Insanity’s End: Sam Saturday, Leader of the Free World

June 2, 2007

He did not have the look of a warrior about him, for all he stood at the head of the war council’s table. Nobility he had, in the cut of his garb and the clear assurance in his eye, but his skin bore no battle scars, his arms and armor fell awkwardly about him.

Yet in a time when kings and emperors have died screaming in their sleep, and nearly all the world had fallen to the armies of madness, it fell to Samuel, Duke of Saturday, to bear the mantle of General of the Nine Armies. The last few hosts that stood against the foe, the last few refugees that had escaped their homelands destruction.

The last free souls in all the world.

“I will be honest with you gentlemen,” said Samuel, his voice strong and clear. “We do not fight this battle to win. Armies greater than ours have perished against our foe. But that does not mean our cause is hopeless. But we must be aware that our fate has been placed in the hands of another, and that all we do, we do to buy them time.”

He looked around the table, meeting the gaze of men and women older and more experienced than he. They met his gaze, every one, and nodded solemnly at his words. They had heard them before, but they knew, for his own sake, he needed to speak them one last time.

“Come morning, we will send all we can by ship to the dwarven isles. The edge of the world will not be safe forever, but even if we fail here, if Spellweaver’s expedition can succeed, our families will last the longest there. And every day we can buy them, all the better.”

He gestured at the table in front of him, a carefully laid out map of the world resting atop it. Much of the map was covered in sheets of black felt – lands already lost to the enemy. There own forces lay scattered across the remnant of the map, a portion shrinking with every day.

“Nine armies we have, and each one will need to operate on their own. We will coordinate as we can, but uniting into a single force for a single doomed charge would only invite failure. I trust we are all aware of this.” At his words, the men and women around the table leaned forward. This part was new. Though not adept at war, Samuel was known for innovative ideas, for coming up with ideas none other would even dream of. That was what they needed, for conventional warfare was useless against what they faced.

“We cannot stand against the enemy, toe to toe. Certainly not It itself – as it slowly creeps across our land, the earth itself crumbles at its presence. No, our only hope is to distract It. Strike where It is weak – the spawn It has left across our fallen kingdoms. The cultists that follow in Its wake, fallen into dark worship. It may not care about them in the slightest, but our strikes should draw attention. Let It chase us across the fallen lands, let us lead It through lands it can do no more harm. We will strike and flee, wiping out what horrors we can as we go. For as long as we can hold out, for as long as we can stay ahead of It – we buy what time we can, and nothing more.”

He didn’t name the terrible foe, the ancient and elder being that had slumbered, dreamless, since before time itself. To name it was to draw its attention, and that alone could shatter a strong man’s mind. But they all knew of what he spoke – it had already left half the world a broken wreck in the wake of its passing, in the few months since it was unleashed upon their unsuspecting lands.

Samuel’s words wrung true, however. Spellweaver said he had a way to end its threat. For all the hundreds of thousands of men gathered in their hosts, they were not where the hope of the world rested. All they could hope for was to buy the heroes time.

So the war council began to discuss Samuel’s plan, the details of how and where they would carry out this war of distraction. For as long as they could, they would fight. They couldn’t save the world alone, but they could make sure there was something left to be saved.

For this, they would give their all.

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