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A Stern Warning

Dreden slammed his fist against the table. "DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?!"

"Yes," said the two hobgoblin warriors who faced him across table.

"You cannot go above ground. We cannot be discovered, " said Dreden, his brow furrowed so that it was nearly touching his nose. "This mission will fail if you disobey."

"Yes, commander," the two repeated, one slightly before the other.

Dreden sat into the chair, lumber creaking under his muscular hobgoblin physique. The two warriors seemed fidgity. It was the white cloaks and the white helmets. They were too bright, too clean, and too civilized when they were above ground.

"Now what is the status of the tunnels?" Dreden spoke slowly. His face was normal again.

"The southern tunnel is slow going. There is bedrock under the river." said one warrior.

"The northern tunnel is a day ahead, so far as we can tell, " said the other.

Dreden frowned. "Escort Gitrid to the forward camp so she can make the assessment. We don't want any mistakes."

"Yes, sir", replied the warrior. "We're just being cautious after the first tunnel flooded."

Dreden leaned forward. "I can respect that. We lost too many to the first mistake. Still get Gitrid to help you. She bores me, she drinks too much, and I don't care for her company. Let her do something useful."

The warrior nodded.

"And check back at the end of a fortnight." Dreden paused while the warrior look confused. "The battle plans will be ready by then, and I want you to report back then. Now GO!"

The two slammed their arms to their chests and spun with a quick exit.

Dredn returned to pouring over his maps, scratching at his side. These white cloaks did seem, unnatural.

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