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04 June 2009 @ 01:50 am
Fic: a short precursor  
This is the first of two pieces that lead up to this fic. It's quite short, only 550 words or so. As always, comments and concrit are appreciated.

300 November 2 11:32 AM

“We need you here, Himitsu-shogun.” Lord Minoru Tadeki shook his head, crossing the room restlessly. “I can’t authorize a journey like that. Not now, not with the way things are carrying on.”

Tomoshige inhaled and swallowed his exasperation, as he was too accustomed to doing. “Minoru-sama,” he replied, looking to the ground and avoiding the risk of giving his lord any untoward glances, “with all due respect, ‘the way things are carrying on’ is precisely why we must talk to them. Other venues of communication have failed, our alliances are weakening, our supplies and our men are running thin. Too many men have died in this war, and the solution to that is not to continue killing.”

“Believe me,” Tadeki sighed, his pacing halted for a moment. “I do not want to send more people to their deaths.” His eyes were on Tomoshige, watching the general intently. “But I cannot send my most-needed advisor to Neliti on a mere suspicion.”

“Then, who will go?” Tomoshige asked, forcefully stilling the aggression that coiled within. He was not a violent man, nor would he dare act with hostility towards his leader, the man whom he had sworn to protect, but the ache of having a good plan and not being able to enact it was one of the few things that got under his skin. “Will you send one of the other generals? Another advisor?”

“Our men are running thin,” Tadeki repeated, his brows furrowed so tightly that they nearly touched above his nose. “Did you not answer your question before you asked it?”

“Unlike the others, I am willing to go alone. It is the most economical decision.”

Tadeki opened his mouth, shut it quickly, and crossed his arms. “I fail to see how letting you go alone into enemy territory is at all economical.”

“If you can’t spare enough men to escort one of the other generals, then this is the only remaining option.” His gaze riveted to the floor, Tomoshige set his jaw and waited for the rebuke that he could practically feel in the air.

Tadeki did not waste time. “No, Himitsu-san. The other remaining option is to discard this insane plan entirely. I have given you a great deal of freedom over the last six years – freedom which, mind you, some have already called excessive – but I cannot grant you this. You will stay here and act in your capacity as general and advisor. That is an order.”

Tomoshige’s eyes met Tadeki’s before he could stop them. “My lord, I—”

“I am sorry, Tomoshige,” Tadeki said with a faint shake of his head. His eyes were deep and hollow from the weight of six years of war. “I can’t let you do this. We can’t afford the risk.”

Tomoshige was still for several moments, his body tense. Finally, he dropped his gaze and released a held breath. “Very well,” he muttered. “If that is what your lordship wishes.”

As if he didn’t trust his advisor’s sudden acquiescence, Tadeki gave him a long, dissecting look. “Thank you,” he said at last, folding his hands into his sleeves and nodding his head to the taller man, who came to his feet and bowed neutrally. “I’m sure you will be busy enough with duties on this side of the front.”

“I’m sure I will,” Tomoshige said to the floor, hiding a sigh. “Excuse me.” He slipped outside, cursing softly into tight-pressed lips.