29. Trinity Avowed
Our tale takes us back to some moons before the Battle of Castrum Lacus Litore, to the western shores of Igalj Kelo. Those well versed in Old Bozjan will know that, just as Lacus Litore means “lakeside” in the language of the Empire, Igalj Kelo means “mirror of water” in that ancient tongue. It is said that on clear days when the wind was still, nary a ripple would form on the lake's surface, which would reflect the bright sun and majestic blue of the skies above.
It was here the Bozjan Resistance mustered their forces in secret at Volod, until one day when they were unceremoniously rooted out by the imperial army. Knowing his men stood no chance against the Empire's might in a face-to-face conflict, Bajsaljen ordered a full retreat from the outpost, dispatching his three most trusted lieutenants to cover those in flight. Stanik, Xeven, and Isolde succeeded in uniting with the surviving troops, but were ambushed on their return by Albeleo and his regiment, who sought to take advantage of the situation by picking off the Bozjans in their weakened state.
Surrounded on all sides, the three fought bravely, expertly employing the rocks, the trees─even the corpses of their ill-fated countrymen as a defensive wall against their foe. In the end, however, the Garleans' sheer firepower proved too much to overcome. Knowing they faced total eradication otherwise, Stanik and Xeven entrusted their wounded men to Isolde, then engaged in a diversionary attack, which succeeded in confusing the imperials, and thus buying much-needed time for her escape. Stanik and Xeven, however, now found themselves alone and entirely at their foe's mercy─it was only a matter of time before their enemy closed in and finished them off once and for all.
Gazing up at the moon for what they thought would be the last time, they sat together and waited for the inevitable. As dawn began to break, they heard in the distance an imperial officer barking the order that would herald their impending doom. Our fight ends here─the two men said to themselves, when a hauntingly beautiful melody rang out through the air.
It was Isolde, bending her bowstring to play an old Bozjan folk tune─their sister-in-arms had returned, and she had brought reinforcements with her.
The evening before the Battle of Castrum Lacus Litore, Stanik entreated Isolde to play the same melody for old times' sake. Xeven, enjoying a strong drink as he was wont to do, closed his eyes and reflected back on the night he had all but known would be his last. One day, this war too will be but a memory, he thought, and come then he would share a toast with his friends to the tune of Isolde's bow...