Taylar gives a grim nod. "Now we see who is hunter and who is prey." He will go outside and find an elevated vantage point to look over Refuge. He will attempt to predict the enemy movements by theorizing how he would attack the village. If he is able to form a strategy, he will inform the Outliers. He will also manipulate waylines and attempt to discern if there is anyone watching the village.
"Anyone who can't fight should evacuate immediately. And all the people able to fight should get ready right now. Maka should position all the archers and slingers around the Refuge. Including me. In case they will surround us. Oh, and if it's possible to make, some people should wait near the palisade with boiled water to pour it at the enemies as the come close enough. And with heavy stones or other heavy, sharp objects. This curses Enri is a very powerful witch and his girls are too. Your people, Vittero must know about it now and if any of them fears for their life, then should also evacuate. We just can't afford panic to be spread. Nor any coward to decrease morale by surrender to the foe. Now you"Astarte looks at Vittero "should give some motivating speech to the defenders. And in case we .. fall" the last word can barely get out of her throat, "You need to send messengers to the Outpost and Westford, two to each place to warm them.
Sorry for bossing, but I will blame myself for any death here. It was my idea to spy on them, and I brought this calamity here."
Adisakti asks how the Daughter of Dawn are going to station themselves. "I will relay this information to Maka, since I have no doubt that he will join the fight and make good use of his scouts. I will harangue whomever I can, since that is my style of fighting; but since Taylar and I are primarily melee soldiers, he and I may need to double-team Enri, if he comes in."
Taylar is much more familiar with the town, now, than when it was burned by Cathedral Soldiers some 6 Cycles back. The road does not passes through the exact center of town, but it is close enough. Structures between the road and the river to the west are more for community activities, while housing is mostly on the east side of the road, spreading farthest into the forest where the scout post is located.
If two units of Daughters are coming, Taylar surmises that they will divide to flank the town, one unit moving along the river, one out in the forest. With this information the local Daughters will array themselves along the river, trusting to Maka and the other archers to handle the forest.
Wether he comes with a unit of soldiers or not. It is most likely that Enri, the Corrupt Hand, will come straight into town. Vittero comments on this. "I doubt that I can handle the Hand, alone. I have only recently discovered that he is a Bender. I suspect that he is still stronger than I am, but both of us are focused on the same talent. I can interfere with everything that he tries to do and I will ask Dawn for a blessing."
Vittero nods at Astarte, agreeing with her caution. He directs certain villagers to take canoes. He directs the unit of Kingdom Soldiers to escort others to Outpost. "Those soldiers are not ready to face opposition as dangers as Daughters of Dusk."
When it comes to melee, Taylar realizes that the burden will fall to the Outliers. No spies or enemies are, yet, noticed, but they could arrive within the hour. With the sense of urgency, Astarte realizes that there will not be enough time to build town defense, but perhaps a few traps could be constructed, especially with the help of Maka's scouts, whose skill in hunting will relate to this need.
Raven Elk thumbs his left ear, thinking about his upbringing in Outpost by a very benevolent adopted mother. He suddenly realizes that with his own attitude toward life and others that, he too, may be able to receive a blessing from Dawn. He inquires of Vittero as to the particulars of the ritual.
Adisakti says, "I feel confident that I can hide in the forest, south of town, waiting on the enemy to pass me by. If I am noticed, I will retreat toward the scout post. If I am not, I will attack whomever is last to arrive."
Once conversation has ended, Adisakti will do just as he said and move into the forest, just south of the most southern building in town.
Taylar replies, "The only ones to blame are the ones that come here to do harm, as they have done to other communities. This is why we fight them, and this battle was always going to happen. If the Hand, Enri, is the greatest threat, then I will face him head on. I will go out of Refuge and force him to keep his attention on me. Position yourselves as you will, friends. It is my intention to not let any of these villains set one foot in Refuge. May the morning find us alive and well."
Taylar will go outside the gate and find a good position to wait for his enemy. He will not stand out in the open, knowing that their opponents will have powerful ranged attacks, but no one will be able to enter by the main entrance unless they pass by him. He will manipulate waylines to improve his hiding spot.
