Chapter 27 - The Battle Of Affinities Part 1
We, together with the tacticians and strategists, devised a grand plan with which we hoped we would be able to win against the driders. Our whole strategy is dependent on one single factor, that if not successful would be a sure defeat for us.
The information we were able to glean off the driders position was sadly very limited. Their higher ability in stealth and subterfuge, together with their natural darkness affinity was a sure point against our spies and assassins.
Because of this, we didn’t really concentrate on getting a lot of attention, which allowed us to guide more resources into other matters. With this in consideration, we came up with an adaptable plan that would work if only a few things went our way.
So, as both sides stood before each other, the death street dividing the two forces as it had always done. On one side the aranea. On the other the driders. Both spider races were the apex kingdoms of the surrounding region.
As the battle begun and the driders started to cross the border of death between us, we initiated the first step of our plan. From the web-filled jungle of skyscraping trees, crystalline and organic, our aces moved forth. A large force of our most powerful warriors, ranging from Tier 5 to 7.
The faster and more nimble ones at the front, supported by towering colossal spiders or skymboo spiders. Left and right from them our numerous footsoldiers, ranging from Tier 0 to Tier 4, supported their flanks and made sure nothing was going to get behind us.
These footsoldiers built the foundation of the army under Arthur’s control. They were also a critical point that showed a clear difference in both of the spiders’ cultures. While the driders had a large number of low Tier soldiers and their peak soldiers were more powerful than ours, they lacked troops of the middle Tiers. The aranea on the other side sported a balanced-out army composition, though we were severely lacking in the aces department.
This was also why the driders were quite surprised by our troop composition. They expected us to hold onto our most powerful, Tier 7, soldiers and were surprised when they were the first to engage them.
The driders expecting us to seek to break their line quickly delegated some of their own aces and supporting body shields to halt our plan. This resulted in our battleline looked like a triangle with the most powerful at the top, while theirs looked like a two-winged bird from behind. A collection of troops at the front with one pair of wings going back to their forest and the other pair trying to link up to the front.
After some time and a minute that felt like half an eternity, both forces clashed together with sounds of battle even reaching the far away volcanos. The driders largest spiders thundered into our fast and nimble troops their fragile bodies were turned asunder. Quickly we were losing ground and countless of our troops died in the initial clash.
Our aces and their Tier 5 supporters were not in a good position, especially considering that the engagement had just started. With our frontliners on their backfoot, the generals called for an ordered retreat, back into the forest.
The fast frontlines were quick to flee and the driders thundering beasts had to again build up some speed to start the pursuit. Once they were fast enough to keep up with our frontliners they had already fled into the forest. The driders hoped that they would at least be able to get a hold of some of our lumbering giants, but because they were positioned at the backline they were able to get into the safety of the forest.
Still high on their heroic clash the enemy generals ordered to continue the retreat into the forest. There the giant trees and webbed passages slowed down the enemy. While more and more of the driders shuffled into the forest our footsoldiers on the left and right were already in the forest. They were currently elongating their battleline and some of them were mounting various creatures or taking on more mobile forms.
One-third of the driders forces were now inside the webbed forest and the rest were fast approaching. The key factor of our plan was getting closer and closer to total success, but of course, something had to go wrong.
We already knew that some of the most powerful driders had made their way into the forest. Contrary to our own culture, in which the generals and tacticians remained at the back, the driders leaders rode into battle alongside the normal soldiers.
What was a surprise to us though was that the driders leader too was a part of this frontmost group. Their queen was now nearly through the whole webbed forest and was threatening to break through the battle line bordering this part of the forest.
Normally we would have just sent a large group of Tier 6 to 7 to hold her back, but our feeling of uneasiness finally found its source. The queen we expected to be Tier 8, same as Arthur, turned out to be at the peak of Tier 9. Much more powerful than we were taking into calculation when designing the plan. Thusly our masterfully developed trap had to be strung prematurely and Arthur and I had to hold the queen back ourselves.
The trappers didn’t let us wait for long. Starting with a shrill screech an ominous creak made its way through the web-filled forest. Getting louder and louder the shrill shrieks and hoots of the driders died down when an earth-shaking rumble silenced the area.
For some time after the crash, everything was still, as if the world was taking its time to catch up to what just happened. After long seconds of silence, the shout of our generals broke the calm before the storm and shouted for the assault.
Most of our soldiers didn’t even know of our plan, the risk of the driders getting wind of it too high. This resulted in the soldiers taking their time to process the general’s orders, but after some seconds of confusion, they remembered their harsh drills and followed the orders.
The confused, trapped, wounded, and crushed driders weren’t able to build a solid battleline, resulting in the mess of war. In an ocean of bodies the timber complained about their misfortune, generals tried to bring order into the mess, bloodied bodies threw themselves against each other and fathers welcomed their children’s souls in heaven. The dark brutality and horror of war were clearly visible to anyone in the vicinity.
