The Grand March, Pt. 2
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A Tale of Rebels



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Chapter 9: The Grand March, Pt. 1

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Chapter 11: The Battle of the Five Armies, Pt. 1

The Grand March, Pt. 2 is the tenth chapter of Sep0815's A Tale of Rebels.

Previously in A Tale of Rebels

Zoruka is somewhat accepted as a member of their group by Noki, Senqok, Shizon, Skado, Ranju and Kabura.
Kanyzon leads his troops into the Earth Imperial city of Taku, and offers the Liberation Alliance an alliance.
Generals Wei and Anyang decide for the whole of the Liberation Alliance to accept Fire Lord Kanyzon's offer, and thus gradually mobilise the whole alliance, beginning a march northwards.
Shortly before reaching Omashu, the seven are confronted by Wei, who personally leads his troops northwards, and lets them also join him.

Chapter 10: The Grand March, Pt. 1

The messenger hawk was a dark speck in the light surroundings the ice of the South Pole formed. Passing over empty strips of land, over glaciers, over thick ice sheets, over deadly straits filled with icebergs, and, of course, portions of sea covered with thin ice - the winter was soon to begin, as the low solar altitude indicated. The dark red bird was certainly not born for such a climate, but to his fortune, his destination came into reach. The ice walls surrounding the town, nay, city, were silhouetted against the relatively dark colouring of the city's tents' furs', however, what the bird of prey intended to reach was not one of those tents, nor the yurt-like huts or igloos around, it was the structure in the city's centre - a combination of all three aforementioned building types - the chief's palace. Finding only the fireplace's opening free for it to enter, the hawk descended right upon reaching the space above the palace's central structure, nosediving for the chimney-like hole. Upon realising the fire was just being lighted, the bird seemed to push even harder to leave the area above the fireplace as soon as possible. The man attempting to light it, however, gave way for the bird in his astonishment anyway. After turning around to slow itself, the bird landed on the man's shoulder, and picked his left ear with its beak, until the man took it from his shoulder upon his forearm and took the letter the hawk had successfully delivered from the container. The bearded man, who wore his hair in a traditional wolf-tail and wore the complete wolf armour of a Southern Water Tribe warrior minus the iconic helmet, unrolled the scroll in his gloved hands, and then began to read. Immediately recognising the handwriting, a smile formed in his face, only to widen at the letter's end, when he couldn't contain himself anymore, and read aloud, "Your sincerely, Generals Wei and Anyang."

He smiled to himself, and then started thinking aloud. "So... the Liberation Alliance and the Fire Nation allied? Nothing standing in the way of our alliance... But still... the Chiefs shall decide this."

The bird settled itself on one of the fur cushions surrounding the fireplace, much to the man's amusement, who then decided to address the bird like one of those for whom the seats were prepared. "Chief Hawk of Hawkey village, I, Chief Gangtok, am honoured to welcome you in our humble palace... "

The hawk only picked Gangtok's nose as he bowed, and from behind, a voice called, "Do I have to be worried?"

Gangtok turned around to see a fellow of his garbed in similar attire like himself - his adjutant and fellow chief - and rose an eyebrow at the man's question. "What do you imply, Bunak?"

", I meant, if a messenger hawk takes my place, of course. I mean... oh, nevermind. What news did it deliver?" the adjutant named Bunak replied.

"As of now, the contents of the letter are secret. However, what is of importance is that you organise the gathering of all chiefs, we'll have to discuss this matter. Oh, and please, for your own sake... " Gangtok picked up the bird, and fetched a piece of blubbered seal jerky, which he handed to the hawk. " ...get this hawk something to eat. He's flown here from Omashu, and deserves it."

Sighing, Bunak was handed the disciplined winged messenger, and walked off to conduct what he has been tasked with.

"Oh, and see that you accomplish to gather them within less than a week! This is an urgent matter!"

