The Saga of the Gwandorlings
of Furthest - Finale
As the Battle of
Denston commenced the storm priests shrouded the advancing Allied
host under Orlanth's scarf of mist. All of their attempts to summon
Ohorlanth's storms failed for Shepelkirts's magicians were well prepared
and had chained every breeze and every cloud in the area.
"He's Taz!" in reference to Kamoar
charged from beneath the drifting scarf with a glorious blare of
horns. The Grazer archers wheeled before the Pentans and disordered
their front ranks before turning to the west. Then the grim knights
of Tanisor and the laughing, bison-riding Bullocks crashed into
and then trampled over the milling Shomandini, the Pentans shot
arrows that stuck from plate armour and chain bardings but had no
affect on their murderers.
On the right
flank of the allied host, skyclad on Brunjarl's great back, Gudny
released Black Cloud and commanded him to assail the Lost Sky horsemen.
As the spirit rose into the air, a malevolent lunar spirit rose
from their magicians to do battle with the valiant Vadrudi. Black
Cloud utterly destroyed his foe after a fierce fight but was too
spent to continue.
In the centre
the battle did not go well for the allied army. The Imperial phalanxes
showed their iron discipline as they all poised their spears, at
the exact same angle and held rock-steady while the Tanisor Javelineers
hurled their useless shafts among them.
The allied footmen
bravely advanced to do battle with the deadly phalanxes while the
Deretinites and the Thunder Delta Slingers sowed carnage among the
ranks with exploding ballistae bolts and sling stones. The Storm
Walkers, through titanic effort, unchained a cross breeze to throw
off their aim but to little effect. When the lines met, the elite
hoplites lashed out as one and delivered death onto the allied ranks.
Chanting their ancient war-songs, the remorseless phalanxes ground
forward, step after step, killing as they went.
Gudny led his
hand-picked flying thanes through the air over the village of Denston
and spied the Jasper Phalanx marching to the Imperial right flank
to block Mularik's attack for he had broken the Pentans and was
wheeling his forces to his right for an advance on the Imperial
centre and rear. The Shodmandini were destroyed and the cowardly
Redechanu had scattered before his knights. King Jandetin led his
lancers and Golden Bows in pursuit while his horse archers harried
the Redarm Peltasts, forcing them to stay in the woods on the extreme
left of the allied line.
That was when
the Shargashi berserkers positioned behind the Steel Sword Legion
as a reserve launched an insane charge at the Bullocks. The riders
swung around with the Sword Brothers in-line and met the attack
head-on beginning a great slaughter on both sides.
ranks of the Steel Swords, with their ancient dwarf-blades, butchered
those few bison riders that rode too close to their serried ranks.
The swordsmen refused their right, redeploying with consummate skill,
and formed a new line with the Long Axes of the Imperial Guard.
Gudny took his
picked champions into Denston and struck like the tornadoes that
they were. Lightning-riding Vangathi tore through the village streets
slaying the imperial soldiers of the Blue Boys Peltast regiment
with ease; rock hurling Hedkoranthi smashed strong-points and Helemakti
blew aside barricades. Gudny floated over the village green smashing
all opposition with furious thunderbolts and crushing noise. Other
forces of the Righteous Wind stormed the bridge into the village
or scaled the palisade to join the flying warband inside. In short
order the Blue Boys were reduced to a few cowards hiding in cellars
and the village seized.
About then Mularik
finished reforming his blood-drenched knights and turned them towards
the magicians on the hill - many of the students among the 4 Colleges
of Magic on the hill could be seen nervously eyeing the steadily
advancing horsemen. Moon-magic lashed the Tanisori but their alien
meldek blessings warded them from most of the god-driven assaults.
Mularik urged them into the charge and they roared up the hill,
thundering through the hapless Colleges and the Blue Moon School
slaughtering fleeing magicians on their left and their right. The
Blue Moon school escaped annihilation by becoming invisible. The
Comet Seers called a desperate but still devastating meteor shower
down on the knights and checked their advance long enough to run
from the hilltop to the cover of the advancing Jasper Phalanx. Though
many escaped, the Imperial magicians were shattered.
To the north
on the left flank of the allied line, the surviving Pentans reformed
and did battle with the Grazers that left many saddles empty. The
Luminous Stallion King Jandetin the Avenger bravely fought the Pentan
Khan in personal combat and slew him with a golden sword-blow. After
that the remaining Pentans fled the field.
