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

20Nov/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0073

Kava felt the soothing moisture on her skin. She was home again. The marsh felt like she had never left. The vodyanoi moved with an odd grace through the foliage. It was a good thing that everything was working well, as she needed all of her skill in stealth. She had been investigating the lizardfolk positions for nearly a week. Kava understood their language perfectly well. The troglodytes often did not speak, but when they did it was important.

Kava was making her way back to Enzi and the others. She had learned enough to know when and where the lizardfolk would strike. The news was not good, but it meant a good fight. Kava nearly salivated at the thought of a massive battle with the lizardfolk. She owed them a lot of death. They had slaughtered her people. Kava admitted that the vodyanoi likely deserved their fate, but she still wanted to give as much chaos back to her old enemy as she could.

She looked down at her right arm. It was missing a hand and part of the forearm. That had been the work of one of the troglodytes as well. The prosthetic she wore was deadly. She had learned to use it as efficiently as the weapon in her other hand. It would feel good to sink her hatchets into lizard flesh. Revenge might be petty, but Kava enjoyed being a little petty. She also enjoyed the violence and the blood. It was who she was and she was finally glad to have a chance at showing off her brutal side once more.

“Well, we are in luck,” Kava said to the man she believed was Enzi.

“Oh?” Devis asked, though he could already see the answer in the thoughts of the vodyanoi.

“The main thrust of their first assault will not be far from here, and there is plenty of time for us to get there before it happens.”

Kava was nearly salivating at the thought of battle as Devis replied, “That does not sound good to me, except for our ability to intercept it. I was hoping there would be more time before they finally decided to unleash their attack on Feergrus.”

After Devis let the scouts know the information, the group made their way towards the location where they might intercept the lizardfolk. Without Mayitso, it was Eurysa who maintained the lead, her sharp eyes watching for danger. Kava stayed near, as the vodyanoi was familiar with the kind of terrain they were traveling through. The only good thing was the that incursion of lizardfolk had driven off most of the Vashimi. They had been the first targets of the lizardfolk.

Devis Lane was quite happy to know that the Vashimi had been hurt by the lizardfolk attacks. The Vashimi had long been an annoyance to the Feergrus. They rarely traveled outside of the marsh, but they sometimes would raid the border towns. They might take food, clothing, or kidnap people when they did. Their acts of terror was the reason that so many soldiers remained on the border of Feergrus. It was enough to deter anything other than a focused assault.

This worked out well for the group, as it forced the same thing on the lizardfolk. They would meet resistance anywhere they chose to attack. Therefore the intelligent tactic was simply to pick a spot and attack in force. Enzi's Irregulars would now be there to help blunt that attack. As many of the soldiers of Feergrus nearby that could be gathered would aid the fight as well. They had to blunt the attack. Eventually Mayitso would return, hopefully with reinforcements.

They could not count on his return for many days, however. Even with his increased land speed, it was at least a two week journey to reach the heart of where the lycanthropes lived. Even then, he had to convince the lycanthropes to join the war effort. After two days of travel, Devis and his allies had finally reached the point where the lizardfolk planned to spearhead their attack on Feergrus. The group as well as the forces of Feergrus did their best to find positions to attack and surprise the enemy force.

“Well folks, now comes the fun. Target the largest ones first. Those are the females,” Kava croaked, “They are the leaders. You might not see them, however. They send the males in first as much as possible. Luckily they are a lot weaker and smaller than the females. Their numbers, however, can be troublesome. They should not have the sheer numbers of a human nation, but we do not exactly have a full army here yet.”

Aldebaran grunted in Nuvro, “Our little frog turtle seems to be enjoying herself for a change.”

“I heard that,” Kava growled back in Nuvro, “And there really is nothing like a good fight. Too bad you are not good at fighting.”

“We will see who kills more foes when the lizards attack.”

“I will sit upon a giant pile of my slain foes. From there I will look down upon you and laugh.”

“Then a contest of who has the biggest pile of dead bodies.”

Kava grinned creepily with her overly broad mouth full of razor sharp teeth, “Excellent.”

It was another three days before the Feergrus scouts reported back on the movements of the creatures that called themselves the Naxaeless. The group watched as the lizardfolk approached. They were trying to be stealthy, the colorful frills of the male troglodytes were flat against their necks. The frills of the females did not have bright colors like the males. The Irregulars and the few gathered forces from Feergrus awaited the coming assault. The lizardfolk were unarmored, trusting to their thick skins to protect them.

As the lizardfolk moved past those that were hiding, Kava led the charge with a mighty croak. Enzi's Irregulars and the soldiers of Feergrus fell upon their foes. The less stealthy members of the group had further to charge, as they had to remain back from the combat to allow the surprise attack to work. Kava's hatchets went to work, blood splattering across the ground. Arrows streaked past the humans and their allies and planted themselves in the lizardfolk. Eurysa's aim was impeccable.

