Chapter 4: The Ambush

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Chapter 4
The Ambush

"Here they come"

Windaar offered no reply as he glanced to where Reeze had spoken, his eyes glaring thin and narrow in thought from beneath his hood. From atop of the massive form of Egul, the younger girl seemed incredibly small as she peered into the forest around them and the angle made it impossible for him to see her face but he could sense the look of determination she bore from the tone of her voice and the way she stood.

Looking back into the seemingly endless sea of trees that stretched out before him, Windaar wasn't surprised to find that he was utterly unable to see any sign of movement for himself, Reeze had always had an incredibly keen sense of sight, but he had no reason to doubt that she would be correct.

Raising a hand, he sent a mute message to the warriors gathered in the trees around him, their green armour and mounts camouflaging them perfectly with the leaves and plant life that they used to hid from praying eyes, each staring down into the dirt road that lead through the heart of the forest. A couple of his warriors gave nods or hand gestures of their own to indicate that they were awaiting his order and he felt a twitch of satisfaction that all was prepared for the bloody work that must be carried out this day.

"How many can you see?"

Reeze frowned as her star crusted eyes peered into the depths of the forest, searching the coming force, her mouth moving in silent counting. For a time the girl was still before she muttered a curse and looked back up to where he was sat atop of Egul.

"It looks like a scouting force. Mostly human warriors but I can see some…I don't know what they are. Monsters that could not have been created naturally. They look like they have been crafted specifically for war by some arcane magic…"

"I see"

Windaar had never been one for over talking and despite his own worry at his companion's words he wasn't intending to break that habit as he simply nodded and turned back towards the forest, feeling his body tense slightly as she saw a dark blur appear in the furthest part of his vision, the Gishki advanced party moving towards them. He had known that they were coming, he was waiting for them, but seeing an oncoming army with his own eyes felt like the final proof that the two clans were now at war.

"It would appear that your friend was telling the truth in her claim of what the Gishki intend for the forest"

"Of course she was!" Reeze shot back, seeming to suddenly find offense by his comment on how much he valued Wynn's warning before now and Windaar simply raised an eyebrow with a grunt "Wynn wouldn't lie about something like this"

"I never said she would. I merely admitted that she had not been wrong"

"You could at least show her some respect" Reeze muttered as she looked back down at he Gishki, taking them in as their numbers became clearer "You are her guardian after all…"

"I am only so in name and you know that" Windaar glanced back, bringing a touch of warning into his tone of voice to quell the argument that he knew Reeze was about to commence with him "I agreed to represent the girl solely so that she would be able to join our tribe, I have no intentions of watching over her in any other way"

"You will"

Windaar failed to reply as he looked away from her, sighing to himself as he even felt a shift beneath when Egul turned to fix him with a look that somehow managed to resemble a raised eyebrow of amusement. He had no idea what Reeze had meant by that comment, Wynn (or Winda as she was called now haven been given a copy of his own name) was not related to him in any way other than that he had vouched for her when she had joined the tribe nor did she want to be. She hadn't done anything to make him respect her and he hadn't even spoken to her outside of important tribal meetings so why should he had trusted her worlds without reason?


Letting out an annoyed breath he didn't know he had been holding, Windaar looked towards where Egul had mentally gestured, thankful for his partner's intervention. Below them, the Gishki had entered the designated 'kill zone' for the ambush that they had laid out and the time had come to commence the assault.

"This is neither the time nor place to discuss your friend Reeze" He said, not looking back towards the girl beside him but putting enough of an authorities tone into his words to quell any more arguments that Reeze would have given. He was however, glad to hear her give a grunt of acknowledgment and turn her own attention back towards the Gishki "You may make the first move when you feel they are at the ideal position"

Holding out a hand behind her, Reeze awaited for a hooded Gusto priest to hand her a spear that had been engraved with the star like icon of their tribe along the shaft and closed her eyes, her entire mind now shifting at once to her more business based and warrior like mind. She opened her mind to the forest and sensed what she didn't not see, sensing those ready in ambush for their foes and the marching water based soldiers moving on heedless. She mentally patterned everything out and designated the ideal time to strike then, once that time had come, she opened her eyes with a long sigh.

Muttering a slight prayer beneath her breath, Reeze lifted the spear above her shoulder and aimed it down towards the Gishki, her star shaped eyes narrowing against the early afternoon light that broke through the tree line as she signalled out a humanoid creature at the front of their group. It was a creature that had for the most part the body of a man, but with a head that had been replaced with a moving a twitching octopus. Her superior vision allowed her to detect a thin lay of liquid that covered the normally aquatic head as it shone in the light, lifting up and down with each breath of its host. In one of the octopus' long arms, a crude, rigged sword was held at ease, it deep orange liquid covered flesh curling around its hilt like a snake but Reeze target was what it held within its human hand.

