Israel scanned their faces intently. He had worried that her power to inflame the passions of men might not have been enough to bring them back from the brink of mutiny. He realised now that he need not have worried, he had forgotten just how powerful an effect a woman like Slovenia could have on those still possessed of their manhood. The faces would be comical if they weren’t so pitiful.

“We have a golden opportunity to strike.” Slovenia continued, leaning forward over the table she directed their attention to the iron figurines that represented the various lines of units on the battlefield.  “Jordan’s host is spread thinly across the high steppe. If we strike hard on their left flank while he is absent we will cut them off from their general. I doubt very much that his captains carry enough sway with their men to keep them from routing.”

“We should go after that fool of a general too!” Slovenia favoured the man who spoke with a warm smile.

“Rest assured, my most capable agent is with him.” She said, stepping away from the table and taking a seat on the wicker throne in the centre of the tent, overlooking the table. “If Jordan isn’t captured or killed, he will at the very least be severely delayed. Long enough for us to strike his flank and change the course of this war.”

The assembled men responded positively, the atmosphere in the tent was now overwhelmingly positive. Slovenia sat back on her throne, observing their reaction with some satisfaction as the men murmured and conferred amongst themselves.

“What of our left flank m’lady?” The voice cut across the hubbub and a stunned silence descended over the table.

Israel studied the speaker closely. He was a tall, dark-haired warrior. His face was scarred and pock-marked from ravages of  some unknown skin condition. His demeanour struck Israel as odd and something in the tone of his voice seemed out-of-place. He spoke as if the Countess were beneath him.

“Captain Uman, I believe you are more than well provisioned to hold the line under your command.” She got the same impression that Israel did. Uman’s outward expression and behaviour lacked the same intensity that the other captains bore for her. Was he immune to her charms? She resolved to confront him alone and put him to the test. She glanced at Israel and he nodded, acknowledging that he understood her intent.

“My scouts report armoured horse troops massing on the southern front.” Uman responded, ” I will grant you that I am well provisioned. I am also exposed. My forces are predominantly on foot and mostly archers. I do not have enough spearmen to protect the entire line from a cavalry charge.

“I understand your concerns. I will have a unit of horse brought up from the vanguard and will have two phalanxes of my pikemen take up position with your archers. You can lead them back to your lines yourself once we have finished here.”

The assembly relaxed visibly and the discussions resumed with renewed vigour.

Israel hurried over to the table to adjust the configuration of iron units to reflect the changes. When he was done he leant over Captain Uman’s shoulder and whispered in his ear. The captain turned to listen, nodded and turned back to continue his conversation with the man beside him.

“My Lords, prepare your men.” Slovenia said as she stood up from her wicker throne. “We make our move tonight. We will march under the cover of darkness and come the morrow we will deliver a blow the likes of which Jordan’s forces will never have felt.”

The men cheered and one by one began to file out of the tent, each bowing to her in turn as they left.
Uman remained seated.

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