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The Saga of the Gwandorlings - 78

"He'll be shaved like a poodle."

- Speaking of Kamoar after a meeting with King Sylveius the Hairdresser

"I don't plan on taking any of our men home."

- Lothar on acceptable losses.

Earth/1634

We need to take up our tale again at the end of Fire Season. Warwyrm Dragonfriend's Knowing Man, Bronwyn Fallenstead brought his king a summary of the happenings in Peloria [1]. He then spoke of the Reaching Moon Temple outside Fillichet.

It seemed that this temple was arranged much as the temple in Tarsh had been but being do deep inside what had been the Empire it was not nearly as fortified. The complex was also largely abandoned now that Queen Karsalla had allied with the Argrathi - only the warrior fanatics of the Provincial Church and Yara Aranis Cult remained to defend the walls.

Now at this time there was a man named Ingkotarm Pardidasson, called the EverReady. King Ingkotarm was the eldest son of Satrap Pardidas of Sylila and sat on the throne of Saird. He was a deadly warrior, a wise ruler and a very powerful heroquestor.

Bronwyn spoke now of King Ingkotarm's hosts standing ready in Saird. The Royal Army of Saird was encamped about Mirin's Cross with some thirty thousands of spear. The hated Ogunjar Straightarm was encamped about the Sum Dome temple north of the city with some eight thousands of his followers. Resting there were also some seven thousands of wild horse nomads from Pent.

It was about now that the Argrathi met in Talfort to discuss the Warwyrm's new information and the affect if would have on his plans. They spoke of this and that and refined the hosts that they would supply [2]. The High King Maniskisson suggested that the Argraths could not siege Mirin's Cross until the Sairdite's army had been crushed. Warwyrm Dragonfriend agreed saying that if they marched through Saird burning as they went then King Ingkotarm would have to come out to fight them, "for he is a new king and must be seen to be a strong and able defender of his people."

And then Argrath Venharlsson spoke up. He suggested that they build a Temple of the Reaching Storm to act as a focus for the army's Orlanthing magics. "This would also goad the Sairdites into battle for they could not allow this construction to progress."

With the new information on the Army of Saird, the Warwyrm decided to keep Argrath Whitebull's host with the main army. "You must make out on your own for now," he said to Argrath Stormchaser. To soften the blow, the Tarsh Light Foot and a regiment of archers from the Army of Dragon Pass was sent into Aggar.

Our tale now turns to Balazar where Kamoar the Shadowstalker has passed over the Black Eel on his way to Trilus. As mentioned previously, the Warwyrm sent the Bovakite Light Foot and his Speaking Companion Gettig Kingsvoice along to aid Kamoar in driving the red-men from that land and raising a host of mercenaries from the locals. Kamoar also invited Aelous the Upright, one of Sota Lamplighter's missionaries to accompany him and bring the teachings of Sota to the Yelmalians there. Kamoar left the troops, his warband, Gettig and Aelous at Talfort while he passed into the forests alone.

At Crimper's Creek Kamoar found that he was being tracked. He doubled back and used his Run Silently fetish to escape. He espied a snare across the trail and just managed to dodge aside before being caught. When he stood up he found five javelins aimed at him, all held by hardened men who were badly out of breath.

The leader made to speak with Kamoar in a series of barks and growls and so Kamoar stroked his Barks-as-dog fetish. It was very difficult, but the hunters managed to communication with the shaman.

It turned out that Kamoar had been run to ground by one Trayvus the True, the Master Hunter of the Weyding Clan. He commended Kamoar on his running abilities and expressed his surprise that the Shadowstalker had avoided the snare. "I herd you this way for long," he said. Then he asked who Kamoar was and why he was in the Weyding huntlands. Kamoar replied that he had come to liberate Balazar from the red-men. All five hunters shared a hearty laugh at that and asked what army he would use. Kamoar told them that he had an army but they would only laugh and say that they must all hide better than he did. Finally Kamoar explained that he was a representative of Argrath the Dragonking and he was investigating the land before he brought his host in.

