Destruction.Ch34 Interlude

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With the order sent, the Cataphracts on the ice path lean down on their mounts and lower their long spears. The first squad of ten knows they are almost certain to die yet none hesitates to command their horses to launch forth.

Ka’osla anchors her point-defense construct in the shape of a turtle shell and cuts the supply of energy to both it and her blood-sacrifice construct, allowing them to slowly be depleted of power until they fade.

She focuses on her heatsink construct which she sends towards the center of the five companies of phalangites arrayed before her. They try to intercept it with their sarissas using defensive constructs but it has no impact on the runic rings.

Instead, the wood of the handles creak and, after a few moments spent within the construct, these weapons shatter from merely being moved. After a dozen sarissas are shattered in this way, the phalangites determine to raise them out of the way.

The Hersir frowns but doesn’t pursue them in a game of cat and mouse because it costs her blaze to move the heatsink construct and disrupting their formation is enough of a gain.

She looks upon this human army with a touch of disdain for the fact that none has stepped up to challenge her, even slightly regretting splitting her Horde to pressure other bridges to Telnur so that they wouldn’t know where she would strike.

The Smothering Embrace’s Ju’sla is no doubt facing much more opposition in the east of Telnur than she is here. Ka’osla raises her heatsink construct as ten of her Cataphracts finally blaze past her to charge the phalangites.

Three of them slip right under the runic rings and are faced with a single row of sarissas as those on the first two front-line ranks have either lost or raised theirs but are now in the process of lowering them.

The spearheads crash into the horses’ scale armors, causing the golden energy of the armor-piercing constructs to clash against the red energy of the reinforcing constructs.

The phalangites’ constructs obtain victory but at such a thin margin that their weapons merely slice gashes in these armors, resulting in a rain of yellow sparks as the sarissas are deflected. Yet, a second row of sarissas falls into place and the three Lisilese find themselves staring at death in the eyes.

They’ve burned much of their energy protecting their mounts so that those following them would be able to break through, meaning each of their armors is now incapable of blocking three spearheads each.

As the other seven Cataphracts of their squad die miserably with their horses, impaled by too many sarissas to count, these three immediately leap off their mounts which gallop right into the phalangites and wreak havoc into their ranks.

{Hrks!}

{Rhss!}

{Kss!}

The three Lisilese hiss aggressively as they land with their heavy sabers in hand. They plant their talons into the earth and take advantage of the chaos to unleash as heavy blows as they are able, injecting all the blood in the pouches at their backs into their bodies to push their powerful dual hearts to the limit.

The phalangites block with their shields but these Lisilese are fully grown veterans almost two meters tall, meaning their strength isn’t to be underestimated.

The sympathetic constructs spread the impact but it only results in three shields being shattered while six more are split. The three Lisilese launch forth to infiltrate the enemy’s front-line and unleash such lightning-fast attacks that their heavy sabers turn blurry.

Ten more Cataphracts enter the battle at this point, their horses leaping over the seven dead Lisilese and mounts to crash into the phalangites before they can reform the wall of sarissas, making it almost impossible for these five regiments to reorganize their lines.

Ka’osla flicks her left hand to order the following squads of Cataphracts to pressure the flanks. The first to charge are almost obliterated like their predecessors but the survivors, Lisilese and horses, cause enough chaos to open the lines and allow the rest of the Cataphracts to engage the phalangites in close combat.

The three Lisilese from the first squad grow sluggish after a mere couple of minutes fighting and try to retreat. Unfortunately, two are impaled to death by falchions while the last barely manages to run and collapses with heavy wounds in front of his Hersir’s talons.

{Hersir, I, have, done my duty!} He declares with dark blue blood seeping out of his muzzle.

{So you have, Kataphraktos.} Ka’osla responds with a deep voice, using the old designation of Cataphracts.

His steel armor is in shreds and his natural scales are in no better shape despite this male having used the last of his red blaze reinforcing them. The Hersir licks her front teeth with her forked tongue, truly impressed by this warrior’s performance.

{What clan has the honor to claim you as their son and what name have they given you?} She asks.

{The Rij, I am iksa!} The Lisilese replies with wavering eyes as he loses consciousness.

{Come to my nest one of these nights, Rij’iska.} She tells him with a gravely voice as he closes his eyes and falls into hibernation, adding a personal reward on top of those he’ll receive for making it out whole and alive.

She directs her orange irises back to the battlefield, and smiles in satisfaction at what she sees. Her Cataphracts have forced five hundred phalangites to give up their sarissas and fight in close quarters, which gives her troops the advantage.

Ka’osla peers further and catches sight of numerous sarissas held up in the air moving around the beachhead to surround it. She doesn’t worry too much and keeps directing her Cataphracts to expand the battle-line until, finally, they match the phalangites in numbers and the five regiments have no choice but to retreat.

{Circle!} She calls out.

The Cataphracts pull out of the fight and start trotting in a huge circle as more of them come out of the pathway of ice to join them. The Empire’s reinforcements of several thousand phalangites are deployed in a long line and are lowering their sarissas to advance.

