5
Sep

Ignorance Can Be Remedied

by Shinko Hisada (身固之妥)

(mirors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/112689.html)

Weariness was pretty much a constant state of being on the battlefield. Kale was used to that after a year in the army, and he’d learned to work through it for the most part. But a week’s hard riding through the worst part of the mountains had left him completely exhausted, not just tired. He was still an indifferent rider at best, having only learned the skill a few months before, and keeping up with a unit of Elite warrior-mages would have taxed even an expert.

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25
Feb

Love Is Blind

by Shinko Hisada (身固之妥)

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/103185.html)

“Can you see anything at all, private?”

Kale strained until his eyes hurt, and thought maybe he could see the barest hint of movement. “I… I think… flickering, like a candle behind a thick curtain at the end of a long, dark hall.” There was a dismayed noise from somewhere behind him, and he sighed. “It’s really bright and you’re shining it right into my eyes, aren’t you?”

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22
Jun

Spring Fling

by Shinko Hisada (身固之妥)
illustrated by Ravyn

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/86741.html)

 

illustrated by Ravyn

The sun was shining, for a change. Jaren soaked up as much of it as he could while riding along the road through the valley, for once not in the shadow of one of the peaks. He wished the Elite uniform were a darker blue so it would absorb more of the weak sunlight. Winter in the mountains had not agreed with him, to say the least.

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5
Mar

Somewhere To Belong

by Shinko Hisada (身固之妥)

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/75200.html)

To say that the chaos and noise of the capital city was a little overwhelming to a provincial farm boy was rather like saying that the war with Semaska had gone on a bit too long. Even inside one of the buildings, Kale still felt stifled and half-crushed by the sheer number of people crowded around him. He was fairly certain there were more people in this one tavern than in his entire home village.

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24
Dec

Home For The Holidays

by Shinko Hisada (身固之妥)
illustrated by marourin

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/70211.html)

It was snowing as they approached Kale’s home village, but the fat, lazy flakes that drifted down were a vast improvement over the raging storms they’d encountered in the last two mountain passes. Even Kale was chilled to the bone, and Jaren had been spending magic to heat their tent each night so they wouldn’t freeze to death.

Everything was exactly as Kale remembered it, as if he’d left the day before and not almost three years ago. It was a little eerie, but it did make it easy to navigate despite the heavy blanket of snow that smothered everything.

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16
Oct

The Ultimate Sacrifice

by Shinko Hisada (身固之妥)

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/61705.html)

To say that the morale of the Istrion Army was at an all-time low would have been a severe understatement. Rumour flew with the speed of wings, and everyone at field headquarters knew that the Semaskans had destroyed every fort and camp from there to the border. And now they were heading for the Istrion field headquarters, where the bulk of the remaining army waited for them.

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6
Aug

Vade Retro Satana

by Shinko Hisada (身固之妥)

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/51454.html)

It was a beautiful old cathedral, small but lovingly built. The heavy quarried stone walls had withstood the test of time, as had most of the roof. Sadly, most of the stained glass had long since been shattered and the empty holes of the windows had allowed the elements and animals to wreak havoc on the inside. But the rose window, the great round stained glass picture over the door, was still intact.

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6
Aug

Uneven Odds

by Shinko Hisada (身固之妥)

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/58939.html)

The atmosphere in the field headquarters of the Istrion Army was one of barely-controlled chaos. Units drilled on the outskirts, the shouted commands of the sergeants mixing with the dull thud of weapons impacting. Dogs barked and horses whinnied, couriers ran in all directions, and even an entire squad of Elite hardly drew a blink from the surrounding men. The closer they got to the centre of the camp, the more gold and silver ornamentation they saw on the uniforms around them, until the bright metal almost overwhelmed the dark green and pale blue of the cloth.

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5
May

Behind Enemy Lines

by Shinko Hisada (身固之妥)

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/42773.html)

There were, Kale reflected, a few things the recruiting officers failed to mention when they were making their pitches to the young men of the towns and villages. They spoke a great deal of honour and glory, heroics and bravery, triumph and victory. Kale had been far from the only young man in his village to march to the capital with stars in his eyes and dreams in his heart.

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15
Feb

A Matter of Honour

by Shinko Hisada (身固之妥)

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/39814.html)

Sitting beneath a tree and grateful for its shade, Kale took another sip from his water canteen. Unfortunately the road between the port and the capital didn’t follow a river, so they had to ration their water between towns. Playing honour guard was supposed to be a cushy assignment, and certainly it had been a high honour for the 64th Elite unit to be chosen for the duty, but Kale was starting to wish the king had picked someone else.

Oh, it was wonderful to be away from the front lines and the fighting, no mistake about that. And the mission itself was of utmost importance. The envoy from the Kotei Empire, Lord Fujiwara Hiroyuki, had come to discuss the possibility of a marriage between the king of Istria and a princess of the Kotei imperial family. If the negotiations were successfully concluded, it would mean an influx of resources from the powerful Empire across the sea, maybe even enough to end the war with Semaska for good. Of course the Semaskans would do anything to prevent the marriage from happening, which was why the emphasis on this honour guard mission was less on ‘honour’ and more on ‘guard’.

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21
Dec

Officer, or Gentleman?

by Shinko Hisada (身固之妥)
illustrated by Ravyn

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/35750.html)

There was nothing quite like the celebratory atmosphere of coming back to camp after a successful mission, Kale had discovered. It had been true even when he’d been an army regular, but nobody knew how to celebrate the way the Elite did. He rode in the middle of the 64th unit, returning triumphant from a sortie with the Semaskans, and reflected that he couldn’t remember a time in his life when he’d been happier than this.

In the months he’d served with Jaren’s unit, they had come to accept him for himself as well as valuing him for his rare ability to see magic. Kale might not have been a true mage, and certainly he lacked his squadmates’ training and power, but there were times when he even forgot he wasn’t an Elite in truth.

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28
Sep

Abuse of Authority

by Shinko Hisada (身固之妥)
illustrated by Ravyn

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/29048.html)

In a country that had been almost constantly at war for more than ten years, a commander who could win battles and keep winning them was a treasure more precious than gold or jewels. When he could do it without excessive loss of troops, he was all but revered as a god.

And if said commander happened to have penchant for choosing the youngest and prettiest of troopers as his personal ‘aides’, and said troopers tended to end up a little broken and traumatized… well, high command could probably be persuaded to turn the other cheek on an offence that would have gotten anyone else court martialed and turned over to the priests for judgement. Though the official party line was that same sex relationships were tolerated, it was still very much forbidden to take advantage of your subordinates like that. Not to mention that some of them weren’t old enough by law to be having sex with any adult, commanding officer or not.

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8
Aug

Gypsy Dance

by Shinko Hisada (身固之妥)

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/23818.html)

It was an odd feeling for Lady Katherine of Helmsford to slip unnoticed and unremarked through a crowd of her father’s people. Usually they parted for her, bowing or curtseying, but today they treated her like one of them.

Which was a good thing, in fact it was exactly what Katy wanted. In a homespun dress and apron borrowed from one of her maids, she was doing her best to blend in and hoping against hope that nobody would recognize her. If she was caught like this, sneaking out of the keep without an escort, she would be in a very great deal of trouble.

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