Approach of the Vanguard

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Despite the Lupus' well-deserved reputation as fierce and unrelenting warriors, the Moonrunners were also a canny lot, choosing not to rush forward along the cleft in the hopes of running into their enemy.  Instead they carefully moved down the weathered and ragged slash through the hills'  flesh, eyes sharp and weapons ready as they scanned every shadowy crevice.  Seeing that, van Joss' appreciation of their skill climbed a couple notches.

It was always impressive to see the Lupus in action as they fought, a terrible force of death and mayhem that usually devastated any foe they faced.  Yet here they were being as careful and stealthy as any operative moving behind enemy lines.  

For good reason: if van Joss' estimates of the horde's vanguard numbers were anything close to being accurate, they would be swamped under in a manner of moments by a tide of monkey man bodies no matter their individual skill and prowess.  They would be dead and their deaths would accomplish little in assisting their overall mission to defend Noranda and the newly forged Fisted Alliance.

Without warning the Moonrunners in the cleft halted, ears pricked as they stared into the dimness ahead.  When van Joss looked over at Captain Darkfyre, he found the big Lupus leaning slightly forward as he tested the wind with his nostrils.

Then the sound that caught the keener senses of the Lupus soldiers reached van Joss' hearing: the clatter and shift of many armored bodies moving through a narrow defile.  Immediately the human's jaw clenched with tension as he realized what was making that sound.  It could only be the Primiad horde's vanguard, moving along the path of least resistance through the hills, the very defile they now stood within.

"Captain," he said in a voice pitched so only the Lupus standing a couple metres from him could hear it.  "You need to send the remainder of your force up onto the ridge.  There is no conceivable way you could block the defile with only a handful of warriors.  Not against the shear numbers the vanguard possesses."

His low words quickly captured the Lupus commander's attention.   To Darkfyre's credit, he didn't immediately dismiss the suggestion, waiting until van Joss was actually finished before he began to speak.

"From reports coming out of the fall of the Kanid Imperium, as well as the destruction of the Protectorate, I would agree with you, human," the big Lupus rumbled.  "Their swarming attack would all but rush right over top of us regardless of any resistance we would show them."  He turned his head just enough to fix van Joss with a hard look.

"But the ridge offers little in the way of advantage outside of the high ground.  The hill tops have long been swept clean of any cover by seasonal storms and the rage of the Burn.  There aren't even any boulders up there that we could drop on their heads to harass and delay."

Van Joss' expression tightened.

"Are you not Lupus, captain?" he hissed tautly.  "Did not your people hold these beasts at bay for three entire days at the Den when all other nations fell in hours?"

A lip curled in a silent snarl before Darkfyre could restrain himself.

"I don't need you, human, to remind me of who we are," the Moonrunner captain tautly hissed, focusing his dark eyes on the lean Gideon operative.  "Or of what we've lost."

"I don't speak to remind you of loss, captain," van Joss quickly replied.  "But to remind you of what you are capable of regardless of circumstance."

Darkfyre leaned towards van Joss as if to growl a rejoinder.  Only to suddenly straighten up, his expression becoming thoughtful.

"We can still blockade the defile," the big Lupus abruptly concluded.  "But not with stone."

"If not stone, then with what, commander?" another one of the Moonrunners standing nearby said, earning him a quick glance from the powerful captain.

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