Groups of men huddled by the fires, clustered against the night. Troi walked forward and announced the arrival of the commander. The rabble shifted focus, from the flames to their new leader, expectant. Daltus stood bedecked in glimmering armor and heavy fabrics, helmet in the crook of his left elbow. A cold wind carried the commander’s voice.

“Rest while you still can. Words can wait for the morrow.”

In the officer’s hall, Troi held his peace until the door closed.

“Sir,” fervently, “They need encouragement. Sleep comes not to those who question your silence.”

“We cannot win.” Daltus mused. “Bodies. That is what these men are. Farmers and untrained youths clutching rakes and hammers. Their survival depends solely on their ability to make bodies of the soldiers besieging the city. Little hope of that.”

“There is an entire hillside nearby covered in swords, waiting to be used!”

Daltus glared. “You would dishonor their fathers?”

“I would have those weapons save the living, rather than guard the dead.”

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