|Chapter 12: Forth to War|
His private fog was clearing now as the sun started to rise. Quaan's age-lined bulwark of a face drifted into better focus, and Troy fell silent for a moment, half dismayed by what he was asking his friends to do. Then he shook his head roughly, forced himself to continue.
"Quaan, you've got the worst job in this whole damn business. You and those Bloodguard with Callindrill. You have got to make this plan of mine work."
"If it can be done, we will do it." Quaan spoke steadily, almost easily, but his experience with grim, desperate undertakings gave his statement conviction.
Troy went on hurriedly, "You've got to hold Foul's army in that valley. Even after you get your whole force there, you're going to be outnumbered ten to one. You've got to hold Foul back, and still keep enough of your force alive to lead him down to Doom's Retreat."
"No, you don't. I haven't told you the worst of it yet. You have got to hold Foul back for eight days."
"Eight?" Verement snapped. "You jest!"
Controlling himself sternly, Troy said, "Figure it out for yourself. We've got to march all the way to Doom's Retreat. We need that much time just to get there. Eight days will hardly give us time to get in position."
"You ask much," Quaan said slowly.
"You're the man who can do it," Troy replied. "And the truth is, the warriors'll follow you better in a situation like that than they would me. You'll have two Lords working with you, plus all the Bloodguard Callindrill has left. There's nobody who can take your place."
Quaan met this in silence. Despite the square set of his shoulders, he appeared to be hesitating. Troy leaned close to him, whispered intently through the noise of Furl Falls, "Hiltmark, if you accomplish what I ask, I swear that I will win this war."
"Swear?" Verement cut in again. "Does the Despiser know that you bind him with your oaths?"