Aldebaran's two handed blade soon entered the fray, carving a path into the foe's line. Ritter was the last to the battle, his short legs finally carrying him into combat. His hefty warhammer cracked skulls left and right. The Feergrus did their part as well. Devis spent most of his time working to keep the human soldiers safe from harm. Soon the lizardfolk were slain, but Kava was looking at the slaughter with suspicion. The numbers were far too small.

There were no females in the slain group. Too late, the group saw that it was but a small scouting group. A hulking female troglodyte could be seen slowly approaching as a horde of her lizardfolk swarmed over the human position. The desperate fight had begun. Spears stabbed wildly at the humans and the Irregulars. Devis did what he could to prevent human casualties, but even in the confusion of battle he did not dare reveal his true prowess. A few losses were acceptable.

Ritter deflected spear after spear with his shield and heavy armor. Eurysa tried to stay out of melee range, using her gaze to paralyze a few lizardfolk. Even with that, she felt a couple of spears pierce her skin. Aldebaran looked far worse than that, his huge form was a huge target for the enemy. However, getting close to him was a deadly prospect. His sword was cleaving through the enemy with unbridled ferocity. However none of the Irregulars could match the vodyanoi.

Kava ducked and weaved through the enemy forces with uncanny grace. Her hatchets severed limbs, opened skulls or chests, or ripped flesh from bone. She was in her element and it was amazing to see. With all of her skill though, even the vodyanoi could not defend from so many foes. Blood flowed as several spears cut her, some more deeply than others. The leader of the troglodytes approached the battle, seeing the devastation. She raised her spear and waited. At the right moment she plunged it into the battle.

The Naxaeless were often strong, with the females much stronger than the men. This female was stronger than most. She knew her foes would be difficult to strike in the midst of the chaotic melee. That was assuming she wished to avoid striking her allies. As leader of the fight, she had made a terrible decision. She had decided the male warriors were all expendable. With that in mind, she plunged her spear through one of her own allies. It killed the troglodyte instantly, but it also struck Kava in her what would be a sternum on a human.

The vodyanoi hit the ground, reeling from the blow. She was coughing and gurgling. The wound was nasty. Kava's orange eyes did not show any fear or worry. There was only rage and blood-lust. She leapt over the slain male lizardfolk and attack the leader of the troglodyte forces with dire fury. A dozen lizardfolk spears pierced her from behind, seeking to protect their leader. The vodyanoi did not flinch. Her hatchets landed blow after blow as Kava wildly flailed at the female troglodyte.

The leader of the lizardfolk fell as Kava collapsed on top her her, spent of her fury. At least six spears pointed towards the sky where they were still implanted in the back of the amphibian. Without their leader, the male lizardfolk turned tail and fled, retreating to regroup with new leadership. The battle had been terrible. Devis counted six dead humans. Most of the Irregulars were wounded. If the lizardfolk regrouped and returned, the line would not hold.

It was more likely that they would regroup and find another location to strike, but Devis saw that the best scout for learning more was on the ground. It was the minotaur the rushed to the side of the vodyanoi first. Blood matted Aldebaran's fur, but he did not care about his own pain. He knelt beside Kava to check on her. She looked up at him, her large eyes glassy and unfocused.

“I got a bigger pile than you,” she croaked, spitting up some blood as well, “And took down the damn leader.”

“Yes, I think you finally beat me,” Aldebaran replied softly.

“Say it loud and often,” Kava said, “About time you admitted I was better than you. Now lets get these bastards in a pile. I want to sit on top of them and sneer down at you like you deserve.”

Soon the troglodyte corpses had been made into a pile. A great many had been slain. Aldebaran heaved the massive female Naxaeless on top of the pile, then gently lifted Kava onto the top.

“Ah, much better,” the vodyanoi said softly, her voice fading, “This is a throne to be proud of. The troglodytes felt the roar of the vodyanoi this day. They will not soon forget us.”

“No one will forget,” Aldebaran stated as a tear rolled from his eye.

Kava did not speak again. The vodyanoi had stopped breathing. She would never speak again, nor would her people. Finally the vodyanoi were extinct. It was hard to say if they had made their mark on the world at large, but those that knew of Kava knew of her impact at the very least. As the group moved the wounded back towards the border, Ritter thought about what had happened. The Halz wondered if the humans would even mention the vodyanoi. He wondered if they would become little more than an ancient legend.

It was a sad thought that such a hero might be forgotten. If she had been human, Ritter expected she might have been more widely recognized for her deeds. The dwarf knew that when he returned home, that he at least would remember her sacrifice. His people thrived on such tales of valor against impossible odds. Ritter glanced back one last time. At least the vodyanoi had lived to fulfill her greatest wish. She had died atop a pile of the corpses of her enemies. It was oddly fitting, but the Halz saw it had a deep effect on Aldebaran.

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