Well they spoke some more and Kamoar learned that the imperial troops in Elkoi had returned to Saird some two seasons ago and now there was little lunar presence in the citadel except the Provincial Church and the local sympathisers with their militia. Kamoar told of being sent to help the Balazarings unify and free themselves from the Empire and so Trayvus replied that he was called The True for he was a direct descendant of Balazar, though none in the Citadels would acknowledge him. "You me help. Me you help," he said. "I try raise clans." Kamoar agreed to help Trayvus and they both went their own ways.

Now Kamoar came to the citadel of Trilus which, he knew from Trayvus, was ruled by a King Yalvann. Trilus was but one of the three citadels that were to be found in Balazar. Dykene was in the East Wilds and was ruled by King Karazar. Elkoi - the largest - was in the west and was ruled by King Sylveius, whom the Orlanthings named The Nandan [3].

Trilus itself was rather unimpressive. It was a large outcrop of rock that had been carved into a marginal fortress and was surrounded by a small village. The settlement smelled of pig droppings.

Kamoar was challenged at the gates by two guardsmen. He replied that he wished to speak with King Yalvann. "Ah, yes," replied the first guard, "The King is just about ready for his 'Audience-with-smelly-strangers-who-walk-out-of-the-forest'. Buzz off!" Kamoar replied that he was a representative of Argrath and had been sent to speak with King Yalvann. "Yeah right, you're from the Great Argraths! Take a hike!" Well, with that Kamoar stroked his Leap High fetish and jumped over the guards landing some thirty feet beyond the gate and began to walk up the main road. The two guards spun round with a shout and called on him to stop. "I have come to speak with your king and I will," spake Kamoar. The guards replied that he was a little too dangerous to allow into the citadel and that he would have to leave. Kamoar stroked his Barks-as-dog fetish and stunned the guards with a ferocious howl.

Well, the two stared at him nervously and then the smaller one blew frantically on his horn. A swearing and half-dressed group of guards poured out of the guardhouse and peered about. Their captain demanded to know what the summons was for.

Kamoar sat down in the middle of the road. "I have come to speak with King Yalvann. I will await him here." He then released a dog spirit to find the King. As the spirit hound loped off into the city the guards all jumped on the mad shaman that had come into their citadel. With a surge of power Kamoar threw them off using his Blustery-Wind fetish. The guards looked on in shock and hurled their javelins at the invader - they stuck harmlessly in his Hound's Cloak. The guard on the gatekeep toppled a 6-stone [4] rock onto Kamoar's head but it split when it struck his helm and left him unmarked.

Then there was a scream from the main keep, more rage than anything else. Shortly, Kamoar's spirit hound came into sight dragging a young, well-dressed man, down the street. Guards hacked furiously at the spirit, but to no avail. When he reached Kamoar, the hound dissipated and released King Yalvann from its jaws. The king turned a face, purple in rage, upon his guards and Kamoar. "What in all the hells in going on!?!" he roared. Kamoar, still seated in the roadway, replied that he had been sent by Argrath to speak with him. "Which Argrath," the king demanded. Kamoar replied that he was the Dragonking's sworn man and that he wished to speak with the king. "Well, alright, don't bother to ask first, just drag me from my home. By all means, come on in and let us speak with one another!" the king screamed.

With that, King Yalvann led the way back to his hall where he shouted at a servant to get him some clothes that had not been ripped apart by a ghost-dog. He slammed himself into his high seat and gestured at Kamoar to begin. "I have come to liberate your lands from the red-men of the Empire." The king replied that his lands were free. Kamoar spoke then of Elkoi but King Yalvann replied that he cared naught for that citadel. Then Kamoar spoke of seeking to unify Balazar and raising a host of mercenaries to fight against the Sairdites. King Yalvann replied thusly: "I will not swear fealty to any high king. I like my sovereignty and no clansman with airs is going to tell me what to do in my own citadel. I may want to help you in your wars if the price is right, but it would be foolish in the extreme to get involved in Imperial affairs until Elkoi has been freed - that is why Elkoi was occupied in the first place, they were raiding the Holayans. I have a powerful host with over 100 fighting men, so I can defend myself from the Empire quite well and I don't need your help." Kamoar replied that he had nye upon two thousands of men ready to support the king by freeing Elkoi. King Yalvann replied harsly, "I have no interest in an alliance with you nor with your master. I am not interested in your wars. You may meet my people at my borders if you wish to discuss trade. Good day."

