Chapter 15

After the battle, I wandered around absorbing all of the ‘Dark Matter Contamination’ from the monsters while the Foxkin healed any wounded and scavenged anything of value from the monster’s corpses. I got some weird looks, but no one questioned what I was doing. There wasn’t much to scavenge because most of their equipment was inferior to what the Foxkin already possessed. At least some of their parts would be useful as materials for various things.

I had already come to this realization along time ago but the act of absorbing ‘Dark Matter Contamination’ from the monsters removed all of their remaining magical properties. This meant no magic crystals could be removed from their corpses which was unfortunate. Magic crystals were valuable but if it was a choice between one or the other, I would still choose to increase my own power. It also allowed me to transfer power to Reia and Allein so it was certainly worth the price.

It would take a while to scavenge the whole battlefield and tend to the wounded so the Foxkin set up camp to rest before tackling a siege on the fort. Scouts were sent out to make sure that no more enemies approached while we rested. I headed into the command tent to discuss the coming siege with Reia, Allein and Nes. After the strategy session, the commands would be relayed to squad commanders.

“That went very well but these monsters are much more susceptible to magic attacks than a human army will be. Still, it was good practice for them and they performed admirably.”

This was the first step in preparing an army capable of standing toe to toe against a human army but there was still much that was needed.

“The enemy we faced here didn’t seem to have any archers or mages. I wonder if there are any in the fort?” My question wasn’t to anyone in particular.

“There are most likely some within the fort. These orcs don’t appear to be particularly strong since there were no archers or mages among them. There are also more heavily armored orcs and other variations but there were none in the battle. It could just be the level of this dungeon though.” Reia replied.

That made sense, we didn’t choose a high level dungeon since this was only meant to be training as well as a means to power up. It seemed that my absorption ability was just as effective with quantity as it was with quality so there was no need to put the Foxkin in danger. They too would grow stronger from fighting an abundance of enemies.

We needed some idea of the types of enemies we would be facing within the fort in order to plan accordingly, “Nes, do you think you can fly over the fort and try to scout out the enemy? Don’t take any risks, a general idea is fine.”

Nes voiced his acknowledgement but was stopped by Allein, “I will go too.”

“Allein, I would prefer you remained here, it might be dangerous. We don’t know what they have behind those walls.” I said this only out of concern and not because I was looking down on her.

“I can protect myself. You don’t need to concern yourself with my safety.” She said with a glare.

Nes looked at me for a moment and then followed his sister out. The way he used to look at me and the way he looks at me now are different. I wonder if he’s changed his opinion of me.

“I hope you aren’t going to say something like that to me?”

Reia was watching me the whole time but she showed no anger, just a hint of a smile.

“I know that would be a waste of time. You are a warrior after all and plus, I doubt you would listen to me even if I did.”

I chuckled thinking about it.

“You know me well. So how will we take this fort?”

“The plan is simple, since we have four master level magic casters, we are going to use their most powerful spells against the fortifications. First we will have the master geomancer use his most powerful earth elemental spell against the walls, followed by the most powerful water elemental spell from the hydromancer. Once a breach is made, the master pyromancer and master aeromancer will combine their most powerful spells together and wreak havoc within the castle. We will then have our advanced magic casters throw fireballs into the breach in the walls just in case there are any enemies lurking there. This should clear the area and our main formation will march right in through the breach while the advanced magic casters continue to provide ranged support with their barrage type spells against any enemies on the walls. The intermediate level magic casters will follow the main formation from the rear and support them with healing. While they are distracted, we should have Nes and Allein fly on top of the walls and clear out any left over enemies on the walls. I will also join the fight this time.” As I was explaining the plan to Reia, I moved some wood blocks around on a crude drawing I had made on cloth of the fort and its immediate surroundings.

It’s nothing fancy and most likely not even necessary with just the two of us. It makes me feel like a real commander though. I have to get used to stuff like this since I will be planning more battles in the future, assuming I make it that far.

“Once everyone is rested we will head out and take that fort.”

Reia and I ended our strategy session and went about preparing for the siege.

Nes and Allein returned after a while and reported that the enemy fort was less intimidating than originally thought and that there were several hundred monsters within the fort.

