It took three days to set tents around the Kauni region, around the border of Kenion, before they storm Fort Lados the next day. An estimated 800 soldiers arrived early, with more expected to arrive tomorrow and even though it may not seem like a lot. As Kenion has more units, they believed it was too early to bring more units right now, and in this case, Syria’s trying to capture their fort. Plus the fact that Syria still has the advantage in terms of military skill.
Anyways, as stated tents was set as soon as they arrived in a good standing towards heading to Fort Lados the next day, and many soldiers, either excited, tired, or scared, were either making preparations or keeping camp order. There were many maroon tents in the area, but probably the most significant tent was the dark blue tent, where Shade, the Thgil Mercenaries, and two of Syria’s Four Wings, Thomas and Jeannine, were discussing their attack strategy as Eisen and Rice were coming the next day.
“All right,” began Shade, “It is understood that Fort Lados is one of the many key defenses for Kenion, but has recently been underwhelming at late.”
“Yes,” said Lane, “Based on our scouting the past few days, there has been no change in skill or power that we have learned for the past year or two: they don’t have many skilled warriors or skilled commanders in their ranks. So as it stands, we have the advantage. They have a capable defense, as they do have long range archers and decent mages, but with Shade here, I believe we can take out their forces without much of a hitch.” He then described what they was going to do.
“Hmm….that sounds pretty good,” surmised Thomas. “But I didn’t know Shade was a master craftsman in that. Well, I trust that you’ll be able to accomplish it!”
“Well, I plan to.” Shade said while nodding.
“The mages and I will stay here, getting ready to cast the Retreat spell in case things don’t go so well. I can use the Far Away spell, so Thomas can alert me when he needs to call forth a retreat.” so after a few more discussions, the meeting ended. After everyone left, Shade was heading towards his tent. The Thgil Mercenaries ended up coming with him.
“Huh? What do you guys want?”
“Master…” began Paragon, “It’s been three days already, but Tyrande’s not here yet. Why in blazes did you send her to face Fear?”
“…I didn’t send her to face Fear,” which was an obvious lie, “I just told her to watch him for a while and report back to me when she understands fully what he’s up to.”
“Do you think that she could have actually challenged him?” said Catalena.
“Ah, I doubt it. She knows what she’s supposed to do.”
“Well, I expect her to back with us in one piece," said Sachi, “But I was just thinking, can’t you find out where she is with that Far Away move? Isn’t it a little bit similar to what Jeannine can do?”
“Ah, but I know the Near Away Advanced spell, which sadly enough I can only use at Takneo Shrine. I would have used it already if I could use it.”
“…I see,” said Lane. “ Oh well, not much more we can do right? All right! I guess we should be off now.” as the mercenaries walked away, Shade walked towards his tent. When he got there, he looked up into the sky, and said quietly,
As for those mercenaries, they all discussed what Shade’s been planning as they talked in an unoccupied tent, most likely theirs, about the mission handed to their leader, Tyrande.
They clearly weren’t happy about it.
“This is unbelievable!!!” yelled Paragon, “I can’t believe he won’t tell us the obvious truth!”
“He’s such a bad liar!” said Sachi. “Well, at least that hasn’t changed about him. But anyways, I’m worried. I mean, Tyrande is strong, but who knows how strong this Fear guy is!”
“Yes, I share your concerns as well,” said Catalena, “But I believe in our commander. I think that we shall see her in time.”
“I agree. Tyrande’s very good in what she does, even better than all of us combined I daresay,” said Lane.
“I know, I know,” said Paragon, “But he didn’t have to lie to us. I mean, he did train us too…”
“Yes I understand,” said Sachi, “But you know….Shade and Tyrande…they go way back. Before most of us!”
“You know Sachi,” said Lane as he was walking to a nearby table with a few small knives and daggers, “You have to watch what you say around here…I mean you never know…” he grabbed a knife and threw it outside while yelling, “Who could be eavesdropping for no reason!”
“GAHH!!!!” yelled a voice outside. Lane stepped outside while saying,
“What do you think you’re….” he would have continued, but saw the yellow haired kid with numerous papers on the ground.
