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Uncharted Forest

Duke Sturm's face was pale as he rode his war dragon hard, pushing it to gallop faster. The music coming from the sky rose to a fervent height as the singer screamed the lyrics of some unknown heaven cursed song.

"War, whoa, lord,
What is it good for,
Absolutely nothing, listen to me."

Followed by explosions going off at the rear of the retreating Lancers. The enemy flying beasts charged past over Sturm's head and he ducked reflexly, his war dragon starting to foam in its jaws.

"Faster!" Sturm whipped the dragon's side, ignoring the gasping cries from the mount. He looked up again, as the volume of the music rosed up again, indicating those cursed flying beasts were back to throw their fireballs at his men.

For the past three days, Sturm and the remnants of his forces had been harassed constantly by the enemy's flying beast, which spits fireballs at his frightened troops. He had his remaining mages and crossbowmen, forming an ambush for the flying beast, but it just shrugged off the spells and crossbow bolts, playing its demonic music as it looped back spitting fire at his troops again and again.

Starving and exhausted, the remains of the entire army of Fallowfall consisting of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Regiment of Swords and the 9th, 10th 11th, 13th and 15th Regiment of Spears, 2nd, 5th 6th and 8th Crossbow Regiment and the 2nd and 3rd Lancers retreated in a disorderly manner through the Uncharted Forest, many falling prey to the goblins tribes and monstrous beasts living inside the forest.

Reports constantly came in either outdated or unclear from the rearguards and scouts as the army was running scared and confused. The remains of the Imperial Dragon Corps had flown away, leaving them without any air cover, not that it will do the Fallowfall army any good. Conflicting reports of rebel soldiers attacking in the front, the flanks and the rear keep pouring in, making Sturm disregard them totally.

Finally, the cursed music faded away, meaning the flying beast had returned to whatever hell it came out from and Sturm reined in his war dragon. The poor beast stumbled and choked as it gasped for breath, its side heaving up and down. Sturm jumped off the saddle and stretched himself, his back aching while his inner sides of his legs chafed from the constantly riding.

"Gather the commanders or whoever is left. I want the regiments to be back under control!" Sturm yelled at his subordinates. "Bring me some food and water, now!"

His men dispersed to do his bidding and not long his manservant came up with a handful of trail bread and a half-empty waterskin. "My apologies my Lord, this is the best I could find,"

"What? Where are our rations?" Sturm growled, "I made sure that we have more than enough field rations to last the whole army at least two months!"

"My Lord, we lost a third of the baggage train when we retreated and the rebels had constantly harassed us." His manservant explained calmly. "The remaining half were abandoned along the way or were destroyed by the rebel's flying beast chasing us."

"Damn you," Sturm cursed as he crushed the hard trail bread in his right fist, grinding it to powdery pieces. "Oh, just you wait, I will be back."

-----

Sawtooth Mountain Pass Defense Command Center. The Pit

"You been constantly visiting the dragon pen," Frank said as they headed towards the meeting room. "Anything interesting to share?"

"Hmm, I learned quite a bit in fact," Blake said, "More insight on the workings of the Empire and how they train and breed dragons."

"So we gonna have our own dragons?" Frank grinned excitedly, looking like a kid again. "Damn, I only saw those in CGs."

"Maybe, if we can convince those unbonded dragons to our cause," Blake smiled. "Those whos bonded captains were still alive, will only follow the wishes of their captains."

"Feels like so kind of slavery to me," Frank said, "But then again, how awesome is it to fly it!"

"I am surprised at the way they talk," Blake said, "They don't feel so scary, they seem more like a ... very wise child?"

"You know, Lieutenant Tavor been up against my ass all day, grumbling about you breaking protocol and all that shit on the dragons," Frank laughed, "I rarely seen him so worked up."

"Haha, that was my fault, the dragons were just too ... polite and it just slipped my mouth when they asked about the fate of their crew," Blake shook his head, "Maybe I should leave the interrogation and interviews to the professionals next time."

Entering the room, they found Dr. Sharon and Magister Thorn in a heated discussion, with Thorn gesturing wildly and his Einstein-ish hair making him look like a madman as usual. "If we can harvest the blood from the dragons, we can use it for many alchemical purposes!"

"Have you wondered why dragon blood is so rare?" Dr. Sharon hissed in frustration, "You think they will let you take a needle and draw their blood just like that?" She snapped her fingers in irritation.

"Hmmm true, but we can drug their food, you know all that," Thorn grinned.

Dr. Sharon rolled her eyes, "If it was that easy, don't you think there would be more dragon blood out there?" Dr. Sharon soften her tone when she saw Thorn looking downcast, "You told me for the magic in dragon blood to be potent it has to be a wild dragon and not bred."

"That's true," Thorn peaked up, "Oh Captain, greetings."

"Oh," Dr. Sharon looked around and saw Blake and Frank standing there watching the two of them chatting, and quickly rose, "Captain."

"At ease," Blake smiled, "So you guys wanna get some dragon blood? Didn't we harvested tons of that?"

