Now that the fog had cleared, Lord Marball could see exactly where he was going and headed towards the village where his infantry would be. He ran as if his life depended upon it, because it did. He knew there were crazed demons after him and so he ran harder than he had ever run in his life. His once clean and rich clothing was now stained with dirt and foliage and his once well-groomed hair was a complete mess. None of that mattered to him at this moment, the only thought that crossed his mind was that he needed to run.
The village wasn’t far from where he had been attacked, and he soon cleared the trees and could see the clearing where the village was ahead. The attacks Fayde had planned were well coordinated and happened at almost the exact same time. Only a few minutes had passed from when the infantry had fallen prey to the traps in the village, and the Foxkin led by Fayde had initiated their surprise attack on the remaining cavalrymen and archers. Everything had happened quickly, but it had felt like an eternity to the kingdom soldiers who had been caught in the various traps and ambushes.
As Lord Marball ran, he began to feel a sense of security knowing his army was straight ahead. He thought that if he could only reach them he would be safe. He was running carelessly and tripped on a rock he failed to notice. He fell to the ground and desperately tried to pick himself up, he looked back and could see Foxkin warriors chasing after him from behind. He picked himself up with even more fervor and pushed himself harder. His soldiers had finally noticed him coming and he felt a sense of relief.
Lord Marball glanced back and could no longer see the Foxkin that had pursued him. Despite the carnage, he felt a sense of relief. He finally felt an ounce of hope that he might make it out of this alive. He quickly shouted orders and reformed the remaining soldiers, returning order to the men.
He ordered that those who were injured, and could not move, be left behind and he quickly made his way away from the village, in order to escape the forest. His only thoughts now were of getting out of this forest with his life intact. He hadn’t even thought about asking where Henk or the heavy infantry was, he hadn’t even noticed many of his soldiers were missing.
There were only approximately one hundred and fifty of his soldiers remaining, although there were still twenty five guarding the supply wagons at the outskirts of the forest. He had lost half of his army, but he had no time to consider these things. It was much more important for him to escape to safety.
“Excellent!!! Haha, we really hit them hard!” I was excitedly congratulating everyone on our incredible victory.
The enemy forces had lost half of their initial army and there were no Foxkin casualties. Our strategy had been flawless. Many of the Foxkin were exhausted, but that was hardly anything to worry about. We had crushed the kingdom army with our well-placed traps and ingenious tactics. I felt a great sense of relief and was quite proud of myself.
The Foxkin were also ecstatic and cheered, praising me for my excellent leadership. Reia was smiling brightly at me, and that most of all, filled me with a sense of accomplishment and joy. I had saved the Foxkin from being massacred by the kingdom, saved the people I cared about most in this world. It was a good feeling.
“We aren’t done yet, though. We still have a rat to hunt down.” Nes reminded us, ruining the mood.
“Nes, do you always have to be like this?” Allein was berating her brother, but he did have a point.
“Alright, Nes is right, we aren’t done just yet.” That brought everyone back to reality and they calmed down, waiting for me to give them their new orders.
“The hardest part is over now. The rest of the kingdom forces are only light infantry, and many of them are exhausted and highly demoralized. Reia, I want you to take as many of the Foxkin who aren’t too exhausted and hound the enemy. Those who are tired will rest, and we will take shifts every hour. Sei, I want you to go with Reia and use your illusions to trick the kingdom soldiers into thinking they are heading back towards Enrain, make them go around in circles. We will use fast hit and run tactics to strike at them from the tree-tops. No one is to engage on the ground, quickly attack and then retreat. Don’t let them rest, don’t even let them eat. We will slowly and surely finish off every last one of them!”
The Foxkin cheered loudly, each one of them had absolute faith in their victory, not even one of them had doubts. After their incredible victory in the previous battle, their morale was as high as it could be.
Before they left, I gently grabbed Reia’s shoulder and pulled her over to the side to speak with her. Though her hair was messy and there were leaves sticking in her hair, she had a radiant and natural beauty that couldn’t be dismissed. I almost lost the will to speak.
“Whatever you do, be careful. There is no need to fight them in a pitched battle. Hit them from the trees and escape, don’t be careless.”
