The Saga of the Gwandorlings
The Siege of
Furthest, Part 3
was quickly passing when the army's leaders met again. King Fazzursson,
Warlord Dragonfriend and the General Mularik joined Queen Nerestina
in her pavillion in the southern encampment.
spoke first of news that Mularik brought to them. It seemed that
the Poison Moon's sons, the Imperials, were gathering a relief army
in the north. An unknown number of soldiers were seen debarking
a fleet of transports at Mirin's Cross, sent it seemed, by the new
Emperor in distant Dara Happa. Mularik suggested that they would
most likely take some weeks to muster their host before being able
to move south and that when they did he would be able to contain
them with the help of the Grazers. His informants also indicated
that no Provincial or Sylilan troops were with the army and that
it was a purely Imperial force. The Companions decided that the
Emperor probably wished to aid Lunar Tarsh as a symbol of his authority
and a political statement to Sylila.
Then the King
and Queen turned their frustrations on the Warlord: "What hast
thou done to hasten this grinding siege?" asked the Queen.
"Thy stratagems have all failed," added King Fazzursson,
"and killed more of mine host than of the Usurper's."
nobly shrugged off the criticism. "With the exception of our
good friend Mularik here none of us has fought a siege before -
and I have yet to hear any complaints from him that we are fighting
this one incorrectly." Mularik agreed that sieges take time
and eat men. The Warlord then continued to explain his thoughts
for the next assault. He spoke of having the hero Sigmund the Stormblade
hurl thunderstones at the evil temple that had slain the jolanti
to smash the idol that had released the beam of chaos. Then he told
of making a dozen siege towers to assail the city wall. "With
a champion atop each we will cause great concern within the walls."
King Fazzursson impatiently asked if it would work. "There
is no way of knowing that until we try it," the warlord replied.
At this point
Mularik spoke up and suggested a variation on the siege tower idea
from his own extensive experience. He spoke of laying parallel ramps
of wood up to the city walls that would be bridged by logs used
as rollers for a tower built atop them. "This way," he
said, "thy towers could be much larger and would move to the
wall much faster." All agreed that this was a fine idea and
the meeting broke up.
And so Warlord
Dragonfriend set about preparing for the next assault. He asked
the Earth Shakers to widen the ditch before the Phargentite Keep
so that their drawbridge would no longer reach across it, isolating
them and reducing their ability to sally. He set 4,000 men working
at digging siege-works close under the city walls in two places
and laying the wooden ramps that the towers would travel along.
He selected one place on the southern wall and one on the eastern
wall that he would assault. He had the dwarves move their siege
cannon in closer to make a breach in the eastern wall. The Dwarfs
dug what they called a "sap", a meandering trench directly
toward the walls and three "parallels" across the sap,
the final parallel being dug into the ditch of the city and being
emplaced with all the weapons of the Cannon Cult to bring down a
section of the walls.
would take 2 weeks.
spoke with Sigmund and Gudny about the temple that he wanted smashed.
"Stormlord, I would that you used thine magics to suppress
the city wytr whilst your blood-brother Sigmund smashed the temple.
To aid you in this I have asked the gold dwarf with the alchemical
transformer to work with you." Then Dragonfriend sent Sigmund
back across the river to Dervanex Keep where he could see the temple.
"On Dying Moon we strike."
When the Poison
Moon finally turned her bloated face from Furthest, Gudny stood
with the dwarves and Sigmund stood atop the Keep with a thunderstone
he had taken three days to bless.
his concentration on the machine, the alchemical transformer, and
suddenly realised that it was a foul construct of Zistor the Machine-God
and that its insidious powers were trying to lure him into falsehood,
as Zistor had tried to lure Orlanth. Seized with righteous fury,
Gudny smashed the evil machine and scattered those that served it
- those Sons of Stasis - the dwarves.
He turned to
Argrath in a rage and said: "Think thee that I would pollute
mineself with this foul magic? For the sake of our past friendship
I chose to believe that you did not know that this was a construct
of Zistor. I warn you oh King, do not entangle yourself into any
more foul magics than you have to. You already court disaster by
consorting with the dragons. Do not further befoul thyself by trying
to harness Zistor for that is a task that even you cannot succeed
Now, Gudny turned
to complete the task he had agreed to, but there was to be little
warmth between he and the Dragonfriend henceforth.
