Tainted Victory – Chapter 11, Part 8 (Page-a-Day!

14 DAYS

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“All right,” Olivier finally relented. “I will remove the bonds from your mouth.” He gripped his staff tightly. Its runes glowed harshly. “If you say so much as a curse you will be able to do less than talk.”

She murmured out a yes. Olivier snapped his fingers. The stone peel unfurled. She let out a long exhale. Then inhaled and exhaled again. “Phew. That was a pain.” She looked up to Olivier. “I just have one question.”

“Only one? Go ahead?”

“As king, what will your stance be on destruction of private property?”

“I ahhh… well obviously I would be against it.” Before what they did slid into place in his head it was too late. Goblet let out a sharp whistle. He spun around. Hounder shot out from the darkness of the dining room. His hackles were raised, teeth sharpened to points, nails fierce, and his gaze unbreaking. His nails click and clack along the stone at great pace. Olivier held  up his staff and activated the runes along its length. They glowed bright. Hounder leapt into the air. He bore his teeth into the staff. His teeth broke through. Chunks of wood splattered out everywhere. “Get off!” Olivier flung the staff side to side. Hounder held on tightly. The cracks he made snapped further and further down its length. The runes flickered and died down. The cracks reached the end. Hounder let out a harsh growl. The staff snapped. Olivier fell backward. The ends of the staff clattered to the ground and spun away. Hounder clawed at his face. 

The stone peels around the party fractured, cracked, then evaporated to dust on the ground. They stood up, dusted themselves off, and stretched out. “That was the worst,” Evelyn said. She removed her knife. “Now it’s time we take care of him.”

“No!” Hugh held his hand out. “We don’t know if killing him will break the spell he has over the other people!”

“Actually…” Goblet began. He turned around. There was a smashing rattle against the castle door. The hinges squeaked. The wall shook. The party turned to the door. There was a second crash. The door bucked and bowed. The metal and iron along it flew off and clanged against every surface. There came a third crash. The door splintered. Cracks of daylight soon came steaming in. Soon the shadows of the invading army filled the cracks. 

“We need to go!” Claudia said. “We need time to get some sort of plan together.”

Hugh looked to Evelyn. “Where is the escape you had planned?”

“What?” 

“Not now. Before we were captured you said there was an escape you had. Where is it?” 

A fourth crash smashed the door. Chunks of wood flew off and bounced against the stone floor.

“You don’t want to go that way.”

“We don’t have a choice, Evelyn!” Goblet said. He whistled. Hounder left the downed mage and trotted up to his side.

Tainted Victory – Chapter 11, Part 7 (Page-a-Day)

15 Days

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“Hmm,” Olivier leaned back into his throne. He placed his staff along the arm rests, then laid his arms along the staff. 

“I think I do,” Claudia said. The group looked at her. Her face was a mix of surprise realization and horror and what she figured out. 

“What is it then, Claudia?” 

“I mean, I think I got it,” she clarified. “It just makes sense. I mean why would someone want a knife that allows you to control people and an egg that will birth the strongest creature we know about. The answer: to become king himself!”

Olivier nodded again. “That’s actually quite clever of you.”

“She’s right?” Goblet asked

“She is.” Olivier placed the staff back on the ground and used it to stand up. His arms visibly shook while using the staff to pull himself up. “I mean why shouldn’t I be the next king of this land? What makes the current king and his useless offspring allowed to rule the land? How are they better than the previous rulers? Or the rulers before them? Why are they more fit to rule over me? None of them have magic or any sort of connection to the runes no matter what nonsense about magical lineage they claim to have.

“On top of that, nothing ever changes. Again, no matter how much they try to claim they are better than the last kings. They are not. The only changes made are to the new royal color, the insignia on the stamp, and how much I have to pay in taxes!” He bashed the bottom of his staff on the cobbleston. “So when I got the letter requesting I help with this dragon problem I knew I had my chance.” He looked at the rotting dragon carcass. He snapped his fingers and the runes around his staff glowed. A bolt of fire flew out of the staff, landed onto the dragon sending it up in flame.  “All I had to do was help slay the dragon, find the egg of its child, and get an army on my side. And I have all of those things. This has been an absolute win.”

“We are still here, you know,” Claudia said. 

