The Saga of the Gwandorlings
would laugh were I able."
Argrath to Armsman Kettil
Now as Sacred
Time turned to Sea Season and the new year dawned, King Argrath
sat in Bagnot and received much news of the world around him.
the Throat-Slicer, his wife, brought news that the Provincial Expeditionary
Force had fared north to do battle with the rampaging horsemen from
Pent. They were also to trample any dissent that may be shown against
the Overseer's continued rule.
his War-Captain spoke of some difficulty among Argrath Sharpsword's
contingent in the Free Army. It seemed that Sharpsword had failed
to pay any of his troops and they were all readying to busk home.
was the son of Kettil the Black who was the son of Angmar the Feral
who had captained a Wolf Pirate fleet of three-score ships. Ingiald
was a wedded man and had to wife Auth the Saucy though he was no
more loyal to her than Eurmal would have been. Ingiald was a rough
man with an easy temper. He was strong of arm and had slain fourteen
Imperial champions at the Battle of Heroes. He was Companion and
Wolf-Brother to Argrath Sharpsword and commanded Sharpsword's contingent
in the Free Army.
called for Ingiald and had him brought before him. To the Wolf Pirate
he said these words: "Thy host readies to return home and I
have heard that they depart for lack of funds. What canst thy tell
me of this, thou who art Wolf-Brother to mine Brother Sharpsword."
To this Ingiald
replied thusly: "The grubbing traders in Nochet have summoned
mine king to pay his debts and he has found himself currently unwilling,
nay, unable to do so." It came out in their conversation that
Sharpsword had taken many loans to pay for his recent campaigns
and could no longer make his payments.
This left Dragonfriend
in the position of losing Sharpsword's mercenary forces. The phalangites
from Vaantar , the Army of Tomorrow, the Wind Children and all
of the others were returning to their homes. It was rumoured that
the Wind Children would soon be raiding Sharpsword's realm to recover
their back wages.
called upon the High King to step in and pay the mercenaries' contracts
but Maniskisson's treasury could not support the costs. Unwilling
to lose the meldeck warbands - Sir Narib's Company and Sir Nandara's
Company - Dragonfriend offered those units new contracts with silver
from his personal treasury. They accepted.
It was about
now that High King Maniskisson gave Baron Sanuel leave to take his
cavalry regiment and return home for rest and to refit his knights.
He gave the Twin Spears permission to return to Prax for their Fire
Rituals and he gave Dragonfriend permission for the shattered draconic
bands to withdraw and reorganise.
Dragonfriend's Seeking Companion brought him word from Furthest.
The EWF mage spoke of the new Phalangite Fort being connected to
Furthest by tall walls, some ten ells  high. The walls enclosed
the camps of refugee Lunars from southern Tarsh. Bronwyn spoke more
of a great chain that the Red-King Pharandros had stretched across
the Teslir River blocking all riverine movement past Furthest. Finally,
Bronwyn told how the Red-King had told one and all that he would
fight to the death to defend Tarsh from the rebels and that Shepelkirt
would protect them.
years now, Dragonfriend's Orlanth-Companion, Gudny Stormchaser had
spent all of Storm Season and most of Dark Season on the Hero Planes.
It was only now that Dragonfriend began to learn of some of the
quests that Gudny had performed. It happened that in 1631 Gudny
had journeyed to the Place of Strangers and successfully wooed the
Dark Woman. He spoke of the great preparations that he had done
for that quest and how he had managed to draw Aranzkag, Queen of
the First Tribe of Dagori Inkarth, in as the Dark Woman. "It
is mine intention this spring to visit the Queen and solicit her
support for our efforts." Argrath frowned at the amount of
time Gudny was taking for his questing but commended his results.
And High King
Maniskisson issued another of his Directives.
Directive for 1633
As dictated by Argrath Son of Maniski, High King of Dragon
Pass, Prince of Sartar, Protector of the Grazelands, Champion
of the Pol Joni, Liberator of Tarsh, Esrolia Victor, Moonberg
Breaker, Wolfslayer, Beastfriend and servant of Orlanth.
we begin our offensive to reduce the Lunar presence in Tarsh and
to weaken their hold over the Provinces that was planned for in
1632. Supplies sufficient for this campaign have been gathered
in Bagnot, Dunstop and Wintertop thanks to the efforts of the
Sword of Sartar and the loyal King of Tarsh.
will see a three-pronged assault on the Empire. Under the King
of Tarsh, the Tarsh Army, the Esrolian Expeditionary Force and
the Grazer Great Army will march on Goldedge forcing a crossing
of the Teslir river. The Sartar free army and associated elements
will march from Too Far and assail Slavewall.
objectives have been attained and secured by Fire Season's end,
all efforts must be made to ready forces for the assault on Furthest.