Ka’osla glances to the bridge’s entrance which is now controlled by her troops but doesn’t act in a hurry to send her Cataphracts on it as she needs each and everyone of them to hold the beachhead.

{Whittle them down, buy time for the heart-breakers!} She commands.

With this order given, she moves out by herself towards the bridge while controlling the heatsink construct. She folds her talons to walk on the back of the claws as she steps on the stone and begins running towards the back of the hundred phalangites holding back her troops.

As she does, air-blades begin falling upon her Cataphracts who either break them directly with their sabers or deflect them with red energy sheaths applied to their braces.

Unless the Empire resolves to burn five to eight portions of energy to eliminate each of these elites, then there is little hope of this kind of attack working so Ka’osla worries not.

She rushes to the back of these phalangites whose retreat has been cut off and launches her heatsink construct because she isn’t so insane as to believe she could defeat them through close combat even if she has far more blaze than they do.

Several squads of phalangites drop their sarissas and turn to confront her with their falchions but the heatsink construct takes up almost the entire width of the bridge so they first concentrate their energy in their shields in an attempt to block it.

The runic rings pass through without being interfered with and begins draining heat, causing damage which the defensive constructs try to defend against but fail and end up snuffed out for lack of energy.

The foremost phalangites quickly experience a loss of feeling in their fingers and forearms, the event happening so quickly that they barely even feel the cold before their limbs simply shatter from the weight of their gear.

Aarh!

Shrill cries erupt as the injured drop only to be engulfed by the heatsink construct and die of their brain freezing over in seconds. The others try to retreat but the construct isn’t slow and they quickly bump into the backs of other phalangites.

Ka’osla tastes the air and savors the fear permeating the air as she keeps pushing forth with the construct, fully aware the sympathetic construct is useless against her heatsink. One particularly courageous phalangite gathers all his flow into his falchion and lion’s steps straight through the runic circles.

She doesn’t even bother injecting more blaze into the construct and merely observes the result. The phalangite manages to cross all the way to the center of the heatsink and slashes down at the core before dying.

The weapon falls upon the bright white spot at the center and shatters into pieces upon contact from the thermal shock of cold steel meeting extreme heat. The impact causes the phalangite himself to fracture along with his equipment.

It’s a Hersir!” The commanding officer screams so as to be heard by all. “Retreat into the river!” He commands.

Those on the front-line and those on the back-line ignore the order to throw themselves at their enemies, buying time for the rest to jump over the left guardrail and into the river.

The few that confront Ka’osla encounter the same fate as the rest while those facing the hatchlings charge in a frenzy, burning their flow to inflict as many casualties as they are able.

The Hersir’s forked tongue flicks in and out as she tastes the air. Her orange vertical irises lock onto the commanding officer. He frowns and draws his sword, realizing that the Lisilese will allow anyone but him to flee.

House Blun knows not fear, cold blooded beast!” He provokes, hoping the phalangites he commands will be able to escape now that his time has come.

Ka’osla, smelling the truth of the matter, smirks as she extends her hand out and closes her fist. The red runic rings follow her intend and narrow around the glowing white core. She then points at the man with one claw.

The small construct flashes out towards Lord Blun, melting through everything it comes into contact with, be it steel or flesh. The Noble has no opportunity to even dodge as the projectile comes out of the chest of one of his subordinates to plunge into his heart.

The man drops dead as phalangites around him dive into the water. They quickly remove their cuirasses using constructs prepared when their orders were handed out and swim along with the current to leave the area. A few Lisilese hatchlings jump after them but a growl from Ka’osla stops the rest.

{Now isn’t the time to hunt! Go!} The Hersir commands while pointing to the other end of the bridge.

The younglings hiss and rush past her while she casually makes her way to the fallen commander. She picks the man by the scruff of his cuirass and drags him behind her as she makes her way back to the battlefield.

Hundreds and hundreds of Lisilese make their way past her but she pays little attention to them as her eyes remain set on her Cataphracts who will soon run out of stamina.

They are moving at semi-gallop in a cantabrian circle with one out of three swinging lassos over their heads that they throw to catch phalangites and drag them out of formation into the center of their formation to be skewered by dozens of attacks from passing Cataphracts.

The tactic is effective at slowing down the phalangites but they haven’t stopped advancing and they’re starting to lose ground. Ka’osla could order another charge but it would result in many casualties, which would be a painful loss at the start of this campaign.

With the heart-breakers two-thirds of the way through the ice-path, she feels it unnecessary and thus climbs onto a stone guardrail to observe the hatchlings to see if any of valor appear.

The young Lisilese, many of them no taller than a meter-thirty, run out of the bridge and deploy in a wide formation to launch themselves at the phalangites, the most cunning moving to flank them.

{Too smart for your own good.} Ka’osla comments as she shakes her head.

As if her words were prophecy, a volley of javelins enhanced with flow slaughters this group of younglings as a troop of light infantry appears from behind the phalangites’ ranks.

Enraged by this, hundreds of hatchlings give up on attacking the phalangites to charge after these skirmishers who immediately retreat and draw these Lisilese away.

