Poryatu - Evening
Aldrakar Renodin - Just after the battle in Poryatu
Stepping away from the walls Aldrakar cast his gaze towards the figure of Lady Ciarghuala. He flashes a grin that's still white despite his advancing years. Some white has started to mingle with his golden, half long hair and under his clothing one could be certain he no longer looked like the young god he once did during his prime. Today there still remained a steadfast physique that bespoke of hard training and innate good breeding. Although marked by the scars of war.
Fancy seeing you here. His eyes laughed as behind him the fields were strewn with arrows, javelins and the corpses of dozens of monsters and undead.
Ciarghuala paced the battlements, her young squire Synne hurrying to keep up as her pen furiously scratched notes in a battered leather-bound journal, every detail caught by the Grand Panetier's critical eye recorded for subsequent action. The curtain wall encircling the bailey was chipped and battered, the stones slick with blood and ichor, but the damage was largely superficial. Ciarghuala had expected much worse.
For several days the horde's outriders had probed the castle's defences, each time being decisively routed by the pickets before they could reach the walls. However it was only a matter of time before the main horde struck, the liche lord Eotenwald and his warband drawn from the hill-tribes of the South Divide thundering amidst the raucous drums and skirling voices of their backwoods priests, and all about them noisome revenants and leering chthonic horrors, hungry for manflesh to slake their soulless anguish.
That morning the Margravine presided over a stoic war conference with her captain Septinia and Kimball and Audley, the captains of the town militia. None of them were under any illusions as to the likely outcome of a direct assault, but they were each of them professional soldiers as were the troopers serving under them. Plans were put into effect with calm efficiency and a grim dignity settled on the garrison, the determination to sell their lives dearly.
When the banners of Duke Aldrakar and his bodyguard hove into sight a collective cheer went up from the walls and the townsfolk crowded around the castle gates to greet them with food and ale. Ciarghuala allowed herself a wry smile as the Imperial Magistrate rode through the gate, pleased to have the Imperial Magistrate's support and yet painfully aware that even combined their forces would be outnumbered two to one. The Kingdom of Earth's Hall would be sorely tested but they would not - could not - fail the Emperor's trust.
A tense day turned from bright sunshine to gloom as clouds streamed in from the west, and beneath them the subsonic hum of the horde grew by steady steps through quiet murmurs and distant discord to a full-throated cacophony of hatred. When the assault came close to nightfall it was without guile or deceit, like the storm-fuelled waters of a great ocean sweeping inland.
The ensuing battle raged for two long, bloody hours, flight after flight of black shafts forcing their way through the strong headwinds with deadly accuracy, the bodies of unnatural things mounting against the walls as Eotenwald's foot soldiers - careless of their own lives - prepared the way for their deathless lord's assault. The thrum of bowstrings was joined by the clash of steel against bones like stone and flesh like leather as Ciarghuala herself took Eotenwald's head.
As the remnants of the horde broke and scattered, she'd turned to the Duke and presented him with the trophy, one more amongst the many hundreds the Rangers had taken since their inception.