed to assemble, the Elves have joined us from the South, and we’re finally ready to march, I had been expecting to take my place in the army as a common foot-soldier. I’d planned to join up with one of the phalanxes of Turanian exiles. Despite my years of military experience, I’ve never been involved with the top ranks of the military. Generals have tended to ignore the talents of Thraxas of Turai. Lisutaris apparently feels differently. She summoned me to her headquarters and enrolled me on the spot. I’m now a Captain in the Sorcerers Auxiliary Regiment. Not just any old Captain either. I’m Chief Security Officer of the Commander’s Personal Security Unit. I can announce myself as Captain Thraxas, CSO CPS. Captain Thraxas, CSO CPSU SAR if I feel like it. I was vaguely honoured, till she started lecturing me about staying sober.

Lisutaris turns to Makri, who escaped from Turai with us, floating west on a leaky fishing boat before finally washing up in Samsarina. “You will remain as my bodyguard. I’m giving you the rank of Ensign in the Sorcerers Auxiliary Regiment. Like Thraxas you’re part of the Commander’s Personal Security unit. You’ll answer only to me, but it does place you under military discipline. So keep your temper in check and obey my orders.”

So Makri has a title too, and responsibility, and letters after her name. Ensign Makri, BG CPSU SAR. I’m half expecting Makri to object. She’s not a woman who enjoys taking orders. Strictly speaking, she’s not a woman at all, with her Elvish and Orcish blood. However she accepts it calmly enough. Makri has acted as Lisutaris’s bodyguard before. It’s a little different now that she’s actually been drafted into the army. Having her in uniform, so to speak, might help to allay some of the suspicions people have of her. Makri was born in the East and grew up in an Orcish gladiator pit. With her reddish skin and pointed ears, she does tend to arouse suspicion in the West, particularly here in Samsarina where they’re not used to anyone with Orcish blood. She’s quite a well-known figure now, after her victory in the great sword-fighting tournament, but I’m not sure if the broad masses of Samsarinans are happy about her presence.

“Will I be in the front lines?” asks Makri.

“Unlikely. Not at first anyway. I’m War Leader. I need to plan, organise, and get this army in as good shape as possible. I can’t go charging into combat first chance I get, much as I’d like to.”

Makri frowns. That’s not what she was hoping to hear. “But I want to fight.”

“You’ll get your chance eventually. When the important fighting occurs, I’ll be there with the rest of the sorcerers. However we won’t be involved in the advance operations.”

Makri scowls. “But I - ”

“Enough, Ensign Makri.” Lisutaris holds up her hand again. “I’ve no time to discuss it further. I have to talk to three ambassadors in five minutes and you’re coming with me. Captain Thraxas, meet me at my command centre in one hour. Don’t be late.”

“I still don’t like this 'staying sober' business.”

“And you’ll both address me as Commander,” says Lisutaris. “You’re in the army now.”

The Head of the Sorcerers Guild sweeps out of the room, accompanied by a rather unhappy looking Makri. I exit swiftly myself. There’s a tavern not far from here. Best get a few beers inside me while I still have the chance.

Chapter Two

North of the capital, east of the river, the Samsarinan plain stretches out for thirty miles or so before the land starts to rise towards the hilly region that separate Samsarina from Simnia. Mostly it’s farmland, but for the moment much of it has been requisitioned by the King as a base. The military encampment is growing every day. The Samsarinan army is gathered in full force, and troops have been arriving from the smaller states in the south, like Hadassa and Namaste. There are a few more battalions from further west, though less than expected. That’s a common problem. Preparations have gone fairly smoothly, but every allied army that’s arrived has been smaller than hoped for. That includes the Elves. They’ve been making their way up from the Southern Isles in their long ships, but most islands are sending less than last time.

King Gardos of Samsarina can’t wait much longer for late arrivals. Soon we’ll be heading north-east to join up with the Simnian army, then on to meet the Niojans. Moving such vast forces, and keeping them supplied, presents many problems. The major western nations are used to it, however. Much of the logistical support is still in place from the last time we repelled an Orcish invasion, less than twenty years ago.

In the space between the long lines of military tents and the city walls, in a grove of trees now festooned with messages pinned onto boards, there’s a gathering point for refugees, recruits, and all the displaced persons made homeless by the war. Mercenaries and northern barbarians arrive to join up with the army. Others search for lost relatives, or just a place to stay for a while. In amongst the confused mass of people there’s a large, square tent over which flies a Turanian flag. Sitting at a table in front of the tent is an official from the remnants of the Turanian civil service, an ex-palace employee. He’s keeping records of all survivors who’ve made it this far. The entire population of Turai is either dead or homeless, and refugees have been straggling into Samsarina all through the winter. Men of military age are assigned to the surviving Turanian regiments, and the others are housed as best as can be arranged.

I’ve known the Turanian official for a long time. His name’s Dasinius. He was a senior scribe at the Imperial Palace back when I was employed there as an official investigator. We never liked each other. That doesn’t seem to matter much any more. With our city taken by the Orcs, old feuds have lost their importance. As I approach, he shakes his head wearily. He knows why I’m here. Every day I’ve checked to see if there might be any sign of Gurd, or Tanrose, my old friends from the Avenging Axe. I don’t have any particular hope of finding them alive. I was lucky to escape from the sack of Turai and there’s no reason to be optimistic about anyone else’s survival. Even so, I haven’t given up hope. Gurd is a tough man. He wouldn’t lay down his life easily. If he did manage to escape, it’s not impossible that he’d end up here. Simnia is closer to the borders of Turai but Turanians have never got on well with Simnians. They’d be more likely to head for Samsarina, even if it mean a longer march through the winter landscape.

Finding no sign of my old friends, I head inside the city walls and get myself outside of two tankards of beer. Good beer, I have to say. With plenty of fine farmland, the Samsarinans know how to grow high-quality hops and barley. I consider taking a third, but control myself. Probably I shouldn’t drink too much when I’m about to start my official duties with Lisutaris. Not on the same day she warned me about drinking too much anyway.

I make my way to her military headquarters, meanwhile musing on my unexpected promotion to Captain. I’ve been a soldier and a mercenary many times, but never an officer. The highest I rank I ever achieved was corporal in a phalanx, responsible for keeping my row of men in line. Despite my fighting experience, commanders never thought it appropriate to promote me further. Mostly down to class prejudice, I’d say. The blinkered aristocrats who get to be generals are rarely able to appreciate the finer qualities of a strong working man like myself.

BOOK: Thraxas and the Oracle
13.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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