Chapter 14

(Tris POV)

I can’t believe it! Why? Why do the Foxkin follow him, an entire clan? He’s a human and yet he is accepted by them? I am already able to see changes in the way the Foxkin view Fayde and it has only been a week since he became Khan. To make matters worse, Reia has even had her powers restored!

I had been making myself somewhat scarce as of late but it didn’t seem that my cover had been blown. Fayde and the others still treated me the same way they always had. The danger posed by Fayde continued to grow. He had already made sweeping changes to the warriors of the Foxkin tribe by organizing them into military units.

One of the reasons why Humans had been able to keep the Demihumans from obtaining power was their lack of military tactics and strategy. The Empire, and to some degree the Kingdoms, kept the Demihuman numbers low by periodic military expeditions into the Plains of Sorrow as well as the funding of slave hunters to capture Demihumans. This had been a policy of The Empire for a long time and had seen great success.

Even if all the tribes of the Plains united they were too few in number to be a major threat, but if Fayde takes the tribes to the northern kingdoms…

No, I won’t think about it, it’s impossible. There is no way he can conquer the northern kingdoms. The people of the North won’t tolerate Demihumans coexisting with them equally. He won’t make it there anyway! We will stop him at all costs.

I took a deep breath and relaxed my shoulders. I wasn’t about to freak out now. There was still a lot that needed to be done and at least Dreg was close now. He was staying far enough away that he would not be scouted by the Foxkin, but close enough that we could now exchange missives more frequently. I was doing my best to report as much information as possible and he in turn was reporting back to the capital with the bits of information he felt was important.

Fayde is still heading towards a dungeon with the Foxkin warriors in order to train them in proper battle tactics. They are making preparations for the Grand Council. I have not been discovered. Nothing new to report. The plan is still in motion.

I finished up my latest report and sent it off with the magical messenger bird.

“She is communicating with someone. She received a letter of some kind and sent one off with magic. That is all I know. Whatever kind of magic it is, it is impossible to tell where the messages are being sent to.”

It was really disheartening knowing without a doubt that Tris was betraying us.

“Thanks Nes, you did good. We still don’t know who she is communicating with and why.”

I breathed a deep sigh with my hands on my head, “any ideas Reia?”

“Even though we met her in Enrain, it’s most likely that she is working for the Empire. They have the most hatred towards us. I don’t see why any of the Kingdoms would be interested.”

“But why me? When we first met I was no one special. Could it have been just a coincidence? Or might she know that I am from another world? I guess I can’t rule out the possibility since this world contains magic. But even then, so what?”

While I wanted to ask her myself, the timing wasn’t right yet. We needed more information so that we could stop whatever it is she was plotting.

“If Tris approaches any of you about anything, if she says or does something out of the ordinary, I want to know about it. We’ll keep watching her for now.”

As long as you know that someone is a traitor, it can always be used to your benefit. Or at the least, you can watch their movements and predict their actions.

“Enough about that, we have a dungeon capture to plan! We need to leave some of our warriors outside the dungeon to protect the clan and the rest we will take inside the dungeon. With the information the diviners have given, it should be perfect for our purposes. There are only two floors, but the first floor is apparently very large. From what our scouts say, there is a fort on the floor and a large open plain. The types of monsters in the dungeon are goblins, orcs and ogres. The ogres are a rare monster type so we shouldn’t see too many. These types of monsters tend to act in a similar fashion to an army so it is good training.”

Our scouts had been sent in the day before and had already returned with reports on the first floor of the dungeon. The dungeon was a large battlefield type with a fort, which meant a siege would be necessary. They reported that the floor had a day and night cycle and normal weather so it wouldn’t be a problem to set up camp within, with our army.

It was only a flat plain so we would be able to see the enemy coming and would be able to plan accordingly. The scouts had drawn a rough map so I had a basic idea of what the terrain was like. It didn’t need to be detailed since it was all flat, plain land with a fort in the center.

The scouts had encountered some goblins and orcs but they hadn’t been able to get a clear picture of how many monsters were within. The diviners were only able to give us a vague estimate of somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000. We would bring 300 of the Foxkin into the dungeon and even though we were outnumbered, most of those monsters would most likely be goblins. Goblins were relatively weak monsters and shouldn’t pose too much of a threat to the Foxkin. Even orcs were fine as long as there weren’t any powerful variants, it was the ogres I was worried about.

“By the way, Reia, what kind of master level spells are there for fire? Is it something as useful as ‘Fireball’?”

I was looking over the map the scouts had drawn while thinking about the formation our army would take.

