Sergeant Platton lowered the Vision Lens with a grim expression on his face. The Wights were absolutely teeming with activity in the vicinity of Princet, a medium sized island in the Southern Domain. It was to the point that it was much more than a hunch to say that they were up to no good in the area. Just as he had told his superiors over and over again...
But there was a problem; the very activity that gave the Wights away now hemmed Sergeant Platton and his group into their small island. They were only a few kilometers away from Kraigjist, which was likely too small a hideout to be noticed by the Wights. But to get there…
It was impossible.
Over the past three weeks, Sergeant Platton and a group of specially trained veterans of the front lines had rushed past the Wight defensive lines to discover what the mass of forces stationed here was up to. By the end of this time, only 6 of the original twelve strong group remained. Luckily, their stealth remained intact, but they had lost friends in the process of getting here.
But it was worth it. Sergeant Patton clenched his hand into a fist. He was right. Damn what high command said, the Wights weren’t just raiding the area and taking the Spear-source away. They were here to stay. What they were setting up was fortification. Sergeant Platton couldn’t get close enough to see exactly what they were planning, but he had a very good guess: a Hell Maw.
These huge poison cannons were one of the main reasons that it was never considered feasible to invade the Wight’s world. The portal to cross was covered by these huge monstrosities, making any force with legitimate numbers ineffective. Although strong individuals could resist the Psychic Poison, the average soldier was insensible for an hour after being hit with it. Truly, it was a weapon that was extremely effective against the people of Tellus, who rarely put points into Willpower.
Still, one Hell Maw in the Southern Domain wouldn’t really alter the war. What Sergeant Platton was afraid of was that this was only one of a vast array. The Wights had suffered a crushing defeat in the Spear School, and the rumor was that a powerful force was currently active in the Death School, annihilating the opponents. If the Wights were now aiming at the Spearman School…
They would likely get caught unawares. Which is why Sergeant Platton needed to make it out of here alive.
“What now, Sarge?” Daskin asked Sergeant Platton quietly. Daskin was a good soldier, but he gave in to his nerves too easily. He had only been on the front for a few months, and his nerve hadn’t hardened like the rest of theirs. Still, he was a talented and determined man, as evidenced by the fact he had followed Sergeant Platton this far.
“We wait,” Platton said shortly. “There will be an opening in their boat traffic. When that happens we move.”
“More and more ghosties keep showing up,” Daskin urged. “Although it might be hard, perhaps we could make a break for it. Or even swimming-”
“Swimming?” Latta, a five year veteran of the frontlines, snorted. She threw her lengthening hair over her shoulder. “Kid, none of us know the currents in the area. We are as likely to wash ashore below their headquarters than make it out alive. And that’s if we survive. Anyone here have a Swimming Skill…? I didn’t think so.”
The group fell into a surly silence. Platton looked solemnly around at the five soldiers behind. Their faces were tense, and their lips were pressed tightly together. Latta was the only woman in their group remaining, and Platton allowed himself a small bit of joy as he looked at her shoulder-length hair. It was the longest he had ever seen her hair since they had met.
It was just a testament to how hard Platton had worked them the last two months.
Not that he had any choice. The pressure from the top was intense. So much so that he considered-
Platton froze. Looking over the shoulders of his soldiers, he saw a small canoe sliding ashore to their small island. There were several tall pillars of stones in the middle of the little island that blocked vision for those heading towards the Wights’ main base. That, combined with their stealth focused small group, meant that they hadn’t been spotted. There were few enough of them that a cursory search wouldn’t locate them.
But these three Wights landed on the island.
“Change of plan. Daskin? Pack us up. One minute. The rest of you? With me. Looks like we are going to break out forcefully.”
Across the island, one of the Wights turned. Its eyes locked with Platton’s. A frown crossed its strange, stiff face. It clearly wasn’t sure what it was seeing.
Platton’s spear moved softly, but his powerful image spread rapidly outwards, obscuring them from the Wight’s view. Without waiting a second, Platton rushed forward, following the edge of the fog. The distance to the Wights was small, and in only a few seconds he was there in front of them, hidden by his spreading image.
This was the image that had earned himself a spot as a Sergeant. Even though he had no truly powerful attack Skill, Viscous Smog opened the path for his advancement. It was why he could manage to penetrate so deeply behind enemy lines.
Perhaps the lead Wight sucked in a breath, but it began to cough and vibrate. The smog that Platton produced was thick with poison that would rip through victims’ throats.
After weeks of working together, the group tore apart the three confused Wights in a few brutal seconds of violence. Within thirty seconds, Daskin had the supplies and the group climbed into the thin canoe. Saying a silent prayer, Platton pushed off and started directing the canoe away from the Wight headquarters. The hope was they wouldn’t be noticed in the flood of traffic around them.
They were wrong.
Platton had long suspected that there was an aspect of mental communication to the Wights, but he didn’t know how to test for such a thing. What Platton did know was that the first boat they passed raised the alarm. Without waiting to see whether other’s nearby would join the search, Platton blew as much Stamina as he could to fuel Viscous Smog and keep paddling.
Immediately, the group cut sharply left, off of their original path. In his memory, there was a channel in this direction that led to the Western Edge of the Southern Domain, which was filled with little islands. These were largely controlled by the Wights, but if they could find a single one…
Within the smoke around them, the group paddled for five minutes without incident. If anything, the silence and smog around them made Platton’s feelings sink further. The current seemed to be with them, however, and they seemed to be flying over the surface of the water.
Until they hit aground. Sergeant Platton looked sharply up, cursing as he realized that the boat was badly damaged by smashing upon the rocks of one of the tiny protrusions of rock that were too numerous to name. And this one was completely barren. It was difficult to see through the mist, but there were only a few rocks higher than a man. It was not of the size that they could pivot to hiding here to bypass the search. To think he committed such a rookie sailing mistake at a time like this…!
A figure was abruptly there, looming in front of Sergeant Platton in the fog. He looked sharply up.
A smiling face offered a hand. “Sergeant Platton? We’ve been looking for you. My name is Silo, and we-”
The scream of the pursuing Wights cut off his words mid-sentence.