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

4Sep/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0062

Voltagh trudged through the goblinoid camp, “A bit of breathing room now.”

Ranum nodded, “Indeed. Certainly a lot less orcs.”

The massive orc general snorted, “They were the weakest of us. If any survive, they can come back. They are only to harass the humans and shave off their numbers.”

“Yes, I have seen the plans for the main assault to come. I have seen their new weapon.”

“Is it not glorious?”

“It is not glorious at all,” Ranum stated, “It is a deadly and capable creature, but it is not enough. The power they claim for it is vastly overstated. The high hopes for it winning the war will only lead us to overextend ourselves. We would certainly bring great harm to the humans, but we would awaken their true ire before we are strong enough to resist it. Once the dragon is dead, they will decide we are too dangerous to live.”

“Admittedly I am surprised the humans have not taken the opportunity to simply wipe us out. I have thought them weak.”

“They are weak. Like any animal that is backed into a corner, though, they can become extremely dangerous.”

“Hmm. That is something I had not considered.”

“Yes. Too many are blinded by the small possibility of winning they are willing to throw away everything.”

“The thought of finally returning to our rightful rule is tempting.”

Ranum sighed, “I have a plan to finally defeat the humans but it will take time and effort.”

“I may not like you or your kind, Ranum,” Voltagh growled, “But I know you are smart and want us to win. Tell me of your plan.”

“The humans have several advantages over us at the moment. Their access to resources is one of the biggest. We need a way to equalize our position. I found a way. However, to eventually pull off this plan we will need soldiers that survive this war.”

“Does your pet hobgoblin figure into this plan?”

“Of course,” Ranum replied, “I needed someone to train in the proper use of a true secret weapon. A goblin would be too small. An orc too impulsive. A bugbear too large. Only a hobgoblin would do. So I have made sure that from birth he has been given the best training. I taught him much of battle strategy myself.”

“I despise those hobgoblins and the way they act superior.”

“Yes,” Ranum sighed, “I have little patience for most of them as well. Navras I have tried to make the perfect goblinoid for the job. He may be a hobgoblin, but he sees the use of each of our breeds. Already my goblins are hard at work uncovering the artifacts we need to finish off the humans. We will need to survive this war with as many goblinoids as we can muster. Then we will need to rebuild what we have lost. Only this time we will be stronger. I will need your support when this foolish plan ends to oust the fools that started it.”

“Their failure will be their deaths, that much I can guarantee.”

“I also need to keep you from sending out your best soldiers. We have done enough damage to the humans. Let them think we are spent. I would rather not corner them.”

“I will see what I can do about that. If things look as dire as you say, there will be no reason to spend my best orcs against the humans yet. I would rather use them when we have a real chance at success.”

“That time will come,” Ranum smiled toothily, “The humans will not be expecting our line of attack. When Navras finally leads the goblinoids out of this fetid swamp, he will take all of us. He will be an unstoppable force. It will be glorious.”

“Now that sounds like a hobgoblin I would actually follow,” Voltagh replied.

***

The soldier stood solemnly over the graves. North of the base camp sat the graveyard for the soldiers who had fallen on the northern front. The graveyard had grown considerably with the last battle. The wounded were numerous as well. Lunaris had a cracked rib. She wasn't going to be doing any more fighting for a while. She was heading back into Nuvroc with several other soldiers. It was the soldiers who were hurt too bad to fight. Lunaris was young and would heal with care. Some of the others had taken far more severe wounds.

They would travel first to the small Nuvroci mining town of Brixia, where most would stay until they recovered enough for further travel. Lunaris would eventually need to return to the capital of Nuvroc, Cephas. The rangers had said she would get a new mentor there. She would likely be assigned to patrolling with the mentor at Nuvroc's southern border. Enzi hoped the best for her. She had changed significantly from her careless days. Few of the original warriors that Enzi had grown to know remained.

Medeus Tarim remained, staying close to General Cassius Tessium. The two Nuvroci soldiers had become friends. Medeus still worked to prove that he was free of the influence of an evil artifact that had claimed his mind, but he had shown no signs of regression since the foul knife had been destroyed. Beren Gendar also remained, although he was often on the hunt. The Tarvoni that were aiding the goblinoids had learned to keep themselves out of harm's way. The Agonish Magehunters had defeated many of the evil magic users and Beren had contributed significantly to that number.

Cleaning up the base encampment after the horde of orcs had not been easy. It was always difficult to see those you knew or fought beside when they were laying slain upon the cold, hard ground. The orcs were brutal. Cleaving and jagged blades made terrible wounds. Undisciplined strikes left few clean kills. The wounded had often been maimed. The dead had often died a slow and agonizing death. It had not been a pretty fight. Yet the humans had won. The orc horde had been slaughtered.

