by State Farm
“They’ve been sent in their direction,” said Deril, “five of them,” referring to the Dahramn soldiers who should now be moving towards the group we are following. By my calculations, both the target and soldiers should make contact in about two hours.
“Signal our group to surround the target in case they run,” said Marth. I readied my staff and let light emanate from its core. Different colors flash on and off, signaling the groups far behind us for the order. They should then proceed to scatter carefully through the woods and position themselves in cover and around the target without their knowing.
Five—that’s how many soldiers were making their way to the target, however, it is a well known fact that Talicians have greater magic control. If things go well, I’m sure numbers on both sides will suffer equal loss, especially since one of the Talician guards must focus on protecting the child.
“Then now we wait,” I said.
Before then, we started making plans for different scenarios. Lance combat is usually accompanied by a dagger or sword while preferably riding on a mount, however, Talician lances aren’t that long to begin with. Meaning that there is a good chance that the guards will stick with only using the lance without a change in weapons. If they can use magic with the lance, then being too far from the target could prove to be dangerous. In the event that happens, I can be used for support. We can also have a few bows fire on them at the ready to snipe from a distance.
“Set a fog in slowly,” said Marth.
I followed the order and point my staff to the river flowing not too far away. After a few moments, a slow fog began forming by the river. Next, I have to push it with wind in the target’s direction… so, as I looked at my position, I need to force a wind coming from the northwest. I grab my staff with hands on both ends and proceed to make a pulling motion. That should help the wind make its way on the direction I want it to go.
“Good,” said Marth. I kept this up every five minutes in moderation so that the fog continued to build up over a larger area.
* * *
Some time passed and we were still following behind the target. The fog itself has settled in nicely, so it shouldn’t be surprising since it didn’t come in spontaneously, otherwise it could have alerted them. Now we can hide and go undetected with more ease.
“The Dahramn soldiers are coming into view,” said Derril. I checked to see with my own scope and confirmed what I saw. As Derril said before, five soldiers.
“What are they doing now?” asked Marth, referring to the Talician group. I looked to them with my magic, carefully building up different sized lenses and using it as a, more than reliable, scope. The targets were at some sort of burial mound, and I relayed this information to Marth.
“Right,” he said, “so they’ve already found where we had Selsie’s group attack the Dahramn girl and the boy.”
“They’re are definitely looking for him,” I said, “but it’s strange to see burial mounds all the way out in the forest. You don’t think the boy buried the wolves that attacked him?”
“Ha,” laughed Marth, “I’d rather not think about it right now, especially when we ended up feeding Bonso to the fish in the river.”
“We o’ll have unusual ways we wish to be buried..”said Derril. In our group, death should be expected, for that, we decided on how we wanted to be buried.. Bonso got himself killed for letting his outburst take control of him… and as he wished, we fed him to the fish.
“Back to work,” said Marth. We were getting side-tracked.
The scope I was using was then fixed onto the soldiers we diverted to the target. Five soldiers, all wearing light armor, mostly of leather and scarce black steel plating covering their body. Four soldiers were equipped with long-swords, traditional of Dahramn armory, and the other donning a rapier of silver metal, good against beasts in this forests but only at the hands of someone who knows common vital points. That one must be the leader.
“They are closing in,” I said, “but I don’t think they’ve noticed the target yet.” It was obvious because of the fog. Regardless, once the soldiers spot the target.. then they will attack without warning, especially if the target were Talicians. It’s to be expected because of the previous war.
“Ay,” said Deril, placing his hand to the ground and doing his usual routine of gathering information from bugs, worms, and the like. “No change from the target.”
We made sure to hide ourselves not to far from the target and behind the trees and bushes just like the others should have done by now. The area around us must be blockaded to ensure success. It’s going to happen any minute now, so I looked down to the ground and breathed in… and out. Once more, in…. and out.
We are going to kill again.
I kept staring at the ground, preparing myself for what was about to come. In that moment, something caught my attention. Two shadows met near my feet, one that belonged to me and another…? Because of the fog I created, it isn’t particularly bright around us, but for some reason one shadow was darker than the other.
“Now!” Yelled Deril. I took my mind off of what I had noticed on the ground and hurriedly placed my scope back on the target. Before I had the chance to know what was going on, I could see one of the Talician guards shooting off multiple fire spells towards the soldiers, all while running to the sides for cover. The other Talician guard followed with the same tactic but on opposite direction.
“What do we do?” I asked Marth.
“We’ll keep watch for a moment longer,” said Marth. “Keep a watch on the little girl.”
I looked around with the scope but couldn’t spot her, nor one of the other in the group. We are missing two. The guards must be acting as decoy to let the others escape, however, in whatever direction they head to, our group will have them surrounded.
“They must have run already,” I said, “I’ll signal the others to keep an eye out for her.”
“Give them the order to capture her,” said Marth. “Have them kill the rest.”
“And the Dahramn soldiers?”
