Actions and their Consequences Spellcraft and Heavy Artillery Chapter 13

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Gilbert had food, water, weapons. All the things Tom hadn’t been able to get. He also had shelter constructed. It was well concealed, a series of lean-to’s mostly under the river bank. It was exactly the camp Tom should have put together for his people, but didn’t have the mental or spiritual resources left to manage.“Gil, this is amazing. How did you survive?”

“Well, I was near the back of the line, and I saw their energy signatures. I tried to warn everyone, but the attack was already going. I managed to get the people near me out, but that’s all I could do. We ran until I saw water sign. Then we walked to the river. This area is actually concealed, there was a cash of Gandian weapons hidden under the river bank. It’s pretty tricky, all the weapons are rigged to blow as soon as they are fired, it was a well concealed trap, set up to look like it was anything but. Subtle weaves too, most mages wouldn’t have picked up on it. Hell, I almost missed it and I’m, without being modest, possibly the best in the world at interpreting weaves.”

“How did this happen? How the hell did they beat us?”

“Yeah, I should have seen this coming. It wasn’t you, it was an easy easy mistake to make. They thought, they showed creativity. They haven’t done this before. We didn’t plan, not really, we assumed they were going to keep on not planning. Surprise… our enemies don’t stick to our script.”

“Yeah, it seems obvious. Nothing about the way we fought this war has been all that smart I guess.”

“No, and once they realized what was happening they must have pulled the compliance weave off of some of their people who were already loyal, gave them access to their own creativity. There are always a few bastards willing to sell out their own people, even if they know what’s happening. I have some ideas for ways keep the fight going, even with our forces as reduced as they are. Ways to really fucking hurt them. Thing is, I’m not a leader. I don’t want that responsibility. I want to make my plans, create my gadgets, and stay out of the spotlight.”

“No fucking way anyone is following me anymore.”

“You’d be surprised. The men love you, this, for whatever reason, increased that love in most of them. It made them hate the king, and Lord Conrose even more. They blame him, not you, and they want his head. If you promise them some payback they will do whatever you need.”

“Okay. I don’t trust me. I can’t do this shit. I couldn’t even keep a camp together.”

“You know what, fuck you Tom. You owe these people, doesn’t matter how you feel about it. You started this shit, now you have to finish it.”

“Look, I’m sorry, I can’t do it. I can’t get the bodies out of my head. Too many died.”

Charlie said, “Nope. Sorry son, you don’t get to get off that easy. Fuck, neither do I. We fucked up, we fucked up huge. We get to eat that, we get to wear it, and we get to keep going. End of story.”

“Okay, got it. We have to make things right. You can make me lead this mess, but you can’t make me think I’m good at it.”

“That’s okay, wouldn’t want you getting a swelled head. Now lets grab some grub and figure out how in hell we are going to get through this.”

The food wasn’t much. It was what Gilbert had been able to find. He was practically a miracle worker, his mage sight gave him so many tools the rest of them lacked, but he was only one man. He could root out life if it was anywhere in the blasted landscape, but only if it was in his field of view. The rations were thin, thinner even than they had been at the warehouse. Still, it was calories. There was even a stew pot. “Where did all this come from?” Charlie asked.

“I found an abandoned farm house, mostly fallen in. Guess it was so old they didn’t bother to burn it down. Anyway, some stuff left in it. This pot for instance. It’s been a lifesaver out here. Man, I can’t imagine how you normals don’t just fall over dead in childhood.”

“Well, we usually don’t live in blasted wastelands. Seems like the sight would be a major, major asset.”

“I have an idea about that, but I need someone who can make weaves. My disability gets in the way here. Most of the time it’s no big deal, but right now I would trade half my sight for the ability to grab onto one of these lines.”

“Yeah, well, you at least have that ability. The rest of us have to rely on regular old vision.”

“For now. I think I have an idea for a weave that I can put on a pair of goggles…. it might let normals see weaves.”

“That, that would be a game changer. If we had that and the other side didn’t…”

They kept talking. Their plans slowly building. Gilbert started touching on his actual tactics, “So, we hit fast and get out fast. No pitched battles, ever. Make sure we have escape routes, multiple ways in and out of any target.”

Charlie said, “That’s great, but we still have the possibility of information leaks. I would like to see us set things up so that we are split into small groups, each one with missions, but basically on its own. That way, no way for the enemy to catch more than a few of us. Maybe have it so the groups don’t interact at all, or even know about each other. Really simple message protocols, each group only has contact with one other person outside the group, and then it’s only a single member.”

“Okay, that works. I doubt they know our faces, at least most of us. A few of us, including us three, probably have to stay out here in the desert, maybe move into the mountains. We can figure out how to hurt them from here.”

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