Who the hell are you (Part 11)
 
Two days after Gale and Egon's moonlit affair, tearful farewells were exchanged before the human departed with Wolfgang's army to put Nal'ava under siege. Five days following departure, the army was upon the Imperial city, bidding its time just inside the southernmost edge of the Nul'dar. The invaders waited for the cover of dark to deploy their siege engines in the fields surrounding the regional capital. Wolfgang understood that his army's presence in woodland outside the city was, in all likelihood, already detected by its sentinels. He also understood that he had never presented the First's true numbers to the enemy, and that it was best left that way for as long as possible. A third understanding was acquired when picking through human corpses left after his army's bloody confrontation with the Empire: Imperial arrows penetrated steel armor with more frequency than anticipated and at angles that were improbable.


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Unlike the encounter outside the Barrens, Velur now had the high ground and his mages, safety from immediate danger behind thick city walls. Able to comfortably rest and communally share their vessels using Nal'ava's beacon, the mages were set to work in shifts maintaining wards around the capital.


A harsh lesson was taught in the prior engagement with the fiends; but from it Velur learned what the enemy was capable of and how to best use his mages against them.


The general's hope was that Nal'ava could hold out long enough for either reinforcements to arrive and break the siege, or the humans to find the endeavor fruitless. The possibility was not unrealistically optimistic— and most of his archers were still with him. 


Additionally, with the arrival of Captain Eredin and his Legion, Velur had received a very much necessary urban warfare advisor. The general was not ignorant of the dynamics and theories of combat in confined streets and boulevards. But unlike Eredin, Velur had no experience as a shock trooper darting deep into an enemy city and sowing chaos, or as a saboteur creeping through the defenses of a besieged capital.




Velur prayed he would not need the captain's assistance.


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Artillery made the siege of Nal'ava seem like a relatively straightforward task— it was deceptively complex and prone to failure. Inside impenetrable, towering stone walls was a dense, circularly formatted city that hosted upwards of a hundred thousand souls and an Imperial army. Resistance would be fierce and the humans' artillery could not be used to carelessly shell the city into submission. Civilian casualties were acceptable, but Nal'ava was to be their fortress: its infrastructure was to remain intact.




Sixty-four humans, making sixteen commando units, waded through a marshy feathering of wetland that hugged a low, granite cliff face.




Josef's eyes wandered up the rock. The true scale of Nal'ava's towering walls were made evident to him. He needed to hurry.