Aiko and Miranda brought their units close together for a tighter defence. They had to make the Amazons’ final push look good. If they even slightly suspected that the Torlans weren’t trying to defend their building site, it could destroy their comrades’ chances at getting their mission accomplished safely.
While they were working on defence, Maximilian’s soldiers began spreading the lethal oil.
It didn’t take long for the Amazons’ forces to rally and make their next strike.
Miranda and Aiko stayed close together, both remembering the unit leaders who had targeted them before.
Caroline’s horse trotted alongside Ida. Centaurs considered it rude for honoured guests or allies to be anywhere but the safest place possible in their formation. For Caroline, that meant being kept beside the queen and her elite guards.
She couldn’t claim to dislike it. Ida was very easy to talk to. And Caroline wasn’t just going off of her attraction to the younger woman. Ida made a point of engaging in strategic talks with her during the march.
Caroline wasn’t sure if it was out of desire for some strategic insight or courtesy. Not that she was against chatting with her for either reason.
They were interrupted by a loud horn bellowing.
Caroline knew the signal. The guards reacted before she could, taking a tight formation around her and Ida.
Ida drew her longbow. “Stay down,” she said. “Let us handle this.”
Caroline looked out towards the centaurs’ makeshift defensive line. Two, possibly three Torlan units were striking. There were thousands of soldiers moving against them.
Ida beckoned one of her guards. “Send word to the pixies and dryads,” she ordered. “Bring them here.”
It was the right call. They were marching nearby in their own columns. Wouldn’t take them longer than twenty minutes to arrive.
“Remember, don’t push too far,” George ordered. “We have to damage them, not slay them all. It’s pointless if we get ourselves killed in the process. Be prepared to pull back on my mark.”
Francis wasn’t listening. He had his own plan to grab glory. He’d managed to find a couple dozen soldiers in George’s unit who were also eager to gain accolades.
“I see the Amazonian advisor.” One said. He shook his head. “It’s no good. She’s too far back and there are too many centaurs around her.”
“Then we’ll have to force them to pull back and get her that way,” Francis said. He pat a dark-haired woman on the back. “You just need one clean shot with your arrow, right?”
She nodded. “Get me that and I’ll cut her down.”
“There you have it,” Francis said. “We do that, we get a good taste of glory. And I know just how to do it.”
Rachel and Rose watched as their soldiers went into battle. “Looks like our targets are staying close together,” Rachel noted. “You want to try to focus on one together or should we both pick a different one?”
“Maybe we should leave them be,” Rose noted. “Their formation is starting to crack. They’re going to have to retreat soon, I think.”
“Seems an excellent reason to go after the commanders,” Rachel argued.
Rose shook her head. “We beat the leaders just before they retreat, we may find ourselves in a more prolonged battle. I don’t like keeping dangerous opponents like them around either, but the more efficiently they can retreat, the better for us. Besides, I’m confident that I can beat Miranda the next time I face her.”
Miranda swung her blade, deflecting some arrows that came down towards her.
Her own troops responded, shooting their own arrows up at the trees. Several Amazons fell out. One… one she thought she recognised.
That was when the order to retreat came.
Miranda grabbed Aiko’s arm. “Get my people out of here. I have to check something.”
“But the forest is…” Aiko stopped, detecting the desperation in Miranda’s voice. “Okay, just be careful,” she said.
Aiko hurriedly rallied the troops and started pulling them back. Miranda was quickly separated from the others by the flames Maximilian unleashed against the forest.
The Amazons didn’t even think of pursuing the Torlans at that point. They started by pulling back in an orderly fashion. Then thy began the work of trying to contain the blaze.
Miranda’s armour was heating up. She managed to get to the trees that the archers had fallen from. She’d been right. Courtney was lying on the ground, forehead bloodied with an arrow in her side.
She was still breathing, thank the Gods. Miranda had to get to her and get her to safety, before the fire finished the arrow’s work.
After that, she had to somehow get away from the Amazons alive.