What Comes After a War is One Game

Seranil settled back watching the warriors train. Even they didn’t know what he was planning, though they were an integral part of the plan. If the plan was to succeed, he couldn’t afford to be as lax as some of the elders were being in the training of their mages and warriors. The others knew that “some day” the seal would fail and the demons would some through. Seranil knew that it would begin failing soon; most likely that very season. He wondered if Zarentil realized that the time was so close as well.

They had gained two more cohorts. The sub-elders of both the storm and water clans had joined them in their mission. Zarentil had sent a message that he was leaning on the sub-elder of the lightning clan to get on board as well. The sub-elders would be his elite guard in Seranil’s vision of the future. He smiled, thinking about all the dragen clans united under one leader, himself.

He’d seen it during the first demon war, and even before, when he had been a fledgling dragen training under his father to take the reins of leadership. The demons had always made incursions into the dragen territory. Small bands of demons had raided outlying caverns and dens, stealing nestlings, killing and raping their hapless victims. It had always been seen as an internal security problem, best dealt with by the individual elders of each clan.

Then the demons had united under a single leader and the attacks had become more organized. Instead of occasional raids, there were almost constant attacks. Death and kidnapping became a commonplace problem. Still, the eldest had not taken the reins, as he should have. Instead he had called a convocation and let the individual elders dither about what they should do. No one told anyone to do anything. Everything was left up to the individual to decide.

Seranil had ground his teeth in frustration as meeting after meeting, the elders had worried more about their own individual clans instead of the whole of dragen-kind. They were safe enough. They rarely had to deal with loss directly. Oh, Jesin and Shyrala had lost a son and Nemone had lost a daughter. The current ice dragen elder and sub-elder had both lost their parents. None had suffered the losses that he had because of the simple refusal of the others to get together on the same page. He’d lost his parents, his mate and all his children in one fell swoop simply because there was no single leader to decide how to distribute the troops during the conflict

He’d set a plan into motion that day. With the help of Zarentil, he’d sabotaged the sealing spell. If he hadn’t, his son would have been locked away in the demon realm. He’d gone back there many times hoping the demons would tell him where they had his son. He desperately needed to believe that Braitha hadn’t been the only survivor of the attack. He’d given much to the demons; more than he probably should have, in the hopes that they would return his son.

Now though, he had occasional doubts. Kina had eggs warming in the nest, as Areah had twenty years ago. What if the demons raided again? He shook the thought away. The plan would work; it must.