Prosecution of this stage of the offensive will be left to the
direction of the Sword of Sartar, our loyal servant Dragonlord.
The third prong of our offensive will be dedicated to the reduction
of Imperial counterattack potential from the Provinces. Once Goldedge
and Slavewall have been taken, a raiding army shall be dispatched
along the western side of the Oslir to undertake a year long Finovani
into the heart of Lunar Tarsh, Holay and Aggar. This force should
avoid combat with major Imperial or Provincial forces unless battle
favours them. Command and disposition of these forces will be
determined by the Sword of Sartar.
severe resistance from Furthest but have taken several steps to
guarantee that Imperial forces responding to the siege will be
limited. However, a prolonged siege will increase chances of effective
Imperial response, therefore the city must be taken with sufficient
speed to minimise this risk. The Sword will ensure that a covering
army protects the siege.
that these directives will be carried out with the utmost haste
And so Dragonfriend
set about accomplishing the High King's will. Over the past year
much in the way of provisions and fodder had been gathered in Too
Far, Bagnot and Dunstop in preparation for this campaign. Dragonfriend
spoke with King Fazzursson of Tarsh to coordinate their assaults.
King Fazzursson said that he would need some two weeks to muster
his host and a further week to move it from Dunstop to Gold Edge.
They both agreed that they would time their assaults to fall in
There then ruled
in Slavewall, Kettil the Unruly, Armsman  of the Mellmuri Tribe.
Kettil was a vast man and said to have vast appetites. He was a
grasping ruler and much tended to taking all that he could. It was
known that he held the Tarsh Light Foot and the Slavewall Foot regiments
within the walls of his city in readiness for the long prepared
assault from Too Far. All tallied, he led some three thousands of
host Dragonfriend mustered some fourteen thousands in the Free Army
and a further forty-five hundreds among the Grand Company of Tannisor
under Mularik Iron-Eye. They expected little opposition to their
seizing of the city.
divided his host and assigned captains to the parts. Kamoar, the
Shadowstalker, led the scouting screen. Mularik Iron-Eye was appointed
Siege-Captain. Lothar Twinblades was made Infantry Commander. Gudny
was once more upon the Hero Planes and though it vexed the King
there was naught that could be done about it. Argrath assigned Gudny's
follower Nestin Hollowdancer as his Magic-Captain and Jolmes Wolfe
was made Captain of Horse when Sigmund declined to position.
It took the
host two days to busk to Slavewall. They stopped each night and
build a fortified camp with the help of the Exiles' earth magics.
Every morning the fortifications were thrown down and the host moved
on. Upon their arrival at Slavewall, the city was surrounded. The
cavalry ranged through the country-side seeking fodder, provision
Vigga-Holsten, his skybull, into the air before the main gate clad
about with his hero-light ; about him flew three-score of his
Taking a firm
hold on his crystal sceptre, Argrath's storm voice rolled across
the city: "I am Argrath, called the Dragonfriend, Warlord of
the Argrath Council and Champion of the High King of Dragon Pass.
I am the victor of the Battle of Heroes, Conqueror of Esrolia and
am the Reaching Moon's Bane." He paused for a moment and then
continued: "I came here at the behest of the King of Tarsh.
Your King. King Fazzursson. With me are twenty thousands of your
neighbours, come to help you throw off the yoke of the Poison Moon's
rule. None will be harmed and those in power will retain their places.
Throw down thy spears and take up the banner of your rightful king,
After the deafening
roll of Argrath's well-trained oration had passed, Armsman Kettil's
piggy-voice called for a parley.
met Argrath before the gates of Slavewall, each with seven of their
body-thanes. Argrath stepped from his skybull and was flanked by
Lothar, Garthael, Von and Rolf, behind them stood three of the largest
uz in the Stormdragon's Shadows.
Kettil was flanked
by Osborn Thrice-Flayed, Laughing-Kiallak, Bjorn Kingsman and four
others of his huscarls. The Armsman was everything Argrath had been
led to expect. He was overweight with a round face and beady red
eyes - even his hair was bristled. "I have heard thy words
and they sound fancy. Now let us speak of details. You said that
there would be no changes in rule. Do you really mean that? You
ask that I break my sworn oath to King Pharandros. It is an expensive
thing breaking oaths."
that it would not be as expensive as a sack of the city would be.