“…ow…oh, I was…delivering papers to General Thomas…but I heard you slightly talking about Lady Tyrande, and I was intrigued….” he began picking up his papers, with Sachi and Catalena helping him pick up the rest of them, “But I lucked out as I took an awkward step, dropping the papers, but in the process, avoiding that throw.”
“…I….sorry about that,” apologized Lane. “That was probably too extreme…” Sachi and Catalena handed the kid the papers.
“All right, you’ve picked up all your papers, now go! We’re discussing right now!” yelled Paragon.
“Paragon! You dolt!” yelled Sachi, “What do you think you’re doing! That was so rude!!!”
“…S-sorry about that. We’re kind of on an emotional high right now.”
“That’s all right,” replied the kid, “Well, I hope we can meet on better terms! Now I must deliver these papers!” the kid left.
“…I think we need to calm down right now.” said Catalena concernedly.
“Yes…I agree.” said Paragon. “But I am worried about Tyrande…I mean she has to be careful even when she least expects it. No one else should know of her other side. That could be disastrous.”
“I think we should stop worrying about the commander,” said Lane. “I believe she will come back. We need to concentrate on this war.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Then with all of this nonsense is over, we can come back to my house and eat as many of my homemade ribs as you want!”
“HAH!” laughed Sachi, “You better make sure that they aren’t burned!!! I still remember the last time you made them!”
“T-that was just mistimed…” The mercenaries laughed.
It was almost noon on a bright, clear sky day when Shade left for Fort Lados. He secretly entered the fort, as he was the decoy for the attack, and easily destroyed the ballista, killed the archers manning some of them, and killed the mages. After he slipped from them and caused chaos in the area, he opened, then jammed, the gate, which in turn ended Shade’s day, as he disappeared from the battle. The gate opening gave the signal for the Syrian units to begin their advance.
“Step one, complete,” said Lane, who had binoculars to see if the gate was open. “General Thomas.”
“All right. MOVE OUT KNIGHTS OF SYRIA!!!” and with that command, the soldiers marched to Fort Lados, seeing some Kenion soldiers stationed outside in a panic.
Once they saw that, they charged at the fort with energy and great desire. It took two minutes to get to one of the Kenion soldiers, and officially the war began. It started in Syria’s favor as they crushed their forces outside the fort easily, and while there were losses, they were hardly noticeable as the force quickly got inside, with General Thomas at the lead.
Based on the numbers crunched down by Lane, it was said that there was about 400-450 units occupied in the fort, so with Syria bringing at least 800 units, and considering how they easily broke down their front lines, the advantage and surely the fort was for Syria’s taking.
Except Kenion didn’t buy that theory. The outside forces weren’t very good and undisciplined; the forces inside were far stronger than they were. Many of the Syrian units who survived would tell you that these forces fought with more vigor, passion, and skill, destroying every scouting report in their possession. To say that Syria should have had no trouble in overtaking the fort would be an understatement: they should have owned it by lunch time. But after an hour or so of weapons clashing, soldiers screaming, and the ground splattered with blood, about half of Syria’s units remained standing amidst the chaos, while a good 50 or so units that the white armored Kenion out of the 400 or so units that they had at the start of the day were killed.
That is not good.
When General Thomas, after breaking three poor Kenion soldiers lances, then beheading each of them, sensed the flow of battle going in Kenion’s way, plus considering that they were way past the time of which they should have overtaken this fort, he thought of Jeannine and yelled,
“Huh? G-General Thomas??!”
“I call for a retreat! Get us out of here this instant!!!”
At Syrian base camp, there was a large open meadow that was covered in a huge magic circle with at least 20 or so mages, including Jeannine, at the ready just in case something went wrong, which was very unexpected to say the least. After a minute of chanting the Far Away spell, about 399 units at Fort Lados was transferred back to where they cast the retreat spell and landed either softly for some, hard for some others unfortunately, in a total of 15 seconds.
“….I can’t believe we needed to use this. Did we underestimate Kenion’s resolve?” Jeannine thought as she looked around the area shortly, but saw Fayre, who was not deployed for this battle, running towards her and yelling,
“What in blazes happened out there?”
Jeannine let out a sad sigh.
