Day 5 of the World Building blog hop, hosted by Sharon Bayliss.
World Building Excerpt
Book: Thanmir War
Name: Cameron Hartford
Hair color: Auburn
Eye color: Green
The change was instantaneous. Cameron stared down at the invisible line dividing the two provinces. On one side, a breeze stirred the lush grass plains. On the other, stifling white desert sands stretched into the barren distance. The abrupt shift in climate made his men grumble and tug at their collars in an attempt to relieve the sudden onslaught of perspiration.
“Drethamir,” Peter complained, pulling a handkerchief from within his shirt. He mopped his brow and shielded his eyes against the sunlight glaring off the sand.
Cameron agreed. The blasphemy aptly summed up the sentiment of the entire unit. Amazing that people considered the Embrathael province even habitable.
The only unaffected one was Jebaliah, a quality inherited from her elemental birth father. Environmental temperature had no impact on elemental blood.
Cameron surveyed the men under his command. Only thirty of them were in his company before receiving orders. Primarily swords with a few archers. They had been a search party scouring the lands for the missing Thanmir or her guardians. And, of course, Jebaliah’s father. The rest of Cameron’s unit had joined him just before the crossing of borders into Embrathael territory, bringing the total count to five thousand. He had two thousand swords, fifteen hundred archers, one thousand spears, with the remaining number as officers and support staff, all at his command.
Jebaliah passed water-soaked cloths among the men, helping them drape the cover over their necks and heads for protection from the blazing sun. Cameron appreciated having her in his company. Her training, courtesy of her father and guardian aunt, situated her as a valuable asset on this assignment. Suffering the Embrathael province would be easier with her guidance, as the Kades had originated from the area, and still visited from time to time. Not to mention, the food tasted better when Jebaliah prepared it.
Jebaliah had not been bragging with her claims of being an excellent cook. He had dined at the Halqua palace and the meals were good, but had assumed that was due to kitchen backing. Outside her element and with limited supplies, her abilities shined.
From the time of her birth, her father had surrounded her with all the produce the earth element had to offer. When she was able to walk on her own, Han had taken her to the kitchens to learn the cooking trade. She had undertaken the role as kitchen manager and head cook at age fourteen when Gran Louisa, the former kitchen manager, had passed on. A younger age than when Cameron had assumed command over his men.
“Here, Commander.” Jebaliah lifted a damp cloth and waited for him to lower his head to accept it. She was smaller than a normal human woman and had to stand on tiptoes to reach Cameron’s shoulder. All those of elemental blood were short and slender. Teymir Rin had been rumored to be one of the tallest among the race, standing at a five and three-quarter blocks, a half-block shorter than Cameron. He eyed Jebaliah as he ducked down to receive the cover. About five blocks tall, he estimated. She might grow another two fingers before her body fully matured.
Jebaliah suddenly tensed and lowered her head, taking a step backward and sheltering herself behind Cameron.
Cameron caught what had caused her change in demeanor just as the sentries issued a contesting call. A group approached. Nomadic tribes inhabited the fire province, forging stubborn paths through unyielding sands since the day the fire clan massacre had destroyed their homes. With all but one of the fire elementals dead, the land could not sustain stationary life, and those who refused to leave, traveled to collect and trade supplies. The province had a central commerce hub, but required constant nomad visits to survive.
A distant call of “halloo” responded to the sentry’s challenge. A grizzled man leading the procession lifted a hand in greeting.
Cameron frowned. How had the group known he and his company had crossed into the province? He searched the border until he found what he was looking for. Large stones stood at the edge of the province. Each one had an intricate pattern of symbols painted on the inward facing side. These people were Miasho practitioners.
Upholders made up a small percentage of Chikara’s population, but finding one was not difficult, should the need arise. The painted symbols must have been a trigger alerting whoever petitioned the upholding lines.
The leader moved close enough for Cameron to gain a visual assessment. An older man in about his sixtieth annual, with the rough speckle of a beard on his jaw and weathered, sun-darkened skin. Wide strips of cream colored cloth covered him in much the same fashion as Jebaliah had arranged for Cameron and his company. The man had a kind face, but the design peeking out from the man’s shirt collar made Cameron uneasy. This man not only worshiped the deities, he was an upholder.
Marks on a person’s body usually indicated one of two things. Either they were a guardian bearing their master’s mark, or an upholder who felt the need to enhance or manipulate the senses. Cameron distrusted the latter.