The Ameliel army was all arranged. Several ranks of foot soldiers stood at its fore. There is no cavalry; there aren't enough nightmares to form such a thing. Only commanders had such privilege, and they don't rush in at the front of battle. Behind the foot soldiers were two solid lines of archers, all with full quivers, all at the ready.
Lomolen and Azale had strapped into Cantori and were on the ground waiting to ascend. The Hellendrill mages were all in position and ready.
Mages were more or less evenly spread out behind the archers, ready to wield fire or lightning or whatever Talent they had in service of Riven's drow. Some were not at the back; Zaktaran was at the front. Tashir, too, on his nightmare, was going to fight with sword as well as power. Alorys was with her archers. Riven was surveying it all.
Theryn looked off nervously to the east, fingering the gems in her pockets. Riven was mounted on his nightmare. He was tense; his spear was in his hand. He also wore his sword and the Shadowshiv. He waited for a sign of the enemy. Azale wished he were already in the air where he could see them, trying to squint through the army to spot them.
Suddenly, a great moving mass appeared at the horizon. They were running; they were coming. A great line of humans, of light elves, of some drow, some dwarves, some of all.
Zaktaran gripped his scimitars in hand, grinning eagerly at the prospect of battle.
The onward-rushing mass began to be covered in hazy pink light. All along, and beginning to move back, through the ranks, faerie fire engulfed the enemy.
Riven gave the order to Lomolen. Simultaneously, lightning streaked through the air at the Ameliel troops.
Lomolen poured mana into the diamond, and an inky darkness covers the battlefield, lit only by the warm red glow of heated bodies to infravision and the pink faerie flames around the enemy soldiers.
The lightning struck a solid barrier in the air, spreading out for a moment harmlessly before vanishing.
Blinding light had come up just a moment before the darkness; the darkness won out. It left a painful afterimage in drow eyes, but the light, it seemed, was no match for such complete darkness.
Riven, wearing his pilfered boots, cape, and gloves, as well as the dagger and glasses, was well dressed for battle, but didn't intend to partake directly in it.
The archers let forth their first volley into the confused mass of the Schade army. Azale picked out some of the mages that had cast the lightning with his enhanced Seeking vision, and Lomolen relayed the information to the mages below. The archers fired at will at the enemy. Some of the glowing pink figures fell to the ground. More rushed on.
One enemy drow spotted a bit of heat above, and tried to shoot it down with his bow. An arrow struck Azale's foot, who gave a short yelp of pain.
Tashir shouted the order for the foot soldiers to go forward. They rushed onward at the sign of heat ahead. Riven stayed back, by Theryn, and watched.
Lomolen, concerned, asked Azale if he's alright, who replied that he was fine. The wound wasn't very deep.
Theryn with her turquoise was keeping the shield over the troops, deflecting any lightning, fire, or whatever might come their way. Riven's mind flitted around. He checked on Tashir and his men; on Alorys and hers; on Azale.
Azale focused upon the task at hand, picking out other mages to eliminate. The two fronts clashed. It was a slaughter; the Schade light elves were effectively blind to it. The Hellendrill mages rained fire, lightning, stones, and ice down upon the enemy mages.
Azale, feeling a little dizzy, thought he saw something not quite right about the enemy army, but couldn't quite put his finger on it. He pointed out a few more mages as he peered intently down at them. He saw weaves of illusion, but with the faerie fire covering many of the enemy soldiers, it was difficult to detect anything out of the ordinary.
The archers stopped firing, and drew out their own weapons, going forward to join the footmen. They didn't dare hit their own men.
Then he spotted illusion on a couple soldiers that didn't have any faerie fire around them. In fact, they seemed to have appeared out of thin air. What the--? Frantically, his head spinning, Azale peered around the battlefield, trying to pick out anything that's different about them.
Realizing what was going on, Lomolen urgently sent to Riven that this wasn't their full army. Fully half of them were really illusions. Riven sent directly to Azale that he needed to know where the other half was, and how to tell which are illusions.