“It seems we underestimated the talent of our foe. They’re stronger than reports indicated, and now we have our worst case scenario.” As she said this, Lane and Catalena ran up towards Jeannine and Lane yelled,
“I don’t believe this! We lost?!?”
“It seems that we have underestimated our foe. Your reports were obviously not accurate!”
“I can’t believe it. We scouted them for three days, and the reports were all the same. How could they have changed so suddenly without us knowing?”
“Well…I believe that this was just a mistake. I hear that you’re rarely wrong in your reports, so I can only hope that this was a mistake.”
Lane could not understand how he failed.
“Damn….this is bad….unfortunately we now have to come up with a new strategy. Looks like Kenion’s going to give us a better fight than we thought. We’ll have to discuss a new strategy to counterattack this loss.”
A few minutes went by and the soldiers, while getting healed or just moving about, talked about how Kenion exhibited far more skill than they could have ever imagined. They knew they had the units, but rarely has it been known that they were good in battle. They usually just try and overwhelm you with numbers. Most of the soldiers started to wonder how they could handle a force as large as Kenion’s with limited units at their disposal.
They then had to wonder how they could handle a force without their best soldier.
“Lady Jeannine! Lady Jeannine!” screamed a running soldier, “The General is not in the area!!!” The soldiers who were around to hear that and Lane and Catalena could not have looked more stunned to hear that. Jeannine and Fayre, however, looked even more stunned then them.
“WHAT?!?!” yelled both Jeannine and Fayre simultaneously.
“That’s impossible!” Lane yelled quickly. “Everyone should be here!!!”
“Master Shade said that he hasn’t seen the general in the area and is trying to sneak back in to try and look for him!!!” Said the soldier.
“No…” Jeannine said, then she thought, “Thomas!!! General Thomas!!!! Where are you!!!”
The retreat spell lasted 15 seconds. Thomas saw some of his men leave the area, but after two minutes, he still found himself still fighting most of the Kenion army.
“What’s going on??? Jeannine!” thought Thomas as he stabbed the hearts of two Kenion soldiers, broke both legs off one soldier, then ended up opening a door to hide from incoming Kenion soldiers approaching the area. “What’s going on? Jeannine!” After incessant cries, he still couldn’t reach her. “Damn it all!!!” He looked around in the room to amazingly see no soldiers in the area, then proceeded with caution to find the exit, either by gate or by window. After a while, he began feeling that something strange was going on because despite going through nine or so doors, he not only didn’t run into anybody, but he ended in the same room, albeit in nine different positions that he couldn’t tell. Well, at least until he went into the door again and found himself back where he started. “What…what’s going on?!?” Thomas thought furiously.
“My, my…what could possibly be going on?”
“What the-” Thomas looked around, only to see absolutely no one as a telepathic like voice spoke to the general.
“Hello, General Linequish Albert Thomas, Military Commander of the Syrian Knights. For more than 20 years you have pledged service to Syria, making sure you can atone for causing a grand killing in Aurol that to this day has been covered,” while the voice spoke, Thomas continually yelled,
“Are you some sort of book?!?! Who are you?” and other words around that effect, but the voice ignored his sayings and continued,
“Because Queen Soria was idiotic enough to overlook those misdeeds and chalked it up to some crazy madman, and ironically enough, after you realized how mad you were, you pledged loyalty to King Sorentine…a grave and mad King Sorentine…who lost his wife,” Thomas then fell silent, “And his only daughter…to your lance.” Thomas then looked down to the ground. “But you have worked to clear those up…I believe you have.”
“…Who…” Thomas said rather somberly and worn down like, “Who are you?”
“How quaint. Do you really want to know who I am? Well…before I make my gracious appearance, let’s play a game, shall we?”
Thomas looked up with his eyes burning with anger, then screamed,
“A GAME!??! WH-” He wanted to say more, but was encircled in a purple space, like he was put in a new world with only the color of purple. Thomas was totally shaken as he demanded that he get out, but that strange voice didn’t abide by what he said.