“Yes. I know.” Olivier took a step off his raised platform. “I would ask you all if you want to join me and my military as we take the land. However I cannot trust you.” He looked directly at Claudia. “I’m sorry.” He took another step off the raised platform, inching closer to Claudia. He seemed to mean it. “I can see so much potential in you. You could have been a great mage some day.”

“What are you going to do to us?” Hugh asked. 

Olivier turned his head. “I don’t want to spell it out.” He took a final step off the platform then went toward Hugh. “But I cannot have loose ends. So once my army arrives I will have them attack. Once they do so I can send word that the savage Blues have harmed the king’s own personal team. This will send him into a rage. He will send his full force to the battle line. This would give me the chance to take over once the dragon has matured.”

“You’re no better than the men you criticize!” Claudia said. 

“You’re wrong.” Olivier was not angry. His voice didn’t jump or bellow. He was calm. Composed. Right, almost. “I am better. I actually have magical powers. More than can be said for those despots.”

Evelyn tried to speak, but was stopped by the stone around her mouth. Her stifled mumbling grew louder. Her face morphed from white, to pink, to a heated red.

DOOM: Eternal, Doom Infernal (Initial Impressions)

Doom Eternal is faster, bloodier, has more diverse locations, incredibly strong shooting mechanics, and is just all around a better game than its 2016 predecessor. Unfortunately all of those changes make me enjoy it far less.

That idea should not make sense. If this game is better than the first in every conceivable way why do I continue to find it far less fun and engaging?

Doom (2016, obviously) was simple in all forms. You had guns. You had demons. And you had a portal from Mars to Hell. There was some plot, but it was so meaningless that you could ignore it. All of this made for a throughly compact, instantly replayable experience.

Doom Eternal meanwhile is chaotic. That is but design for sure. The team wants you to constantly move, jump, shoot, chainsaw, and doom punch your way through waves of enemies. And I have to admit that the base shooting loop works. The guns feel responsive, the explosions are chunky, and zipping around slicing demons to bits looks great. It just feels like the team missed two two key features of the first game.

Doom Eternal gives you the shotgun as your standard weapon along with a refilling chainsaw that allows you to cut enemies to get ammo. If you cannot tell the issue here then recall the first things you could do in Doom. You can punch and had a blaster you that refilled.

Those two two game play pieces leant Doom a feeling of stability. It was clear what you had at minimum in any situation. Doom

Eternal does not work that way. Instead of stability in what arsenal you have, it just gives you weapons and you have to scrounge for ammo like a survival horror game and hope your chainsaw is refilled by the time you need it. That would be fine if you could still punch all the demons to death, but you cannot do that either.

In Doom you could simply melee weaker zombies and low level demons. They would then glow so you could melee them a second time to regain health. The flashy glow returns, but you have to shoot all the demons to get them into that state. The problem about that is the aforementioned ammo scarcity, but also you cannot control when an enemy will survive the shooting or just explode into bits. Meaning you would have then wasted ammo and your dying.

I say that like the shooter sections is where I died the most. It was not. The most I ever felt unfairly about the shooting sections is when I’m blocked and for whatever reason cannot jump over the enemies and just die.

No, the real reason I do not like this game as much are the platforming. The platforming is garbage. Straight demon trash. The sensitivity is all over the place. Sometime I will grab a surface no problem, other times I grab it only to punch the wall. The protruding railings have the same issue of if I should have made contact or not. On top of that, this is a first person game. You cannot see all of the surroundings making it all that harder to tell where to jump next, or if you missed a jump, what went wrong.

When will developers learn that first person platforming does not work unless tightly, tightly, controlled and equally responsive.

There are some good things about the game. The UAC hologram lady is the perfect kind of blunt satire you want in the game, and the wide range of collectibles to find makes exploring the level really fun.

All the criticism (expect the platforming sensitivity. They could not have wanted it that bad) feels all designed to give the chaotic, energized experience. It succeeds at that. It wants to up that ante more and more, but I find doing that misses part of what made Doom what it was. It went from simple to hand holdie when giving out weapons, collecting ammo, and fighting demons. It’s a chore.

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Tainted Victory – Chapter 11, Part 6 (Page-a-Day)

16 DAYS

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“One possible option is that his job was to find and retrieve the dragon egg. Both myself and Evelyn were given additional assignments when we were sent here. His might have included a map of the castle with possible hidden entrances to the treasure vault. A second is that he was hired to kill Raisor for a similar reason and was given a map to help better maneuver through the castle undetected. They are both possibilities, but not the main concern right now.

