Miranda hurriedly rallied her troops and had them take up defensive positions. All while the Amazons were bearing down on them. Miranda drew first blood for Torla. Her zweihänder sung, bringing down one of the initial intruders along with her horse.
She followed the slash with a quick lightning spell to push back a second Amazon. The irregulars followed her lead, taking a close formation around their leader and doing everything in their power to push back.
Aiko briefly looked at her blade before unsheathing it. The Phoebian blade had a lot of memories for her, but she couldn’t dwell on them too much at the moment.
Her left hand hurled a pair of kunai while her right kept a firm grip on her blade.
Petunia and Rachel waited until Miranda was preoccupied with a trio of warriors before moving in.
Petunia leapt from her horse and aimed her sabre at the back of Miranda’s skull. Courtney almost cried out from her vantage point, but managed to stop herself.
Fortunately, Miranda noticed the strike coming. She propelled herself into the air with a quick burst of lightning magic, shot above Petunia and kicked the Amazon into the dirt.
Rachel moved to help Petunia up and the pair fought their way out of the Torlan camp.
In the treetops, Artura signalled her hawks to cover the vipers and tigers as they retreated.
The panthers and wolves, under the command of Rose and Lynn, moved to provide a back line of defence.
“Do we chase them down, Boss?” Aiko asked.
“No,” Miranda answered. “They’ll have some kind of ambush or trap waiting. We regroup and repair our defences. I want Geoff’s soldiers alongside us the next time they show up. I’ll send word to Maximilian. We need support as quickly as possible.”
Courtney glanced back as the hawks withdrew. Miranda wasn’t following.
A part of her had hoped that Miranda would send a small company after them but she knew, rationally, that Miranda wouldn’t do that without leading that company herself. As such, she was glad to see her exercise caution. Maybe they could both survive the war and meet again as friends. She would have to err on the side of caution as well.
Caroline met with the three woodland species. She knew Lithe Rose, the pixie leader. She was a wrinkled old woman who could barely fly on her own. But she was well renowned for maintaining a keen mind. The pixies would keep following her until she either snapped or gave in to old age.
She also knew the dryad leader. He was considerably younger looking than Lithe. But dryads also lived longer than pixies, centaurs or Amazons. And Oaken Wyrd was definitely the oldest one there. His barken skin was starting to show signs of cracking and his leaf hair was just beginning to thin. He was just starting to show the signs of advanced years and he’d still probably outlive all of them.
The centaur leader, she was a stranger. Her hair was blonde but with some green streaks throughout. She carried a longbow and her very human looking bosom was barely covered by strips of cloth. If Caroline had been considerably younger, and not there on business…
She quickly pulled herself out of that line of thought. “I’m Caroline Silvbrush, right hand of Cassandra Klais, Queen of the Amazons. Lady Rose, Lord Wyrd, it is a pleasure to see you both again.” She turned towards the centaur. “My apologies. I’m accustomed to dealings with Lord Swifthoof. Would you be so kind as to introduce yourself?”
“I am Ida Swifthoof,” she stated. “My grandfather has told me about you. He said that I must not under-estimate your guile.”
“Well met, Lady Swifthoof,” Caroline said. “I have called you all here because the humans of Torla have begun incursions into the forest. If they are not stopped, they will continue tearing down the trees and ravaging our homes until there is nowhere left.”
“With respect, Miss Silvbrush,” Ida stated. “We have seen no evidence that they intend to ravage the entirety of the forest. Their king actually sent me a letter assuring us that they would not enter our territory. Your scenario seems a little alarmist.”
“They had an agreement with us as well,” Caroline said. “We had their assurance that they would not touch the very forest they’re in the process of destroying. And yet here we are.”
“Centaur,” Lithe’s voice was barely audible. “You’re still young. A weakness of the young is that you don’t think past the now. It may be true that the intention of Torla now is to tear down a small segment. But what then when they have what they want and have stripped that land of all it has? A few more kilometres? A few dozen more?”
“What Lady Rose is getting at,” Oaken said “Is that humans are very rarely satisfied. They will, eventually, come for more. The question becomes, do we make this the point where we make a stand or do we wait until they’re closer to our doorstep? Truthfully, I do not know if the dryads are prepared at this juncture.”
Caroline watched the exchange. Lady Rose seemed ready to throw in with the Amazons already. Lord Wyrd was going to take some convincing to actually make a commitment to action. Lady Swifthoof seemed more uncertain about there even being a threat. She would definitely have her work cut out for her.