"Gentlemen, the matter we are about to debate is very pressing, therefore I will skip the formalities and get to the core of it immediately.", Gangtok addressed the three dozens of men, all in equal garb to himself, who had gathered around, seated on the various furs laid on the floor. "The newly-crowned Fire Lord Kanyzon sought a way of truly reuniting his nation in spirit as well, and thus launched a campaign against the Earth Empire. As far as we know, they have made a third of the way from their landing to their temporary destination, Serpent's Pass. However, to make it more than merely a propaganda campaign, and to also give it hint of hope, they allied with General Wei's Four Nations' Liberation Alliance, which as of now is being mobilised, and marches northwards to meet up with the Fire Nation forces halfway between Taku and Serpents' Pass. However, as they have doubt about them succeeding by their current means, they decided to gather allies. The Air Empire being Yi Ming's faithful ally, and the North his puppet, only two options remain, the Confederacy of Whaletail Island and our tribe. As the former has a strict policy of neutrality, only we remain, and thus, Generals Wei and Anyang have sent me a letter concerning the matter."
As the supreme chief had ceased talking, one out of the other chiefs, an elder one, whose hair had not seen colour for long, rose from his sitting position and cleared his throat. "And what, exactly, do you want us to debate?"

Murmurs from the others seemed to voice agreement with the elder chief.

"Well... you see, Wei and Anyang requested us to join forces with them, in other words, to send warriors to aid them. I personally am not exactly sure what to do. We should aid those whose sympathisers most of us have been for long, but I'm not sure how far the consequences of a potential defeat would affect us in the case we would focused on the conflict too much," the supreme chief explained, earning critical murmurs.

"You sound like you already have decided! 'Potential defeat'? More like 'Likely defeat'!" yet another chief stated his opposition. "Such an endeavour could cost us valuable trading contacts, not to speak of the many lives we could lose!"

To this statement, more than half of the chiefs, however, too saw themselves as opposed. Despite an attempted intervention of the elder chief, a severe verbal battle between the two groups, those opposing the intervention, and those approving of it, ensued. Few words could be understood in the muddle of arguments and insults yelled at each other, which kept going for about two minutes, until some stood up and decided to clear the matter with violence. Gangtok, Bunak and the elder chief all palmed their respective faces, before the latter melted the ice beneath the opponents' feet, and sent all of them flying back at their respective seats with a wave. After letting the water resume its place and state, the elder chief, Bunak and Gangtok rose, the latter sighing. "Thanks for that one, Squanto," which was replied by the elder chief with a mere, "Always at your service."

"So, as you had time to cool down in that wave, I think we can continue the discussion civilised, even though our tribe is viewed as savage by many foreigners," Gangtok spoke, reaching the centre of the circle the gathered ones formed. "Now, to start from the beginning. We, the Southern Water Tribe, are an elective, tribal chiefdom with monarchic elements, yet heavy input of the population. Our economy is based on the trade of fur and skins, of ivory, certain minerals only found here, and of course fishery. An increasing international demand for the former caused us to grow in importance, economy and population, enhanced by simultaneous famines in the North, leading to migration southwards. As of now, our population is...?"

"Approximately one hundred thousand, Gangtok," Bunak stated, handing his superior a scroll containing statistics about their Tribe.

"...very well. About sixty thousand of whom are trained in at least basic combat, now if we just take those trained in advanced combat, sailing, waterbending and alike, we get a total of circa ten thousand warriors. Now, the Liberation Alliance has requested our aid. Remember that, when the Liberation Alliance was founded as a militaristic organisation, we, the South, were listed as an eternal ally, which the council of chiefs, then lead by my father, had approved of. Is that all correct?"

Those of the chiefs still sitting glanced around amongst the likes of them, before each of them nodded somewhat insecurely, and voiced their respective affirmations, "Yes.", "Definitely.", "Indeed." and alike.

"Then you all agree it would be breaching a treaty if we would not depart on a mission to aid the Liberation Alliance?" Gangtok's smile was wide - he had successfully laid a trap.

The reaction took some time to be voiced, whereas once it was, it hit Gangtok like a wave. "You win this time, Gangtok. We shall depart, I guess," the chief who previously had ignited the almost-fight with his strict opposition to the intervention admitted, realising Gangtok's use of his regarding of honour.

