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Norshelm

It had been a hectic week for Titanna and her reminding council members who still supported her. She had to organize the remaining people and the sudden influx of refugees who came pouring out of the woods, to managing food supplies and scavenge teams.

Thankfully with the coming of autumn, there were plenty of wild fruits and tubers to be foraged for food but also the dangers of goblins and wild creatures. But with the onset of autumn, the colder weather will require her people to have warm clothes and firewood to keep warm in the night.

And there was the other faction, led by the Lord Taron and Delfin, who advocated against her decision to abandon Norshelm entirely. In the end, the people were split into two sides, with one side wanting to stay to rebuild while the other wanting to leave to find other pastures.

Luckily for Titanna, Captain James of the UN had stepped in and 'proposed' to be the neutral party to prevent a fight for resources from both sides. He had leaders from both sides agree to cooperate and share their scant resources here, while the UN prepared to pull its forces back to Orwell's Point.

On the plus side, both her scheming brothers had disappeared when the crazies attacked the Estate, most likely dead or converted by the mad cult. She didn't bothered to spare any effort or energy to find out what really had happened to them.

Titanna put down the accounting scrolls and left her warm stuffy tent that was heated by a small brazier. Instantly, the cold air hit her when she left the tent and let the cold air refresh herself.

Hundreds of tents of all shapes and colors stretched out in a haphazard way as the refugees of Norshelm gathered together for protection. She could see Imperial soldiers patrolling around the tents to prevent fights and theft while families gathered together around a campfire or brazier to share warmth and food.

"Hey," A voice called out behind her and she smiled as she recognized the voice. "Whatcha doing out in the cold?"

"Clearing my mind," Titanna replied without turning around. "Too many things in my head."

"Sure," Mills sat down on the ground next to her. "Are you feeling okay?"

Titanna nodded before she sat down next to him, "Yes, just feeling tired that's all..."

"Well, another few more days and we be leaving this place!" Mills said in a light tone.

"Yes..." Titanna replied softly, "Just a few more days."

"Cheer up!" Mills encouraged Titanna. "When we get back, I bring you to see the rest of my gang!"

-----

Haven, Sawtooth Mountain Airbase

The twin propeller engines of the FB - 1 slowly spun down and the side belly hatch popped out. Four Marines in dress uniforms and white gloves climbed into the hatch and reappeared shortly with a casket. One by one, wooden caskets were carefully carried off from the aircraft and into the hangar, it had taxied next to.

Each casket was then covered in the UN flag of white blue and red with gold trimmings where they sat coldly in the hangar waiting for any family members to be identified before they were to be processed to the military cemetery. Captain Blake stood with Commander Ford, Colonel Frank, and Intelligence Officer Lt Tavor watching the detail move the coffins off the aircraft in silent.

"Seventeen dead, fifty six wounded in various conditions." Colonel Frank stated as the Marine detail gave a salute to the officers before the Marine detail marched off.

"We lost thirteen elves, one goblin, two orcs and one of us," Frank continued as he stared at the caskets. "The most crippling damage the 1st Battalion took was the unexpected explosion that outright killed off ten of our Marines and wounded over thirty men."

"What is the investigation regarding the cause of the explosion?" Commander Ford asked.

"Magister Thorn and Occult Intelligence both had come to the same conclusion," Lt Tavor replied. "Residue reading of the site had our Mu Senors going off the charts and even the mages' use of magic detection spells had the same readings."

"The magic residue left behind is clearly of divine nature," Lt Tavor said. "We are not looking at just a mild concentration like the aftermath of a spell, rather at a reading of over 18, 000 mSv per hour."

"18k?" Blake turned his attention to Lt Tavor in shock. "That high?"

"Yes Sir," Lt Tavor nodded. "It is higher than the records of the Chernobyl incident."

"But as it is magic or Mu radiation as Dr. Sharon named it," Lt Tavor added. "There is no risk of acute radiation sickness."

"But we do not know if it will cause any side effects to the Marines exposed to this amount of Mu radiation," Lt Tavor said. "Dr. Sharon has the exposed Marines placed under quartine and observation for any signs of side effects."

"Why did Magister Thorn suspect it was caused by the death of a God?" Colonel Frank asked.

"His words were, the crater left behind by the explosion was similar to the drawings and depictions of the death of a Divine being from his only copy of Chronicles from the Age of Gods," replied Lt Tavor. "And I too have seen and read the Chronicles he mentioned and it does seem similar."

"So we destroyed a Goddess?" Blake asked. "Hedone?"

"If our investigate are true," Lt Tavor nodded. "Yes, we had killed Hedone, the daughter of the Greek gods Eros also known as Cupid and Psyche. She is a daemones or spirit and was the personification and goddess of pleasure, enjoyment, and delight."

"Hence with her powers, it was easy for her to control the will of the people," Lt Tavor summarized from his notes. "The citizens in Norshelm turning crazy were caused by her handiwork, stripping them of their inhibitory controls."