“All right…I’m not really any good with games so… I’m going to let you do something that’s more like work instead of a game.” Three doors appeared in front of Thomas. “As you can see there are three doors. One door leads you back to your rabble of soldiers outside the Kauni region. One door will lead you into a room of eternal darkness, where at least until I die, you’ll be trapped there forever with not even a speck of light. One door leads into a prison, where you are forcibly chained and unable to get out forever, and probably treated in many workmen like ways that I’d rather not describe.” Thomas began to sweat at the possibilities, then knocked himself on the head with the end of his lance. “Oh I assure you that this is no dream, my bald headed friend. If you want to find out this is real, just choose the right door.”
Thomas, who was scared for the first time in a long time, took 15 minutes to guess which could be the door out, but with the voice cantering on,
“You know, I forgot to mention I am pressed for time, so you may have to hurry up, or I will eat your soul. THAT…well…I won’t say THAT yet. Well anyways, I’m doing a countdown. 10...9...8...7...” Thomas started to sweat all over his body as he tried to come up with a decision. “6...5...4...3...2...1...1 and a half-”
“Oh…so impatient…you didn’t let me get to 1 and three quarter-”
“YOU BASTARD!!!MY HAND!!!!” Thomas, first of all, chose the middle door, but then second of all he grabbed the knob with his right hand: a right hand that once it touched the knob, not only got stuck there, but burned off Thomas’s entire hand in mere seconds, and once Thomas screamed out to the voice, the only thing it did was say,
“What? I didn’t say I started the game yet. HAHAHA!!!”
“YOU SET ME UP!!!!” Thomas was sweating like he was poured water over his head as he still agonized in pain.
“Why…of course not…HAHA!!!”
“JUST KILL ME ALREADY!!!IF THAT’S WHAT YOU WANT TO DO,” his voice croaked, “THEN GO AHEAD WITH IT!!!”
“What are you saying? Don’t you want to live? Have a future with that wife of yours after the war is over?”
This made Thomas pale and silent.
“Well then,” continued the enigmatic voice, “If you want me to kill you, then that means I get to eat your soul. If I did that, then until I die, you will suffer forever even while you’re dead. Even I wouldn’t want that! Now,” a table popped up behind Thomas and a notebook was laid there with a pen inside, then a huge book that listed people’s names dropped into the space and landed on the table, “Write down each person’s name. I expect that to be done in two hours.”
“What? With…with my left hand?”
“All I can say is find a way to get all those names on there. Doesn’t matter how.” Then the voice became silent for a while despite Thomas’s cries for help. Once he realized that, he tried to write down names with his left. But after an hour and 30 minutes, he only wrote down 50 names. That would not be a problem, unless you had to somehow write down 800 names in two hours. Thomas quickly fell into despair, knowing that there was no way he could write down all those names in 30 minutes, and subsequently, got up recklessly and accidentally hit the list towards the notebook.
But in a strange and seemingly lucky break, the notebook absorbed the list of names, and in a matter of seconds, every single name was in the notebook. Thomas could only feel shocked as there was a clap in the background.
“Well, your luck seems to know no bounds!” said the voice. “ Looks like despair can be a good thing, can it? Well, at least sometimes, right?”
“I…I did it?” Thomas could hardly believe it.
“Yes, you did. I did say that you had to get those names in the notebook however you like. You could have just thought them in if you thought about that. Oh wait….that didn’t sound quite right, now did that? I…I should be ashamed of myself…well anyways,” the door to the left of the middle one disappeared, which ended up leaving two doors. “ All right, now you have a 50/50 shot. Which door is the correct one? Feel like testing your luck? Don’t bother. I already know which one.” The door to the right lit up bright yellow frequently. That must be the one, Thomas surmised. He then remembered something and said,
“Hey wait, I won your messed up game! Now…let me see who you are!!!” Immediately after he said that, a long red haired, blue faced figure with a red scar coming down and ending at the edge of its forehead and another red scar on the side of his left cheek, had long straight ears, red, sadistic looking eyes, wore a blue cape over his shoulders, a turquoise jerkin where he had long black wide sleeves under it, a light brown belt, blue pants and brown boots, and once he appeared in front of Thomas, Thomas looked inexorably at the figure, unable to stop looking at him.
“I guess you’re right,” replied the figure coldly. “Hello, Thomas.”
