Chapter 9

“Maralli, cast the illusion, now!” I shouted my orders to the young Foxkin woman.

Maralli was one of the Foxkin who had an affinity for illusion magic and could cast rather complex illusions. She had been instrumental when fighting the Kingdom’s forces when defending the Foxkin in the forest near La’gun. She was now being put to use casting illusions in order to fool the enormous monster they were hunting. These illusions were extremely advantageous in fooling the large monsters on the Plains, which weren’t too intelligent.

I was leading the warriors of my small tribe in hunting behemoth sized monsters on the Plains of Sorrow. We had been traveling for almost a month now while in search of the larger Foxkin tribe and feeding three hundred people was not an easy feat. It required a large amount of meat, and so we were currently training our forces while also hunting this behemoth in order to feed the tribe.

Large monsters such as this provided a decent amount of ‘Dark Matter Contamination’ and that meant I continued to grow in power. I also shared some of that power with Reia and Allein. As our power grew, the strength of my tribe also increased with the experience gained from hunting such monsters. The Foxkin warriors were becoming a competent and well disciplined force. This was necessary if we wanted to dominate the competitions during the Grand Council.

Before that, though, we would still need to face the Khan of the  Foxkin clan. The way the current power structure worked within the various tribes of Demihumans was that Khans led large clans while chieftains led smaller tribes. If I wanted to become Khan of the Foxkin, I would need to first defeat the current Khan, Reia’s uncle.

“Trille, keep those spears up, we need to keep that Behemoth distracted!” I shouted another order to Trille who was a squad leader.

I had separated the Foxkin warriors into squads of 10, each having one squad leader. My forces were still small but they needed to be organized properly. I set them up into squads of 10 in order to help them build camaraderie and teamwork among themselves. While these Foxkin were mostly all family and knew each other well, they had never before worked together as an army until I came along.

While fighting the monsters on the plains, some of which were humanoid, the Foxkin were learning to use formations and tactics. The weapons and armor we had scavenged from the kingdom forces were proving invaluable. Training them in the use of the spear was an important step in becoming a well balanced force.

I also had them train in the use of throwing spears, such as javelins, and also the more traditional spears used in a shield wall. We didn’t have shields yet, but even without shields I thought it important to train them in these tactics. At the least, it would familiarize them with the types of formations and tactics that humans used. On top of that, Reia also trained them in close quarter combat with a sword or axe. Unfortunately, the Foxkin had very few axes and the only swords we had currently were the short swords we scavenged from the Kingdom’s soldiers

The amount of work I needed to accomplish was almost overbearing, but I did my best to make use of the resources and manpower available to me. Setting up squads, having Reia, Nes, Tris and Allein help with training, hunting monsters, formation and battle tactics training, etc. were all part of this.

Because of this, we moved at almost a snail’s pace across the Plains. This wasn’t an issue because we needed the time to prepare regardless. It was still some time until the Grand Council, but we needed to be ready as quickly as possible and get as much training done as we could.

“Reia, have squads two and three attack the monster’s rear!  Nes and Allein, takes squads four and five and attack and attack from both sides. Use only wind or water attacks. We don’t want to damage the hide of the monster.” More orders were given by me as the battle progressed.

The monster was being herded and distracted by illusions and squad one, while the other four squads hit the monster from all sides. Most weapons would be useless against the monster, but magical attacks were effective and so the Foxkin bombarded the monster from all sides with water and wind attacks. With the numbers we had, taking down this Behemoth would not be too difficult. The Foxkin were effective at magic bombardment and with the monster distracted by the illusions created by squad one, it couldn’t use it’s large size to counter attack.

With a full month of training, the Foxkin were showing incredible improvement in working as a unified force. Reia, Nes, and Allein were acting as overall commanders for our small army and Tris was responsibility for scouting. We also had a diviner who could help with scouting as well as gathering information. Though, a diviner wasn’t omniscient  and was limited in the amount of information they  could obtain. The diviner could tell whether monsters or enemies were within a certain proximity around the tribal caravan, but it could not give detailed information about the terrain.

The behemoth-like monsters was currently pinned down by the Foxkin bombardment and was suffering severe damage from the magical attacks. Their attacks against the monster were well coordinated and the monster would soon fall. The damage it was taking may not be very visible on its flash, but it was clearly being worn down.

