The Silver Tower Chronicles Adventures in other worlds, other times, and other realities

19Jun/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0051

Each day of travel was full of tension. The group could sometimes detect the goblinoid scouts that were following them. The scouts kept their distance from Enzi and his mercenaries. Each day the Irregulars neared the base camp where they would have the support of the troops. Enzi expected the goblinoids would have to make their move soon if they wanted to take advantage of the isolation of the group. However around noon on the next day, Enzi saw the shape of the human base camp hiding in the Halcyon Wood. The watch on the walls quickly spotted Enzi's Irregulars and waved a greeting.

Enzi heard a great noise from the trampling of a great many feet. He then realized the enemy's ruse. They were going to use the Irregulars as a shield. The rangers of Nuvroc were deadly with their bows and crossbows. If they wanted to storm the base camp, it would be much easier if their foes did not want to fire into their allies. While the Nuvroci were used to firing their regular bows into melee with Steel Warriors, their crossbows were saved for foes with heavy armor. Both weapons could potentially be deadly to Enzi and his mercenaries.

The horde of goblinoids charged past the Irregulars as the mercenaries leapt into the fray. The tactic had worked. The archers at the base were afraid to fire and hesitated. Then Enzi heard the rumble of thunder in the air and felt the crackle of lightning. It suddenly occurred to him that there was one person in the base camp who did not care if any ally was in the line of fire. It was the young Ravaleian mage they called the Storm Queen. Enzi then saw exactly how she earned that nickname.

Electricity arced across the field striking foes indiscriminately. Enzi felt one bolt of lightning come far too close for his liking. All the hairs on his body now stood at attention. The Irregulars were trying to scatter, as were the goblinoids. The assault had been broken with a single powerful spell. Dozens of goblinoids lie dead, but more and more arcs of lightning descended on the area as the young Ravaleian girl unleashed her power with reckless abandon. Enzi was almost certain he could hear her cackling with glee at the destruction.

He ducked for cover, it was all he could do. He hoped that none of his mercenaries would get hurt, but it was out of his hands now. He worried most for Ritter. His heavy metal armor had to have been something the electricity would be attracted to. The sounds of the thunder and lightning slowly died off. Then all that could be heard were the whines, whimpers, and moans of the wounded. Smoke rolled off of both them and the dead. The goblinoid assault had been halted, but Enzi wondered at what cost.

Eurysa slithered out from behind a tree, untouched by the lightning much like Enzi. Surprisingly the enormous minotaur Aldebaran had come out of the battle with little more than a few patches of singed hair. Kava had escaped completely unscathed. Then Enzi saw a glint of metal in the grass. He rushed over and found Ritter. The Halz groaned in pain but he was alive. His metal armor had channeled most of the electricity into the ground, but the hardy dwarf had still been given the shock of his life.

Enzi began to relax. Ritter would be fine. As the Irregulars gathered, Enzi saw that one was missing. He had seen no sign of Mayitso. The lycanthrope had no more protection against such powerful magic than anyone else. Suddenly the Feergrus man began to worry. Aldebaran lugged the groaning dwarf back to the base camp while Eurysa, Kava, and Enzi searched the battlefield for any sign of the lycanthrope. Enzi was the first to see a large lump of fur that was not one of the fallen wargs. He lifted the head of the lycanthrope and gasped.

“Oh Mayitso...”

***

The Cleanser stood with his stark white robes over the corpse of another monster. The color of white was a symbol. It was the color of evil. It was nearly impossible to keep clean. Both of these things were symbolic of the role of the Cleanser. Naphar Bura had his hands full trying to stop the influx of monsters pouring out of the Goblinoid Lands. The Tarvoni Summoners had made his job difficult. He had not forgotten about the abominations that hid within the mercenary group known as Enzi's Irregulars.

He hoped they were not causing too much trouble. He had too many other foes to slay at the moment to be able to chase them down. They had escaped him in Feergrus on a Ravaleian boat. They were likely halfway across the continent. For now, Naphar needed to aid the southern front of the Fifth Goblinoid War. His weapons were soaked with blood. He expected that they would unleash yet more blood that day.

“Naphar!” one of the Agonish soldiers said, “It is good to see you.”

The Kurrot man merely nodded in response.

“You have saved the day once more. My unit stands ready to serve you as needed.”

“To serve... Me?”

The Agonish soldier nodded, “Our commander was slain by a monster creeping in the night. You have saved us from a similar fate more than once. As the highest ranking soldier in my unit, I have decided we will do what we can to aid your noble battle and give you support.”

“I appreciate it,” Naphar replied, “I will have need of many allies before this war is done. There are many monsters yet to slay. There are some even I fear to face alone. I will need the strength of your men to defeat such powerful foes.”