The thing that worried Enzi was that the orcs had fought to the death. They had shown no regard for their lives. It had been a reckless and wild assault. Of the goblinoid races, orcs had the reputation for brutality. These orcs had not shown even the slightest fear of death. Such fervor made for a deadly foe. It could also cause unpredictability. It made Enzi think about the future battles. The plans of the goblinoids were hard to fathom. He wondered what they would do next.

He knew of the secret weapon of the goblinoids. It was a drake, raised from an egg stolen from the lizardfolk in the Marsh of Vashim. It might not yet be as powerful as a fully grown adult dragon, but it would still be far beyond the power of any single person. It would likely even lay waste to entire armies. Bringing such a monster down would require other monsters. Luckily Enzi had recruited monsters for his Irregulars. The gorgon, minotaur, and vodyanoi were the last of their kind. The lycanthropes and Halz were rare and reclusive.

Enzi's Irregulars were a unique blend of talents. Enzi suspected that if they could not stop the drake then it would cause damage beyond reckoning before the young dragon was finally stopped. It would mean a war unlike any others. The humans would want revenge for the devastation. They had little love for the goblinoids. Revenge would give them a reason to hunt them down and slaughter every last one of them. The armies of the northern countries would win, but not without severe losses.

To retain the balance of the nations, Enzi needed to stop the drake. To save the lives of countless humans, as well as rescuing the goblinoids from extinction, Enzi had to slay the dragon. Most of all, only in stopping the mighty winged lizard would the plans of conquest by Feergrus be stopped. Enzi might still love his country and the people in it, but he no longer loved the government. The treacherous Devis Lane had seen to that. Enzi knew he could not allow Devis to unleash whatever evil plan he had in store upon the world of Doulairen.

As the funeral service for the fallen soldiers ended, General Cassius Tessium approached Enzi. The general had often gone to the Feergrus man for advice. The death of so many men had begun to wear on Cassius. He was a young man and the role of general had fallen upon him when the previous general had been slain. Yet already responsibility had begun to age the Nuvroci man. His skin was already rough tanks to the treatments and steel plates that had made him one of the Steel Warriors. The wrinkles would only make him look more grizzled.

“This attack was meant to do little more than harass us I expect,” Cassius stated.

Enzi nodded, “If they play a war of attrition, they will lose in the end. I see little strategy in this.”

“They have weakened the north, but we are still far stronger than where we once were. If we gain any other reinforcements, I expect that the north will be able to fend off almost any attack unless they throw all their forces here.”

Enzi's eyes widened, “They are going to make the north their target to draw reinforcements here. Then the final push will be south. Not the most brilliant of plans, but effective in its simplicity.”

“I will try to make sure that further Nuvroci reinforcements are sent south. If you are sure the final strike will be there, we will need as many soldiers there as possible to end it quickly and efficiently.”

Enzi nodded. This small group could hold the north. Even without the aid of Ravalei. The influence of the Rava Coast Trading Company had brought great trouble to the encampment. If Ravalei did eventually send more troops to the northern front, hopefully the Storm Brigade would dissuade them from trying to overthrow the leadership of General Cassius Tessium.

***

The Tarvoni that strode through the Goblinoid Lands did not wear the symbol of the Abyss Cult. His dirty blonde hair was darker than most Tarvoni and he wore leather armor instead of robes. There was no visible symbol of a cult anywhere, but he was heavily armed. Another Tarvoni came out to greet him. That Tarvoni did wear robes, and the spiral symbol of the Abyss Cult was prominent on them.

“I am Gree Vanier,” the robed Tarvoni said.

“What's the job?” the armored Tarvoni asked brusquely.

“A Magehunter. He works out of the northern front.”

“Interesting. You are talking about this Beren Gendar then. Two thousand gold coins.”

Gree nodded, “If you can do it, the gold is yours.”

The armored man turned and began walking north, “I will return with his head.”

Gree Vanier watched the armored man walk away. It was a Tarvoni from the Shadow Cult. They were professional assassins. If anyone could deal with the threat of a Magehunter, it was an assassin. The assassins in Ravalei had turned down the request by the Abyss Cult to eliminate the magehunter threat. Luckily, there were other options. The Shadow Cult were rarely seen, but they were professionals. They were experts with blades. Many were also mages.

The mages of the Shadow Cult might not be the most powerful among the Tarvoni, but that would be an advantage against a Magehunter. Beren Gendar had hurt the Tarvoni effort. The other Magehunters had not helped, but Beren was getting too close. Gree did not wish to have a Magehunter coming for his head. Two thousand gold coins was a considerable sum, but if it helped win the war than it was entirely worth it. Once Beren Gendar was dead, Gree could worry about the other Magehunters. They had not been as effective, hopefully they would be cheaper to eliminate.

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