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Falledge, Town Hall

The atmosphere in the hall was tense as the city leaders and military commanders stared at the map table covered with green and blue tokens. The Falledge Governor, once a successful merchant, Etoro Arther stared hard at the map before he asked, "The attack yesterday, was it a probe to our defenses?"

"Yes," 2nd Lieutenant Collins, military attache to the Falledge Governor replied. He was the only human in the room of elves. "They definitely are testing our defenses."

"I thought our plans were to pin them between two forces?" Etoro asked. "Why are we facing the Imperial Army alone?"

Collins cast a glance at the local SDF commander who chose to remain quiet. The SDF officer returned Collins's glance and gave a tiny shrug of his shoulders. Collins gave a sigh and said, "The Imperial Army we are facing has split into two forces."

He tapped his finger at the map where their position was and traced his finger down to the western side of the city. "Here is where our Marines are holding."

"We received word that they are engaging the First Imperial Army somewhere here," Collins moved his finger upwards and tapped at the nearby red token. "It appears the First Army did not fully take our bait and split into two forces."

"So our plan failed?" Etoro frowned. "Should we start evacuating the people?"

"No, it is not truly a failure," Collins said. "The original plan was for them to attack us anyway."

"We just have to change to plan B," Collins gave a smile.

"What is plan B?" Etoro scratched his head as he did not remember any word of plan B during the strategic meeting with the higher ups.

"Plan B is... just change our current plans but keep the goal the same!"

-----

First Imperial Army, Order of the Shadows Campsite

The Knight with a smile was seated on a fallen log and tore off a piece of dried meat with his perfect white teeth. He sighed and tossed the remains at his beast slave kneeling on the side. "Thos, don't we have better food?"

"We were ordered not to have any cook fires to avoid the enemy discovering our camp," Replied the Knight wearing a full faced helm. "Our role is to disrupt the enemy and prevent them from sallying out to reinforce the enemy in the forest were our main force going to destroy."

"Tch," The Smiling Knight clicked his tongue. "These rebel scums are wasting our time! We can easily go over those pathetic walls and kill all those traitorous scum and dine in fine wine, proper meat, and women!"

"There is no rush," The covered faced Knight called Thos replied. "We just need to keep the defenders busy and intercept any force leaving the city."

"This isn't fun," The Smiling Knight pouted. "Still their thunder sticks are interesting. We should grab some of them to play with!"

Thos the Knight nodded, his featureless helm bobbing as he agreed to what the other said. "Yes, we should capture some to study!"

"Than its settled!" The Smiling Knight hopped up to his feet, his expression of that of an excited child. He rubbed his happily in anticipation and said. "Let's do it now!"

An aide of the Order of Shadows shook his head helplessly at their childish commander. "Captain, it is wiser if we should wait till it is dark to make our move."

"No no no," The Smiling Knight tilted his head back and said. "We must strike while the iron is hot! Besides they are just some peasants playing as soldiers. It will be as easy as stealing a toy from a child!"

He clapped his hands happily together and cut off his aide's protest. "Order the men to assemble! We shall attack immediately!"

The aide swallowed his words back and thumped his chest in salute, "Your command!"

The Smiling Knight kicked his beast slave who was gnawing over the remains of the dried meat. "Come! Prepare my armor and weapons!"

-----

Northern Front, First Battalion, 'A' Company, Fallback Line

Slow watched the Imperial infantry marching towards him in a scattered formation. Shrieks of mortar fire screamed overhead and landed among the Imperials with a heavy chest thumping thump. Bodies fell like puppets with their strings snipped off yet the Imperials did not waiver.

As far as Slow could see, the land was covered with blue and silver. Even the skies were dotted with dragons belonging to the Imperials while a low buzz of their own aircraft circling around their lines prepared for the upcoming aerial dog fight.

Like a tide, the Imperials troops marched onwards, enduring the punishing mortar fire with protection spells and guts. A whistle blew and Slow fired his MG, watching his tracers slam into a group of Blue Boys. He worked his barrel left and right, sweeping machine gun fire across the featureless grassland.

Bullets shattered and deformed against magic barriers and the barriers flickered brightly against the barrage. Sometimes, a barrier went down and the troops taking cover in it dropped like flies as bullets scythed through them.

"INCOMING! TAKE COVER!" Someone screamed and Slow glanced up, and he cursed when he saw dozens of meteors trailing smoke and flames, dropping down from the skies right at his position.

Slow quickly picked up his machine gun and ducked into the tight confines of the protective dug out of the defensive fighting position dug by when they had fallen back to this location. Slow hugged his machine gun tightly and pushed his body against the earthen wall just as the meteor spells landed.

Instantly the whole earth shook wildly. Slow felt like the Earthern Gods were trying to kick him out of his protective dug out and into the fury of the raging meteor shower. Slow squeezed his bulky Orcish body tighter and for the first time in his life, he envied the soft skins for their smaller build. He understood that with firearms, it was best to make themselves as small as possible to avoid getting shot.

