Nemeses sat at the head of the long table, a glass of wine and a plate of meat in front of him. Two dozen of his finest officers sat along its edges, laughing at their escapades and comparing stories of their hunting prowess. He knew that those outside his gates were not a threat to be taken lightly, and his necklace’s response raised his concern significantly.
The head Leothite considered his underlings with a critical eye. Try as he might, keeping the discipline at an acceptable level was difficult in the absence of a threat. Those who resided in the mountains and beyond fought only if one encroached on the forest edges, and they were formidable fighters in battle. What I would give to know of their enemies, Nemeses thought to himself. Only those with powerful enemies could fight as well as the bearfolk did. Necessity dictated it.
As he rose to his feet, all eyes turned to him. Everyone respected him, as no-one had been able to defeat him in battle for the last trio of tenyears. Further to that, no Leothite warrior before or since had been able to repel multiple enemy incursions into the Enkan. Many around the table had an opponent’s respect, acquiescing to his dominance while eagerly awaiting the day of his downfall. His fourth battle against the Tigrisians may finally be the one to topple their enduring tyrant.
“Remember this night, fellows. It marks the last time you will be able to rest comfortably on your past exploits. Times of peace are to be used for rest and training for the next enemy threat. It may have been a tenyear sine the Tigrisians have dared to face us, but an opponent will only dare to stand up if they have a chance to win. Raise your hand if you were a soldier in the last fight?”
He knew the answer, but he needed everyone to see it. Other than he, two arms were raised. Three men in thirty; a lack of appreciation for the awaiting aggressor was highly likely in the remainder.
“The tales of when it was us Leothites wandering the Serengi, and the battles fought to secure the Enkan for ourselves. You may think them legends, the exploits of our warriors sensationalised for the sake of a good story to share around a tavern table.” A handful of officers were nodding before they realised it, stopping quickly when Nemeses’ stone-cold gaze rested upon them. “I can assure you they are not. I have turned back three challenges, each one more formidable than the last. Hyrcule Tigris fought valiantly, desperately and led his fighters well in their last attack. Their new leader outside our gates will likely be his son, and I remember well how my father’s death in battle put fire in my belly.”
A pair of officers at the end of the table were rolling their eyes at his words, infuriating Nemeses to no small degree. An idea crossed his mind; he would send the Tigrisians a greeting party.
Some needed to learn the hard way.