We climb these trees as if there were stairs built into their sides. I can’t believe how quickly we make the ascent now that we have been doing it for weeks. Back when we slept in Nianatara’s tent city, we had to use rope ladders to get anywhere. Now I would barely need these spikes on my boots to do the same thing.

The small marks we leave on the trees heal quickly, gone by the following morning with barely a scar on the bark to prove our passing. I wonder what the enemies of the Batsu think of this troop when they are first assailed by them. Ghosts in the gloom, arrows from the shadows. I can’t wait to put these soldiers to use – we are almost ready to be counted among them.

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My concentration is beginning to shift. Matasten rises ever higher in my thoughts the less I need to focus on the ropes. Each close call brings me back to the task at hand with a surge of adrenaline, but still I think more and more on the Oaken Throne and the Prince who sits upon it.

Let us bring this would-be Arbor King to his knees.

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