The first thing I noticed was the quiet. The halls of the mountain kingdom of Copperhead were usually filled with a cacophonous din, yet today the only sound to be heard was that of the Gatekeeper's quill scratching a new entry into the log - that entry being of my own arrival. 'The Gate' was a bit of a misnomer, since in truth it was a 20 foot teleportation circle carved into the granite floor. Ever since the repulsion of the Riders armies, the Gate had become the only way to enter the kingdom without the aid of some form of powerful personal magics. This was due to the fact that the repulsion of the invaders had taken the form of dropping millions of tons of rocks on their heads as they stormed the main entrance to the kingdom. I suppose it was strategically effective to destroy the only mundane entrance, but somewhat bad for commerce. My hands automatically went through the motions of rolling and lighting up a cigarette as a finely dressed quasit approached and bowed to me slightly.
"My Lord Cadmiel, it's good of you to come so quickly. As you no doubt already know, we have a bit of an administrative problem once again."
This slight-of-stature quasit was the Vizier. His robes looked oversized on his tiny frame, but this was a rarely noticed detail, since he filled the room by sheer power of presence. People found themselves shrinking downwards when talking to him, trying to become level with his intense 3-foot high stare.
"Don't call me Lord. What's the problem? I can't imagine it's the cave-in of the main tunnel; you could handle that yourself."
"Indeed I could, sir. In fact, I rather prefer being shut in; it's cut down the amount of paperwork I have to go through in a day to a fraction of what it was. The problem is that of the army."
"They're having trouble?"
"Quite the contrary. The majority of the legions, including Captain Detritus, were outside when we collapsed the tunnels. Since at the time we did not have a magical Gate set up, Detritus elected to pursue the enemy."
"And they were successful?"
"Oh yes, quite. Since I've been unfortunately occupied with homeland security, however, there was no strategic advisor of any, shall we say... great mental acumen... with the armies."
"That doesn't seem to be that bad of a problem, so long as they've been winning."
"It is a problem when no one is there to tell them 'Stop,' sir."
"Yes. As of last contact, they had taken some 30,000 acres of enemy territory and were still advancing. This is a bit of a problem, when the entirety of the army is at the front line, and none are working at holding what we have."
"Uh huh. So, what do you need me to do?"
"As was the case before, we need you to act as an interim Captain of Defense, until my lord Detritus returns from his advance. Of course, I cannot say when exactly that will be, other than 'when he gets tired of it'. Full Captain's privileges and pay, of course."
"Sounds good to me. To begin with, I'll need some horses and a company of mages of at least the 3rd Order."
"Riding basilisks can easily be provided, sir. If I may be so bold, may I ask as to what your plans are?"
"We obviously can't defend all that land, especially if we're anticipating the acquisition of more soon. So - we have to burn what we can't keep."
"Ah, I see sir. If I may impose, I'd like to make one request. Before you burn any farmland, please take as many crops and livestock as you can. As nice as it is to be cut off from the outside world, I'm getting rather tired of cave tubers."