My alarm rang and I looked up before I remembered what I had to do today. I had to take my squad of less then competent scouts out on a training patrol south of the Keep.
It was a last ditch plan that I had discussed with George the other day. I was going to take the squad out on a patrol south of the Keep and see if a practical approach was a better way to try and get them into the habit of paying attention to my orders.
Once I had gone through my normal morning routine I put on my heaviest set of armour, if we ran into the enemy out there I might have to pull some of the members of my squad out of the line of fire and to do that I needed to be confident that I wouldn’t become a casualty myself.
Once my armour was on I grabbed my heavy belts and checked my weapons before I slung them onto my body, I had a full quiver of heavy war arrows, plus some more in two barrels up against the walls of my forge. I had actually hired someone to make these arrows for me. I had been too busy in the past two and half weeks trying to train my squad of incompetents and forging George’s new weapons to take the time to make myself more arrows. Therefore I had contracted one of the Keep’s fletchers to make me an even two hundred arrows fitting my personal specifications.
Half an hour later I was standing in the Scout Hall waiting for me squad to come and join me.
As usual Shandra was the first one to arrive. She was the only one in the squad that I had any hope for. She was turning into a fine scout, even though her sense of smell and hearing were less well developed than either mine, Hernando’s, or Henrietta. But somehow she managed to compensate for that with her excellent sense of sight. In fact I wasn’t too proud to admit that in some ways her eyesight was even better than my own. She could pick up on small movements and details even better than I could.
My eyesight was pretty much the same as it had been before I had changed, though my night vision had gotten better.
Shortly after everyone else arrived in the room I went up to the front of the room and began the briefing
“Today, since we’ve had such limited success in training here I’m giving you one last chance to shape up. If this doesn’t work I can promise that several of you will be out of the Patrol Corps.”
They all looked at each other before I continued, “This will be a simple patrol south of the Keep. You are lucky because I managed to convince George to let me try this instead of simply tossing your sorry xter’a onto wall duty.
If you even step even one inch out of line on this op I swear that you will be on wall duty so damn fast that it will make your head spin. DO YOU GET ME?!”
They all stiffened at my last shouted words before they responded as one
“SIR YES, SIR.”
I nodded “Very well lets get moving were burning daylight.”
They all followed my lead out of the Hall down to the main gates into the town on Euper. When we reached the gates the two guards stepped in front of us and the first one said
“Please identify yourselves.”
I stepped forwards and held out a piece of paper “I am Scout Lieutenant Naharél with the 65th Patrol Unit and this is my unit here behind me.”
The senior guard looked behind me and then nodded his head before he told me to move on. I led my unit out of the town and down the hill to the south to where we would engage in our training patrol.
By the time that night rolled around I was completely disgusted with the unit. They were still not paying enough attention to what I was telling them even though it could save their lives.
After several minutes I pulled my new notepad, I had just purchased it the day before and wrote down some notes. These notes were in effect sealing the fates of four members of this unit.
They would be relegated to normal infantry duties as soon as we arrived back at the Keep tomorrow. I didn’t like to do this to a person but under the circumstances I believed that I didn’t have any other choice in the matter.
When I was finished with my notes I slowly ate my ration and watched as the others joked and laughed about me being a ‘a real hard case.’
I actually heard Hernando say “If his rear end was any harder it would be made of metal.”
Joseph laughed at the comment before he replied “Are you sure that it isn’t already made of metal?”
I didn’t do anything about them, not only because I was really unconcerned about their opinions but because they weren’t going to be my problem for very much longer. I set up a watch roster but in the end I really didn’t get all that much sleep that night. I didn’t have a lot of faith that this squad would follow that roster at all.
The next morning I made breakfast while the other members of the squad rolled themselves out of their tent and complained of the damp conditions. There was a fine drizzle coming out of the lead grey sky, which boded well for a perfectly miserable day.
The entire squad was somewhat reluctant to move out after morning chow, I could understand the reason why but I still gave to order to move out. We had some terrain to cover and I would prefer if we didn’t have to spend any more time in the rain that we absolutely had to.
As we walked along in the path Hernando grumbled “I wish this thrice cursed day was over so that I could get back to the Tipsy Lady for some serious refreshment.”
I was in the middle of pulling out my pad of paper when a whistling sound interrupted me. I ducked almost instantly only to feel something thump into my neck. This was it, there was no getting away from a neck wound. The funny thing was that it didn’t hurt at all I reached up and touched the arrow and then chuckled a little to myself and pulled it out of my collar that Misha had made for me. All around me there was chaos as I saw both Hernando and Joseph were both down with arrows in their necks.
