- 1 1st December
- 2 5th December
- 3 5th December
- 4 7th December
- 5 12th December
- 6 14th December
- 7 18th December
- 8 19th December
- 9 20th December
- 10 25th December
- 11 26th December
- 12 30th December
Summer Day -- Askileon
Tyra had been drinking and eating at a local inn, trying to teach Alya and Edelyn to play Skat. Alya, almost 16 now, was proving to be quite a decent opponent, but Edelyn managed to get the basic rules well enough to make it fun to trick her.
When a messenger announced Goriad's arrival, the Countess put away the cards and got the girls moving. She was as savage as ever, side braids barely keeping the wild hair away from her face, wearing light chainmail over her blue tunic, sword and axe belted to her side, the Bluelake crest on her shoulders.
"We're going to meet him, then I'll have to talk to him in secrecy, to hash out an agreement. This means Alya will take Edelyn back to our quarters... No sidetracking like in Flowrestown, ok?"
"Yes, Miss Warrior. Understood."
"Good. Now let's see where he's setting up camp."
As he entered the main town Goriad was informed that Tyra had set up camp at the edge of the town and without delay he moved towards the described location. His entire retinue save for 5 scouts and 6 soldiers were sent to occupy the west wing of the Lordly estate while he rode towards Tyra on horseback.
The scouts quickly moved ahead on horseback as well and reached the Countess before Goriad and the soldiers did, whom were by foot. They would announce his arrival to the Countess.
"Milady, Ambassador Goriad shall arrive shortly," one of the scouts said after he dismounted and made a quick bow to the rugged looking Countess. He had seen her several times before on the previous trips so knew well who to address.
Tyra smirked at the scout and nodded. "Very well, then. We'll wait for him inside."
Pointing at the tavern with her head. The scout made a face which he quickly hid, much for Tyra's amusement. Alya interfered. "Lady Tyra, what if we meet him here and take him back to camp? A Lord and Ambassador in a tavern..."
Tyra chuckled. "So what do you take me for?"
"Well, you're trying to teach us life lessons." Even little Edelyn nodded at that. The countess smiled warmly. She liked those two.
"Ok, we can meet him outside and walk back to our camp."
It wasn't long before Goriad rode in, his horse marching to match the fast pace of his eleven men retinue. Alya had been waiting by Tyra's side on the easy warrior resting stance, but Edelyn had been looking for bugs and critters on the roadside.
Tyra was slowly waking Alya up to paying attention to people, and Alya's more analytical mind would sometimes beat her own. She looked forward to what the teen would see in Goriad. With a whistle, she warned Edelyn to come close, and the 8 year old joined them, holding a huge bug on her little hands.
Goriad was pompous as ever. The countess greeted him with a slightly mocking curtsy as the middle aged man stopped his horse before them.
"Lord Goriad. Please greet Dame Alya, who you already know, and Dame Edelyn, my new ward from house Luitolf. Edelyn, please come forward and introduce yourself."
As the fellish dismounted, the girl stepped forward with a curtsy, not too badly made. "Milord Goriad, I greet you, Miss Edelyn Luitolf, catcher of bugs, heir of Lord and Praetor Ansil Luitolf from Luria Ferrata."
Goriad smiled as he saw the little girl approach him and make her courtsy. "It is an honor to meet you, catcher of bugs. I am afraid I have yet to have had the pleasure to meet your father, but I can tell your bow is already more skilled than that of your warden." He dismounted his horse as he continued to speak. "Dame Alya, it has been a while. You seem to grow taller with each passing moon. Perhaps you shall rise as tall as your father one day yet," he said as he made a small bow towards the young woman.
As he finished he turned his eyes towards Tyra "Your family seems to grow by the day," as a smirk showed upon his face, "Milady" he quickly added as he shortly nodded towards the Countess. "Now let me see what you captured little hunter," he continued as he turned back to Edelyn. "I am afraid I will have to travel to the capital of Swordfell, but I can promise there will be many creatures there if you want to see them."
