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Gwandor Saga

The Saga of the Gwandorlings - 63

"I'm retiring"

- Dragonfriend

"Argrath is everywhere. It is difficult to find work."

- Kao Lu

Fire Season/1630

When next Gudny met with Garthael, he gifted the Dinacoli King with the iron chain tunic that he had taken from Triolf the Fist. He had already broken Triolf's torque and gifted his followers with the gold and silver. He kept the helm for it was enchanted to provide eyesight like an eagle's.

And so the preparations for the invasion continued. Bronwyn sent word from Talfort saying that five squadrons of the Black Horse Troop, led by Sir Ethilrist himself, rode with Jareel. Bronwyn opinioned that Jareel had gathered ten or twenty thousand spears into her army. Another messenger arrived from Onjar reporting that Jareel's vanguard had arrived at Furthest. The rest were coming up the river by barge.

During one of their infrequent meetings, Harrek told the Argraths that he had offered the Poljoni "a bunch" of cows if they were to fight with him. The nomads agreed. Shortly thereafter, three Poljoni clans, two Amber clans, the Kotor clan and the Ansil rode into Dangerford and bivouacked on the Donalf Flats. The Flashjak, Krise and And-jay shamanic warbands rode along with them. All told, there were 4,000 of them.

Venharlsson came with 300 Stormwalkers, among them Norolf Hundred-Fighter and Utguard Cloud-Walker.

The Inhuman King refused to see Argrath but the priest dragonewt Erudite Thought spoke with the Dragonfriend. "We not fight. Time not right. We defend our land. No more. Go now."

Argrath Maniskisson spake of his great host, gathered in Wintertop. He told of the Grazers riding in with 4,000 riders. Both the Luminous Stallion King with his Golden Bows and the Feathered Horse Queen with her Humakti Hiia Swordsmen bodyguard had come. He told of Ironhoof, obeying his obligations to the King of Dragon Pass, coming with 1,000 centaurs, 2,000 minotaurs and 1,000 satyrs. He spoke of his Bush Children, 2,000 cavalry, 200 of the fanatical Moonhaters and his magical unit, the Baron's Friends. He spoke of the Exile's Select Muster, 2,000 spears and 1,000 archers. He described the deeds and valour of the Exile's horse, 500 light and 500 medium. He gleefully spake of the Earth Shakers, 100 Maran Gor priestesses mounted on triceratops. And he gloated over the Old School, a further 100 priests with a band of Magical Magisaurs under their command.

Prince Orgovalt of Far Point came to Boldhome and told of his preparations. He spoke of his Headhunters, 400 medium horsethanes, his personal guard of 200 weaponthanes, 2,000 spears in the Aldachuri fyrd. He told of 1,000 spears in the Alone muster. The Snakepipe Dancers held their 400 Uroxi and Storm Bull warriors, priests and shaman in readiness for battle led by 4 Fury Jarls. The Little Shadows, now up to 1,000 warrior-trollkin, garrisoned Glass Wall. The Hidden Gale had presented their 100 swords at Aldachur along with the Lightening Spears, 100 strong. Finally he spoke of the Torkani fyrd, 1,000 warriors inured to war and darkness and the 100 Alone Knights.

Argrath Dragonfriend spoke glowingly of Orgovalt's deeds and thanked him for his efforts. He asked that the Alone Knights be sent to Dangerfort to rejoin the March Knights and then told how he was going to send the Eagle Brown Warlocks fight with Orgovalt. "I charge thee with holding the Tarsh Road. Yours is the honour and the duty of protecting our northern frontier." Orgovalt vowed that no Tarshite or Imperial would pass while he lived. "Try not to die then," replied Argrath.

Now General Harvar of the Provincial Expeditionary Force had been sighted at Slavewall with some 10,000 troops including 2000 Tusk Riders and two troops of Ethilrist's County. And so Argrath chose to leave Orgovalt's force intact for he would be sorely pressed, even with his advantage of terrain, should Harvar come upon him in full force.