“I saw close to 50 orc archers on the walls. They took shots at us while we were flying overhead but their range isn’t great. We didn’t notice any orc mages or heavy orc infantry, just the same types of monsters we already fought. Saw a couple more ogres inside too. Not sure what their commander is. They might have an orc general in there which is stronger than the normal ones we have been fighting, but not a serious threat.” Nes was efficient in giving his report.

Allein felt the need to chime in with a reckless statement, “This is way too easy, couldn’t you pick a more difficult dungeon?”

“I don’t think you understand Allein, that was the point. The Foxkin need to train and level themselves and this is the ideal dungeon for them. If we come out of this with little to no casualties, that would be desireable. Do you want to see our people be killed?”

“I guess not…” She said sulking.

She didn’t argue and I was happy to see that her personality had changed somewhat.

“Good job you two, I am happy that nothing happened to you while scouting. It’s time to head out so get prepared!” With my dismissal, they went to prepare themselves for the coming battle.

A couple of hours later, our army had arrived at the fort, but calling it a fort was a bit of a stretch. What the Foxkin had called a fort was pretty run down. The walls were in place, but they were not as impressive as I thought they would be and they were made of a combination of dirt and wood fortifications. There was no stone at all. I guess this is what Allein and Nes meant when they reported back to me earlier about the fort being less than intimidating.

What a huge disappointment. I forgot these Foxkin had probably never seen a real fort or castle before. Even Enrain’s defenses were somewhat disappointing from what I imagined. The City of Enrain had a wooden wall fortification that was reinforced with some stone, but none of it was like what I had seen in movies or what I imagined when reading. I had heard that the capital city had proper fortifications but I hadn’t seen them for myself.

“All that planning I did seems pointless now.” I said my thoughts out loud to no one in particular but Reia replied, “better prepared than dead.” Indeed Reia, indeed!

“Don’t worry, no one is going to die, this fort is going to be a piece of cake. I wouldn’t be surprised if it fell just from our magic bombardment. Let’s trying hitting the walls with some fireballs, master level magic might not even be necessary. Advanced magic casters! Hit that wall with some fireballs!”

At my order, the advanced magic casters began chanting and preparing their magical power. It took some time for the magic spell to be complete but soon around twenty moderately sized fireballs sped towards the enemy walls. We were out of range of the shortbows the orcs had so they could do nothing but watch as the fireballs rapidly approached. As the fireballs collided with the wall, I expected the wall to light up with massive explosions but instead, a strange dim glow lit up along the walls surface and the fireballs caused no damage.

“Bah, what the hell?”

“Looks like there are orc mages inside the enemy base after all. That was a defense spell cast on the walls.” Allein informed me.

“Right, I remember at the Battle of Enrain the mages did the same thing.” I replied.

Reia observed the wall for a moment before speaking again, “the wall itself is not very strong. Even with the magical enhancement spells reinforcing it. If we use the master level spells we originally planned to use, it should be enough to take them down. The orc mages are most likely only intermediate or advanced level casters.

“Alright then, let’s use the strategy we had originally planned.” I gave the order to the master level magic casters to use their spells to devastate the fort.

They began gathering their magic power in preparation for the chant to cast their most powerful spells against the fort. The geomancer and hydromancer would use their spells to take down a portion of the fort’s walls and then the pyromancer and aeromancer would combine their most powerful spells in an all out attack on the fort’s denizens.

Ordering the Foxkin to retreat further back away from the fort, we waited until the master level spells were ready to be cast. I wasn’t sure how powerful the spells would be and I didn’t want our own army to get caught up in them.

Monsters from within the fort jeered and mocked us in their strange guttural tongues, thinking themselves safe behind the walls. They had no idea that soon their fort would be hit by powerful spells that would most likely obliterate them. It would still be quite some time until the spells were ready so we decided to rest while waiting as the monsters continued to roar in mocking tones from the walls of the fort.

We finished eating a meal and even had time for idle conversation before the magic casters were ready. I understood more clearly why these spells were just not feasible for use in battle. No enemy would normally allow for the time needed to cast the spells. The monsters weren’t very intelligent and thought themselves safe behind their walls and did not bother to sortie out of the castle. Of course, even if they did sortie, it wouldn’t change the outcome of this battle.

