I stared at my man shiver in pain as his mind became blank from the burden. I now wear fine iron armor with a proper steel sword at my side. After so long, I feel like a proper knight again. Still, I moved the fur on his head to the side so I can see him close his eyes and bite down in pain.
“What are we going to do now?” (Empress)
I closed my eyes to consider it. We found funds and resources that we didn’t have before in the governor’s office. I then recalled the four things that my man told me we needed; people, supplies, information, and time. Right now, we have four dragon1dragonspeciesnewts, as well as over one hundred various well armed beastkin. Amongst us, there is over six times that number of non combatants, but they were either too young or too old, or ill and injured, or just untrained. At least we managed to get a local map and figure out where we are. I do know that we need to make an exodus or we’ll be slaughtered. To where though? I considered trying to reach the beastkins to the south, but it’s rather uncertain that they’ll welcome us. To the west was the ocean, and to the east was the heart of the human kingdoms.
We have supplies for a few months at best, so I doubt we’ll be able to make it to winter. This development is too sudden. Our plan was to free the dragonnewts and flee with whoever we could and hide until we get to the north. We also wanted to free everyone we came across along the way. I paused to think for a moment about heading to the north. I wonder if one of the remaining pure breeds will take us in? We had only started hearing about humans in the north shortly after I was born. I personally knew about six other houses that have fallen and had some of their people turned into slaves. Still, with a group this size, it’ll be hard. I then looked at the map again, knowing that I must make a hasty decision. As I opened my mouth to speak, I heard a yell from behind me as my man was leaning erect in bed. His eyes were wide open with blood coming out of them. He then reached his hand out to me, and I quickly took it while I felt him trying to rise out of bed.
He nodded as he turned toward the map and looked at me with his blood red eyes.
‘You’re worried about our next move? I’ve been hearing you in my torment. I can’t endure it if you aren’t happy my lady.’ (Emperor)
He picked up a stone, then set it down on the map where they currently are. He then picked up another.
‘The advance party will scout and secure our travelling routes.’ (Emperor)
He then picked up another stone, but it was colored this time.
‘This is the raid party. We will be the ones that rescue others. It’ll also be the bulk of our forces.’ (Emperor)
He then picked up a forth stone.
‘The refugees, and those unable to fight. We’ll need them in the future. They’ll be our workforce in building our new home.’ (Emperor)
He moved his hand over the first stone that he picked up, then tapped it a few times. After that, he went back to the bed and balled himself up. He was in more pain now, and he felt like the cause was that very first stone. It took me a moment to realize what that stone represented. It was the stalling force of our pursuers, the sacrificial piece. Either my mind slipped, or another dragonnewt realized what he meant as he stepped forward.
“I’ll stay with a few volunteers and stall them.” (Empress)
I closed my eyes, better understanding his pain a little more. This time, you’ll not bare that load alone.
What’s known as the slave’s rebellion war started with this plan to avoid subjugation. The four dragonnewt commanders birth names later became the four official branches of the empires military force. The first division, code named death march, was the backbone of the empire’s early military power. Coming in third, and average in size, it only numbered a small margin more than the empress’s personal guard of the fourth division, who never exceeded more than a thousand people. However, each individual was forged in combat, and they were trained in it since they were born until they died. They were the elite of the elite of the empire. One famous quote from a cornered first division commander in the demon wars was this,
“They only outnumber us fifty to one. Half of you, take a break.” (Commander)
While this quote may have been misinterpreted, it’s no lie that the first division destroyed the invading demon army in its entirety. When the second division’s relief forces arrived at the battlefield, they were surprised to see just a few casualties on their side. Another analogy made from a soldier who survived a confrontation with the first division told his superiors this before being executed for desertion,
“When against those maniacs…. If you have a choice between fighting them or jumping off a cliff, jump off the cliff. That way, you may actually be able to kill one of them when they jump off to chase you.” (Deserter)