“During your midnight meetings you two bonded over a shared goal and that Raisor was in the way. To that end you gave some magical assistance in the form of the fire arrows. The same type of fire arrow Claudia had so that in case we ever did discover them we would not assume it was either Colt but Claudia who was the killer.  On top of that, since the bathroom was one of the few rooms not being watched you could make your portals to teleport outside and meet with the Blues about your plan. 

“From there the infighting between us did a lot of the work for you. Making us aware that there was someone working with the foreign army also set us up against each other. From there I have to speculate if you were aware of the knife that takes possession of people or not. I assume you must have heard the king had it and wanted it. That’s because when Siguard was cut you sent him after Goblet and myself to make him seem like a possible suspect. I cannot imagine you thought he would have succeeded, but it would not have hurt to have him kill us and dispose of the only evidence of what you were after.

“How am I doing so far?”

Olivier narrowed his eyes. The length of his eyebrows fell to meet his eye lashes. He looked up toward the door.

Evelyn tried to respond but could only let out her stifled murmurs. 

“I would guess that us bringing Siguard back to the group was not something you considered happening. That, and you must not have been able to grab the knife on your first voyage to vault. That is why you said you needed the knife to reverse the spell. That was just a lie. Following that you tripped the vault security on purpose so in the confusion you could retrieve the knife and then seal yourself in the vault. You got lucky, or predicted that Goblet would drop the teleportation leaves allowing you to escape, set up a teleportation point for Colt to kill Siguard and escape without being spotted, then turn up yourself as if you fought by the skin of your teeth. You were probably going to try and put us under your control but we spoiled that plan.

“So, now that I’m done,” he paused for a second, “I think. How close was I to explaining your whole scheme?”

Olivier nodded his head. “You seemed to get most of it. Except why I did it.”

“Why?” Hugh was taken aback. 

“Yes, I did not do all of this for no reason. You alluded to that yourself by saying that there were extra instructions on the letters we received.” He scoffed. “That was the most fictional part of all.”

Hugh did his best to cock his head under the circumstances. It did not go well. His head and neck jammed against the stone peels. “That wasn’t- nevermind. I guess I do not know why you did it.”

Tainted Victory – Chapter 11, Part 5 (Page-a-Day)

17 DAYS

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Hugh seemed to understand. He nodded. “Your frail old man’s act was exceedingly helpful in this regard as well. We would never suspect a frail, forgetful old man to be someone who was planning on betraying us.”

“Yeah! And then saying you’d help with my magic!”

“We’re not there yet, but yes,” Hugh said. “You used that first meeting to give us our expectation of who you were. Maybe it was at that moment you decided that Raisor had to die. He was clearly the biggest threat in the room. However, the Blues attacked. That too could have been part of the plan. A genius part as well because it would tell you what our powers were before the confrontation. The general, Troforsect I believe is his name, came. You took him head on. That too would have endeared you to us while putting yourself in no actual danger. Quite a strong gambit if I might say. 

“You might have predicted that Claudia and Goblet would arrive and help. Maybe you did not. Either way it gave you friends an easy excuse to leave and regroup. Once we returned to our meeting location you continued to endear yourself to us by providing information. From there we raided the castle and so forth.”

Hugh continued in detail. Goblet shifted his gaze between the two men before hearing the clicking of nails on stone. He turned his head to the right. Hounder exited the shadows of the dining room. His blue eyes gave off a stone cold demeanor. He let out a low, ahunting snarl. Goblet mouthed the words, “no.” Hounder looked at him, then to Olivier. Goblet nodded. He nodded his head toward Olivier’s staff. Hounder took another step out of the dining room. His hackles were exposed, and his tail was up.Goblet tried to stop him. Through a series of mouth movements and facial twitches he conveyed to wait for his signal before going after the mage. 

“Is everything okay, Goblet?” Olivier asked. 

Goblet hopped in surprise. He turned to Olivier. “Ahh yeah. Just fine.” He looked back at the dining room. Hounder was no longer there. “Just regretting not going to the bathroom before being tied up and restrained.”

