Apollos led his horse toward the western road, carefully searching the ground for the trail that Tara had left behind. Apollos shook his head. “Tara could have gotten herself into some real trouble if she tried to get back into the city.”
Aldrick sighed. “We should have avoided going into the city altogether.”
Apollos glared at Aldrick. “If we hadn’t stopped here, we would have run out of supplies before we reached the Farlance province.” Apollos finally reached the edge of road and he paused. He bent over and touched his fingers to a red pool on the side of the path. He shook his head. “It’s blood.”
Aldrick bit his lip and looked at the train of wagons waiting to get into the city. “Maybe some of them saw what happened to Tara.” Aldrick dismounted and walked over to the closest wagon. “Did you see what happened here?”
The wagon drivers ignored Aldrick, and just stared ahead. Aldrick cleared his throat, “I am General Aldrick searching out enemies of Lord Geraldo. If you don’t answer my questions, I will assume that you are protecting them.”
The man sitting behind the reins of the wagon sighed and said, “Forgive me for holding my peace, but after what those Acerbi did to that poor girl, I wasn’t too eager to get involved. Some girl was running from the Acerbi, but they caught her. They tortured her, slashed at her with their hands, and dragged her off to the north.”
Apollos’ hands formed into fists and he trembled. “If they have caused her serious harm, Geraldo is going to regret it. I’m not about to lose Tara too!”
Aldrick got onto his horse and turned it around. “We must not delay, they must be on their way back to the northern road!”
Apollos pointed at the man on the wagon and growled, “How can you call yourself human? A young girl was tortured in front of you, and you just watched!”
The wagon driver looked away and softly said, “It was Geraldo’s Acerbi, wise men don’t get involved in their business. If we had tried to do anything, we may not have gotten off as easily as she did. Besides, you just said that she was an enemy of Lord Geraldo, why do you care how she was treated?”
Aldrick stiffened up. “This old fool has a soft heart for the young girl, says that she reminds him of his daughter. Either way, it’s no concern of yours.” Apollos shook his head and started searching along the path for tracks. Aldrick called out, “Get on your horse, Apollos. The Acerbi wouldn’t allow Tara to walk after she tried to escape, and shadow leaves no sign where it treds.”
Apollos got onto his horse and looked at Aldrick. “Those other Acerbi said that this lot was going to meet up with them on the northern road. That’s our best lead for now.” Apollos and Aldrick urged their horses onward and hurried back toward the northern road.
Tara’s breath came in ragged sobs, and her whole body ached with each one. The blood had started to dry and scab over, and her shredded clothes were sticking to her body. Everytime the Acerbi jostled her, her clothes would shift and her wounds would open up all over again. Tara begged, “Please, can’t you just let me walk? My wounds keep opening every time you bump me.”
One of the Acerbi sneered back at Tara, “Oh, I’m sorry if we hurt you. Why don’t we stop and take a rest? Maybe we could find something for you to eat? This only happened because you tried to run away! If you don’t quit your sniveling we’ll give you more of the same! As long as you are alive when we get you to Lord Geraldo, he won’t care what condition you are in.”
Tara grit her teeth and held her sobs inside. After what they had done when they found her, she didn’t doubt that they would carry out their threat. She was going to die. Geraldo was going to torture her until she gave every last detail she knew about the rebellion, and after that he wouldn’t need her any longer. At least if she was dead she would get to be with Lucas again.
Tara paused. Where had that thought come from? She had always thought of Lucas as a friend that she needed to look out for; but is it possible that she actually liked him? She shook her head, her mind must be so desperate for a distraction that she was thinking about anything. She barely knew Lucas, they had only traveled together four days, that was hardly long enough for her to develop actual feelings for him! He was pathetic, not knowing anything about the world outside of his plantation, and now he was dead.
Tara frowned and she thought to herself, would death really be all that bad? She would get to see her family again, she wouldn’t have to worry about the rebellion or what happened to the country. In fact, if she could find someway to kill herself before she was taken to Geraldo, she could avoid being tortured. If she was able to bite her tongue off perhaps she would bleed to death before the Acerbi noticed.