Azale looked around on the horizon, trying to find some indication of the rest of the army. Under cover of invisibility, he spotted the remainder trying to flank them to the south.
Riven cursed, and yelled with his voice and mind for Alorys to get back to him. He also alerted Tashir of the problem, but could offer no way to identify the illusions. He needed to target the mages casting them.
However, Azale could not immediately think of any way for a non-Seeker to detect the illusions easily. The skilled illusionists who created them did so with heat signatures as well. But as the illusionists were struck down one by one, the pseudo soldiers vanished as well.
Azale continued to try to track down the culprit illusionists, his head spinning and his blood burning, his heart racing. The Hellendrill mages targeted them and more of the illusions vanish into thin air.
Riven still tried to draw back some of his foot soldiers. He couldn't hold off half an enemy army by himself.
Lomolen could sense Azale's pain, and asked him again if he was alright. Azale tried to block it out and assured him that he's fine.
Riven thumbed the amethyst in his pocket.
Dark flames exploded in a section of enemy soldiers, taking out two of their mages at once. A couple dozen illusions quavered and vanished.
Riven sat on his mount worriedly. This was getting worse. Nero must have known far earlier that drow were all capable illusionists. Any of them would have followed him in return for knowledge of how to use it. Meanwhile, even Alorys' division could not possibly stand to half of Nero's army.
Azale's mind spun, and a faint memory comes to mind about illusions. Gripping the harness tightly even though he was firmly strapped in, he sent it to Lomolen, who simply nodded slightly in response and tried to modify the darkness. Under the rippling darkness, the remainder of the illusions all vanished. The faerie fire around many of the soldiers dimmed for a moment but kindled up again.
Azale was more concerned about the half of the army to the south now. Some flashes of bright light tried to dispel Lomolen's darkness, but they were smothered quickly under its oppressive blanket.
They came from the south; the arrows weren't very effective, the enemy had shields. Faint purple flames enveloped Riven and the men around him, markers by a quick-learning enemy. The majority of the mages in the east half of the army taken care of, Lomolen turned his attention toward those to the south. Riven didn't have nearly enough soldiers with him to take care of this.
Theryn growled as she tied off her shield and grabbed the biggest rock she could lift, and rained stones down upon those approaching her. As the stones fell down, fire exploded from within the enemy, a great rolling ball of fire expanding and rending a great hole in the troops. But it was filled in as more rushed forward.
The Schade army to the east was retreating. Cantori flew in like the win, Lomolen's glaive slashing down at soldiers then flying up out of reach before they could retaliate. Azale just held on tight, barely conscious.
Riven took hold of his spear. They were almost atop him. He dug in his heels, the great nightmare rearing up before rushing forward.
Lomolen then confused them with their own tactic by creating several false outlines of faerie fire of griffins sweeping in and attacking them. He slashed and clawed, zipping this way and that, seeming to be everywhere at once.
Riven moved forward into the enemy, his spear stabbing, the nightmare ripping apart the men. Faerie fire surrounded him, leaving him an open target. Arrows flew. Some struck him; he ignored them.
A greatly outnumbered section of Ameliel troops fought by Riven. Theryn, seeing Cantori above them, exploded some of the rocks beneath the enemy's feet. Those from the east were trying to move around to aid the southern division.
Zaktaran appeared from somewhere, faerie fire licking at his form, but he ignored it, plunging into the middle of the army, scimitars spinning. Lomolen expanded his illusion, creating several more false faerie-fire outlines surrounding the enemy troops, making it look to them like they were outnumbered.
Tashir, having rushed from the north on his quick nightmare -- his troops some distance behind -- slashed wildly with his sword. The earth rolled at his command, throwing many of the enemy from their feet.
Lomolen was tired but relentless, fighting with rage and hate and a fierce determination. Azale realized his heart had stopped beating and wondered dimly if he was dying.
The enemy still surged forward. For those at the front, there was no chance for escape. They fought onward. Riven drew from those before him, keeping up his strength. Theryn continued to rip at the enemy with spells, large craters appearing in the ground before them, many of them stumbling and falling in.