“There is a master level area spell called ‘Fire Vortex’. It is a more powerful version of the ‘Fire Storm’. It isn’t as concentrated as a ‘Fireball’, but it has a wider area of attack. The other masters should have similar attack spells of their element. The only thing is, they would only be able to use the spells once and the time to gather the magic power necessary for them is long”

“Is it possible to combine these spells to form a stronger spell? For example, combine a ‘Fire Vortex’ and the wind master level spell?”

While these spells were probably not best suited to the battlefield because of their long cast time, they would be excellent for a siege.

“It is possible to combine spells, I have done so many times so I don’t see why they couldn’t be combined. Fire and wind are two elements which go well together.

“Good, that gives me an idea if it comes to a siege, which it probably will. I doubt the fort is there just for show. We will keep the masters in reserve then for the siege.”

It was at that time that Tris entered the tent so I paused for a moment.

“Tris, you’re back.”

She seemed tired as she approached the floor table we were using for our strategy meeting.

“Yeah, I was out scouting making sure no threats were nearby. Once we go into the dungeon, the tribe will be somewhat exposed without the bulk of the warriors.”

She sat down across from me on the other side of the table and glanced at the drawing of the dungeon.

“We are leaving fifty warriors behind, they will be fine until we can return. It shouldn’t take more than a few days to capture the dungeon. If necessary, they can always call us back if the scouts find anything.” Reia’s tone was a little crude when responding to Tris, she wasn’t the best at holding her feelings back but Tris didn’t seem to pick up on it.

It wasn’t as if we weren’t all tired so it could be chalked up to grumpiness. Pretending to like someone wasn’t always so simple.

“Tris, I want you to stay within the Foxkin camp when we go into the dungeon.”

I need to limit what she sees of our tactics as much as possible.

“What do you mean? Wouldn’t I be more useful to you in the dungeon? I can scout and report on enemy movements. I won’t be much use staying with the tents.”

If you weren’t a traitor I would agree with you.

“That won’t be necessary. Just keep the tribe safe for me, okay?”

She looked like she was about to protest more, but she stopped.

“Okay. I will do my best.”

Since Nes will be with us, I will have to assign one of the Fox-kin to keep an eye on her.

“We can plan the rest in the dungeon, this is enough for now.”

With the meeting ended everyone dispersed to make their preparations.

Only Fieral still remained by my side.

“Fieral, while I am in the dungeon I want you to watch Tris as best as you can. I doubt anything will happen, but just in case.”

She bowed her head slightly, “yes my Khan.”

It took a couple hours for the Fox-kin to get their tents set up and for our warriors to prepare themselves for the dungeon. We had been able to equip most of the Foxkin with the leather armor and superior metal weapons we had looted from the kingdom’s forces.

Once inside, the 300 Foxkin were split up into their respective units and were organized into four formations. The bulk of the forces were placed in the center, with 200 Fox-kin formed up in a rectangular shape. The formation was four rows deep and fifty Foxkin per line. They were the main bulwark in case the enemy reached our forces and would hold them back in close range fighting. They would use body enhancing magic to increase their stamina, agility and strength as they were mostly beginner level magic casters. They also had javelins which they could throw before engaging in close combat.

Slightly behind them and to the left and right flanks were two additional lines with 25 Fox-kin on each side. These were advanced level elemental magic casters. Their objective would be to fire off the initial long range magic bombardment, such as fireball. They would then act as a mobile force to harry the enemy flanks with short range barrages of elemental magic.

The rear formation composed of 50 intermediate level magic casters would focus entirely on support. At the onset of battle, they would focus their magic on obstructing the enemy movements since only visibility was necessary to use obstruction type elemental spells. If the enemy survived long enough for close range combat, they would then focus entirely on keeping the front lines healed. With this, casualties should be kept to an absolute minimum.

The inside of the dungeon was surprising, it almost exactly mirrored the outside world. The only difference would be the fort that was somewhere in the distance. The sky was artificial too, but it looked very real. If I hadn’t known I was in a dungeon, I would have thought I was still on the outside. Of course I had already experienced a dungeon before but the Foxkin had not. They were shocked to see what the inside of a dungeon was like, some of them even doubted what they were seeing despite knowing they entered one.

We made our way deeper into the dungeon without encountering any enemies. I sent a few of the warriors out as scouts to check the surrounding areas and it didn’t take long for them to report back.

One of the scouts reported directly to me.

“My Khan. A large force of goblins, orcs and a couple ogres were seen leaving the castle and heading towards our army. We believe there to be about a thousand of them approaching while the rest remain garrisoned in the fort. We have no way of knowing how many more are inside the fort.”