"Yes, yes, but the blood quality was very low," Thorn sighed, "Seems like the magic from dragons bred in captivity weakens them a lot."

"Holy Fu-," Frank coughed, "I mean that was considered weak?"

"Yes, yes, if it was a wild dragon, its powers would be at least say, ten maybe twenty times stronger," Thorn absentmindedly replied, "Maybe its due to their young age? Rarely do breed dragons reach their mature ages of a hundred."

Frank looked at Blake with horror, and said, "I gonna have to review my defensive plans again."

"Hi, has the meeting started?" Princess Sherene stuck her head in, her gold pink hair tied in a bun and she was wearing a formal sky blue formal looking robes.

"No, come in," Blake smiled warmly, lately he found himself looking forward to seeing the Princess.

"Alright, everyone's here, let's start," Blake nodded to Frank.

"Ok, I asked for this meeting, due to several reasons," Frank said, "Supply, manpower, prisoners and what's next."

"For supply, I will be requesting from City hall," He nodded to Sherene, "To help catalog the supplies and equipment we had captured off the retreating Empire army. Also, we will be needing your help to provide food for the prisoners. And we also badly depleted our ammunition stores in that one week of combat, so I would like to request extra production of ammunition to meet our needs."

Sherene nodded, "I see what I can do," She turned and whispers to her aide.

"Next is manpower, so far we suffered very little loses, but we have a large amount of wounded both ways. Our priority of course is to our men first then the prisoners. Dr. Sharon, I will like your team full-time assistance in this manner, I am not sure if our medical supplies will hold out or not."

"It's not really an issue for now," Dr. Sharon replied, "I got a few magical healers which helps to decrease the usage of our medical supplies but the regeneration Tank can only be used so much. I am still working on a substitute for the nanite solution."

"Ok, next is the prisoners, what are we going to do with them?" Frank asked, "Are we gonna to let them go or recruit those that are willing to join us?"

"For the prisoners, release them if they choose to leave," Blake said, "No point in feeding the enemy for them. If we keep them locked up or even as labor, we need to spend food and manpower to keep watch over them and also there is always the threat of sabotage."

Everyone nodded at the table, "But if we let them go. won't they come back and attack us again later?" Sherene raised a point.

"Yes and no," Blake smiled, "If you were given freedom after a life and death battle, would you want to return to it again or return to your families?" He pointed out. "Also if we show mercy now, their hearts will also be moved, and they will show mercy back to our men if should they be captured."

Sherene nodded but didn't look very convinced. "I understand."

"As for those who are willing to join us," Blake continued, "Run them through a dependable test, I heard Magister Thorn had loaned us a Truth Stone?" Blake asked, which Thorn nodded.

"Dr. Sharon and Lieutenant Tavor, I want the two of you to come out with a list of psychological questions to determine their intentions and loyalty." Blake ordered, "Then we let these people in, on a probational basis on their behavior and work performance, before granting them full citizenship."

"For the dragons, if they are willing to join us, we will, of course, welcome them," Blake added, "They will be very useful for some of the things I could think of to help us."

"Yes Sir," Dr. Sharon and Lieutenant Tavor replied, while the others nodded.

"Ok last point, what's next?" Frank continued, "Currently two companies of Marines are harassing and doing combat sweeps of our surrounding areas of the Uncharted Forest, supported by the Valkyries. As for the artificial ramp created by magic, it is almost impossible to destroy using conventional means, so we are stuck with it."

"Also there are reports of increasing goblin activity, now that winter is went and truly gone and spring is here," Frank reported, "We can't extend our forces too much into the forest and there is a limited amount of ammunition left for our Valkyries."

"City hall had started to send men to clear and tilt the land, we will need protection from the goblins if that is the case," Sherene pointed out. "We need to prepare for the next winter."

"Sir, if I may," Lieutenant Tavor spoke out, "I think that it is a good time for us to regroup and focus on material needs now, the 2nd batch of Marines are being trained now, and look at what one battalion can do?" Tavor gestured at Frank, "We should focus on building up our supplies and tech, if we had better equipment, training, and supplies, we can focus on a highly trained and professional force rather than branching out all over the place."

"Noted, Lieutenant," Blake frowned as he steeped his fingers together. "Alright here's what we do, Magister Thorn. continue your research and development with Chief Matt, Gale, and Pike."

"Dr. Sharon, you continue your R and D on medical practices with magic and also training of doctors and nurses."

"Princess Sherene, please work out a plan for supplying the troops and prisoners, and what is lacking or needed. I expect that we will need a lot of materials soon. And the dragons, they need a lot of food."

"Frank, pull back your men for much-needed rest and repair the defensives at the Pass, also oversee the next batch of recruits. You also need to provide patrols and protection to the loggers and farmers."

"Tavor, I need the psychological test for the prisoners, also continue interviewing the prisoners for information on the Empire. the more we have, the better we can prepare for."

"Oh yes, I need HR to do up a recruitment and marketing speech for the prisoners..."

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