The soldiers under Firedrake’s command had been confined to quarters for nearly a week now, as had other divisions before them and as other divisions would until it could be proved beyond reasonable doubt that there was no weak link in the chain of command, nothing that could betray the military from within intentionally or otherwise.
Barring high command, none of the soldiers had been briefed on this.
The Archduke had sent his Magus’ most experienced Scryers to assist in the questioning, since all the soldiers had been trained to be immune to interrogation. One of them, a scrawny fellow with deep shadows under his eyes, stood in a corner with his arms folded over his robe while Firedrake questioned a young Private.
“Like going out into the town during your free time I suppose? Most men would. Probably spend your gold at one of the taverns, chat up a few women? What do you talk about?”
“Don’t remember ma’am. Just talk, have a laugh” responded Private Alderson.
“Is that so? I suppose after a few beers you probably talk a lot.”
Private Alderson raised an eyebrow, shrugged his shoulders. “Ma’am.”
“You like to show off for the girls Private?”
He glanced at the floor, shifted in his seat.
“Like to tell them all about what a big man you are, about what you get up to?”
“A little” replied Alderson, frowning, unable to meet Firedrake’s iron gaze.
“Women talk, or so they say, but I never met anybody so good at talking as a man who can’t hold his ale; amazing the stuff they come out with. So you had a few, dropped your guard, and started bragging to some wench or other. What did you brag about?”
“I don’t remember ma’am.”
Firedrake turned to look at the Scryer, whose eyes locked with hers briefly then flicked over at those of the Private before returning to hers. Firedrake’s eyes widened for a moment before she turned back to glare at the Private, her anger obvious.
Alderson’s face went bright red, as the Scryer tried unsuccessfully to mask a smirk.
“What bothers me is not what you tried to hide Private; it’s that you bothered to hide it from me.”
“So you’ve seen a few battles have you? Top brass got their eye on you for promotion? Funny that, since you only finished training a month ago.”
“Get out of my sight.”
“Yes ma’am” Alderson responded as, staring into the middle distance he stood up, saluted smartly, turned on his heel and marched out of the door held open by a nearby guard.
Firedrake sighed, dipped her quill into an ink well, shook off the excess drips and began scratching notes into her report. “Sergeant, fetch the next one”.