“Them, too,” said Marth. This was the plan all along. Pick them off one by one while they are scrambled apart. I raised my staff and signaled the groups far away, and in return through the fog I could see six sets of green hues of lights going off and on, easily visible through the fog.
“…?” I kept looking at the green signals and it bothered me. Marth got out from cover and I quickly grabbed his wrist.
“Something is wrong,” I said. “There’s only six return signals.” Marth then looked around in search of the light green signal that should have been returned in greater numbers than just six. I was expecting a return of no less than eight or ten out the group of seventeen that included Marth, Derril, and myself. Usually, because of our size, there is always a chance that a few in the group can’t return the signal because they might have been forced to change positions, or are simply not ready for a reason or other.
“Derril,” said Marth, looking back to Derril who was already feeling for the dirt and letting little critters enter his sleeves.
“Ol’ready on it,” said Derril.
I kept looking at the scene not too far from us. There was a soldier’s body laying on the ground by a tree. By then, the fog was beginning to recede and I suspect this was being done by someone in the target’s group. Finally, something I was waiting for.. the sound of steel on steel, steps forcibly hitting the large tree roots in the forest, and also the sound of fire crackling on wood from the intense heat of fire spells missing their target and onto the forest trees. Then I heard the loud cry that belonged to one of the soldiers and saw with my scope that he was rolling uncontrollably on the ground trying to put out the fire that was now covering his whole body.
The guards were fending off the soldiers with success, so long as they didn’t let the soldiers in too close then their longer reach with the lance gave them a good advantage. Then the air around started getting much warmer, but I suspect it to be because of the fires that were spreading around.
“So,” said a voice from behind us, and quickly all three of us turned to look and found a large bird carefully touching down on the ground accompanied with the sound of wind its large wings made. “You’re the ones who have been spying on us…”
It was a girl younger than myself, she was on a giant bird, a phoenix? But for some reason I felt calm looking up into the birds eyes. The same thing was happening to Marth and Derril, in place of where they would have reacted by swinging their swords at the bird, they instead looked to it calmly.
They looked calmed, just as I felt.. They looked relaxed… just as I did. My fingers started shaking, trying with every inch of strength to use a spell with my staff, the same with my feet that shook and wanted to runaway from the spot we all stood on. Then the phoenix breathed in deeply, and relaxed its muscle to release its breath. In that moment I felt myself being kicked to the side forcing me to hit the dirt and away from the fire that the phoenix was now spewing from its mouth, hitting Derril in close impact.
“Aaaaaaaarghhh!!!!” he yelled in agony.
“Re-position yourself and don’t look into the bird’s eyes!” Yelled Marth. I quickly got on my feet and made a run for cover, looking back momentarily to see the young girl getting off the bird and she started pursuing Marth in a different direction. The phoenix flew off immediately after but didn’t seem interested in following me or Marth. All I could hear now was the sound of my footsteps crushing the wild grass beneath my feet and also the breaths of air I was taking in and out.
I saw Marth running a good ten meters away, darkened slightly by the fog but I was sure it was him and he was being followed by the girl from before as he ran parallel to me as we have always practiced. I pointed my staff at him and released my spell. Silver shining lights run towards him that should cover his skin and harden it, tougher to cut or pierce for allotted amount of time. Next was a dark green hue I sent off to dull any pain he might sustain, as well as an added blue hue of color flowing towards him that should quicken his senses.
We always practiced this to make sure that we would meet up in one point as the distance from each other shortened. However, ahead of me appeared someone from behind a tree. She lunged her lance towards me, hitting my staff as I used it to protect me from her quick attack that forced me on the ground. I looked to my enemy, and it was one of the the guards, one that didn’t share the distinct hair color of Talicians, almost brown in fact… I looked at her eyes and all I saw was this clear disgust towards me.
She pointed her lance at me as she closed in with quickened foot steps. It was a lance covered in magic stones.. this isn’t good!
She moved her glance away, quickly looking to her left and began swirling her lance, while at the same time I could hear her magic stones bursting, crackling, and letting their magic force itself out. She was being shot by arrows in quick succession but accurately blocked them.
“Hey!” I yelled, pointing my staff at her and getting her attention. My staff glowed but that’s all it did. She hurriedly stepped to her side and with this opportunity two of the arrows struct her arm, forcing her to fall on the ground. I don’t know any real combat spells, so a feint was very risky.
“Keep running, Lis!!” Yelled one of archers in our group, who was positioned in advanced though I couldn’t see him, I know he was hiding somewhere in the trees. “You need to move! NOW!”
I then spotted a light, one that was growing brighter deep from within the fog… it was the phoenix and it was flying towards a tree and breathing fire upon it which was then followed by a scream.. the same archer now yelled from his lungs as he burned along with the tree he hid in. I saw his body falling falling from above the burning tree branches and onto the ground. I got up again and started running but not even a second later and I felt a burst of fire hit my back further pushing me to the ground and I could feel I had enough of this helplessness!