Dragonfriend's follower Torenken Khan, his Pentan captain of the March Light Horse came with five times the expected horse-archers. "Your deeds drew recruits," he told Argrath. Sartar raised their largest army ever. Harrek had 1,000 wolf pirates lounging around Boldhome and they came eager for the fight and the plunder after. Argrath readied the Freemen and the Guildsmen, both 800 spears. He gathered the 1,000 men of the Queen's Own Foot, still named in honour of Kallyr. He gathered his entire warband, now 600 weaponthanes, at Blue Boar Fort. His March Knights rode in and with the Alone Knights numbered 600. Duke Wolfe joined the host with 400 of his heavy horse. The Thieves Arm, 500 medium horse, mustered at Dangerfort. Argrath moved the Free Philosophers, 100 priests, and the 200 EWF style Battle Mages of the Eleven Lights into Blue Boar Fort. Bronwyn returned from Tarsh to take his place leading his mages. Turog Kingwolf came with 500 werewolves and their 500 wolfbrothers from the Wolf Runners. 500 Wind Children flew in to fight the Empire at the command of Argrath Venharlsson. The Earth Twins, a new magical unit formed by Kallyr rode with Dragonfriend. A new draconic unit, the Egglord Warlocks, revealed themselves to King Harrek and swore loyalty to Sartar. They had been secretly sponsored by Kallyr for some time and were ready at last after years of preparation. Finally, 5,000 of the best tribal warriors in Sartar mustered for the battle, though many tribal kings did not come with their fyrds for Harrek's slaying of Kallyr was not popular. The Kheldon sent no warriors and no King would force service to the Pirate King, as he was known.

Sharpsword rode into Jonstown with his warband of 500 elite weaponthanes, hard men of superior skills and equipment, chosen from the best that his wide lands could provide. With him rode Baron Sanuel and his 300 Rokari knights. He brought the 2,000 men of the Choralinthor Archers and the Karse Spears. The Goldgotti regiment, recruited by the mighty merchant cartel of Karse, 900 strong, marched with him. 500 of the Knights of St Ehilm from Durengard rode their golden horses into Jonstown with glittering panoply. The entire Army of Tomorrow, 1,000 spears, 500 knights and 300 priests and sorcerers came with him in Sir Naribs Company. Two phalanxes from Sun County marched in with him 1,600 strong. Sharpsword came with the Candle Dancers, a select muster of the Volsaxi militias. The Warm Sisters, 100 earth priestesses came with Sharpsword.

All totalled, the Sartari host numbered nye 44,000 troops and priests, though some joked that there were almost as many great lords and commanders as troops.

There was a man, Lord Arvinvesh by name, and he was a tall man with golden hair, he moved with a grace that was rarely seen in the hills of Sartar and the Heortlings would have called him effete had they known the word. He was a highly respected Imperial General and Devotee of Polaris.

Now Lord Arvinesh came to Boldhome with a small guard as an embassy seeking an audience with the King of Sartar. Harrek's dishthane replied that the king was busy and could not accept the visit. Dragonfriend pushed through the door with Lord Arvinvesh in tow.

Harrek lounged on the throne with a wench's face in his lap. He greeted Argrath in is typically boisterous manner and waved his brimming flagon at the visitor, "Who's 'e then?"

Lord Arvinvesh paled at this greeting. He bowed like a courtier and greeted Harrek well. He spake of bringing the best wishes of Jareel, Princess of the Empire, Fourth Inspiration of Moonson and Full General of the Imperial Armies. Harrek nodded impatiently, "Yeah, yeah." He pushed the girl away and settled his breach-clout. "What's she want?"

The lord spoke of Jareel's desire to meet Harrek on neutral ground and seek a non-violent solution to their troubles. She wished to show Harrek the love of Sheppelkirk. Harrek nodded distractedly and looked about for more ale. "Sure, okay. Now fuck off!" he said. "Wench! Where's my wench? She wasn't finished yet."

Lord Arvinvesh backed from the room in some disarray and awaited the king's arrangements. Dragonfriend remained and spoke to Harrek of this obvious trap. "She seeks to trick you or beguile you," he spake. Harrek refused to accept his sensible advice. "I'm going. You're arranging it. Now fuck off."