“….HAHAHA!!! Humans can be so interesting!!!! What else do you want to know? Do you want to know that I destroyed Nagrun? Caused this war?” this sent Thomas to the floor in sheer terror as he knew he had no chance against him.
“What? I said I was going to let you live, idiot! How deplorable. Now get up.” Thomas slowly got up. “Now…the door that continues to light up is your way home. Please try and leave safely.”
“Y-You…e-expect me…to b-believe you? I…I still sense…a trap.”
“What? I mean I provide you with a way out and this is how you treat me? So despicable! You’re such a stupid human. Well…if that’s how you feel, then by all means, go through that other door that will plunge you to your doom. Either way….you have ten seconds, as you’ve wasted enough of my day today, and if you choose to be stubborn, you will have wasted the grand opportunity I gave you to live. 10...9...8...7...” so again Thomas had to make a decision: does he listen to the figure and take the flashing door or does he choose the other one? “6...5...4...3...2...1...” the door opened.
The sun was almost setting at Syrian camp, with a few soldiers, Jeannine, Fayre, and the Thgil Mercenaries hoping to see General Thomas once again. It’s been hours that he hasn’t been seen or heard from. The soldiers already feared the worst, but every time a soldier cried out, and this happened a lot by the way,
“General Thomas…why did you have to die?” Or,
“General Thomas…I’ll forever remember you, ‘ Or when somebody cried,
“General Thomas!!! Why???” Or when any of the soldiers made any sort of reference to General Thomas being dead, both Jeannine and Fayre both said either miserably or coldly, sometimes at the same time,
“HE’S STILL ALIVE!!!” sometimes they forced themselves to believe that, or just willed themselves to believe that. Anyways, it was not a good time in Syrian camp. Nothing went right for them all day, and once Shade came back and said that he couldn’t locate him anywhere in the area, many of the soldiers lost hope. Shade unfortunately knew that they couldn’t stand there all day so he said,
“We can’t stand out here all night. When he comes, he comes, but I believe we must go back and rest. It’s been a long and fruitless day.” Fayre and Jeannine remained silent. After a while, Lane said to Shade,
“I see. Mercenaries.” he looked at each of them with them looking somberly back at him. Shade then told the soldiers to leave Jeannine and Fayre out here as long as they wished. With that, they were slowly heading back to camp.
“G-G-G” were the stammering voices of Jeannine and Fayre as that turned the group back around to see from far away amongst the trees a bald headed man with some blood but with a contented smile on his face running up towards them. “Ge-Ge-General!!!!!” screamed a joyous and relieved Jeannine and Fayre as they ran towards General Thomas’s direction, with some soldiers following suit. Jeannine and Fayre had their arms ready to hug him. Thomas looked up and was about to do the same.
….Until time stopped for Thomas.
“Hahaha….” laughed heartily a familiar enigmatic voice, “I’m very proud of you, General Thomas! Well done…you actually believed in me! I’m glad to have met someone who’s capable of listening to reason. I mean…it’s been a while since I’ve been able to find anyone capable of listening. I’m…just…unaccustomed to this experience. I’m very proud of you.” then the voice let out a long, sad sigh. “Unfortunately…and I take full responsibly for this, I totally forgot all about it…there…happens to be a small, highly unnoticeable pin on the right side of your armor that I had to put on to you to allow you to survive the world you were in, as you would have been crushed by the pressure in the space. I was supposed to take it off once you left…but…I…accidentally… forgot about it! Now, what’s the problem you’re wondering? Well…now that you happen to reside in your own world, after two minutes, which you just entered now, that’s why I stopped time for you, the effect of the pin is reversed. Now that you are in your own world, that pin serves as the one that prevents you from dying in your world. Because it’s from my world, it will automatically disappear. Once again…I’m terribly sorry for tricking you. I want you to know how sorry I am. Here’s how…. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!”
Once the pin disappeared off the armor of Thomas, instant cuts in rapid succession opened up on his head, armor and shoulders, pouring out like a waterfall and gushing out like a broken dam. Most of it went onto the body of Jeannine and Fayre, causing everyone to have a stunned and terrified look in the eyes, with Fayre and Jeannine having the look of someone who’s seen something worse than death.
….The laughter of the voice seemingly continued to echo across Bethumet for the night…