Meanwhile, the driders’ queen had made her way out of the trap, with no significant injuries. As the escort behind her tried to catch up to her she ordered them back, to help in the river of blood, that was called the battlefield.
Her face was contorted into a deep frown and a sole tear, of a mother in grief, was making its way down her cheek. If looks could kill she would have won the battle the second she opened her eyes, luckily she wasn’t one of the fabled Medusas.
Far behind her the foot soldiers that hid in the forest surrounding the trap elongated their line, trying to encircle the trapped enemy. As the rope of warriors began to encircle the enemy they too posed an obstacle in the queen’s path.
While she stood still for a second I could feel the mana inside her taking on an unknown affinity and form. The energy felt much more violent, chaotic, and difficult to control. Once the queen finished the spell she conjured the surrounding undergrowth and timber was torn asunder. The wave of impure and sinister mana corrupted the plant life, set ablaze the earth, and stole the souls from the living.
With just one spell the queen was able to destroy a whole passage of our battleline, making our plan strain against failure. Nonetheless, our experienced generals were quick to adapt to the change and took on another formation.
Once the queen stood across from us, our eyes meeting and literally heating the air, our troops were again in position. The enemy was still in the sprung trap, though most were now free of the webs and thicket. Behind them, closer to the driders home, our troops were split up into two and ready to charge into the ordered mess.
For a second the battlefield was still and nothing moved. Everyone was waiting for the other one to make the first move. One of our more nervous generals wasn’t able to take the silence any longer and called for the charge to begin. The queen, after a look behind, quickly ordered her troops out of the disarmed trap and back into the driders kingdom.
What she didn’t know though was that that was the plan all along. After seeing the motherly feeling the queen had for her children we used this weakness. Now, as the main force of the driders made a tactical retreat our forces filled the spaces they vacated. The queen quickly realized her mistake but her forces were already charging back, not being able to turn back anymore.
The queen was now alone in the center of enemy territory. The way back was blocked by our footsoldiers and heavy forces, while we were waiting for the unavoidable battle. Seeing no way out the driders leader, Arthur, I, and our escort finally met in battle.
The generals took care of the rest of the strategic matters and we solely concentrated on the enemy before us. With Arthur at the front, charging into battle in a humanoid-spider hybrid form, we had a solid cavalry. Behind him were the five escorts delegated to help us in the fight. Ranging from Tier 7 peak to Tier 8 weak they would surely support us in the battle. I was in the air providing reconnaissance and aerial support in my pure nargacuga form.
The plan was to start the fight with a bang, using mine as the key point. Using a maneuver we drew up specifically to deal with more powerful enemies we wanted to stun the queen. While in the air I changed my form into that of an elemental human and charged up to one of the three spells I knew. Using the mana the escort supported me with I conjured the four seasons spell.
Once the spell took form in the air and the mana-density in the area grew poisonous for lower mortal realm individuals the queen stopped her charge, calling forth a protective shield of mana. The finished spell, using all the knowledge I gained from the draugr, the dwarves, the humans, and even “The First”, was so complex that I saw black after I let it free.
Tumbling through the air blind I only saw the last snippets of the magics effect. The area surrounding the queen was gone. The trees that stood there before were incinerated and the molten earth gathered in the crater. The queen herself stood there with wide eyes, the skin of her human part was boiled off and her shield had been shattered.
I was sure we would be able to overwhelm her if we followed up with another hard push. Though this was when I saw my allies. Arthur himself had burn marks all over his skin and his shield was rammed into the forest floor before him. The escort was slumped to the ground, their mana low and their minds burned out.
Apparently, the queen had somehow reflected parts of my spell into the group’s direction, and only through Arthurs, last-minute safe was the escort able to live another day. Meters before I crashed into the forest floor I was able to halt my descent and touch down.
Our fight’s first move ended in a stalemate, with us coming out just a bit on top. The battle a large was looking quite complex, with generals shouting orders left and right. The overall picture was quite difficult to notice though through my higher position I was able to gaze at the underlying strategy.
The enemy had assembled in a rough formation beyond the street of death. Our own forces were currently in quite a complex position. A four-winged bird, with its back to the driders, was currently flapping its wings downwards.
During the time it took for our stalemate to come to an end our forces separated into 5 units. The larges stood between the queen and the driders and were currently charging into them in a V formation. This led them to split up into two and attack our two flanking units that wanted to surround the driders.
The remaining two units were assembling back in our territory and were set to charge into the queen together with us. Though they would split off from us and continue on into the unit forming the V formation.
Our escort was coming out of their tired state and Arthur was preparing for the coming charge. The two units behind them already began the assault and the queens were ready and waiting.
With another shout, the second phase of the battle started!!!!