“My king, we have to go now,” said Arjaran.
Tonunda shook his head and gave the gesture for “retreat.”
Arjaran shot a quizzical stare at his bannerman, receiving one in return.
Thrusting his finger back, Tonunda pointed westward.
“We will not leave you, my king,” said the bannerman.
He spoke out of place, but his expression mirrored his conviction as well as Arjaran’s. The Vindavian army quickly spread into ranks, growing thicker and wider.
Tonunda took in the men beside him and the army at his back. These were but sheep entrusted into his care by the unknown god and they would die accordingly once the wolves came.
“My king, whether we die to tomorrow or today, we will stand with you,” said Arjaran.
He clenched his fists and threw his head back, growling in frustration. A leader should fall before those under him, not the other way around. Their love for him would kill them, making him feel so much more helpless than before. He rapidly prayed in his heart for way to turn this around; salvation for his people. If his army moved on, then his plan hinged one vague hope; to run into the Vindavian hordes, and perhaps kill Natas before they finished him.
A triangle made up of three riders waded through the ranks of the Vindavians. Tonunda had only seen him at a distance, but he knew the tallest rider was Natas.
Holding out his hand, he waited for the bannerman to hand over the lance, then dug into his saddle bag. Finding a white cloth, he tied it to the lance, just below the banner.
“Do you surrender, my king?” Arjaran asked incredulously.
Tonunda regarded him a moment. He had no intention of surrender, yet a shake of the head, would do little to convey his actions. Instead, he limited himself to nodding ahead. The three of them reined their horses at walking pace towards the centre of “no man’s land.”
They had only moved approximately 20 paces, when the Vindavian triangle also moved at the same pace to meet them.
Six horses stopped; a gulf of ten paces separating them. Natas wore the black breastplate, and red cape of a Black Eagle officer. He also wore a garish black helmet, totally obscuring his features with outstretched metal bat wings. Undoing the catch beneath his chin, he removed the helm, and cradled it in the crook of his arm.
Tonunda could not believe Natas wore such a face. His closely cropped blond hair, ocean blue eyes, and granite like jaw looked the object of sculptors attempting to capture the likes of an angel. Natas leant slightly forward, giving a view of a permanent reddish thick scar on one side of his neck.
He smiled without warmth. “I am so glad we finally meet, Tonunda. I accept your surrender.”
His words were a gurgling, unholy rasp, giving a truer indication of the deeds of his renown.
Tonunda shook his head vigourously, receiving curious stares from Arjaran and his bannerman.
Natas’ brows furrowed. “Then what do you want?”