And with that Kamoar was led from the citadel and the gates were firmly closed behind him.

At about the same time, on Dark Day, the Deathsword Lothar assaulted the Reaching Moon Temple. Warwyrm Dragonfriend sent three regiments of axemen, a phalanx and a regiment of archers from the Army of Dragon Pass. Lothar led his two-hundred-man regiment of Humakti killers while Sigmund the Stormhurler rode along with his Breakers warband. Warwyrm's mercenaries, Sir Narandaras' Company accompanied them for magical support. All counted, there were some six thousand attackers.

The temple was less fortified than the Tarshite one had been with walls to the height of 4 men and a ditch to the height of one. Lothar noted that the walls were not a perfect square as the Tarshite had been and thus probably were not blessed with a grounding affect to defeat Orlanthing raiders. The Edge Sisters, a warband of Yanafal Tarnils warrioresses led by Yarina Double-Death, defended the complex as well as the usual garrison of Yara Aranis Horse Eaters and a small militia force - all tolled there were some six hundred defenders.

Rather than try an escalade, Lothar had his archers sweep the pitiful few defenders from the walls and Sigmund stepped forth with his warband. They chanted their prayers and hurled volley after volley of thunderstones at the gates. When the gates and the towers beside them crumbled Sigmund turned to Lothar and spoke, "Prisoners?" Lothar shook his head. Sigmund turned to the host and shouted, "NO MERCY!" and followed Lothar into the complex. They were met by a ragged shield wall inside the breach while a magical battle raged over their heads and Sigmund and his band hurled thunder stones at the temple.

We needs now mention that when Lothar accepted Humakt's blessings and became a disciple of his Grim Lord, the gathered sword brothers heaped gifts upon him. The most impressive was a suit of Aeoling iron plate armour that had Efrodar-blessings upon it to turn missiles. The suit was handsomely crafted and engraved with scenes from Humakt's mythology. He had also found that he newly awakened blades cut deeper and faster than they had in the past, the swords gleamed with the power of Humakt and were difficult for a normal man to even look at so imbued were they with Death.

Well Lothar had cause to smile coldly as he charged into the complex ignoring the arrows and javelins that recoiled from his armour. He ran at the tip of a Humakti wedge with his Hundred-Thanes at his back and his Ten-Thanes behind them.

Lothar charged straight at Yarina Double-Death and made to strike her upon the head. But the lunar champion stood her ground swirling her twin scimitars about her in an esoteric battle pattern that the Humakti had never seen before and stopped Lothar's attack cold. His wedge split about him and smashed the shieldwall behind Yarina before continuing into the complex slaughtering all before them.

Lothar stepped back and peered at Yarina, silently for he was geas-bound to utter no word on Dark Day. She assumed a fighting stance and prepared for her inevitable death. Lothar nodded curtly at her bravery and launched himself at her with a furious assault. He stuck high at her face and low at her knees. He hewed at her left arm and at her right drawing blood with every slash and forcing her back with relentless power. For moments she rallied using the magics of the Moon to aid her in the face of her doom but it was to no avail. Finally, Lothar struck out with the Five Stroke Death and finished the contest for he knew her mystical parry this time. His blade Deathbringer cut through her left arm and landed upon her left thigh taking off the leg. His blade Severance passed through her right wrist and landed upon her other thigh taking off that leg. Then he pivoted on his heel brought his melded blades down on her neck and struck off her head before her legless body could strike the ground.