I wasn’t too concerned, but I felt uneasy sending her off.
“Don’t worry, we will follow your orders exactly.” Reia said with confidence in her voice.
I smiled at her and knew that I needed to trust her.
Reia left with the Foxkin warriors who still had some stamina left.
Lord Marball was feeling confident in his chances of escaping the forest. He still had one hundred and fifty soldiers and he didn’t mind sacrificing them if it meant he would escape unscathed. He thought that with this many soldiers, he could at least escape and then he would return with an even larger army and burn the whole forest down around the scum that dared oppose him. Just thinking about what he was planning to do excited him. He didn’t even care about capturing any of them anymore, he just wanted them all dead.
Lord Marball turned to one of the soldiers and asked, “Doesn’t this path somehow look familiar?”
The soldier was too afraid to address the lord and didn’t know what to say so he just bowed and faded away from the lord into a group of soldiers. His soldiers were all tired and they clearly needed to rest, so Lord Marball called for a thirty minute rest. The soldiers collapsed on the ground in exhaustion, their sense of caution gone to the wind. They had retreated from the carnage of the battle and just wanted to return home to their families.
Many of them cursed and swore, ‘if only we had never come to this god forsaken place!’ and other more profanity laden phrases.
Morale of the soldiers was nonexistent, but Marball didn’t care. They were only there to act as his shield. Lord Marball rested a short distance away from the rest of his men, it wouldn’t be fitting for a lord of his stature to mingle with the commoners. He wanted to keep going without rest, but he knew that his men would be too tired to fight if the enemy caught up to them. That could be disastrous, but he felt he would still be able to win in a battle with his numbers as long as there were no traps. In truth, Lord Marball was still in self-denial at his loss, he couldn’t even imagine that such a thing could happen and so he shut it out of his mind.
The soldiers were only resting for a short time when suddenly he noticed one of his soldiers collapse. A few others noticed as well and went to check on him to see what had happened, “He’s dead…. Enemy attack!”
Suddenly the soldiers were attacked by a rain of magical attacks. They were hit with a barrage of spells of every element. The soldiers began to panic, but Marball quickly regained order.
“They’re in the trees! Use your javelins and slings! Quickly now!”
Many of the soldiers started flinging javelins and rocks into the trees, but the attackers had already fled after the quick barrage of magic and arrow attacks. The soldiers did their best to locate the enemy, but found no one.
This continued, hour after hour. The Foxkin warriors did not let the soldiers of the kingdom rest for even a moment. The soldiers became delirious, thinking that an attack could come at any moment and so they desperately looked to the trees, flicking their eyes back and forth like scared animals.
They did their best to try to counter the Foxkin attacks, but their enemy would always attack quickly and then disappear into the forest. What made matters worse was that no matter how long they walked, there was no end to the forest. They couldn’t find the way out. It was like a never-ending nightmare of endless trees. The soldier’s sanity was beginning to break and as their numbers dwindled, they began to lose all hope.
Even Lord Marball was driven mad by the endless harrying of the Foxkin warriors. He began to jump at shadows, thinking that every corner hid one of them. He would shout and aggressively strike his own soldiers to check every nook and cranny of the path they were on. He began to bite his teeth and shook his head left and right nervously, wondering if at any moment, he might die without ever seeing his attacker.
Several hours had passed of the continuous and unrelenting hit and run attacks of the fox-kin. Since they would attack and rest in shifts, they were able to continue their attacks for a long period of time. They had finally dropped the numbers of the enemy soldiers down to below thirty, and the soldiers that remained had almost entirely given up. They no longer thought they would live, and dragged their feet as they continued to look for a way out of the forest that never ended. Their exhaustion had caught up to them and they were struggling to keep moving. Lord Marball frantically tried to drive them on, but they had already come to the realization that none of them would leave the forest alive.
It was a horrible thing to drive people to such extremes, but I felt it was a necessary evil. We couldn’t allow any of these men to escape, because if they did, they would bring this information back to their king. I was aware that eventually the kingdom would realize, that it was most likely due to the Foxkin, that their soldiers went missing, but I wanted to delay that inevitable realization. The more unknown factors, the more cautious the kingdom would be, and that would only be an advantage to my cause. We would be long gone by the time they ever came to investigate further, but it was always best to keep your enemies guessing.