“We will do what is needed to stop these monsters from harming any more of our people.”

“Good, good,” Naphar said.

The Cleanser smiled as he cleaned his weapons. With such allies he might be able to finally destroy the minotaur, gorgon, lycanthrope, and vodyanoi. All he needed now was the opportunity. He would meet the monsters again. This time it would be their end.

***

The soldiers in the base camp looked with pity as the Irregulars carried two of their members inside. A few gave dirty looks towards the Storm Queen, but many also thought that perhaps she had taken an action that needed to be done. In the end, if the Irregulars were hurt or died, what did it matter? They were not human. They were monsters. Could their lives be measured as equal? Many heavy questions now weighed upon the humans of the base camp.

The camp medics immediately got to work on the two wounded monsters. They could not expect any magical healing, the Storm Queen had exhausted herself with her massive display of power. Aldebaran used his muscle to help move the dwarf around so that the medics could remove his heavy armor. Scorch marks now pocked the body of the Halz. The medics applied balms to the wounds and left Ritter to rest and heal. The medics working on Mayitso had an uglier wound to deal with.

The smell of burnt hair and flesh along with the sight of the ugly wound caused one of the medics to retch. Cleaning it out was a terrible task. The lightning bolt had sheared across the lycanthrope's head. The medics had to be careful so that they did not cause further harm. It was certainly going to leave a nasty mark. Beyond that, it had completely obliterated Mayitso's left eye. He would require serious downtime to rest and recover from such a serious wound.

Cassius approached Enzi, “I am sorry for what happened. I am not sure how needed her assault was, but the questions already float through the camp.”

“She saw clearly, if poorly,” Enzi replied, “The goblinoids planned to use our compassion to shield them. They had to be struck down. The force that was used might have been excessive, but force was warranted.”

“I am surprised we were not warned of their coming. Medeus was scouting that direction. He is the sharpest ranger we have left.”

“There is a lot of territory,” Enzi replied, “Even he could have missed us. I am just sorry I did not realize the actual intentions of the goblinoids following us sooner. We knew a scout was following us, but the size of this force and their devious assult were both beyond any prediction I had. The tactician who thought of this was not only sharp, he had to be thinking on his feet to put this together so quickly.”

Cassius nodded, “I suspect you have more to tell me. Syrian arrived before you but only told me a few things.”

Enzi sighed, “Yes, there are a great many things to discuss. We should talk in private. This may take a while.”

“For now, it appears we have plenty of time.”

The two great leaders made their way to the general's quarters. Inside, they sat and discussed what Ranum had told Enzi. They discussed many possibilities, including treachery. In the end, they came to the conclusion that they could not ignore the warnings of the grizzled old goblin. They also came to the conclusion that little would be done that they did not do themselves.

“It looks like you and your team will be needed on the southern front for this beast when it comes.”

Enzi nodded, “I worry. Bounties were placed on our heads by those who hate monsters. Most of the mercenaries that would claim it now fight on the southern front.”

“I do not know about most, as there are still plenty of conflicts in the Disputed Lands, but you are right that a great many will still be there as a possible problem. I will send a messenger to that front with news and questions. We have enough time that we can hopefully sort out a solution.”

“It will take some time for our wounded to recover anyway. When we are ready, we will begin the trek south.”

“You may run into many thing to take care of along the way if you go around to the west. Although the western front in Kurrot would be full of Cleansers.”

Enzi nodded, “We have time. For now. Blunting that last goblinoid attack may give us an extended peace here on the northern front. At least I hope so. It would make the sacrifice seem worth it. It would be nice not to have to deal with trouble any longer.”

***

Medeus Tarim watched the base camp from a distance. The dagger he had taken from the murderous goblin known as the Hunter of Man was in his hand. It had seen the blood of a few foes during the ranger's travel through the woods. As he looked upon the base camp, all the ranger could see were what looked like demonic goblinoids. He felt that the dagger needed to be sank into each and every single one.

Yet these monsters had to be dangerous. Medeus would have to be careful. He would use stealth and try to take down each foe one by one. One of the odd demons came out to scout the area. Medeus waited until the demon was far from the camp. He would make them pay for all the human friends the creatures must have slain. Medeus leapt out to confront the demon.

The demon yelped in surprise, “Medeus! What are you doing?”

Medeus was surprised that the demons had heard of him, but assumed they must have tortured the people of the base camp to learn information about the forces in the area. Medeus sank his knife deep into his foe. It felt so right. This was exactly the kind of foe the blade wished to slay. This was what it had been made for. Joy washed over Medeus. One demon was slain. It was a start.

As the ranger walked away the last life gurgled away from his foe. To unclouded eyes the corpse was that of a ranger. The human had died, his life taken by the new Hunter of Man.

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