“Every day brings new choices.”
I step onto the balcony, slamming the door shut behind me. “I've decided!” I call out, raising the little kitten to my face.
“Eeep!” Willow twitches, clearly surprised by my sudden entrance. She is currently in her smallest form and is sitting on my balcony's balustrade. After a few moments, she regains her composure and gets up. The little fairy turns towards me, anger on her face. Willow places her little fists at the sides of her hips. “What's wrong with you!? Calling out like that out of nowhere. I almost had a heart attack!”
With her squeaky voice, she isn’t able to gain any respect from me.
“Maybe you shouldn't sit out here on my balcony, staring at the white nothingness,” I suggest, pressing the kitten to my chest. “I thought that I gave you more than enough tasks to last you an entire week.”
“How could I ever concentrate on your stupid tasks while knowing that you are about to launch an attack on the assassins who are holding my family prisoners!” The fairy starts raging, shaking her fists. “And let's be honest! This gloomy weather is your fault to begin with! You evaporated half of Illum's water reserves to create this cloud!” She points at the mist which makes it impossible to see further than ten metres.
I look around. “Well, we also had to cover the Mirai fleet. It wouldn't have done us any good to protect only ourselves. I have a feeling that you are a little tense today. Why don't you go to the others and help them with our strategy?”
“What's there to plan? I've told you everything I know about the layout of the camp. You are planning to take the camp with superior numbers, dropping on them from above. We have the numbers to overwhelm them, so why not?” She shakes her head. “The issue is that my people will still die. The assassins will use them as cannon fodder! Or they will erect a barrier and suck the hive dry.”
I sigh. “That's where you are wrong. Next time, stay until the meeting is over. You would have learned that our best fighters are supposed to go in before the battle starts. We'll disconnect your people from the magical barriers which protect the camp. Once that's accomplished, our troops go in and ensure that we have no problems with our escape. I'll go personally in order to negotiate with your mother, queen... What's her title?”
“Septarch!” The fairy flops down on her behind and returns to her gloomy mood.
“Don't worry. Your Septarch won't be able to decline my offer. I’ll offer your people lodging, as much mana as they want, and an alliance. All that, just for a little help with your special magic,” I explain. “Come on. By now, you should've learned that I am far from being a monster.”
Willow shudders. “That's exactly what I am afraid of.” She turns back to me. “Why did you call out earlier? Did you decide on a name for your kitten?”
“Oh, no. I've decided on what to do regarding the assassins, should we catch any of them alive,” I answer.
Willow huffs. “Let me guess. You will turn them into your slaves, or you will kill them. What is it going to be?”
“Neither,” I answer quickly. “I'll give them to Grandma. She mentioned that she never has enough bodies for her army. Almost all of her ground soldiers are mindless. That results in a lot of casualties, even if she manages to retrieve the soldiers.”
“Do you realize that you are slowly adapting to calling her Grandma? Before you know it, you will think of yourself as Nova.” Willow shakes her head. “I still don't believe that your plan will work. It's too risky.”
I laugh. “It will work. I've equipped our attack squad with my best illusion magic. The assassins won't know what hit them.”
It's in the middle of the night when we reach our position above the assassins' camp. It's located in a forest on the border between the Alliance and the Sociocrathy. According to Willow, the officials of both sides are bribed to look the other way. Another problem is that officials from both nations use the services of the assassins. I intend to end that. The less skilled assassins there are, the better.
Willow assumes that there aren't more than two hundred assassins at the encampment. Most of them should be trainees because the skilled ones are out on missions most of the time. That saddens and annoys me a little, but it has to be expected from a training camp. Nonetheless, better not to get too confident.
I'll go down with thirty of Brian's best men. They are equipped with my newest gear and proved to be the best at using it. The plan is to land directly in front of the entrance to the underground grotto which serves as the fairy's prison. We will storm the grotto and I'll disable anything remotely magical. From then on, it's just a matter of holding the grotto against intruders until our main forces wipe out anything that's left alive in the camp.
According to Willow, her people are under a permanent guard of ten to fifteen assassins. The biggest problem would be to stop them from doing anything to the fairies.
It's the deepest part of the night when we assemble our troops on the flight deck of the hangar bay. I can tell by their expressions that none of them belong to the older adventurers. Noticing my doubtful expression, Brian explains that the younger generations are much better at adjusting to the new equipment.
I realize that my forceful introduction of firearms was maybe a little too quick for the locals. Even though I tried to disguise the new weapons as hybrids between a medieval close combat staff and a gun, there are still those who are opposed to changing their ways. Luckily, we are still in an early stage of Illum's development. I can exile anyone who proves to be too thick headed.
Our soldiers are waiting for the signal to depart when Fae tries one last time to stop me from joining the drop team. “Joyce, you really shouldn’t do this. There are others who can risk their lives. You are the ruler of Illum. What happens if you die?”
In an attempt to relax, I roll my shoulders. “Don’t worry. I simply want to test a few things which I learned from Janice. Down there are a few hundred people who deserve killing. What better chance is there for me to test my new skills in soul magic?”
“Soul magic!?” she squeaks. “Are you going to become a necromancer!?”
I wave my hand. “Ah, don’t worry. Just because I get to learn the skills, doesn’t mean that I’ll go around and raise armies of zombies. Though, there are some possible applications for soul magic which don’t necessarily raise zombies. I want to test some of my own theories. No need to copy everything I was shown.”
An alarm shrills through the hangar, signalling that we are about to strike.