--donation bonus week (day 5/5, post 2/5)--
Rhein’s Keep stood on a larger hill all to itself, allowing most of the city to see its four massive turrets with round crenellations and flying the blue-and-gold flags of Sair. And of course, as the central Vanguardian stronghold in the nation, the castle remained in immaculate condition despite its age. Pristine, arching windows. Fresh crimson paint for its outer wall. A groomed yard with a madega tree standing in a clear pool. Madegas were certainly not native to this region, which meant it had to have been transplanted here--and recently, too, as Zeff didn’t remember seeing it when he visited a year ago.
Axiolis flew close behind him as he made for the castle’s northwestern tower. They’d discussed the ambiguous nature of this visit prior to and during the drive. General Lawrence’s unexplained order to arrive within twelve hours despite Zeff and Mariana having both been on leave had left everyone a bit unsettled, to say the least, especially after Salazar’s departure. Zeff wondered if that was why he’d been called in. Perhaps they wanted information on her; or worse, perhaps they thought he meant to join her and wished to test his loyalty. If so, then he figured that it was going to be a very long and unpleasant couple of days. But as ever, he was prepared.
Familiar faces were everywhere, comrades and friends. The opportunity to see everyone like this had become rather rare for him, and he was glad to see most of them go out of their way to welcome him with a smile and an occasional handshake. He asked what news they had, and among their varied answers was one consistent concern: mounting problems in Calthos. By all accounts, Abolish had gained a foothold there and begun a public defamation campaign against the Sandlords.
Zeff scowled. That had to be one of Abolish’s more annoying tactics, surely. The Sandlords were not all Vanguard, just as not all Rainlords were, but they did have strong ties to it. Perhaps that trip to Kuros would happen sooner than he thought.