Shandra had several arrows sticking out of her natural armour and Henrietta was laying on the ground with an arrow protruding from her left leg. The only other member of the patrol, Simon was hiding behind a tree and looking at the patch of bushes where the arrows were coming from.
I looked around at the two other survivors and shook my head before I grabbed my own bow from its case on my back and strung it before firing four arrows at the place enemy arrows were coming from. The reaction of the hidden enemy was a pair of screams and a hail of arrows that allowed me to estimate that there was a force of maybe twenty to thirty lutins hiding behind the bushes. Just then another hail of arrows from other side joined the first hail and I knew that we had no choice but to get the hell out of there.
“Shandra, Simon fall back one hundred feet and regroup!” I roared out before I ran over to grab Henrietta from where she was laying on the ground with two more arrows sticking out of her body. She looked up at me and then coughed and her eyes clouded over in death. I shook my head and I felt that I wanted to turn and attack the oncoming lutins but I was responsible for the survival of the rest of my patrol group. So I turned and ran back the way that I had sent the survivors of my group. When I got there I found both Simon and Henrietta standing with there hands on their legs panting for breath. I looked at both of them before I asked them, “Are you going to be able to keep running like this?”
Simon looked up at me and replied, “Sir I don’t know if you had noticed it but both of us aren’t really all that well adapted for long distance running.”
“Do you really think that has stopped me at all? My form isn’t one that is designed for endurance either but I seem to be able to cope with it pretty well.”
Shandra said nothing but I could tell that she was also getting tired. “Shandra do you think that you will be able to keep up with me if I jog for a little while? We have to get out of here before the lutins reach our position.”
She nodded “Sir I think that I’ll be able to run as far as you will, but sooner or later I will need to stop and get something to eat.”
“I fully understand that. Simon, I want you to go down to your smallest form so that I can carry you since you’re having a tough time of things.”
His face coloured but he knew that he had to obey the order. He reached into his pack and pulled a couple of things out of it before he got out of his light armour and clothing and shifted down until he resembled nothing more than a human toddler.
I shook my head and Shandra, knowing what to do moved in and quickly dressed him before I picked up his things and him and began to jog. We appeared to be just in time since the lutins were obviously moving in.
Two and half hours later we arrived at the Keep and I put Simon down on the ground and headed towards my quarters where I would write out a brief report to George, though I would have to summarize it to him in his office. I removed some of my patrol gear before I headed for his office, report in hand. When I got there his aide tried to block my way but I simply pushed the small man out of the way and walked on into the office.
“George!” I growled in a menacing tone “We were ambushed.”
George remained seated but looked up into my smouldering eyes with clear worry mirrored in his own eyes. “Sit and tell me what happened?”
I remained standing and paced around as I replied, “This morning in the rain we were ambushed, the rain kept the scent of our ambushers from reaching our noses.
Hernando was on the point, and as usual he was making far too much noise. I was lucky because I was paying attention but I still took an arrow in the neck. However, that arrow only took me in the collar so I was uninjured. Hernando, Joseph, and Henrietta were all killed in the initial, and subsequent volleys. After I realized that the situation was untenable I called for a retreat and Shandra, Simon, and I managed to pull out without sustaining further injuries.”
“Who’s dead?” George asked calmly
“Hernando Gomez, Joseph Paulson, and Henrietta Wright.”
George nodded. “It was bound to happen. How are you feeling about this?”
I growled in barely suppressed rage “I want to go out there an hunt those little monsters down is how I’m feeling, and may the gods have mercy on those who get in my way!”
“You will see to your people first. THEN you will write your report before getting some rest.”
“I have no intention of letting those little green THINGS get away with this. I am going to hunt them down and kill them, ALONE.” I roared out at almost full volume.
“That was not a request Oberon.” George said quietly “You aren’t fit to go out there right now. When you are requested, then you can go out.”
I looked at him eyes blazing before I let vent to a fearsome growl before I said, “If you don’t let me go out there I will do so myself, without your authorization if I have to.”
“I said that you can go out, but after you see to your people and get some rest. Or don’t you care about the welfare of your people?”
“I have already see the two of them to Coe’s Healer Hall, and here,” I tossed my written report onto his desk “, is my report. I will be leaving presently, and don’t get in my way or you will regret it.”
Finally George seemed to sigh in defeat before he said “All right Oberon. Go have your revenge, but report back here when you’re tired of killing things.”
I grinned at him in utterly vicious manner before I turned and swept out of the room with my grey battle cloak flapping in the breeze of my passage.
Those little monsters were going to quickly learn that they had just angered a force of nature. In the back of my mind I almost felt pity for the poor things.