William looked at the army arrayed out before him. It looked quite impressive, even if the numbers were inferior to the human army. Even the troops that weren’t Williams were performing adequately in their formations. It had taken more than a week to get them to mesh well together with William’s troops, but that was mostly because only a few squads at a time had room to maneuver in the keep. It was small and cramped, at least for the number of soldiers William had, and they couldn’t really afford to stay there for too long.
Thus, it was time to move into battle. William and Jordan had considered the possibility of a night attack on the humans, but with the whole army instead of just harassment. However, they determined that the night would be just as much of a drawback for themselves as for the enemy. While the terrain was mostly even, there were enough potholes around to twist the ankle of a gevai- or a horse. They also couldn’t sneak an entire army out of the fort, so the humans would have time to form up anyway. Catching them while they were groggy had its advantages, but they had to consider their own troops fatigue as well. They would either have to stay awake or be woken up early enough to get into formation, and the anticipation of battle could tire them out before it even started.
It had already been determined that the human army didn’t have much in the way of a defensible location. The terrain was mostly flat, and there weren’t any particular terrain advantages they had. They did have a palisade set up, though they must have brought all the wood with them. William suspected that most of it was brought with the larger group of reinforcements, further indicating they would have been easy to defeat when they first arrived. As it was, the humans still weren’t in a good position.
William and Jordan had come up with a battle plan, though William admitted he only provided a few minor changes to an already solid plan. Optimally, they would have attacked in coordination with the forces from the fort when they first arrived, if their troops hadn’t been tired from marching. That would have been possible if the fort had better contact with them and they had rested nearby. That would have also required them to stop human scouts from sneaking about and setting up traps, but that was the job of the fort, even if they hadn’t fulfilled it.
Thus, they would go with the second best plan… third, if William had total control over the battle plan. The very best option would be to leave the keep and let the humans have it, or just never have built it in the first place. There was no strategic value in a mud hole such as the one they were tasked with defending… but that was their task. The humans also didn’t see that it had no value, so defeating them was William’s job… even if he would rather have set up a fort a hundred miles away in almost any direction.
The humans were clearly uninterested in attacking, so the gevai had to go on the offensive. However, the humans didn’t really have a defensible location. What was a palisade against magic? It was merely a number of logs. While it would be a ponderous duty to break the logs with magic, leveling them by shifting the dirt was relatively easy. William wondered if they had considered that at all, and hoped they hadn’t. Though they had wizards, they weren’t likely to be well studied in warfare… because if they had been, they might not have bothered.
As the gevai army approached, Jordan frowned. “They aren’t coming out to meet us. The scouts indicate that the camp is still occupied… what are they doing?”
William shook his head, “I’m not sure. We’ll carry on with the plan, cautiously.”
As they approached within two hundred meters, archers started firing from behind the palisades. They arced arrows up into the air. They were firing blindly, but with a few brave souls giving them the proper range it was not hard to hit an army. A large number of arrows fell upon the front ranks of the gevai army, but they raised their shields to block most of them. Only a few gevai fell to the first volley.
The army continued to march forward. The palisades did at least protect the archers from retaliatory fire, unless William was willing to send his own archers up front. However, blind firing was less useful, and they were saving their arrows for a coming opportunity. That opportunity quickly arose as the front line approached closer to the palisades. The archers continued to fire, but for the subsequent volleys where the arrows would have a greater chance to penetrate armor the gevai near the front who were the designated mages created a crosswind, nearly negating the impact of the volleys. It only took a small wind to turn and slow the arrows enough to be nearly useless, though it took the work of more than a dozen mages to cover the entire front of the army, spread out throughout the ranks.
As the leading infantry approached within fifty meters of the walls, another group of mages started different magic. This was the furthest they could effectively control the ground below the palisades… and in a dozen seconds a section of the palisades had fallen.
They could not take down the entire side, nor did they want to. Instead they only cleared an area as wide as the front of their army. The narrowness of an entrance benefitted those with inferior numbers… and the gevai were definitely fewer in numbers.
When the walls started falling, the human archers fled to behind the infantry. “It doesn’t look like a trap…” Jordan said, “But I suppose we should continue to advance cautiously.”
William shook his head. “That’s right. As long as we aren’t careless… the humans have trapped themselves somewhere it is hard for them to maneuver that’s to our advantage, but we need to leave them a way out.” That was already part of the plan. The cavalry and more companies of infantry were watching for humans exiting from any of the side entrances, or even coming out of the rear entrance… but if they were to flee from the rear William wouldn’t stop them. William hoped they would do just that, both for their sake as well as for his own troops.