The Last Winter
This land was hers.
Her triumphant stare took in the vast magnitude of the land before her. It’s rolling plains, majestic mountains even the forests were bound to her will.
Over her shoulder, wars were fought, battles raged, and an Empire teetering on the edge of destruction…
A thin smile graced her lips.
This Empire of madness and folly can destroy itself and rot for all she cared. A crazy Emperor, a cowardly Jade Champion and a fool of an Emerald Champion. All of these things have culminated in what was a grand victory for herself and her clan.
Soon all the dissidents would be found and all resistance to her crushed.
All that remained…
A small movement of air beside her announced her General’s return.
“A mighty army of the Crab marches on Otosan Uchi. There are Shadowlands creatures with them. It seems as though the Kuni have been offered up as a sacrifice to the Dark One in return for his forces.”
A peal of melodious laughter escaped from her lips.
“What do I care? The fool Crab will be unable to stop us soon enough. They will appreciate this wall and leave us be. And should the idiot Emperor win, then it matters not. Continue.”
“The Dragon have arrived and fought minor skirmishes on the side of the Crane against the Lion. This is pushing the Lion toward assisting the Crab. However our intelligence reports that Kage has been forced into retirement by a discontented Akodo general.”
Her smile grew predatory.
“Excellent! One less competent opponent swept from the board. I had not thought that he was that unpopular a Champion that his own people would turn against him. Still it makes one consider their own position. Continue.”
“The Scorpion… are moving. We are sure that their forces are regrouping, but they are using magic to remain hidden from us. Although we don’t know exactly where they are located. Given time, I am sure that their movements will not remain secret – our powers are far beyond theirs.”
The smile quickly left her face.
“Do not discount the Scorpion, my general. It would be unwise to forget their deadly sting only to have it strike us later from behind. Is that all?”
The man shifted slightly from one foot to another.
“No, my lady,” He spoke softly desperately trying to avoid his mistress’s displeasure, “The Criminal has avoided capture.”
The change in effect was immediate.
She whirled upon him, infuriated, driven by wrath unheard of.
“Why is he not dead! Did you not do as instructed? Did you not set the trap with the children as bait? Is it really that hard to kill one man?”
The man knelt, his hands up in supplication, mercy, begging.
“He is wounded my lady! He may have escaped with the children, but he was wounded with the Night’s Milk. He will not live long, my lady.”
Her war like visage melted like the snow and the beautiful maiden smiled back toward him.
“Then perhaps you should have lead with that, dear General! That such a criminal is to be brought to justice is wonderful news, though we will have to confirm his death. Still this is glorious news, glorious news indeed!”
She stares triumphantly at the kneeling man, uncertainty rising within her.
“Was there something else?”
The General shifted uncomfortably.
“There is one more thing. A missive has come from the Emerald Champion.”
“Oh?” a wrinkled eyebrow showing her discomfort. “What does the illustrious Champion have to say?”
“He commands that you send your armies to stand with the Emperor in Otosan Uchi.”
Laughter again sang out among skies.
“However… The Crab have also sent us a missive. They wish to meet with our emissaries in Otosan Uchi… concerning an alliance…”
Her laughter faded, a touch to the sword at her side, her eyes widening, thoughts calculating.
“Gather the Mist Legion. If they want an army from the Phoenix, I will come myself to the Capital.”
“As you will it my lady.”
As the General vanished into the sky, Isawa Uona, Mistress of Air and Ruler of the Phoenix clan, turned to watch as the last touch was added to her inevitable victory.
The Great Gates of the Phoenix slammed shut with an ominous boom.