Tara decided to give it a try. She placed her tongue between her teeth and prepared herself to bite through. Seconds passed by, and then minutes, and Tara started sobbing again. She couldn’t go through with it. She was too much of a coward to take her own life, and as a result, she was going to experience pain worse than anything she had ever felt in her life.
Apollos squinted at the road ahead and excitedly said, “I see them! We’ve finally caught up with them! Oh, the Lord be praised, they haven’t gotten Tara to Geraldo just yet!”
Aldrick pulled the reins of his horse and brought it to a halt. Apollos went a little further before he stopped and looked at Aldrick with confusion. Aldrick asked, “Do you think we’ve been spotted yet?”
Apollos shook his head. “No, I don’t think they’re paying too much attention to what is back here. If we hurry, we may be able to take them by surprise.”
Aldrick reached behind his saddle and pulled out a rope. “If we make this convincing, we may be able to convince them that you are a prisoner, and I’m here to pick up another. If I order them back to the city we might be able to buy ourselves a little more time before Geraldo knows I’ve turned against him.”
Apollos slowly nodded his head. “And we need all the time we can get to prepare for his next attack. Alright, we’ll give your way a try, but don’t bind my hands too tightly; if it comes down to a fight, I want to be able to help this time.”
Aldrick looped the rope around Apollos’ hands and tied a knot in such a way that if Aldrick gave the rope a quick jerk it would come undone. The two of them rode after the Acerbi. Once they drew near Aldrick called out, “Halt! I would have a word with you Acerbi about taking my prisoner.”
The Acerbi stopped and looked at Aldrick with disdain. One of them flowed over to Aldrick’s side and stared at him. “I see you have the old prisoner, what happened to our brothers?”
Aldrick angrily replied, “After I caught up with them and reprimanded them for taking my prisoners without my permission, I sent them back to the city. We need as many eyes and ears in the city as we can while we purge the rebellion from it. Hand over the prisoner and you can go back to aid them.”
The Acerbus shook his head. “I think not. This prisoner has already proven herself to be troublesome, we will travel with you to ensure she doesn’t escape again. I’m not sure a mere human like you would be able to capture her.”
Aldrick puffed up his chest. “After the merry goose chase you led me on to finally catch up with you? You wasted half of my morning! I can handle a simple prisoner escort on my own. In fact, it wasn’t until they were in your care that they managed to escape. Now return to the city before I strike you down.”
The other Acerbi dropped Tara and rushed to their brother’s side. Their hands shifted into a variety of blades and they leered at Aldrick. “You would dare to strike the servants of Lord Geraldo? This will not be accepted!”
Aldrick jerked on the rope that bound Apollos’ hands together and tossed him a sword. Apollos pulled his hands free, snatched the sword from the air, and sliced the head off of an Acerbus in one fluid motion. Apollos snickered and urged his horse into a position to attack another Acerbus. “Have you noticed that none of your plans seem to be working? I never thought that Geraldo’s brilliant tactician would have all of his plans fail!”
Aldrick slashed an arm free of an Acerbus that was in mid attack against him and growled, “My only shortcoming has been trusting Acerbi to do as they are told! Give me humans to command any day and I will guarantee you victory!”
Apollos cut down another Acerbus and shook his head. “I’ll have to see it before I believe it!”
The last Acerbi retreated and picked up Tara, who let out a moan of pain from the rough treatment. The Acerbus held up a bladed arm to Tara’s throat, and growled, “Drop your weapons or the girl dies!”
Apollos glared at the Acerbus and dropped his sword to the ground. “If you harm that girl any further, you won’t be able to run fast enough; I will catch you and I will make you endure worse than what she has gone through before I finally give you the sweet relief of death.”
Aldrick dropped his blade to the ground as well. “Let the girl go.”
The Acerbus let Tara drop to the ground once more. “Lord Geraldo will hear of your betrayal, Aldrick!” He dropped down into a shadowy puddle and darted to the north.
Aldrick called after him, “Don’t forget to mention that you can’t follow orders!” He turned to Apollos. “There goes our chance of having the element of surprise.”
Apollos was already out of his saddle and had Lepidoflita fluttering over to land on Tara. Apollos picked Tara up in his arms and said, “Don’t worry, Tara, you’re safe now.”
