I entered the dimness of tent and allowed my eyes a moment to adjust. Even as the sight before me came into focus it was still difficult to believe. Perched on a stool, his back still to me, was a Shazeel ranger. I’d never met one before and I couldn’t say that I was looking forward to the experience. To either side of me stood the guards that had been posted to keep a watch over him, though with a nod I dismissed them both. As they left the ranger cocked his head, turning an ear to follow my approach. It was rumored that the Shazeel were all blind, self inflicted at an early age. I myself found it difficult to believe, and considered it mostly superstition. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder what this man looked like beneath the hard leather mask that hid every inch of his face.
“Captain Kalamar?” The ranger stood, offering a hand and facing me as I drew near. I accepted his hand and shook it firmly.
“You are not of my tribe, nor my subordinate, you may call me Ingadi.” I told him, breaking my grip and moving to my seat opposite him.
“I am Trian.” The Shazeel said, taking his seat easily. I wondered if he could somehow see out through the mask. Curiosity, and perhaps a bit of anxiety, was getting the better of me.
“I don’t suppose we can dispense with the mask?” I asking, hoping that it sounded casual enough.
“Amongst my people it is forbidden to share one’s face with anyone but your mate. Unless you intend to bed with me Captain, I must respectfully decline.” My jaw dropped a bit in shock and after a long moment of awkward silence Trian chuckled. “My apologies Ingadi, I only jest. I do not wish to make you uncomfortable, but must respect my beliefs as well. ”
“Of course, I intended no slight in asking. I suppose it was foolish of me.”
“Not at all. Our people have been kept distant for nearly a lifetime by an uneasy peace and even longer by war. There is much we do not know of one another.”
“That much is certain. For example, I don’t actually know why you are here.” Trian chuckled again, a gruff sound coming from beneath the leather cowl.
“To the heart of the matter then.” He raised a hand, gesturing toward the north. “I have been far afield, beyond the borders of your lands and of my own. I have been to the Edge, and have witnessed the Volnu preparing an enormous force. I believe that they will march soon. I am on my way back to my own people to spread the word, but had to cross your lands to do so. I felt that it was necessary to do you the courtesy of giving you whatever warning I could.”
“Dear God,” I said, my voice suddenly hoarse.
“Or gods,” Trian said, then stood nodding a farewell. “They will be here within a month’s time I believe, perhaps less. I suggest you put that time to it’s fullest use. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve more warnings to deliver.” Just like that he was gone, the only other sound was the flap of the tent falling back into place.