Federation-Apocalypse Session 171 – Into the Magestorm

Raphael's fresco The Battle of Ostia, an indic...

Charge!

With the negotiations clearly at an end – even if they had been mostly a stall for time on the enemies part – it was time to get on with the battle!

(Kevin, cheerily and loudly) “Was that enough time for everybody to get ready? We can wait a bit longer if you need us too!”

(Marty, similarily) “Yeah, it’s not like we have anything to do!”

There was a moment of shocked silence. Were these people completely insane, or did they actually expect to defeat several hundred organized opponents?

Then the defensive line wavered as many of the people on it considered the spell which was restraining their own powers.

For good or ill, a very frustrated young woman acted to brace the line. Her response was another lone arrow shot into the midst of your group, barely missing Kevin’s cheek. She cursed in frustration; even with her own powers backing the attack, that… NOXIOUS child with his insane blather and impossible arrogance had too many defenses wrapped around him!

Oh well. The explosive arrow would have been BETTER on a direct hit, but “nearby” was good enough with attack magic of that caliber!

The arrows fiery detonation was both quite impressive (Inflicting a LOT of damage and blowing Raphael and Marty off their feet) and the opening signal for some fifty fighters to appear in their midst and start attacking.

Drat it. Evidently the local definitions didn’t include tactical jumps as “teleportation”.

Kevin promptly spun his innate gating ability out with an amplifier-spell -to cover the entire area hurling all but thirty of their remaining opponents and rather a lot of local animals to Kadia – and into the restraining arms of the Thralls there (who would provide the after-the-battle party). He might have retreated under normal circumstances, but not as a wolf.

That left them with twenty immediate assailants and ten backup types.

Marty was mildly concerned… His regeneration was running out, and things were getting real!

Oh, wait; there were swarms of Thralls nearby. He just had them link to him and start pouring in the healing.

Raphael was, once again, sure that he was dealing with lunatics. They’d just taken some massive damage, their reserves needed time to rebuild, and Kevin was wasting a perfect escape effect on attacking. The boy was INSANE!

The vast majority of them struck at Kevin, with an outpouring of magic and weapon attacks. After that spell… He was clearly the one to take out.

There were chain scythes (even if they did look like clouds of metal links rather than something solid at times), toxic clouds, allergic transmutations, fireballs, lightning bolts, stone hands reaching up to grab people, energy drains, spears, arrows, swords, knives, and a geas – mostly centered on Kevin

Kevin spent a lot of his stockpiled defensive effects and burned through the last of his regenerative reserves surviving the damage (thank goodness for being tough enough to ignore some of it) – but that still left him coughing madly, sneezing and choking, almost blinded, sliding around on something slippery, and seriously drained.

Raphaels golems – including the one he’d been using as armor – were blown into dust, annoying him. They’d done a large part of their job though; HE was having trouble with his footing, was flash-blinded, and was also feeling an urge to abandon the battle and flee – but he wasn’t seriously injured.

Marty was finding it hard to maintain his footing, found his weapons difficult to grasp, was blinded by a brilliant flash of light, and found himself being slowly pushed away from the rest of the group while choking, sneezing, coughing, finding his eyes watering too badly to fight, and feeling an urge to flee.

(Kevin) “That’s really not bad!”

Kevin’s three Thralls, not being intoxicated with being mighty smash-them werewolves like their boss – and not being primary targets – had sensibly blipped out for a few moments during that entire mess. Kevin could have too – but he was just too excited.

The opponents behind what had USED to be the enemy line unleashed a storm of arrows and greatly-boosted fireballs.

Kevin absorbed the spells, sparing everyone (Raphael needed time) – but reaching his absorption limits. At this rate, he might actually lose to a bandit encampment… That would be HORRIBLY embarrassing! It looked like he was actually going to have to resort to tactics! And maybe even KEEP ON using them in future encounters!

Hm… An adaptive Shapechange variation – boosted to mass effect to cover Marty, Raphael, and the Thralls – should be enough to dump all those assorted penalties. It might not be much good to Raphael, since none of those things would really stop him (he just needed to resummon his defenses) – but Marty was going to be severely curtailed if he couldn’t hold his weapons, maintain his footing, or stop suffering from allergies.

He used one of his own bits of personal time to cast it – having one of the Thralls handle keeping him looking unruffled.

Lets see… twelve major opponents remaining in the group in melee with them, another five on the ridge above, thirteen minor guys still about who’d just gotten lucky.

Marty attempted another of his patent focused blows to take out one of the monkey mages – but he or she got up a wall of iron at the last moment, and he lost almost all his power shoving the knife through it.

Raphael shook off the mental influences, summoned more protective constructs – and warped space a bit more, to make sure that many of their opponents would also be affected by any area effects that they happened to use – regardless of where they were trying to target them.

Kevin went with Oratory again – attempting to render the rest of their opponents non-hostile and – once again – suggesting that it was time to think about surrendering, since almost everyone else was gone…

That brought down the last of the little guys, leaving only seventeen opponents who were still capable of resisting.