The first to cast their spell was the geomancer. I couldn’t hear the entire chant, only hearing the last bit which he called out violently, “Earth Rupture!” Ground beneath the fort began to quake violently. Some of the archers along the walls lost their footing, falling to their deaths. Ripples spread all along the surface of the ground sporadically flinging rocks and dirt in all directions. The thrown rock gradually gathered, being sucked in by some mysterious gravity like force until it formed enormous boulders of compressed earth.

With a wave of the geomancer’s hand, the boulders propelled themselves towards the enemy fortifications with immense force. The first few impacts were absorbed by the magic shield enhancement which had been placed on the fort’s wall. Each successive boulder weakened the defense spell and it began to collapse until finally dissipating. A few remaining boulders crashed into the wall sending cracks throughout the wall, but it hadn’t completely been breached.

Following the geomancer’s attack, the hydromancer released his master level spell with excellent timing. It was a spell known as ‘Tidal Wave’ which caused massive waves to repeatedly smash against the walls. Large waves battered the beleaguered defenders of the fort, breaching the walls and sending many monsters to a watery grave.

I don’t think there will be many left by the time these master level casters are finished.

That wasn’t the end of the assault, for the pyromancer and aeromancer had not yet combined their spells. Once the ‘Tidal Wave’ spell had run its course, the final two spell casters released their spells ‘Fire Vortex’ and ‘Unrelenting Wind’ which merged together forming a much more powerful spell.

An immense tornado of fire blazed across the fort. Its heat was so intense I thought my own flesh would be scorched from my body. Thankfully, we were far enough from the fort that only the heat from the spell reached us. With flames blazing unabated, the fort itself seemed to be melting under the intense heat. What power! I can’t imagine anything survived that! Doesn’t look like there will be much of a fight after all.

“Flames have died down, about time. That was an amazingly powerful spell! Nes, can you go scout the fort from above and see if anything is still alive in there?”

“Yeah….” Nes transformed into his dragon form and flew over to the fort.

He spent some time flying around and scouting but eventually returned.

“I couldn’t see anything moving in there but there could be some monsters hiding in the rubble.”

“Looks like we are heading in then. Warriors, remain in formation, move in cautiously. Make sure to use your senses to pick up on any hidden enemies within!”

Thankfully the Foxkin had a powerful sense of smell and would be able to quickly pick up on any monsters lurking in the fort.

It wouldn’t be possible for them to surprise attack our forces. Once inside, there were a few stragglers that had somehow survived but the Foxkin made quick work of them. The fort was a smouldering ruin now and no longer posed any threat to us. Many of the Foxkin held their noses in disgust due to the smell of steamed monster flesh.

It was interesting to notice that the fire and wind combined spell had also super heated the water, causing an incredible amount of steam. The poor monsters had probably been boiled alive, that’s a scary way to die.

I will have to remember this effect for the future. It could prove to be a useful attack but the extremely long cast times for these spells limited their use.

I ordered the warriors to search the fort for a way down to the second floor. It took a while to find the stairs leading down because the passageway leading to the stairs had collapsed and was under rubble. I waited while the Foxkin warriors removed the rubble and prepared the passageway for entry.

Once uncovered, the stairs leading to the second floor of the dungeon were narrow and I sent scouts down to investigate before ordering anyone else down. They returned and reported that from what they could tell of the floor, it would be too difficult to move an entire army down there. The passageways and rooms were too small for a large group to navigate them.

Looks like only a small group can go further in.

“Reia, Nes and Allein, looks like we’re up.”

They understood exactly what I meant and we quickly prepared our equipment, venturing further into the dungeon.

I also put together a small group of Foxkin i thought would be useful within the dungeon.

“Do you guys remember the first time dungeon diving? It seems so long ago”

My memories from then were still fresh in my mind. It hadn’t been that long since the first time I entered a dungeon.

“Of course, I remember you were nervous Fayde!” Allein chuckled while covering her mouth with her hand.

“Shutup! It was my first time! Whatever, I’m not nervous anymore.” I said that while looking into the dark of the dungeon ahead of me.

Reia walked up to me, putting her arm on my shoulder. She looked at me sternly, “that’s enough chit chat, we have a dungeon to capture!”

“That’s right.” I said excitedly.

Before I knew it, this world had really grown on me and I wondered if I would ever be able to return to Earth and I felt guilty because a part of me didn’t even want to return, although I still felt pain at the thought of never seeing my daughter again.

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