Standing nearly twice the height of the Gishki hybrid, a hand held banner fluttered against the afternoon wind. A flag of deep blue baring the oversized image of what appeared to be a mirror surrounded in a intricate decoration of gold, each side flanked by six orbs and the glass of the mirror seeming to bare a faint red symbol that Reeze could not read. Glancing around the others in the advancing force, Reeze recognised the same mirror symbol being replicated again and again in varying size and quality across all, carved into the hilt of weapons or crafted into armour. She didn't know what the mirror was, but it was clearly of some great importance to the Gishki tribe, possible a religious symbol.

And thus, her first target was obvious.

Finishing her prayer, Reeze hurled the spear she held forward with a slight grunt of effort, looking up to follow it as it sored through a gap within the branches that she had cleared beforehand in its now direct path towards its destination. She sense Egul tense beside her as Windaar tightened his grip of the bird's reigns and time seemed to slow as the projectile flew down.

For a second Reeze realised that she had just opened up the war beyond doubt, hers had been the first blow from either side and she would be the first one to take a life in a conflict that could well mark the end of either the Gusto or the Gishki…

The sound of a wooden pole clattering against the echoed from below as the mirror designed banner came crashing to the ground, the Gishki warrior's arms realising it as he stumbled back under the impact as the spear drove down into his chest. He gripped the Gusto weapon as if he intended to simply pull it out before slumping to his knees. Behind him, cries and shouts sounded out from his comrades as his octopus like 'head' began to spasm, its eight arms shaking and twisting in upon themselves in their dying agony before falling still as he fell to his side into the dirt with the faintest of thuds.

With a clench of his fist, Windaar sent the message out to the warriors around him.

Below, the shouts that rang out amongst the Gishki lines turned swiftly to screams as a sea of arrows descended from the archers that had been patiently waiting within the trees. To them it must have felt as if the trees themselves were alive and striking against them as arrows shot with expert accuracy through branch and trunk to strike against the soldiers. Men fell to the ground reduced to nothing more than pin cushions and those that remained threw themselves into cover or behind the larger monsters that they had created, using their reinforced hides as makeshift walls.

No sooner had the storm of arrows ceased than the defenders of Gusto fell from the trees, a horde of men and women mounted upon giant birds of varying shades of green, all hurtling towards the panicked Gishki with roars of righteous rage.

From atop of the snow covered mountains of Mist Valley, Caam was silent as she stared into the endless void that swirled before her within the shell of the shrine's crystal. Her eyes held slightly shut in her eternally neutral expression as the smoke of the crystal shifted and morphed to show the events of the valley below, telling her in such detail that Caam may as well have been down there watching in person.

The crystal shimmered in the light as it showed the Gusto's mounted birds strike against the Gishki like they would a bowl of worms, picking them off one by one with their sharp beaks whilst some of their riders leapt free and engaged their panicked and surprised foes in melee. She felt the forest moan slightly in the back of her mind in protest at the death that had begun to seep into its land alongside the invaders and sighed.

She wished that she could have found another way.


The Gusto priest Reeze had screamed her warning out to didn't pause to heed her advice as he threw himself to the side, just in time to avoid a spell that had been hurled at him by a Gishki Shadow, the blue lightning flying through the air he had just been occupying and burning a black scorch mark into a nearby tree.

Spinning on the spot, Reeze brought her staff up to parry a blow from a sword wielding human that had been nice enough to announce his attack upon her by shouting his lungs out and brought the butt of the staff slamming against his shins. When he stumbled back from her, she brought the now freed head of the weapon slamming against his face, the oversized metal blade upon it making short work of him and sending him crashing to the ground in a roar of pain. As he fell a second man came charging forwards, and she felt a twinge of revulsion as she saw a set of gills wheezing upon the otherwise human neck. She spun on the spot and struck him across the face with a harsh kick that stopped him in his tracks and did a complete turn as she brought the blade on her staff around yet again to slice a hole straight through his side.

The melee that the attack upon the Gishki advanced party had degraded into didn't really feel as though it was big enough to be classes as a proper battle, the water based tribe not having dispatched a major force and thus they had become truly outnumbered by those that were fighting with the home advantage. Instead of the mass battle that Reeze had been expecting to face when she had heard that the Gishki were going to invade her home, there was instead a series of bloody duels and small clashes going on around her, each seemingly isolated from the other. These would fight it out and then what was left of the victory would charge in and join with another fight, a strangely systematic way for a battle to rage.

Yet something told her that this was just a prelude for something greater. That this Gishki force was really nothing more than what she had first thought, a scouting party sent to test the Gusto defences and make ready for the true force.