"Chiefs, shall we hold a vote on the matter or do you accept your fate?" Gangtok's question was a rhetorical one - the chiefs already were departing to mobilise their warriors.

The map of the world showed the true plans of those overlooking it. The meeting was one of determining the defence against the Fire Nation and the mobilising Liberation Alliance, but was a preparation for more. Yi Ming, Dalit, Chief Harqoon of the Northern Water Tribe, and four of the formerly five Imperial Marshals had gathered. Figures on the map symbolised Fire Nation, Liberation Alliance and Earth Empire units, some others also Air Empire and Northern Water Tribe units. The Fire Nation forces were aligned like pearls on a string, with a massive accumulation on its easternmost point, just like an ordinary campaign ought to look. The Liberation Alliance troops were spread over the South and West of the Earth continent, all moving towards the West Lake's south shore to gather there, whereas the Earth Empire forces were spread all over the Earth continent, all units in their respective garrisons. After everyone but Dalit and Yi Ming had glanced at one another, they nodded, signalling for Yi Ming to start.

"We've got a major problem. Not only is the Fire Nation invading our Empire, but also have they allied with an organisation that successfully wiped out the forces of ours in a dozen provinces on their way to unite their forces. They are a major threat to our Empire, and furthermore to our reputation. Should this Empire fall even for once, for just a week, then chaos will also ensue in the Air Empire and the Northern Water Tribe. I cannot say I have encountered an equal threat ever before, this is indeed a new experience, therefore we cannot just copy tactics from previous campaigns," Yi Ming introduced the problem. "We have to come up with something completely new."

"As we can see, your garrisons are, naturally, concentrated in densely populated areas, and as for the South and the Taku area, were. While it indeed is a fact that Kanyzon does pose a threat by eliminating garrison by garrison, he has little backing in the population, apart the one his alliance with the Liberation Alliance gives him. But either are aimed for less populated areas on the south shore of West Lake, for whatever reason. We must take advantage of this." Dalit was the speaker. He had risen and stepped onto the map. "Perhaps we could simply move the garrisons in their way out of their way and gather them, or even to enforce usage of the tactic of scorched earth, to starve out at least Kanyzon's troops."

"Maybe, but you're missing an obvious detail: Kanyzon has a supply line along which he has placed troops of his. Those garrisons are weak in number and equipment." One of the Imperial Marshals now spoke, pointing at what he talked about. "We could easily overrun them. Maybe not in Taku, but that one we could besiege with troops from the surrounding garrisons. About the Rebels, we simply couple the Grand Secretariat with the army and- "

"No, it doesn't work like this anymore. The Liberation Alliance troops are amassing, and thus harder to take out. Also, all of those suggestions take too long. For one with little local knowledge, Kanyzon advances fast, and the Liberation Alliance troops can reach Serpent's Pass from Fusang Province in a month and a half. We are too bovine to react to a surprise attack like this," Yi Ming stated, joining Dalit on the map table. "We need units that can travel fast, and are numerous, after all, we need to defeat up to two million soldiers, all trained well. We need to deploy units from Ba Sing Se, and others which are fast to arrive... Dalit, can you spare some?"

Dalit's answer came immediately. "I'm afraid not, Yi Ming, mine are too few and too evasive for you to be of use. Also do I require them right now, for wiping out the heads of the non-violent resistance. If you had asked me the same question twenty years later, I would've replied with a yes."

"...and you, chief Harqoon?" Yi Ming seemed desperate - after all, he still had other, own units to rely on.

"We can reach Serpent's Pass in approximately three weeks if the winds are good, but how many warriors do I command, maybe about twenty-five thousand? That's almost half our population we'd send into war," Harqoon stated insecure. However, he continued more than sure. "But I believe, given the other units in proximity to the gathering point of those enemies of ours, we will have a secondary role anyway. Therefore, well... Yi Ming, you can count on us!"