Argrath spoke with Arvinvesh about Jareel and the meeting. It soon became obvious that the lord was devoted to the demigoddess in soul and body. Arvinvesh spoke of meeting at Too Far. Argrath refused and named Tink which was agreed upon. With that the two generals parted ways.

We needs now tell of Argrath's unease at this meeting and the reasons for it. Jareel was well known for her allure and how easily she could bend the mind of a man, any man, even one as potent as Harrek, perhaps especially one as potent as Harrek. Many were the tales told of how this demon had seduced her way across the land. Argrath did not trust Harrek to be able to resist her, if he even tried, for he was a primal creature and ruled by his urges.

And so the Dragonfriend gathered the priestesses, acolytes and worshippers of Uleria in a secret meeting in their Boldhome temple.

Orga the Nimble was the high priestess in the temple. Now Orga was a stunning woman well used to the affect she had on men. Hers was a short figure with hair that reached to her knees and men from Karse to Pavis sought her attention. Orga was indignant at Argrath's treatment of her, he sent three of his great trolls to summon her to his palace and rendered speechless at his complete indifference to her charms.

Argrath spake to Orga about the threat that the kingdom faced. He spoke of the coming meeting between Jareel and Harrek and his desire to thwart the demon's plans. He asked Orga to provide a mixture that could be mixed into the king's ale to dampen his ardour. Orga resisted the request as it was anathema to her goddess to take love rather than give it. Argrath finally convinced her of the need and she returned to her temple to begin her enchanting. Argrath sent his warband and his priest to aid in the ritual and Orga claimed that their magics had been potent.

Now it came time for the meeting in Tink. Harrek gathered a score of his pirate and Argrath brought his Companions. As they rode Argrath plied Harrek with the spiked wine. It was noticed that the Berserk became even more surly than usual and waved away the attentions of his maidens after a few hours of drinking. Even the wine held no appeal for him after a while and this left his boon companions amazed.

Jareel rode up with fifty of her bodyguards, elite crimson and silver armoured warriors from the deadly Bloodspillers regiment of the Imperial Bodyguard itself. When she stepped from her horse every man in sight turned to her with racing heart. Tall and lithe, curved yet athletic, aloof but approachable, proud and coy, she walked like every desire of man incarnate. She stepped across the field towards Harrek and beguiled all with her hell-forged good looks. She smiled at Harrek and greeted him softly. Harrek growled at her, "What!"

Jareel spoke of her desire to talk to him and learn about him. She wished to satisfy his desires and save the country form unneeded bloodshed. Harrek glared at her, "Enough! Enough of your talk! I'll shag you amid the corpses of your army, you won't be talking then!"

The Razoress paused and her smile firmed. "I would share the love of the Goddess with you," she crooned. Harrek scowled. "Fine, quit the talking then. Y'r kinda attractive in a leggy thin bitch kind of way. Do you want to shag or not?"

Jareel's guards grumbled at Harrek's truculence and insult but she waved them to silence. Argrath would have smiled had he the ability.

"Lis'en here," spake Harrek. "I remember you as a child or others like you, watching the games, watching me kill for your shits and giggles in the arena at Glamour. I know fine well what the love of your people brings. You people fucked me for years, now it's my turn. You can go along willingly and enjoy yourself or I'll just take you."

It must be said that Jareel never admitted defeat easily. All could feel the magic and allure radiating from her red-haired form. As powerful as it was, they all knew that they were experiencing but a shade of it as the demoness focused all of her power on the King. She repeated her desire to share the goddess' love but Harrek cut her off. "Get t'fuck! Fuck that! You don't listen woman! I'm feeling pretty shitty right now and I don't know why but maybe it's the smell of Lunars! I do know that I am going to destroy your army. I'm going to ride you until you're bowlegged and then I'm going to kill you. How is that for 'the love of the goddess'?"

Jareel scowled. "So be it," she spat and turned to her horse. "Thy kingdom will lie in ruins about your corpse before the winter's snows fall."

Harrek turned to Argrath, "She pissed me off. We're attacking them now. Tomorrow we march!"