Now, the cowardly
Redmen pulled back into a square and their elite phalanxes snapped
around to cover their straggling magicians. The unbending discipline
of the Imperial infantry gave pause to the allied host, for the
allied centre was close to breaking, few of the infantry there wished
to close once more with the Imperial hoplites, and the allied cavalry
was spent in its successful charges. Polemarch Daveresh Oarbreaker
called for a parley and wishing to avoid further battle against
an unbroken enemy, Mularik and Gudny went to meet with him.
was every bit the Dara Happan nobleman. His carriage was unbending,
his hair golden and his visage autocratic. His armour was gold-encrusted
and his staff of rule glowed with the Evil Emperor's power. Before
him, Mularik looked shoddy. His armour was rent and bloodied. His
helm was missing and two of his four iron-clad bodyguards lay dead
on the field. He stood tall though, for he knew the day was his.
Beside the two heavily armoured generals, Gudny appeared primal.
He was skyclad, naked under the sky bearing only his spear Thunderbolt
and his axe Babeester. What portions of his skin were not covered
in deep blue tattoos were covered in war-woad. His beard was unruly
and static crackled in the air around him.
Gudny properly and surprised everyone by giving Mularik a slight
bow. "You fought well and the field is yours. I would offer
you terms for our withdrawal, though we will not surrender for our
army is not broken and there would be a great effusion of blood
on both sides should you attempt to pursue the matter."
at Mularik saying, "this victory is thine," and so the
Tanisori spake: "I would have it that you took your army back
to Raibanth with you with full honour. They will not stop in their
journey nor will they engage any of our hosts while they remain
under your command. You will never lead this host against us again."
saying, "I don't think that you will have to worry about any
of this host fighting you again. There is too much trouble in the
Empire for the Emperor to bother with you again. I also doubt that
we could pass through Sylila in the future as they have refused
to acknowledge the Emperor!"
With that, Daveresh
gathered his host and they fared north. In the seasons to come they
re-embarked on their vessels and fared back to Raibanth as promised.
The Polemarch was true to his word, as Mularik new he would be.
It needs to
be said that the knights of Tanisor had lost half of their number
while the Bullocks and Sword Brothers - who killed every last Shargashi
- had lost one from every three of their own. The infantry had suffered
significant loss and the Grazers mourned their empty saddles but
the morale of the army was jubilant and high. Mularik ordered a
feast for the troops that night proclaiming that northern Tarsh
was his once news came of Kamoar's victory.
South of the
Battle of Denston the Northern Tarsh Army in Talfort had marched
out on the heels of the Allied host to link up with the Imperials
or better yet, to trap the allied army between the two forces. Four
thousands of infantry, including the Yelmalian Glory Spears and
the Bovakite Light Foot formed a marching square with a small band
of horsemen in the centre. Kamoar, left behind with his warband,
the Wolfrunners, the Antler Chase, the Headhunters and the March
Light Horse harried them ceaselessly. Kamoar had obstructions thrown
across the road and threw slashing cavalry raids at the sides of
the square. His host could not stop the Tarshites but he could,
and did slow them down so that they did not reach Denston in time
to join the battle.
As it turned
out, the Tarshites had nearly reached Denston when King Jandetin
rode up with his Grazer host and surrounded them. Shortly after
that Gudny and Mularik arrived with their infantry and called on
the Tarshites to surrender.
There was then
among the Tarshite army a templar from the Sun Dome called Koresten
Six-Shields, so named because he could leap over six shielded men
while wearing his full panoply. Koresten was the captain of the
Glory Spears phalanx and he stepped forth to speak with the allies.
He threw down the head of General Pharon the Snake, the Phargentite
commander of the host and said these words: "We will no longer
fight for the Lunars. We have long sought a way of honourably leaving
his service and now we have it."
And so the Tarshites
were disarmed and guarded. The allied host made camp and Koresten
was brought to speak with Mularik, Gudny and Kamoar. "As you
are a friend of the Dragonfriend, who is a friend of Sota Lamplighter
who showed me the way of the Monrogh Doctorine, my phalanx will
fight for you," he said to Gudny. Now this was good news to
the allies and more was to follow. Koresten spoke of using his host
to garrison Northern Tarsh while the allied forces returned to Furthest
to complete the siege. He introduced Heleric the Hurler who commanded
the Bovakite Light Foot and both swore their allegiance to King
Fazzursson. The remaining footmen in the Tarsh army were naught
but fyrdmen and they were sent home without their weapons to bring
news of the defeat to their people.
In the morning
the army marched back to Furthest proudly displaying the captured
banners, battlefield plunder and the head of General Pharon on a
long pike. The victorious army paraded around the beleaguered city
showing their spoils of war and though the grim defenders gave no
sign of despair, all knew that a great blow had been struck against
the morale of the Furthest garrison. Warlord Dragonfriend once again
appealed to the city to surrender and generously offered amnesty
to any who would abandon the defences. Once more, he was ignored.
It was about
that time that the Tarsh Light Foot returned to the host around
Furthest as the Breagalos Tribe near Travelling Stone had ceased
their futile resistance to the King's rule.