"Very well then. In what area shall we mobilise our troops? They must not need more than a month to arrive at West Lake's south coast." Yi Ming now seated himself again, and took a scroll from a servant who had hurried to his side, and a brush and ink from another, then dismissing the two. " ...official decree of Earth Emperor Yi Ming... By the way, you can leave now, Dalit and Harqoon. Marshal Sun, I may require you for the references about the provinces concerned. The rest of you is dismissed! Further planning shall follow at the battle's eve!"

The wind picked up - again. The weather in the two great lakes was unpredictable, Gangtok found, and amongst those in his - in relation to ordinary Water Tribe forces - gigantic fleet certainly wasn't the only one. The wind blew clouds fast enough for the sun to be covered one moment, and to be shining brightly the next one. The clouds weren't the only thing being propelled by the high wind, the waves' height too was above the average, as was the cutters' speed. As Gangtok's post steering the boat was taken over, he had a chance of glancing backwards, to see how the rest of the fleet was faring. The sailing ships were spread over kilometres, somewhat forming a blob of scattered vessels. As the boat raced down into a wave hollow, Gangtok was shook heavily and decided to attend the boat's bow, but found himself fallen due to water shooting on deck, and once he had picked himself up, tangled in rigging. As the boat managed to climb up the next wave crest, what he saw shocked Gangtok a bit. Just half kilometre before them, cliffs rose up from the waves, rock formations emerging and submerging again beneath the floods. Almost immediately, the chief walked back to the steering position, took over from the surprised warrior there, and took out something most of the others were astonished to see - a bugle. The instrument was made from ivory, and its sound pierced even the noise the continuous wind created, as replies followed, and slowly, the whole fleet arranged in a line.

"Hoist the flag! The others need to follow us!" the chief ordered as he turned the fast and yet accelerating ship to steer away from the cliffs, then handing back the post to the warrior, by the way a woman in armour. Taking out an instrument of sciences out of his numerous and manifold equipment, a sextant, he managed to determine whether they'd borne away by drifting northwards or southwards, and then yelled, "Turn 'round! We're sailing the wrong way, Serpent's Pass is farther south!"

"You mean Serpent's strait," the helmsman, or rather, helmswoman, stated. However, the crew obeyed, and before long, the entire fleet was sailing along the cliffs which formed Serpent's Pass, always alert for the case of Earth Empire troops and rock needles and alike suddenly emerging. The even though the waves were high, the sail was not rough - too fast, they were, for that. But for the exact same reason, the sail didn't last for long - after just an hour, the gap in the cliff's midst they all had been waiting for came into sight. There had been other gaps before, but those had been too narrow, too shallow and the water too troubled to grant even single of the agile cutters a safe passage, whereas in that case, the retreating water after a wave didn't reveal the passage's ground, and that being the case over a width of several hundred metres. Without much thought, Gangtok steered his boat into and through the strait, several dozens of ships following, before something neither of them had expected happened: out of the depths of the lake's troubled water, a gigantic creature shot up, its following cry being audible over dozens of kilometres.

"Well, fuck. I didn't know they actually exist..." Gangtok commented the serpent's sudden appearance. All were paralysed by the horrific creature, unable to take their eyes off it, all but one - the woman previously steering Gangtok's vessel took a spear and sprung overboard, shouting, "Let me handle this!"

Completely professionally, she formed a board out of ice to get near the creature, which tried to drown her in its stream of water. However, one time, she couldn't evade it, and made use of it as far she could, and used it to propel herself up to its head, where she then swung herself up between the Serpent's eyes, readying her spear, and thrusting it with all of her might into one of its eyes. The cry of pain was louder than the previous cry, and it wound violently in its pain, flinging the courageous waterbender against the cliffs. Upon her impact, Gangtok could free himself from the spell keeping him focused on the serpent, and blew his bugle again, signalling for the fleet to continue their sail. Too close to their destination, they were now, to fail.