I dispelled the fire that tried roasting my back. I got up again and saw the Talician guard getting up using her lance as weight support. There was an arrow still lodged in her arm, but before I kept letting my eyes look to her I instead kept running.
A few more fire spells fired at me as I zigzagged through the forest trees. Out of my entire group, I know I’m the least qualified to start close combat.. I know that. I know that I’m only for support purposes and I was valued for that. I know that.. and I kept running despite knowing that most of the members in my group were being left behind, the same people I was supposed to be supporting. But I just kept running.
“Lis,” yelled a familiar voice. I’m sure it was Marth but I couldn’t see him in any direction, even as the fog continued to die down. “This way!” I turned to follow the direction of his voice and continued running nonstop. Just moments later and I made contact with Marth.
“Marth!” I got his attention as we kept running but while he looked exhausted with clear cut wounds, he also didn’t respond to my words.
Then suddenly magic entangled Marth.. Stones of them quickly rotated around him and he became paralyzed. I looked in front of us and there she was.. the little girl, along with another member of her group who was a few meters behind the little girl, and beside the woman were three bodies of members from my group just laying there by her feet. My breathing was growing heavier, but perhaps I started feeling this way by the turn of events and not for the fact that I was getting exhausted from running. In this situation, however, I was much closer to the little girl than the woman behind her. Knowing this, I quickly made my way to the young girl and took out my dagger, placing it neatly around her neck, something I never wanted to happen in the first place.. but I know I am now desperate.
I am alone.
“Let us go,” I said, “or I’ll cut her neck clean.” I looked behind me where Marth should have been laying down on the ground but he wasn’t there. Am I losing my mind?
“…” The little girl kept quiet, and I felt her small frame around my arms. Her hair was a dark purple, eyes, too.
“Calm down,” said the woman. She had very dark hair, pretty, too, and she was calmed even though I had my blade against the young girl’s throat. “You need to or else you’ll die.”
“Shut up!” I screamed. I grew more and more desperate and felt the blade on the child’s neck come closer. It wasn’t supposed to end like this.
My hand was shaking.
Our group should have been at some tavern in the city before night had touched down. We should be drinking and eating, savoring every bite for a job well done.
My legs were weakening. I was tired from all the running, sure, but as I looked around me to find Marth again… he wasn’t there. He should be directly behind me, but he wasn’t.
I let my eyes wonder down and saw it again, this shadow from before that was of a much darker shade. It was my shadow that was dark, and it was next to the little girl, hers was a brighter shade, some of which mingled together because I had my arm and blade wrapped around her. I kept looking at it intently. Then two small spots turned up, as if places where shadow was no longer relevant. It opened, both, like eyes that blinked at me.
“It’s too late,” said the little girl, she was looking along with me at the shadows and I felt my self fall down and slowly releasing my arms from the little girl. I kept trying to find the shadow again..
I couldn’t find it.
* * *
“Pauline,” said Lilia. She was grabbing hold of the arrow lodged in my left arm. “It’s going to hurt.”
“Do it!” I yelled, shutting my eyes and mouth tightly, and I felt a hard pain increasing on my arm as Lilia tried removing the arrow from it. She bandaged it carefully afterwards.
“There are still a few more around, including the Dahramn sergeant,” said Lilia. “Don’t let your guard down again… this fight is far from over.”
I looked at my lance, two of five magic stones were used up. I probably would have died if I hadn’t used them to help block some of the arrows. That and the phoenix belonging to Princess Nes saved my life, otherwise I’m sure the archer would have kept firing more arrows to make sure I was dead.
Soon after and we moved around looking for others. I know I managed to take one soldier down, and Lilia took two others. Then there was the other group, whose numbers were hard to calculate because they spread out around us. The mage from before seemed to be a part of that group, but she managed to run away, even as she dispelled the fire I managed to land on her.
Around me was this unnatural heat. Trees from several directions were burning and smoke was soon to follow. It’s not going to be fun breathing that in while we fight. Meaning that we have to end things quickly.
“You hear that?” asked Lilia. I placed myself to her back. Then two men appeared from the fog and looked directly at us. I recognized one as the leader of the soldiers as he carried his rapier. As for the other I guessed he was from the other group. A mercenary perhaps.
“Where is Lis?!” he yelled, brandishing his sword at me.
“Make sure they don’t close the distance,” said Lilia. I held the lance with my less dominant hand now that my left was injured. Without notice an arrow flew towards us, but Lilia carefully repelled it. Now we have an archer I can’t see to deal with.
The two men were coming closer.
From a distance, and just behind the mercenary, I saw fire forming in a great quantity. A familiar sight hinting that the phoenix was close by, followed by a scream of someone burning by the bird’s fire.
“Ready?” asked Lilia, moving her lance upwards and facing the soldier with the rapier. I placed mines against the mercenary.