Reeze's thoughts were torn back to the world around her as a Gishki, who had been completely human as far as she had been able to tell, was suddenly hurled into the air as Egul descended from the skies, Windaar still born upon his back, and wrapped him in its talons, the spear he had been about to throw at her clattering harmlessly to the ground. The great bird carried the screaming man high into the air, to the highest branches of the forest's great trees and then released him without a sound. Reeze didn't feel like she could watch as the man plummeted towards the ground.

"Bring that thing down!"

Turning back, Reeze hefted her staff back into a ready position and charged back towards the fray, hurtling over dead and broken wagons that had been carried Ghiski supplies in the convoy towards where a large beast was attacking a set of Gusto warriors. The beast bore the basic humanoid shape, buts its head was a twisted fish like shape with a fanged snout with a purple finned collar that ran along the back of its head. Thin webbing ran between the thick fingers that it swung from side to side as it swatted the Gusto aside like flies. Standing nearly twice the height of herself, the beast was indeed intimidating to say the least.

"Regroup around the Soul Ogre!"

Glancing to her side, Reeze's eyes narrowed in contempt as she saw a Gishki Shadow, one of the shrivelled and vile creatures that seemed to forum some sort of religious role to the Gishki tribe attempting to rally those around him and move them towards the beast that she assumed to be the Soul Ogre.

From above, Windaar again descended upon the back of Egul, the massive bird's talons clutching onto the orge's arm and holding it in the air as the man on its back built up a spell which exploded against the beast's skull. It stumbled backwards and clawed at its bleeding face, trying to remove whatever effect the spell had placed upon it before lashing out towards Egul with its now freed arms. The bird scooped out of the way only to strike back out towards the beast with its talons, ripping long cuts into the ogre's tough hide. It was a fierce clash of power but Reeze knew that Windaar and Egul would win against the ogre alone with no problem.

"Protect the Ogre!" The Shadow called out again "Do not let it fall"

Angling her run, she tilted to move towards the Shadow as it begun to ready a spell to strike against those who were stuck fighting against the ogre. A couple of men moved to stop her, on being yet another with an octopus where his head should have been and the second having a jaw filled with teeth that she could recognise as being from an anglerfish.

Cursing under her breath, Reeze jumped into the air and hurtled towards the anglerfish based one. As she came down towards him, she stabbed the base of her staff down and stuck it against his face, using his own skull as a ground to pole vault back into the air and land behind him. Her staff sifted slightly as she flew over and landed gracefully on the ground, signalling the unfortunate man's neck snapping under the weight she had placed on his skull and the front of his face hung disfigured from where the staff had caused a slight cave in as he crumbled to the ground, every one of his long, thin teeth shattered.

His octopus comrade gave a roar of rage as he spun and charged at her, two swords clutched in his 'heads' tentacles and a long staff baring that same mirror icon held in his human hands. Standing back up from where she had crouched in her landing, Reeze spun her staff around in her hand in a circular motion. Every inch of the staff had been designed with balance kept in mind and spells had even been interpreted into its wood work, allowing her to spin it again and again in a strong cartwheel as she swung it from her side to her front as the Ghiski struck out with his staff. Catching the metal tip of the staff with the spinning hilt of her own, Reeze smashed it clean from his hands and caused him to stumble as she swung her leg out and kicked him in the back of the knees. As he staggered past her, unable to stop his momentum, she continued her cartwheeling of her staff and slammed it against the base of his spin, causing him to yell out in pain and spasm slightly. Then, with a hiss, she drove the metal edge of her weapon down against his neck.

Leaving him face down in the dirt with a pool of his own blood slowly forming around him as he life essence slipped from him she began to walk towards where the Ghiski Shadow was stood paralyzed, almost garbing at her.

This was her fighting style, mixing harsh kicks and blows from her weapon with swift speed and agility that most could only dream of achieving. Her staff was perfectly balanced to suit her build that she could swing it around in perfect circles of varying speeds to the point where it was nothing bore then a dark blurr beside her perfectly still body. She was cold and calculating when she fought and struck with blows that were unpredictable and yet calculated to bring swift ends to any conflicts that she got caught in. Swift and deadly, Reeze was almost unstoppable when she got into full battle mode and as she advanced towards the shadow, her hand subconsciously begun to spin the staff around faster and faster as her eyes narrowed in contempt. When she reached the now cowering Shadow, she said nothing as she brought the spinning hilt down upon his skull, the momentum adding to a swift kick to send his broken remains flying away.

She wasn't called the Whirlwind of Gusto for nothing.
Chapter 3: [link]
Chapter 5: [link]

Reeze being awsome and the opening battle.
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