Part 8: Slaughter in the Valley
Arkantos causally shoved his beautifully crafted longsword into the belly of his foe. The unhorsed cavalier slumped into the dust, blood pouring from the gaping wound.
With a sickening tear, the elven general pulled his blade free. As he shook the blood off his gauntlet, he gazed at the battle around him.
Dawn was still an hour or so away, and the night was too dark for humans to see without torches; the elves, however, could see fine.
Arkantos’s grand masters had waited through the long night, using elven spells to keep themselves hidden among the gray rocks that sprouted along this side of the valley. The humans had seen nothing, and fell into the trap perfectly; sending 600 cavaliers, which was no doubt only a small number of men to the human general, charging into the dark valley. The elves had targeted the torch bearers first, using the few archers they had to blind the enemy. Now, the elves’ goal was to slay as many of the soldiers as they could before the enemy realized what was happening.
Arkantos hoped that the humans would be dumb enough to send in more troops to find out what had happened, allowing the elves to spring the trap once again. But no, whoever led these humans was too smart for that.
When he saw the rows of flaming arrows hurtling towards them, followed by the burning stones of the trebuchets, Arkantos knew that there would be no more fooling this
“Back to the hill!” Arkantos yelled to his warriors, “Back to the hill!”
The elves fell back, leaving the remaining cavaliers in the blood-soaked valley.
* * * * * * * * *
At first, the human general Cleaver had been fearful; then he had been furious. But now, he was grinning from ear to ear, despite the loss of several hundred of his men.
“Ha, we’ve got ’em on the run now!” he roared out in joy. “Send in the infantry! I want these elves dead!”
Messengers sped off to inform the various battalions. In moments, vast waves of iron-clad humanity were pouring down into the valley.
But then the elves did something unexpected: seemingly from nowhere, hundreds of silvery unicorns appeared; without breaking stride, the elves mounted and rode up the hill.
Cleaver swore into his beard; there was no way his foot soldiers could catch the elves now. But at least their camp is as good as destroyed, Cleaver thought; he could see the palisades burning from the other side of the valley.
After studying the battle a moment more, he gestured towards his servant, asking for his horse. As Cleaver mounted his black warhorse, he glanced at Sir Karamot.
“Are you coming?” Cleaver asked him.
Karamot’s eyes darted around nervously. “Well…”
“Come on Karamot, we’ve got them on the run!” the general said, “We’ll slaughter the pointy-ears as they flee, and then feast for hours afterwards.”
“I don‘t think it would be a good idea,” Karamot answered, his face somewhat clammy, “We don’t know if more might be hiding down there, and-”
Before Karamot could finish his excuses, Cleaver shrugged and rode into the fray, already imaging wringing Arkantos’s scrawny elven neck.
* * * * * * * * *
Valkyrie stood on the tower of the camp’s palisade, a hastily built structure that seemed to sway in the wind. Her human troops with their shining armor stood side by side with the few elven archers who stayed behind to defend the hill.
Her forces were gathered at the far side of the camp, for the edge facing the valley was now a complete inferno; though Arkantos’s wardens used their spells to keep the rest of the camp safe, it was agreed they would let a bit of the palisade burn to fool the enemy.
Valkyrie watched as Arkantos’s elves rode back to the camp, as she knew they would. Now that all of the elf’s tricks had been discovered, there was nothing left to do but honest battle. The camp was well fortified, yes, and they had more than twice the force that the enemy thought they had. But the elves and men only numbered around 900 in all, against an army of 2,000 highly trained Terian soldiers.
Valkyrie had fought many battles in her day, but never one as hopeless as this. As she had told the elf, they would need a miracle from the Lake even to survive; winning was out of the question.
When Arkantos rode through the burning gates of the camp, one of his wardens rushed up to him, babbling rapidly in elven. Arkantos, a strange look on his face, followed the warden out of Valkyrie’s sight.
Valkyrie, curious, followed them around a row of tents. And there was Arkantos, the infamous elven general, lying on the ground.
At first he looked to be dead or injured, but Valkyrie soon saw he was alive and awake; just lying in the dust with his ear pressed to the earth.
As Valkyrie walked up, Arkantos rose, his face somewhere between joyous and insane.
“You said we needed a miracle?” Arkantos told her with a grin. “Well, we’ve got one.”