“I should have visited more…”
“You were busy, ser.”
Elkay marched down the rows of small tents and camp sites. By his side was Captain Vallas, one of the two captains of the 471st Legion. The legion was currently out on a large training exercise, camping in a large field north of the tattered parts of Thre-Sypria.
“That is no excuse.”
“General Elkay, ser, you were dead. Or at the very least out of reach. I think that is a valid excuse.”
“And the other generals had the gall not to promote either you or Teleias to the rank of general in my absence. Shame.”
Vallas smiled. “Perhaps they knew you were not dead?”
“I wish they had spoken up!” Elkay growled as he quickened his pace. Most of the legion was currently asleep, after all, it was midnight. But every time they saw a guard, Elkay waved them over, patted them on the shoulder and told them they were doing a good job. It wasn’t uncommon for generals to reassure their vok, but Captain Vallas knew Elkay rather well and this was not normal behaviour.
“Ser, are you… making up for lost time?”
“Clearly, yes. For someone who is supposed to lead a unit of soldiers, over the years I have done a bad job of actually leading you.”
“You have been leading us.”
Vallas could hear sadness but also stress in Elkay’s voice. The stress was somewhat common, the general had always been working his hardest, he never ever seemed to stop. He’d worked up to the top in under five years, then spent the next twenty five clinging on for dear life. A bit like Vallas, in his job as Captain of the 471st Legion. Vallas had worked long and hard to reach the rank of captain, but unlike Elkay, he was satisfied with his duty.
“I have neglected the 471st Legion, not just when I was dead, but before as well. The last three years or so have been unusual to say the least.”
“Ser, you saved us from…”
“I know!” Elkay suddenly snapped. “I know. I know what I’ve done over the years. It’s never enough though. There is always some other disaster around the corner, something which Photeianos always held me back from fixing. The Kalsa Warrior rebellion? Could have fixed that with ease. The Cassids and their stupid ‘cexit’ shit? I could have fixed that far quicker than I was allowed to. All these things… Then he arranges to have me killed because of idiotic promises he made to unknown Deitics…”
Vallas stopped in his tracked, shocked by Elkay’s words.
Elkay also stopped, but didn’t say anything.
“General, is that what happened?”
If Vallas knew one thing about Elkay, it was that he rarely ever lied, and only then, it was always to protect others. There was a reason why, as Vice General, he had been involved in essentially no scandals. Considering how he had just spoken, it seemed as though the general was still… haunted by past events.
“Forget I said that.”
“Ser, you know I do not forget things.”
“Well pretend I did not say it.”
“General Elkay, is that the real reason why you were targeted?”
Elkay growled, then pulled Vallas to one side, into an empty tent.
“Yes. But to suggest such a thing would be… How do I put this? Photeianos’s acts were treasonous. But if I call him out now, I’ll be considered treasonous as well, risking, unstabling our government. That is why I want to win. So we do not have a treasonous monster in power.”
Vallas smiled. “You know, if you want to win, you should tell others. Subliminally.”
Elkay sighed. “I know. I’m… working on that.”
Vallas put an arm around Elkay and led him back outside. “I guessed as much. Shall we get something to eat? I am sure we have some sort of meat cooking on some fires somewhere…”