Victory

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Two years had passed since Faida first arrived on the Isle of Death. She remembered the first time she had traversed the jungle, searching for Fes'il in hiding, or seeking out Seriks to slaughter. It had been a slaughter, that first time. When she and her men had crept upon the island using mirror tactics to the ones the Seriks had used to take it from the Fes'il. Their victory had made them careless, and they had no commander to speak of. Pillagers left to their own devices made the perfect victims.

Faida's reputation had solidified that day. She and her female comrades were smaller than the men they traveled with, which made them lighter on their feet and better able to maneuver through the thick foliage. What few sentries had been posted had been dispatched without difficulty. Then they swarmed the encampment. Under Faida's orders, her men severed the heads and impaled them on pikes lining the southern shore of the isle, sending a message to any Seriks that wished to return. When a thorough search of the island revealed no Fes'il in hiding, Faida ordered her warriors to return home.

The war had begun from that moment. Chief Zekiir was rabid about the loss of his men and he vowed vengeance on the ones who had brought such death upon his people. There existed one problem in his vow; he didn't know who was responsible. So he attacked everyone who wasn't allied with him.

The Menoen people were next to feel the sting of his assault. They were able to repel him, but they suffered heavy casualties in the course of his many attacks. That was when they allied with the Janye.

Faced with an alliance of three tribes, Chief Zekiir was quick to secure a partnership with the Tre'diens to the south. When they made to attack the Menoens again, the Janye stood in their way. When he attempted it again, the Vezhul joined them. In two years, the Seriks had yet to give up their dream of conquering them all.

Within that same time, Chief Zekiir kept sending men to the old Fes'il isle. They were stationed there with the sole purpose to make the island theirs. Each time Faida learned of it, she made it her mission to kill them all. Unlike the Seriks, she left no men to guard the island. There was no need to stand over the bodies of her enemies and proclaim her victory. The victory was reward enough.

Yet, she knew the moment she reached the Isle of Death that things would be different this time. There were more warriors upon the isle than ever before, and they were far more vigilant than those that came before. It had taken her several days to study their habits, and her assessment was that these warriors were far more skilled than those she'd faced before.

Faida almost blessed Ne'Hatma for the challenge. Though she had proved her worth as a Claimed Daughter several times in the past, she had yet to find a challenge that would push her boundaries as a warrior. It had caused her to become restless, but she refused to allow it to make her reckless.

When her investigation was complete, she returned to her warriors and told them what she saw. "None of our past strategies will succeed this time."

"What about coming in from the north? They never realize how useful that inlet is," offered Eind.

Faida shook her head. "There are sentries posted at the mouth and the patrols overlap at its edges."

"And the water caves in the east?" asked Micari.

"There are two ships hidden within, laden with warriors and supplies. Even if we managed to make our way into the caves, who is to say how many men traverse those same caves each day?"

"So what do you suggest, Faida?" Kor'ik asked, his expression expectant.

Her expression grew hard. "I have a plan, but you will not like it."

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