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

4Dec/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0075

The traps were simple. There was not enough time to do anything too elaborate. The warriors had spread themselves out to make it look like the town was still inhabited. They would all flee before the troglodytes to draw the enemy force into the traps. Once the humans regrouped, they would attack the lizardfolk and attempt to hold them back. Devis was prepared for this to fail. He would use his power to change shapes to escape when the time came.

The next part was the waiting. They did not have to wait long. While the lizardfolk had good eyes for dim light, the darkness still affected their vision. They attacked at dusk, swarming the town. The soldiers of Feergrus fell back, as planned. The traps swung to action, crippling and maiming many of the troglodytes. The few traps could not hold back the horde. Eurysa sat behind the human forces and began picking off the lizardfolk with the bow.

They had gathered a large number of arrows for her to use in the battle. It was certain that otherwise she would run out. The Naxaeless army crashed against the human forces supplemented by a Halz, a Minotaur, and a Gorgon. Ritter's warhammer cracked skulls left and right. Aldebaran's mighty two handed sword cleaved through lizard flesh again and again. Devis Lane, disguised as the human Enzi Cala in a monstrous hybrid form, struck foe after foe with his clawed hands.

Enzi had shown his ability as a Shifter before, but had always saved it for the most dire of situations. Devis felt this would qualify. It also allowed him to use more of his natural skill without seeming suspicious to the Irregulars. If any of them survived, he needed to keep his disguise for when Mayitso arrived. Devis felt that perhaps he could just slay them all and blame it on the lizardfolk, but for the moment he tried to play it straight. An opportunity would arise if it was needed. It always did.

Devis knew how to seize such opportunities. He had assassinated dozens of important figures at important points in history. He had shifted the politics and allegiances of many people. Each move might be minor, a subtle step towards his goal. Added together, they had helped build the world they lived in. He had slowly weakened those that might stand in his way, manipulating entire countries into war or out of it. The decline of the dwarves and the elves had seen the hand of Devis Lane in it.

Now his hands were involved in a small skirmish on the border of Feergrus. One warrior after another fell. Devis saw this day could not be a victory. The human warriors would fall. Enzi's Irregulars would die. A shout was raised from the rear of the lizardfolk ranks. Suddenly one after another of the Naxaeless fell. The troglodyte assault force was eliminated swiftly and efficiently from behind. The foes of the lizardfolk then met up with the line of humans as the two forces crushed the lizards between them.

Somehow the lycanthropes had arrived. Devis had no idea how they could have possibly arrived so soon. It had been less than three weeks since they sent Mayitso to find his people. Yet there was a massive wolf with a jagged scar across the left side of his head. It was Mayitso himself. There were dozens of lycanthropes with him, of all shapes and sizes. One of the largest transformed into human form. The Feergrus were surprised as the creature remained naked in human form.

The way the Feergrus transformed into panthers and a hybrid form was a magical power. Things they held close transformed with them. The transformation of the lycanthrope, while still obvious supernatural, acted along much more natural rules. Oddly enough, it meant the lycanthropes fit in best around the Feergrus. Nudity was not uncommon in the land. The only surprise at the nudity by the soldiers was an expectation that the lycanthropes would be soldiers like them in human form, with armor and weapons.

The lycanthropes, of course, had only their natural weapons. Their supernaturally tough hides made them excellent soldiers. Their sharp teeth and powerful muscles worked well on the offense as well. Their distinct lack of ranged capability meant they were not a permanent threat to the Feergrus, especially if one knew their weakness. They had a supernatural weakness to silver, which penetrated their hides as easily as steel did to a human.

The lycanthropes would fall if they tried to rise up. Devis had no worries about that. He expected the war with the lizardfolk to keep them weak. He was overjoyed to see Mayitso's return. While several of the human warriors had fallen, several others still lived. It was a better outcome than Devis had hoped for. Still, the rest of the Irregulars were no longer of any use to him. While he could send them with Mayitso to fight the Naxaeless, he knew they would want to go deal with the dragon eventually and might drag the lycanthropes with them.

Disguised as Enzi Cala, Devis bowed to Mayitso, “It is good to have you back. Now we can take care of the business at hand. We have much to do and little time to do it. We have limited time before the attack in the north by the drake. Because of that, I feel the only answer is to split up. Mayitso, you have proven your speed. We will need you to direct the lycanthropes for a while longer. You can certainly catch up with the rest of the Irregulars later. If something happens here that is unexpected, the southern front will still have at least three of you to stop the dragon.”

“I am uncomfortable going without Mayitso, but you are right that time is limited. Surely the lycanthropes can take care of themselves now?” Eurysa hissed.