"Senqok, you can - OUCH! - let go of me, I think I can walk a few kilometres on my own now... ", Zoruka began, freeing herself of the arms that had supported her for several weeks, then, after noticing the waterbender's concerned and astonished look, adding, "I just don't want to impose on anyone... "

Thus, Senqok, shrugging, left Zoruka's side, stated, "Now you're your own problem."</br>

The Crown Princess of the Fire Nation walked over the dirt road like any of the others in sight, only she was still wearing the royal armour of the Fire Nation and lacking a knapsack, but apart those, she appeared completely normal in the somewhat arid yet densely wooded terrain they were marching through. Both, to the left and to the right, the terrain looked the same, into both directions, a vast forest of pines, olive trees and alike spread, into both directions looking almost exactly the same. After a few minutes of walking, the royal noticed a slight pain in her right knee, and started limping, which was noticed by Shizon. Said firebender decided to walk up to her, offering, "You need help? Take my hand."

Zoruka ignored the offer, and paid the price for it - she stumbled over her own foot, and almost hit the ground, but the other firebender could halt her fall in time, and then helped her up again, muttering, "Told you so."</br>

Once again, Zoruka refused to take notice of Shizon. Instead, she appeared to local fauna as passing by, and made him wonder.

"Hey there!" he tried to force the royal to communicate. "Why are you ignoring me? Are you mad at me? What for? What IS going on with you?"

"OF COURSE I'M MAD AT YOU!" Zoruka yelled, "And don't even dare to ask why."

Shizon had a foreboding what the reason might have been, but remained silent for the next minutes. For minutes, he did nothing but to walk beside her. Then, however, he decided to just shoot for it. "I'm sorry."

"Sorry? What for?!" the Crown Princess cynically commented, "I can't do anything with a 'sorry'."

"I'm sorry," Shizon repeated, then starting his offence - of begging for forgiveness. "I'm sorry for that I didn't want to help you then, at Li Di Ce, I'm sorry I wanted to let you die there. I'm sorry for every time I have offended, insulted you, and I'm sorry for that I've misjudged you to be someone you aren't."

"...what?" was all the royal managed. All her defences against such a happening had breached, all at once, at the last few words. She was simply utterly taken aback at the unexpected act of Shizon's, completely unprepared to face an apology. Thus, all she could utter, but that over and over again, was, " ...what?"

Fearing a kind of trap, Shizon simply remained silent, except the gulp that followed the first 'what'. However, then, Zoruka further clarified her word, "It's not 'what' as in 'WHAT?!', but it's a 'what' like in ' ....what?'."

Shizon was about to answer when, all of sudden, the royal fell to the ground, shouting, "SPIRITS FUCKING DAMMIT!"

The shout was loud enough for everyone within a radius of twenty metres to turn around and take a look. Seeming cramped, Zoruka laid in a somewhat foetal position, grabbing her right leg. As the fall, or rather, the impact had also risen dust, which now settled, to her misfortune, also in her right, unharmed eye, which she commented sarcastically, "Oh, great. Now I'm going to be completely blind."

"Welcome to my wonderful world, sweetie," Noki equally sarcastically remarked, afterwards minding her own business again.

"So... what is it with your leg? Can't be the blood loss, and other than that, the eye's rather unrelated to it..." Shizon asked her, bending down to her.

"Well... uh... I kind of strained my right knee's cruciate ligament or something... some weeks ago..." Zoruka unwillingly explained, just before the other, red-haired firebender picked her up from the ground.

"Oh, that's... not nice, eh?" Shizon sighed, then assuming a more serious and somewhat apologetic tone, "To get back to the previous matter... I'm sorry. I'm sorry for every single bit of injustice I've done to you. I'm so sorry... "

All of sudden, a laugh pierced the air, and to everyone's astonishment, its source was Zoruka. She had broken out into wholeheartedly laughter, her entire body easing as she did so. Shizon, forced to let her stand again as he could not bear her weight for too long, asked in wonder, "Uh... I'm sorry, but... what?"

Zoruka calmed herself again, and looked at Shizon. "Oh... nothing... it's just I find it rather cute and... somewhat amusing when you apologise... let's agree this right now never occurred?"

