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It was midday; the rain was showing no sign of letting up. Three hours now of riding in the muddy, cold, stormy weather. Talby was one of 86 men drafted from his village to join the war effort. Everything in his world was changing. He no longer helps on his parents’ farm. No longer is feeding the pigs his most important responsibility. He is to become a trained soldier, ready to kill without hesitation.
A voice some distance ahead resonated clearly over the rain and the horses “We will reach Training Camp 8 in roughly 15 minutes. Have all your gear ready. Training begins upon arrival.”
Talby was definitely a supporter of the war. There were few humans that thought diplomacy was still an option at this point. Almost everyone had accepted that the Tauren and the Trolls were hell-bent on genocide of the humans and that no sort of reason or begging or bartering or negotiation would stop them. War was the only option available now, and people knew it. Six years now they had been under siege. The Elf Human Alliance agreed upon a document allowing for a yearly draft, bringing in 75% of males turning 18 during that year, and 50% of men who reached the age of 19. All men ages 20-35 would be taken as well. After two years a revision to the draft order was passed, allowing for one quarter of women ages 21-30 to be drafted. Some felt there was no place for women in the army, but numbers were growing so few.
Now his time had come. He was surrounded by 85 others from his village, many of them he knew, several close friends. He looked at them, wondering how many, and which ones would be killed. A feeling of remorse lingered in his head. Yet despite knowing of the pains and the murder that was to come, he knew he was doing the right thing, and he was proud to fight for his family, for his country, and for the freedom to be what you are.
Training camp 8 came into view as they rode down the sludge covered hillside. Several fires and stacks of smokes could be seen among the many tents. In the middle of the camp stood a grand watchtower with the Sundor flag at the top, blowing in the harsh wind. Horns sounded from the front of the company to signal their arrival. An echo of horns came from the training camp.
“We begin training now!” a thundering voice shouted. “Increase speed.”
The entire company picked up their pace and rode into the center of camp where a large platform leading into the watchtower overlooked the entrance of the camp. Everyone was commanded to dismount their horses, grab their things, and hurry to the platform. Three lines formed at three tables, each within an open tent.
“Hand your name card to the man at the table, he will then tell you where to go.”
Talby waited nervously. He stepped up to the table, handed the man his name card. The man looked to a stack of paper, moving his fingers to different points and shuffling through them.
“Take these with you and go through the main hallway of the tower and out the back.”
Talby quickly reached out and grabbed a chain necklace and a vial of blue liquid. He rushed out of the tent, into the tower, and through the hallway, wondering what he was holding in his hands.
The rain had slowed to a sprinkle and rays of sunlight burst through the clouds as the storm moved east. Talby hastily walked out of the tower and into the courtyard.
“Step in line.”
A horizontal line of men stood facing him. Talby quickly jumped into place at the end.
“Move back one step!” the line of men took a step back as another line formed in front of them. This was repeated three more times until there were 5 lines of 30 people awaiting orders.
The Lieutenant would bark orders at them non-stop for the next 60 days. All of those drafted were tested of their abilities. Following these evaluations they were divided into three sections of the training camp to learn specialized fighting skills, primarily: ranged combat, close combat, and magical combat. 60 days of war training, strict dieting, physical conditioning, and 18 hour days. It felt endless. But during this time friendships were created, and strengthened. Their love ones back home, their determination to fight extinction, and their hope for peace brought comfort to them.
The former farmers and merchant brought to this camp were now soldiers. Disciplined, lethal, and damn near blood thirsty. They were now ready to march out and meet their adversaries. Ready to show that Humanity would not fall quietly.
It was June 17th, and the battalion was getting ready to leave camp and move into enemy territory. This was no longer a defense against the Tauren and the Trolls, this was an offensive. Humanity could no sit back hoping that after defending themselves for a long enough time that the enemy would stop. No, that could no be done. They are relentless. It was at this time that it was decided to launch an assault on the (kingdom name) and not stop until they reached their capital, where a treaty would be proposed. If they would not agree to the terms of the treaty…they would all be wiped out.
Squad assignments were being made. Each squad would be made up of two swordsmen, two rangers, and elite squads would be given a caster for support.
Talby knew the Mage of his squad. He was glad to have someone he knows with him. Angela was her name. They grew up in the same village, but had limited interaction. She had trained intensively in the ways of magical casting and was a strong addition to the team. Along side them were the swordsmen, Jaldo, squad leader, and Saaltha. The other ranger was named Shaun, who Talby had become close friends with at the camp.
“Any word of where we are heading?” asked Saaltha
“I haven’t heard anything. I think they are trying to keep it quiet,” Talby replied.
“Why does it matter? I don’t see it likely that a tauren could be hiding in our camp anywhere.” Saaltha laughed.
“Yes, but this is a critical assault. I guess the general doesn’t want to take any risks,” Angela answered.
“Seems pointless to me,” said Saaltha
“Lets just not worry about it, shall we?” Talby asked.
“Eh, he’s right. It’s not something we should be concerned about. Let’s just await orders shall we?” Jaldo asserted.
S16 was their squad number. They waited in the courtyard to be given their assignment. General (name), A large man in beautiful armor stood atop the steps. He shouted the squad numbers of those who were to move out with Battalion 2 into the (forest name) forest in the east.
“There is a Tauren outpost 16 miles into the forest. It is not heavily guarded; we will send a single battalion 10 miles in. You will await orders there. You move out in 30 minutes.”
“S16 form up!”
The squad quickly jumped into position.
Talby and his team were now marching deep into the (forest name) forest as the sun began to dim. Beams of light glistened through the thick foliage. 200 men and women, mere civilians just 2 months earlier, were now prepped and ready to meet the Tauren in battle. They would make camp at 9:00, then move out at 5:00. Their intentions were to surround the outpost before sunrise.