By now, winter
was beginning to show itself and so the Warlord planned one last
assault before the weather grew too harsh. The siege lines had been
extended right up to the city gates blocking any future sally. Sigmund
had spent the last weeks widening and flattening the eastern breach
with artillery and his own thunderstones.
to assault the breach again and to use the southern siege tower
once more for a two-pronged assault. Kamoar and Garthael would lead
the Bovakite and Tarsh Light Foot over the siege tower while the
Ormsfang assassins would strike from within the tower using their
power to travel through stone. King Fazzurrson claimed the honour
of assaulting the breach. He would lead the Tarsh Heavy Foot - "The
Quivers", his own bodyguard elite, the Palashee Axemen and
the ferocious Quintus Valemen. Lothar and Sigmund accompanied him
with their warbands.
On the day of
the Dying Moon the assault was launched and fared better than the
In the south,
the mighty tower was pushed forth against the city's defences. The
defenders lashed the attackers with ballistae and boulders hurled
from their war-engines and inflicted heavy losses upon them. The
attack moved resolutely forth and when the assault ramps dropped
Garthael leapt onto the ramparts glowing with the dread-light of
the Death God's blessings. He struck left and right and strode across
the roof, with each step two more defenders from the First Blood's
regiment fell down dead.
Surprisingly, standing over the tower were two more crouched atop
an inner wall that the defenders had built - the assault party began
to take more casualties from hurled missiles and catapult batteries
on these improvised defences.
The hatch leading
into the tower from its roof was sealed and so Garthael clove it
in twain with his battle-blade. With a great shout Kamoar leapt
through the hatchway into the dark room below. He landed in a crouch
and smiled as a score of bows sang and his pelt growled as it shrugged
off the feeble shafts. Kamoar summoned his berserker rage and rushed
about the room slaughtering and smashing everyone and everything
there - his warband watched from above and wisely remained out of
his way. When there was naught left to smash, Kamoar spied a door
leading further into the tower and burst through it like it was
made of straw. The rest of the tower was littered in bodies and
bathed in blood from the brutal fighting between the Ormsfang and
the defenders. Kamoar casually murdered any lunar survivors that
he found and on the bottom floor calmed his fury when he met up
with the Assassins. The tower was secured.
to building ramparts with whatever materials came to hand, to ward
his men from the persistent fire from the inner towers.
had a much harder time in the breach. His men struggled up the rock
slope and fought hand-to-hand with the First Furthest Foot who were
dug in most firmly on the crest of the breach. His elite huscarls
fought a bloody battle in the trenches before they broke the defenders
and swarmed over the breach. Fazzursson led the Palashee Axe's and
the Quivers down from the breach in a ragged, tired charge against
the inner wall. The King found two towers, like Garthael faced,
battering his host that was soon constrained between the main wall
and the internal wall while missiles hit them from all sides. There
was no way to push the attack on, casualties mounted. Sigmund brought
his Hedkoranthi warband, the Breakers of Jelmir to the top of the
breach and set about bombarding the two towers with thunderstones.
They quickly caught fire and the defenders were forced from their
perches causing enough of a slackening of the defenders missile
fire to allow ladders to be brought over the breach to be deployed
against the inner wall.
There was a
sudden blast of horns and a gate opened in the nearby keep releasing
the Kingslayers regiment, rested, eager to battle, and old enemies
to the Quivers, they crashed into the tired attackers, forcing them
Lothar led his
band of humakti killers alongside the King and his bodyguards. He
eagerly clove his way into the Kingslayers and delivered a score
of champions to Humakt in the time that it would take a fat man
to belch. He was close to King Fazzursson when the fell-handed Pordangor
Fastblade, commander of the Kingslayers, struck off the valiant
king's left leg and right hand. Lothar cut two lunar Kingslayers
from his path and stepped over Fazzursson's body before Pordangor
could finish his killing. Pordangor turned the full weight of his
intimidating glare onto the Deathlord and Lothar involuntarily took
a step back. But Lothar shook his head, started his death song and
launched a blistering assault, battering the champion with a hail
of iron-edged blows. Fastblade staggered back under the ferocious
assault parrying desperately, he made to lunge at Lothar and then
stepped back behind his bodyguard and withdrew into the protection
of his regiment. Lothar cursed him for a coward.
Lothar and his
warband pushed on battling the Kingslayers and left it to the Palashee
Axes to carry their felled King from the field. When the entire
Tarshite host followed their fallen king back out of the city, their
morale broken for now, Lothar was forced to fall back with them.
They left many of their comrades behind them.
sent the Tanisor Spears forth to hold the breach and to erect ramparts
there with engineers from Mularik's army to aid them. In short order
a strong defensive position was built amid the rubble and artillery
was soon sited on the crest of the breach.
With that, the
assaults were called off for the winter. The breach was fortified
and the tower in the south was reinforced. The soldiers in the camps
set about building cabins and dugouts to protect themselves from
the winter storms.
naked in the driving rain and sleet with his hair flowing free in
the icy winds welcoming the caresses of Valind's Daughters.
