The unit was moving slowly through the underbrush the locals called a forest. It was rainy, unpleasant and uncomfortable, but they were accustomed to such conditions. You would never hear these soldiers complaining. Everybody suddenly stopped when a tree fell right in front of Corporal McDunn with a loud thud. “McDunn, status!” Tela whispered. “No visual on hostiles, recommend scatter formation”, the Corporal looked worried. “Unit, scatter!”.
Moments later dozens of arrows started flying in the direction of Tela Marbir and her unit. No one could see the attackers, though. “On me! Shields up!”, the unit instantly got together, closing their shields around them, creating a decent form of protection against all the arrows. The bombardment stopped.
A few long moments of silence passed.
“You, warmbloods! We no want you in our marsh, we no want you in our forest!”, the voice was high-pitched and nasty. That was their chance, Tela motioned to Private Oaken. A young boy, shaking and sweaty, stepped out of the formation and was instantly replaced by another soldier behind him. “We come in peace. Our mission is reconnaissance and diplomacy”, Oaken proclaimed loudly, not seeing who he’s talking to.
“Too much weapon for diplomacy…”, the last word was filled with disdain.
Oaken looked back to his sergeant. Tela gave him a nod. “It helped, didn’t it?”, Private tried to smile, but it was more like a weird grin.
No answer followed. The mist started to thicken.
Private Oaken opened his mouth to continue negotiating with the lizardfolk, but a scream pierced the air.
A cloud of arrows descended upon the unit’s position. Several of them were now in Oaken’s body, him falling to the ground, expressionless.
“Shields!!!”, Tela Marbir commanded. Ten, twenty, thirty lizardmen came running from behind the trees, jumping from the branches and crawling from under the ground. The savages were having a hard time breaking through the shield formation, but Tela’s unit also couldn’t get in a position to advance. The lizardfolk were clawing on the shields, trying to climb on top of them, screaming and raging. One of their spears got into the crack between shields and pierced right through Tela’s left eye. She screamed in pain, but the damage was minimal, she could still see and pain was subsiding. To her right, Corporal McDunn shouted, “Fuck diplomacy!”. He pushed on his shield, the lizardmen attacking him lost balance and fell prone. McDunn finished them off with quick sword blows, lay his shield down and picked up one of the lizardfolk spears. He did nothing like the instructors taught of combat — not disciplined, not composed, not focused, not intelligent in his decision-making. McDunn was dealing death to his foes, screaming at the top of his lungs all that time, spinning and swirling and slaying. That gave the unit time to advance and take the fight to the lizardfolk. It was only a matter of time now until Tela’s unit made short work if the savages.
McDunn lay dead at the top of a heap of lizardmen bodies. He was covered in blood and gore. And he looked happy.
“Will my eye get better, doctor?” Tela looked up, but only her right eye was working. A very unusual feeling, to be sure.
“You’ll be able to do blacksmith work in the army”, doctor replied.
“We have you listed as Sergeant Tela Marbir in our books, but every visitor was referring to you as Berrah? Why is that?”, doctor sat behind his desk. Tela looked at him and smirked, “Yeah… That’s my, uh, army name, so to speak. It’s from another language. Berrah Blackheart – means stalwart and unrelenting in that custom. Um, doc?”
Doctor got up and took a few steps towards the woman.
“Doc, do you have one of those, uh, cool eyepatches?”
By Yurii “Shahor” Bisyk
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