{Too impulsive.} Ka’osla says with a sigh.

As she expected, the skirmishers draw them away and slaughter them little by little with each volley. The Phalanx’ flank is soon covered by a troop of heavy infantry composed mostly of Nobles wielding claymores.

The Hersir lets out a small growl at the sight of this weapon designed to kill Lisilese in a single blow, where it by sundering their bodies in half with the blade or by crushing their skulls with the heavy handle. Thankfully, the heart-breakers finally step out of the ice-path before the battle erupts in full swing.

{Hatchlings, fill the ranks! Duarh Kataphraktoi, secure the bridge! Heart-breakers, you are free to engage!} Ka’osla bellows.

The tide of Lisilese pouring from both paths shifts according to her orders. The young move to establish lines while the Cataphracts riding two-legged reptiles break the cantabrian circle and take the lead of those riding horses to charge past the dead-zone established by the sarissas to charge the heavy infantry.

The heart-breakers themselves don’t take any actions and, in fact, move to the side to free the exit of the path of ice for other Lisilese. Ka’osla doesn’t comment as it simply means that the Empire army’s morale is high.

Skirmishers launch javelins at her Cataphracts but the vast majority fail to pierce through their scale armors while those that do don’t cause mortal injuries as it is quite difficult to finish off a Lisilese in a single blow.

The humans hadn’t expected such maneuverability from her cavalry or they wouldn’t have placed their heavy infantry there. The Cataphracts order their Duarh to leap into the enemy ranks and completely shatter their formation.

The heavy infantry, composed majoritarily of high-born, tries to hold but a fresh Lisilese army isn’t anything to scoff at and they are quickly forced to retreat, opening up the Phalanx’ flank before further reinforcements can be sent.

The event shakes the morale of the phalangites which the heart-breakers, Lisilese with sensitive noses and plenty of experience, immediately smell. They launch out towards the section of phalangites most shaken, slithering through the ranks of hatchlings who decide to charge as well under this impetus.

The Fourth Phalanx’ Marshal trembles at the sight of thousands of Lisilese pouring out of the stone bridge and ice path while his formation is barely hanging on. He laments the fact the terrain is too flat and unfavorable to build fortifications, not to mention this is far from the only location they could have crossed the river at.

The heart-breakers use their massive maces with sharp edges to block and smash sarissas aside, causing the Marshal to squint as he notices his phalangites are wavering and losing cohesion.

Call the retreat, we cannot stop this.” He orders with a heavy voice.

“But what about the plan? We still haven’t given up enough ground for our cavalry to charge their flanks, Sir.” A flow-smith protests but he frowns as he notices no one else is speaking up.

The Lisilese have yet to make use of their warbeasts which are crossing now.” The Marshal explains. “There will be no cavalry charge, they are to secure our retreat.” He commands.

“Yes, sir.” An auxiliary officer from house Arkur acknowledges with a salute as he departs to take the lead of his forces.

“Send a message to the Third and Fifth, the Red Fear have broken through and expected to regroup on the position I’m giving up.” The Marshal adds with a sour tone. “Send messages to the surrounding cities and castles as well to finish shoring up their defenses as quickly as possible.”

How far are we retreating?” A general asks.

Only back to town, they’ve won this battle but I won’t let them peacefully set camp.” The Marshal utters. “After all, these plains won’t be disadvantageous to us once we’ve gathered the entire Fourth.”

Ka’osla smiles as the Fourth Phalanx and auxiliary armies begin retreating, revealing rows of terrifyingly sharp triangular teeth. She turns to witness her right-claw riding atop a warbeast as he crosses the bridge with more following.

There are a few scaled monstrosities with horns and bony tails, two are akin to turtles but covered in spikes and with hard helmets on their heads, one is a long but thin snake that she had muzzled so that it would stop eating foolhardy younglings and idiotic veterans.

Lastly are a few other types of creatures that were left at the camp, one big gorilla that has porcupine needles on its back and arms, a half-dozen birds the size of donkeys that have surprisingly sharp beaks and can fly for a little while, and three house-sized monsters.

There are also several hundred Duihs that the Hersir intends to make use of to hunt human scouts so as to secure their encampments as it would be intolerable for their nests to suffer harassment.

{Kataphraktoi, pull back!} Ka’osla commands as she spots them trying to rush after the retreating humans. She turns to Hu’tsul and signals him to come over, the bright green Lisilese wastes no time to rush over. {Have Rij’iksa healed, award him a new armor, mount, and grant him a Lassus steel saber.}

{By your will, Hersir.} The right-claw responds with a bow. {I’ve just received a report that scouts from another Horde have been spotted.}

{Were they leaving?} She asks, the red scales around her eyes tightening in concern.

{Yes.} He nods. {I doubt they’re of the Smothering Embrace as theirs are still around and would have little reason to hurry to report your victory.}

{Set camp here then, prepare to transfer our herds.} Ka’osla decisively orders.

{What will we find deep in their lands…} Hu’tsul wonders, his eyes set in the distance.

{More steel than gold this time, let’s hope.} Ka’osla says with a hint of amusement.

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