Still… Kevin was beginning to think that the “just walk in” plan might have been unwise – these people just weren’t willing to surrender, no matter how outclassed they were (perhaps in part because their side was obviously going for captures rather than kills, so there was no reason not to “fight to the end!”) and his links with Marty and Raphael indicated their agreement; it was time to call in the Thralls…

The sixty concealed Thralls were well-stocked with disabling spells stored as power words, minor witchcraft curses, subdual damage, and ways to hinder people – and they did outnumber their remaining opponents four to one counting Kevin’s and Marty’s personal companions.

Their opponents defenses were good – but not THAT good, especially with the amount of power they’d expended fighting Marty, Kevin, and Raphael. A number of the Thralls wound up stuck in trap-spells and such for a few minutes, but the spell-barrage brought the battle to a swift end.

Hm. No casualties! Maybe that was a tactical victory after all!

Kevin was now willing to give more credit to the “sneaky lion elder” bit; the Lion elder who’d given him the map to the Panther’s hadn’t mentioned anything about how much raw power they had at their disposal. It was still possible that he hadn’t known – these guys had had a LOT more resources than was at all reasonable – but it still looked like something was fishy somewhere.

Oh well! They’d probably horrified any observers, especially since most of the Thralls who’d put in the spell barrage were still in sneaky-small-animal forms and cloaked against detection!

Hm. Did he have circuses in Kadia? With clowns and trapezes and animal tricks? If not, get some set up immediately! All captured children and youngsters (not many of those, they were probably stashed back in the caverns) got free tickets to the circus!

Hurrah!

They looted the place mostly for the fun of it – and to look for any connections to the assassin-lizards.

Kevin had some of the Thralls help Raphael start building more golems. He’d gotten them all blown up!

He went and apologized to Raphael.

(Raphael) “Oh don’t worry about it too much; they needed a redesign anyway.”

Raphael took a look at the stuff that was scattered around… It would take several days to rebuild his golems anyway.

Kevin was checking his new collection… Thirty-eight actual Panthers, including two powerful ones who were upset about being denied their “rights”, a few opportunists, some adolescents who wanted higher status, and a bunch who wondered what all the fuss was about.

Marty evaluated the loot.

There’d been six (!) caravans camped here (the caravaners were now running carnaval stalls; they hadn’t put up any real resistance). There were crates of various ores and gems in one pile, foodstuffs and other supplies in a second, and a stockpile of magical and alchemical supplies in a third. There was a training ground with mockups of various tactical situations and target dummies spread around. There were charts and maps of the supposed layout of the Cat Clan residence. There were detailed ward diagrams of the city’s protections and the Cat Clan’s protections. There were maps and drawing of the various mountain passes and approaches to the city.

For BANDITS?

Had they been setting up for a full-scale invasion? If they just wanted to challenge the cats, why did they need layouts of the city protections?

Looking at the crates… there were large piles of enchanted weapons, armor and charms. Some of them were quite powerful – like the ones that had been used against them. All in all, just the stuff on the surface represented enough money to practically purchase a clan. The sheer amount of enchanted equipment was staggering once they’d stripped the stuff off the captured and looted the remaining stockpiles. There was enough gear to equip at least three hundred soldiers in rather high style…

That pretty much said “major attack”. Had they been going to try and seize the entire city? Possibly starting by taking out poor Mrs Nine-and-a-half and starting a civil war through the rabbits?

Kevin had the thralls do some probes and such back in Kadia.

(Raphael) “If they had this much stuff, why not just buy their way back in? I am sure that is possible here; even if they WERE disgraced, this much money will talk.”

(Kevin) “I think they could just come back as a new clan with this much loot!”

According to the Thralls back in Kadia, the basic plan that had been sold to the rank-and-file was that the bandits would fake an attack on the walls with enough equipment to make the attack seem real while also being able to hold out for some time. That would draw the city defenders to the walls and away from the city core. The bandits would retreat once their ability to pose a threat was exhausted. Meanwhile, the Panthers would get into the center of the city via a hole in the defenses created by the Rabbits and assault the Cat Clan directly. Trained Rabbit teams were to run around the city, delaying attempts to assist the Cat Clan residence, and in general cause chaos and confusion in the process.

Huh. The number of Rabbits they had and the number of targets for the Rabbits in the initial strikes did not seem to match up – even adding in rabbits who’d been trained but were currently back in the city. There seemed to be way more targets than they had rabbit teams to assault. The captured didn’t seem to realize that, since they’d all heard different stories on the exact list of targets and had never bothered to compare lists.

Were there other groups in training? Operatives already inside? Were they being set up to bite off more than they could chew?

Kevin kind of thought that the Rabbits were cannon fodder, and that most of the Panthers were just a diversion – and, most likely, that mind-manipulating Shadowdancer was setting things up for someone else’s attack on the city. Good odds; she wasn’t among those captured.

That turned out to be a good guess.

Outside funding looks pretty probable… She WOULD be cross though; this operation was blown, lots of investment had been captured, she had a complete failure to report – and she might have some friends or relatives that she actually cared about amongst those captured.

Kevin had thought that her “generic grievance” insistence was a bit odd.

They’d have to see what was going on in those caverns.

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