Maniskisson replied to Dragonfriend's war message with news of heavy raiding in the Exile lands. "They dost ride with cossacks" he reported. He messenger also gave into Argrath's hands a report from Argrath Fazzurson that detailed Jareel's host.

It appeared that she had some 20,000 troops, the vast majority of them regular imperial forces, veterans of years of fighting. Even dourer was the news of several imperial bodyguard formations, led by Beatpot Aelwin with the Moonsword Cult. She also had the Golden Axles, the Gilt Scythes and the Deretinite chariots. There were three phalanxes including the famed Granite Phalanx. There were some 1,500 magicians in 8 magical units. There were sable riders, Char-Un cossacks, Spolite knights and heavy cavalry. They had 200 flying wyverns and the Paradisal Heralds riding on giant hawks. She had Thunder Delta Slingers, Penitents and Demon Lovers. She apparently had two standards from the Full Moon Corp to summon to the battle and some 20 battle moon-boats had been counted in Furthest. There were even 1,000 men from the emperor's Household Foot.

The Argrath's numerical advantage didn't seem quite up to over coming the quality of Jareel's army.

Now Harrek's plan was to march over the Dragonspine and storm Bagnot. He wanted to use that fortress city to anchor his campaign in Tarsh. Maniskisson's Exile, Grazer and Beastmen forces would join the attack from the other side of Bagnot and close seal the city's fate.

The Stormwalkers summoned a great umbrella of cloud to obscure the army's movements from the scouting moon-boats. The army marched across Dinacoli lands and camped in the Dragonewt Wilds. The next day they crossed The River and found a group of iron dwarves awaiting them with a heavy wagon in tow. A gold dwarf was brought to Argrath where he was watching the Karse Spears slouch across the river. The dwarf named itself "Interface Unit 43#T-78.3"and said "Good-day" to Argrath. Argrath greeted the dwarf well and sought his purpose in riding this far from Dwarf Mine. 43#T-78.3 spake in broken sartari, "We sent … Isildirian. We is Field Test Department 34/b-54a. We test Alchemical Transformer." Argrath welcomed the dwarf to the army and thanked him for coming. He rode over to Venharlsson and introduced him to the dwarf saying, "Isildiran hast entrusted us with a new weapon to test. It is said to increase the power of the magician using it and I dost wish for your Stormwalkers to so use it." Venharlsson agreed to try the device, with some reservations.

Yaljunsa Speckled-Wings led the Wind Children. She was a petite woman who, like most of her kind, disdained clothing of any kind. Yaljunsa was a shaman of Kolat and the Wind Children flew with scores of manifested kolati spirits.

Argrath set Yaljunsa to forming an airborne picket and scout line and had set loose Kamoar's killers in the Western Bush Range to find what they could of the enemy's movements.

Grolf White-mane was a grizzled veteran among the Wolf Runners. He had been a telmori clan champion before he joined Dragonfriend's Wolf Runners and had been scouting ahead of the army since they began their march.

When Grolf went to pass through Dendrogi pass as he had the day before, he found some 300 Imperial soldiers blocking the trail. "They werrre not therrrre yesterrrday," he growled. The Companions thought that they had landed from moon-boat in the night.

Dragonfriend asked Venharlsson to take his Stormwalkers and the Alchemical Transformer and to blast the pass while he assaulted it with troops as a test. Venharlsson did. And all were awed at the affect of the Transformer. A tornado, fully three-hundred feet thick raged through the pass. Lightning flashed and thunder pealed and the winds scoured the rock clean. When the tornado passed there was no sign of the red-men in the pass. They had been destroyed in their entirety.

We needs tell of the village of Broken Oak that huddled in the East Bush Range some ten miles south of Dendrogi pass. They were startled to find pieces of armour, twisted weapons and torn corpses falling from the sky. It wasn't until their sons and brothers returned from the coming battle that they learned of the tornado in the pass and the vanished moon-soldiers.

Venharlsson estimated that the Transformer doubled the strength of the Stormwalkers' magic. Argrath set them to lashing Bagnot from the pass while the rest of the army marched over the Dragonspine. By the time they were finished half of the buildings within the city had been damaged to some extent and it is said that the residents remained in their cellars for three days afterwards.

