Chapter 12: Delaying Action
Copyright© 2015 by Allan Kindred
"Here they come."
"Sir, it appears the remainder of the enemy force that we attacked has joined up with the main force."
"Look, there is no way we are going to be able to stand in front of this large of a force, even using hit and run tactics. The only way we are going to slow them down is to hit them from the sides and the rear. If we can't get them to chase us, this is all for naught.
"Captain Stren, even though your troopers are the best of the lot, I have a mission for you. I need you to outflank the enemy on the western side, since that force has joined with this one. Do not attack them. I want you to ride at full speed day and night until you reach their supply lines. I figure if you do so much damage, the main force will stop and send more soldiers back to escort the supply train.
"If we are lucky, they will decide that they cannot afford to leave their supplies so undefended and therefore so far from the combat troops. Either way it will slow them up. I believe your mission to be the most important, so I will send two of the dragons with you. Once the enemy starts to converge on your position I want you to hold them off as long as you can, and then break for your mountains and join back up with your own forces. Any questions?"
"You are going to need every soldier you can get your hands on when the major battles start."
"True enough, but again, if your mountain tribes can make them commit more soldiers to defend against your attacks, hopefully that will balance things out. Plus if they decide they are taking too many casualties trying to reach you in your mountain positions, you and your soldiers can move up the mountain range and link up with us near the coast."
"Right. Good Luck." Stren and his men disappear into the night.
"Dragons go with them."
"Alright, we'll give them twenty minutes, and then I want two more groups to go around the western flank behind them. Keep riding until the enemy beds down tomorrow night, and then start your attacks. Since this enemy force protrudes further towards the east, I want three groups to go far to the east until you outflank them, where you can get around them without being seen. Keep riding until you are behind them and then start your attacks. If you find yourself in a running battle for your existence, head towards the Bracken Forest and hide out there. Continue your guerilla attacks on their supply lines and support personnel if you are able.
"Two other forces will follow shortly behind you, but will take up position on the eastern flank and begin their attacks when it is most advantageous. The remaining two forces are to be led by Rax and myself. We will wait just before dawn to launch our first head on assaults to distract our enemy from our other movements. We'll hit them with glancing blows, and then stay on the move well ahead of them until the next nightfall, and then we will turn around and hit them again. We all know what has to be done and we all know what is at stake. Do what damage you can for as long as you can. Any who survive, try and make your way to the coastline. Keep in mind the enemy has another force coming in a north northwesterly direction from the south southeast, so don't run in that direction if you can help it.
"Stealth is our ally, the night our friend, the lay of the land our savior, use them wisely and some of us might actually survive this. Move out."
"Allan?" Rax says in his deep bovine voice.
"I think we should keep our two groups together for the first assault. It will make our enemy think we have much greater numbers than we do. Once the initial contact is made, then we can split our forces and that will also make our enemy think we are stronger than we are. I believe that once our other groups are in position and start their ambushes it will confuse the enemy greatly, and maybe make them stop for a moment to try and figure things out."
"Clever as always, my brother. It is an honor to once again do battle alongside you, sir."
The Allies had planned to wait to just before dawn, but the enemy has a sizable force moving in the dark. They are going to cut their plans short by several hours. Allan just hopes their other groups have made good time without any interference.
They are positioned behind a rock outcropping on top of a sizable hill that easily hides their two hundred men and horses. In this area and others, the rolling hills are more like foothills, with sporadic huge rock outcroppings shooting skyward. The enemy is making so much noise that the Forces of Light have no worries about being heard.
"Archers fire four arrows each, and then we'll launch the ground assault. Rax, you take your group around the eastern direction of the hill. I will take mine around the western side. We'll go full speed and hit the lead group at forty-five degree angles. We'll meet up about a fifty paces inside the enemy forces. We'll fight as one unit for about five minutes, and then we'll split our force and make haste to safety, doing as much damage as possible on the way out. Rax, you have the best hearing, give the command."
"Archers loose." The first volley of two hundred arrows disappears into the night. Before they hear the first volley strike home the second volley is already in the air.
The one thing Allan knows for hit and run tactics to work, everybody is going to have to have a bow with many quivers full of arrows.
The enemy before them stops, and is no doubt trying to figure out where the deadly fire is coming from. Not willing to let indecision and chaos go to waste, Rax orders the charge. As the Allies make their way through the darkness, fighting the terrain more than the enemy at this point, Allan hears several arrows fly by, but with no apparent effect. They are still launching their own salvos until the last moment, just before they hit the enemy lines.
