The first thing Kybele will notice when she wakes up is almost certainly the enormous pain in her chest. It's not that there's a shortage of things to notice, in the middle of a busy market square mid festival, but that's the kind of thing that really tends to grab the attention. Wherever she fell asleep, she certainly isn't there now.
"I try to never assume a demon couldn't be spying on me unless I'm in a private sanctum, but anything merely not public should be fine."
"Since I've never done this before I'd appreciate an outline of what you imagine the campaign will look like - how many people I'll have and divvied up how, the supply situation, where we'll operate from, the protocol for picking up and emplacing a wardstone if we take some defensible inward territory. If that's sensitive or you'd want to look some things up I'm equally happy to take a letter about it later on."
"The precise details should wait for somewhere more secure, but an overview isn't an issue; it's nothing they couldn't learn by more ordinary spying. I brought with me about seven thousand soldiers - four thousand of them professionals, and another approximately three thousand levies I could muster and put to campaigning on short notice - to make up the core of your force, but I expect we should be able to pick up almost another thousand in recruits from Kenabres and the surrounding villages without compromising the wardstone line unduly. Once word of the crusade spreads and the soldiers have time to travel, you should expect to swell to between a third and half again that much from mercenaries, and I expect I can get Lastwall to send a detachment of their veterans to help stiffen the lines. Expanding much beyond that will depend on how well the crusade does. The more pressure you take off the wardstone forts, the more I can redeploy their garrisons, and the more impressive your victories seem the better rates I can get on loans and mercenary contracts. Most of your supplies will be coming up the Sellen by barge and then by oxen, which makes starting near Kenabres very convenient, but we do have some teleportation capacity for the highest value or most urgent transportation. My hope for the crusade is that Khorramzadah's forces are still in enough disarray that you can retake Drezen, which would be a major symbolic victory, but I am fully aware this will not be an easy task and demonstrating the ability to keep winning is more important than any individual victory."
"Drezen, hm - I'd like to know more about what's known about the place when it's safe to do so."
"Of course. I'll arrange to have a casting of private sanctum available tomorrow, and schedule things so you can make full use of it while it lasts."
"Great. Anything I should read up on particularly before then to better inform my questions?"
"I Imagine a refresher on any areas you wish to give more of your personal attention would not go astray, as well as expanding your familiarity with the less commonly sighted varieties of demon and their known capabilities. I myself relied heavily on the Inheritor's commentary of her own crusade in the Acts back when I first lead men in such large number, particularly on the organizational and moral* aspects of warfare."
*Unlike its English counterpart, the Hallit term used unambiguously references morale and not axiology, though of course the Acts of Iomedae deals with both subjects.
"Good thought. Anything I should be doing besides reading? That's my first thought for everything but it might not be the only one."
"You've already spoken with most of your new coworkers, or I would suggest that. It might make sense to imagine that in a month or two you're critically short on or suddenly realize that you'd forgotten something, and the work back from whatever it is to what you can do about it. It's not always wise to focus on failure, but right now is likely the easiest time to make preparations and an ounce of prevention now may be worth a pound of cure later."
"Oh, I like that as an exercise - let's see - if we do retake Drezen do the Sellen shipping routes extend there easily? Is there arable land or will we be relying entirely on shipping for supply? What regulatory structure will I be operating under? Do all the countries recruits might come from speak the same language? Will they bring their own weapons and armor? Are funerary customs here very particular? How fast and how reliable is message delivery?"
"The Sellen itself doesn't lead quite to Drezen, and the upper reaches get somewhat more difficult to navigate, but any staging areas for the attack should be easy to supply by water and if the city is taken we can move a wardstone there and put your overland supply lines on this side of the border. Most of the wounded lands are not currently especially arable, but if you can make the approaches secure enough Drezen will be able to supplement its imports even if a garrison large enough to hold it is unlikely to be self sufficient. Mendev's laws and the worldwound treaty will apply to the crusade even when you're operating in former Sarkoris, but as knight-commander you won't have to answer to the nobility. Most recruits will speak Hallit or Taldane, but you might get some who speak Skald or Garundi or Kelesh."
She stops to think for a moment about the other questions.
"The recruits from Mendev will be armed and armored when they arrive, but some of the levies don't always keep their gear in good repair and you'll want replacements for wear and tear or battle damage anyway, and especially lots of arrows. Foreigners and mercenaries it will depend on who they are and where they hail from. For funerals ideally you'd want some Pharasmins up there but most of the civicly minded ones tend to get drawn in by Ustulav, so that's not as easy as it could be. Locals will mostly expect it of the Desnans or occasionally the church of Iomedae; Ramien would know more about what if anything he needs. The spell sending takes 10 minutes to cast and communicates with almost complete reliability instantaneously, but has a limited throughput. Anything that you can't fit in a few chunks of 25 words will probably have to be sent by horse or wait for the next teleport."
"Where do arrows come from? Or for that matter Pharasmins? Is it normal to set up a code with short rare words standing for long likelier phrases, for Sendings?"
"Arrows we can supply some of, but traditionally there's an understanding that you recover arrows when possible and repair or reuse arrowheads, since they're significantly more expensive than the shafts or fletching. Your archers should be able to do some of this themselves but I confess I don't know how much, I left that to my quartermasters to arrange. If I knew where to get Pharasmins that would make supplying you them a lot easier; Osirion and Ustulav have unusually large numbers, but the former are hard to persuade to relocate this far and the latter tend to see themselves as being too busy. Lastwall has a standard code phrasebook that we and Cheliax have standardized on for worldwound operations for when we need to warn each other, but it's considered good sense to keep the list short and easily differentiable and then use normal speech whenever it's not needed."
"Can I have a copy of the codebook? I suppose I don't know for sure if I'll have anyone who can cast Sending..."
"Yes, of course; Garms, Harmattan, and Guanther should have their own copies, but I'll make sure you get one as well. As for sending, it's a cleric spell so Ramien and Jhoran will be able to prepare it, though obviously in limited numbers since it's trading off against other fourth circle spells they can cast."
"I should get myself familiarized with their spellcasting options. And Mendevian law and the treaty. How quickly are people expecting me to have a first move planned out?"
"It will take several days to integrate the forces you'll be taking on from Kenabres and the environs; certainly it doesn't make much sense to move out before then, but it would be wise to have your first step ready by then even if it's not more complicated than just advancing up alongside the Sellen."
"What form does integrating the forces take?"
"Captain Harmattan should be able to handle it for you, but the idea is that it should be clear how many of them there are and how many people you need to pay, who they take orders from, what their needs are for resupply, where they are to pitch their tent and can be found when not on the march, and so forth. The paperwork involved can be rather annoying, but trying to fight without a clear chain of command is far worse."
"Well, if there's one thing I'm advantaged at, it's paperwork."
That startles a laugh out of the queen.
"If only the Inheritor had seen fit as to bless me with that during my generalship."
"You seem to have done pretty well with what you had."
“I suppose it’s always easier to notice all the ways you don’t match up. The birthright and destiny of man…”
Her voice trails off, and she shakes her head.
”Is there any other questions you have for now, or just things for once we can speak securely tomorrow?”
"That's plenty to keep me occupied with research till then, thank you."
“Inheritor’s blessing go with you, then.”
With her conversation with Kybele complete, Queen Galfrey seamlessly returns to speaking with, listening to the concerns of, and inspiring the common soldiers.