The Grey Wolf tribe only had twelve members remaining plus the chieftain and the shaman.
Ragh\'Ash had to think carefully about their strategy.
Albeit lesser demons, their enemies were still demons.
Of the twelve orcs, four were just kids.
Their bodies were yet to become able to endure the blessing of the holy crystal.
The shaman decided to keep them close to her, so in case of emergency, she could turn them into living bombs and get rid of the tribe\'s enemies.
\'As long as the tribe has women, we can always have more children.\' Ragh\'Ash thought.
\'The only things that matter to our survival is the holy crystal and breaking the curse.
Everyone else is disposable.\'
The shaman used the crystal once again.
This time she didn\'t panic.
Ragh\'Ash took her time to assess the enemy strength and position while using her knowledge of the territory to come up with a battle plan.
She was the only one capable of rational thought thanks to her Awakening.
The others, just like Testa\'Lhosh, were mindless brutes, incapable of escaping the clutches of their base instincts.
Against a smart enemy equipped with magical weapons like Sergeant Tepper\'s unit, the blessing of the holy crystal wasn\'t enough.
She needed a foolproof plan.
Otherwise those morons would screw up and leave everything on her shoulders.
According to her readings, the demons and the humans were apart, even if not by much.
\'Sending more orcs would be just a waste of resources.
I\'ll let them come here, where the powers of the holy crystal and my magic are at their peak.
I\'ll leave the humans to the tribe while Testa\'Lhosh and I will take care of the demons.
\'The gods from above and from below are on our side.
The two demons share the same body, making them a lesser threat than what I feared.
We outnumber and outmatch them.
Thanks to my new pet, our victory is already written in the stars.\' Ragh\'Ash thought.
Lith kept coming closer to the orc settlement, yet he met no resistance whatsoever.
There were a few traps laid on the ground, but they were devised against animals to get food, not against a real enemy.
\'Orcs are supposed to be stupid.
They should have charged at us like mad bulls already.\' Lith thought while using Life Vision to check his surroundings.
\'I guess a shaman is a real game changer.\' Solus pointed out.
\'It\'s better to go back to the others and ask for more information.
The Sergeant seemed to know more than what he told us.
We should seek his advice.\'
Lith mind nodded.
He rushed back to the unit while Solus watched his back with mana sense, allowing him to move at full speed without any worry.
How many orcs did you kill Liwell asked with a big smile on his face.
Lith was so used to their ill concealed scorn that it gave him the creeps.
None, that\'s why I returned.
Something is wrong here.
The orcs knew our position with enough precision to set an ambush, yet they aren\'t supposed to be able to use arrays. Lith said, leaving the unit confused.
What\'s an array They asked each other, receiving only a shrug in reply.
Also, they are supposed to be dumb.
It that was true, they should either run away or come at us in full force.
Yet nothing has happened.
I feel like we are walking into a trap.
Sergeant, could you please tell us what a shaman is capable of
Sometimes in battle, you\'re forced to face the unknown, Cadet Lith.
A shaman is a rare creature, even adventurers have a vague knowledge of them.
Only the army possess detailed records and I have already shared with you more than I should. Tepper replied.
As a fellow soldier, though, I can say that I think your observations are on point.
The shaman seems smart enough to make use of their superior numbers.
When you decided to continue the mission, you knew you would face a magician.
\'The whole unit is green and he wants to send us against an unknown enemy\' Lith thought.
\'Either he is overestimating himself or underestimating a magician.\'
\'Or maybe he is overestimating you.\' Solus suggested.
\'I think that at this point he is sure you are a magician and the army rules allow you to use your powers in case of emergency.
Probably the Sergeant thinks that the two of you are more than enough.\'
\'I wish I shared his optimism.
Until I know what kind of core the enemy has or the kind of tricks they are capable of, the only thing I\'m sure of is that I can survive.
I need to keep at least the Sergeant alive.
Otherwise if the entire unit gets butchered, I could get blamed for it.\'
The unit effortlessly advanced through the woods until Lith signaled them to stop.
It\'s a trap indeed. He said jumping down from a tree without making any noise.
The settlement has no guards and there are no signs of activity.
The tribe consists of ten adults and four teenagers.
Eight adults are spread outside what I presume is the shaman\'s tent and are armed to the teeth.
What about the mana crystal Sergeant Tepper asked with eyes full of expectation.
I saw no crystal. Lith lied.
Maybe it\'s inside the tent, I can\'t see through walls.
\'The bastard knows about the crystal!\' Lith inwardly cursed.
Thanks to Life Vision and mana sense, Lith had now a clear idea of the enemy\'s strength.
His comrades had only one path to victory.
If they managed to keep the orcs at bay they would win, otherwise it would be a slaughter.
Inside the tent, Lith had spotted a bright cyan cored orc that was likely to be the shaman, a very bulky individual at least two meters (6\'7) tall, and four children that seemed to be around twelve years old.
Near to them, there was the biggest and most powerful mana crystal Lith had ever seen.
He had hoped to keep its existence a secret to snatch it away during the fight.
It was a priceless natural treasure with endless application to Lith\'s studies.
There has to be a mana crystal, otherwise the shaman couldn\'t empower other orcs. Tepper said.
Orcs consider them gifts from the gods, they would rather die than leave one behind.
The Mage Association highly values orcs crystals.
They hope to understand the secrets of the shamans\' powers by studying them.
We have to retrieve it safely at all costs!
What is our priority Lith asked.
Wiping out the orcs or retrieving the crystal
Your primary objective is to remain alive. Sergeant Tepper sighed.
He had almost forgotten he was with cadets, not an elite force.
The secondary objective is to wipe out the orcs.
If we do that, the crystal will fall into our hands.
What\'s a crystal Nhilo asked, relieving Lith from his burden.
The more he learned about the orcs the more the mission appeared suicidal in his eyes.
Sending the cadets forward without warning them about mana crystals would just add insult to the injury.
Tepper briefly explained the unit the mana crystals\' uses, properties, and volatile nature.
With all due respect, I don\'t think we can do it, Sir. Nhilo said after Lith draw her a rough sketch of the orc settlement and the enemy positions.