Finally, the shaking and roaring of the earth stopped. Someone yelled something unintelligible and Slow slowly crawled his way out of the dug out and raised his head over the sandbagged sangar. He could feel waves of heat rolling over him and the terrain around him was scorched and burning.

Small craters pockmarked the Marines defensive works and one by one those that survived the meteor spell popped out from their shelters and continued firing at the Imperials who took the opportunity to advance closer to their lines.

"SLOW!" Someone yelled next to his ear. "Get that MG up! GET IT UP!"

Slow turned and saw his platoon Sergeant yelling from behind him. His Sergeant crouched low and pointed his finger forward and yelled, "They are coming! Shoot them!"

His training took over and Slow set up his machine gun again, peering past the shimmering hot air around him and saw the Imperials were almost right on top of their barbwires that had been destroyed by spellfire.

He let his machine gun rock, spewing lead at a rate of 500 rounds per minute. Slow easily ran through the two hundred round boxed magazine in under a minute at the target rich environment. He reached behind his back ammo pouch to retrieve a fresh box of ammo and reloaded.

"Rowan! I need more ammo!" He yelled to his assistant gunner as he continued his fire at the Imperials. "Rowan?"

Slow turned to his side where his assistant gunner was supposed to be before he realized that the small fighting position they had dug had actually taken a hit from a meteor. The side where his assistant gunner had taken cover had caved in and Slow could see a charred hand sticking out from collapsed earth. "Curses!"

"YOU KILL SLOW'S BUDDY!" Slow screamed out his anger at the Imperials and fired his machine gun like a mad man. "SLOW SEND YOU BLUES TO COMPANY BUDDY IN HELL! WAAAARGHHH!"

-----

UN, Falledge, City Walls

The sun was setting slowly over the horizon, casting long shadows and a purple glow across the defenses. The once green and nervous SDF troops after experiencing their first battle against the Imperial Knights were more confident and steady as the lookouts sounded the alert for an enemy attack.

The city's mortar batteries fired their tubes, sending mortar shells downrange and among the charging Knights that appeared from the forested areas beyond the city walls. Black smoke erupted around the cavalry charge and under the dying light of the sun, the magic barriers of the Imperial Knights flashed brightly.

Most of the Imperial Knights appeared to be able to predict the trajectory of the mortar shells as they came dropping out of the skies and avoid it. The number of broken bodies and mounts was small and as the Imperials hit reached the effective range of the rifles, the order to open fire was screamed.

All along the walls where the Imperial Knights were attacking, puffs of dirty gun smoke erupted and more magic shields flashed and failed. Yet the Imperial Knights urged their mounts faster, wanting to close the gap to the walls as fast as possible. But the closer they came, the rifle fire grew more and more accurate and dozens of Knights were knocked off their mounts.

Some Knights survived the shooting and they climbed to their feet and continued charging while those badly wounded tried to limp their way back to their lines. As the Knights reached spell range, they threw fireball spells, bolts of lightning and magic missiles at the defenders making the enchanted defenses of the city light up like a light show.

-----

The Smiling Knight's smile grew wider as the walls of the city loomed up before him. His magic barrier flickered brightly as a thunder spell left sparks against his barrier and he ignored it. He could smell the sour piss smoke coming from the city walls as the defenders cast their demon spells at him and his Order.

"GO! KILL THEM!" The Smiling Knight laughed. "I WANT THOSE THUNDER SPELLS!"

With a roar, the Order of Shadows spurred their mounts harder. Some started chanting a spell which made the ground right beneath the city walls to glow as magic circles started manifesting. The other Knights quickly threw up more protection spells as the defenders focused their thunder spells right at them who were the closest to the wall.

The Knights suddenly leaped off their mounts when they crossed the deadly hail of thunder spells and landed right on top of the magic circles. The magic circles glowed brightly and the Knights on the circles were suddenly tossed into the air.

The spells launched a dozen Knights into the air and they flew right on to the tops of the wall. They threw another spell to soften their landing and the surprised defenders on the other side of the wall stared in horror at the Imperials.

The Knights laughed at the fearful looks in the eyes of their enemies and tore right into the defenders and the killing begun. Some of the stronger willed defenders pointed their demonic thunder sticks and cast their thunder spells at the Knights.

But the panic among the defenders gave the Imperial Knights the chance and rush in among the defenders and like a wind wolf in a flock of muffalos, they wreaked carnage. Those that rallied were not willing to cast their thunder spells among their own.

The Smiling Knight stood on top of one of the flat topped structures that the defenders of the city hid in and cowardly casting their thunder spells from. He could hear the screams coming from the structure below him as his men broke into the building and slaughter those inside, making him giggle happily.

He hummed a tune and waved his hands around in the air like a music conductor directing an orchestrate, an orchestra of death.

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