I glared at Prince Zif while collecting my thoughts to present my strategy. I had only moments to do so, as I had just started the sentence to tell them. “I will scout the locations of all the joint xadineft and credaril camps, based on the abduction reports. Once I have found each one, I will pass this information on to Tendelbro. The neftir can then secure the tunnel escapes in those areas,” I began.
“Where do the rest of us come in?” asked Captain Hundle.
“I’m getting to it, Captain, please don’t interrupt. While the neftir are getting into place, I will put together an attack plan for the Seftrel forces to best take them all down at once. I’m confident the xadineft haven’t started gathering in large groups,” I replied.
“So where do you want the army for now, General?” asked Prince Zif.
“Patrol near the homes of the humans who have children that haven’t been abducted yet. Do it in a way that it looks like that is all you are doing,” I answered. “It will take a few nights to find all the nests of xadineft. We’ll review my progress and next steps in the morning, when the xadineft have retreated to their hideouts.”
The meeting broke up, so I headed back to my room to get some sleep before my night time scouting. Before I did I pulled Tendelbro aside, out of the hearing of anybody else. “Something doesn’t sit right with me about this, Commander.”
“What is it, General?”
“Ok, first, don’t call me that. Second, I have a nagging feeling here about this disruption by the credarils,” I replied. “If you don’t hear from me for more than two days, send an overwhelming force to find me.”
“Why aren’t you telling this to Prince Zif?” the neftir asked.
“I trust the Prince has nothing to do with this, but he would have to involve his men. I trust you more than any human here,” I said.
“I understand, Ofeldar. Two days of no contact is all you’ll get,” said the Commander.
The sun had been down for a quarter of the night when I finally crouched behind a tree, looking at the dozen or so xadineft squatting around a deer they had killed. Their cave entrance stood a few yards away, and a robed credaril stood there in the moonlight, leaning on the rock wall. He wouldn’t be part of eating raw meat like that and a fire would give them away even more.
Marking the geographical features in my mind, went to stand back up to leave, but I couldn’t. My legs wouldn’t move, and my even my head seemed frozen. I could still see the cave entrance, though, and the second and third credarils coming out, chanting with blue light flickering around their waving hands.
They came over and stood over me. “You are creating a lot of havoc,” said the first credaril, not part of the spell the other two still wove around me. I could feel the cocoon of energy growing stronger.
“You haven’t seen anything yet,” I replied, surprised I could speak.
“Your days are numbered, human scum,” said the credaril.
“Oh, so you’re not going to kill me immediately? First mistake,” I said, while my brain screamed at me to drop the swagger for once.
“We need more information from you. Torture comes first,” the coal black skinned man said. “You can come out and collect your daughter now, Captain,” he shouted.
I watched Captain Hundle walk into the clearing from the other side, hanging his head. “You fool,” I shouted. “Do you think you or your daughter will live through this?”
He looked up at me and I could see his tear-stained cheeks. He stopped walking, though only feet from the xadineft, and looked around. Without questioning the absence of his daughter verbally, the soldier took two steps back and drew his sword in one fluid motion. The Captain had fought the ape men before, but never with these odds. I watched him riposte and parry their attacks, killing three before they could get him completely surrounded.
I only knew the battle ended because the xadineft backed up from his dead body. “Good for him, five fewer xadineft for you,” I said. “So, where is his daughter?”
“Already on her way down to the queen,” said the credaril, the other two apparently having to keep the chant up to keep me paralyzed, for now.
“Why go to so much trouble for me?” I asked.
“Rangdor has his purposes,” he answered, turning and walking away. He made the disgusting guttural noises that passed as speech for the xadineft, and they picked up ropes and came towards me. Once fully bound by the filthy creatures, the sorcerers stopped and put their hands on their knees in exhaustion. Rough hands carried me into the cave.
Read more about Ofeldar in The Lerilon Trilogy