“There are less than thirty of the kingdom’s soldiers left, and they have completely surrendered their will. It’s time for us to finish this!”
I had gathered all the Foxkin warriors and we would now proceed to finish off the last of the soldiers that had attacked the forest.
“No one is to touch the commander. He is mine!” I said that a little too vehemently, but they understood my anger.
I led all of our forces through the forest to where the last of the kingdom soldiers were now sitting despondently in the forest attempting to regain some strength. We surrounded them and attacked once again from the treetops. They attempted to fight back, but fell easily due to their exhaustion. Lord Marball attempted to use this opportunity to escape on his own, but he didn’t make it far.
“Put them out of their misery, I will go after the commander.”
I approached the enemy commander who attempted to flee but tripped and fell. He turned around and looked at me with fear in his eyes.
“Please, don’t kill me! I will give you anything you want! Riches, women! Anything!”
I saw no point in taunting him or responding. There was nothing in this world he could offer that I would accept. Without any further need to keep him alive, I ended his life.
“We are done here.”
I could only shake my head. In the end, it left a bitter taste in my mouth. I felt this was necessary, though, and I pushed it to the back of my mind.
We made sure to go about scavenging whatever was useable from the dead soldiers. Their equipment was better than what the warriors of the Foxkin had and it would add to our power.
I made sure to grab Sir Roderick’s sword, which I offered to Reia as a gift, she seemed very pleased with it and it did seem like a powerful sword. We also made sure to take care of the soldiers guarding the supply wagons and added their supplies to ours. The horses would also be useful to us while traveling across the Plains.
Once we had taken everything that could be put to use, we said our goodbyes and made our way to the Plains of Sorrow.
After the battle with the kingdom forces, I had Nes and Allein, and a few Foxkin warriors, grab Shar and take him to the Foxkin evacuees ahead of the rest of us. The rest of us had gone around scavenging the battlefield. Shar had been kept asleep with magic and away from the battle until it was over. I didn’t want to kill him because I thought he would be useful to me later and so I kept him alive. I would eventually need to have a serious conversation with him.
It took us a few days to catch up with the rest of the Foxkin tribe, they had camped at a safe place on the Plains of Sorrow and were awaiting our return. They would not be able to make the long trip without the warriors of the tribe to protect them. We were happy to see that they were all safe and that the evacuation had gone smoothly. Everything of importance had been taken from the village, but the Foxkin were relatively poor and didn’t have much of value.
There was enough food to last for quite a while and more could be hunted on the plains, there was also plentiful water to be found on the plains so there would be no issues with supporting the tribe while we traveled to our destination. I wasn’t quite sure yet what that destination was, but I would soon find out. Now that we had made it to relative safety, there were a ton of things I needed to do, but first, I need to check my status. It had been a while since I had done so and much had changed.
The Foxkin tribe had what was called a “Diviner.” A Diviner is a person who can use divination magic, which is similar to the power of the Divination Crystal, the difference being that divination magic was not only useful for just checking your status. Divination magic could be used for a variety of things.
It could provide information about dungeons, it had some limited prophetic qualities, it could provide limited information about locations, towns, people, monsters, etc. It was a branch of magic that focused on information gathering and was extremely useful for a plethora of reasons. Diviners were a treasure for a nation and luckily, the Foxkin had a Diviner of their own.
I had only briefly met the young girl in the past, and now she was hiding shyly behind Reia. We had just arrived and hadn’t even greeted Reia’s father yet. I figured I would get this done at the same time.
I tried my best not to scare her, but that effort was mostly in vain. Well, maybe she wasn’t scared so much as she was just shy.
“It’s okay Aylil, Fayde is our chief now, there is no need to act shy..” Reia said while smiling at the beautiful little girl.
This tribe was seriously only breed beautiful females. She will be quite the beauty when she grows up. I thought to myself.
“Aylil, I need your help, do you think you could use your Divination magic for me?”