“I do understand the pains of a small bladder.” Olivier leaned off his throne. “You’ll survive though.” He looked back to Hugh. “You were saying…”

“Yes. I was saying that based on the information you gave us after Raisor was first discovered you and Colt met in the bathroom a number of times. I would even hazard to guess you knew Claudia would use those arrows of hers, thus helping your story.”

“He was even the one to say we should go over what we were doing!” Claudia said.

“Right. That was mighty arrogant of you. However I do not assume you were the one to kill Raisor. That was all Colt. Based on the body shape of the person. The ability to use a knife and vanish without a trace it was clear that he was the only person with the skills to kill Raisor.”

Claudia added, “It would also explain why Hugh was surprised to see him. We only ever saw Colt as kind of out of it and not clever. Thus him getting the drop on Raisor would be quite surprising indeed.”

“Interesting theory you have made so far.” Olivier made himself comfortable once again in his chair. “I am just confused on how he would have known about all of these secret passages to make his escape and reappear in his room with no previous knowledge.”

“There is an answer to that as well. Or at least a possible answer.”

“What is that?” Olivier rested his hands on the top of his staff.

Tainted Victory – Chapter 11, Part 4

18 DAYS

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Colt added his own claps. He was not clapping at the display of power, but of how well he had lied to his men so they too could hear the master’s voice and commands. Though Troforsect’s declarations of power were not wrong. For they must give everything to their master. They must never stop or give up. So the display he showed was his true inner power. Just power that was not sustainable.

 “Line up my men and get ready to be given the power to take this land in the name of our master!” Troforsect raised the knife. His men cheered then quickly formed a queue in front of their general.  Each soldier removed their glove then held their hand out. Troforsect gave a stern slice across the palm. A thick puddle of blood mud formed by Troforsect where the main cut and blood flow was. 

The soldiers began to line up on the edge of the treeline. They drew their weapons and raised their shields. Colt took a forward position. The sun came up over the top of the castle. The clouds broke and the blue sky began filling in the open pockets. A warm breeze kicked through. It drifted through the destroyed town. Small rainbows formed and beamed from the puddles along the muddy surface. The final soldiers took their position. Troforsect mounted his horse and took the most forward position. He did not need to say a word for he was not the person they were listening to. No, their master sat inside the castle. Their orders were clear and they would follow them until they had achieved their goal or died defending what they could.

Troforsect drew his sword once more. He pulled the blade backward. A small whirlwind kicked in and encircled the blade. He chopped it forward. The whirlwind blasted through the open air, slamming itself against the top of the castle. Shingles tumbled down to the ground.Trofrosect bucked high. His men cheered. They marched toward their master.

Inside the castle the roof shook.The remaining chandelier rattled its thick chain. Small pebbles fell from above and landed around the four tied up heroes. Olivier did not move from his throne. He kept his eyes on Hugh. Hugh did not break his gaze. 

Claudia looked up. More bits of rumble tumbled down. She closed her eyes, then moved head to her shoulder “I wonder what that was,” she said.

“My army,” Olivier said. He tapped his staff on the raised stone steps. “But that is not of importance.” He continued to look at Hugh. “Our doctor friend says he figured out my plan.”

“I did,” Hugh said. 

Evelyn tried to mumble something. The stone peel over her mouth stopped anything coherent.

“It finally clicked when Colt said that you were in fact the member who was in contact with our friends outside.”

“How did that help with anything?”

“It just illuminated the rest of the puzzle for me.” Hugh tried to adjust his frame only to be cut and restricted by his binds. “As a doctor we start from the base and work back from the start of our meeting. So, when you first arrived you were with Siguard. While traveling one of you stated that you ran into a group of Blues. That is a coincidence to be sure. Now, I cannot possibly know if that was when you first made contact, or if contact was made earlier and that was just a time for you to meet. Neither is important to this part of the events. You met with the Blues and gave your loyalty. Then, to hide it you traveled with one of the most royal knights in this kingdom. A clever ruse.”

Evelyn tried to push out a statement but failed.

Tainted Victory – Chapter 11, Part 3 (Page-a-Day)

19 DAYS

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“Your master,” Troforsect began. He took a step forward, “came to us. He was hired by the kingdom and came to us with an offer of riches in exchange for us giving him passage and safety in any upcoming conflicts.” So,” Troforsect took another step closer. Colt had to suppress his smile. “You might serve your master. But your master serves me. Therefore you serve me!” He took another step. He was inches away now. “So, speak!”