The Forces of Light must look like specters flying out of the night. Luckily the initial result is the enemy breaks ranks and allows for them to make their desired penetration. The Allies don't linger at any one place for more than a few seconds. This is a running battle. What seems like an eternity, but is only a matter of minutes, the two groups link up and start devastating the enemy forces.
The enemy has several of their commanders there, which are the dragonmen, and they start letting fly with powerful bolts of magic. The Alliance Forces are taking casualties until Thunderheart swoops down out of the night sky and sprays the dragonmen with the acid that is the dragon's most lethal weapon. Some dragons have even learned to use their magic to ignite the acid, causing even more damage and chaos. But at this point Thunderheart does not ignite his fluid, for the light will endanger the Allies greatly. However, the major confusion that it causes gives them the chance to get out of the area.
Rax takes his force in a northeasterly direction while Allan leads his straight north. As planned, they will continue those paths for most of the morning, and then start zigzagging back and forth in hopes of confusing the enemy and making them use more troops to try and find them.
Allan has to admit by midday the plan is working beautifully. Several thousand enemy soldiers are fanning out looking for them. Once a demon dragon tracks them down, but Thunderheart ends him before he can attack or get back to his forces and give away their position.
The day has never seemed so long. At last, the beautiful darkness of night falls upon the Forces of Light. Thunderheart, with his exceptional eyesight, can tell the main part of the enemy force is taking up heavily defended positions for the night. So far so good, their plan is working. The enemy has been riding later into the night, but since the initial attack they are stopping for the night.
With the size of the enemy force which is confronting them Allan knows that their forces that are to attack the rear and supply lines will not be in position for at least another night, maybe two or three. But the groups that are to attack the flanks will give the enemy time to bed down, then they will start their attacks.
The Allies wait patiently for their supreme chance. It is true that this enemy has far greater numbers than theirs, but you can tell that very few of them are professional experienced soldiers. A patrol of forty soldiers comes riding out of the darkness, and they are carrying torches giving away their position and numbers. Now Allan has seen a lot of combat and he knows this is somehow probably a tactic of their own to draw them out and to ambush them, effectively turning the tables.
The hairs on the back of his neck are standing up, but he knows this to be a great chance to inflict some more casualties. If the enemy has thought they will ride out and attack them, they are sadly mistaken. Allan orders his remaining ninety-four soldiers to prepare to use their bows. They will hit them with several volleys and then disappear into the night.
The bows are pulled back taught and their arms strain to keep them that way while they wait for the enemy to get into range.
The arrows disappear into the darkness, and just before the arrows strike the enemy, their leader of the patrol raises his staff and speaks a word Allan does not understand and the arrows burn to ash. The night sky lights up, and soon the hillside they are positioned behind goes up in flames after bolt after bolt of powerful magic come in their direction. The night sky fills with the screeches of dozens of demon dragons.
The Allies turn and leap into action by kicking their steeds up to full pace as quickly and safely as possible. Allan can hear Thunderheart fighting with the dragons above. Blast after blast, the night sky lights up and showers of fire and acid rain down all around.
Allan's group is just coming around a big hill when they run straight into a demon dragon who is standing on the ground with his huge wings spread wide while waiting for them, and he lets loose with a fire blast that engulfs a half dozen of Allan's soldiers. The soldiers begin firing arrows at the dragon and one foolhardy soldier even charges it with raised sword. Allan admires the bravery. The demon dragon is inhaling getting ready for another attack when Thunderheart lands right on him, giving Allan's remaining men enough time to get around the demon dragon and disappear into the night.
Allan is not about to leave Thunderheart alone so outnumbered. One good thing about having a brother that is the most powerful wizard in the world is Allan gets him to enchant some of his arrows that will attack with magical power and accuracy. The first arrow Allan shoots straight into the air, though he can see no enemy to hit. With a burst of blue light and a scream from a demon dragon Allan knows the arrow has found its mark.
Allan turns his attention back to the dragon Thunderheart is fighting with on the ground. Allan pulls out another enchanted arrow, and just as he is about to launch it, Thunderheart and the demon dragon roll over and spin around to where the tail of the demon dragon hits Allan's horse, sending him flying. Allan's steed lay dead and Allan is fighting to regain his composure.
Allan searches on hands and knees until he finds his bow and enchanted arrow. He is just getting ready to fire at the dragon Thunderheart is fighting with when he catches a glimpse of another diving demon dragon from the half moon light. Allan fires, and again the enchanted arrow strikes true. The dragon gets surrounded in a blue electrical force that kills him.