Fire Fight

Fire Fight

A Chapter by Eddie Davis
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The tide of battle turns in favor of Aurei's group, but news from the south brings new concerns.

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26.

Fire Fight

 

The Dragonmen were advancing cautiously but steadily, while the royal guard continued to battle small clusters of undead.

“I’m really tired of fighting.”  Aurei sighed as they watched the Anthrodracoi advance.   “I wish we could end this quickly.”

“I have an idea.” Sophia said to her cousin, then turning to the Queen, asked her, “Your Majesty, are you able to cast a Lightning Bolt spell?” 

“Yes; I haven’t used it today as it is useless against most undead.”

“True, but not against those Dragonmen.   Start chanting that spell.   Now if we could just get the royal guards and archers back out of the way, but I don’t think the zombies will let them retreat.”

Eleazar brought out his holy sword, pointed it at the undead around the guards and said loudly, “In the name of Yesh the Merciful, be gone!”

Immediately all of the zombies and skeletons fighting against the soldiers crumbled to ash.

“Men!”  Haroldris yelled to them, “Fall back!  Fall back to us immediately!”

The men, weary from combat and seeing the proximity of the advancing Dragonmen, complied quickly.

“Nice work!”  Sophia said to both men with a smile that made Aurei feel a bit jealous.  

But she had nothing to worry about, because the Sorceress had already turned her attention back to the Anthrodracoi, who now were moving forward at a quick trot.  

 

Sophia waited until she heard the Queen’s chant near its completion and just as she released the spell at the Dragonmen, she flicked her staff at them.

Both ladies produced bolts of lightning that flashed out and struck the Dragonmen at close range.   The bolts leveled half of the advancing creatures, who fell to the ground jerking and twitching in death, while those behind them were stunned from the blast.

 

They rushed them, taking advantage of their dazed state.

Five fell to them before the Dragonmen could recover enough to attack.   But they did recover quickly, and each used their fiery Dragon breath against them.   All of her companions were singed by the fire, and Aurei was badly burned by her foe’s burst of flames. 

She fought on though she was in great pain from the burn, but thankfully Eleazar killed the Dragonman who had breathed fire on her, as well as another one of the creatures.  

Though several Royal guards were killed, minutes later they had bested the Anthrodracoi, who fought on to their deaths.  

 

As she stood there in great pain, Aurei looked around for the next foe and to her surprise and relief, found none.   The others were also standing at ready, weariness in their faces, but nothing moved against them.  

For a long moment they all just glanced around at the devastation wrought upon King’s Reach that night.   Most of the city was burning and much was in ruin.   Above them, the last two airships of the Necromancer’s Guild still floated, their hull ribs showing as a glowing orange as they burned.   Suddenly the magic in one was dispersed and it fell with a terrible crash into a part of the city already ablaze.  

 

Minutes passed and except for the final Necromancer’s Guild airship finally plummeting to the ground in a trail of orange sparks, just outside the city wall, nothing seemed to stir nearby.  

Then messages slowly began trickling in for the King from across the city.   The zombies had abruptly stopped attacking with as much purpose and were now merely lurching around, taking lethargic swipes at anyone who ventured near.   It was the same story for the animated skeletons with them.

“Their handlers have fled.”  Haroldris reasoned, “Their vessels are gone and they are stranded with their masters dead.   I imagine they’ll get as far away from here as they can, and take the minions of the Vampire Lords with them, if they’ll go.”

The King sent out scouts to get reports of the undead that remained, and within an hour he was informed that all that remained were the slow-moving animated zombies and skeletons, which apparently were without handlers. 

 

No ghouls, ghosts or even Dragonmen were to be found.   The Firebird of Li-Chee returned as Haroldris was receiving reports from his scouts, and it landed with a roar, but immediately reformed into the jeweled statue.  Eioldth went over and reverently picked it up.

“It destroyed all the Wyverns, and from the reports we’ve heard, it was somewhat responsible for freeing the Fire Elementals that took out the Guild’s airships.   A very valuable item.”

“As were these chessmen, though they didn’t stay in battle long.”  Sir Alvis said as he arranged the pieces back on the chessboard.

“Thankfully we never used the penny soldiers.”   The King replied, “I was prepared to do so, but now they remain to fight other battles.”

“We need to destroy the phylacteries of the liches we killed earlier.” Zeatt reminded them, and immediately the group returned to the remains of their foes, searched briefly, and -thankfully- found their phylacteries upon them.   It didn’t take the group long to destroy the gems and they all stood around, relieved to have remembered that they needed to be destroyed.

