Doevm's journal entry #2870: New possibilities have presented themselves. After thorough experimentation using human slaves, I have discovered that light is not holy magic. According to Maximus Draken in his book, "Origin of Magic", he theorized that every magic comes from a god. Holy magic comes from the goddess of good. Dark magic comes from the god of evil. The four main elements come from a different entity. Based on his observations, I realized that holy magic is life and dark magic is death, since the magics' respective gods control them.
The world, if thought of as a god itself, can be manipulated though its elements, earth, air, fire, and water, further subdivided into different categories. Humans thought a subcategory of fire was light, but they cannot manipulate light. This means light is separate from fire and does not belong to any of the other categories of magic. This led to my realization that light is not part of this world, but a foreign energy from a star. The reason no one can manipulate light as its own element is because they draw power from this world, which does not contain its own light.
Thinking of this, I sporadically stretched my own mana to connect to the sun. If the world can be manipulated using its own power, shouldn't the sun be manipulated with its own power as well? When my mana connected, it changed. Light flooded through my library. Out of fear I recoiled. After a few seconds I realized the light didn't hurt me even though I was an Undead. I moved my mana and the light shifted around me. I practiced for a month straight without even thinking to write my results down in my journal. Further practice is required. This also opens up new questions. If two worlds have so much magic, wouldn't other worlds have even more types of magic? What new powers would I gain?
Theory after theory broke in my head. The knowledge I had acquired looked even more pathetic. After several days of madness and unstable mental breaks, I calmed myself to ask yet another question: Why do different species have different types of magic? If I tested different types of magic to see if they really were subcategories of the main four elements, how many would be like light? How many forms of magic came from different worlds, and how did they get here? Journal entry end.
When Doevm got back to his squad barracks, he realized he no longer slept there. He had his own private quarters now. Wade probably already had his stuff packed. He never carried very much with him. Doevm got all his things from his locker and took one last look around. Frey's bunk was empty, and so was Hopi's. 'Wade said Hopi had his own issues, but this is getting strange,' Doevm thought. 'I'll confront him tomorrow about it.' He dragged his tired body over to his new room which looked exactly like Marcus's quarters. It had a single mattresses bed, a small desk, and a rack for his weapons. He lay everything down and pulled the sheets over his body. His magic was low for the first time in centuries. He grimaced and let his tired body relax until his mind drifted off to sleep.
The next few days were a repetitious act for him. In the mornings, he trained the squad. He occasionally let them spar, but mostly focused on their cooperation. While Wade had instilled the mindset to act as one, they had only been together for less than a week. They still needed a lot more training to look like a unit. Sometimes Doevm led them in runs through the forest so the soldiers, who were used to plains and flatland, would get used to the new territory and heat. While running, they stayed separated and darted from tree to tree as Doevm had seen the Elves do. Frey kept trying to one-up them. Eventually the two had a scrimmage. Every squad still at the base watched and cheered, only broken up by the captain after ten minutes. The competition was over, but a gradual change hit the base.
Squads looked at each other differently. No longer were people randomly walking throughout the base. People didn't interact with people from other squads unless it was to brag about their own. The awkward phase had passed, and an order took hold. The training fields were now fought over with mock battles lead by each squad leader. More people showed up in the medical wing. The training weapons had to be replaced daily. After a week of increasing competition, Marcus called every squad leader into a meeting on the training field. Their squads were to be left at their barracks.
"The past two weeks," Marcus said to the lines of saluting squad leaders, "Have been easy for everyone. This is because there has yet to be one major battle. We were simply exploring the area. I have seen everyone's competitions and I am glad for them, but now we need to focus. The first battle is coming up, and I need specific areas that are easily defended." He signaled to Wade, who handed out maps to everyone with red 'x's on them. "These are the locations your squads are responsible for claiming in a week. I say again, there will be a lot more deaths from here on out. Don't use the training fields unless your men have to try something. I admire the competitions, but those have to end. While you are all separate people, we are one army. We have one goal, to get the hero back. Depending on your results of this first mission, you could either be promoted or demoted. For the Acrin Kingdom, go gut some Fishies." Fishies was a derogatory term for the people of the Vilbar Kingdom, as their country looked like a fish on a map.
"Yes sir." All the squad leaders said in unison. Unlike the drafted soldiers, the squad leaders were at least at the red life essence level. These men were experienced and disciplined. They all walked out with the scrolls rolled up in their hands. Doevm sighed. This would be his first real test. He was confident that he could succeed, but that was under normal conditions. While he would tell no one yet of his suspicions, he knew something was different. From day one he had made mistakes. There were too many variables around to determine why his luck was so bad. To run into a Manticore on the first expedition was not impossible, but it also wasn't common. After seeing the captain promote so many people so quickly, Doevm was certain there was something wrong.
He gathered his men up and got them ready. They went down the elevator and left the safety of the base. He walked with his men until they were out of earshot of the guards and other squads, then stopped the march. "I'm going to introduce some new signals. I know this is a little late, but I don't want the other squads copying us." He unbuckled his second water sac, which was only filled with water, not the manticore acid. "I want you to spill water on your clothes while drinking, making it look like an accident, if you notice anyone following us. Curse if it's dangerous to notify your squad members and stay silent if you're just incapable of drinking water. The squad members will chuckle a little to alert me. After I ask what happened, lie about how much you spilled. If I hear you spilled a little, there are only a few following us. If you spilled a lot, there are a lot. You'll hear strange orders after that, follow them. I'd give you more signals, but you won't remember all of them. Repeat these instructions in your head several times as we march out."
"Do you think something is going to happen?" Hopi asked. "Why is there such an elaborate signal being created only now? What happens if we mess up?"
"If anyone messes the signal up," Doevm held his spear up, "I'll kill you on the spot. We cannot fail this mission. This is going to be extremely dangerous. Failure is not tolerated. Everyone, stand up and move out."
With the strange orders echoing in the soldiers' heads, they followed their strange squad leader. They did not trip on the various vines and roots on the ground like in the first mission. Each step was away from the crunching leaves. Last time they set out as a bunch of ignorant hicks. Now they moved as soldiers.
'Fifteen squad leaders,' Doevm thought. 'By the end of the war, I need that number to become a captain and go to the academy. No matter what, I need to become a captain. Only my weak men can stop me. It doesn't matter if I live through the mission, if my squad dies, I will get demoted back to a foot soldier.' His eyes darted around the forest, waiting for the ambush.