"But come, I am not here to threaten you. Yes, you are the
Armsman of the Mellmuri and that would not change. What would it
cost for you open the gates and declare thy support for King Fazzursson?"
that he had three things he required. "First, I would retain
my position as Armsman. I would demand that I march with you and
I would bring the Tarsh Light Foot along. Second, I want Too Far
to be officially added to my tribe. I already own much of it but
it is not official. Finally, I want three clans of the Breagalos
tribe, of my choice, added to my tribe."
immediately. "Listen to mine offer. You will swear a Death-Oath
to serve King Fazzursson," and he indicated the four Humakti
in his company. "Too Far, now belonging to no tribe or kingdom,
will become Mellmuri. You will remain the King's loyal Armsman of
the Mellmuri, bound by thy Oath. I have not the power to agree to
your request for the Breagalos. If you and thy followers serve well
and fight bravely I will support thy petition to King Fazzursson."
to Argrath's terms. "This calls for a feast. I will swear my
oath before my people and overseen by thy Grim Swords."
Come the morn,
an umbroli came from Fazzursson bearing grim news. It seemed that
Fazzursson had marched with some fifteen thousands of Tarshites,
Esrolians and Grazers. They had laid siege to Gold Edge when it
refused to surrender and then, with the Grazers away raiding, King
Pharandros' army fell upon Fazzursson unexpectedly. Some five thousands
of foot and two thousands and five hundreds of horse force-marched
from Furthest. They fared over fifty miles in two days and struck
the besiegers like Gustbran's hammer. The main blow fell upon the
Esrolian host who broke and fled the field. The King heroically
rallied his host and withdrew south along the road stopping some
miles away. Phandros' host camped outside Gold Edge.
was infuriated. His famed emotionless air was torn asunder. He ordered
his host to immediately ready itself to march onwards. His temper
was not helped when Nestin Hollowdancer, leader of the Snakepipe
Hollowdancers and follower of Gudny came and told him that his band
of warrior-priests was leaving the army. "Why fore art thou
abandoning thy oath," the King demanded.
is to the Stormchaser. He has completed his last test and truly
become an avatar of our god. Gudny, called the Stormchaser, your
follower, has become a Disciple of the Thunder and unfurled the
banner of the Righteous Wind. The magic of that banner calls bands
from across Sartar, mine included. We go to join him and for him
to lead us into battle against the Empire."
Now it needs
be told that there was more than a score of warbands that heeded
the call to the Righteous Wind and that these warbands counted nye
upon four thousands of followers. Though Argrath new naught of the
full strength of the Righteous Wind, the thought of the extra forces
that he did know of settled his temper and his impassive mask slid
once more across his visage.
It was about
then that Argrath gathered more tidings from the Empire. Harvar,
it was said, had defeated the nomad incursion. The Provincial Overseer
had been assassinated and the feuding in the civil service threatened
to boil over into overt war. Harvar was said to be moving to crush
any dissent and claimed to speak with the Emperor's Authority.
considered marching through the Breagalos lands, north of Dogar's
Hill to Stopover and then faring straight down the road to Furthest.
His thinking being that the host at Goldedge would be forced to
withdraw or would be caught between he and Fazzursson. Kettil quietly
informed Argrath that the Breagalos lands would be hard going for
they were criss-crossed with thick hedges and ditches and the Breagalos
would undoubtedly harass the marching host. "In that case,
we march down the road directly to Gold Edge. I will send Kamoar
and his March Wardens into Breagalos lands to keep them
Argrath was pondering who else to send with the berserker when the
Armsman quietly suggested that he might be interested in accompanying
Kamoar. "I do know a small amount of their lands and the Tarsh
Light Foot does know a small amount about raiding." Argrath
smiled at that colossal understatement and agreed.
Come the next
dawn the Free Army was marching for Gold Edge. Argrath sent Sigmund
ahead with his warband to see how the Tarsh Army fared and to give
what help he could to King Fazzursson. "We will be there within
five days," spoke Argrath. "Try not to let Fazzursson
lose too many more of his men before then."
And so it came
to pass that Sigmund and his band of hurlers busked themselves quickly
down the river and found King Fazzursson again besieging Gold Edge.
Sigmund was taken to speak with King Fazzursson where the King sat
in his booth with his Armsmen and Huscarls about him. Fazzurson's
wounds were being attended by a White Healer and he greeted Sigmund
well: "You are Sigmund the Hurler who stood before JarEel at
the Battle of Heroes and emerged alive. King Dragonfriend sends
one of his most trusted Companions to us. I welcome you to my booth."
the King for his kind words and sought news of what had transpired
here. Fazzursson was only too eager to tell him: "We brought
the red-men to battle once anon and they withdrew from the field.
King Jandeten of the Grazelands is pursuing them even as we speak."
the king on his great victory and then took his leave to observe
the siege. He spoke with many of the captains and warriors in the
Tarsh Army, all appeared battered and tired. He learned that the
king had indeed lost the second battle. Pharandros' host again broke
the Esrolians and then scattered the Grazers. The enemy withdrew
from the field when word of the Dragonfriend's advance had reached
with the king again and said that he could open the city for the
Army of Tarsh. Fazzursson bade him do so if he could.