Colt knew he needed to strike, but with the generals current state attempting now would be a mistake. He had to get him to open up. Something to show he was on his side. He had the piece that would do it. “I killed your nemesis,” Colt said. 

“Who is my nemesis?”

“Siguard Rose.”

“Oh.” Troforsect let out a small chuckle. “You managed to kill Siguard Rose even when I could not. How did you manage that?”

“Come here and I will tell you. Don’t want you to look weak in front of your men,”  Colt said.

Troforsect sighed then took his final step closer to Colt. His chest plate rested against Colt’s shirt. He leaned into Colt’s ear. “Tell me how you did it before I stop caring and gut you.”

Colt pulled the knife and sheath apart. It slid out with ease. The light from above showed down directly on him. He moved his hand slowly. “I did this,” Colt whispered. He swung the knife up. It slashes his chin. A small sliver of blood formed and poured down from his cheek. The figures around him all took out their swords with claterous shings. They surrounded him and Troforsect.”

“Back away sir and we will end this cretin,” said one of the figures. 

Colt took a breath. He raised his arms and held the knife’s handle with his thumb and index finger. 

Trofrsect removed his gloved hand and wiped the blood away. More blood ran out. He held his hand against his cheek for a minute. His eyes soon drifted as the voice came into his head. “No,” he said. He removed his hand. Blood was smeared all down his palm. “I am fine,” he said.

“Are you sure, sir?”

“Yes!” Troforsect looked to the dissenter. His eyes were slowly glazing over but still had an edge to them. “Now,” he looked at Colt and held his hand out. “Give me the knife and we can move on with the rest of the master’s plan.”

Colt nodded and handed the knife over. He cleaned it off on his pants for good measure before giving it over. 

Troforsect gripped the handle tightly. He spun around to look at his men. “This weapon here,” he held up the knife, “grants those cut by its incredible power.” He slid the knife into his belt, drew his sword and slashed it in front of him. A harsh wind cut the air. A thick, deep line cut through the mud and grass, ending with slashing a tree in two. The bark and leaves fell with a rustling crack. There was a pause. Troforsect sheathed his sword. His soldiers clapped then applauded his work.

Hot 100 Review: Adore You by Harry Styles

Watch the video: https://youtu.be/VF-r5TtlT9w

Who would have thought that there would ever be a time when you wished One Direction would get back together. I mean I say that like I’m still a teenager who hates them when I do honestly miss their absolute dorky sincerity. It is also clear that separate from one another none of them have the singular talent to continue a solo career. None of them are the Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson, or Beyoncé of this new generation. This all takes us to today’s song “Adore You.”

Adoration is an interesting trait for love songs to constantly go back to. It is in theory what all romances should be, a deep love and respect for the person. It does not feel like a word that should be used lightly, yet it often is. This song is no exception.

Beat-wise I find it to start out really well. It has nice space-like riff and baseline that gets me in a really good mood. That changes once the lyrics come in and it settles into a kind of mundane, basic chord progression and sound. It is not Yummy of Memories bad/bland, but it does kind of just fade away. Something the opening chords definitely do not do.

The first verse is actually fairly good as far as painting an imagine about this lady. A walk in a rainbow paradise and strawberry lipstick state of mind are both amazing lines to start a song out with. He then says that he got lost in her eyes, which is fine, but he did not mention her eyes earlier. Maybe getting lost in her world would be better. That’s just nitpicking. It is a decent enough setup.

In the pre-chorus the narrator says that his girl doesn’t have to say anything to him. Because, as the chorus says he would walk through fire just to be able to adore her “like it’s the only thing I’ll ever do.”

This is at once incredibly ridiculous, hokey, and sincere. So, just because it bugs me he says, “you don’t have to say nothing.” The correct grammar is “anything” but that’s only something that would bother me. The actual chorus itself feels generic. Walking through fire just to be able to adore someone (though you can do that without walking through fire, but that ignores the premise) is not original. However he sings these lines very well, making them feel if not original, like he meant earnestly means it.

Where this chorus breaks down for me is am the “like it’s the only thing I’ll ever do.” I get the point. He’s saying he will walk through fire and adore the person like adoring the girl is the only thing he’ll ever do. However it is hard to not to read it as that being the only thing he’ll ever do. It’s just off phrasing (something I totally empathize with).

