Thorn looked around the busy chamber and headed head down a short flight of stairs to the center of the 'Pit'. Following the way of hoomans, he shook Frank's outstretched hand. "How are you doing?"

"Good, Sir," Frank answered, smiling at the disheveled old man, who always reminded him of Albert Einstein.

"Greeting you too, Sergeant Pike," Thorn reached out and shook Pike's hand too. "So what is happening?"

"Well, Sir. We hope you can tell us," Frank responded, gesturing Thorn to view of the display. A playback video of the attack of the undead was played, making Thorn peer intently at the images.

"They appeared to be undead, raised from the grave by dark magic," Thorn said as he studied the imagery on the display.

Frank and Pike stood silently, waiting for Thorn to continue. "Hmmm, the Oerkin are quite proficient in the Dark Arts."

"Is there any way to stop them? Pike asked, "We found that destroying the head and burning the bodies help."

"Yes, yes, from my understanding, spirits inhabit the dead bodies and controls the movement of the host body through some way by using the head as the container of sorts " Thorn rubbed his snowy beard as he recollected his scarce knowledge of the Dark magic. "By destroying the head, the spirits lose control of the body or if the body part is too badly damaged, the spirits depart voluntarily from their hosts."

"Is there a necromancer raising the dead?" Frank asked.

"Neko-man-sir?" Thorn frowned at the unfamiliar English word. "You meant a Spirit Caster?"

"What is a Spirit Caster?" Pike asked before Frank could open his mouth.

"Hmm, from what I know, a Spirit Caster is someone with the ability to talk to the spirits and command them," Thorn explained to two hoomans. "They do not really revive the dead, what they do is just call the spirits to inhabit the bodies of the dead, and the spirits use the bodies as host."

"I see," Pike nodded and gave a brief explanation of what a necromancer is to Thorn.

"Hmmm, so Spirit casters are quite similar to your necromancers," Thorn exclaimed excitedly, "I would like to borrow that book, your Captain has!"

"Magister, please, we have more pressing issues now, "Frank stopped Thorn from going off track. "Is there a way or some spells that can stop the dead? Also, can the spirits control a living body?"

"Hmmm, I need to do some research, but from what I know, they can only control a dead body." Thorn furrowed his forehead, "And all my books which I brought are all over at the Academy's library."

Frank looked at Pike with a dismayed look, "Damn, alright we will send you back immediately. If you find anything useful, please inform us directly," Frank said, gesturing the Marine guard at the door to come over.

"Private, bring the Magister to the motor pool and have one of the drivers return him back to the Academy in the best possible speed," Frank gave the Marine the instructions, who acknowledged the order.

"Sir, I will assign someone to be with you. He will have some communication equipment so you can contact us directly," Frank told Thorn who nodded in understanding while Pike picked up a handset and made a call.

Frank nodded to the Private who then led Thorn out from the command center and towards the motor pool. As Thorn left the Pit, "What a waste of time, its a mistake not to have a direct line of communication to Thorn, we will need to rectify that."

Thorn followed the solder to a row of sheds where a few of the jeeps and half-track were parked under, the Marine handed Thorn over to a driver who directed Thorn to a jeep parked at the side.

Seated in the rear was the largest hooman Thorn had ever seen, he had his sleeves rolled up, displaying massive biceps. His armor appeared to be custom made to fit his frame and a Magelock that looked tiny sat behind his shoulder.

Does he have Oerkin blood? Thorn wondered as he climbed aboard the front seat. "Lance Corporal Bartley," The giant at the rear greeted Thorn as he sat in the jeep. "I will be your escort, Sir." He said in a deep rumble.

"Well met, Lance Corporal," Thorn returned Bartley's greeting and waited for Bartley to say something. After an awkward silence, Thorn faced the front and cleared his throat uncomfortably. Just nice, a hooman driver hopped in, gave a smile and greeting to both of them and started the engine and drove off back towards the City.


Entrance to 1st Fallowfall Regiment of Swords, The Duke's Own

Urka snoozed loudly with several of his warriors who sprawled around the littered remains of the supper they had. A few of the Oerkins, stood watch, their mood bad as they lost a game of fingers to their comrades, thus they had to stand guard.

The Empire sentries stared with disgust at the scene of the sleeping Oerkin, talking among themselves about how barbaric they were.

The bored Oerkin standing watch entertained themselves by throwing pieces of bones from the remains of their supper at the elven sentries, betting among themselves to see who can hit anyone, much to chagrin of the Empire sentries.

Shortly after the sky brightened and the first rays of the sun cast over the land, the same manservant appeared at the gate and greeted the still snoring Urka.

His warrior gave Urka a strong smack on the shoulder who woke up and punched the unlucky Oerkin in the face, much to the amusement of the rest. Urka hawked and spit his dry throat before gesturing the flunkey to led the way.

Those Oerkin who were still asleep were rudely woken up by brutal kicks in the face or groin, inciting good-natured laughter among the Oerkins.

The Empire soldiers sneered as they entered the camp, the hostility and disgust could be plainly seen on all the elves faces. Urka and his warriors ignored all the dark looks and insults thrown to them as they swaggered their way past rows and rows of tents before arriving at an inner stockade, heavily guarded by fully armor plated soldiers.

