Neal smiled as he looked to the east.  He used a telescope that once belonged to a child with an avid interest in astronomy in the times before shadows walked the land.  Now, it afforded Neal Osborne with the ability to see his prey.

            “They are ripe for the picking!”  He said to Lamb, enthused.  “A city of tents has been built outside their gates, where most of their warriors sleep.  If we ride on them now, while they are unaware, we can obliterate most of their force.  We can crush them under our hooves.”

            “We should wait for sunset.  To obscure our approach.”  Lamb suggested.  “That gives the infantry time to rest and prepare, they marched all night to reach this place.”

            “Yes, you’re right.  My only concern is that they might have scouts or patrols.”  Neal said to him as they walked back towards their camp.  Breath snaked out of their nostrils and mouths in a fog, as the winter chill surrounded them.

            “Don’t worry.  I have Ethan out there in case of that eventuality.  His cavalry patrol our northern, southern and western edges.”

            “And what of the east?”

            “Oh, the east.”  Lamb smiled.  “He wanted the privilege of guarding that himself.”

            The area was extremely flat, but that did not mean it lacked for cover.  Meteor showers had left dents and craters in the earth, not to mention boulders across the fields.  Copses of trees lay here and there in the region, and the camp was more than a day’s march from the city, well out of visual range.  Now, covered in snow, there were a million hiding places out there.  Neal and Lamb had ridden closer to use the telescope and survey the terrain, and guessed that, though it would take a day to walk there with infantry, their cavalry could hit the tents before dawn.

            But now, just before sunset, a dark shadow was flitting from boulder to tree, lying in wait in trenches and craters.  He used the terrain itself as a disguise, stalking the horse he could hear with every fall of its hooves on the snow.  Reza was on the prowl, and he had the trail of his quarry.  The rider had stopped and, from the sound of his sword-hilt on ice, Donovan knew that he was cracking the surface of a small stream so his horse could drink.  He smiled at the scout’s naïveté; as such cold water was not good for an active animal.  Reza crept closer, keeping himself low in the snow as he nestled against a boulder not far from the stream.

            Donovan lifted himself onto the boulder, creeping onto the top with the agility of a cat.  His white clothing let him blend in, and he buried himself in the snow on top of the rock.  He listened closely, and so he heard the horse approaching.  He tensed himself, ready for the attack, and then sprang forward in ambush, leaping lithely through the air.

            He struck the rider hard, tackling him to the ground, burying his knife to the hilt in the scout’s ribcage before he knew what hit him.  Reza covered the man’s mouth with a gloved hand to silence him, just in case, and watched his eyes as the life seeped out of them and they grew dim.  The scout was a youth, probably no older than twenty, which explained the mistakes he had made.

            Reza wiped his blade on the boy’s clothes and then kicked snow over the body.  When he looked up, he pulled off his white mask with the dark slashes of black around the eyes.  Donovan smiled as he saw the rider’s horse galloping away towards the city.  It raced as if the devil were at its heels, snorting in the cold evening air and sending up a plume of steam from its nostrils.

            “Time for our war.”  He grinned, and then he raced to get his own horse from its nearby hiding place.

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