Supreme Magus - Chapter 1004 Clever Plans Part 2
Chapter 1004 Clever Plans Part 2
Kortus Dast was a mage in his mid-thirties about 1.73 meters (5’8″) tall, with short black hair and ice-blue eyes. He found it hard to accept that such a young woman was taller than him and held his same rank, yet he managed to keep the edge off his voice.
“Negative, Sir. Aside from setting the perimeter, there isn’t much to do.” Phloria actually had an eerie feeling in her gut, but preferred to keep it to herself.
‘If I tell them and I’m wrong, I’ll be blamed for wasting everyone’s time while if I’m right, I’ll be blamed for not being able to prevent whatever will happen. I already learned the rules of this game during the past year.
‘To undermine my success, they’ll make so that no matter the choice I make, it will be considered wrong in hindsight. I’ll share my impressions only with Friya, so that if the worst happens and we save the day thanks to her guildmates, at least her career will flourish.’ She thought.
Phloria was tired of playing nice and let others ride her achievements to further their career while she was stuck as a Captain. The moment Kortus dismissed the meeting, she joined her sisters for dinner, uncaring for all the disdainful looks the soldiers threw at her.
“Can you feel it, too?” Quylla asked. Even though she sat in front of the big campfire, she couldn’t stop shivering.
“Yes.” Phloria said while rubbing her arms to get rid of the chill running through her body.
“Feel what?” Friya felt left out, so she Hushed their surroundings even though it was considered a rude gesture.
“After spending a long time in Kulah, both Quylla and I became sensitive to huge mana fields.” Phloria said.
“It couldn’t be stronger than that of the academy.” Friya raised an eyebrow in disbelief. “I’m not saying that I don’t believe you, just that it doesn’t make much sense. Everyone here is a veteran of several battlefields yet you’re the only ones affected. What makes Kulah so special?”
“It’s not a matter of how strong the field is, but how hostile it is.” Quylla explained. “The Mana Reactor, the Golems, and even the gates, everything was designed to keep people out. We didn’t notice it at first, but after a while, you feel like there’s a blade constantly pocking at your throat.”
“The good news is that whatever it is, the source of the mana field has nothing of the pure hatred and suffering that permeated Kulah. The bad news is that these kinds of things are never natural.” Phloria said.
After killing her first human at barely fifteen during an academy’s exam, surviving Balkor, Nalear, and the Forbidden Magic ritual in Zantia, Friya had learned that, for a mage, optimism was the quickest way to the grave.
She doubled the guard around the camp and had her guildmates keep everything they might need at hand in the case the enemy trapped them inside a dimensional sealing array.
The army soldiers sneered at the excessive safety precautions the Crystal Shield took, considering them a bunch of paranoid rookies. The mercenaries, instead, considered the soldiers a bunch of morons.
Not only had their guild master yet to fail them, but she had also negotiated for that mission a payment equal to what the soldiers would earn in a month.
The night passed with no incidents, just as Phloria expected.
“Trained opponents act completely differently from regular bandits, sis.” She said to Friya during their guard shift. The three of them had decided to not get separated from each other, no matter what, so they did everything together.
“Even if someone was expecting our arrival, they will not leave obvious traps to not reveal their presence until they are ready to strike. Usually, the first day is all about scouting the number of enemies, their tactics, and their defenses.
“There’s a lot that you can discover about a group just by looking at how they set up their camp. A smart soldier will not employ cookie-cut strategies, but adapt those they are more skilled with to the situation at hand.
“Have your guildmates scout more than guard, so that the enemy can’t observe us freely, and rather than setting up complex arrays, focus on simple but annoying formations, like barriers.
“This way, during the first attack, the strong energy field will be hard to take down and screw the enemy’s tempo, giving you the time to devise a proper counter.
“The greatest flaw of being a bodyguard is that you always play on defense, reacting rather than striking first.” Phloria drew a sketch of their surroundings, marking the points where she would put scouts if she was in charge of attacking the caravan.
“Thanks, sis. Did you learn this stuff at the boot camp or at the officer training course?” Friya was mostly self-taught about strategy, and even though escort missions were the most common, they were also those she hated the most.
Crushing the enemy meant nothing if the client died or the goods were stolen in the chaos of the battle. Her favorite assignments were clearing dungeons and capturing criminals, preferably the dead or alive kind, because they allowed her to go all-out.
“No, I learned from experience. The boot camp is all about teamwork and basic strategies, whereas the officer course is focused on war tactics. The problem with standard strategies is that not only any cultured enemy knows them as well, but also no battle plan survives the encounter with the enemy.
“There are too many things that can go wrong. One person makes a mistake and the entire formation crumbles.” Phloria and Friya sighed while thinking about the teammates they had lost over time due to bad luck, carelessness, or incompetence.
“You know, I can’t help but think back when we were at the academy, following Lith and his paranoid multi-layered plans.” Friya said. “Even when one of them failed, there was always a contingency plan, and in the end, we all came out alive, no matter the danger.”
“That’s because Lith is so strong that even when we were taken by surprise, he’d buy us enough time to regroup and strategize. On top of that, we were no pushover either and were capable of executing his plans down to a t.” Phloria said.
“Gods, I miss those days so badly.” Friya updated her men according to Phloria’s suggestion and restored the Hush zone around them. “Back then, grades were my greatest daily worry, I had no responsibility, and the future was something to look forward to rather than be afraid of. I can’t believe I was in such a rush to grow up.”
“That makes the two of us.” Phloria sighed.
“Make it three.” Quylla said, finally brave enough to join the conversation.
“It lives!” Her sisters said in unison and ruffled Quylla’s hair, making her swear as a truck driver while she tried to make them stop treating her like a kid.
The moment didn’t last long, but it took the chill off their hearts.
The camp awoke before sunrise and had breakfast while it was still dark to not waste a single second of precious sunlight. The members of the expedition were split into teams, each one comprised of miners, Royal Prospectors, and bodyguards.
Royal Prospectors were not just Crystalsmiths, but also skilled Wardens and structural engineers.