Silently, Lothar invoked the Severer's blessings over the corpse but the Shepelkirt soul of Yarina struggled mightily with Lothar's magic and triumphed, turning back death as Tarnils had once turned back the stroke of Humakt himself. She leapt back to life and stood ready to fight once more. Furious at her defiance of the Ender, Lothar attacked the Bent-blade once anon. He drove her back and back shattering her swords and rending her tunic. She ducked and dodged and fought like a Fury to stay alive but finally succumbed to his relentless and silent assault. This time the blessing took and the lunar stayed dead. The battle between the champions had lasted nearly half of an hour.

When Lothar looked up from his battle, the fight for the complex had ended, the looting was finished and Sigmund had already smashed the temple with an endless barrage of Thunderstones that cracked the crimson dome and shattered the sculpted columns. Lothar's battalion stood around him waiting for his struggle to end watching every sword stroke in awe of their heroic leader.

In Aggar, Argrath Stormchaser, king of the free Aggari, summoned his fyrds to Massassakar. He arrayed his host and led them into the lands of the Bad-King Rascius. His army included some 4,000 Imperial-trained highlanders, 1,000 Impeiral-trained shieldwall troops, 3,000 of Sota's phalangites, 500 of Sota's light horse, 2,000 Skanthi warriors led by Orog Ox-Breaker, 1,000 javelineers from Ormsgone, a further 2,000 highlanders and 8,000 fyrdmen - including some 1,600 huscarls. Marching with the Aggarings were some 4,000 fanatics from the Righteous Wind, Sota's personal priest-guard and Argrath Stormchaser's personal band. Including the Tarsh Light Foot and the regiment of archers from the Army of Dragon Pass, there were more than 27,000 fighters.

The host smashed its way through the Jonrys and Drendip tribal lands before passing into Magaliland plundering the harvest and burning the fields as they passed. Word came to them that the army of Lunar Aggar was gathered ahead of them, led not by King Rascius but by his fearless and deadly Yanafali Walord, Sandor Redsword.

About the time that Lothar was finishing his battle, Argrath Dragonking was riding into Filichet at the head of his elite Storm Dragon Guards atop his skybull, Viga-Holstein. He wore his finest Kralori-silk shirt under his armour tunic and a bright green cotton cloak from Esrolia. His gold-chased helm flashed in the sunlight and his arms were heavy in gold and tin bands. Viga-Holstein was clad about in tin barding - a gift from High King Maniskisson. Argrath was followed by his picked champions and among them there was enough gold and silver to buy the entire Lake Quarter of Filichet.

The city was large, greater than Boldhome in population by twice as many and more beautiful that Furthest ever was with its Holayan architecture. Queen Karsalla was a great Queen who had seen her people grow wealthy and comfortable, her city shone with its wealth. Now dark times had come, Dragonking would be needed.

King Dragonfriend rode to the Palace and there he was greeted by his wife Voydag Throatslicer and by Queen Karsalla. Standing with the queen was the beautiful Inkarne, a girl of nine summers, and Argrath's betrothed. Argrath greeted the women well and was greeted well in return - except by Inkarne who was a little snotty - and then a little unsettled when Urzak Long-Tooth, one of Argrath's great-troll guards, smiled hungrily at her.

Well the party passed into Karsalla's palace and they were seated in the great hall. Queen Karsalla and King Dragonfriend sat on the high seat with the Queen's councillors arrayed to her left and Argrath's to his right. King Dragonfriend gifted his wife well and thanked her for her loyal service. He gifted Queen Karsalla and then gifted Inkarne with an engraving of the muse Leonadras Dikaprios.

Then they spoke of the situation in Holay. Queen Karsalla told how there would be no opposition until Argrath's host passed into northern Holay. She then told how King Ingkotarm had left a small host to hold the Daughter's Keep in Filichet but that it was insufficient to properly defend the keep. Argrath brought up several regiments of his shield walls and threw them at the walls sweeping the defenders aside like so much grain.


The map[1] See the Intelligence Summary and Map.
[2] See the order of battle for the Army of Dragon Pass.
[3] Nandan the Birthing Man was the Orlanthi god of women born into men's bodies.
[4] 1 stone = 14 lbs.




 


 


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November 21, 2002

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