Nestled between the Cherubic Mountains, High Command’s Intelligence Division had recently converted a majestic mountain chateau into its central base of operations. With its picturesque lake just to the front and a fertile valley that stretched for miles to the left, there was nothing left for the imagination to conjure. The landscape was breathtakingly vivid and the lake sparkled like a sea of diamonds as the wind very gently brushed the surface and the sun set past the water’s edge.
General Mikel wearing a red cape over his towering build and dark shoulder length hair was an imposing figure to say the least who was embracing the view in front of him. He had recently been asked to gather intel of the seemingly ageless conflict. He had spent the day meeting with various lieutenants trying to ascertain the condition of his forces and the surprisingly competent rag tag army they were in charge of. Tired from the mixed reports he was receiving, he tried to take this moment and clear his thoughts, when his favorite junior officer was presented.
“Sir.” As Zar entered the marbled floor chamber that overlooked the valley from the balcony. General Mikel still had his back turned and hands on the railing capturing the final moments before turning to greet Zar as he approached the table that stood between them. Zar wearing a short gray tunic which laid underneath a leather breastplate, an elaborate wrought leather scabbard, similar to the General’s, to his side and sported his ornate silver helmet on the other. He was one of the fittest of the General’s officers and preferred a lighter wardrobe to take advantage of his innate quickness.
“I hope you are here to bring me good news. I have been peppered all day with reports of desertion, insubordination and excuses why personnel were leaving their posts.”
With his eyes attempting to search the floor for a different account. “Forgive me, Sir, I had hoped for better news but it seems that over the course of the past few nights our adversary has been able to infiltrate one of our southern strongholds and has made inroads over the area I have been asked to watch over and protect. The Fog of War has made it impossible to defend” said Zar with a whispered voice that was somehow lost within the breeze that moved through the room.
The General’s agitation was only hidden by years of practice. “What do you mean? I’ve watched this battle unfold. We’ve taken serious ground over the past few months. We have been on the offensive and have pushed back the enemy to a point, that he is now just a nuisance in this area. We’ve been able to stop some of the propaganda which always seems to curtail our efforts. How can this be?” the General said as he looked down again to review notes he was flipping through.
“I am not sure. It seems like there are still areas on the defensive line that might not have been completely fortified. I have spoken with Captain Marcus, who originally shepherded that area. He seems to think that the recent push by the enemy, declaring the war is lost and the news that everyone will have to accept the Fog’s presence, has placed fear in the air for those afraid to carry our standard on the line. Once it settles in, many times it can be overwhelming and second thoughts can prevent the action needed to push forward. You do remember sir, we are still an outfit of volunteers who have a hard time letting go of old methods of fighting and easily swayed to try new ones if they become impatient.”
“Correction Lieutenant , those soldiers have been bought and paid for and commanded the highest price and they know this!” Slowly pacing back and forth with his arms behind his back, General Mikel pensively said, “Still, you are right about that, but why is it only happening at night? The line has been unwavering during the day .”
“True, but you know just as well as I do, that no matter how much preparation goes into this, the enemy continues to batter us. I would equate it to death by a thousand cuts, and until recently we have not heard from this line on a regular basis. However, for the past few days we have lost contact as the Fog was encircling the encampment. I understand they were doing everything possible to fortify the line and were holding strong despite the nightly setbacks before contact was lost.” Zar said with as much confidence he could muster.
Dropping his arms, with his fists clenched , he stopped behind the marble table. The General was noticeably disturbed. He grabbed a golden chalice, left over from the previous meal and emptied it in one gulp and threw it against the wall. These so called skirmishes have been on the rise recently even though victory is at hand. They have absolutely frustrated him. Reports like this have been coming in from all areas. The enemy had recently deployed new tactics and has refused to give up. With defeat not that far off, the increased attacks and this new Fog of War seem to cover an entire area and painted a different picture of the process from those actually on the ground.
The latest tactic, happened when a communique was intercepted and replaced with false orders. It ordered the NW Division to take the seven Societal Mountains which actually helped the enemy shift their focus. This embroiled them more deeply into a sideline battle with the enemy under the cover of the Fog of War. The enemy would rather fight them there separated from High Command, even at the expense of his own forces to keep them from the actual prize. With seemingly little resistance the NW Division has embarked on this new mission, while they are still experiencing gains. Their commander is leading its troops in a new direction, fighting for ground it need not capture. It has left its regiment isolated from High Command who hasn’t been able to reach them. It seems like the enemy has somehow enveloped them with this Fog of War, once anyone believes a lie from the enemy. It shrouds them from the light and has an effect on them and they become unresponsive. Currently, the NW Division is convinced that the original battle plan was interpreted incorrectly and the new plan was an oversight on their part. Instead of checking in with High Command, they interpreted it themselves and declared it was a mistake from the beginning. Reports are coming in that one of their promising Lt. Colonel’s is somehow convinced the enemy was removed from power and defeated. Once he was convinced of that, in no time the Fog engulfed him and the war in his mind had been won. He now believes the Societal Mountains can be taken from the remaining resistance, then High Command’s anointed King would return and take His rightful place. They are now on a campaign under the Fog of War without support and cut off from the rest of High Command forces. Without a breakthrough this could actually lead them into the hands of the enemy, through an illusion of assumed power and authority to subdue the enemies remnant. All outgoing messages have been intercepted and even the messages through the back channels have been ignored. It is a large contingent that has been effected and the General’s inner circle is hoping its not too late for the situation to turn around. This has allowed the enemy to redeploy his soldiers to other areas and leave only strategically placed agents behind who are embedded within the leadership poised as up and comers to influence decisions and try to guide them to a profit’s reward.