Typically before battles soldiers may experience sleepless nights. Hours wasted trying to find rest while restless. Not for these men. Their intensive training and long days had prepared them for this. Nervous was not an emotion these warriors could remember.
At 4:30 the camp shot came to life and jumped into action. Gear was packed and soldiers were armed and ready at 5 o’clock sharp. Everything was going according to plan. The battalion quickly emptied the camp and moved toward the Tauren outpost. Talby’s squad was given the assignment to move quietly ahead and scout the area.
A torch was glowing in the distance. They continued their approach just long enough to see the details of the camp. A small watch tower connected to a crudely built log fence stood among an opening in the dense forest. Roughly 40 yards separated the camp from the trees.
“Hold,” Jaldo ordered.
What followed in these moments would be nothing more than a blur to any onlookers. Jaldo quickly motioned to the men following behind their squad which in an instant split into segments moving in opposite directions around the outpost. These segments broke into smaller groups that would hold their position until the first shot was fired.
Everyone was in position. At the signal from the Commander, Talby would fire the first shot and take out the watchman standing in the tower. Shaun was standing by for a follow-up shot if Talby’s missed.
The signal was given. Talby released his arrow. It soared through the dim light coming over the trees and drilled through the tauren’s throat. The enormous animal crashed down with enough force to surely alert the others. Within seconds the entire battallion was rushing into the camp. It was a 40 yard sprint to any sort of cover. Hopefully the watchman’s death would buy them a few seconds. Surely the disgusting monsters had heard him fall by now. A horn finally sounded. S16 moved in slowly as the rest of the battalion stormed in. A number of tauren armed with crossbows looked over the tower.
“Angela?!” Jaldo yelled.
“Oh, right. Sorry.” A ball of light appeared between her hands. She slowly pulled them further apart as the ball grew. The squad looked away as the ball grew to a blinding intensity. She thrust her right hand in the direction of the tower and the orb burst through the air, pounded one of the creatures in the face and exploded. The tower ignited into beautiful blue flames.
The gates were open now and the swordsmen were storming in.
“Move in through the central gate!”
The team followed and entered the camp. Some 40 or 50 tauren and 20 or so trolls were engaged by the swordsmen. The tauren, standing 8 feet tall, tower over the humans. A single blow of a tauren’s battle axe at full strength could cut a man clean in half. And that is exactly what happened to that poor man who was lucky enough to be on the front line. One stood among them with elaborate armor and piercings. He was clearly the leader, the “chieftain” as they were called among their own. Talby and Shaun both fired shots at him. His amor easily deflected the arrows. He looked up at them, took a breath, and began to charge. He blew men out of his path with ease and almost thoughtlessly sliced a man in two.
“I got it Talby!”
Shaun and Talby continued firing with only a single arrow getting past his armor. He hardly noticed. Angela put her arms in front of her with her palms facing the ground. She quickly turned them upwards and thrust her arms into the air. The chieftain went soaring into the air and over the squads head. He came crashing down just outside of the gates. Slowly trying to stand up, Talby and Shaun unloaded their quivers on him as Jaldo and Saaltha sprinted towards him. Jaldo and Saaltha clearly had this one under control. Shaun and Talby turned back to the main fight where few of those vile animals still remained. They calmly waited for Jaldo and Saaltha to finish their job as the battle came to an end.
“Tally up casualties!” the commander shouted above the cheers of the now excited men.
“We count 24!”
“Very good, burn the rest of the outpost, and the enemies’ bodies along with it. We move to Fotidam in 30.”
Jaldo and Saaltha approached their squad, now holding the horns of the slain chieftain. “We will present these to the general when we reach Fotidam. A little gift for him, he should be pleased.”
“Alright everybody, you did well. We had minimum casualties and we crushed the enemy. Everyone must be checked into camp by midnight. Enjoy a day off on the town!”
The battalion had arrived at Fotidam and made camp just inside the city walls. Fotidam stood miles long on the side of a mountain. The city was one of the most heavily protected and fortified of the remaining human bases. Tonight they would go out to the markets and the clubs and enjoy a night away from the stress and pain of training and of war.
“Sir, Shaun and Angela and I are gonna head out to the markets,” Talby said.
“You all did great, have a good time. Just remember to be checked in by midnight” Jaldo replied.
The three walked away from the markets excitedly.
“So…” Angela said as she placed her left arm around Talby’s waist then her right across his stomach and leaned in close to him. “…What are our REAL plans for the night?”
“Why don’t you tell me? I thought YOU had something in mind.”
At that moment a horseman came galloping down the narrow streets shouting something. His words became clear as he neared. “Malador has been wiped out! We know of no survivors! Do not attempt to return to look for loved ones, the area is too hot!” He rode on spreading the news to others.
“Shaun…aren’t you from-“
“DAMNIT! Why won’t they stop! Why won’t those disgusting beasts leave us alone!?”
“Shaun,” Angela paused, “I’m sure your family made it out before the attack.”
“Ahhhh!” Shaun screamed as he turned around. Everything around him began to spin out of control. He quickly gathered his thoughts and everything came to a halt. Looking downwards with his face turned slightly toward Talby and Angela, he spoke quietly. “I just need some time, alright?”
“Sure. Yeah. Whatever you need. I’m really sorry, if there is anything I can do for you-”
“Just don’t worry about it. Go enjoy the town. I’ll be alright.” Shaun slowly walked away.
“Wow. I can’t believe that. They are all the way to Malador,” Talby said.
“Do you think they will ever stop?” Angela sadly asked.
“After this long? No. Its us or them now. One of us will be destroyed.”
“Come on. Let’s get something to drink.” Angela again wrapped her arms around Talby. He placed his arm over her shoulder and they wondered into the markets.