It was about
this time that Argrath Dragonfriend received another of the High-King's
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, Besieger and servant of Orlanth.
begins with the final preparations for victory over Lunar Tarsh
with the defenders of the capital near defeat. To that end, the
High King will personally direct operations in Tarsh, aided by
his noble servants. As a basic prerequisite of victory for the
campaigns ahead, the Army of Dragon Pass will be created to ensure
maximum efficiency. This will require several initiatives:
Sword of Sartar will be replaced in his post by Argrath Sharpsword
who will command fresh forces from Sartar and from his own domains.
These forces will be arriving with the High King after Sacred
Time and will be incorporated into the Army of Dragon Pass.
Dragonfriend will be assigned to the post of Warwyrm of Dragon
Pass, the direct subordinate in all matters military below the
High King and direct superior to all others in the army. We deem
Dragonfriend to be the only man with enough experience and skill
to take up such a position.
(3). A new
guard unit will be formed, independent of the personal bodyguard
of the High King (the Wolfskins). The Warwyrm will be commander
of his new bodyguard, to be organised and outfitted by the Warwyrm
at the expense of the Kingdom of Dragon Pass. The unit shall be
called the High Guard and its members must be recruited from all
aspects of Dragon Pass. It shall number 4000 infantry of various
sorts and 1000 cavalry.
Free Army will be disbanded and assigned land settlements as well
as donatives by the previous Sword of Sartar, Dragonfriend at
his own expense, as it is recognised that the troops are primarily
loyal to him and thus he should be loyal to them and gift them
generously. The units of the Free Army in the siege will be replaced
by Mularik's forces and an increased commitment from Free Tarsh.
Army of Dragon Pass will thus compose the combined forces of the
Sun Domers, Sartar, Heortland, Esrolia, Tarsh, Uz, Beastmen and
the Grazers. Mercenary forces separate from the Army of Dragon
Pass yet attached to it, will include those units commanded by
Mularik plus the Praxian contingents. All of these forces will
be commanded by the Warwyrm who will issue direct commands from
the High King or act in his stead should he be absent.
offensive operations will cease against Furthest until these reorganisations
have been completed and fair weather plus a surplus of supplies
are obtained. Mularik Ironeye is to command the organisation of
the assault and his plan is to be vetted and passed onto the High
King by the Warwyrm.
defeat of the remaining Imperial force in the region, 1634 promises
to be a year of wholesale advances against the Empire. Holay and
Aggar are our next targets and we trust that efforts have been
made by the Warwyrm and will continue to be made to ensure their
ease of conquest. The Army of Dragon Pass must be able to fight
a prolonged war deep in the Empire.
It doesn't need
to be said that this news threw Dragonfriend into a thunderous rage.
He was being deprived of his command and his soldiers were to be
disbanded at his own expense - remember, you, that the Dragonfriend
considered 'cheap' to be a compliment.
With the hosts
of King Fazzursson, Queen Nerestina and Lord Mularik to hold the
siege lines, King Dragonfriend gathered the Free Army: The Freemen,
the Guildsmen, the King's Own Foot, the Candledancers, the Wolfrunners,
the Little Shadows, the March Light Horse, the Antler Chase, the
Thieves' Arm, the Headhunters, the Earth Twins and the Warm Sisters.
All totalled, there were some six thousands and four hundreds of
footmen, cavalry and magicians, all veterans of the campaigns to
free Sartar and Tarsh.
gathered this host and spoke with them. He praised their unquenchable
valour and he named them the mightiest of warriors and truest of
supporters. "Thou hast subjugated a greater kingdom than your
own and thrown off the chains of slavery. You have taken the fight
into the Enemy's lands and thrown down their false-kings."
He went on to tell them that there was nothing left to do in Tarsh
but to clear away the debris and stab the last few rats. "And
it is all your doing," he told them. The crowd set up a roaring
cheer that could be heard across the river and by most of the foraging
read the High King's instructions to disband the Free Army. "YOU
won this war," he screamed. "But you will be denied part
of the victory. I will not deny you. I will not forget the blood
that you paid for this victory." Then he announced that he
would supply each of the veterans with 10 cows worth of land or
goods and the host lost their voices in cheering for their Warlord.
He offered 20 cows to each of his captains.
had won their loyalty forever.
And so it came
to pass that many of the host abandoned their old lands and clans
and moved their families into the Far Point or into Dundealos Valley
to be ruled by High-King Dragonfriend. About four hundreds of the
veterans refused to muster out and wanted to join Dragonfriend's
personal warband. He had a better idea for them.