Zar, on the other hand, has been overseeing a very small troop that has completely bought into the standard battle plan and has been checking in regularly for updates and has held their position until recently reported. Each night a series of skirmishes have broken out. His troop is reporting that they are constantly on the run and always seem to be just out of the reach of those trying to overrun them. Once morning arrives the enemy retreats and Zar’s troop reclaims the seemingly lost ground. It is truly two steps back to steps forward and no more, every night.
After filling in General Mikel with the latest developments and recognizing his disappointment, Zar walked around the table to his commanding officer, “Sir, may I approach you?”
With a nod, Zar stepped forward. “Sir, I see you are upset but you must not lose hope as you’ve told me before. Yes, we are in a fight and we are doing what High Command has asked of us but never forget we are winning.”
Letting out a sigh, his frame relaxed, the general’s eyes softened as he looked down on his most loyal aid, “You are right. I still can’t separate my feelings from the effort. I look at these reports and I am hurt that we are still losing people we should have never lost. I miss hearing the voices of our once strongest leaders. High Command has said that they have not changed our mission and the original plan will still move forward. Holisp, the head of intelligence who is in charge of disseminating orders, has said if they are not followed, High Command will continue with or without them. Even now the High Command is readying the seven sealed orders which is meant to destroy the Societal Mountains, where the NW division is headed. When that happens Jesarious will lead his armies to face the enemy once and for all. He will establish the Kingdom on His terms.”
From down the great hall, outside the door, a voice familiar to them all was calling out Zar’s name. It was Holisp. She had been on a special mission and this was the first time they had heard her voice in sometime. As always her voice cut through the air with a softness that always soothed any spirit, but with it came a conviction and strength that left no one doubting the enormous power she possessed. When she entered the room she seemed to glide everywhere and her voice always hung in the air. Like two strings on a lyre when you plucked one, the strings on either side trembled. So it was when she spoke, all became quiet and stiffened except for the knees which Zar could never control.
“Ready yourself. We just received word from one of your men on the ground; the one you have recently lost contact with. He has been under attack and has tried many times to reach us but his efforts have been thwarted probably due to his own actions, but I was able to get through and nudge him. However, we just got this message and thought you’d like to hear it.” she said with a slight smirk.
As they all seated themselves around the table and got settled, Holisp started reading the transcript.
“Dear Heavenly Father, I offer myself as a living sacrifice to you. I give all of myself to you, my heart, mind, eyes, ears, hands and feet, so that I can experience the holiness you desire for me instead of the sinful gratification I fight off when I start feeling isolated from you. Send your ministering and guardian angels to protect my wife and myself from any ungodly attacks. As I prepare for sleep , I ask that you protect me from the dreams I have had where I am being chased for a crime I haven’t committed and always on the run. Each night as I sleep, I cannot rest, I run in fear of being caught, imprisoned and killed. Some nights it is by the police and other times by monsters, but I always get away. I wake up scared and shrouded in darkness and call out your name and feel deathly alone and separated from you. A pain which is too much to bear. The joy I experienced during the day is lost until I gain my senses. If there is a message you are trying to give me Lord , I await Your word and I will do whatever you require of me. Give me the strength to endure as I walk in faith knowing Your grace will empower me to face the enemy at every turn while I carry Your Word engraved on my heart and perform Your Will on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Father, I thank you for opening my eyes to see the deceit that is growing around me. I thank you for the clarity I am now experiencing and the favor I have been experiencing on a daily basis. However, Lord as I have been gaining ground, my arrogance has increased and I have easily forgotten that it is because of Your favor and not my efforts that I enjoy the freedom I experience as I make gains in Your Name. I have felt the pull of my old life and I need your help to lead me from temptation. I have discerned the enticing lies from the enemy, but I fear that I have lost touch with you while I seemingly enjoying a false grace and subtle message that says it is by my efforts that these gains have been made in the past few days. I can’t hear your voice but I am holding firm and pressing forward with what you have given me until I hear you once again. I pray for my family who are still lost and who fear man more than You and those who are trying to win this war by earthly means. I pray that you remove from me anything that would inhibit Your Glory in my life that this darkness is trying to contain.”
I love you Father, please, please hear my prayer.
Smiles broke out around the table, as Holisp finished reading. Zar, who had made himself known to this soldier earlier in the year, had been reassigned to this southern area once a new mantle had been placed on his new charge. This soldier, no longer needed to be shepherded by Captain Marcus, and was growing in faith following High Command’s Word to make disciples of all nations with the gifts he was given, now needed a warrior’s protection.
Zar, felt the emotion build up in his chest. “Finally good news and an opportunity .” he thought to himself trying to fight back the lone tear that fell towards his breastplate.
Holisp glided over toward Zar and gently lifted his chin and said, “Thank you my good and faithful steward. Now go and protect him. Hurry!!! While there’s a break in the fog.
To be continued………