It was a crisp morning in the C.U.T Corps camp. Korar had gotten up from his bedroll slightly before dawn and was tending the fire, heating the plain porridge that was to be their breakfast. Their little militia regiment were 50-strong, 50 grunts from the war between the Ancients. Up until some 2 weeks ago, Korar would have slain the vile Dire grunts on sight, but for now he and his fellow Radiants must tolerate their vile presence. And Korar had to admit, while they were pathetic and craven on the field of battle, they could certainly cut trees. Not as well as Radiants, obviously, but well enough. The camp was stirring, grunts emerging from their tents or bedrolls. Ragun, a fellow radiant, sat down opposite him, staring into the flame as it turned to embers. The bedrolls, tents and supplies they used had been supplied to them for the war effort, but their seats were self-made. Corpses of their enemies recently slain in battle. Large oaken logs. While both the Dire and the Radiant were cooperating for now, there was still an element of competition as each C.U.T Corps camp proudly displayed the greatest foe they had felled. The Radiant camp had a great oak, felled but 2 days ago by a Radiant whose name escaped Korar at the moment. A massive willow took pride of place on the Dire side, if anything Dire could be called proud. Korar didn’t care what their foreman said; the Radiant Oak was a greater prize than the Dire Willow.
Korar scooped up some porridge in two bowls and handed one to Ragun. ”Here friend, eat. We have a long day of battle before us before the day is done.” His colleague did not move or respond, only stared into the dying flames. Korar supposed he couldn’t blame him; Just before the start of the war, Ragun had fought, and survived, in a skirmish between forces of the Ancients. It had been a tough for the brave, but outnumbered, Radiants until the terrifying fire mage Lina had arrived. The skirmish swiftly turned from a pitched battle to a complete rout, as the vile Dire were reduced to naught but cinders and ash. Ragun had been one of the few Radiants to survive, but the fiery magics of the Slayer had stuck with the Radiant mage. Korar placed the bowl carefully on the leg beside Ragun, and went back to stirring the pot of porridge.
Morning went by without further event. After breakfast had been served on both sides of the camp, the Foreman outlined the days tasks. Predictably they were much like yesterday; the enormous forests around the battlefields of the War of Ancients needed culling. For too long they had been left to their own devices, the powers that be content to let them expand and grow. No more. The Radiant Ancient, in its wisdom, had discovered a great danger in allowing the trees free reign, and in its cowardice, the Dire Ancient had agreed. And so the unending war between the Ancients was put on hold, that the growing danger of the Trees might be ended. Some of the heroes who fought in the war had embraced this new battlefield, and others simply let it happen.
After being promised plenty of tree corpses to experiment on, Razzil Darkbrew the Alchemist agreed to help fund the war, supplying the troops with the tools and provisions they would need. The fire mage Lina had been implored several times to lend her destructive magic to the cause, but had inexplicably refused, and had since left the region. The battle-hungry Mogul Kahn, more commonly known simply as ‘Axe’, eagerly joined the war to find a new battlefield, but beyond his great axe, his abilities proved of little use in the early days of the war, and the warrior left to find more exciting adventures. The elusive Treant Protector had vanished during the beginning of the war but had since returned, working with the Nature’s Prophet to sabotage the war effort. Assassins had been sent after them, but every day Korar heard tales of war camps decimated and turned to compost by the two guerilla fighters.
The greatest hero of this new war was Rizzrack, otherwise known as Timbersaw. The diminutive creature in the mechanical suit had fought like a man possessed since day one, decimating entire forests by himself. The engineer had no deployment zone, as he devastated battlefields too quickly for Headquarters to keep up, so he simply fought where he wished, bringing untold devastation to the enemy. If the entire army had suits like the Timbersaw, then the war would be over in days, but Rizzrack had refused to give up the secrets of its construction.
The day went on with little progress; it seemed that for every foe felled, at least one recuit must give their life. Tools slipped, tree-trunks fell onto people and general mishaps slowed the battle all day. Korar and 2 fellow Radiants were preparing the last tree of the day for its impending doom as the sun sunk towards the horizon.
Sarii held the quelling blade that had been supplied to their little troop. He held it at the ready while Korar guided Carax who would push the tree away from his fellows.
”Ready!” Korar shouted, giving Sarii the signal of the C.U.T Corps. Nodding, the Radiant swung the enchanted ax, neatly cutting a chunk of wood from the base of the trunk. Carax immediately set his shoulder to the swaying trunk, safely guiding its descent with the strength provided by the Belt of Ogre Strength that he wore.
The trunk had almost hit the ground when a shrill scream could be heard over the tree crashing into the ground.
”What was that?” Sarii said as he sat down on the tree with the ax in hand.
Carax stretched his arms and made sure the belt was still securely strapped on. ”A scream, and one full of cowardice.”
”A Dire one, then.” Karar responded, looking into the forest to see what had caused it. A thump behind him caused him to turn back around to his fellows, only to see Sariis masked head rolling towards him as his body slumped away from the blood-covered Treant. Bellowing, Carax threw himself at the wooden monster and pummeled it to the ground in one swift strike, only to be grappled to the ground by more Treants emerging from the undergrowth. More screams erupted from the forest around him as the tree-counterattack began in earnest. Grabbing the sword from his belt, Karar swiped at the nearest Treant, trying to get to the quelling blade that Sarii’s limp body still held. Before he could gain even a single foot of ground towards it, he was utterly surrounded by Treants, the rustling of their branches sounding eerily like laughter.
”Do what you will. My death will not end this war.” He responded, trying to keep his body’s shaking out of his voice. There was a curious scent in the air, rather like smoke and oil. Rather like-. Karar immediately threw himself to the ground as a Treant swiped at him and a massive saw-blade ripped its trunk-like body apart. Even before the shower of splinters had reached the ground, the other Treants had turned towards the source of the attack.
”Haha, you piney bastards, you won’t get me again!” A voice shouted, followed by another deadly sawblade that reduced the surviving Treants to firewood. Karar sat back up, watching the spectacle of massive Timbersaw machine as it rampaged through the forest, felling several trees in the blink of an eye.
Now Karar thought he understood his colleague Ragun.