Two units would
not be disbanded but would still receive the 10-cow gift: The Little
Shadows and the March Light Horse, both were sent back to Aldachur
to rest and refit. Most of Argrath Whitebull's contributions to
the Free Army were also sent home: the Pavic Shieldwall, the Bullocks
and the Sword Brothers. Wolfe's Heavy Horse also went home to rest
and see their families.
units in the Free Army, mostly mercenaries: the Goldgotti, the Longspear
Slayers, the Axe Brothers, the Bush Children and the Free Philosophers
were all reassigned to the Army of Dragon Pass as directed by the
Now there was
a woman named Drasti Hillrunner. She was the daughter of Red-Breanna
the Killer who was the daughter of King Solonir of the Dinacoli.
Red-Breanna had been exiled by the Dinacoli and joined the Orgovalti
clan before the liberation of Aldachur. Drasti was a young woman,
long of leg and strong of wind. She could run the Gors of the Far
Point faster than any pony and had once outrun a hunting wolf-pack.
Drasti was part of Prince Orgovalt's Hearth-Troop.
As Warwyrm Dragonfriend
sent letters across his lands to arrange for the payments to his
veterans, Drasti Hillrunner came to his booth before Furthest. The
Warwyrm greeted her well and bade her be seated. He called for warm
mead and hot soup for he could see that she had ridden long and
hard through the gathering winter. Drasti greeted Argrath in the
name of Prince Orgovalt and passed onto him a parchment scroll.
"My Prince's Knowing Man hast sealed this scroll so that it
will only open when touched by thy ring." Argrath asked if
she knew the contents and when she did not he bade her relax there
in front of the fire and strode into his bed chambers to read it.
Prince of Far Point
To: His noble Champion of Far Point and rightful King.
I write with news of events in Sartar and the intelligence I have
gathered on your behalf. I did not trust this information to word
of mouth for reasons of secrecy.
As you are
by now no doubt aware, Maniskisson has adopted a significant change
in policy in the last year and I think we can surmise the pressures
that forced such a shift in such a headstrong man.
pulled out of the war effort last year claiming bankruptcy, though
this was true to a point, he was not without resources to pull
himself out of his fiscal difficulties nor was he in as bad a
shape as he claimed. Your agents have spent much time in Heortland
and Esrolia and I have taken the liberty of piecing together the
puzzle for you, as you are no doubt distracted by events.
played up his difficulties knowing it would force Maniskisson
into increasing taxes at home to support the war effort. The High
King has been struggling mightily with the problems of paying
for the war effort, supplying the troops and funding the mercenaries
we have hired. Sartar has groaned under the weight of his tribute
gathering to the point where it seemed to exceed that of the Lunars.
Sharpsword has made many friends within Sartar of late and encouraged
them to speak out on the Iron Ring against the High King's policy.
Discord in the kingdom had grown to great levels with tribute
not being paid and outright rebellion against royal rule in several
places, particularly with the Malani and their allies.
was limiting its funding for the war as the Queens council seemed
to loose all enthusiasm at around the same time Sharpsword began
enacting very heavy tolls on all shipping entering Choralinthor
Bay. Make no mistake, Sharpsword is the pre-eminent naval power
in the region, if not Genertela and his naval strength is bringing
him vast wealth, and power.
ago, a clandestine meeting occurred, spied on by one of Bronwyn's
deep agents. Maniskisson was forced to meet with Sharpsword and
offer him concessions, including the role of Sword of Sartar and
the disbanding of Dragonfriend's troops. In return Sharpsword
would refinance the war effort, allow Esrolian troops and support
to flow once more and reduce the troubles his supporters were
causing in the kingdom to nothing. Maniskisson apparently destroyed
most of his apartments in his fury at implications of the meeting
but agreed nonetheless. He appeared to have no choice.
he has adhered to his word yet gone beyond it by creating the
post of Warwyrm and putting you over Sharpsword in the new Army
of Dragon Pass. Sharpsword is livid but is bound also by his word
for he is true, if conniving and ruthless. Maniskisson has made
a bargain with the devil but upped the stakes beyond what was
expected. The devil will not forget this however.
Sharpsword wishes you gone, while Maniskisson relies on you to
counterbalance Sharpsword and prove a target for his ire instead
I hope this
information is of help to you.
It was about a week later that High King Maniskisson arrived at
Furthest. With him rode Argrath Sharpsword, the Sword of Sartar,
Argrath Venharlsson and Argrath Whitebull. Besides their personal
warbands, the High King also brought some 16,000 levies to be formed
into the Army of Dragon Pass. Warlord Sharpsword rode in with Baron
Sanuel and his regiment of knights, the Vaantar Phalanx, and the
Army of Tomorrow, knights and foot - all destined to join the Army
of Dragon Pass.
quickly assessed the new troops: new conscripts, old men, stick
pickers, criminals and more like them. Poor material but with a
strong cadre a potent force could be built if enough time and experience
was given them.