Gudny and his
warband struck the wytr of Furthest and stunned the priests directing
it with the power of the Thunderer. That was when the hero Sigmund
summoned all of his magics and hurled his stone over the city walls.
The very air burned with its passage and the crash of it striking
the temple rolled across the plain. A large piece of the dish on
its roof cracked and fell off. Then the priests within the city
poured their support into the wytr and Gudny's magics were defeated
but Sigmund's throw had been true and the idol was broken, it continued
to glow but much reduced from before.
Well, the allies'
preparations continued but the priests of the host could no longer
penetrate the city's magical defences. Summoned storms were stilled
by a temple to Molanni the Still Air that was active within the
city. Thunderstones were turned by the priests of the Great Temple
to Doburdath who used tightly wound tornados that swirled in the
air around the Temple of Lunar Resonance to deflect the stones.
Week a great trebuchet battery built within the city by Jordhil
Gatebreaker, the greatest Phargentite siege expert, hurled dozens
of jars into Queen Nerestina's camp, the one south of the city,
the one that was supposed to be outside the range of any catapult.
Lothar surmised that the machines were being magically aided. When
the jars landed they broke and released a foul green fog that slew
over 200 soldiers by making them cough their breath out of their
bodies so violently that blood and organs came with it. Then the
catapults hurled dozens of glowing red rocks into King Fazzursson's
camp, the eastern one. These stones released a horde of lunar daimones
into the camp that drove men mad, saw them kill themselves or each
other and fight all efforts to aid them. Another hundred died before
the daimones were suppressed.
sent his Mastakosthane into the air to spy out the catapults and
to direct the return fire of his own trebuchets that were quickly
set up to return fire.
and King Fazzursson met with Argrath as he rode between the camps
and demanded to know what the warlord was doing about this attack.
Then they demanded to know when the next assault was going to be
launched. Trizm, Dragonfriend's Mastakosthane, returned about then
and reported that the warlord's catapult-stones, blessed by Sigmund,
had smashed the enemy trebuchets. Dragonfriend told the other leaders
that the assault was nearly ready.
Trizm also spake
of an inner wall being built by the Lunars around the areas that
the allies' towers were being built in front of as a second line
of defence should Dragonfriends forces effect a breach. Dragonfriend
directed his trebuchets to turn their fire on those inner walls
while the Cannon Cult worked on the outer walls.
Later that week
word came that the patrols between the city and the Phargentite
Keep were being attacked at night. Several squads of trollkin from
the Little Shadows had vanished and a group of Gudny's Night Watch
had been slain. Dragonfriend called his Companions to him and directed
Kamoar, Garthael and Lothar to take their bands into that area on
the next night. "Teach these Tarshites a lesson in night fighting."
late that night Kamoar heard a postern gate open in the city walls
and he led the two humakti towards the sounds. They all heard the
death gurgles of a squad of trollkin and espied three men standing
over their corpses.
the power of Humakt emanating from the one that turned to face them.
The stranger named himself: "I see you Grimblades. I am Asladan
Curse-Quest of the Ditali. I wish to meet Humakt but must die in
battle. Are you the man to grant my wish?" This last was said
to Lothar who stood closest to the Ditali. Lothar had heard the
name, for who among the Humakti of Dragon Pass would not know the
name of a Disciple of Humakt from a land so close to theirs? The
warriors of Death kept a small but aware circle at the pinnacle
of their cult. Asladan was famed for the Three Score Duel Year in
Esrolia and for the killing of Fredalat Kingelf, hero of the Arstola
forest that caused a thousand trees to shed their leaves a season
early in grief.
to move closer to help fight such a doughty foe when an arrow whistled
past his ear. "I am Peradis Bearbow," declared the second
figure in the dark, a man clad in a black bearskin and scale armour,
clutching a bow as tall as he. "I am the greatest Rathori archer
in the world. Let the Deathfighters finish it or I will take an
eye, not a hair next time."