And so Sigmund
gathered his band before the main gates of Gold Edge. As one, the
forty and two Hedkoranthi hurled their thunderstones at the massive
gates. With a massive crash the gate and most of the gatehouse exploded
into splinters and rubble. Sigmund turned to Fazzursson and spoke
thusly: "Wouldst you like to pass within now oh King?"
at Dragonfriend's man. "I would indeed. Very impressive. Wouldst
you like to pass within at my side?" Sigmund agreed and he
led his warband through the gates with the King and his huscarls.
The army sacked the city. Many of the people were taken into thraldom
and great was the merriment of the sacking host in the days that
Three days later
the Free Army arrived and camped outside the charnel-house walls.
Our tales needs
now speak of Kamoar's campaign among the Breagalos. Perhaps the
Cat-man's enthusiasm for the task clouded his judgement for his
Wardens fell into several ambushes and took some small losses in
their raiding. Were it not for the presence of Armsman Kettil those
small losses would have been much larger. As it was the Breagalos
suffered horribly from the raiders.
At Gold Edge,
the two kings spoke of the campaign to date. King Fazzursson was
quite defensive over his progress and grew irritated when Dragonfriend
suggested that he command the entire host in their advance on Furthest.
To avoid any rift, Dragonfriend wisely and generously agreed to
maintain the two hosts and their command structure as they were
and he spoke no more of Fazzursson's poor showing.
words and thoughts turned to Furthest. They agreed to take a few
weeks to move their supply stashes up to Gold Edge and to Heruvernelda.
While the suppliers were being shifted the hosts would be dispersed
to forage. Dragonfriend maintained some six thousands within Gold
Edge to ward off any sally from Furthest. The light horse and the
Wolfrunners ranged across the hills and valleys between the two
With the army
preparations proceeding, Argrath fared to Dragon's Eye to make some
inquiries of his own. He knew that Furthest had been founded upon
the ruins of an ancient EWF city and he sought knowledge of Dragon
Roads in the area. "Is there a plinth within Furthest and can
it be used," he asked the Tailed Priest that would see him.
The priest replied that there had been a plinth in the old city
but it was no longer active. He told Dragonfriend that he would
have to create a new dragon road complete with several plinths leading
to Furthest and then find the plinth with and activate it if he
wished to use it.
to Gold Edge and summoned Bronwyn to him. "Fare thee into Furthest
and contact this Union of Sanitation Engineers. Find their allegiance
and if they are helpful recruit them in thy search for the plinth
within the sewers of the city."
with Gudny in Aldachur where the Righteous Wind was gathering and
learned that the new host was not ready yet. It would take another
season for the bands to gather.
With their supplies
moved up, the two hosts were ready to continue their campaign to
seize Furthest. The Free Army fared up the road, passed through
Stopover and came upon Furthest from the east. The Tarsh Army fared
down the Teslir River by barge and came upon Furthest from the south.
commanded Sigmund to take his warband across the river. They were
to stop any boats from entering or leaving Furthest. He also told
Sigmund that he would like to see the chain blocking the river to
be sundered and collected for his own use.
word from within the city that the Northern Tarsh regiments had
been sent home to defend their lands from scavenging and raiding
parties. Even with those troops gone, the city's defences were formidable.
Bronwyn told of the Kingslayers, 1000 huscarls. Four regiments of
the Furthest Foot, 1000 spears each. He spoke of a new regiment
called the First Blood, another 1000 heavy foot. He spoke of the
Sun Dome Phalanx, nye upon 1000 phalangites. There were some 2000
archers in the Green Bows. He also spoke of the Phargentites Horse,
the Retired Veterans Cavalry, the Furthest Horse and the Furthest
Horsewomen. Finally, he warned that the University of the Provinces
had been preparing for some time to protect the city.
the combined host into three Battles and had fortified camps built
before each of the city's gates. Mularik's siege engineers worked
at building assault towers. The Exiles' priestesses built earthen
ramps that did not, quite, touch the walls thus keeping the city
wyter from interfering. The regiments set to building walls around
the city and a further palisade around their own camps to defend
against any relieving host. Mularik's Grand Company, except the
siege engineers, fared north to raid the countryside.
It took the
hosts a week to complete their preparations.
 Sun County
 An ell is roughly equivalent to a yard
 Armsman, in Tarsh refers to a tribal king.
 Hero-light, refers to the glow that appears around a person
when they are blessed by powerful magics. In Argrath's case he was
brimming over with magical charisma and honeyed words.
<< Previous | Part 71| Next