rode forth to meet the High King and say "Good day." Maniskisson
greeted Dragonfriend warmly. "Hail noble Warwyrm," he
exclaimed. "Thou hast done wondrous feats here. Dragon Pass
is very grateful for your efforts."
thanked the High King for his words and gave the opinion that Warlord
Sharpsword should be capable of finishing the mopping up. Maniskisson
glanced at Sharpsword and reminded Warwyrm Dragonfriend that "The
Sword Sharpsword is but a mere general in your army." Dragonfriend
greeted Sharpsword warmly, the High King of Choralinthor replied
curtly through gritted teeth, he was not content with being a 'mere
general' to anyone, as ever Sharpsword's ambitions new no bounds.
the Prince of Prax greeted Dragonfriend with a massive grin and
barely repressed chuckles, "We must speak later." Dragonfriend
replied that it would be a pleasure.
Now it should
be mentioned that the Wolfrunners spoke with King Dragonfriend before
they left and let him know that they would refuse to serve alongside
the High King and his Wolfskins bodyguard. "We await the day
that we can bodyguard a true king of Sartar." Dragonfriend
understood their feelings and wished them well, gifting them once
more before they went home and sharing some time with them to talk
of old times of outlawry and adventure.
Over the next
few days the War Captains met with the High King and his Warwyrm
and discussed the progress of the siege, how to carry it forth and
what to do with the Army of Dragon Pass.
King Fazzursson, Warlord Sharpsword, Lord Mularik, Argrath Venharlsson
and Prince Whitebull were all made generals in the new army.
The High King
turned to Dragonfriend and spake thusly: "We have 16,000 men
to train. There are 3000 horses that we can use to mount some of
them. I leave it up to you to arrange the men and to determine their
training. Then you can assign the hosts to each of the generals."
spake of his 400 veterans that had volunteered to form cadre for
the new regiments, Sharpsword, Fazzursson and Whitebull all offered
up soldiers as well and so there were two thousands of veterans
to shore up the recruits. The total forces available were thus 18,000
of which 5,000 were to be formed into the High Guard, the new army
within an army that the High King wished formed.
Week, Gudny gathered his Righteous Wind and rode off through the
snows into Aggar. With him rode Lothar and his four-score humakti
and Sigmund and his Breakers of Jelmir. Their self-appointed task
was to see Aggar stripped from the Empire and its forces added to
met with Whitebull and shared a private dinner with him. They spoke
of this and that and feasted on into the night. Whitebull pointed
out that he had deliberately withdrawn from the politics on the
Argrath Council. "But I am itching to get back into the fighting,"
he said. "I will have no trouble fighting under your command."
Dragonfriend replied that Whitebull was the only one of his generals
that the Warwyrm could trust. They both acknowledged that they knew
Sharpsword was trying for power.
much discussion with his generals and various war captains in the
host, Dragonfriend decided on a force structure for the new men.
In the High Guard, he chose to form one regiment of axe wielding
huscarls, two phalanxes, a medium foot, a regiment of cataphracts
and one of horse archers. The rest of the army would have two regiments
of heavy foot, two phalanxes, four foot regiments, two archers,
one light foot, one heavy horse, two medium horse and one light
immediately before the walls of Furthest.
For the rest
of the winter, the new regiments trained. Dragonfriend organised
competitions between the men and drilled them hard. Each regiment
was formed around a cadre of experienced men drawn from the bodyguards
and followers of the generals of the army. Many had served in the
Free Army and were thus loyal to Dragonfriend. The Vaantar phalanx
lent many of its drill instructors to the training of the phalanx
in Sun Domer discipline while those regiments who had left the Lunar
Tarsh army brought their experiences with them and trained the men
in Lunar tactics.
In the city,
the allies noticed that most of the horses had been slaughtered.
One morning the allies found 2,000 starving peasants had been shoved
out of the gates and were forced to care for them. When questioned
the refugees said the defenders were prepared to fight to the death,
as was King Pharadros. There would be no meek surrender in Furthest.
In the north,
the tunnel passed under the city walls and breached the sewers without
being detected, though the work was slow and hard through the tough
rock. In the south and the east the besiegers burrowed down from
their footholds in the tower and the breach and running battles
erupted in the sewers that were a maze beneath the city. The Furthest
defenders knew those tunnels well though and had fortified choke
points within the system that restricted travel and protected entrance
in the city proper.
more engineers bringing the number of dwarves to 200. They built
two massive assault towers before the eastern gate. Each was 40
ells tall and faced in bronze polished to mirror brightness. Each
tower moved on wheels that lay their own roadway and carried
several breaching cannons. The construction was hidden from the
city by great canvas sheets so that none within would know exactly
what was being built. The dwarves brought with them several of their
assault ladders that could be launched at a wall and form solid
ramps to march over. They also built two massive rams that were
powered, like the towers, by mysterious dwarven engines.
gathered his generals and war captains to meet with the High King.