They had arrived just before sunset, first the scouts and herald with Goriad and Tyra, sharing his horse, then the carriage with the girls and the rest of his retinue.
Goriad helped the countess down, though she leaped confidently, when her legs hit the ground they felt like butter, and he had to hold her steady. She had grinned then, and all the way through her bath and readying of her wards for dinner.
Now, they were all set up, waiting to be summoned. Tyra on her beautiful blue tunic, lined in silver for the Bluelake crest, with a silver fox trim on her shoulders matching the wild blond hair, braided on one side. The only ornament was a white agate rose on her hair. Alya, the teenager, wore her blonde hair in braids, and a fine purple dress. Edelyn, the eight year old, looked angelical in her white dress and red ribbon. Tyra chuckled at the sight of them. The day they volunteered to wear tunics to social occasions would be the day she'd think her job was done.
After several hours of riding from Flow to Flowrestown, Goriad felt a little excitement in him. When they arrived near the city Tyra insisted that she would prepare for dinner along with the girls and so he offered them a place in the palace to freshen up and as he walked by the palace guards he gave them a gold coin each "Make sure the Countess has all the hot water and space she requires. She is an honored guest of the realm as an official emissary. Make sure she is treated as such." He paused as they reached the hallway which would split their ways, he shortly breezed her back with his hand to her lower back before he pulled it back "I will see you in three hours...milady"
Before he entered his room he called together his own scouts "I want you to get me something within the next 3 hours, hurry." He smiled as he prepared himself. He had waited a long time for Tyra's answer and although he had believed he would no longer get it, she gave it to him. He was only 12 when he had his son and far too young to take care of him, but he could not help how he would have turned out had he tried, had he not sent him to his brother. Perhaps he could do better now.
He insisted on escorting his guests himself and was pleased to see his scouts managed to get what he asked them for. And so he found himself near their door with a small glass cage in his left hand as he knocked the door with his right. As Tyra opened the door however he saw all three of them standing, perfectly made up and he almost felt foolish, yet he smiled nonetheless "Lady bugcatcher, I have a gift for you. It will only hold one of them however, so you must treasure your greatest hunt." As he gave the cage to Edelyn, he turned to to Alya next. "And for you princess I have this," he said as he pulled out a golden ring, ornated with a black stone. "Upon my return to Dwilight this ring was gifted to me by the only Lord at the time worthy of my loyalty and I want you to have it."
He paused for a moment as he handed the ring to the young woman, "As for you dear Countess, I have another gift for you, but it shall have to wait untill after dinner. Now if you three beautiful ladies will follow me, I shall escort you to dinner myself."
Edelyn had been marveled at the glass cage and promised to catch the most beautiful little beast for it. Alya accepted her gift gracefully, but unable to hide a shocked expression. The teen had suspected Goriad knew who her father was from his previous comment, and now she followed his line of thought to... It couldn't be. She'd have to ask Tyra later. But Tyra was only paying attention to the fellish, old enough to be their father... The girl shrugged and put on her dinner face, practicing a smile like she had seen the ambassador do.
When they entered the dining hall, the herald announced a nobleman already present within. Goriad had warned her of another noble guest, and she was quick to step forward.
"Greetings, Sir Orion, I'm Tyra Thunderborn, envoy from Luria Ferrata. How do you like being at the service of Swordfell so far?" The countess spoke, her pale blue eyes piercing him as if searching his soul.
Behind her, she could almost feel Goriad, and recalled her own chagrin when she had admitted to him she couldn't ride.
Orion snapped to attention and bowed slightly at the waist "I am am honored to make your acquaintance mi'lady." he said straightening.
"How do I like the service? Well, I have to admit, the raid by the undead the earlier today produced the most impressive arrow display I have ever seen."
He grinned "it was nice to wait for the undead in the shade!"
Tyra chuckled at the knight, giving him an appreciative look. "Even better than that, Sir Orion, is to be ahead of the arrows, finding the beasts before the archers can get to them... finding them with blades rather than arrowheads." She turned to the two girls and introduced them as well. "These are Dame Alya" the 16 year old courtsied, then it was the eight year old's turn "and little Dame Edelyn, my wards from Luria. Dame Alya has been imprisoned by monsters with me, and Dame Edelyn has followed the old Beluaterran tradition of training swordskill with a defanged, declawed beast... so I'm hoping they'll enjoy the sword as well as I do."