“Mayitso has taken over as the alpha. Without him, they are uncontrollable. It will not take long to build a relationship between us and them, Enzi said, but that will take both Mayitso and myself to make this work. Once the relationship is cemented, then Mayitso will be done. He is faster than all of us, thus why I give you a head start. As I said, the only concern I see is any kind of unforeseeable event delaying us. Without Mayitso here there will a great many death of innocent Feergrus.”

“What of the innocents in Agon?” Ritter asked.

“Even without us, Agon can bring a force to bear to defeat the drake. We will try to save everyone, but priorities must be taken.”

The Halz frowned at that. Lives were lives. The dragon was far more dangerous than the lizardfolk. Yet even Enzi showed concern for his own country over another, despite all of them still being human. Ritter had thought Enzi was better than that. Aldebaran was unfazed by the words. He had barely heard them, his thoughts had long been focused on killing the lizardfolk. It was his vengeance for the death of Kava. He had been fighting on autopilot for quite some time.

Eurysa, like Ritter, felt some betrayal in Enzi's words though she could not disagree with them entirely. It would be best if they could save everyone, but she felt the priority should have been the dragon. If Enzi was right, it was possible they might be able to do both. She had a terrible premonition that things would not be that easy. Everything felt wrong, but it all made logical sense. The Feergrus were still Enzi's people. Perhaps he had more feelings for them than he had let on.

“Just trust me on this,” Devis said, “Everything will work out for the best. When have I ever led you astray?”

The group admitted he was right. His tactics had always led to victory. They assumed that Enzi had to know what he was doing. Enzi's Irregulars gave Devis Lane their trust. Aldebaran, Eurysa, and Ritter headed off to the northeast. It was a long trip to reach the southern front. They hoped that enough information had reached that front to prepare the humans for three monstrous mercenaries. It would be odd going without Enzi, but the group would do what they had to do.

Devis, of course, no longer cared what happened to the three creatures. They had a hard road in front of them. They had no support. Devis would send no word ahead to make their trip easier. He would let the authorities deal with the three mercenaries as they saw fit. He imagined that the authorities would do nothing unless the three provoked a response. However, a foolish guard might challenge them. Such foolishness deserved death. As the Rakshasa watched the three leave, he smiled. He had work to do.

***

It was nearly three weeks before Enzi's Irregulars reached the eastern border of Feergrus. Supplies were short. It had been difficult to resupply. Ritter was the least monstrous of the three mercenaries, but even he was met with distrust. The group had to scrounge in the badlands as they traveled. However, they had finally reached the Disputed Lands. The badlands would fade into plains and food would be easier to come by. Still, their rations were meager at best.

Still, the three traveled eastwards for two weeks before the reached the point where they decided to turn northwards. It was at this point that they would enter the kingdom of Agon. The trip through Feergrus had been without incident. The few that had seen the three inhuman warriors had ignored them. More surprising, however, had been the hassle free trip through the Disputed Lands. There were a lot of people that stood to acquire a good amount of coin for capturing or killing the Irregulars for crimes they did not commit.

However, most of the mercenaries were busy with the war. It had made the trip through the Disputed Lands remarkably quiet. The trip through Agon would be the most dangerous part, although they were traveling through the open plains where the Agonish raised their mighty steeds. They would avoid the roads and the towns as much as possible. Even then, it would be a three week trip to the southern front. They were cutting the time a lot closer than they preferred. The group could only hope that Mayitso would arrive in time to aid them.

The three monstrous mercenaries made their way through Agon, day after day. Oftentimes they saw herds of young horses racing through the fields. Usually it was far in the distance. Agonish trainers rode steeds along with the herds, picking out the strongest of the young steeds to take back to a homestead to train. The other horsemen worked to keep the herds together and accustomed to a human presence. The training at the homesteads was to train the horses to accept a rider.

The Agonish preferred their steeds to have spirit and tried not to break it. Getting a horse to accept a rider without breaking its spirit was a difficult job. They had to train the horses to trust the humans as a part of them. The best horses worked as a partner to their rider. It was what made the cavalry of Agon so dangerous. The elite riders and their trusty steeds could crush the most dangerous of foes. It was what most enemies of Agon feared the most.

The Magehunters were feared as well, but in a more localized way. One never saw an army of Magehunters. They were lone warriors. The Agonish Cavalry was more like a force of nature. Now three members of Enzi's Irregulars traveled through the heart of the cavalry's home. They just had to hope that none of the horse herders became too suspicious of three figures traveling northwards during a time of war. Ritter looked around and hoped that the three were not as doomed as he thought. He wondered how Enzi could have let them come without his support. Racism was alive and well, especially against something completely inhuman.

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