It was doing its best to strike at anything moving, sending its tail in wide arcs as well as stomping across the ground, but the Foxkin were too quick for it. There were other ways to defeat such a beast, but I also wanted to make sure that the Foxkin could effectively coordinate their magic attacks as one.

Once it fell, the really hard work would begin, the stripping of the hide, and butchering of its meat. They would also cut out any and all parts which could be utilized for medicinal purposes, potions, or other uses.

Well, it’s not something I would have to do personally, it will be my job to speak with Reia and the others and assess the performance of the Foxkin, I mused halfheartedly.

“Alright, looks like it’s finally dying, took a while, but it wasn’t a bad performance.,” I said to no one in particular.

I turned to Tris who was observing the battle next to me, “What do you think?”

She hadn’t participated in the battle because her arrows wouldn’t do much good against the thick hide of the gargantuan monster. Instead, she observed in order to help me assess their effectiveness.

Tris didn’t answer immediately, she seemed to be thinking something, but finally she said, “I’m, surprised. They have come such a long way in such a short period of time. Your training methods and tactics are good…”

I laughed at her response, “No, it was their hard work and they were already skilled fighters to begin with. I hardly had anything to do with it.” I said that, but my ego was growing by the minute!

“I think you are underestimating your contribution. Without you, these Demihumans wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this, I’m sure of that.” Tris’s tone was surprisingly sharp.

I wonder if she is in a bad mood? I couldn’t think of any other reason and I was in too much of a good mood to think on it much.

“Now that the monster is dead, let’s have a meeting!” I said that way too enthusiastically, but I was in a great mood at how much the Foxkin had progressed.

I didn’t even think of the irony in what I said, considering that I used to despise meetings when I was back on Earth.

With the battle over I waited for Reia, Nes and Allein to join Tris and I. I never really thought that my experience working at a sales company would ever be useful for anything other than my boring job. Here I was, though, using the experience I gained at the company to manage my own tribe! It was actually quite exhilarating, maybe I should have went into management instead!

All the commanders had gathered and I was busy congratulating all of them for defeating the monsters in record time. They were all quite thrilled with the results, except for Nes who showed no emotion at all. This was usual for him so I didn’t let it bother me.

“Let’s hear from Reia first! Reia, what are your opinions on the performance of the squads under your command in this battle?”

We were sitting on cushions in a circle on the grassy floor. It was very much like a business meeting, but without the conference table. It was somewhat uncomfortable due to the warm weather so we also had something like a canvas over our heads made of animal hides.

“Squads two and three were under my command, we were tasked with attacking the monster’s rear. The magic attacks proved very successful and we were able to inflict severe damage on the monster without incurring any casualties.” Reia seemed to be taking this meeting quite seriously, answering in a business like tone.

“Excellent, I also saw the performance of squads two and three and was satisfied! I am very proud of you Reia, you did an excellent job commanding the squads under you!”

Reia wasn’t used to receiving such praise and gave me a bashful smile, it was extremely cute.

“My squads performed just as well as Reia’s!” Allein chimed in.

“You were excellent too, I saw how well you coordinated the attacks between your two squads. Nes, you also performed well. In the future our forces will grow and I will be relying on you all! It will be more difficult to command a larger force so keep that in mind,” I was quite proud of them all and they could hear it in my voice, but I didn’t want them to get too arrogant.

They all seemed satisfied with that and after discussing for a little while longer, we decided to finish the meeting. Tris went off to scout the area to make sure that monsters didn’t catch us by surprise while the Foxkin were busy with the task of harvesting the large monsters.

“Fayde, I’m useful to you right?” Allein’s voice was surprisingly small when she said that.

I looked at her not knowing what brought on this sudden change in her demeanor. She was usually confident. Although lately, she had been acting unusual.

“Something wrong Allein?” I wasn’t sure if she would tell me, but I asked anyway.

She shook her head, “I just need to know, please.”

“Of course, both you and Reia are important people in my life..” My words were sweet, but I really did mean them.

She had become an important person to me, just as Reia had and all the other friends I made here.

She gave me a warm smile, but there was a hint of something else in it. I couldn’t put my finger on it though. She seemed concerned about something, maybe I hadn’t been spending enough time with her. I had been busy training the Foxkin and with my duties as a chief, mostly resolving disputes and dealing with supply issues. Ever since our engagement, she was always by my side, but it wasn’t as if I could spend much time focusing on her or Reia.

I was going to say more but she walked away before I could say anything.

Instead I asked Reia, “do you know if anything is wrong with her?”

