The Independent Reconnaissance Platoon rushed into the village, which was now a mess of fire and smoke. Seeing the minotaurs and Nameless riders ahead of them, Ios shouted the order to fire. The platoon loosed a volley or arrows and crossbow bolts while Iilah launched several fire bolts into the mass. A few minotaurs and one rider fell while villagers ran past the charging elves, who switched to their melee weapons and gave the lead to Skald, Yol and Kyn who raised their longer weapons.
The elves crashed into the minotaurs at full speed, the Nameless riders having disappeared. The minotaurs knocked the elves from their horses over the course of several minutes of fighting yet were steadily forced back between the elves' blades and Iilah's ranged barrage. The only cause for concern was the disappearance of the riders. Had they fled? Or were they circling around to charge into them from behind?
"Iilah, where are those horsemen? Are they about to flank us?" Ios asked her as he cut down a minotaur swinging at Li and Lorenya, who had climbed onto another and were stabbing it.
"Nowhere to be seen, little one. I can only assume they are hidden among the minotaurs or the smoke. They have not left the village, however. The horizon is clear of reinforcements, yet I would not linger long, the smoke will attract more of them, or worse, the Iukan army." She replied.
Switching to his bow, Ios fired a shot into the eye of a minotaur about to crush Karrick, who was on his back, not moving. As soon as is staggered though, he was back up, not so much fighting normally as disemboweling the hapless minotaur. Skald decapitated another with a single blow from his halberd before blinding another with the edge of his shield, swinging it as if it were an axe. Yol and Kyn fought near him, switching in and out with one another quickly, always advancing and striking in a rhythm as if they were bonded.
"Form up behind the foot-soldiers! Keep together!" Ios called to them. Huld repeated his order and soon they were all moving together, keeping close so that nobody got caught alone and surrounded. The smaller elves moved to the centre and used their bows while the taller ones stood in front and kept the minotaurs at bay. Looking around, Ios still couldn't see the riders. Ios snarled in frustration and sliced a minotaur's throat with his sword and cut the knee of another, dropping it down low so Huld could stab it in the eye.
A shout came from an alley to the left and Ios saw the horsemen come from the smoke, there were only five in a two-by two formation but they were all still mounted. They were more than enough to break their tiny formation.
"Focus fire on into that side street!" He yelled, just as they began to charge. A small volley was fired and the first two horses fell and their riders were taken with them. The next three jumped their fallen allies and continued the charge just before Iilah filled the alley with fire, incinerating the two fallen riders.
Kyn turned and stabbed at one horse which reared and threw its rider before bolting. The other two wheeled around the back of the Platoon and swung for the archers. Ios jumped in the way and parried the sword of the nearest rider before pulling him from his saddle. Barely two metres away, he could see Vicenjr and Tyca fending off the red horseman with the others too busy holding back the minotaurs to help.
"Iilah, come down and help us here! We can't hold them off on both sides!" He called to her with telepathy. As he did so, he realised he hadn't finished off the second rider who was now on their feet already and appeared to be about to use wind magic.
"Shit." He ran forward and swung at them just a moment too late and was thrown back into Huld, knocking them both over. Looking up Ios saw a minotaur bringing an axe down towards them, scrabbling for his sword, he couldn't find it and rolled himself and Huld out of the way just in time. He heard the sound of steel crunching and scraping against the dirt barely an inch from their heads. He scrambled to his feet and drew his knife, looking around for the sword.
The group had dispersed again and Iilah was on the ground now, battering minotaurs away and bathing them in fire along with the foot-soldiers, Li and Lorenya. Huld was also back on his feet and clashing with the wind magic user, the two seemed an equal fight.
Vicenjr, Tyca and Karrick all fought against the red one, who seemed to have little difficulty competing with them. Tyca wasn't a natural fighter and was getting knocked back or sidestepped constantly. Vicenjr was only a little larger and although he was a little better with a blade, he was outmatched easily. He was parried and disarmed. The swordsman brought his sword down towards Vicenjr's raised arms, red flame rising from the blade's yellow glowing runes.
Just as Ios thought Vicenjr dead, Karrick launched himself in the way, using his own sword along with Vicenjr's, roaring in rage and swinging wildly. The red one staggered back, caught off guard but did not waste much time retaliating, he stood somewhere between Ios and Skald in height and was by no means slight. Karrick was no twig, but he was shorter still than Ios and couldn't put as much strength behind his attacks, as quick as they were. He continued his assault but it seemed that the clash was an undirected force against an immovable object.
Karrick tired with time, but distracted the red one long enough for Tyca and Vicenjr to recover, who fell back to the others in the group and fired into the mass of minotaurs with their bows once more. Ios saw his sword lying nearby and snatched it up.
