Entry 342 – Day 472

Entry 342 – Day 472

The treeborn pushed us out to 50 miles today and I think I want to die. Blisters on my hands and cramps along my sides prove we suffered for it. The pride in my chest proves we made it. We will rest tomorrow, at least Dionus and Wudan and I will, and then we will pick up the following day.

Entry-342-Quote-Reprieve

Wudan is scarcely in need of the reprieve. Even now he’s pestering Dionus for a lesson with his magic. The suppression field he can create is seamless. I can’t feel them as they begin – the Atmosphere doesn’t react even though they’re within sight. It’s humorous how stiff Dionus is as he moves. I’m glad my journal can act as a shield against impromptu lessons.

I’m going to sleep as long as possible tomorrow.

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Entry 343 – Day 473

Entry 343 – Day 473

A messenger arrived from the Yatusu this morning bearing a letter and instructions from Salisir. The armies are in position, both have engaged Daedric scouts and light infantry. We are to make west and disrupt their mobilization.

Entry-343-Quote-Brothers-with-Golara

The messenger reminded me of Golara, like brothers or members of the same group. It was his carefree smile, a confidence that comes from men who have some secret stored to give them an edge. He laid out a small map and showed us troop positions as last he knew them.

Matasten has yet to release its full force, he said. They’re waiting for something. Perhaps they think they stand a better chance under siege, but their willingness to strike against the Batsu dissuaded Oroun and Salisir of that line of thinking. Their hope is that the treeborn will provide enough confusion to keep the Daedra from committing to whatever course of action they have planned out.

We are to stick to the treetops and strike new locations each day. Once the main force has sallied out of Matasten, we are to make our assassination attempt. The messenger gave me the letter and said that in it were the names and locations of two spies within Matasten who would connect us with the rest.

Entry-343-Messages-from-Salisir

“Do not open that letter, nor let it out of your sight until the moment comes,” he warned me. “Too many lives are at risk should that piece of paper be lost.”

He held on to the envelope even as I took it in hand, staring at me with a seriousness that undid all of his carefree manners and easy smiles. The orange paint on his face and forearm stood out brilliantly against his skin. It was different than the others I’d seen, with a deep blue stain edging the strokes on one side.

He looked at each of us in turn, bid us good luck, and then made south for the Sondu.

We have our orders at last. It’s time to take this fight to the Daedra.

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Entry 344 – Day 474

Entry 344 – Day 474

We’ve moved into position east of Matasten. The Batsu treeborn camp in the boughs when in action; I doubt I’ll get much sleep tonight. I can’t help but think of rolling over the edge of this branch and to my death in the night.

Five scouts have been sent off in different directions, each pursuing the intelligence passed on by the Yatusu messenger we met yesterday. They’ll determine the actual positions of any nearby Daedric troops, then we will ambush them in the morning. I want to strike three times a day at the minimum, which means we will need to be scouting constantly. It also means a lot of time spent in motion. We’re going to be very sore this week.

Entry-344-Quote-Callouses from blisters

My blisters, thankfully, are turning quickly to callouses. Balthandar developed a trick for this with Martingue, something he said they did when training at length in formation with their spears. It wasn’t hard, he said, to tear the skin of one’s palm clean off after a day of jabbing and twisting heavy shafts. A thin layer of Martingue paste over the blisters, mixed with the root of one of the small flowers we find frequently, leaves them dried out and healed the next morning without fail.

I’ve been using the paste religiously over the last few days.

Tomorrow we will set out on our first few ambushes and I relish the thought. Hunting and killing Daedra is the sport for which I was raised. This is my duty, and it coincides brilliantly with this faux exile into which I was sent. Perhaps I cannot bring myself to reject any duty given to me by the Tetrarch, even one so blatantly empty as this death-sentence in the Nanten, but I can find some joy in the fact that it has turned out to be the most important mission of my life.

Unleash me upon the darkness and watch it flee my wrath.

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Entry 345 – Day 475

Entry 345 – Day 475

They never saw us coming. We struck two forward scouting parties and a larger encampment of light infantry over the course of the day. None survived.

This shifted my goals entirely. I had imagined that we would attack each group and sew terror as their survivors spread rumors of death raining from the canopy. I didn’t imagine we would so easily obliterate them. What has less of an immediate impact, but I believe will cause greater distress in the long run, is if they simply disappear. How long it will be until word spreads, I cannot say, but even the Daedra can’t hide the fact that entire companies are vanishing in the jungle for long.

So long as Dionus, Wudan, and I quell our touch on the Atmosphere, there will be no way for them to detect our passing nor track us as we move. Daedric morale is not something we can expect to affect greatly, but their logistics can be thrown off entirely if they remain unaware of the gaps in their line.

Entry-345-Quote-Blind-Ignorance

It will force them to shift their positions and they will be doing it late. If we can open enough holes, and do so quietly, they will begin to leave them open from sheer ignorance. Blind spots will grow, and when they finally engage with the full force of the Yatusu or Sondu there will be chinks aplenty to exploit in their collective armor.