Urka grunted with approval at the look these heavily armored guards gave, his warrior instincts recognizing them as veterans of hundreds of life and death battles. He left his warriors behind and followed the flunkey into the only tent in sight.

The huge tent with its midnight blue color and a dark shiny luster stood in the middle of the encampment, surrounded by a wooden palisade wall, and ringed by guards. Urka felt his skin tingling slightly as his natural senses alerted him of a strong presence of magic.

The flunkey lifted the tent's entrance, causing the gathered morning dew to tickle down the rich looking material. Urka ducked his head and hunched down, as he squeezed his large build into the entrance.

The first thing he noticed was the huge table in the middle of the tent, occupied by several soft skins, some dressed for battle while others in coats and robes. while an elf dressed simply in a white silk shirt and black pants sat at the head of the table breaking fast with the variety of dishes laid on the table before him.

The flunkey gestured him to the opposite end of the table where another servant stood waiting with a dark colored chair. "Sit, and join me in breaking fast." A rich and mellow voice came from the elf sitting and eating at the head of the table.

Urka nodded and sat down heavily on the offered chair, causing it to creak alarmingly, his bared feet enjoying the feel of the thick layer of carpets and fur. A small army of servants soon arrived and piled dishes after dishes on the table in front of Urka.

Urka reached out and grabbed a large slab of ham and chewed down, ignoring the fat juices that spilled out on to his chin. The table of soft skins stared at him like they never seen an Oerkin eat before.

Urka ignored the looks and just grabbed whatever food that took his fancy, washing it down with a silver goblet of watered wine. One of the soft skins dressed in robes placed his eating fork and knife down, patted his mouth with a cloth before declaring he had enough. The rest followed suit, only the soft skins dressed in armor continued feasting on the food.

Lord Sturm speared a piece of cold roast with eating fork, chewing the meat while watched the Oerkin called Urka attack the food like a starving man. His men had reported the results of the battle using summoned undead, and he wondered what had this barbarian chief from the steppes want with him now.

Finally, after demolishing most of the food on the table including the untouched portions of the soft skins, Urka gave a satisfied burped, causing some of the soft skins to cough and gag slightly.

"Me Urka, Warleader to the Band of the Hand, greets Big Lord Storm!" Urka stood up and held his palm out facing Sturm at the head of the table in greeting.

"Well met, Urka. I am Lord Sturm, Duke of Fallowfall and Lord General of the Army of the South." Sturm returned a greeting while still seated. "Why have you come?"

"Urka needs your soldiers to help fight," Urka said bluntly, much to the surprised elves.

"An Oerkin asking for help?" Commander Elosen of the 3rd Fallowfall Regiment of Swords asked mockingly. "I thought you Oerkins are very tough?"

"Oerkins tough, but walls tougher," Urka admitted. "Urka here to plan with Big Lord."

Sturm sat back and studied the Oerkin looking intently back at him. He recruited them for their combat strength and also their knowledge of dark magic. He was hoping that the Oerkin could waste their strength fighting against the rebels, making subjugating them easier later on. "What do you propose?"

"Send slave army, attack in day," Urka said simply "Urka's spirits attack at night. No sleep for enemy."

Sturm raised his eyebrows in surprise with Urka's suggestion, he was getting more and more impressed with this Oerkin who could come up with such an idea. Using his slave army of twelve thousand to wear the rebels down in the day, while the Oerkin undead army attacks at night to keep the defenders occupied while keeping their own main force fresh to attack the walls when the rebel's morale and stamina have been worn completely down.

"Interesting, it could work," Sturm leaned forward, "Tell me more about your plans." He invited Urka to continue on.

"Slave army storm the walls in the day, stone throwers destroy the walls," Urka explained, "Night, Oerkin shaman bring spirits up from the dead, attack the walls, more stone throwers help out."

"When walls destroyed, all army attack together!" Urka smashed his palms together, mimicking destroying the enemy.

"Won't that benefit the Oerkins more? Using the dead slaves for their dark magic?" Commander Elosen sneered, "I don't trust the Oerkin as far as I can throw them."

Urka gave Elosen a look before turning his attention back to Sturm and gave a shrug, "Up to Big Lord to believe or not."

Sturm frowned, it is true that if his troops dying will boost the ranks of the Oerkin's undead army, but the rebels are dug in pretty hard. If Sturm followed Urka's plan, he has to come out with a counter for Urka's undead army, in case Urka suddenly turns on him.

"Alright, Warleader Urka, I will discuss this with my men first, return to your camp and wait for my answer. In the meantime, I will move my siege engines forward to support your attacks to the walls." Sturm assured Urka. "Keep up the attacks first."

Urka stood up and nodded, "Yes Big Lord!" and followed the flunkey out of the tent.

"My lord," A tall, thin elf in a polished dark blue plate mail stood up and addressed Sturm, "It is not wise to bolster the strength of the Oerkin's undead army using our own men, even if they are slaves."

"Hear, hear!" Commander Elosen raised his goblet to Commander Asther of the 1st Fallowfall Regiment of Swords. "Those low life dogs are just using this opportunity to strengthen themselves!"

"If I may," Battle Mage Dular interrupted, "I have a suggestion that might just well, tip the scales to our favor."

A note from neo Koh

Hi guys, advance chapters and art content will be available in patreon over the weekends.


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neo Koh


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