Tashir fought with magic and sword, cutting a line through the enemy, fighting his way to his brother. Blood flew as Cantori ripped apart several light elves to shreds. The soldiers to the east still hadn't arrived.
Azale looked around, vaguely wondering why he was still conscious, then pulled out a knife and tried to help what little he can by stabbing at the soldiers as Cantori sweeps down.
Riven had several arrows sticking out from his chest, but he fought on. The nightmare crushed anything that came too close to him. Zaktaran had cut a path of bodies around him. Cuts covered his body but none of them were bleeding.
Azale got a lucky shot and stabbed a human through the eye. He stared numbly at the blood on the dagger as he saw the man fall before Cantori zips off again.
Suddenly, to the southeast of the enemy -- the south-southeast of Riven's division -- the sounds of battle erupted anew. It seemed that the eastern division had flanked the Schade men.
Cantori, Lomolen, and Azale were covered in blood, little of it actually theirs. Riven was covered in blood, with the same self-to-enemy ratio. Tashir finally broke through and joined his brother. The two move onward.
Theryn, feeling herself getting tired, stopped trying to attack the enemy and focuses upon the shield. Though flanked, the enemy still outnumbered Riven's people.
Lomolen was too busy directing Cantori and slashing at the enemy soldiers to ask how Azale was or notice that he had no pulse. Riven was too occupied to check. He continued to move forward. Zaktaran continued to fight. He had a nasty-looking gash across his throat, and several cuts on his cheeks.
Riven now had both his spear and the Shadowshiv out, using both hands; Tashir wielded two swords. Their mounts toppled any enemies that they don't, though people continue to try. The prospect of killing the enemy leaders blinded men to reason.
Lomolen laughed aloud as his glaive cut through three men at once. They continued to fight fiercely. If they hadn't done their trick with the darkness, they surely would have been overrun; the illusions and flanking were well-planned manouvers. Lomolen and Cantori had proven to be fierce aerial fighters. Riven envied them their agility, when he sensed the airborne bodies fighting.
Riven realized that this darkness was really more of a hindrance, now that his own side was marked as well, and he could barely tell what's going on. He sent to Lomolen, asking him to stop it now. Lomolen returned an acknowledgement, and he let off the darkness slowly.
Riven shouted out a fierce battle cry. The men rallied to him, and group around him, before rushing forward again. Their eyes were much better able to see in this natural darkness than the enemy's.
Azale clung to the back of Cantori, blinking slightly as the area brightened. The Ameliel men were slowly surrounding the Schade troops. Theryn watched Cantori as he flitted above the enemy soldiers, evading their attacks, too tired to do more than continue to maintain her shields.
Riven doesn't dare take prisoners. "No quarter," he shouted. "No mercy!" His men were only too happy to oblige him. Zaktaran laughed aloud as blood spilled around him.
Riven drew back from the battle, letting his men rush around him, watching them push forward, but not moving with them. He went back to his part as General: an observer.
The flanking half of the Schade army was fully destroyed, to the joy of all. A huge cheer erupts as the last man fell. Riven was really just relieved.
Cantori circled a few times to make sure they didn't miss anything and there was nobody invisible trying to sneak up behind them again.
Kefari turned up from somewhere. He was covered in blood and healing any injured Ameliel soldiers he came across. Riven thought he should probably do the same, but he truly didn't have enough energy for it. Not when most of his casualties would be dead already. He'd heal his mages, though. They, he know, saved his men from sure death.
First, though, he dealt with his own injuries. He shook his chainmail vest free of any arrows sticking into it, then plucked a few out of his arms and shoulder. It wasn't really a bother to him. Riven began the difficult task of wiping off his dagger, not wanting to have the inconvenience of holding it. He did so hastily before sheathing it.
After the third circle, Cantori landed near Riven, panting slightly from the battle. Lomolen unstrapped himself from the griffin and helped Azale down. "You okay there, kiddo? You look like a zombie."