This is going to be fun.

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Entry 346 – Day 476

Entry 346 – Day 476

We struck another two forward encampments today as they broke their fast. There may have been two hundred Daedra in each. None survived. I’ve set the Batsu to a circling motion overhead as we attack, much as the monsters who plagued Bantish’s people circled around them. The monsters did it to sew terror; we do it to catch any Daedra who might make to flee.

Entry-346-Quote-Terror-is-the-tool-of-the-Daedra

There will come a time for terror, but not yet. It is the tool of the Daedra, and one that I have never known to have any desirable effect upon them. Fear is the lifeblood of the occult, and to increase that in them only finalizes the hold the Demonic has over them. It only makes them fight harder.

So for now we will be satisfied with extinguishing them one troop at a time and being done with it. I’ve instructed the treeborn to avoid any full battalions they might encounter; we are not ready to engage with any full force. I want to lead the Daedra by the nose, killing off their scouts and vanguards until they are run ragged trying to find us. I want them confused, enraged, and blind.

We are not the force that will kill them in the end; we are the instrument that will blunt their edge before the real fight begins.

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Entry 347 – Day 477

Entry 347 – Day 477

I broke the Batsu treeborn down into squads of five today. Daedric scouts have been spreading out to make contact with scouts of the Sondu as they arrive, and we are going to keep them from reporting what they find. It makes me smile to imagine the frustration of Daedric field officers, sending scouts out by the dozens and only receiving two or three back alive. We will blind them.

We must move north to the far side of Matasten soon, however. There aren’t enough of us to spread between the northern and southern flanks. Thankfully we can make our way between the two over the course of a day, but time spent traveling is time that could be spent killing. We have to find the best balance for our efforts.

One of the Yatusu messengers found us tonight. I don’t know where Oroun found such capable men, but they are incredibly adept. This one traveled on the ground, but appeared among the trees to speak with us – he appeared so suddenly and quietly that he was almost killed by the Batsu when he spoke. If the Batsu are the shadows of the trees, these couriers are their ghosts.

He told us that the Sondu have engaged on their western flank and successfully pushed the resistance they met back. The Yatusu have likewise captured the banks of the river west of the city. The Daedra have not withdrawn any cities under their protection. Instead, he says it is believed they will leave them occupied to slow down our advance.

Using the innocent as their buffer, something we should certainly expect from the Daedra.

Entry-347-Quote-Innocent-as-their-buffer

Where the lines are drawn between innocent civilians and Daedra is a conversation I didn’t think would be necessary, but I fear we will be forced to make the distinction soon. There are innocent people even in Matasten, that much has been demonstrated to us. We must take into consideration that there are even more people like them in the outskirts and beyond.

We should be liberators to all, especially those held immediately under the thumb of this Prince. We cannot kill indiscriminately. I’ve passed just such a message along with this messenger. I don’t know what influence I truly have in this place, but I must use what I do have to protect the future of the Nanten Kingdom.

And what of Inifra? The messenger told me that she fights with the Yatusu to the north. She brought the river under their control in what proved to be the decisive battle, and now she will be brought closer to the city to draw them out. The Daedra can only resist such a display of power for so long – their hunger for her magic must overpower them eventually. They will want her for their ritual.

I hope they never catch her.

We will move to the river’s edge east of the city and disrupt whatever we find there in advance of the Yatusu. If we can keep the Daedra in disarray, then our friends should find them easier to fight.

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Entry 348 – Day 478

Entry 348 – Day 478

Our movement north was slowed by too many good opportunities. This is like picking cherries and I cannot help the glee that rests within the task. The Daedra have sent small squadrons out in every direction to search for us. Their most recent idea was to bring crude ballistae with them and try to shoot us out of the trees. Unfortunately for them, the machines can barely angle high enough and are too cumbersome to use effectively within the undergrowth of the jungle.

One group would have successfully ambushed us if we had crossed their path as they had hoped. We traveled directly above them instead and, as our advance scouts keep us apprised to the safety of our chosen path, they stood little chance. We burn each of the war machines before moving on.

This brings up a sobering possibility, however, beyond even the fact that they are actively trying to cope with our presence. With this many squads sent out to probe for us, we may very well be giving away our movements through the pattern in which we kill. I’ve ordered every third squad we encounter to be left untouched, and will send a small team back south tomorrow to dispatch with those we have left in the exact opposite order in which we left them.

My hope is that it will appear we are strafing this flank of Matasten and will therefore draw more attention to it. Then we will swing around to the western flank by way of the northern bank. By the time they react, we can move again and continue to appear exactly where they do not expect.

My goal now is to inflict enough damage that they significantly overestimate the size of the treeborn force and expend a disproportionate amount of energy upon us. We will keep moving. Nianatara may have been a fool, but she was right when she said that to stop moving was to allow the Nanten to catch up.

Entry-348-Quote-To-stop-moving-Nanten-catch-up

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