"Inhibitory controls also known as response inhibition is a cognitive process and more specifically, an executive function, that permits an individual to inhibit their impulses and natural, habitual, or dominant behavioral responses to stimuli in order to select a more appropriate behavior that is consistent with completing their goals," Lt Tavor explained. "In short, she rewrites a person's self control leading them to act on their base instincts, needs, and desires."

"An example would be how the Princess affects the Capt-," Lt Tavor was saying halfway when Captain Blake coughed loudly and cleared his throat to interrupt.

"I think we understand that point, Lieutenant!" Blake gave a warning look at Lt Tavor who shut his mouth while the rest of the officers snickered.

"An important question." Blake continued as if nothing was wrong. "Does this mean that each God blows up like a micro fusion reactor going critical each time if we defeat them?"

-----

Goblin Straits

The loud snap and flutter of sails were like a melody to Fleet Master Dijon's ears as his flagship, the Talon rose up and down with the waves. He was so bored of his time on land and was looking forward to making this trip down to Haven again and for the invitation to the wedding of his once love interest.

He turned behind and saw the dark sleek hull of the triple decker, Heart of Courage, the flagship of the First Fleet Master, Kose Torke, following behind. And further back, several more escorts and merchant ships bearing gifts for the wedding followed docilely like chicks.

The First Fleet Master was very interested in the UN and its 'machine' magic. He personally wanted to see it with his own eyes at the marvel that was described by the other Fleet Masters and also to personally determine the merits of a long term alliance.

Hence when the invitation was given out for the wedding, the First Fleet Master jumped at the chance and had Dijon lead the way while the rest remained behind to settle the Isles affairs, especially the new cities they had annexed away from the old Two Nation Alliance that had lost the war with the Empire.

Owing to the fact that the coastal cities could be reinforced from the Isles and the defeated population of the Two Nation Alliance preferred the Isles over the Empire. Many towns and coastal cities swore allegiance to the Isles, increasing their influence on the mainland.

While skirmishes broke out among the Isles' soldiers and Imperial Army, there wasn't much major push by the Empire, probably due to the fact that the Rock was missing. This allowed the Isles and the remnants of the Two Nations to consolidate their forces and create a defensive border.

With their navy providing heavy artillery support, the Imperial Army couldn't threaten the coastal cities at all. And with the flood of refugees providing manpower to the land and people scarce Isles, it was like a blessing from the gods.

Dijon turned his focus back to the clear seas, noting the lack of goblin pirate sights and smiled, knowing that the UN had been busy eradicating the green scourge off the seas. It gave him a sense of security, knowing that once these seas were safe, trade could flourish and make him richer!

Another two more weeks of sailing and the fleet will arrive at Far Harbor. Dijon grinned. Oh, he missed the 'bur girls', pizzas, and root beer! He was so looking forward to seeing the stern face of the First Fleet Master changing once he experienced all these new and wonderful things!

-----

Outskirts of the Town of Falledge

A rustle of leaves startled the group of children foraging for wild autumn greens and mushrooms. The eldest of the children, armed with a sharpened wooden spear quickly imposed himself between the rest of the children and the source of the disturbance.

The children used to the dangers of the forest quickly backed away, using a well worn forest trail that led towards several farms in the distance. Not long after the children disappeared, the undergrowth parted and several figures in blue green digital camo uniforms appeared.

"Goddamn it, Recruit Clumsy!" A fuming human smacked hard at a helmeted soldier crouching with his weapon aiming out of the security cordon. "My grandma can walk softer than you in a goddamn dragon's cave!"

"Sir, Yes, Sir!" The apologetic recruit replied, resisting the urge to snap to attention. If he did that while supposedly providing security, he won't just get chewed out.

Freshly minted 2nd Lieutenant Collins shook his head at the antics of the green troops under his command. This batch was supposed to perform a low level insertion and ground reconnaissance mission to Falledge without alerting any of the locals but it seemed like it was a bust this time.

"Mission failed!" Collins growled. "Pull back to camp and erase all traces of your passing here!"

"Sir, Yes, Sir!" The platoon echoed and they quickly make sure the disturbed ground was properly messed up to remove any traces of their boot prints before they fell back in order.

Collins and a couple of the Drill Sergeants reminded behind, double checking the recruits' work before they followed the platoon. Only Collins remained standing at the edge of the forest as he scanned the flat farm fields and tiny walls of the town before he followed the rest.

After trekking for an hour, they reached an open clearing with neat rows of tents and sentries on perimeter duty. Collins had the Drill Sergeants take over as he headed towards the Command tent.

"Sir!" The recruits acting as command staff quickly greeted him as he entered and he nodded.

"Are the men ready?" He asked the command staff.

Acting Company Commander Recruit Gavin of Blackvale, once a Knight Captain turned slave stood at attention and replied sharply, "Sir, Yes! Sir!"

"Good," Collins nodded. "First Company and Second Company will push forward as planned once we received word from Third and Fourth Company."

"This will be you and your men's first actual live firing combat mission! Once the Companies are in position, we will move in and take over Falledge!"

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Damn... peeing blood =/


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