Riven raised his spear in hail to Lomolen.
Azale, though very pale, still holding his bloody dagger, just nodded. "I'm fine."
Riven dismounted his bloody nightmare and went to see to Lomolen and Azale. He was still in pain, but it had settled into a more continuous dull ache than the burning he first experienced.
"Lomolen, you did excellently," Riven said honestly. Lomolen did a lot more than Riven did, really.
Azale gave the dagger back to Lomolen. "I think this is yours."
Lomolen grinned, taking the dagger and wiping it off, bowing slightly to Riven. Riven just grinned. Cantori stopped to snack on a dead light elf.
"You alright there, Azale?" he asked. The boy looked pale, but then, any eight-year-old being exposed to the deaths of some... gosh, he didn't know, over a hundred thousand?... to that many people dying would be pale.
The men elsewhere were celebrating, but mostly with their own respective generals.
"I'm okay. But I could use a bath." He looked down at his bloody clothing, then went up to Riven.
Riven looked at him oddly. Something didn't seem quite right. Azale looked up at Riven with strangely dark eyes. Riven couldn't imagine what it was he's feeling from the boy, but it wasn't natural. Yet, somehow, it seems familiar. The arrow that had struck him had broken off long ago, but the point was still wedged in his foot.
"I hope none of that blood is yours," he said, still examining Azale.
Azale shook his head. "Cantori made a big mess clawing at everything. I didn't think blood could spurt out of somebody's neck that far."
Riven laughed. "That he did. And it can." Riven did, however, try to heal Azale, just in case there was something the boy didn't notice.
"Ai!" Azale jumped in sudden pain.
Riven frowned, but cut the flows off immediately. "What," he asked, "the hell was that."
"Whatever you did, it burned."
"I tried to heal you."
Azale worked up his face in an odd expression. The onyx necklace seemed to be humming ever so faintly. Riven couldn't tell what it is he senses around the boy, but he knows its nature now. It has to be soul magic, or he wouldn't sense anything strange. Azale looked down at the necklace and at himself.
Riven just stared at the boy, then muttered, "I'll take care of it later, if you'll be fine for a few hours."
"I'm okay. I think." He didn't feel like taking off the necklace and testing that theory though.
"You'd damn well better be," he muttered.
Riven mounted again and goes to see Theryn. She'd be weak; he needed to make sure she slept. And make sure she was kept safe. "Take care of him for me," he sent to Lomolen as he speeds away.
Lomolen went up to Azale and patted him on the shoulder. "Just don't try to eat my brains, ok?"
Theryn had let down her shield after realizing they were all dead, and was sitting trying to catch her breath.
Riven offered her a hand. "Mount up," he said. "I'll bring you somewhere you can sleep." He could sense her fatigue.
He didn't have time to celebrate. He had an undead child in his care, and only half his army now under his command. He didn't know how the Hellendrill mages are doing, either.
Theryn mounted up onto the nightmare. He rode her back to camp, to which most of the army were now returning. Some were out hunting lone, fleeing Schade bastards.
Theryn was only half-conscious by this point. The Hellendrill mages, those of them that were still on their feet, were trying to regroup and find one another. Riven lay Theryn down in his own tent and covered her up. Reports would be coming to him in the next few hours; he'd be around to protect her. He was still plenty awake. Theryn was asleep before she is even horizontal.
Riven told Lomolen where he is. He also alerted Tashir and Alorys of the same, for their reports. Lomolen set Azale on top of Cantori and they headed toward Riven on foot. Riven was worried about Azale. He didn't know what could have happened. He didn't even know what the result is. How did it happen, and what happened, he wondered.
After a while, Cantori and Lomolen walked up to Riven's general vicinity. Men all around were washing up, tending weapons, and (most often) drinking. Lomolen poked his head in at Riven.
"Come in," Riven said.
Lomolen entered, followed by Azale. Riven looks rather concerned. Azale smiled uneasily at Riven.
Missing section: Riven figures out how to unzombify Azale and does so.