The Eastern Legion of Hesperia marched west, from the city of Firezne towards the city of Venege.
Travelling with them, a wearied Javali struggled to keep a serene mind. Troubles of ever escalating consequence had started knocking at his door. In the south, it was true that the Stormwind armada had been repelled. Archmage Bianca reported how the armada had been driven away from Seashire. It had not returned.
But in the west, all was not well.
Though it had been driven from Seashire, the Stormwind armada had taken Pellerno. Further north from Pellerno, Pasata was already under siege from Stormwind's land forces. And yet further north still, the armies of Count Dorian of Nevezia fought skirmishes with the Imperial Host of Lordaeron, which persisted in its harassment of the countryside.
But those concerns paled in comparison to what had transpired in the city-state of Venege, just to the west of Firezne. That was why the Eastern Legion marched west; it was because the Western Legion was no more.
That morning, a ragged battalion of soldiers on horseback had ridden into the army encampment, demanding to have an audience with Javali. Their insistence earned them that audience.
Falling to his knees in Javali's tent, the leader of the cavalry breathed heavily. Javali looked down on him with displeasure.
"Who are you, and what do you want?"
"My Ducha." the man began in a deep voice. "I am Marcello DeLuca, commander of the cavalry of the Western Legion."
Javali tapped his foot as he waited for the man to get to the point.
"Noble Commander, why the sense of urgency? What troubles you?"
Marcello DeLuca looked up at Javali hauntingly.
"The Western Legion has been destroyed, my Ducha. We were ambushed in Venege-"
"I thought Venege surrendered to us, commander?" Javali snapped rhetorically. "I was told the Perinany Legion was ready to submit at long last. Where is General Marius?"
Ignoring the question, DeLuca droned on.
"It was the powder bombs, my Ducha. It was a trap. The very air of the city turned against us."
"I asked you a question, commander."
Marcello DeLuca seemed to slip out of his trance. He answered numbly.
"General Marius is missing, my Ducha."
Javali realised that he was sweating. He turned away from DeLuca to hide his nerves. It was not often that he was shaken, but the implications were dire for the Hesperian Alliance. The entire western half of the country was in chaos. He had trusted Marius, trusted
him to restore order. And he had failed horribly.
"-they're fleeing east, my Ducha."
"The people of Venege, my Ducha. They were spared the carnage. They cannot return to their city, so they are fleeing east."
A refugee problem. Javali turned to one of his servants and clapped his hands twice.
"Fetch me General Farren Meracci."
There were plans to be made.
Sitting in council with Commander DeLuca, Lady Korgal, Count Scipio and General Meracci, Javali's thoughts soon strayed from talk of tactics.
They strayed to the Scroll of Lore. The distractions on the military front had almost made him forget the single most important thing. If he wanted to reclaim the Scroll, he would have to act fast. His strike would have to land decisively; he would need the very best to accompany him.
"-which is why, my Ducha, we need to eliminate the Imperial Host first and foremost. The Perinany and the Kirin Mora hide behind them." General Meracci said, moving wooden tokens on a map of Hesperia
. "And then we will be able to strike southwards, and relieve Pasata and liberate Pellerno... my Ducha?"
"Commander DeLuca. What of Magus Primus Augusta?"
Augusta was one of the strongest of Dalaran's spellcasters. She would be invaluable in reclaiming the Scroll.
But DeLuca looked grim.
"It is likely she died in Venege, my Ducha."
Javali was silent. He glared with disgust at the map of Hesperia and the wooden tokens and counters. General Meracci was still looking at him, an expression of faint annoyance on his features at being ignored.
"Excuse me, gentlemen." Javali said, rising from his seat. "I am needed elsewhere."
As Javali walked out, he heard General Meracci cry out behind him.
"Elsewhere? My Ducha! There is a war going on!"
As Javali left the tent, he heard Count Scipio cursing. "... his wine and whores.
In the privacy of his own tent, Javali drew his personal communication stone. The channel opened, and he heard a familiar serpentine voice greet him.
." Javali answered. "I have news."
"As do I, husband.
" the Archareveim warned him, the same ice in her voice that made Javali admire her, if nothing else.
"I don't have time to discuss the child, if that is your news." Javali said with a sigh. "I have located the Scroll, Zinizar. I am going to need help retrieving it." Javali admitted with a tinge of shame. "Sister Gianata has it. I trust you remember Sister Gianata."
Javali waited. There was silence, for a moment. He could almost imagine Zinizar choking on her surprise. It amused him. At last, she spoke, her tone measured and composed.
"I will be with you shortly, my Ducha
. And then we shall see about the Scroll of Lore."
"Yes, yes." Javali said, waving his free hand in the air. "What were you going to tell me?"
Another pause. Instinctively, Javali knew that he was not going to like what she had to tell him. She told it to him anyway.
"There is to be a summit in the Violet Citadel. Attended by King Andol Corin of Lordaeron and King Vitalian of Stromgarde, and representatives of the Benefactors. All have been invited."
Javali's temper began to boil. Who had the audacity to call such a council without consulting him?
"Invited? By who, my dear wife?"
"The Prophet himself, my Ducha." Zinizar said with a sense of smugness in her voice. "He has come in person."