Tales - The Art of the War Room

The Art of the War Room

With only five people clustered around the large table, the massive planning room still felt unpleasantly cramped. It was these meetings that Paolo hated the most, for he would be crammed into a room either blazing hot or frigidly cold, filled with egos and people equal parts inflated and self-important. This once, he allowed himself a small consolation – at least at these representative meetings, the branches were only to send one blowhard to attend, rather than their normal compliment of six. Given how little was ever accomplished at those larger meetings, it was a complete wonder they had not succumbed to the might of New England long ago. Already his writing hand ached, and he had only scribbled the names of those in attendance. Hearing a sharp intake of breath to his right, he readied himself and began to write.

Juan Rivera, representative of the Spanish Armed Forces, was a great big bear of a man, if bears were considered to be blustering and overweight. Back in his heyday, he was a force to be reckoned with, but now Paolo doubted he could lift a sword that wasn’t ceremonial. Juan began by calling the meeting to order. It was a shameless, and ultimately fruitless, way of establishing dominance. And in a room filled with people such as these, an absolutely useless gesture. He continued, providing the first genuinely new piece of information Paolo had heard in a month.

“The Army is proud to report resounding successes across the board in the campaign surrounding New Orleans. The fierce opposition we have faced from New England has been swept aside, with all of their troops either routed or decimated. Spanish losses have all been within acceptable margins.” Paolo wondered precisely how many Spaniards had really died in those battles, given what he knew of the Army’s definition of “acceptable” was. His quill paused only long enough to dip into the inkwell before Juan started up again.

“Our primary difficulty lies in combatting the advantages the New Englanders have over us. That we continue to be harassed by their mages and airships with limited means and support at our disposal means that our inevitable victory is being delayed by years instead of months. He shot a pointed glare at the Jesuit in the room – the man was a peevish sort who looked like he was about to hurl his goblet across the room. Before he could pick a fight and embarrass the grandstanding General, the Inquisitor across the table from him slammed his fist onto the table.

“Simply Impossible!” Captain Lautaro Rosa, known among the lower ranks as the Spanish Rose, was as pigheaded as he was beautiful, and he had no shortage of suitors. “We are already permitting their order far too much leniency – to allow them to work even more freely would see us all drown in the anarchy their heresy would bring!”

Brother Tómas could stomach no more as he stood up, shouting. “It is truly a miracle we make any progress at all, the way you bind us to the cross so! It is a wonder you settled for binding our hands with rope, given your fondness for heated nails! Already we lag behind our enemy in most ways that count! If my Brothers could just be allowed to more thoroughly examine one of the Navy’s Skyships, we might…”

“Nonsense!” Maria Abano, adjunct to the Grand Admiral, was anything but the demure lady she appeared. Despite her delicate structure, she seemed like she would be more at home out drinking with sailors than sit in this stuffy meeting. Still, the dour surroundings did little to stifle the fire in her voice. “There is nothing you could do to one of our Skyships to improve it in any way! They are the fastest and most well armed in all the World!” Interesting. Paolo scribbled by reflex now, allowing his brain to pick through the words being thrown around the room. She fills the air with bravado, while all who sit here know the truth of it. How often the ships require repair, from battle or general use. How often the ships are taken or destroyed in battle. After all, she lost her husband and his entire ship when the engine on the ship malfunctioned… Paolo smiled and sipped at his water, dabbing at the ink with his free hand to dry it. If delusion this powerful is gained by drinking with sailors, I will away to the docks the moment I can slip away…

Juan scoffed, “If that were true, I wouldn’t have lost two battalions recovering the engine from the Santa Rosa last month.” Paolo sagged. Here it comes, the petty squabbling. He took another pull at his water, wishing it were something much stronger.

Lautaro laughed aloud. “The sacrifice of two battalions? Oh you poor man! I am sure you fought very hard from behind your desk.” He threw a winning smile at Maria. “Maria, the Inquisition will need to request a number of Skyships over the coming months for transport of our agents. You will be able to accommodate us?”

Tómas hurled his wine across the room, staining Lautaro’s shirt a pale red. “Not again! You will not leave my Brothers to walk while you watch over us from an airship! I will not allow it!”

Maria scoffed. “You will not, Tómas? I was not going to be authorizing any airship transport for the Inquisition for the next six months, due to pressing need of my ships for trade and blockade.”

Juan jabbed his stubby finger at Maria. “You will do no such thing! I require those very ships for the movement of my troops! We must maintain the utmost mobility?”

Paolo rolled his eyes, coating the last pages of his book with powder and slammed his ledger shut loudly, amused by the lack of attention he was drawing. He was out the door moments later, and none of them even noticed that he had left. They become deaf to the world, wrapped in their own meaningless conflicts. He smiled sadly. Something needs to change for that to be fixed. I’m not the man to change it. I am, however, the man who is going to the docks…

*Rase Cidraen

Tales - The Art of the War Room

Arcanum 1780: A New World RaseCidraen