Without much hesitation, Shizon agreed with her, "Deal," and the two ran to catch up with the rest, Shizon supporting Zoruka just in case it should be required.

The five generals, four men and one woman, wandered across the rough terrain, guarded by two squads of seven soldiers each, steadily nearing the massive tent built up in the gorge's centre. The sun had already set, and from the north, which laid to the group's right, another delegation of commanders neared, all clad in their respective blue armours. Atop the tent, a red flag flew, bearing a stylised golden flame, accompanied by a blue pennant bearing an emblem consisting of an equally stylised moon partly surrounding waves, those, and another flag, with an emerald field, which was bordered with a white strip, and in whose centre a blue disk surrounded an - once again - stylised blossom of the lotus flower, in red colour. The flags of the Fire Nation, the Water Tribes and the Four Nations' Liberation Alliance, respectively, were flying above the red tent the Alliance's delegation now reached. At once, they were surrounded by a platoon of Fire Nation soldiers, all of them brandishing their respective weapons - bending, spears, swords all alike - however, they all retreated to their previous positions after noticing the nineteen's uniforms. Somewhat confused, they all entered, getting a glance inside, before one of the two squads was ordered to guard the perimeter.

"Ah, welcome, my allies in my struggle against the Earth Empire! Generals Wei, Anyang, Ranchi, Akol and Vikuna, I presume?" a person, clothed in elaborate robes and bearing an ancient headpiece - the Fire Lord, Kanyzon - welcomed them in the tent, three of his own Generals sitting around a map depicting the area. All of them rose to bow, and the five generals and their seven guards mirrored the gesture, before the former seated themselves. However, as the guards - Noki, Skado, Shizon, Senqok, Kabura, Ranju and Zoruka - remained standing, themselves spreading around the map, Kanyzon's suspicions rose. "Is the presence of those soldiers of yours truly a necessity?"

"It, as a matter of fact, is, your majesty. Six of them, Captain Noki, Lieutenant Skado, Staff Sergeant Senqok and Sergeants Ranju, Kabura and Shizon, successfully infiltrated the Impenetrable City and assassinated the highest-ranking commander of the Earth Empire's forces, Imperial Marshal Han, there, which indirectly persuaded the seventh, Crown Princess Arzowa of the Fire Nation, to desert her post as the Grand Secretariat of the Earth Empire," Anyang explained. "Your majesty, with all due respect, I- we insist of them staying, they have great knowledge and skill when it comes to tactics and strategy, at least for their age."

"Well, I guess, with this being explained, we can move on to planning the upcoming battle, can we not?" Kanyzon sighed, allowing the seven to seat themselves.

"Not quite, your majesty. We are still expecting the delegation from the Southern Water Tribe - they have come to aid us as well," Wei stated, at which Senqok's eyes lit up. Kanyzon rolled his eyes, while the former excused himself, intending to intercept the delegation only he seemed to have noticed previously. Euphoric, he hurried out of the tent, and northwards under the clouded nighttime sky. Over the rocks he swung, and over brooks he leapt, until he noticed the dozen of people just on the other side of a massive boulder. He could hear each of their steps, and crept behind the boulder as if to assassinate each and every of them - not that, with the weaponry he had at disposal, he couldn't. Narrowing his eyes at the warriors, he charged forward, yelling, "Chief Gangtok!"

The one he had called for turned around, just in time for the chief to be embraced by him. All of the dozen looked astonished, to say the least, only Gangtok, though nearly suffocating due to the violent embrace, managing to ask, "...and who would you be?"

Senqok realised his mistake, saying, "Oh, I'm sorry," then taking off his helmet to show his hair bound in a warrior's wolf tail. "Just two years and you can't recognise your own and only son?" then adding, "Wait. It's been more like four years, right? Damn... "

Gangtok's astonishment turned into happiness, and he returned the gesture his son had shown him previously, replying, "I've you too, Senqok... "

As the two, father and son, the latter surpassing the former in terms of height, broke from each other, Bunak, who was the only other chief to come with Gangtok, noted, "We shall get on not to be all too late to the meeting. Hurry up, get your arses moving!"

