"You've done it, Lord Kane!" crowed the Runefaustian high priest gleefully. "The Shining Force is in full retreat!"
"Of course they are," Kane gloated. "They rushed my golems like waves crashing against rocks, and the gargoyles flanking them sent them running. The battle was over before it began."
The high priest nodded eagerly. "Their losses were severe, while we only lost a few units. Now is our chance to follow them into their hideout and finish the job!"
Kane hmphed derisively at the suggestion. "No, let them hide down in the tunnels like rats if they wish. They only delay the inevitable."
"But my lord," asked the high priest, confused, "we are in a position of strength. Would it not be prudent to eliminate them while we have the chance?"
"Do you dare question my orders?" snapped the masked man. "I will crush Max beneath my heel in an open battle, or not at all! Bring in our reinforcements! Same formation!"
Not wishing to incur his commander's wrath, the high priest obeyed. The Shining Force had lost half their number in the battle, and they did have a nearly limitless supply of troops. If Lord Kane wished to defeat Max on his terms, what difference could it make?
"The Shining Fools have fled before our might once again," announced the high priest.
"You mean MY might," Kane snarled, casting a dark look at his advisor.
"O-of course, my lord," the high priest stammered. "But we've confirmed that they have a priest down there with them. They can replenish their numbers as needed with his assistance. Perhaps we should—"
"No!" barked Kane. "Bring in our reinforcements! Same formation!"
The high priest scurried away to the black knight's bidding. He had a bad feeling about this.
"They're clearly adapting to your tactics, Lord Kane," the high priest stated after the Shining Force's third retreat. "We lost more units than we did in the previous engagement, notably due to their bringing in mages to counter the golems. Might I suggest—"
"Silence!" the masked man shouted. "Get me my reinforcements! Same formation!"
The high priest sighed as he walked away. This was not going to end well.
"They broke through the line of golems and routed the mages this time, my lord," the high priest dryly noted. "The durahans held them off, but the gargoyles are barely a threat to them anymore. Furthermore, Max and a few of the others have undergone a marked change in appearance. They are obviously getting stronger, not weaker. We need to end this before—"
"I will end this when I am good and ready!" Kane bellowed, stamping his feet in frustration. "Reinforcements! Same formation!"
"It appears that they have all been promoted to new classes," observed the high priest dispassionately. "The gargoyles are little more than training dummies for their weaker members, and the durahans are struggling to check their advances. I would recommend we try something different—"
"Reinforcements! Same formation!" the swordsman screamed.
"—but you never listen to me anyway," the high priest said with a disheartened sigh, shaking his head.
The high priest approached Kane after the latest conflict, his tone and bearing fatalistic. "Loathe though I am to intrude on your tactical deliberations," or lack thereof, he thought bitterly, "this battle is lost. Morale is pitifully low, and talk of mutiny and desertion is rampant. The only reason the Shining Force hasn't annihilated us is because our army is a valuable source of money and experience. We MUST retreat before we're all slaughtered like cattle."
"Never!" Kane roared. "I have Max right where I want him!"
Something snapped in the high priest's mind. "They are literally laughing at us!" he shouted back, angrily pointing at the jeering warriors clustered at the entrance to the Shining Force's headquarters. "And one of the centaurs just made a rude gesture! Their healers regularly bludgeon the golems to bits, then rearrange the pieces to form obscene messages about our mothers! Max doesn't even bother fighting you anymore, not since he almost killed you with one blow!"
"SILENCE!" the masked man shrieked at the top of his lungs, foaming at the mouth in fury. "REINFORCEMENTS! SAME FORMATION!"
The high priest stood there in silence for several long moments, shaking with rage, then stalked away. Later that night, he cried himself to sleep.
[Found on a scrap of paper by scouts after the Shining Force had left the area]
The end is nigh. Death is coming for me, whether at the hands of the Shining Force or Kane, but I no longer care. I have failed utterly in my role as advisor, and our total defeat is imminent. I would consider defecting had I not witnessed the gruesome fate of the last mage to throw himself on their mercy. I cannot sleep; I hear the cruel, taunting laughter of our foes in my dreams.
I have survived only because they have allowed me to heal myself. I am still useful to them, but I see them growing impatient. Soon I, too, will be expendable. They are hungry, always hungry. Soon our meager force will not be enough to satiate them, and then they will sweep us aside like children to seek out other armies to consume.
If you read this, turn back! We are lost, for Kane has brought us to ruin. We could have crushed them weeks ago had he only heeded my warnings. Do not attempt to fight the Shining Force with anything less than the full might of Runefaust's armies, or you shall meet the same fate.
I go now into death's embrace. Glory to Runefaust! Praise be to King Ramladu!
[The text descends into incomprehensible scribbles at this point]