"Yes it was, but I hoped it would be in a more neutral place, where the homes and property of innocent wouldn't be in danger."
Astarte positions herself by the palisade in the place everyone suspect Enri will be approaching. She will make sure that there'll be as much as possible arrows, bolts and stones standing or lying near the archers and slingers. The same with hot water and other objects to trow on the heads of the foes. She will inform the people near to her that she's gonna try to use the blessing from The Lord of the Day to become invisible to take the main enemy by surprise. She will attempt to do this before she will spot Enri, and then she'll shoot at his head as soon as he's within the range of her bow, and keep firing at him as long as she can see him. Then she'll shoot at his people, starting from the most powerful than those who came the closest. When all the enemies are finally incapacitated/dead/taken prisoners, she'll grab her quiver and as many arrows as she can carry and run to the place she saw Enri for the last time to personally make sure he's really dead. To do this, she will start shooting at him as soon as she's close enough and until she runs out of ammo. Then she'll draw her sword to defend herself with it and only when he seems unconscious or dead she'll plunge her sword through his throat pinning him to the ground, then fall next to him, exhausted.
This information was posted far enough back that I am re-stating it for clarity.
Refuge, which is built upon the ashes of the former Pelimonra village, is an open array town with structures on both sides of the roadway, which passes almost through the center of the community, from north to south. Just as with all other towns in the region, there is no wall. The perimeter is guarded by roving scouts. Refuge has no signage to recognize its existence.
Having no way of knowing when enemies will arrive, but being absolutely certain that they are coming, everyone who is going to fight makes preparation. Everyone else leaves.
On the south end of town, at a small, wallless shelter where a few Kingdom Guards would normally be stationed, Astarte takes her position. The natural undergrowth of the forest has only been cleared away inside the town proper, providing ample cover anywhere outside. Near, but across the road from Astarte, Taylar finds a suitable location to position himself. Adisakti hides in the foliage on the same side of the road as Astarte, but several more strides south so that he can come up behind the enemy that enters.
The local Daughters of Dawn move along the river, positioning themselves at various points near structures, there. The Scouts mimic such behavior on the eastern side of the village, being able to cover more ground because there are more of them. Vittero stand outside of the Homage to Dawn, in the middle of the street, holding his official ceremonial rod, adorned with the symbol for Dawn at its top end. Raven Elk stands near Vittero.
It is the sound of horse hooves that triggers the attention of everyone that intends to mystically augment himself, which in addition to the party, includes Vittero, all the Daughters, Maka, and several of his scouts. More than could have been expected.
Enri, in the official, full leather armor of a Hand of Justice, complete with a hood, slowly rides into town, right down the middle of the road. He is alone. Once reaching short range and as yet not in town, Astarte fires her readied arrow. The shot is sure. She could not miss from that range, but electricity sparks and crackles in the air, a stride before the missile would have struck his face. The arrow is destroyed. Enri laughs and continues to walk his mount into town. The hooves of his large warhorse cease to make sound as it draws alongside Taylar's hidden position.
Once the rider is far enough passed him, Adisakti moves out of hiding, draws his weapons, and walks directly in the wake of the horse, so as to still be out of sight of the rider. His image is still camouflaged, even though he is obvious to direct observation.
Taylar intends to look at the ground where the horse hooves are to see if the animal is still making depressions in the dirt. He thinks Enri might have cast an illusion a few feet ahead. Whether or not he detects any illusion, he will manipulate waylines to increase his speed and will charge where he believes Enri to be, striking with one bludgeon and keeping the second at guard to defend against a counterstrike. Not wanting any of the Hand's allies to know his position, he will whisper his battle cry, "Du magst also zulfallige Gewalt!"
As everyone begins to move, Taylar stares intently, for a second, at the horse's hooves, perplexed by their lack of sound. The hooves are, in fact, striking the ground and creating little clouds of dust as they should be, but no sound can be heard from them. Even the usual creak of a person in a saddle is no longer heard. Taylar also immediately realizes that not only does light bend around both rider and horse to obscure their presence, it is rather difficult to look directly at the horse.
A second arrow from Astarte is incinerated by an electrical spark as it nears Enri, just as it reaches the edge of the unnatural darkness that is formed around him.