Aldrick snorted. “As safe as you can be while being on Geraldo’s most wanted list.”
Apollos turned and glared at Aldrick, and Aldrick shrugged. Tara’s body was shaking from sobs of happiness. “I thought that Geraldo was going to kill us, and after they caught me a second time I gave up hope! They took so much pleasure in cutting me that I thought they wouldn’t stop! I was considering killing myself until you found me!”
Apollos stroked Tara’s hair and made soothing noises. “You’re fine now, see? Lepidoflita has healed all of your wounds, they won’t even leave scars.”
Aldrick cleared his throat and said, “We should get moving. It’s only a matter of time before that Acerbus reaches Geraldo, and I mean to have as much distance between him and me as possible before that happens.”
Apollos nodded his head and helped Tara up to her feet. “Do you think you can ride?”
Tara nodded her head. “Yes, I am hungry though.”
Apollos climbed up onto his horse. “We have plenty of supplies with us, but you’ll have to eat while we ride. We need to reach the rebellion as soon as possible.” The three turned their horses and urged them on into a gallop toward the west.
An Acerbus darted into Geraldo’s throne room, emerged from its shadow, and bowed before Geraldo. “My lord, I bring you ominous tidings. I’m afraid that Aldrick has betrayed you.”
Geraldo focused his eye upon the Acerbus and growled, “You must be mistaken, Aldrick has been with the from the beginning, he’s been working with me to complete our dream for this country. You Acerbi never did get along with him.”
The Acerbi meekly said, “I’m afraid not. He slew nine of my brothers in an effort to free Apollos and Tara, two fugitives that you ordered captured.”
Geraldo slammed his fist down onto the arm of his throne preventing the Acerbus from saying anything further. “It can’t be, my oldest friend has betrayed me? If he played me false, who can I trust?”
Glee filled the Acerbus’ face as he said, “You can trust us, my lord! We have ever only served you, body and soul! I recommend getting rid of every filthy human that serves you before they have the opportunity to turn on you!”
Geraldo scowled, “No! Treacherous they may be, but humans have a use that you Acerbi could never hope to fill.” An Acerbus rose up out of Geraldo’s shadow and Geraldo turned his attention onto it. “Go and fetch General Elymas, I have new orders for him.” He turned his gaze back to the Acerbus that had just finished reporting to him and he said, “Go and fetch Tiikeribrusa, it is time that I empower my servants.” Excitement shown in the eyes of the Acerbus and it rushed off to gather what his master sought.
The Acerbus returned to the throne room and held the blade out to Geraldo, and he accepted it. Several moments later the doors swung open and General Elymas entered the throne room. Elymas was a thin man, but his leanness was hidden by the hooded black robe he wore. With every step he gave off a jingle that betrayed the chainmail he wore under his robe. A satchel hung over his shoulder that bulged with scrolls made from tanned human skin. His left eye was an unseeing milky white orb, and three scars crossed his eye from forehead to chin. He spoke in low, dry, rustling whisper, “You called for me, my lord?”
Geraldo nodded his head. “I understand that Aldrick has betrayed me and joined my father in his quest for the legendary beast blades. I don’t know where he has disappeared to, but they will surface again soon enough. For now, I want you to focus on crushing the rebellion in Falance. They have managed to make themselves known to me and I will make an example of them.” He held out the sword he was holding to Elymas. “Take this sword and plunge it into my shadow next to the Acerbus sword.”
Elymas accepted the sword from Geraldo and plunged the sword into his shadow. The shadows reached up and wrapped themselves around the sword and pulled it down into the floor until the blade disappeared. Geraldo shuddered and his face contorted in pain. His breathing started coming in deep, heavy breaths and he clutched his chest. After a couple of minutes Geraldo let go of his chest, and sweat appeared on his brow. “Arise, my tiger Acerbi.”
Large tiger-like shadows rose up, and flames blazed across the shadows where the tiger’s stripes would be. It’s eyes glowed red from some inner light. It padded gracefully away from the shadow over to Geraldo’s side. A smile filled Geraldo’s face and he nodded his head appreciatively. “Yes, I think Tiikeribrusa was an excellent choice. Now, more of you come forth.” Shadow tigers rose up out of the shadow one after another until forty of them filled the throne room.