The next day, under the full moon, Dragonfriend and Maniskissons' hosts linked up outside Bagnot. In yet another example of Harrek's carefully hidden intelligence - the host was within the Glowline, and thus the red-men would gain no advantage from the moon. Kamoar reported that Jareel had marched from Furthest and was faring towards Bagnot to meet the invasion. Yaljunsa reported that Harvar was marching down the Tarsh Road toward Alda-chur.

The armies made camp for the night, Dragonfriend east of Bagnot and Maniskisson south. The magical bands took turns protecting the camps from falling meteorites and screaming spirits.

Tosweh Quim-Dancer, a Poljoni champion, came to Dragonfriend seeking reinforcements for the scout screen. "We have found Jareel's screen and are pushed back." Dragonfriend sent him back to the fighting with the Wolf Runners and the Exile light horsemen. As the night passed the fighting grew heavier and the flank guards clashed with more lunar forces. Dragonfriend roused the host and awoke Harrek. The king listened to his news and replied thusly, "Y'r the warlord. Deal with it. Wake me when it gets hot." With that the pirate returned to his tent.

Kamoar brought news that Jareel's host was 15-20,000 strong and was advancing along the road from Goldedge with a powerful vanguard pushing back the lead elements of the Free Army. He also told how all 20 of her moon boats lumbered along over her host with Wyvern riders and giant hawk riders soaring about them.

Maniskisson came to speak with Dragonfriend and they traded news of the battle so far. Maniskisson told of news from within Bagnot and that there were some large forces in the city, "I heard tell that the Tarsh Heavy Foot waited within." Dragonfriend detailed 3,500 troops to watch the city and protect the army from any attack in the rear.

Sharpsword joined the conference and Dragonfriend suggested that the army needed to deploy, "for the battle will not wait for Elmal's blessings." The others agreed and runners spread through the camps with the orders. At Dragonfriend's suggestion, Sharpsword left to lead the air battle. He flew skyward with his crack warband and the Wind Children. Gudny joined him for a while with 100 of Argrath's flying weaponthanes.

Once again, the Stormwalkers took up the Alchemical Transformer and focused their magics on the moon boats. A massive cloud of crackling lighting formed around the lead ship. With a crack the ball collapsed and the ship fell, crushed and burning, from the sky. The heroes of Old Wind didn't pause. Three tornadoes howled into the sky hitting the next ship from different directions, tearing it apart. But the Empire was not without resources and powers of their own. A deafening howling came from the sky as a burning chunk of rock the size of a stead fell from the moon and landed full on the wagons of the Transformer smashing them, the Dwarves manning it and a dozen Stormwalkers too. Venharlsson scowled at this setback, mustered his heroes and then followed Sharpsword into the air with the Stormwalkers to take battle to the Moonfleet in person.

Dragonfriend heard the surviving gold dwarf muttering into a device in his hand, "Note to self: Must shield the Transformer from meteor strikes. Heavier armour for the operators required."

The skirmish battle raged on in the night as the battle lines formed up. In the air, Sharpsword captured a moon-boat and flew it about attacking the rest of the fleet. Bronwyn spake to Dragonfriend of a gathering magic. "It feels familiar," he said. The other magicians agreed with him and they decided that it was the summoning of the Full Moon Corp, similar to the host of Vecors they had seen at the Battle of Pennel Ford.

When the battle entered its third hour Harrek joined Dragonfriend atop a small rise. Dragonfriend greeted Harrek properly and received a grunt in reply as Elmal finally returned his light to the land. Harrek looked out over his army as the skirmishes on both sides withdrew behind the battle lines. Dragonfriend told him that they hadn't seen Jareel's banner yet. "Looks like fun!" said the Berserk, and his bear cloak growled and its eyes turned crimson with bloodlust.

"Aye" said Dragonfriend, "but they have their slingers facing our mail armoured cavalry who will suffer grievous loss should they not close, while they face our Grazers with the Horse Eaters of Yara Aranis. Both our flanks will be close battle."