As everyone who is to be moving is getting into position, Enri dismounts and steps to the front of his mount in a gracefully fluid motion that defies that of a normal being. The horse turns to face Astarte, seeming to know where she is. It looks intently as if observing her behavior toward it, though it is too late to force it to throw its now absent rider. The huge warhorse snorts. Before Taylar can reach him, before Adisakti or Astarte can reach the horse, before Vittero can speak, and far before Raven Elk can act, Enri says in a booming voice, "Bow before me!"
The voice carries paranormal weight an impetus. Everyone feels or almost feels compelled to obey the command until Vittero illuminates the end of his staff like the rising Daylight it illustrates and states firmly, "No one remaining here will bow to you this day or ever again!"
Realizing or guessing what Astarte is trying to accomplish, he yells back in Centrin, "Quod animal non est equus!," which is to say, "That creature is not a horse!"
Seeing that things are unfolding differently than he had anticipated, Adisakti, while augmenting his athletic skill, will flick out his right saber to hamstring the horse's back right leg. He thinks to himself, "So this thing is not a horse but looks like one. I will see if it can bleed."
Taylar intends to utilize a piece of slate to Thump at Enri and his odd mount. He is not hoping to harm his enemy, but use the resistance to locate his target. He still intends to charge Enri with his bludgeons. He will strike intending to harm Enri and knock him away from the creature.
Astarte asks him in Markidian:"Then what is it? And what are you? For sure, not an Aedaman; not even a Yahdram. Then what creatures are you and your pet?!"
Right after Enri finishes answering her, Astarte resumes shooting at him again.
Taylar, Enri, and his mount, all act almost simultaneously. Enri categorically ignores Astarte and yells back at Vittero. "Fine! Die!" Though wielding a rather large, fat-bladed, double-edged sword in his right hand and having a metal guard upon his left forearm, the leader of the Hand does not attempt to swing the sword as he half-turns to face Taylar; instead, he twirls it in the air. A ring of electricity pulses outward from around him and his mount, continuing to expand outward until everyone is hit with it.
Though he is nearly incapacitated as his body convulses with the electrical shock, a loud gonging sound accompanies the movement of Taylar's right hammer as it arcs toward the left thigh of Enri in an effort to knock him down. Just at the instant the hammer should have collided with his body, Enri manages to block it with his armored bracer, causing the gong sound to reverberate until it dissipated.
Like Taylar, Adisakti is significantly effected by the electrical shock but manages to keep his wits about him, recovering from the falter to slice into the hind quarter of the strange mound, impeding its desire to turn around. The hooves of the horse ignite in flame and smoke flares from its nostrils, as it faces down the Shimadow who hurt it.
Raven Elk shakes far too hard. His body vibrates backward as he falls to the ground, still shaking from the electrical shock. Astarte is shaken to the bone by the powerful jolt, causing he third arrow to go awry, but she is still standing. The visible ring of lightning fades to nothingness as it reaches Vittero. Electricity would have very little chance of affecting him.
As the creature resembling a horse snorts its smoke and hobbles toward Adisakti, it vanishes with an audible pop, like a stone hitting water. A mirage ripples vertically in the air, looking exactly like the horizontal ripples on a pool of water, where the creature had stood. Vittero taunts, "I sent your mount back to the Six Hells where you got him!"
Unbeknownst to those engaged in combat on the road, the scouts under the command of Maka and the local Daughters of Dawn under Rachel, have both been engaged with units of Daughters of Dusk. Casualties begin to fall on both sides.
"I knew that your little monster and you are nothing more than an ugly, hateful and pathetic demons!" Astarte spits in contempt and disgust. "Show a little courage and reveal your true, crapy form, you abominated heretic, before we send you after your pet where you belong!"
While taunting Enri, Astarte tries to recognize his emotions, as well what kind of being he is and what's his greatest weakness and fear. If she successes, she'll attack his weak point. Else, she'll keep offending him and aiming at him with her bow, but this time she won't waste arrows; not until she'll annoy him enough to catch him for a second out of guard. But if he attacks anyone, she'll fire at him immediately or strike with her sword if he'll move close enough. In this case, she'll also won't stop insulting him to decrease his concentration.