I asked her, but she seemed as perplexed as me, “I don’t know. She has been much more meek lately and her confidence has diminished quite a bit. I cant figure out what’s going on in her head myself. She he been mostly docile, believe it or not.”

“I see…” I said thoughtfully.

I watched her back as she walked towards her brother.  Her back seemed so small to me.

(Allein’s POV)

“Allein, are you sure about all of this?” Nes asked Allein somewhat hesitantly.

Nes was always worrying about me, and his words hinted at his concern. He was a good brother, always looking out for me, but in many ways he was short sighted. He cared too much about my welfare, but there were things of great importance which should take precedence.

“Must I explain again? You know very well that this is what we must do.” My voice was somewhat agitated. I was tired of explaining this to him.

“But must you marry him? He is a human! You know what the Humans did to us. They took everything from us. I can’t forgive them. We are the last of our kind, how can you so willingly follow him?” There was anger in his voice, but he spoke in almost a whisper.

“Do you think that I do not feel the pain of their loss?” The anger in my words made my brother flinch and he took a step back from me.

“No, I don’t mean that, of course…” Nes mumbled, unable to form a coherent response to my words.

“Fayde is not responsible for what happened to our friends and family, but I understand your anger. I feel it too, never forget that, but Fayde is… necessary…. You know this. Also, he is not like other Humans. He is kind and gentle even when I act discourteous or disrespectful towards him. He has kept me by his side faithfully. We can trust at least that much……” I found myself momentarily unable to speak, tears had formed at the corners of my eyes.

“I am more concerned about you Allein. You have changed… are you sure that you are not being blinded by your emotions? Are you beginning to have feelings for him…. Because..”

“Silence!” Allein snapped at her brother causing him to flinch.

She wiped the tears that had formed at the corner of her eyes.

“I know better than you what needs to be done.”

“Fine…. Just remember what is at stake.” Nes said before walking away from his sister.

Allein stood there alone watching her brother walk back towards his squad. Her heart was being tormented by her heavy fate. She had never had to bear such responsibility, not until that fateful day.

“Brother…. I just don’t know what to do…. “ She could only say that to his back, because she already knew what his response would be.

Finally a missive! The woman had been waiting for weeks now for a missive from her comrade. He had travelled to the Imperial Capital in order to obtain support for their mission. Fayde was growing stronger by the day, and she had sent reports with this information, but had gotten no response until now. She hoped the news was positive, it was growing more and more difficult to isolate their target and she was unsure how to progress. The news that there were two Dragon-kin alive shook her confidence and she was growing anxious.

The magical messenger pigeon landed on the female agent’s outstretched hand. She had been waiting for a missive from her fellow agent for some time now and the magic tool given to her to hide her scent from the Foxkin had been very useful keeping her hidden. The messenger pigeon had a missive scroll tied onto the leg of the bird. She removed the scroll from the bird’s leg and the bird disappeared. Tris opened the scroll carefully and read the information.

We will soon arrive on the Plains of Sorrow. I have brought the Raeki twins and Araman. Took longer than expected. Araman was on a Guild quest. I received your last missive. You must try to sabotage the target if possible or at least weaken him in some way. Respond quickly with your status, we will remain at least a few days distant at all times. Maybe more depending on situation.

She breathed a sigh of relief. The Raeki twins were sibling assassins who were among the best in The Empire. Araman was a diamond medallion adventurer and a powerful mage. Along with her and her companion, this would be a sufficient enough force to handle Fayde, assuming they didn’t have to fight an army. The fact that Fayde was always surrounded by a small army of powerful magic casters made it impossible to capture him so that was out of the question.

However, the time would soon come to complete their mission. Fayde would soon challenge the Fox-kin tribe Khan for control over the Fox-kin tribe and then compete in the Grand Council. If Fayde is able to unite the tribes during the Grand Council, he would then need to travel to the old Imperial capital. This had been a tradition of the Demi-humans on the Plains of Sorrow for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. The bishops were aware of this and if Fayde could not be captured before that time then their last resort was to deal with him directly at that place.

Whether Fayde united the tribes or not at the Grand Council, he would still need to be brought there and then killed. It was imperative that he die within the Sanctum at the old Imperial capital but she wasn’t sure why, those were her orders.

She wrote down all the information that she could in a missive and sent a magical messenger pigeon back in response. She could only put her faith in their abilities and hope that their mission would see success.

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