 

Zeatt then began chanting healing spells, focusing especially on Siris and Alis, both of whom had been bitten by vampires.  Thankfully, they did not seem to be affected in any way after being healed.

 

A few minutes later, a horseman riding an exhausted steed weaved his way through the debris in the street, led by one of the Royal Guards, who pointed to the King.   Haroldris stood as the messenger slid off his horse on wobbling legs and bowed slightly, “Your Majesty, I have important news from the south.”

“Go on.” The King commanded.

“Sire, it is the Emperor Fendoris; sir, he leads a great invasion force of many legions and we would estimate 40,000 troops northward.   He attacked the garrison at Southgate yesterday and took the city without much loss.   I regret to tell you that the city was put to the torch and all prisoners were killed.”

“Killed?”   Haroldris staggered back slightly at the news and sat down.

“Yes, sire, women and children as well.   Many fled north to Aegoppa.   The young Lords Frampbrum quickly led ten companies of archers and three of cavalry southwards and joined with the forces of the Duke of Aegoppa late last night.”  

“This afternoon they met the Emperor’s legions in battle about halfway to Aegoppa and gave them a fierce fight.   Sadly, my Lord, they suffered a terrible defeat and their forces are mostly annihilated.   Lords Leo Frampbrum, Turis Frampbrum and Masters Neollum and Rahaic Frampbrum were all killed in battle, valiantly defending the Kingdom and their father’s duchy.”

“I am the last of a series of relay riders that sped to take the news to you, Your Majesty, as well as bring grim tidings to Lord and Lady Frampbrum, who was said to be with Your Majesty.”

 

The King closed his eyes and slowly shook his head, “Lord and Lady Frampbrum are dead, and alas, now they have none of their line left.   Grim news, but our mourning must wait; tell me messenger, where is the Emperor as last was reported to you?”

“Sire, it is said that after taking the field of battle, his legions put the survivors to the sword and looted them.   They are expected to attack Aegoppa tomorrow morning and the garrison there is not strong enough to hold out long.”

 

“It was told to me to tell you that forces are rallying north of Aegoppa and there should be several thousand loyal men prepared to fight against the Emperor’s advance, but probably not enough to turn the tide against such large numbers.   I regret bringing this news to you, my Lord, but the prospect for defeating them is said to look grim.”

 

Haroldris nodded, patting the weary man on the shoulder, “Thank you for your candor, young man; go and rest, if you can find rest in this destruction.”

 

The messenger bowed and quietly slipped away, leading his exhausted steed with him.   Around the King, everyone was silent and grim, waiting for a word from their lord.  

 

Haroldris sighed and stood up slowly, then motioning for those around him to follow, slowly led them down the debris filled street to a stone building set into the city wall that had avoided destruction.  

It was a small guard station and was empty.   He led them inside and gestured for everyone to sit at a long table in the station’s mess hall.   He leaned against the back wall, looking pale and somewhat fragile for a moment as he collected his thoughts.   But his countenance changed quickly, he took a deep breath and spoke.

“My friends, I fear that our victory may be a bittersweet one, for we may have won this battle, but are in danger of losing the war.”

“Your Majesty, what are our options?”   Zeatt asked him.

“I don’t see many that we have, Matron Mother.   Even with magic devices such as we used today, there is certainly little chance we could overcome 40,000 soldiers of the Imperial legions.”

“Sadly, if we were to somehow muster all the troops from the duchies in the Kingdom together, our numbers probably wouldn’t be over 15,000.  But they are largely scattered over the Kingdom and won’t reach Aegoppa in time to help them.   If we were to leave now by airship, we would only arrive in the midst of the battle.”  

“I’ve conceded the loss of Aegoppa, but I feel Fendoris will march on to King’s Reach, especially now after the devastation his allies brought upon us today.   He will know we are weak and exploit that.”

“Your Majesty, what do we know of Fendoris’ legions that make up his army?”   Eleazar asked as he sat next to Aurei, who seemed to be pondering something quietly as slowly the Ring of Nitthum healed her burns.

“Each legion consists of about 6,000 men, so he probably has seven legions in the field, each consisting of experienced fighting men.   There are usually a number of auxiliaries consisting of new recruits.   Aside from siege engines and of course a considerable cavalry; but I don’t have any specifics.   This is just the typical imperial standard that they don’t stray far from.”

 

“Your Majesty, perhaps I can fill in some more detail.”  Sir Alvis spoke up.   “When I was captive of the Necromancer’s Guild, they spent considerable time making plans to booster Fendoris as emperor.   They knew when it was revealed that he was controlled by the Necromancer’s Guild that there would be a massive rebellion by his army.”

