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The Vengeance of Vungharesh

- Martin Laurie

The First Assault

The first great assaults on the city began in the summer when the ground had dried and much work had been done on the siege lines. Massive Onagers and Trebuchets hurled flaming munitions into the city while the Magi strove to nullify some of the imposing defensive magics on the wall. They seemed to achieve a temporary success and five immense siege towers rumbled forward.

The great Carmanian heroes led the attack with their Darjiini allies and a host of Khorguz nomad archers providing cover.

Five regiments attack, one from each tower. The towers stand twenty-five meters high with Balliastae atop and covered in hides and padding to resist missiles.

The Bulls Heart, Kadash of the elite Bisekar Guard Regiment leads his warriors onto the walls from the mighty siege towers pushed forth by the potency of hundred of Earth Bulls.

On the other towers come the Darjiini Sons of Haranshold, four regiments of assault troops formed to avenge the massacre, all hungry for blood.

Blood is what they found. The Bisekar Guard forced its way onto the Green wall while their magics countered the wardings and their own dark natures saved them from withering under the dread drumbeat of Shargash's immanence.

The Darjiini were not so fortunate. They set foot on the wall and died by the hundred.

A hundred exploded with emerald flame sent with a wave of the hand by the Green King who guarded his wall jealously.

A hundred more were torn apart by the ghosts of their own sacrificed dead, bound to the will of the Lords of Ash.

A hundred more were crushed by the manifestation of Gundharesh, an ancient Darjiini war spirit from the river. He was bound as a demon to the Black king and took the form of a gigantic bipedal alligator. Gundharesh snapped and struck eating its way through a heap of its kin while roaring in agony at the torture of betrayal it endured in the name of obedience.

A hundred more died under the maces of their ancestral enemy who marched to the beat of the "We hate Darjiini Usurpers" Drum and tore their foes apart with their bare hands to swallow their bloody flesh in great steaming gulps of frenzy.

Within a short span of Yelm's journey the Darjiini ran screaming from the wall no exhortation could bring them back. When brave Derondum the Spear Hero of Dorkath attempted to slay Gundharesh, with his flaming spear and radiant might of Yelm, he was smothered by the gloom of the Lord of Dark Paths and eaten with the hunger of the Devourer. His soul was never to be seen in the Light of Yelm again.

Only the Bull Guard endured though they lost half their strength in the retreat. Those who survived the terrors of the wall swore on their magical bull hide shields, that they would set foot no more upon the green wall of death unless the Magi tamed the terrible magics of their foes.

Kadash Bullsheart gained great fame that day among the hosts of Carmania. He stood against Vungharesh, Red King of Alkoth and matched spear to mace, shield to shield and did not die under the Red Kings utter fury. ThatKadash survived with only four broken limbs was considered a great feat of fortitude. That he wounded his foe spoke highly of his skill. That he managed to move off the wall with no aid or succour showed the strength of his Carmanian heroism.

Yet the cunning of his Spolite mother was in him too and fully revealed when he showed the gathered heroes of the army and his Shah, the remains of the Sunthi-toad poison smeared upon his spearhead. With a smile of sharp whiteness he spoke of the thrust that would have ended the life of Vungharesh. Just a shallow wound that would be no more than a scratch to the mighty warrior but with the poison, it would be fatal even for one such as Vungharesh. For a time there was rejoicing in the Carmanian camp and much largesse and recognition went Kadash's way.

The Alkothi response was typical and soon came to be feared. As night fell Vungharesh came forth leading a thousand warriors. Every one was a citizen of the city or a slave given the chance to live with Shargash in the underworld if they but shrugged of their fleshy form.

Every one of them had seen the power of Senderesh and had joined the "Kill You" Regiment. Each wore black with a mask like a red skull. They carried a mace in each hand thinking not of defence or the fear of death but only the rending of their enemies. Though their clothing was just sack and cloth, it repulsed weapons like the finest platemail. Vungharesh led them and his face was blue with death from the poisons in him yet he roared his battle cry with undiminished frenzy. "Death is us!" He cried and his shout of ending was echoed by a thousand mouths.

Out they came from the Flayers gate. Out they came as a torrent and though the peltasts and archers of the Korghuz showered them with missiles, the charge did not falter until the Kill You warriors smashed into the Darjiini contingent. They were camped on a low hill to lick their wounds from the slaughter on the wall that day. But they would get no rest that eve. One after another the Kill You sacrificial warriors died but as each fell so too did one of their foes until more than a thousand had died for a thousand Alkothi.

Only Vungharesh remained striding among the burning tents and siege lines of his foe. A hundred arrows stuck from his body and armour, a dozen wounds lay open but none bled for Vungharesh had sent his soul on to Shargash when his body died of the poisons of Kadash. His body fought with the memory of his anger and the power of the Dark Way guided by his Will from beyond the wall of Death.

Vungharesh searched the camps of his foes like a crimson rent in existence looking for the coward who poisoned him. Kadash was brave but not foolish and stayed away from this funeral apparition and sent the grim soldiers of the True Death Humakti company from Jonatela to bring down his foe.

The Humakti struck at the corpse-like Red King with sword and magic, calling on their god to end his undeath and bring his body to rest. Only after Vungharesh had slain half their number did Reynal Blackblade, a giant Jonanting warrior, decapitate the lich with his magical iron greatsword.

Even then the headless body of Vungharesh swung its weapons wildly, striking down more of the Humakti. Finally they pounded it down and bound it with ropes and cords of leather. The body was then hacked to pieces. The pieces were hacked to pieces and the pieces of the pieces were fed to the dogs. When the dogs had eaten their fill and all of Vungharesh was gone then they too were hacked to pieces. Their pieces were burnt and the ashes were collected together and then pounded into a dust and the dust was scattered all over the land and the river and in the air so that Vungharesh who was dead would never rise to slay again. Such was the terror that he instilled in his foes and in the heart of Kadash who had poisoned him so foully. Yet Vungharesh would return with the spirit of vengeance burning bright in his people and the maces of his warriors.

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September 11, 2000

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