"Karrick! Switch to the other rider, support Huld!" He shouted, running forward to relieve him. He lunged at the red one who crashed the side of his fist into the base of Karrick's skull, knocking him out instantly and retaliated against Ios. The two parried back and forth for several minutes as Ios called that Karrick was down, shouting to Vicenjr to recover him. From the corner of his eye, Ios could see that Huld had struck down the wind magic user with the help of Li and Lorenya. The red one demanded the rest of his attention however.
They continued fighting and he noticed that his opponent's sword was getting hotter and hotter, the runes darkening to an ominous blood red glow. In the middle of another round of parrying, the red one caught Ios off guard and shouldered him before coming in with a heavy downwards slash. Ios was forced to bring his sword up and stay where he was, locking blades.
"So, we meet again, so called 'White Plague'. Perhaps I should call you a 'White Shadow' instead? After all, you are never done following that Morvin boy around. Where is he anyway? Oh, wait, he is a prisoner in all but name back in Iukan, is he not? Yet, here you are, stuck with only a few soldiers and an aging sergeant. Why do you still fight for the race that has banished you, White Shadow?" The red one sneered at him.
"How do you know that? Who are you?" He shouted back. "These soldiers are all I need to take you down!" He shifted his weight to the side and threw the red one off. The taller man barely staggered and regained his composure quickly before retaliating.
"A very relevant question, for sure. I am the spymaster. Of course I would know this." He took a theatrical bow and looked up, a sly smirk on his face. "You, however, may call me Nydreich Vollhart." Barely having finished his statement, he threw a bolt of fire at Ios who barely dodged the flame. Following up the magic attack, Nydreich slashed at Ios several times.
Gradually being forced back, Ios glanced about him again. A stable of horses was open and the animals inside were baying loudly in panic. The team continued to struggle against the minotaurs, which were much larger in number and better equipped than he initially though.
It was apparent that the every villager had either escaped or died so he sent Iilah the order for the others to pull out and escape using any horses they could get and saw Harlow lead Tyca, Lorenya and Li to fetch them from the stables.
Ducking to avoid another slash, he retaliated, pushing forward to a fast mixture of cuts, stabs and slashes accompanied with jabs from his bladed elbows and knocks from his plated knees. Nydreich gritted his teeth and held his ground, even pushing back, using his size to his advantage. The two cut and nicked one another, getting more and more aggressive in their attacks. The larger man grabbed Ios to hold him still for a stab and was bitten as a result. His eyes widened in anger before he closing as Ios head butted him, making him stagger back. Ios slashed at him once more and Nydreich barely blocked it, retaliating with a quick lash of fire, forcing Ios to jump away.
Opening his eyes again, he looked seriously pissed off now. He dragged his hand across the blade once more, the runes turned whit and the fire became more intense. Shit. He charged forward, gripping the sword with both hands and swung wildly at Ios, who had to dive aside. By the time he had turned back to face him, Nydreich was almost on him again. Raising his sword in defence, Nydreich battered it aside and kicked him in the stomach, knocking him back and off his feet. Planting his hands on the ground he cartwheeled back quickly, recovering himself.
As soon as he was upright he had to duck down again to avoid the blazing edge of Nydreich's sword swinging for his neck. He pushed up with hand into Nydreich's arm, opening up wide for a counter and stabbed at his side. Nydreich twisted away once again and threw fire at Ios, catching his shoulder and making him grunt from the searing pain to bear it and pat out the embers quickly. By now the others were all mounted and moving for the exit of the village. To his right, Iilah continued to hold back the minotaurs with a constant stream of fire. Despite her trying her best, they were slowly edging forward.
"Iilah! The others are out, let's get out of here already!"
"I agree, let us leave this place." She responded and suddenly turned, charging towards him and Nydreich. Ios jumped onto her saddle as she passed while Nydreich dived out of the way. She took off immediately, narrowly avoiding her tail being grabbed by snapping it back and forth, lacerating several minotaurs.
Looking back he saw Nydreich standing, watching them leave. He was evidently furious as were the minotaurs, who began tearing down the remaining buildings, leaving the village a burning mess. Ios patted Iilah's side and she headed for the rest of the platoon, who followed her once she took the lead.
"We'll need to move around a few valleys and disperse into the forests." Ios told her with a sigh. "This just got really messy, didn't it?"
"It most certainly has. I cannot imagine this Nydreich will let us escape so easily, he is sure to pursue us for several days or even weeks after this skirmish."
"Skirmish? That was one hell of a skirmish. We lost our own horses and probably half the supplies, unless the others recovered any of their own mounts. Karrick probably has concussion and I would not be surprised if at least one of the foot-soldiers are as well. Run and recover it is..."