by thefourpartland

The outnumbered army of Hálsiend faces it’s greatest foe yet in this except from Laeccan Waters

The army marched onwards, another series of days slipping by in a landscape unchanging. Each day they rose to a white plain, the only distinguishing feature the wide trail laid by the army, and each day they strode across gently undulating terrain, leaving that trail behind them. And each night they would sleep atop a low rise, and scouts would survey the countryside, looking for signs of the Þracian occupiers.

A week and a half had passed since the Hálsiendic army had left B?ran, and in that time they had found no sign of the enemy, no rescue force sent to recapture the city. Any marks of those few Þracians who had fled from the city had long since been obliterated by the snow, and so they marched into the unknown, wondering if a Þracian army had slipped past them, hidden on the far side of a rise and their tracks wiped away by the snow and the wind.

Shovels and shafts of sharpened wood and bone had been passed out amongst the Áðexe soldiers, and each carried them strapped to their backs, with orders to dig them into the ground should the Þracians appear. The snow was too deep to disguise such actions, but it was hoped that even a thin palisade would prove of great assistance in the event of an attack.

Preparations made as best as could be done, the army marched onwards, until two days hence, when the first of the scouts came running back towards camp, cloak of stained white cloth streaming behind him. The humans, their Æbban allies and the Láttéow gathered to hear the report, and it confirmed what they had suspected – that the Þracian army lay but a day away, and was marching in their direction. The scout reported that it did not appear to be the full strength of the Þracians, and instead that it was the force expected to liberate B?ran, and that they carried weapons and armour that glinted in the sun, almost certainly made of metal.

As the hours passed and the day drew down to night, there came more reports, as the scouts pulled back and were replaced by fresh eyes. Despite only being a portion of the enemy army, it still outnumbered Hálsiend two to one in soldiers, not counting the false numbers added by the dead, and all but a few of the troops were sheathed in metal chain. No scout had been able to ascertain whether there were stonemages with the army, but all involved presumed that at least some had been chosen to make the journey.

Given the nature of the terrain through which they marched, it was certain that the Hálsiend army had been spotted just as surely as they had seen the Þracians, and so that night they made camp upon the highest of the low rises, and set about digging in. All through the night they dug trenches and built palisades, mounding and packing the snow into barriers over which attackers would have to climb. Throughout the camp they positioned the corpses from B?ran, some sleeping, some standing guard, others sitting about, but most in positions where they could be easily seen from below.

When dawn broke, and scouts from each side saw the camps of the other, the Þracians stood shocked, for they could see that the armies were evenly matched, rather than finding the Hálsiends sorely outnumbered, as had been the first reports from the day before. More soldiers must have arrived in the night with the baggage train, and the scouts dutifully carried those reports to their officers, who heard them with incredulous faces, and then demanded to see themselves.

The Hálsiend scouts watched as the officers came from inside their positions and stared at the great numbers who defended their enemy’s encampment, and then went back inside, hissing to themselves and thinking of new plans that needed to be made.

For their part, the humans and their allies examined the Þracian camp in great detail, and found that it was strongly guarded, although without a wooden palisade. Still, the Þracians had cut deep trenches in the snow, and built walls about their camp of snow and earth, stationing soldiers with javelins atop the defences.

It would be difficult for the outnumbered Hálsiend soldiers to break through, and so they waited in their palisades, and dug them deeper into the ground, and built more tricks and traps to catch attacking foes. Night drew a blanket over the day, and still the Þracians did not attack, and so they feared that a night attack would come, and they tripled the watch, with scouts out in the land between, listening for the crunch of claws upon snow.

No assault came in the nighttime hours, and when the sun rose, the watch was switched once more for fresh soldiers, who stared across the mile of land that separated them from their enemies. That day passed in boredom, and began a period of waiting. Messengers could be seen leaving from the Þracian camp, heading towards Telgian, but they were too far away to be intercepted.

Discussions should that it was likely they carried requests for more supplies and more troops, for in the few days that passed it became apparent that the Þracian soldiers had no intention of attacking, for they knew they held the upper hand in numbers and supplies if the conflict dragged on, for they could request reinforcements, while the Hálsiendic soldiers were all they hand. And with the numbers on either side appearing so even to the Þracian command, there was no urgency for them to assault the fortifications of the Hálsiend encampment.


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