"Then we shall decide it in the centre!" laughed Harrek as he ran to join the battle.

Lunar Army at the Battle of Heroes
Allied army at the Battle of Heroes

Harrek joined his wolf pirates in the centre of the line. He immediately charged the enemy line with his pirates following along behind, howling and whooping their war cries from a hundred lands. Dragonfriend signalled for the infantry line to advance and the horns echoed on both sides of the battle.

The magical bands on both sides hurled their belief into the battle and the sky and air burned with the power that thrummed and clashed between them. Baron Sanuel led his knights in a head-long charge on the right aiming to sweep the red-man's skirmishers from his path. The Imperial slingers hurled two explosive volleys and then retreated from the charging horses, calmly moving through the gaps in their own horse. The Poljoni clans swept around Jareel's flank and hurled themselves at the Black Horse Troop, lances gleaming.

On the left, Dragonfriend worked to bring the Earth Shakers to lead the charge for as Dragonfriend has noted, Jareel had warded her flank with a regiment of Horse Eaters [1] but they would be ineffective against the Shakers. The horsemen on that flank balked as foul magics and evil spirits afflicted their horses.

When the horsemen paused to rearrange themselves on Dragonfriend's order a gap opened in the line between them and the foot. Seeing this, the Silver Sables led a charge into the gap but were foiled by the valour and strength of Maniskisson and the Moonhaters. Maniskisson plunged into the roiling ranks of sable-riders and dragged their commander from his saddle. He then cut down the bannerman and fought his way back out of the confused riders.

Harrek crashed into the Household Foot and carved his way towards and then through their Silver Chain, the elite veterans guarding the standard. The Berserk fought on, only occasionally visible through a seething cloud of blood-mist, but he soon left his wolf pirates behind as Beatpot Aelwin and his Moonswords slowly overwhelmed them. The Army of Tomorrow Spears surged forth and held the line while the Imperials staggered and started to break under Harrek's relentless assault. The Demon Lovers and both regiments of the Full Moon Corp joined the battle to hold the centre - with that, Jareel's only real central reserves were drawn into the bloody grind. Still though, the banners of the Razoress were not visible.

Baron Sanuel shouted in victory as the slingers seemingly broke before him and fled. So lost to the blood-lust was he that he never saw Jareel's banner break out alongside the Bloodspillers before his charge hit home and thus he never knew what killed him and destroyed his proud regiment.

Jareel sang as she killed and many were the knights that stood entranced as the Bloodspillers joined her dance of death in a thunderous charge. Sigmund led Argrath's headhunting unit and the March Knights into the remnants of the Rokari and impacted the Bloodspillers, the Imperial Bodyguard formation paused and then hurled themselves into the knights.

The Khans of Jaquat, the Silver Shamans and the Skyburners, all magical elite heavy cavalry units joined the Black Horse Troop and the 650 riders met the 2,000 Poljoni head-on with a jarring crash. The fighting quickly became a free-for all with no order and no direction. Even outnumbered 3 to 1 the Lunar Elites seemed to fear no foe and have no limit to their skill.

All along the line the regiments crashed together and ground each other into the bloody mud. The Imperial Breaker's regiment revealed rank upon rank of arbalests and staggered the charging minotaurs as did the terrible fire of the Deretinites chariot artillery who fired bolts that shot through two or three minotaurs before resting. After that deadly barrage, the Golden Axles and the Gilt Scythes slaughtered rank after rank of the bullmen who then broke and fled the field.

Dragonfriend summoned his storm voice and shouted at Harrek. "Listen! Jareel is on the right!" The White Bear paused in his slaying and peered about until he spied Jareel's banner. He then roared his joyous fury and charged across the battlefield. He smashed through the flanks of Granite Phalanx, the Lost Company and the Iceland Starclubs, leaving them in disarray and easily pushed back by the Free Army.

