“Don’t mind that. It’s artistic license. The name of the mountain range as I mentioned. Dragonfly Mountains,” the deity chortled.
Really loves the name.
“Dragons were living there a long time ago. The big flying Norse ones but I haven’t seen any of them in a millennium or so,” Dionysus continued.
“I hope you’re still right about that.”
“So, what if I am wrong? You get to see one of the grand dragons. Big as a small mountain. Terrifying. But those beautiful and majestic creatures! What a sight! Only very territorial. Also possess a bit of magic. While on the ground, it is said that some of them can hide and even become invisible. I really don't know. Cloak themselves to look like their surroundings would be more plausible. But the more powerful among them can even take the form of a human.”
“They can?” said the startled Tyler.
“Only the truly powerful. Watch out for telltale scales along the forearm. You see that, either you run away very fast, grovel abjectly, or be very polite.”
“I don’t think I would like to meet any. Thank you. And about this map, it shows a big area. We have to know the route and location of the lochos before we can do anything.”
“Leave that to me. Now that I know, I will have something in an hour or so. You still haven’t forgotten it’s a trap?”
“No. The consequences of springing the trap would be the problem, and I can’t bring all of my companions with me. The work here in Akrotiri has to continue.”
“I wish I could help you there but war is a specialized field. That why we have war-gods, battle gods, gods of strategy, and such. We’re out of those. Athena won’t be showing herself.”
“I know. You do know how bad the defenses of the city are. The Pelasgoi will be a welcome addition. But whether they’ll just be more men for the Dorians to kill is another matter altogether.”
“I hate to see that happen to new potential worshippers. And a new market for my wine. Anyway, I have to take my leave. Your information won’t get itself.”
“Thanks again, Dio. I really appreciate this.”
“Hah!” the deity replied as he disappeared.
Tyler stood up and went to the door. Opening it, he saw the three warriors gathered on a table. Calling them in, he went back to his chair. The three filed in and Habrok closed the door. Tyler saw Astrid with a new set of armor.
“You did find Astrid new armor,” he said when the three had taken their places.
“It’s made of an alloy, Sire,” replied Astrid. “A bit stronger than iron, but as light as leather. With some enchantment too. Won’t rust, adds to reflexes, and doesn’t rattle. New swords. Classic xiphos. Don’t know the metal but I have been told it cuts through armor like butter. Have some inscriptions on the blade. Danay said it’s supposed to help penetrate magical barriers. It won’t work on some kinds of magical barriers though.”
“Let’s try it. Remove your armor and put it on the table. I will place a barrier on top of it. On my signal, try to penetrate the barrier. Though I should warn you, the barrier is tougher than it was back in Skaney.”
Astrid removed her cuirass and placed it on the table. Jorund and Habrok moved back. Seeing the clear space around Astrid, Tyler created a shield above the chestplate.
The Valkyrie nodded.
The blade swung in a sharp and clean arc through the air. It struck the thick invisible barrier. Tyler’s enhanced eyesight saw it penetrate about half an inch before bouncing off.
“It does penetrate magical barriers. But only to a certain extent. About half an inch. It might do well against enchanted armor provided no barrier exists.”
They all sat down. Astrid put her armor back on.
“We will be getting information shortly about where precisely is the trap now. It’s the lochos supposedly escorting one of the sons of Ares. If it is indeed a trap, it will be moving slowly. Now, a hard decision to make. Jorund, you have to stay here and continue your work. And lead the city’s defense if it comes to that. The job, as you know by now, is beyond the abilities of its present general. He is already ordered to follow your commands, so that makes matters easier. Some reinforcements are coming in a few days from the city of Cortana. Hardened and experienced fighters. Around 2,000 heavy infantry, 1,500 archers, 1,000 javelinmen, and 1,000 cavalry, if my memory serves me right. But the heavy infantry is not trained to fight in a phalanx.”
“My Lord, I prefer to go with you,” said Jorund.
“I know, Jorund. But among the three of you, you’re the only one with the experience for the task. Akrotiri doesn’t only need fighting men right now, the city also needs a capable commander. How many mercenaries from its allies have arrived?”
“A measly three hundred men.”
“We are on our own. I don’t even trust those three hundred mercenaries to be around if fighting starts. Fighting an overwhelming human army is hard enough. But if that army is accompanied by demigods and minor gods, then it’s over before the fighting starts. We have to remove the high-value players from the board first. Hopefully, their removal will dissuade other Dorian cities from contributing soldiers to the campaign. Or least send fewer soldiers.”
“I understand, Sire. It shall be as you command,” replied Jorund.
“Now for the two of you. I can’t expect you to fight it out with Ares’ retinue. Just watch my back. There will be human soldiers with them. Focus on dealing with them but don’t stray away from me,” said Tyler, looking at Astrid and Habrok.
“Sire, Danay did have a supply of those magic-penetrating liquids. Similar to what I used against that dokkalfr night-mage. I don’t know how effective they are but I guess I can use them on my arrows,” commented Habrok.
“Give some to Astrid. Hell, wipe them on your weapons. There’s nothing to lose by using them like that.”
“And again, a reminder to the two of you. Forget the past. Work as comrades-in-arms. Bickering may lead to the death of all of us. Understood?”
The two nodded their heads.
God! Again, I sound so confident. I still haven’t come up with a plan! Five minor gods! Well, four if the son of Ares is not around. But still. Four freaking beings with freaking abilities! A trump card or two would have been very welcome.
Then, he remembered Odin’s box. I better look into that. It may be of use.
“So that’s it for now. Armor up. Get your gear. Habrok, please ask for provisions from Danay. Enough for three days. Split the weight between you and Astrid. Jorund, I guess it’s back to His Royal Highness for you. And I am still waiting for my map.”