The two Humakti
squared off, adopting the stance of salute and respect as formalities
in the cult proscribed. Asladan lifted his great sword over his
head and charged at Lothar shouting "Give me death!" Lothar
spun out from under the furious assault and drove his foe back with
a storm of sword strokes. Asladan laughed after the exchange was
over and opinioned that Lothar was a truly fine warrior and may
have what it takes to send him on to Humakt. Lothar leapt to the
attack with Severance and Deathbringer dancing in the night. He
struck from the left and the right. He sung low and then high but
each time Asladan's mighty blade stopped his attack and then he
drove Lothar back with a flurry of his own, laughing all the while.
Lothar leapt over a knee-high strike, he squatted on his heels to
miss the return stroke and then struck at Asladan with Deathbringer.
The iron blade passed through Asladan's byrnie and on into his torso.
The Ditali fell down on the spot, gasped out "Thank you"
and met Humakt as he so dearly wished with blood in his mouth and
a sword in his hand.
The sudden silence
was filled with a nervous cough from Peradis who said: "Um,
we'd best be going now. Unless, well, I guess there are two options
here. One, we all die. Two
" and with that he turned and
loosed an arrow that passed straight through the eye-socket of the
crimson robed figure behind him "
I change sides. I never
liked that Kerishadner of Makabeaus anyway."
Come the morning
of Dying Moon, Illusion Week there was a coppery smell in the air,
like that of fresh spilt blood, and the entire city was surrounded
by a field of corn; corn that had not been there the night before;
corn that was now fully grown and completely ripe. All of the men
manning the siege lines in the night, some 500 of them from several
different units, had vanished, though the priests said they could
hear their ghosts wailing amid the swaying corn.
decided that the defenders had enacted some ritual to their chaos-tainted
goddess HonEel and grown the corn in the night. The smell of blood
seemed to be coming from within the city; they thought that some
thousands of people must have been sacrificed to create that miasma.
raged at this further setback, though the Dragonfriend's famous
impassive mien remained. He shrugged off the losses and ordered
the towers forward as planned.
To the south
of the city, some 5,000 Esrolians were sent forth with their tower
to assail the second bastion west of the gate. The Bush Children
provided cavalry support, the Earth Twins magical support and the
Righteous Wind provided reserves. Queen Nerestina joined her host.
Kamoar stood atop the tower and would the first over the city wall.
To the east,
a further 5,000 men were sent forth with their tower. They were
to assault the breach that the Zistor-men had battered in the walls.
Kings Fazzursson and Dragonfriend watched that assault with their
reserves. The champions Lothar and Garthael would lead the Axebrothers
through the breach.
When the tower
was rolled forward the defenders set off a great explosive mine
beneath the earth and destroyed the tower. Lothar was hurled through
the air and smashed to the ground a hundred ells back. The healers
raced over to save his life. Garthael rode the explosion and landed
on his feet before the two kings. The Axebrothers lost 4 in 10 of
their remaining men. The Tarsh Medium Infantry and the Wolfrunners
each lost 3 in 10 of theirs from the blast. The Cannon Cult's weapons
were upended and their breastworks thrown down. The Iron Dwarfs
dug themselves out of the rubble and informed the stunned Companions
that the defenders had somehow acquired a large amount of Dwarfen
blasting powder, a holy item to the Mostali. From the smell of the
powder, the Iron Dwarf, Vrudal Rockhead, determined that the powder
came from the Jord Mountain enclave far to the north within the
bounds of the Empire.
In the south
the city gates swung open and some 2000 cavalry streamed out of
the city. Half of them, light horse, all formed up and charged the
milling Esrolians. The rest of them, all heavy horse, formed up
and charged the Bush Children and the Righteous Wind. Around the
tower Queen Nerestina formed a shield wall and held the Tarshite
charge, though barely and then requiring the sacrifice of many of
her Axe Maidens. Javelins flew fast and true and the foe were forced
to withdraw. Gudny flailed the charging horsemen with crashing hail.
He unsettled their horses with terrorising storm and led his flying
thanes to strike at the horsemen more directly. There was a horn
blast from the gate and the heavy horse turned and followed their
lighter kin back into the city.
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