An exhausted Geraldo looked at Elymas and smiled. “Take thirty of my minions along with your forces to Falance, and make this so called ‘rebellion’ into an example that will never be forgotten.”
Elymas lifted his fist up to his chest in salute and he bowed. “It will be as you say, sire. When people speak of the Falance province they will speak of a broken and desolate land where nothing will ever live again.”
Geraldo nodded his head. “Make it so, my honored general.” Elymas turned and strode from the throne room and Geraldo turned his attention to the ten tiger Acerbi that remained in the room. “I want you ten to comb the land. Track down my father and this boy he is protecting, and bring their bodies back to me. I want those legendary beast blades found and put away where they can never harm me.” The tigers turned and loped out of the room.
Geraldo turned to the his servants and bellowed, “Leave me! I wish to be alone!” Servants scurried out of the room, eager to be away from Geraldo and his anger. Once the door closed behind the last servant, Geraldo slumped back into his chair. Fusing beast blades like that always caused Geraldo pain, as if the blades were digging into him instead of his shadow, and it wouldn’t stop until he undid the binding. He would get used to the pain in time, but until that happened he didn’t want anyone to see him in his weakened state.
Once the tigers found his father and dealt with him he could undo the binding. He couldn’t believe that old relic was still causing him problems, he would have thought that after the shadow blade’s binding was passed to him, something would have managed to kill his father, but his archaic way of fighting was proving to be more effective than he would have guessed. No matter, even his father couldn’t’ handle a pack of shadow tigers if they were able to sniff him out.
A week later Aldrick, Tara, and Apollos rode into the rebellion’s camp. People stopped what they were doing and turned to look at the newcomers. Some pointed at Tara and whispered to each other and shook their heads. Aldrick muttered, “This is never going to work.”
Tara smiled and waved at the people that they rode past and she muttered under her breath, “You’re with me, it’ll be fine. Just don’t forget that your name is Nathan and we’ll have nothing to worry about. The rebellion loves new recruits.”
A man in his middle years wearing a worn brown coat and a brown stocking hat approached Tara’s horse and smiled. “Tara, it has been so long since you left to get more supplies, where is your grandfather, is he well?”
Tara’s smile disappeared and was replaced by a frown. “There was an accident with the wagon, and grandfather was killed. These men have been taking care of me ever since the accident.”
The man pulled his hat from his head and placed it over his heart, and those around him mimicked him. “I was afraid that such a thing must have happened with you being gone for so long. After Malcolm came and told us about what happened in the city, we feared you may have been caught up in that.”
Apollos smiled. “So Malcolm arrived safely, did he? That is good to hear.”
The man turned and glared at Apollos. “I do not believe that you have introduced us to your friends yet, Tara. This one seems rather rude, though.”
Tara smiled and shook her head, “You’ll have to forgive Apollos. He is friends with Malcolm and had helped him to escape the city. I’m sure he’s just glad to hear that he made it here safely.” Tara gestured toward Aldrick. “This is Nathan, another traveler that we met on the road that lost his friend to Geraldo’s forces. They both wish to join the rebellion and aid us in our fight.”
The man narrowed his eyes and looked Apollos and Aldrick over. “I don’t know about that, Tara. Apollos seems to be carrying a lot of beast blades for someone who wasn’t involved in the fight in some way, and I don’t like the look of this Nathan feller. I think it would be best just to thank them for getting you here safely and send them on their way.”
A voice called out from the gathering crowd. “They’ve seen too much, Barnabas! We should lock them up!”
Shouts of agreement came from the crowd, and Tara’s eyes went wide with panic. Apollos and Aldrick fingered their swords, wondering if they were going to have to fight their way free. Tara raised her hands and shouted, “Please, friends! These gentlemen have saved my life on many occasions since I last left you! Apollos is a force to be feared whether he has summoned his beast blades or is using the sword to attack! And Nathan has gotten us out of many tight spots with his quick mind! I’m sure they would both be valuable assets to the rebellion, if you would just give them a chance!”
Barnabas sighed, “Very well, we will allow them to join with us, but they are to have an escort with them at all times until they have earned our trust. Thomas and Kevin, I want the two of you to stick with the two of them for the time being. Don’t let them out of your sight.”
