As the students moved and made their decisions, Michail was already reining in the horses back to the carriages. One, in particular, seemed grumpy about cutting their break short, but it couldn't be helped. If whoever was responsible for the explosion had decided to use that much force, than pillaging the village wasn't their goal. It was likely to be a slaughter of some sorts. The only thing he couldn't really figure out was why, though; aside from the farmlands nearby, Luin wasn't exactly a booming village. Even its name had been borrowed from the hero that had saved it, nothing of importance originated from there.
As he tightened the strap of the bar connecting horse to the carriage, he noticed Tomai nearby doing the complete opposite. They were going in with one carriage and leaving the other two behind as they needed to be as mobile as possible. He was still surprised the guy was doing as much, but he supposed everyone would put their dislikes aside when it came to something important. What was more, aside from Euphemia's initial protest, Tomai hadn't uttered a word to the contrary. He was so sure he would've been called reckless or suicidal, but nope. Tomai noticed Michail's stare, offering a shrug as if he already knew what he was thinking. "I'm surprised,"
Michail ended up outright admitting as Tomai brought the freed horse over."As funny as it would be to watch you try to singlehandedly take on an entire army of bandits on your own, this is as good an opportunity as any,"
Tomai replied. "We can only shield them for so long."
That did seem more like a Tomai response. "To be honest, I just thought it would be easier this way,"
Michail said, adjusting the saddle. "Some of these kids would've been reckless and followed me. At least this way, it'll be safer."
Tomai nodded in agreement. "It's smart. I forget sometimes that you're an actual knight,"
He mused, ignoring Michail's strained smile as he looked over at the students. He watched Isolde pull herself up, raising his eyebrows. "All but two. You really have a way with words.""That's not it,"
Michail corrected him, lifting himself up and over the horse. "They're ready to see the world outside theirs. That's all."
Tomai looked over to Kaira, who was handing the reins to Euphemia. Two free horses, one carriage, one knight, one archer, two mages, eight students going to the village. That much barely qualified as a brigade, but it couldn't be helped. Closing his eyes for a moment, he listened intently as the wind blew past them. Once he opened his eyes, he looked back up at Michail."We're up against two dozen bandits. A majority of them are already inside the village, but there are some lingering at the edge. I think they're looking to raze the village to the ground,"
He stated. "I suggest we take a few seconds to go over a formation."
Michail chewed on the corner of his lip as he listened. That many, huh? As he looked around, however, he had to put a pause to that thought. "It looks like they've all made their decisions,"
He noted out loud. "Get yourselves ready, once I finish talking to this pair, we're going."
He made sure to be as gentle with the horse as possible--even it seemed to sense the unrest nearby. He stopped in front of Lienna, looking the girl up and down. Resisting the urge to smile, he made sure she was looking at him before he would speak. "I'm leaving the two carriages to you,"
He stated, motioning to the nearly empty weapon carriage and the one the professors had previously occupied. "Remember what I said: don't assume you're safe here. We don't know what their objective is or what they're looking for. Stay on your guard and watch each other's backs."
Digging around in his satchel, he pulled out a small, silver wand adorned with a white crystal on top. "If trouble comes looking for you, concentrate into it, it'll release a minor cloaking spell in the form of a fog,"
He explained. "You can use it to run to us, or hide, or whatever you'd like."
Looking up, he let out a shrill whistle at Veronica, who had already decided to take a seat on a nearby log. She looked wholly disinterested in the entire situation, not even having bothered speaking to anyone. She briefly looked up from her nails to raise an eyebrow at Michail, waving her free hand. "I heard you,"
Michail looked back down at Lienna, giving her one last nod before riding over to the carriages. At this point, everyone had been squished back in fully equipped. He wished they had armor, but it was too late for that. Euphemia came over on her own horse, an ornate longbow slung around her chest. Tomai was already seated at the front of the carriage, stifling a yawn but clearly ready to go. The only one left was Kaira, who had still been rummaging through the carriage of the weapons."Ah! Michail!"
She called, waving her arm for attention. "I'm not sure which role I should fill."
Michail looked back at the students, hastily putting together what he remembered. Imogen, Kellen, and the prince were all sword users, though he didn't doubt Clarissa would have her sword at the ready as well despite playing more of a support role. Auberon and Derec were also front line fighters with an axe and lance respectively, then there was Jorah with his bow. He would be with the front liners, Euphemia would be joining Jorah in the backlines, and Tomai was their only mage."Grab a staff of some sort, we're gonna need more firepower,"
He called. He waited as she did what she was told, offering her his hand. Once she was settled behind him, he let out another whistle. "Let's go!"
Tomai replied, taking a second to look back at the carriage. "Don't fall out."
He suggested, lifting his arms and whipping the reins down harshly. The horses and carriage charged off, with the Kalonic duo hastily charging forward. Kaira hung onto Michail's armor, giving the village a nervous look."Our first goal is driving back the bandits!"
Michail called out, his voice somehow heard clearly despite the movement. "We're splitting into three teams to accomplish this: Auberon, Derec, and Isolde will be on the offensive. You're joining me in the front and we're going to focus on getting the bandits' attention the best we can. Clarissa, Jorah, and Tomai will take center and make sure to cover any holes in our lineup--Clarissa, you're going to be taking up a majority of the support role, so we're going to be counting on you. Imogen, Kellen, and Kayden will be our backups and make sure to push back anyone that'd be dumb enough to try to surround us while making sure any villagers can get out."
Kaira's grip tightened on Michail, frowning at him. "Should I--""Euphemia is going to find the leader. As soon as the leader is found, we're going to bumrush them--once you get them out of the way, the rest should scatter,"
He cut her off. "No one do anything reckless. Stick to the plan, and we'll be fine."
Euphemia nodded, riding close to Michail. "Understood. I'm going off solo, then,"
She told him."Do it,"
He said, taking a second to look back at Kaira. She looked up at him, uncertain, but he shook his head, focusing instead on the village ahead. "Here we are! Get out and get moving!"
The carriage's halt was less than ideal, though the adrenaline was starting to rush through everyone. Euphemia followed suit, only looking back to shout, "Stay sharp!"
before disappearing into the chaos.
Kaira hopped off Michail's horse, looking around at the destruction. The screams were somehow covered by the explosion, with a majority of people running around trying to flee and save themselves. A multitude of thugs in mismatched clothing and hackneyed weapons littered the area, breaking into homes and eagerly setting anything aflame as quickly as they could. Scorch marks surrounded the edge of one village--it had been where the initial explosion had happened.
Looking back at the students dropping out of the carriage, she felt like she should say something. As she opened her mouth to speak, however, the hairs on the back of her neck stood, and she turned back around to see what looked like half a dozen bandits looking right at them."They're here already?!"
She gasped, backing up."Don't let your guard down!"
Michail called. "The battle's already started!"