 

“In recent years, his status with his soldiers has fallen drastically, as it has with the Imperial Senate.   To prevent massive desertions, or assassination attempts, they decided to cause the soldiers and generals to fear that the Necromancer’s Guild would pursue and destroy any that rebelled against Fendoris’ rule.   So they placed a young Vampire named Crassivus as the Emperor’s advisor.   He was an up-and-coming servant of the Guild and hoped to be selected as a Vampire Lord by proving his worthiness.   He is a powerful wizard as well as a fierce warrior, I am told.    Crassivus was to personally set up a bodyguard for Fendoris and provide protection for him at all times.”

 

“Do you know what sort of protection he established?”  Eleazar asked.

“I overheard discussions; from what I gathered, Crassivus felt that it was very risky using just undead bodyguards to protect Fendoris, so instead of the usual Vampires and perhaps even fledgling Death Knights, instead, he selected 12 outstanding individuals to fill the role.”  

“The Masters of the Grave were very certain that if something happened to Fendoris, they would not be able to hold what little control of his army that they possessed with him alive.   So they wanted him well protected, thus the bodyguards.” 

“The majority were said to be very skilled fighters, though there were also said to be four wizards skilled in battle casting as members of this bodyguard.   All of these 12 were heavily outfitted with powerfully enchanted weapons and stay near the Emperor at all times.   Crassivus, it is said, even encases Fendoris’ imperial tent in a globe of protective magic each night, to prevent any sort of magic attack.”

“Sir Alvis, did you hear if any of this Vampire bodyguard’s protective measures extend to the army camp itself, or was it focused on Fendoris alone?” Aurei asked, still with a pondering look in her eyes.

“Well, he made refinements, I am told, and this changed the security of the Imperial camp.   He put all the legions together in one massive camp instead of separate legionnaire camps.   They would use slaves or prisoners of war to dig moats around long-term camp sites, and even the short-term camps are supposed to have some sort of stockade of wooden palisades, and this was said to be one of his most important improvements.”  

“While the legions were out in battle, the considerable number of slaves would spend the entire day (and often several days) constructing the legionnaire camp.   They would then encamp outside the walls of the legionnaire camp.”

“But wouldn’t that take quite a while to put up a stockade for 40,000 men?”  Aurei asked.

“I imagine it would.   That is one disadvantage of the camp; they would have to plan ahead to where their camp would be located, and most times would retreat to the camp even after a victory further ahead in the field.”   

 

“Naturally, the army would not move too far afield, as they would have to wait until a new camp was constructed.   Of course they could reuse camps set up from earlier campaigns, but when they are invading a new territory, the going would be slow, unless they found an existing structure or geographic feature to speed up the formation of the camp.”

“So they would be somewhat limited in how fast they could travel, and they’d have to send their slaves forward to build a new camp?”   The Drow Duchess asked.

“Yes, I imagine so, Aurei.”

 

“So, in theory, we could know ahead of time where his army was going to camp by watching for a new camp being built.”

“Well, yes, but of course their slaves are highly guarded.”

“Yes, but we could know of the camp’s location at least sometime in advance?”

“Yes, probably at least a day in advance.”

“Tell me; did you hear of any other protective measures he set up for the camp?”

“Well, they would use larger humanoids and spell-casters if they are available, to patrol the perimeter of the camp and man the guard towers.  This usually serves as a deterrent for anyone to attack them.   I have heard of Ogres and Trolls and maybe smaller giants used as these guards.”

 

“What about support from the air; any Wyverns or Dragons?”  Aurei inquired.

“No, not that I have heard of… why, Aurei?” 

 

The Drow girl touched the gem-covered statue of the Firebird that the Queen cradled in her arms, next to her and gave a half-smile, “I think I have an idea."

 

 



© 2014 Eddie Davis


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"...would be somewhat limited how fast..." I think, perhaps, you could pit "in" between "limited" and "how."

Posted 10 Years Ago



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Added on January 22, 2014
Last Updated on April 12, 2014
Tags: Drow, Elf, Death Knight, Undead, Fantasy, Adventure, Swords and Sorcery, Magic, Knights, Paladins, Good versus Evil

The Chronicles of Aurei Book 3: Bane of the Necromancers


Author

Eddie Davis
Eddie Davis

Springfield, MO



About
I'm a fantasy and science-fiction writer that enjoys sharing my tales with everyone. Three trilogies are offered here, all taking place in the same fantasy world of Synomenia. Other books and stor.. more..

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A Chapter by Eddie Davis


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A Chapter by Eddie Davis