Tis another lazy Sunday night, and my brain is aching after a day of re-writes. Bloodlust: The Blades of Khazak Khrim is due soon and here is a little taste.
“How long will this go on?” asked Gavin, surveying the slaughter from the latest attack.
“I can’t say,” answered Teven. “The Vvath are trying to blunt our edge here, while their main force seeks a different path. Beyond that, I don’t fully understand the Vvathi mind. Surely they realize that their ruse is transparent with so few of their elite troops facing us.”
“It seems ugly to trade so many lives for so little gain,” said Gavin.
“The lives of the Hundath are meaningless to the Vvath,” said Teven. “If anything the Hundath relish the chance to die as martyrs. I would say that the casualties that we take each day are more serious. The men get bored. They grumble. They wonder why we are here. Morale trickles away as each day bleeds into the next. Then when they mount a big attack or finally get lucky, we might not have the edge we need.”
“It is a depressing form of warfare,” said Gavin, thinking of poor Gaius, who was still bed-ridden.
“I agree,” said Teven. “But if it helps, think of the Niyiki. The Swamps behind us are now much safer and they have time to harvest their sweet-pod paddies now.”
Gavin considered that. It offered some solace amidst the grind. Still he feared that the endless attacks against the outposts might continue forever, with each Empire adding fuel to the fire. Over time the trickle of casualties in such a conflict would mount and mount, vastly outweighing those of even the bloodiest battle.
“What are you thinking, Chosen?” asked Teven.
“If we could draw them into a decisive battle could we win it?” asked Gavin.
“If the terrain were favourable,” said Teven. “But luring the Vvath into a decisive engagement is unlikely. They favour the idea of an endurance contest. When their main force arrives I expect them to dig in after any initial attack. They might lose every little battle we face them in, like they do here, but time and attrition might win them the war if they keep opening up fronts like this.”
“So the key, then, is forcing them out of that mindset.”
“I would say luring them, but yes. I have a few ideas that might work Chosen, but I cannot see all ends. Why don’t we discuss them?”
One of the themes of the book is war, but from a leadership perspective this time around. Teven is the leader of all the Krassian forces in Ithal’Duin and has to guide his men to victory. Gavin, as a Chosen has to figure out how to best use his immense power to influence the conflict. Naturally there are no good answers…