The First Counter Assault

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The entrance was barely worthy of the title, more of a hole in the ground than anything. Lawrence frowned as he half sat against the rotting trunk of a fallen forest giant and looked through some overhanging foliage at what the scouts had found. In his hands were a couple of scrolls, one a map marking the spot and the other a sketch of the hole and the surrounding territory.

A tap on his arm brought the big prince's attention to Will, who hunkered behind some brush close by. The question on his face that appeared as soon as he caught the blonde lord's eye was enough to tell all: where were the guards the scouts had reported? A quick scan of the area immediately surrounding the hole revealed nothing in the way of the heavily armed troops the scouts had initially reported.

However, when that scan was repeated using the revealing magic the Tree had given Lawrence in order to track the enemy through the forest, the cloaking magic was peeled away and the big prince found himself looking upon at least a full company of enemy soldiers, as heavily armed as the scouts had reported. Somehow they had been tipped off to the fact that somebody had discovered them and triggered the cloaking magic in the hopes of luring that somebody in when they found nothing guarding the entrance.

Confident beneath the magical cloak were armored Tjor'riin with their characteristic curved blades, unfinished looking trolls and broad-shouldered Wendigo. They were also joined by strange, reptilian looking creatures that stood twice as tall as a tjor'riin but only half as tall as a wendigo, heavily armored in chainmail and breastplate and hefting massive hammers and axes as weapons. They were formidable, to say the least.

They, and the rest of the guards were loosely grouped around the hole, which was a good five paces wide and appeared to enter the ground at an angle. The forest had been roughly cleared away from the hole a good ten paces or so, leaving a significant open area for the guards to gather in, the perimeter lined with fallen and rotting logs, providing an obstacle to slow any charge at the entrance. While the dark elves certainly outnumbered them, it would be difficult to take the guard without raising the alarm.

Using a secondary entrance seemed like a better plan, such an entrance being less guarded than the front door. However the scouts had been less than successful in locating the secondary entrance so the expedition found itself limited in their options. Either they went in through the front entrance, or they didn't go in at all. And, by the looks on the determined dark elves, that last wasn't an option at all.

Lawrence looked back over at Will and, with the sign indicating a full company, silently pointed out that the guards were magically hidden. Now quite familiar with enemy cloaking magic, Will quickly nodded before passing the signal back to a waiting Sauralin. Most familiar with the humans, having spent the greatest amount of time with them in recent days, she had been briefed on their silent battle signals, a combat technique the dark elves also used with differing signals.

As soon as she received the report at her place several paces back from where Lawrence and Will crouched in the forward position, Fjendin signaled back they were ready to make the frontal assault. Lawrence's lips thinned as Will relayed the message. A frontal assault would certainly succeed but would also alert any enemy troops inside as to what was taking place. All things considered, their mission would be better served if they could get in with as little trauma as possible.

- Any ideas, Tree? Something in the way of a covert cloak that could slip in a ranger team through the front door. -

- While allowing you to pass through a second cloaking field without detection, - the weapon's mental voice mused inside his mind, - such overlapping magical fields are often dangerous in the manner they conflict with each other. You may penetrate their field, only to expose yourself when your field fails. Not such a good idea. Is there a second entrance? One not so heavily guarded? -

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