Denam and his troops strode into the Phorampa Wildwood, their brows thick with sweat after two difficult battles against the creatures of the forest. The beasts attacked with depressing regularity, always coming as the voiceless commander from above ordered them into the next zone. What creatures would be the next to fight against them? The question was always in the forefront of Denam’s mind, just ahead of why he always seemed to be deployed with all-female warriors when all of the interesting story characters were male… As he reached the summit of the hill, he heard a voice boom out from the heavens.
He readied his troops, arranging as always the buxom warriors in a protective circle around him. He didn’t know why he’d been made into a Mage when he had such excellent physical stats, but that was a question for another time. As it was, he needed all the protection he could get.
Once he was happy with the arrangement, the battle got underway. Scanning the field, he saw that not only would he be fighting the by now standard assortment of dragons and sprites, but a few skeletons were present as well. He cursed the voiceless commander’s poor unit choice; with almost all warriors and no clerics this would be a difficult fight… he’d have to take down each skeleton within three turns, or else they’d just revive to fight again. With all the troop’s money spent on recruiting girls that had names suspiciously similar to the voiceless commander’s classmates, he’d have to fight perfectly to win.
“Amanda, move as close as you can towards the first skeleton.”
With luck, he’d be able to take out the skeletons first, then put down the rest while the skeletons were stilled. It wasn’t the best plan, but with five warriors and a mage what could you do? He watched as the girl moved to within a space of the skeleton, then stopped. He positioned the rest of the warriors, then it was time for the enemies to make their moves. As he marched slowly in place, he watched as the dragons and sprites neared, their colossal and diminutive frames somehow each fitting within the battlefield’s carefully laid out diamonds.
One of the sprites launched a spell, its name clearly spelled out before shooting towards Amanda. It was a poison spell, but it looked like it might catch the skeleton as well… Could skeletons even be poisoned? He doubted it, as they lacked a circulatory system, but then again skeletons shouldn’t be able to move anyway and they managed that…
The spell glanced off Amanda, and Denam looked above her head to see the result… miss. He looked over to the skeleton, and was bemused to see it was colored green, as if it had been struck by an errant can of paint from some unseen poltergeist. He laughed, his head bobbing as he continued his pointless march, looking like a misplaced fitness instructor.
The rest of the moves were uneventful… besides the poison spell, it was just positioning. He decided to change his strategy as one dragon had moved closer to his warriors than the bulk of the enemy force. He might be able to take it down if he focused his forces, so he ordered Amanda and the rest of the female warriors to take it out. As Amanda, Cory, Jenny and Christi struck the scaled beast, their blows ringing off its thick hide, he mused again on the voiceless commander’s choice of personnel. What he wouldn’t give for someone interesting from the storyline to talk to!
He cast a quick fireball, which did a scant 2 damage according to the numbers magically floating above the dragon. Battles had certainly gotten a lot easier since the introduction of standardised damage and life totals, but he wondered if it was really necessary. Back in the Academy, such a question would have brought him the ire of his peers, but one of the benefits of being the main protagonist was that you could voice your opinions more readily than your peers… not that the voiceless commander ever took any notice of the myriad of text floating around. Ending his turn, he waited for the enemy to make their moves.
One of the skeletons was the first to act. Instead of moving against his forces, the skeleton (who was adorably named Vyncent) chose to withdraw to the main dragonic force, ending his movement right next to the biggest dragon on the field. Denam switched his gaze to the next in line to move, but was surprised to see the skeleton wasn’t finished yet… he drew his blade, and slashed the dragon across the wings!
Whoa. What was going on here? The dragon seemed as surprised as Denam, and only barely managed to perform a counterattack in time. As the next skeleton moved, Denam was shocked to see that it too targeted the nearest dragon and took a swing. Its enchanted sword did well against its onetime ally, and the beast fell to half its health. As he watched in amazement, each skeleton ignored Denam’s forces and instead concentrated against the dragons and sprites on the field.
It looked like that errant poison spell in the beginning had somehow broken the skeleton’s and the dragon’s alliance. This was distinctly odd… But he’d better make the best of it while it lasted. He ordered a full-out attack on the dragons, focusing on one at a time and bringing it down with his army of amazons. The dragons chose to fight the new skeletal aggressors, and as the former allies conflicted Denam’s forces were able to wipe out the dragons without contest. Phew, he thought. That wasn’t half bad… now for these skeletons.
But even with the dragons and sprites defeated, the skeletons didn’t attack his forces. What was going on here? Was this a battle against another voiceless commander? He didn’t think so… but what else could it be? He ordered his troops to full back and defend, in case the skeletons began to attack, but nothing happened. As skeleton began its turn, he half expected it to charge up to him and attempt to strike him down, but each time it simply made a small move and ended its turn.
The battle hadn’t ended, as he hadn’t heard from the shouting voice, but what was there to do? He’d feel bad turning against the skeletons that had helped him so, but what else could he do? As turn after turn ended, he weighed his options. Eventually, the voiceless commander would look down and see that he hadn’t won the battle yet… He didn’t want to lose control of the battle, as had happened before when he’d presented suboptimal results to the voiceless commander, but he wasn’t about to strike these skeletons down in cold blood either. The girls had even started to chat with them; for randomly selected antagonists, they were pretty friendly guys. Maybe he could just slowly order the squad to slink off..?
Suddenly, he felt the cold gaze of the voiceless commander. Crap. The girls stopped their idle chit-chat, and their eyes filled with the inky blackness of a being possessed. He watched in horror as he watched one of the battle maidens move behind one of the skeletons. Don’t do it, he pleaded inside his mind. Can’t we just retreat from the battle? We’ve already collected the tarot cards, we don’t need to control this inhospitable forest land… As he watched the girl draw her sword, a single clichéd tear dripped down his cheek. Why did it have to end this way? This battle could have been special… instead, it’ll be just another on a long campaign of horror and violence. Why didn’t you let us cling together? He closed his eyes and felt the reverberation across the battlefield as the sword struck bone.