(First Chapter) (Table of Contents)
There are two, always two, like hunters in a secluded area there are two. And they burn, they burn flesh and flora.
They came upon us, this was usual. What was unusual was the number. Only a few, scouts or a vanguard perhaps, who caused havoc and then, the long-haired arsons arrived.
This is what the conscious scout told me. That they had already cut around the camp, and that we were in trouble by fire. Fire. He could say no more, having also ceased consciousness.
I readied the men for battle, and then, the entire camp was surrounded by flame.
The temperature rose. We may have burned.
For this battle, I will admit that once the men saw the flames around the village, many did begin to lose heart, especially the leaders. And because of this, because of the sudden fickleness of the leaders, I myself was the only person who could be trusted to lead the retreat of the citizens; so that while men fought the Riley on the Eastern front, on the Western side of the village, I led the people out.
The first thing I did was set a fire on our side. Fire with fire. Their flames from the outside would meet with mine from the inside twice as quickly, and soon run out of fuel. The plan worked, and thus we made our escape. I pulled men from the front and promoted one particularly diligent person to lead them out, and then I left to join the fight and see if we in the militia could retreat.
We could see them in the back, the arsons, the apparently more intelligent Riley, stoking the fires. Once I returned, the battlefield shifted. The men, turned from their losing and cowardice, suddenly finding the courage they had lost. This was not the effect of a warden; this was perhaps closer to the effect of a King.
But because their lines were secured by the fires, and because somehow they could navigate in and out of it where we could not, we the Sol could not create the advantage we were used to. In order to push them out, we ended up fighting in hot ash and flames; in their scorched territory. All of this meant that retreat was far more difficult, since we could neither rout nor even intimidate them.
And then, the leader of the escape party came. I could see that, without her helmet, she was a woman. We did not recruit women; she must have lied. Regardless, the escapees had been driven back into the village, back into the center of the flames.
“We’re flanked, surrounded. We need help, they are entering and taking people! And there is—”
But I did not listen. To her surprise, and perhaps my own, I gave her control of the front and exited, hoping they would not for a second time lose courage without me.
And then I saw what it was that the woman was trying to tell me of.
A handful of the men were dead, and also a few citizens. Yet somehow, standing between our remaining soldiers and the enemy stood an angel with blood-streaked wings. She fought at the vanguard, not in the fray, but wholly within it. She fought with two swords, one raised above her head. I learned later that this was part of the technique; to keep it out of the way of the other. She had long blonde hair and wore heavy white-grey robes.
Did a few minor edits.
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