Mixed Unit Tactics v3

Author: Codus Callonus
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Mixed Unit Tactics in the Five Years War
Volume Three
By Codus Callonus

The primary field of battle near Dune was a long stretch of grassland between the trees of Valenwood and the sands of Elsweyr. After the chaotic back-and-forth of the first year, the Khajiit held this stretch of land for months at a time and expanded it by cutting more trees across the old border. Many of the trees were carried off by the great Senche-raht. A few were taken into the city of Dune and their use became apparent during the siege.

During the war, this process was rapid and easily seen, but the Khajiit and Bosmer in the Legion informed me that it had been going on long before the Third Era. This is how the unofficial border between Elsweyr and Valenwood is marked. The Khajiit cut down the trees, the Bosmer replant them, the Khajiit dig tunnels to undermine them, the Bosmer flood the tunnels to kill the Khajiit and make the desert bloom, and so on for centuries.

The rapid shift from desert to grassland to forest is unique in all of Tamriel and may be the result of this constant cutting and re-planting. I asked Ja'Dhuzar, the only Khajiit I trusted and a fellow Legionnaire, about this the next day. At first he just repeated the common saying in Elsweyr that "wide deserts make good neighbors." Eventually he said, and I believe I wrote this down exactly, even if it makes little sense, "Do not weep for trees. Valenwood is a sholath (a kind of sand-burrowing crab). The trees are the fingers of Y'ffre who stretches, then grasps. If the forest grows too wide, it is another moon-dance of suffering, the shaper could finish her sculptures, and Ja'Dhuzar is clever enough already, don't you think?"

It seemed as if the Bosmer began to realize the Khajiit in the north were not as serious a threat as they first appeared and began moving troops south. The Khajiit likewise gave up the tree-cutting, fires, and raids into northern areas when the Bosmer stopped responding with larger forces. The Khajiit soon tired of the sport and broke up their largest camps and left only a minor defensive and scouting force in the area along with the usual "peacetime" (if this province has ever known it) garrison in the city proper.

A few months after the main Khajiti force left, the Bosmer led an enormous attack and took all the Khajiti camps around Dune. The Khajiit sent scouts into the forest regularly, but even so the Khajiti camp was taken by surprise. I heard rumors later that the Bosmer caught the scouts, flayed them alive, wore their skins, and, with the aid of illusions, fooled the Khajiit into thinking the scouts continued patrolling and reporting. I heard also that the Bosmer led scouts into ambushes and used forbidden arts to re-animate them long enough to make a report. Either way, this proves beyond any doubt that the Empire must continue its effort to civilize the Bosmer.

The commander of Fort Sphinxmoth, Gaius Apinius, wanted to send his own patrols and scouts into the surrounding areas, but we were under strict orders not to leave the fort, except to patrol the road from Dune to Riverhold and protect the few Imperial interests in the area. Of course, we all learned later those orders were those of the usurper.

As a result, neither the Legions nor the Khajiit expected hundreds of naked Bosmer to run screaming out of the trees, covered with symbols drawn in blood, and followed by a howling menagerie of every wicked forest beast. The battle took place too far from the fort to see without a spyglass, and the dim light of a gibbous Masser was not enough to make out the full battle, but the unholy racket woke the whole fort. We stood on alert, sharing a half dozen spyglasses, and tried to follow the battle as best we could. I am no expert on Valenwood's fauna, and the view as I said was very poor, but we all agreed there were beasts out there unlike anything we had seen. The Bosmer attack looked wild and unplanned, but they used clever, if strange and dishonorable, tactics.

Roughly one cohort of Bosmer archers and wizards, much more in control than the rest, climbed the remaining trees for range and defense before the attack. The blood-painted Bosmer had spells or enchantments upon them. They could do something, perhaps upon their death, which lit up the symbols painted upon them, making the Khajiit nearby easy targets for the archers that remained in the trees. The Bosmer spread out and ran towards the largest camps and groups of Khajiit, glowing as bright as dawn for a short while, and that whole area was soon covered with arrows. Their wizards aided in the battle by enchanting some of the arrows to burn or explode, which enflamed the Khajiti tents. The fire in turn maddened the forest creatures further and led to multiple stampedes back and forth across each camp until all the fires were stamped out along with most of the Khajiit. Dawn showed the city of Dune surrounded and no surviving Khajiit outside the city.

The Bosmer celebrated their victory with primitive music and a great feast that lasted four or five days. There followed a period of calm for a few weeks as the Bosmer surrounding Dune constructed large trebuchets and other siege equipment. In spite of the Bosmers' ridiculous superstitions, there was an ample supply of lumber from the trees the Khajiit felled along the border. We joked in our fort that Dune might be captured with the wood of the trees the Khajiit cut down. I could not see anything in the city of Dune itself, except for archers who periodically fired volleys from the walls.

As disturbing as the tactics of the Bosmer were, what the Khajiit did in return is almost too despicable to relate. There were few surviving Khajiit outside the walls and they used no tactics at all. When they returned from hiding in the desert, they charged straight into the Bosmer and were quickly slaughtered.

But what seemed like a wasteful move was a trick so deplorable to all right-thinking men that I hesitate to describe it. As everyone knows, the Bosmer often eat the flesh of their enemies. As a veteran of the Imperial Legions I have seen this first-hand. Indeed, I have heard more than one Bosmer claim during the war that Khajiit are a great delicacy, prized for being both fatty and sweet. Almost as soon as the battle was over, cooking fires were built and the sounds of bone flutes and shell-drums heralded a great celebration in the Bosmer camps. And by the next morning, many of the Bosmer were dead and many more were ill.

Before their suicidal charge the Khajiit drank a slow-acting poison made from the stingers of giant scorpions, poppies, and Quaestro Vil. There are many lessons the Legions could learn from the Five Years War, but this is one I hope the Empire will never employ.

This foul trick didn't end the siege, however, for many Bosmer were still alive, even if their force was greatly weakened. The end of the siege of Dune is related in volume four.

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