Goriad stepped forward to take the role of host, and the countess's eyes took a moment to appraise him. She didn't know if it was the horse ride or the fact that she had only had women for a whole month, but he looked... good. Even better than the tasty youngling before them. She almost didn't mind the formal clothing.
Goriad first let Tyra and the girls introduce themselves before he himself stepped forward "Sir Orion, it is an honor to meet you in the flesh. Watching such a hail from the shadows is a mighty event, especially the first time. But it shall not be the last time you see these undead and at times they will come closer than you would like. Those of us old enough to remember the western hordes will attest to it, but there is also excitement in meeting such creatures face to face and test your skills. Do not be fooled by the countess' lovely appearance here, with a sword in hand she can be quite dangerous. Not all is always as it seems to be, but please join me and sit down."
As he spoke those words he could not help but remember her question "If it is an heir you want, I can still sleep with women, right?" He shortly shook his head "This woman is to smart and wild for her own good," he thought, "it's why she's perfect." His ideas of love, marriage and women had been warped throughout the years and for the last decades he had no longer cared for his purpose laid elsewhere. This changed when a trader from the island of Beluaterra arrived with stories. It was not uncommon for Goriad to entertain traders and provide food and wealth and so he hosted a party for traders. One story was greater than the next, until a trader turned to Goriad "Milord, so your name is Goriad? Weren't you King in the south of Beluaterra?" and as the trader finished he was corrected by his captain "No you fool, that is Goriad II and I wouldn't come near him. I heard he's some sadistic nutcase, he is nothing like the gracious Lord here..." he had then turned to Goriad "Again milord, we are humble and grateful for your invitation." Goriad had looked upon them that day and asked them for more, only to be told that his son had died. He knew the stories, of what they had become but a part of him had never believed it. But to hear of his death had changed him again, it had made his own fate, his own legacy to be left for the vultures.
A smile returned to his face as he looked at his guests and he motioned them towards the table and each had a separate waiter to pull away their chairs and another set to bring the appetizers. "My friends should always be treated well," he said with a smile.
It was a pleasant dinner with Sir Orion, the wards and Lord Goriad. They talked of the military and tactics, of monsters and particular kinds of fauna found in Swordfell, Alya and Edelyn behaved and chatted splendidly. Tyra was happy, but also a little distracted all night. The horse ride had been... Interesting.
They had decided on terms, sure, there would be an heir, as long as Tyra could give it away after the second year, she would commit to breastfeeding that long, but he'd have it afterwards... Until the child was 6 years old, then Tyra would get involved again. That hadn't been the interesting part, though. For the first time she hadn't been afraid on a horse, and holding on to Goriad had been quite pleasant. She had hoped they would stop and execute the contract right then, but Goriad, of course, wished to do it formally. Tyra had the feeling she was being teased with, but he was always so cerimonial she couldn't be sure. He would touch her, somewhat intimately, or give her a warm look... then turn back to his plate or talk to the guests as if nothing had happened. It was infuriating.
The dinner finally came to an end, however, and the countess put her wards to bed. Skipping like a child, she went straight to Goriad's quarters. Time to make an heir. Then the next day, they would travel.
Summer Evening -- Askileon
As Tyra had moved to put her wards to bed, Goriad himself moved towards his room. He had not wanted to consummate their arrangement on the road with her wards present, but perhaps more so it provided him some time. It had been over two decades since Goriad had last been with a women and in time he had no longer even felt the lust to be among them. There had been greater concerns in his life, but ever since the news of his son and his time with Tyra he had felt a sensation once more and now she would soon arrive. It was now perhaps for the first time in many years that Goriad had felt some tension and uncertainty.