Since the enemy was heading straight for us, there was no need to continue to march closer to the fort until we dealt with the forward force. I ordered the army to come to a halt and make their preparations. The advanced level elemental magic casters would begin to chant once the enemy army was visible, this way their chant would complete once the enemy was in range of their spells.

It took about thirty minutes before the enemy army was fully in view. The front lines of the monster army was mostly filled with goblins, with the orcs behind them. They had no real formation to speak of and were more like a horde than a disciplined army. Orcs possessed a greater intelligence than goblins but their intelligence was woefully inadequate for complicated tactics. Orcs, goblins and ogres used swarm like tactics to fight their enemies. This tended to work against weaker foes but it wouldn’t work well against the Foxkin who had powerful area attack spells.

“Magic casters begin chanting long range bombardment spells!” I yelled out my orders to the Foxkin covering the flanks.

They began their chants while preparing their magical power.

“Support casters, do not obstruct the enemy until bombardment finishes and the enemy is in range. Once the enemy has been obstructed, magic casters may begin their barrage of spells! Front line is to hold until within skirmishing range, then release javelins!”

Reia, Nes and Allein were right by my side, they were to remain behind lines until after the enemy entered close combat. They were then tasked with seeking out the ogres and killing them.

The army of monsters roared across the battlefield and a loud cacophony of monstrous growls filled our ears. The roar of around a thousand monsters was intimidating but the Foxkin were no strangers to fighting monsters and were not affected by the sounds. The Foxkin responded with their own battle screams and the banging of spears.

This is much more exhilarating than I thought it would be, perhaps I was made for this. With a feeling of excitement and being caught up in the moment, I added my own voice to the din of sounds.

Our reply to the monster’s battle cry filled them with rage and they began their charge across the battlefield. Their charge was a thunderous roar that shook the ground in their wake. The magic casters finished their chant as the monstrous horde approached the center of the battlefield and released their deadly spells into the midst of the enemy horde. A plethora of sound and color lit up the battlefield devastating the approaching enemy.

This is intense! It’s like I am part of a movie with an excessively large special effects budget!

Fireballs thrown from the hands of magic casters exploded sending charred bodies flying in droves. Lightning struck the earth, upending the ground beneath the monster’s feet sending them into disarray. Scythes made of ice sliced across the battlefield in wide swathes, slicing enemies in half.

“Ha! Reia, look at that! I wouldn’t be surprised if half their army was cut down with those attacks alone! Amazing!” I couldn’t contain my excitement.

With little to no magical protection, the monsters were vulnerable to the magical bombardment. They had no heavy metal armor or shields to repel the spells and so they died en masse.

“Alright, Support! You guys are up. Obstruct the enemy! Magic casters switch to barrage spells!” The enemy was drawing closer and the long range bombardment had ended.

The support casters began casting their obstruction spells. They used spells like ‘Earth wall’, ‘Ice wall’, ‘Vines of entanglement’, and other spells to root or obstruct the enemy, slowing down their advance. The magic casters had already begun chanting their mid-range barrage spells such as ‘Fire Arrow’, ‘Ice Shards’, and ‘Wind Strike’. These spells could be arched to rain down upon the enemy while elemental walls held them at bay. It was similar to an archer attack except with magic spells.

While the monsters had been slowed and their numbers thinned through these attacks, they still continued their charge.

“Release javelins!” It was difficult for my voice to be heard over the sound of battle so we had incorporated flags into our tactics. I waved the flag to signal the javelin attack and 200 javelins soared through the air cutting down a good number of the monsters who had survived the magical attacks.

Only a fraction of the horde still remained as the fight turned to close combat. Foxkin in the center formation took the brunt of the charge with their spears forward, impaling many of the charging monsters. The front line was pushed back by the charge and the warriors at the front struggled to keep their lines stable. Since this was their first battle fighting like this, they had some difficulty holding the line. They were aided by the healing spells being cast from the rear by the support casters and the second line of the center formation pushed forward, helping those in the front keep the enemy at bay.

Foxkin magic casters on the flanks spread out and continued their short range barrage on the enemy flanks and rear forces which relieved much of the pressure on the center formation. The ogres, which were much slower than the other monsters, finally joined the fray. Reia, Allein and Nes were quick to respond and engaged the ogres from above and below. Their swift response saved many Foxkin lives because the ogres size and strength might have overwhelmed our  formation.

With the ogres preoccupied with my companions, our forces were easily able to mop up the remaining goblins and orcs. With the enemy mostly lying dead on the battlefield, the magic casters switched to aiding the fight against the ogres and the two ogres were also brought down.

The Foxkin had won their first battle with resounding success.

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