She nodded cutely at me, but didn’t say anything. She was extremely shy, but she always took her Divination work seriously. It was obvious to her why I wanted her to come with me so she didn’t refuse. I held out my hand to her and she took it.
The two of us went into the large tent. The former chief was in there with his family and he was smoking a pipe of some kind. He seemed to be enjoying his retirement, lucky him.
“Ah! My son, welcome back! I have already heard of your great victory! I knew I made the right decision giving my daughter to you!”
This guy…… whatever, I just decided to greet him with a smile.
“Yes father-in-law, I have returned.”
“I am truly shocked that you were able to obtain victory.” He said with sincerity.
“No, no! It was all due to the great warriors of the Foxkin tribe!”
The former chief chuckled and assured me that it was all due to my leadership.
“I never would have been able to defeat the kingdom soldiers, even if our warriors are strong, we lack in strategy and are not used to war.”
“Well, let’s just call it a joint victory!”
Reia’s father patted me on the back and continued to thank me for all I did. He noticed Aylil who was hiding behind me.
“Oh, little Aylil, hello child. I see you are busy, let us talk after you’re done with her.”
Aylil was even more shy around the old chief for some reason, I really should find out his name, I just always called him chief and now I am embarrassed to ask.
The old chief went back to smoking his pipe, the other members of his family were milling about the tent doing various chores or just lazing about. Reia actually had a younger blood related sister, but she also had siblings from the old chief’s other wife, another sister. There were also aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.
Her family was rather large, actually. They all treated me as family, congratulating me and welcoming me back. It felt good to be accepted as part of their family, it was a warm feeling. After all the commotion, I took Aylil with me to a quieter corner of the tent.
We both sat down and Aylil put her hands on my head and began chanting in a low voice. I couldn’t make out what she was saying even though she was close to me. After she was done chanting, my thoughts swirled a bit, it was a strange sensation. It felt similar to being disoriented, or perhaps something like being tipsy. Then my mind clearly focused and I had a newfound understanding of my status.
[Level: -1 EXP: 0/0]
[Health Regen: 0.5/min] [2/min while resting]
[VP: 900/900] [Void Threshold: 900 Next level 1200]
[Void Regen: 1/min] [10/min while resting]
Strength: 15 ( Modifier +3, Representation of your attack power as well as your physical strength)
Dexterity: 14 (Modifier +2, Representation of your reflexes, movement, agility, and evasion)
Constitution: 16 (Modifier +3, Representation of your resilience and affects health/health regen)
Charisma: 13 (Modifier +2, Representation of how others perceive both your physical appearance and personality as well as your skill at social interactions)
Intelligence: 140 (Represents intellectual capacity, Affects Skill Growth)
Wisdom: 190 (Represents an accumulation of life experience and common sense)
Acquired Proficiencies: Sword (Level 6/10 Advanced), Evasion (Level 5/10 Intermediate), Tactics (Level 5/10 Intermediate), Leadership (Level 5/10 Intermediate), Endurance (Level 5/10 Intermediate), Spear (Level 2/10 Beginner)
Acquired Martial Arts: Sword Whirlwind (Sword), Poised Strike (Sword), Seven Sword Slash (Sword)
Blessings: Blessing of the Void ((The ability to unite with the soul of a ‘Child of the Void’ through the ‘Mark of the Void’))
Special ability: Molecular absorption (Absorbs dark matter contamination strengthening host), Molecular transfer (Transfers dark matter contamination from host, to those bearing the ‘Mark of the Void,’ strengthening them), Molecular reconstitution (Through dark matter contamination transference, reconstitutes entirely, the body and soul of those bearing the ‘Mark of the Void’, amount of VP required is dependent on severity of the condition of the one being healed)
Inherent status: Immortality (Immortality grants agelessness, your body and soul will no longer age)
Affinities: Void (Your natural and innate magical affinity, Void Element)
Void Element: Void Flame (Maximum) (20VP – 7VP/min) (Imbue the power of the ‘Void’ across your entire body and unleash flames that devour space and time over a limited area), Void Strike (200VP) (Unleashes the power of the ‘Void’, limited dimensional strike)