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Great Ocean Plains

It spat out a mouthful of bone dust and earth as it slithered back away from the relentless advance of the undead. It hissed in displeasure at the tasteless souls it had consumed and narrowed its flint eyes at the undead surrounding it.

"ISH THE LORD OF CHAOSSS!" The embroilment of Apep hissed loudly. "ISH THE DEVOURER OF SOULSS!! OBEEY MEE!"

The undead heedless of its commands pressed on against the Great Serpent swinging their rusty and broken swords and axes against the body of the snake. Normally such attacks barely dealt any damage to it but due to its wounds cost by the hellfire, the little pricks done by the undead slowly chipped away its reserves of power.

Earlier in the day, it had found the connection to the most despicable power in the far distance suddenly disappear from its senses and now when it was about to go hunt down the Oerkins that had run away from him, it encountered these tasteless souls!

It decided to vent its frustration and anger on these tasteless souls since it could not explain why it lost its connection to the thing it wanted the most!

----

Shard River

Wisps of smoke and cries of the wounded and dying echoed down the river. Titanna, commander of the Imperial River Flotilla sat on the edge of her bed while holding a hand on to a wound on her shoulder. One of the healers bent over her wound and carefully cleaned her wound before casting a healing spell to regenerate her flesh.

She gritted her teeth as her flesh, nerves and shattered bones knitted back together painfully and blinked back tears of pain and humiliation. The air attacks and the sudden ambush of a strange force, followed by the loss of the red dragon made her feeling angry and stupid.

She had come to the conclusion that the strange flying creatures, the dragons and even the ambush of the unknown force must be linked! They must be from the unknown force that attacked Orwell's Point!

Her fighting strength of over thirty ships, ten thousand sailors, soldiers, and twenty dragons were wilted down to a mere eighteen ships and six thousand men!

And of that eighteen ships, half were beached against both sides of the river banks to prevent being sunk and blocking the river. Already four of her ships had sunk to the bottom of the river and causing a hazard to any passing ships!

She waved the healer away from fussing over her bandaged wound and stood up, her two personnel attendants quickly dressed her and helped her into her plate mail.

Accepting a cup of numb leaf tea, she quickly drained it and ignored the sharp piercing pain till the extract of numb leaves worked their magic. Feeling the pain fading away, she strolled out of her cabin to access her situation.

As she exited, a cluster of senior officers and commanders quickly bowed before her and started to give their reports one by one. She already knew the losses but she did not know if any of the attackers were still in the vicinity.

"Lady Titanna, our scouts on both sides of the river did not find any of the attackers but we found their traces," One of the commanders reported and he stretched both hands out, offering several shiny objects. "Our men found these left behind in holes that the attackers hid in."

"Clearly, the ambush here was to save the red dragon we caught," Another commander spoke up, "They chosen this spot with care, as the river here is the narrowest!"

Titanna took one of the shiny golden cylindrical objects and frowned as she observed it closely. "Gold? No... too light..."

"It is not gold, but some other kind of metal..." The commander replied. "We found many of these litterings around both sides of the river banks."

"We have no idea what kind of spells those attackers used but..." The elderly healer said and the officers and commanders parted away from a body covered by a blue cloak soaked with blood. "We suspect that those shiny objects must have something to do with their attack spells!"

The Healer pulled back the cloak, showing a half naked body with a couple of holes on his chest. The body had already turned slightly grey and the flesh around the finger sized holes had turned purple and blackish.

"They used some sort of spell that is able to penetrate through our plate mails easily and please be warned, what I am about to show you might be too..." The Healer nervously stammered.

"Just get on with it!" Titanna growled.

The Healer nodded and he turned the body over showing two large grisly holes on the back where the starking white bones could even be seen from the fist sized holes.

Some of the more weak willed officers coughed and stepped away from the sight. Titanna covered her nose and gestured the Healer to turn the body back. "What kind of spell can cause such horrific damage?"

The Healer shrugged and handed over a cloudy glass bottle in which a few pieces of mangled metal. Titanna took it and rattled it, "And this is?"

"We found these in the bodies of the dead and wounded," The Healer continued. "Bits of metal or some material... Like a bolt or arrowhead..."

The commanders and officers looked at each other in worry. "So you are saying that those attackers used some kind of magic that can send these bolt or arrow heads faster than our crossbow and bows?"

"I... It's just a guess, my Lady," The Healer quickly answered while bowing.

Titanna snorted and turned to her chief Mage, "What do you think?"

The hooded Mage took the glass bottle and peered inside it carefully before answering, "It might be possible, after all, magical knowledge is ever growing and there is still much unknown magic out there! Not to mention we do not even hold a fraction of the knowledge of magic our ancestors in our ancestral lands have!"

"I see..." Titanna frowned. "What is everyone thoughts on our next actions?"

"My Lady, the flying enemy might come anytime again," One of the commanders commented nervously. "And we do not know where their ground forces ran to..."