He asked Mularik to present the assault plan the Tanisori had created
and was free with his praise for it.
described what had been learned of the city during the winter. He
spoke of fortresses being built within the walls. He said that the
palace, the theatre and Hippodrome, the temple district and several
others had been surrounded in 30-40 foot walls to form independent
strong points within the city, yet each was likely to be linked
to the other by tunnels, to allow reinforcement and retreat. He
also noted that the docks area had been largely abandoned and that
the city gate there was often left open to facilitate movement between
the city and the fortified docks.
described his attack plan. He spoke of the two assault towers being
moved up to assail the eastern keep while the battering ram breached
the gate. The towers could suppress the gatekeep and the flanking
towers while they were tall enough to dominate the inner wall. It
was hoped that the polished bronze would render the Lunar's chaos
beams ineffective. Three assault barges would be sailed down the
river and used to pass troops into the docks. General Fazzursson,
healed of his wounds, would lead the assault on and through the
gatekeep. General Sharpsword would use the dwarven assault ladders
to cross the inner walls before the breach. General Whitebull would
attack from the southern tower. General Nerestina would launch a
surprise attack through the northern tunnel. Mularik himself would
lead a flying assault on the western gate, hopefully using infiltrators
to seize the keep and allowing the troops from the barges easy access
into the city.
Week the Dragonfriend's Companions returned from Aggar with great
news from that land, that a rebellion was underway against the Lunar
lackey, King Rascius One-Eye. King Dragonfriend also received a
letter from the Queen of Holay.
Lord of Dragons
From her Majesty Queen Karsalla of Holay
May the Earths bless this text with the fertility of understanding.
I will speak plainly, for the Earth has little time for fripperies,
your equal wife has made plain her desire to see your house rise
triumphant over that of all other Argraths, and thus at first
made me uncomfortable, for she is a ruthless and dangerous woman.
Yet the Earth knows all and sees the past and future as one as
everything we are and will be or have ever been is of the Earth,
so I took my concerns to the depths in a great quest for the truth.
Asrelia gave up her secrets to me on many deep quests to her hoarded
wisdom and I have seen the truth. The Dragon will rise over the
Earth either as a force of great good or great destruction, the
determinant of which will be the willingness of the Earth to once
more take up the challenge of Ernalda and tame the unruly passions
which narrow the greatness of men to that of violence and wanton
reels from the defeats your alliance and that of Carmania, Rinliddi,
Sylila and the nomad hordes have delivered to it. The disappearance
of the true Red Emperor has cut the heart from the Lunar command
of inclusion and unity, leaving the power of the Empire to be
fought over by lesser folk as hounds squabble over scraps from
the table. My Queendom is eyed covetously by Sylila who seeks
to recreate the Kingdom of Saird and an Empire of the Provinces
all of their own. This must not be. Our lands are ruled by ancient
tradition and by the power of Ernalda and I would keep it so.
Thus I come
to my offer. Should you wish it, my daughter will be offered to
you as equal wife. She is a mere child as yet and needs 6 more
years of training to take up her duties and be of age to marry,
but should I pass on to the halls of Asrelia, for I spend much
of my time there now, you shall be regent of Holay, commander
of her armies and protector of your wife's rights to rule. You
will be named Sacred King when married.
Such an offer
does not come without peril or prerequisites. You must make pledge
to defend our Queendom, to safeguard our people and to treat my
daughter Inkarne with the utmost respect and when she turns 15
and is old enough to rule you must on the honour of your turbulent
god step aside and obey her in all things relating to Holay. Be
warned that there are Lunar elements within Holay who will oppose
this move and I am unable to take war to them due to my infirmity.
Those troubles will be for you to accept and overcome.
I offer is a land of 300,000 peoples and much wealth and troops
to aid your cause. The bride price is you must obey my conditions
to your very death.
Queen of Holay
Harmony Week, Sea Season, 1634
the night of the Dying Moon, the army moved to assault the city.
A band of Fazzurites flew into the docks dressed in captured uniforms
from the Fourth Furthest Foot, the weakest of the garrison regiments
and that assigned to the western keep. The Fazzurites seized the
gate at dawn and General Mularik secured the entire keep with his
flying band. The assault barges offloaded over 2000 troops, including
Sigmund, who streamed through the open gates and into the city without
opposition. The Phargentite Foot and the King's Own Lancers - the
only cavalry left in the city - quickly responded and the fighting
grew fierce in the streets with charge and counter charge strewing
the cobbles with corpses.
With the coming
of the dawn, the Temple of Resonance began to glow again. Sigmund
tried to smash it with his stones but the traitorous Doburdani winds
protected it from all assaults.
