It was true that Shcyba was chosen by the blood priests to lead the desert campaign. He was, after all, the fiercest warrior in their tribe. During the length of the campaign, he often gutted enemy kings as an offering to the giant stone deity back in their village: the three-headed beast known as Ithmanukh. But Shcyba had been acting strange lately, and it was by no means comforting news to the fifty-thousand odd men he commanded.
The lone tavern inside Esk-Debari was stuffed with the soldiers of Hayacree. The attendants, a handful of the locals, stood petrified behind the serving counter.
Mabathi, one of the generals under Shcyba’s command, choked on his wine and spilled it on the floor. His bearded face was contorted in query, shock, and amusement all at once.
“What did you say?” he asked just about loudly to gain his men’s attention. “Gosto samakh!” he said, raising a hand to suggest everything was alright.
Agrushai leaned forward. “He is going to build a shield for the walls of the palace,” he said in a low voice, and then leaned in closer. “The stones for the same…will fall from the night sky, he believes.”
Mabathi’s mouth was agape, and then turned into a set of pressed lips.
“I know what you are thinking, my friend. But let us not ignore his leadership; Esk-Debari is now ours, and so is the desert. Shcyba has earned his right to be heard not once, but a thousand times over.”
Mabathi drowned his wine silently, his eyes fixed on Agrushai.
“Fourteen nights, he says,” Agrushai said. “There will be a storm of blue fire near the ruins of Eblish. Let us wait until then.”
“…insane…” Mabathi mumbled, gesturing an attendant to refill his earthen mug.
“And there is one more thing,” Agrushai said. “Henceforth, we are to address him as Qa-ajash.”
Mabathi took a deep breath, his lips still pursed.
Qa-ajash or supreme authority.