"Erm, my lady," A senior commander stepped up, "I think we should call for more reinforcements."

"We should make camp and not advance till we have more troops to support us!" Another commander stepped up forward. "We need more air cover and better air protection! Those flying creatures can hit us while we can't do anything to them!"

The rest of the commanders muttered their agreement. Titanna bit her lips into a thin line before nodding, "We setup camp here! Send word back to my father that we need more men and dragons!"

"Yes, my Lady!" The commanders bowed as one.

"Make sure those flying creatures do not surprise us once again!"

-----

Orwell's Point, Marine Stronghold, Living Quarters

Evelyn laid on her straw bedding and used her senses to ensure she was totally alone and no one was observing her before she carefully removed the golden idol she had stolen from inside her bedding.

She blew the candle out and using the lights shining in from the tiny window, she traced her fingers over the simple carved idol of some sort of worm. She felt a tingle in her scalp as she caressed the idol and feeling the idol turning warm in her hand.

For some strange reason, she felt some sort of connection to this idol as something inside her was like calling it out to her. She couldn't explain the feeling, just that it felt like Dante was next to her telling her something.

Suddenly, she jerked her hands away from the idol which suddenly scorched her fingers. She stared at it surprised and fright, wondering what has triggered the idol. She carefully poked it with a finger and found it just warm to the touch and she quickly wrapped the idol up in a cloth and hid it back into its hiding place.

As she slowly fell asleep, she could feel Dante was like trying to tell her something, something about a darkness that the Sun couldn't reach in her dreams.

-----

Great Ocean Plains

The land was churned up, while hundreds of rotting body parts littered all over the land. The Serpent was heaving away as its body bore hundreds of nicks and cuts.

Suddenly it snapped its head up alertly towards the North. "Issh feel it!"

It impatiently snapped its tail, crashing several crawling zombies. It needed to hunt! These tasteless souls were unable to allow it to fully recover its strength.

"Issh coming for yoouu! The SUN!!!"

-----

Gateway City

Dijon watched the Imperial infantry supported by dragons rushed the walls again for the second time in the night. He shook his head as the mages toss illumination spells into the sky, which immediately lit up the surroundings, allowing the archers and ballistas to loose their arrows and bolts at the attacking enemy.

Even with the magical smoke cover, hundreds of arrows and bolts still found their marks among the Imperials. The heavy shipboard ballistas easily punched through the raised shields with enough power remaining to pin several soldiers together.

The Imperial Dragons despite more disciplined and tactical, were evenly matched with the Isles's Dragons brought by Dijon's two dragon carriers. Each flat top held thirty light weights and ten medium weight dragons.

The Imperials twelve heavy weights dragons and twenty medium weight escorts found themselves overwhelmed by the sudden appearance of the Isles Battle Dragons and the surprising rate of fire of the Isles dragon crew's crossbow.

Dijon grinned, knowing that the Imperials Dragons rely on their formation to bowl through the lighter dragons will not expect his Battle Dragons to be equipped with repeating crossbows!

Despite the weaker strength of the repeating crossbows, it was still capable of punching into the scales of the heavy weight dragons. With poison on the tips of the bolts, they were able to force the Imperial dragons to retreat to nurse their wounds.

Barely two turns of the glass, the Imperials retreated from the battlefield, leaving behind hundreds of dead and dying. The Isles's troops equipped repeating crossbows and with the superior steel armor of the UN, had lesser casualties.

Dijon made a mental note to himself to order another ten thousand repeating crossbows from Haven. He knew if they would be willing to sell them their thundersticks, he would have won the battle here in just a day!

"Lord Dijon!" The governor of Gateway City hustled up to him with all smiles on his tired and ragged face. "It's a great victory! Marvelous! Those weapons of yours! How marvelous!"

Dijon nodded crudely at the fawning governor, "Don't worry, Governor, with me and my men here. You won't have to worry about the Imperials taking over Gateway City!"

"Yes! Yes!" The Governor nodded eagerly. "Thank you!"

"I will station my men here to help protect the city," Dijon slyly smiled. "I hope you will provide all the appropriate lodgings and supplies for my men?"

"Ah?" The Governor sweated. "You meant to stay?"

"Of course!" Dijon's smile widened. "If not how are we to protect the city from the aggressions of the Imperials?"

"But... but..." The Governor stammered weakly.

"Well, if I pulled my troops back due to lack of supplies and properly lodging," Dijon gave a serious expression. "I can't guarantee the Imperials will not come back after we left to get supplies..."

"No! No no! You misunderstood me!" The Governor quickly reassured Dijon. "My granaries have ample supplies! I will have the barracks cleared for your men to stay!"

"Hahaha!" Dijon laughed. "Good good! Then I shall thank you for your hospitality!"

"Yes... yes..." The Governor's expression looked like he had bitten something bitter.

Dijon laughed again at the Governor's expression, knowing that with the Isles troops garrisoning Gateway City, it will effectively be under the control of the Isles!

"Hahahahahaa!"

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