The two men that he had indicated nodded their heads and stepped forward. It was clear why Barnabas had chosen the two of them to be their escorts. They were large men that stood over six feet tall, and had arms and legs that looked like they had worked the fields their whole lives, and they were the ones that pulled the plow instead of a horse. Aldrick nodded his head appreciatively and smiled up at the two men, who returned their smiles with stern stares. Aldrick patted Thomas on the chest and said, “I feel safer already with a bodyguard like you around. If you will show me the way to your command center, I would be happy to analyze your defenses for you and tell you the best way to form up your fighters.”
Barnabas snorted and shook his head. “Didn’t we make ourselves clear? We don’t trust you, you aren’t going anywhere near our command center.”
Aldrick stepped toward Barnabas and stared at him. “Do you know who Geraldo is going to send against you next? Do you know what the best way to defend against him is, or how he fights?”
Barnabas looked around at the other rebels and rolled his eyes. “It’s a well known fact that General Aldrick was called back recently for reassignment. Our spies inside the palace have told us that Aldrick has been preparing to move against us for some time.”
Aldrick shook his head. “Your information is outdated; Aldrick is no longer being sent against you, he has been sent to search for the legendary beast blades. No, I’m afraid that Elymas the Sorcerer is who will be attacking you. Have you ever faced off against someone who has mastered Magic?” Barnabas shook his head slowly and Aldrick continued. “No? You are about to face an army made up of casters. One sorcerer is enough to decimate a squad of men without breaking a sweat. I have faced off against sorcerers before, and I can give you your best chance of surviving his attacks, but I need to know what I’m working with!”
Barnabas nodded his head, but a voice called out from the crowd, “How do you know that Aldrick isn’t going to attack? This could be a trap!”
Aldrick sighed, “Let’s just say that I have been spying on Geraldo for a very long time, and I know his forces and how his generals think almost as well as they do. If you still don’t trust me, set five guards on me! Just allow me to advise you in how to fight against Geraldo’s forces!”
Barnabas’ eyes narrowed in suspicion, and he looked at the faces of people around him. He sighed but finally slowly nodded his head in agreement. “Fine, I will allow you to look over our placements and to advise me on how to maneuver them, but I have final say over every tactical decision. Agreed?”
Aldrick nodded his head graciously and said under his breath, “If he had continued to insist on me not being able to do the tactics I was about to abandon this camp and fight Geraldo on my own.”
Apollos muttered back, “Peace, Nathan. You can’t expect them to be comfortable with giving complete control of the rebellion to someone they’ve never heard of before.” Apollos spoke louder to Barnabas. “Could you tell me where my friend Malcolm is? I wish to speak with him.”
Barnabas nodded his head and gestured to Kevin. “Kevin, show him to the quartermaster. Thomas, you and three others escort Nathan to the map tent and allow him to observe our strategies, but keep a close eye on him. I will join you shortly to see what his thoughts on our strategies are. Tara, come and get something to eat, you must be hungry from your trip! You can tell us all about the adventures you’ve had.”
Kevin shifted his head to the side and said, “Follow me.” He turned and started off deeper into the camp, and he kept on turning his head to make sure that Apollos was following him still. Apollos always returned his looks with a smile, and Kevin would just snort in reply. Kevin stopped outside of a tent, and turned to face Apollos. “I don’t much care for outsiders like you, so you had best keep on your best behaviour, because I won’t hesitate to take you out.”
Apollos shook his head. “My dear man, if you don’t care for outsiders, how has your rebellion grown? Surely not all of you could have joined together and decided to rebel all at once! Us joining the rebellion was all that Tara would talk about while we were journeying, she tried to recruit everyone we came across!”
Kevin shook his head. “Things have changed since Tara left. We found out that one of our newer recruits was sending reports of our goings on to Geraldo. It seems to reason that he would try and get new spies into our midst.”
Apollos shook his head. “I have never understood why people would want to follow such a tyrant, he seems bent on only conquering the whole region.”
Kevin snorted. “I didn’t want to talk politics with you, I just wanted you to know that I’ll be watching you extra close, so don’t you try anything. Malcolm is inside the tent.”
