Mixed Unit Tactics v5

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Author (in-game): Codus Callonus

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

I spent the next two years of the war in Dune where the captured Legion was forced to forge weapons, repair the city walls, build a sewage system (a better one than the Khajiit could have managed on their own, I daresay), and work on other civic improvements. In truth, we were not treated as poorly as you might imagine. We were well fed and only beaten when one of us tried to escape, attacked a Khajiit, or refused to work. The Khajiit even provided healing (from a half dozen of the most pompous, self-important Alfiq I have ever met) when the red death ran through our camp. The most galling experience was the behavior of the former Legionnaire, Ja’Dhuzar, now calling himself Dro’Dhuzar, who strutted around the prison when he was in town, usually with a female of his race on each arm.

Our captors claimed that they sent word to the Imperial City and were asking for a very modest ransom, but that they never heard any response. This may even be true. The Khajiit seemed to be more pleased in their “victory” over the invulnerable Legions than in a reward. Indeed, the story of how they captured Fort Sphinxmoth grew and grew in the telling until it became the story you’re familiar with today. And the Imperial City under the Simulacrum was rumored to be corrupt and incapable of any governance, so the news of our capture may have been ignored or the ransom may have been stolen by one of the many new Offices of the time. I do not know the truth of it, and I was told that much of the Legions’ records during these years were lost in a fire near the end of the Simulacrum’s reign.

As a prisoner, I did not witness the next phase of the battle near Dune. I only heard about it, and what I heard is difficult to believe. We were told by the Khajiit that the Bosmer had been growing hollow tree roots from Valenwood all the way under the city and were trying to invade from below. It is more likely that the Bosmer were digging much shorter tunnels from outside the city walls under the sands and reinforcing them with wood. In any case, the Khajiit mocked these efforts and often played pranks, such as filling the tunnel exits with stink bulbs, rotten eggs, sholath, stinging insects, and so on. Sometimes we’d hear muffled screams while working on the sewers or rebuilding the walls. The Khajiit nearby would all burst into laughter at this and plan what to do next. Why they never tried to seal the tunnels or took them seriously as a threat, I cannot understand.

The Bosmer had the last laugh. We heard the war in the south was going poorly for Valenwood and the Bosmer did not have the forces to take Dune. They couldn’t even hold their own territory. This was due in large part to the positions the Khajiit took and held all along the Xylo early in the war. The Bosmer snuck a very small force, no more than twenty, into the city. Instead of an attack, they simply stood near the exit of one of their tunnels and presented a challenge.

I was able to see this challenge personally. Dro’Dhuzar came to get me early that morning. “Rag-man,” he said to me (I was taking notes on rags and sackcloth, and thought I had hidden them effectively), “a challenger comes. You should witness a Knight of the Sandy Mane defeat a Knight of the Spider-Wood. See the fate of your Empire.” He spat on the ground, and used the word knight in mockery of the Legion. But he led me to where the Bosmer were standing, just the same. One of them was very short and dressed in odd, ceremonial armor of wooden slats, obviously enchanted.

There was some negotiation, mostly in Ta’agra, and I could not understand it. Soon a large Khajiit approached, a Pahmar-raht in ceremonial armor of his own. The Khajiit called him Dro’Zaksa, and clearly held him in high regard. There was a celebratory feel to the crowd and the Khajiit thought they were about to witness an easy victory. I was more apprehensive. The Bosmer knight was very brave or foolish and showed no fear of the upcoming duel.

The negotiations were completed. I gathered that the Bosmer would take Dune and Fort Sphinxmoth if they won, and the Khajiit would take a “living hill” if they won. A space was made for the combatants. Dro’Zaksa was armed only with ebony claw-tips and wore heavy, for lack of a better word, barding. He was well protected from the front and the front half of his sides, but he was unarmored on his paws, head, and hind legs. The Knight of the Spider-Wood drew a very thin blade, barely even a rapier, and was covered head-to-toe with light armor made of wooden slats and some kind of fabric.

They circled each other, measuring each other up. Dro’Zaksa attacked first, knocking the Bosmer across the field. He then pounced, but the Bosmer rolled away from it and stood again. The Bosmer made several attacks on Dro’Zaksa, but they could not pierce his armor. Dro’Zaksa grew more and more confident, and I must say I could not see how the Bosmer could win this fight. He took a huge swipe at the thin blade and it broke in two. He immediately followed with an aggressive series of blows, most of which the Bosmer managed to evade.

The next minute of battle was the Pahmar leaping and swiping at the Bosmer while the Bosmer retreated in a circle, dodging the blows with rolls, leaps, and contortions. Dro’Zaksa seemed to be slowing a bit, and there were specks of blood all over the arena floor. At one point he looked at his paw, and saw that the blade had cut deeply when he broke it. This enraged him, and he attacked even more wildly and ferociously.

The Khajiit at this point were growing nervous. They did not get the quick, easy victory they expected. The Bosmer focused on dodging and managed to evade almost all the blows, although it clearly took a toll when Dro’Zaksa landed one. The Bosmer’s wooden armor was scarred from claw marks and whatever enchantments it held were beginning to fade.

Soon the Bosmer was almost strolling around the arena as Dro’Zaksa stumbled and slipped in his own blood. Treacherous to the end, the Khajiit almost managed to swipe at the Bosmer by pretending to be weaker than he actually was, but after that the outcome was certain. “The bleeding poison,” Dro’Dhuzar said next to me. “Clever.”

The Bosmer “knight” removed her helmet and gave the crowd a creepy, wolfish smile and began, to put it bluntly, butchering the Pahmar with her broken sword. The few Bosmer who accompanied her cheered.

I expected the Khajiit to attack the Bosmer regardless of any agreement, but they packed up peacefully, if untidily, and left the city.

The Bosmer took Dune and Fort Sphinxmoth. They did not hold us as prisoners, but let us go along with the Khajiit. We marched back to Skingrad to report and reorganize. We later heard that Valenwood surrendered. They returned Dune to the Khajiit in exchange for some territory in the south. When the Simulacrum was defeated, the rebellious provinces, finally under the threat of the punishment they should have faced from the start, returned to the Empire and Fort Sphinxmoth was likewise reinstated. I was stationed in Narsis and Stormhold for the remainder of my years of service and saw only small, easy battles with disorganized bandits and rebels.

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