Mistress Abels addressed the squad under her command, looking over the two dozen members present. She nodded. “Good, everyone formed up quickly. As you can see, the enemy is beginning their advance. We have just received our target. Right there-” she pointed straight towards the army, “Nearly front and center, there is a group of necromancers. There had previously been no word of Ruclua training necromancers in their country, and we still believe this to be true. However, it seems they aren’t above hiring them. Their origins are unclear, but most of them are believed to be second tier, based on the number of undead they are controlling.” Barrett focused his eyes to see the first battalion of hundreds that was advancing… seeing a somewhat familiar stiffness in their motions. “Our job is to take out the necromancers. Of course, we will not just be rushing into the front of the army. We will be coordinating our attacks with the other strike teams and the rest of the battle.”
Their squad was positioned just behind and to the side of the front center ranks of the ‘Stredo’ army. That would allow them to move past and break into the center ranks of the enemy when the opportunity arose. Barrett saw there were perhaps two dozen ranks of soldiers between the front of the army and the necromancers- placing them actually in the front quarter. The entire enemy army was about a hundred soldiers deep and two hundred wide- more than twenty thousand soldiers in total. The zombie battalion was merely a few percent of that, though it was sufficient in size to take over a small city, if they were effective in combat. Barrett wondered how a single necromancer could control fifty or so zombies… but perhaps in this case they were more like golems of some sort. Speaking of which, there were also iron golems among the army. They looked much like a soldier in full armor, though with no faces beneath their helmets- and no ‘below’ the helmet at all, it instead being solid.
One volley of arrows came from the ‘Stredo’ army towards the advancing front ranks of the zombies. Though the arrows all hit, very few actually managed to bring down a target. Even if the arrows could penetrate through armor and into the body, most locations simply didn’t matter to a zombie continuing to function. Only major structural damage would cause them to deanimate- and even then parts of them might remain animated.
As they met with the front ranks of the cultivator army, that very thing started happening quickly. Most of those on the front lines were first or second tier Immortal Berserkers, a force perfectly suited for cutting into enemies. The initial clash was a bit slow before they realized that blows that would kill a normal person didn’t work, but soon enough they were chopping clean through the zombies, rendering them useless. This took a large amount of berserk energy, but they had others who could swap out with them. It was only a few minutes before half of the zombies were gone, and they would not last much longer- but the rest of the army from Ruclua had started mobilizing.
The Rucluan army had started to spread out to the sides, and their intent to use their numbers to surround the other army was clear. Of course, they could not completely encircle them unless the army of cultivators didn’t move at all, but they were capable of attacking both flanks and the front with overwhelming numbers.
A messenger came up to Mistress Abels, and she read the short missive. “Alright squad, get ready. We’ll be moving up with the front lines, and when they meet, there will be one volley of arrows before we move tol force our way to those necromancers. Remember our practice- no dilly dallying, don’t give them time to react. The necromancers are the primary target, but they have iron golems and warriors guarding them as well. If possible, the berserkers will hold them off while the duelists kill the necromancers.”
The entire squad waited in anticipation as they slowly approached the enemy lines. They walked in formation, four ranks across and six deep. They were trying to look like a typical- if small- squad of elite soldiers. The duelists from the Order of Four Winds were mostly concealed behind the larger Immortal Berserkers. While the ruse wasn’t exactly foolproof, they didn’t need it to work for long.
Once the two front lines met, Barrett was prepared to move into position. Then a volley of arrows hit the front legion of the enemy. For the most part the arrows looked random- but they were actually targeted to open up paths for various strike teams. While targeting individual soldiers was nearly impossible for normal archers, a squad of cultivator archers could fairly consistently hit most of the soldiers in a specific area, based on relative positions. Of course, this was only possible because the enemy was for the most part lower tier. Starting about three ranks behind the very front, a zig-zagging line of soldiers fell to the arrows, leading more or less from the necromancers to the position of the strike team.
Barrett stepped out to the side with his shield up, taking his position second from the right in their triangle. Then, the entire squad rushed forward. Barrett didn’t have to do more than shove dying people out of the way for the first few ranks- toppling a few soldiers along the way. There was a momentary break in the lines that had not yet reformed, and the squad was stomping over fallen bodies. However, there were still enemies on the far edges- where Barrett was. He swung out with his axe, chopping into anyone who stepped in front of him, pushing them out of the way.
The ranks were filled with first tier warriors and common soldiers, and they couldn’t do anything to stop the charging squad, especially not with Mistress Abels, a fifth tier, at the front. By the time they realized they needed to stop the advancing force, it was already too late- two final ranks of normal soldiers were bowled over in an instant, and they came face to face with a dozen each of iron golems, necromancers, warriors wielding poleaxes, and some other type of mage- no, energy cultivators- that hadn’t been easily visible from a distance.