Apollos nodded to the man and pulled the flap of the tent open. Malcolm sat behind a desk inside of the tent going over figures on a scrap of parchment with a quill pen. He had a pair of glasses pushed all the way up his nose and a candle burned on either side of the desk. Several chests sat against the walls of the tent and there was a third smaller one tucked under a bed that that sat against the back.
Apollos placed his hands on his hips and started chuckling. “I knew that you were going to try and sell some beast blades here, but I had no idea that you intended to stay on and run the place.”
Malcolm looked up and smiled at Apollos. “Apollos! I did not expect to see you here. Did you ever find that beast blade you were looking for? If you are here for more rumors, I’m afraid that I haven’t heard any more about the legendary beast blades since you last saw me.”
Apollos shook his head. “We found the water beast blade in the Karndale valley, just as you said, though you could have been a little more specific on which part of the valley it was in. Spent almost two whole days looking for it.”
Malcolm chuckled, “I gave you as good of instructions as I could based off of the vision I received of it. I’m sure that Lucas and Tara had a fun time looking for it. Where is Lucas? I didn’t think the boy would ever leave your side after he found the legendary beast blades.”
Apollos looked down at the ground. “I’m afraid that the river claimed Lucas.”
Malcolm’s laughter died on his lips and he looked down at the ground. “I’m sorry to hear that, Apollos. Our hope died with that boy; even if the rebellion is able to resist Geraldo for a while, we won’t be able to win.”
Apollos shook his head. “You can’t give up hope yet; the blades will chose another to take Lucas’ place, and when they do I will go to help that person. Until that happens, my place is here with the rebellion where I can make a difference. What about you, I know you planned to make a stop here to peddle your beast blades, but I was surprised to hear that you were still here.”
Malcolm shrugged. “The rebellion bought up my supply of beast blades, and while it made me very wealthy, it also put me in a pickle. Where am I supposed to get more beast blades to refill my stock? Now that the catacombs have been compromised in Sharen City it will be much more difficult to resupply. The rebellion offered to have me become their quartermaster and handle their supplies for them.”
Apollos looked at Malcolm suspiciously. “That’s very kind of you to bring your skill set to the rebellion’s aid, but I know you aren’t doing this out of the kindness of your heart, what is in it for you?”
Malcolm grinned mischievously. “Well, they have offered to feed me and give me a place to sleep, they assured me this tent is only temporary while they work on building my cabin.they pay me ten gold a week to look over their numbers and handle the supplies for them. Not only that, but I get ten percent of however much I save them by going through my contacts for getting them supplies.”
Apollos shook his head. “In other words, you are making out like a bandit.”
Malcolm shrugged. “What can I say? I have a nose for good deals.” Malcolm hurried over to one of his chests and pulled out a bottle with a red liquid splashing around inside of it, and two glasses. “What do you say, would you care to have a drink with me?”
Apollos held up his hands and shook his head. “Perhaps later. I was hoping to trying and teach hand to hand fighting to some of the rebels here. I think it could help to make a difference having skilled fighters going against Geraldo.”
Malcolm swatted a hand at Apollos, “Bah! You just got here, take the evening off and relax with an old friend a little! You can always start your training in the morning once you have had a chance to recover from your travels.”
Apollos stroked his beard as he pondered Malcolm’s offer. “Very well, perhaps I will have one glass.”
Aldrick strode through the camp with a man walking next to him on every side. It frustrated him that it took so much for them to trust him. He was risking everything by betraying Geraldo to help these fighters, and they wanted to imprison him! If they knew who he really was he was sure they wouldn’t have hesitated to kill him right then and there, and he wouldn’t have blamed them. Why did Apollos have to chose now of all times to join with the rebellion? Why couldn’t he have gone of seeking more legendary beast blades? He could have feigned that he was chasing Apollos and Tara still for a while longer. Instead that Acerbus had escaped to give Geraldo a warning of his betrayal, and he was expecting Elymas’ first strike to come any time now.