Without Harrek, the centre sagged. Beatpot and the Full Moon Corps began to push the Army of Tomorrow back for they were terrible foes, demigods of Lunar war. Dragonfriend threw a host of fyrdmen into the line to no effect. He called over all three of the potent Poljoni shaman warbands and hurled them into the line. The 900 warbanders, complete with powerful fetishes and fiendish spirits held the line. It was about this time that Dragonfriend threw his last reserve into the battle to hold the line on the left. The warriors were climbing over bodies to get at their foes all across the battlefield but both sides were holding steady in a grinding battle of attrition.

Sigmund saw Jareel singing and killing and he hurled Little Weighty at her horse. The thunderstone crashed into the horse's head and crushed it utterly felling the horse on the spot. Jareel was vaulted from her mount but she landed rolling, still singing and still killing.

Jareel turned to Sigmund and pointed her sword at him. A bolt of moon-magic smote the Warlord and rocked him back on his heels. But Sigmund was strong in his magic and shrugged off her assault though his armour glowed afterward. The Razoress scowled at him and stopped her song. "You killed my horse," she shouted and moved towards him. Sigmund gathered himself to attack and die but a heavy hand fell on his shoulder. "Excuse me!" shouted Harrek as he shoved his way through the press. "Come on bitch!" She leapt to meet him, Moonsword against White Fang.

On the left of the Free Army, the Earth Shakers finally charged into the Horse Eaters on their Triceratops and the battle became total. With no reserves left at all and no forces to direct that were not committed to battle, Dragonfriend hurled himself into the fray plunging into the Full Moon Corps with his Storm Dragon Guard behind him.

Those who could see it, and realised what they were seeing, stopped to watch as Harrek and Jareel hacked at each other. Harrek roared in his rage while Jareel's song grew strained. They became little more than a blur as they battled to and fro, displaying awesome skills and powers, fighting on magical as well as physical planes. It was clear that they were well matched, for if Harrek was stronger, Jareel was faster, if he were more physical, she was more magical. Both had the will to win and when the end came, it was with a terminal suddenness that such combats seem to inspire.

All could see Harrek's sword break when he struck Jareel's leg, breaking it. Undaunted, she hopped and skipped and opened the sword-less Harrek up from shoulder to hip, but he was the Berserk and his anger only grew like a bear's when wounded. He leaped upon her with his adamantine claws and at last found her unable to evade his charge though she hacked off his foot as he closed. He applied his godly strength and tore her body apart and with his ravaging claws, then the White Bear ripped out her still beating heart with his slavering jaws. He howled his triumph, but that howl was cut short as Beat-Pot Aelwrin rammed his spear through the back of the Berserk as he cried for his fallen love. Harrek snapped the spear out of BeatPots hand and back-handed the Lunar hero a hundred feet into the air but he was too injured to follow up his victory and he summoned some of his companions to carry him from the field. He kept Jareel's heart as a trophy.

With that, the lunar army cried in despair for it would seem that all of them had been in love with their demoness. With their spirit broken, the army fled. Beatpot, still barely alive, managed to gathered the remnants of his lover's torn body. The allied forces were too tired to follow and most of them collapsed upon the field, content to have the victory.

Our tale needs now turn to Glasswall where Dragonfriend had sent Kamoar and Gudny - having summoned Gudny back from the aerial fighting - before the battle could truly begin.

When the Companions arrived at the vitrified fortress, the Slavewall forces were already there. The Companions espied the Seven of Vistur, the magical bridging regiment from the Heartlands completing their ritual and summoning a black magical ramp into existence. Their ramp reached from the plain below all the way to the top of the cliff in a narrow, steep ramp, that could hold 50-60 men across.

Gudny deployed the Little Shadows across the lip of the ramp with the Snakepipe Dancers and the Yavori to support them. He called for the Aldachur earth priestesses to crumble the lip of the cliff.

Then a familiar banner was raised and snapped in the wind. It was Kao Lu with his Order of Black Iron. The monk's forces made to climb the ramp while another banner broke out of the horde below, Sir Ethilrist himself with three squadrons of his Troop. The count waved his cloak and a shroud of hell-spawned darkness fell over the battlefield. The Aldachuri were blind.

