The massive continental map lays across the table, tiny markers denoting various military and economic resources in the many kingdoms. The attention of the war council is focused on a tiny area far north-northwest of the Qadiran desert, marked with a single small military unit. Numerous tokens of varying sizes are scattered within the borders of the southern land, while a smaller, but still substantial, number of markers lie between the two sites.
“As you can see, Dawnmother”, says the Abd-Al-Wasi, gesturing to the map. “There are significant barriers to direct attack on the heretics. Taldor and Galt would never allow peaceful transit of our armies, and would likely see any such move as a direct threat. Andoran and Kyonin would likewise be wary of troops so close to their borders. The Dawnsister’s suggestion would undoubtedly embroil Qadira in a major war with at least two other nations, possibly more.”
Rabiyah’s voice drips acid as she speaks. “And what would you suggest, feda-sayyid? The Oracle’s murderers are hardly going to renounce their apostasy and return here to surrender peacefully.”
The warrior grinds his teeth in frustration, struggling to remain respectful of the Dawnsister. He is about to reply when the old woman speaks up. “Your disrespect is unwelcome, Rabiyah, and unbecoming a Dawnbrethren. If you are unable to remain civil, you may be excused from this Council.”
Rabiyah bows her head, “My apologies, Dawnmother.”
“You are correct, Abd-Al-Wasi. We cannot risk embroiling all of Kelesh in a major war merely to wipe out the heretics. Can you suggest another option?”
The holy warrior rests his pointer on a small cluster of markers located west of Tuskany.
“Pitax has a small enclave of Dawnbrethren and Feda-Ghazi whom could be called upon. The city-state has interests to the east and will likely come into conflict with the heretics before long. It would be possible to move a small number of troops to reinforce the resources we already have there, and the self-styled King of Pitax would likely welcome the support to eradicate a potential rival. These forces would be more than sufficient to deal with the heretic’s tiny army.”
“Very well. Better a war by proxy than battling all of our neighbors at once.”
Waliyah steps forward. “Dawnmother, I request the honour of leadership in the expedition to Pitax.”
The old woman silences the feda-sayyid’s protest with a gesture. “Military leadership is the purview of the Feda-Ghazi, Dawnsister.”
“Yes, Dawnmother. But I wish to atone for my failure to save the Oracle. I have been to the northern lands, and had some dealings with Pitaxian nobility. I believe I can offer much to the expedition, in addition to expiating my failure.”
The high priestess stares at the young woman for a long moment before nodding. “So long as your holy duties do not become subservient to your familial ties, Waliyah.”
The Dawnsister bows deeply, hiding a satisfied smile.
“I would never allow feelings for my brother to taint my devotion to duty, Grandmother.”