is everywhere. It is difficult to find work."
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
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
came with 300 Stormwalkers, among them Norolf Hundred-Fighter and
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."
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
the Sartari host numbered nye 44,000 troops and priests, though
some joked that there were almost as many great lords and commanders
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
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.
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?"
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
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."
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."
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.
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.
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!"
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!"
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?"
grumbled at Harrek's truculence and insult but she waved them to
silence. Argrath would have smiled had he the ability.
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
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'?"
"So be it," she spat and turned to her horse. "Thy
kingdom will lie in ruins about your corpse before the winter's
to Argrath, "She pissed me off. We're attacking them now. Tomorrow
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.
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.
numerical advantage didn't seem quite up to over coming the quality
of Jareel's army.
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.
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,
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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."
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.
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."
shall decide it in the centre!" laughed Harrek as he ran to
join the battle.