Gudny summoned the storm and sundered the dark cloak about him. He could see clearly, as could the Little Shadows, being creatures of the darkness. Gudny called for the Torkani fyrd, again, able to see in the dark, to back up the Shadows. He pushed his way through their line to confront Kao Lu.

Now, while the Little Shadows would be considered elite among a trollkin host, they were about as skilled as a heortling fyrd. They had no chance against Kao Lu and his disciples. A hundred of them were dead before Gudny could react. He gathered the storm again and his voice cracked across the battle. "Kao Lu!" he shouted. "I would name thee Oath-breaker if thou doth not desist." The martial arts mystic who had once cracked the skull of a dragon with his bare hand, halted his killing and glared at the stormlord. Gudny named himself and reminded Kao Lu of the battle atop Dragon's Rest. He reminded Kao Lu of his oath not to oppose Argrath or his servants. The monk spake that he needed no reminder of his oath but that wherever he fought he seemed to find Argrath's servants. With that, he turned, gathered his host and marched down the ramp again. There were some small scuffles as they forced their way through the following Black Horse troopers who complained at his retreat, not understanding the reason for it and then he marched off of the battlefield.

Now Sir Ethilrist snapped orders to his leading squadron and took his place at the head of it surrounded by his Hell Riders. Ethilrist charged up the ramp and crashed into the Shadows. The set spears of the trollkin had little affect against the weight of the charge and 120 of them fell before the charge was held.

Gudny and Kamoar threw themselves into the battle and Jofaksor the Short, King of the Torkani, joined in with his axe wielding weaponthanes. Kamoar shouted in rage and his hands sprouted claws. His dog-cloak stiffened and he slashed at a demon mount. His claws struck it full on the snout and clove the demon's head in twain. With a nimble leap the berserking shaman landed atop the Hell Rider and tore through his hell-iron armour and dealt him his death there. He punched another rider in the chest and his taloned fingers passed on through his armour and he grasped the man's spine in his fist. With a convulsive heave he tore the man into three pieces.

Gudny loosed Black Cloud on the milling riders and charged into the battle with his spear aglow. He pinioned one rider to his mount and dealt them both their death on the spot. With the insane and untouchable cat-man tearing through them and Jofaksor's professional killers hacking their way towards the ramp, Ethilrist called for a retreat and took his riders back down the ramp.

Kamoar saw naught but his foe getting further way and gave chase down the ramp. He barely noticed when Gudny lifted him with an unbroli and carried him back to the top.

Ethilrist called his second squadron to attention and turned back to the ramp just as the priestesses finished their ritual and the lip of the cliff fell away. Without any support, the magical ramp collapsed.

It was about then that Gudny received a daimon messenger with news of the victory. Harvar must have received a similar message for he marched his force back up the Tarsh Road.

Now the battle before Bagnot was forever after called the Battle of Heroes for the number of true heroes present. Everyone from Harrek, Dragonfriend, Sharpsword, Maniskisson, Ironhoof and the Feathered Horse Queen to Jareel, Beatpot, Cervek Sunshield, Wouleth the Sorcerer and Irlex Eats-the-Khan.

The battle was the bloodiest that any of them had seen with one of every four soldiers lying on the field. One in ten would never again rise. In the air, Sharpsword had destroyed 12 moon boats and shattered the wyvern and hawk regiments. He had also captured 2 boats, but he knew naught of their magics and nothing could force or coerce the secrets from their crews. He burned them with their ships. Venharlsson and the Storm Walkers had taken heavy losses in the battle, as had Sharpsword's aerial forces for their foes were prepared for such a battle and had numbers on their side.

When Dragonfriend made it over to where Harrek sat he found his king in great pain and bleeding badly. No healing seemed to touch the wounds left on him by Jareel and he carried his foot with him under a preserving spell from the Chalana Arroy Great Healer. "Let's go home," Harrek growled. "At least I have this as a memento of our love! I won her heart in the end." He smirked. He had placed Jareels heart on a necklace and wore it defiantly and with fiendish good cheer.

And so it was that the Sartari army plundered the battlefield and passed back over the Dragonspine.

[1] Horse Eaters, followers of Yara Aranis the anti-horse goddess.

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November 8, 2001

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