Aldrick saw a man look up at him and then run off into the camp. Aldrick sighed. He didn’t understand why he made so many people uneasy, as far as they should be able to tell he was just another person here to fight against Geraldo. Thomas paused in front of a tent and grabbed onto the flap. He pointed a finger at Aldrick and said, “We’re going to be watching everything you do, so don’t even think of trying anything funny, understand?”
Aldrick held his hands up and smiled. “I have nothing but the best of intentions, I’m here to help.”
Thomas glared at Aldrick and pulled the tent flap open for him. Aldrick entered inside and saw a table with a map spread out on it. Stones and small marks were scattered around the map. Aldrick looked over the map and frowned. The rebellion was far too spread out, they would need to consolidate their forces if they hoped to be able to stand against Elymas.
Thomas grunted and said, “You have a problem with what you are seeing?”
Aldrick nodded his head. “I am seeing many problems. The rebellion is too spread out, Elymas is going to be able to just sweep through your forces at his leisure if things remain like this.”
Thomas looked over the map and asked, “What would you suggest?”
“We need to bring everyone into this camp and build up some defenses around it. I hope that we never end up fighting a battle here, but if we do, I want to be prepared for it. We need to focus on doing quick strikes and then retreating. If we try to do a prolonged battle with Elymas, his magic is going to overwhelm us.”
Thomas shook his head. “If we do quick attacks and then retreat, won’t he just follow us back to our camp and destroy us there?”
“Not if we do it right. Our forces that do the attacks will scatter and lead them on a merry chase until we’ve gotten them so turned around they won’t know where to look for us. We can even have multiple ambushes set up to take advantage of their confusion while the first force retreats. We won’t be able to rely on that particular tactic too often though; they may come to expect it and turn it ugly for us.”
Thomas nodded his head slowly. “They are going to make their way to our camp eventually though. What do we do then?”
Aldrick gestured to the tent overhead. “It doesn’t look like you have too many permanent buildings here, we’ll have to become a mobile camp for now and use this place as our last stand once we get some defenses set up. Do you have any scouts here?”
Thomas closed his eyes for a second and replied, “Yes, I believe we have three?”
Aldrick shook his head. “Three isn’t going to be enough. In order for this strategy to work we’re going to need at least twenty scouts out watching for enemy movements at all times. We will have to train scouts and swordsmen before Elymas can take us by surprise.”
Thomas looked at Aldrick as if he was crazy. “Swordsmen? Why would be need swordsmen when we have beast blades to fight for us?”
Aldrick sighed. “This is a mistake that so many make these days. That old man that came into camp with Tara and me? He has defeated more beast blades with his sword then he has with actual beast blades. In the hands of a master, a sword is a very deadly thing, and it doesn’t leave you defenseless in the middle of a fight. Also Elymas won’t expect it, and I will need every surprise I have at my disposal to match wits with him.”
Thomas shrugged. “If you say so. Do you have a spot picked out for your first attack?”
Aldrick smiled mischievously. “Indeed I do. Elymas is most likely going to come on this road here.” Aldrick pointed to a road that crossed the Falance province from the northeast to the southwest. “I want to dig a series of holes alongside the road here.” He pointed to a spot on the map where the road crossed the James River. “We can hide rebels in the holes armed with earth beast blades. While Elymas and his troops are walking on the road, we can collapse it from under him and make a quick assault with earth and water beast blades.”
Barnabas strode into the tent with two armed men on either side of him. “Arrest that man.”
Thomas turned and looked at Barnabas with confusion as the two rebels armed with swords grabbed onto either of Aldrick’s arms. “What seems to be the problem, Barnabas? Nathan was just going over his plans for how to fight against Elymas.”
Barnabas growled, “His name isn’t Nathan; he’s General Aldrick, and he has been sent here to destroy us!”
Thank you for checking out my story, if you liked this and want to see more stories like it, check out the other stories I’m working on writing, here: Tales of the Imagination, check out my facebook page for updates on the stories here: Facebook, and follow me on Twitter here: @EJBorchardt. Please like, comment, and tell your friends if you like what you’ve read. Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see my review of what happened previously in Ahir, Guardian of Malor, as well as a sneak peek at what will happen in the next chapter. Then come back on Monday when I will post part of one the next chapter of Ahir, Guardian of Malor, and check out my newly published book, The Kids on the Case.