The two chiefs, eight Generals, five of whom were of the Alliance, and the Fire Lord had, at last, gathered. After either of them took a looked around, Gangtok suggested, "Perhaps, we shall start?"

"Of course," almost all others present spoke more or less simultaneously, all trying to get a better look over the map.

"So... To start with, how many soldiers have we to deploy on the battlefield, and do we have knowledge of the enemy's whereabouts and strength?" Bunak took a close look on the map, and placed a few figures on the part of the map depicting the position of the Southern Water Tribe's forces.

"Well, not all of our forces have arrived - half of them are still en route here, however, it is unsure when or if at all they will arrive," Wei stated, mirroring Bunak's action, only the figures he placed on the map were thrice as many. "But to name approximate numbers, we've got about five hundred thousand soldiers right here, another fifty thousand expected to arrive tomorrow."

"Well, our troops number about two hundred fifty thousand soldiers, also counting artillery units." Kanyzon quickly positioned figures on the map symbolising his troops.

"We have ten thousand warriors to offer," Gangtok spoke somewhat absent-minded as he was focussed on plotting.

"Now, as for the enemy, well... We have knowledge of his approximate location. Yi Ming has gathered troops on the way from Ba Sing Se here in the upper Great Divide, and they're moving north-east, thus are expected to confront us tomorrow." One of the Fire Nation Generals put the figures representing Earth Empire troops on the map's western edge. "However, we have little to no knowledge about their strength."

"About that, we have some information," Anyang started. "According to relatively reliable sources, namely our regional commanders in the Taku area- " He gestured to General Vikuna, who nodded in response. " -their numbers lie between three hundred thousand and six hundred thousand, some even speaking of a million soldiers. However, should the first be the case, which is likely, we would be superior in numbers, and also would have a better strategic position. That being said, I would like to move on to planning the battle itself."

Silence settled in the tent - except the crackling torches - as everyone present stared at the map and the figures, trying to figure out a way to defeat the enemy's forces with as little losses as possible. After five minutes, two of them randomly made eye contact - Senqok and Gangtok - and seemingly wordlessly agreed on something the others, though closely observing the two, could in no way decipher. Then, after only a few seconds, father and son broke the silence by a simultaneous exclamation. "I've got an idea!"

All directed their attention to them. "So... we've got artillery, right?" the father began.

"That is correct, we are equipped with a numerous, diverse and qualitative artillery force," Kanyzon replied.

"Very well then. The Water Tribe warriors will move southwards only half a kilometre, because there they would reach the beginning of a bottleneck, for whose defence only few soldiers suffice," the son continued, demonstrating the explained movements with the figures.

"Then," the father continued, "a unit of the Liberation Alliance will dispatch to fully surround the Earth Empire's forces - given of course they advance northwards first - by taking those two hills at either side of the canyon."

"Thus, the trap will be set," Senqok, smiling viciously, schemed. "Why? Simply because then, the crossbows of the Alliance and the artillery of the Fire Nation will open fire before the enemy reaches the Water Tribals. This should serve to heavily decimate their numbers."

"However," Gangtok concluded, "this will not be enough to fully eliminate them, and also, at some point, would the probability of friendly fire be heavily increased, as Yi Ming would reach our line of defence. Thus, a great part of the Fire Nation's and the Alliance's forces shall dispatch, and descend into the valley - as it is not a real canyon here - and finish the job, only leaving minor units with the strength of perhaps a division - therefore, about ten thousand men - behind to guard the camps. That ought to be enough to defeat, if not even to fully exterminate the Earth Empire's troops involved in this upcoming battle."

With each sentence father and son had spoken, the others had come to more and more accept their plan, at the end even applauding them to what they jointly had crafted. With that last act of admiration, they agreed on the plan to be applied, with consequences reaching far beyond the boundaries of the battlefield.

Notes and Trivia

  • Well, tension is rising, eh? Not much more to say here. Well, there would be more to say, but I'm too tired.

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