The next verse is short. It’s summer and the girl has tanned. I’m assuming this is to indicate time passing. This ties into the pre-chorus where he reiterates she doesn’t have to say anything, but just that she’s been on his mind.

From this we get the chorus with a bridge and outro that reinforce how he would walk through fire just to adore her. In this there is a pretty good guitar riff with interesting reverb on it. From there the song fades well.

Substantial it is not, but does have this vibe that really resonates with me. The video is no help. It has Harry Styles rescue this fish that keeps growing bigger and bigger. He bonds with the fish and helps out the towns people. Then there is a news story about the fish’s school traveling so the town comes together to help the fish back into the ocean.

That makes the banner make more sense, kind of.

There is an even longer cut of the video, but that is the gist. Focusing on a fish is a strange choice. The chorus is all about walking through fire, something you pointedly cannot do for a fish. Also they play a vinyl record of the song in the video which makes me think that Harry is lip-syncing that song and that it’s not his song. It is a weird video that does not match.

The reason I think the song works for me is just how chilled out the beat is, and Harry’s got a fine enough voice as far as these songs go. It is not substantial in any way really, but is pleasing enough to listen too. I fear this is not a standout quality song that will set him apart from the rest of Separate Direction, but it is nice to have on and that isn’t a bad thing either.

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Tainted Victory – Chapter 11, Part 2 (Page-a-Day)

20 DAYS

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Heavens light grew brighter and brighter the closer he got to outer black walls around him. Colt felt the blade his master had given him. He slid the blade into the waistband of his belt.He crossed the threshold out of the kingdom. A figure he could not make out in blue approached him. The blue figure placed a hand on his sword. 

    The blue figure spoke. “One of the people from the castle is here!” he called out. “Who are you and why are you here?” the figure addressed to him. 

    “I am here on orders of my master to meet with your master,” Colt said. 

    “You’re not meeting him.” The blue figure drew his sword. 

    Colt took a step back and reached back for his knife. He could feel a warming breeze blow through. The blue figure held his sword out. Its blade glisened off the heavenly aura casting down from above. The blue figure thrusted the sword forward. Colt sidestepped the sword. It sliced the air next to him. Colt drew the knife from the back of his pants, stabbed it underneath the figure’s arm, lifted his own arm  up, and twisted the figure’s arm. The whole blue figure spun and fell onto his back. Colt kicked the sword away. It bounced off the grass and dirt below. He then dropped his knee onto the figure, pointed the knife down and placed its blade up to the figure’s throat. 

    “That is quite enough.”

    Colt looked up from the figure to see his target, Troforsect, beaming under heaven’s light. His blue armor beamed a vibrant blue reflection onto Colt’s face. Colt removed his knee from the figure and stood up, quickly sheathing his knife. He knew the target could not know the real reason why he was here, yet. “General Troforsect,” Colt said. 

    “I see you have made good on your threat to return.” Troforsect placed a free hand on the hilt of his storm bringing sword. “You might be formidable, but you cannot take us all on your own.”

    Colt crossed his arms behind his back. He made sure to grip the handle of his knife with the top hand, and sheath with the bottom. “I am not here to fight you. I am here on the order of my master.”

    “Master?” Troforsect furrowed his brow in confusion. “Ahh!” His face lit up. “You are here on behalf of the mage, correct?” He took a tentative step closer. 

    Colt nodded. “You are right.”

A soldier stepped up to Troforsect and whispered in his ear, “He does not seem right, sir. His eyes are not here, and his movements were quick, but jumbled.”

Troforsect scoffed. “That just means he is tired after constantly having to watch his own back.” He turned his attention back to Colt. “What is it your master wants?” 

Colt scanned his target over. The blue coated armor covered his whole torso and legs. He had matching gauntlets on his arms, and gloves on his hands. The only possible opening was the face. His face was completely open. He would have to get close to make a strike. He could feel the tension as he even tried to step forward. “Please sir, come here. I do not want the rest of your men to hear.”

“Speak freely!” Troforsect opened his arms wildly. “I will not hide anything with my men.”

“I understand sir,” Colt said. “But I have been given order and do not think my master would want the rest of your men to hear.”