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"Archers to the front!"

The command was relayed back through the packed, disorganized column by a thousand succeeding voices, echoing off the sheer cliff wall on the left flank and into the deep canyon on the right.

Turgar, known as "Lightning Thrower" by barbarians outside Gabom, spurred his climbing pony through the jumbled ranks of shock infantry he'd gotten mixed in with. The spearmen, already irritated by the unceasing rain and the stagnated march of their once-perfect formation, urged him forward with much cursing.

Dijol's armada employed warriors from many nations, but few from Gabom. Turgar's small stature, crimson skin, and sweat-stained leather armor made him stand out from other warriors, but it was his eyes that caused men to think him feral. His irises were yellow, and his pupils thin vertical slits.

His pony snorted and shivered, not accustomed to such heavy rain. Ahead, Turgar saw a Dijolian officer standing on a boulder, gesturing and shouting into the mob of soldiers. When he spotted Turgar, he beckoned him to come closer.

"They need you ahead," the officer said, once in earshot. His gaze lingered on the short, layered, lacquered bow in the scabbard hanging from Turgar's saddle. Gabomite bows were revered the world over, as were the diminutive horse-archers who used them to devastating effect both in attack and retreat. "Another 200 paces and a narrow trail winds up the cliff. Take it, and when you reach its end, report to the Captain of Archers."

Turgar bowed from the waist, as if lining up to impale the officer with his spiked helmet. Grinning to himself, he straightened in the saddle and spurred on. The Dijolians played their games, and he played right back. They despised him, but needed his arrows. He would love to ram his spike into a Dijolian heart, but he needed their money.

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