In the east
the siege towers ground their way forward and the ram started smashing
its way through the city gates, the iron tip of the ram ground through
the bronze panels and stout beams quickly. The red beam from the
Temple of Resonance struck out at the towers but was deflected by
the mirrored bronze and instead smashed a hole in the Hippodrome.
launched his attack from the breach over the dwarven assault ramps
and achieved complete surprise hacking his way over the inner walls
and into the city, the defenders were overwhelmed once their advantage
of position was nullified.
Kamoar led the
assault out of the northern tunnels and butchered his way through
the light defences in the north emerging into the streets and forming
up with Nerestina's Axe Maidens and Ernaldan fanatic warriors.
led the assault through the southern tower. Gudny Alakoringsson
used his magics to sweep the inner towers clear of men and machines
and the assault carried the inner walls.
led his division through the now sundered eastern gates following
the success of the rams.
At all points
the city's outer defences were breached but the defenders were not
daunted and retreated in good order to their inner defences.
The fighting raged through the day in bloody street-to-street battles.
Sharpsword assaulted the palace and was driven off with heavy loss
by a counterattack from the Kingslayers and several elite warrior
cults. Gudny and his magicians battled five-score vecors when they
assailed the temples and though they were defeated it was not before
the crimson warriors slew many a brave Orlanthi.
directed the mopping up and the systematic reduction of the strong-points
within the city. The army stormed the Hippodrome and the defenders,
the Retired Veterans and the First Futhest Foot, surrendered to
the attackers after tenacious resistance.
city a battle was fought to penetrate the tunnel system and deny
the defenders travel along it from strong point to strong point.
Many died in the dark but the defensive network was slowly unravelled
and closed down.
his warband smashed the Temple of Resonance and gave a great cheer
when their long-time foe in the siege was finally toppled. The ruin
of the disc brought down a large section of the defences around
it and allowed the soldiers of Dragon Pass to come to grips with
their foes. Gudny smashed the temple of Doburdan and that of the
Still Air and saw to it that their alters and artefacts were utterly
It took the
host a further six days to reduce all of the strong points though
most of them surrendered once the attackers gained their walls in
strength or once they tunnels were closed and they were cut off
from retreat or reinforcement.
At last, only
the Palace remained, a huge and solid stone building and fortress.
Dragonfriend ordered the dwarf towers brought forth to pound the
palace with their breaching cannon and reduced the walls to rubble.
A path had to be made through the rubble to allow them in. Even
though the palace was pounded into a heap of debris by artillery
and magic, the Kingslayers and other Lunar fanatics holed up with
King Pharandros refused to surrender and repulsed a dozen separate
unleashed his own warband and led his elite Storm Dragon Guard in
the assault on the final defences. The fighting was bloody and extended
long into the afternoon for the palace was riddled with tunnels
and barricades. The walls were buttressed and loopholed. After six
hours of heroic, though bitter combat, Dragonfriend and his Companions
burst into the throne room. Behind him came Fazzursson, Whitebull,
Mularik and Nerestina with their elite bodyguards.
stood the remnants of the King's Guard, the chosen core of the Kingslayers.
The False-King stood in the middle of the room glowing in magics.
He carried the Scimitar of Phargentes Kingslayer and appeared to
have heroformed that lunar godling for he was taller and broader
than he had ever been seen before and his presence was overpowering.
At the rear
of the room, quiescent on a pile of rubble was Dragonfriend's bedraggled
Seeing Companion Bronwyn Fallenstead. The Warwyrm used the powers
of Mastakos to carry his thane into the midst of his guard and greeted
him warmly. "I escaped when the walls came down," spake
Bronwyn. "I guess they didn't notice me wandering around."
Though the Companions knew that it was his ability to pass unnoticed
that had likely saved Bronwyn's life in the confusion.
thusly: "Congratulations Dragonfriend. You have pulled down
my kingdom but my family escaped your foul talons. Enjoy your empty
victory for they are even now in Glamour petitioning the Emperor
for aid. They will return at the head of an army and bring you down
with the Emperor's support."
With that, the
lunar raised his malevolent blade and charged Dragonfriend along
with his King's Guard. Dragonfriend's Companions leapt to meet them.
Sigmund hurled a crackling thunderstone at the Red-king but struck
and vapourised one of his guard. Garthael waded into the melee and
struck down five of the best fighters in Tarsh with two swings of
his dire blade. Kamoar leapt atop a mighty champion that was the
victor of fifty duels and tore his heart out through his back. Lothar
stepped in front of the Dragonfriend and parried the lunar king's
god-strengthened assault. He struck back with Severance and the
blow passed through the king's armour and hewed his arm from his
body. Mularik struck from the other side and severed Pharandros'
head, ending things in the manner of his people. When the Companions
looked up from the suddenly small and bedraggled body of Pharandros,
there was not a Lunar alive in the room, or the palace.
And so ended
the siege of Furthest. One year of fighting and one afternoon of
looting, pillaging and plundering reduced over 100 years of Lunar
progress to nothing.
 They moved
on tank-like tracks.
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