After a few minutes of hesitation Goriad finally decided to remove his official robes and replaced them with the more comfortable robes he had worn during their last training match a year ago. It would be about 15 more minutes after that before Tyra knocked on his door. He had spent them in an uneasy waiting, pacing from door to bed and back. When she knocked on the door he jumped up from his bed, but then calmed himself a bit again. It was almost like he was a young man again, but he had to become focused again, there were important matters at stake.
He took a short moment to regain his composure as he walked towards his door to open it. She entered, still looking beautiful in her blue tunic. Goriad was uncertain what to say and so instead didn't say a word, but rather took her hand and pulled her towards him. He kissed her before she could respond much as he pulled her tight. He turned her around towards his bed and just before he pushed her upon it he tore her tunic open breaking some of the cords holding the tunic together.
Summer Evening -- Askileon
Alessio de Medici
As the festivities drew to a close, the Emperor was crowned with a new Imperial Diadem, one that was forged to last eras. With it, he was given a sword, its hilt jewelled and almost appearing to be a chimaera, wrapping itself just past the upper hilt. It was not made for war, only decoration. After his ascent, he wrapped up his announcements:
"I have already said much about my plans for the wider Luria, but I have not spoke of my plans close to home. I announce that my two daughters will soon be marrying. Lena de Medici shall wed Praetor Ansil Luitolf, and Lisa de Medici shall wed King Donald Augustus Allan. Festivities will commence after their return from the west."
With such, an applause commenced and the Emperor (and his family) retired into their quarters. The party died down and soon the Medici Estate grew quiet. The next morning perhaps arguably the middle of the night, Andrea had her waters break - the physician no doubt had things taken care of.
For much of the labour, the Emperor was preoccupied in giving individual leaving soldiers his blessing, only returning in the last moments for his fifth child to be born, though first in the purple.
Summer Evening -- Askileon
Sevastian leaned against a sailing aboard the deck of the Aetherium, his mother's infamous ship. The salty spray of the sea invigorated him, and he breathed it in deeply. Sevastian turned, and smiled at his mother, who had been watching him.
"The Stars are Dark, my son, and the Auspicious is superior." The old woman spoke gently, her crimson robes gently flapping in the wind. She approached and put a gentle hand on Sevastian's face.
"So too were they went I went West. How times have changed. I went as a fugitive, and now my son sails as a liberator. I am proud of you." She said, beaming up at her son.
Sevastian smiled and took her hand in his.
"The Empire prevails, and with your continued guidance will prosper again..." Sevastian trailed off, looking out at the other ships in the fleet.
"And upon the backs of these men, our enemies will know the heavy price they will pay in opposing the Empire. If we ourselves are willing to pay so dearly, they cannot hope to prevail. Read the signs for me mother."
Jonsu nodded, and fetched a few items. A knife, a dove of purest white, a bowl and a white cloth. She cut the bird's throat, and let it bleed into the bowl, before flinging the blood onto the cloth.
"Most auspicious..." she mused, studying the pattern.
Government of Zuma Coalition Reformed
The government of Zuma Coalition has been reformed. The realm is now a Tyranny.
Summer Evening -- Askileon
Alessio de Medici
Arriving in Giask, the Emperor met his family at the docks in sight of his family home - he looked up to the spire, where he knew his infant daughter laid.
His darling Andrea, just days after giving birth. His daughters, Lena and Lisa, his young son Michelangelo. Perhaps this would be the last time that he would see them, he had thought. Thought that never again would he feel the warm embrace of his family who he had worked so hard and delivered for. Not even three years ago, he was a lesser noble merchant in Giask - now, he was an Emperor.
"My darling Emperor, do not go," begged Andrea, "I cannot lose you, not yet." She had practically thrown himself at his feet, as he crouched, placing his hands on her shoulders.
"I will be back. Lena, take care of your mother. Lisa, ensure the babies are okay. I will be back, alive, with knowledge that no man has known before and may never get another chance to learn. I could not turn this down."
With which, he stepped onto his family ship, the Chimaera. Aboard were supplies loaded up not just for the travel, but gifts for the Zuma - fabrics, wines, jewels, weapons, though no gold. A light wagon would carry it, pulled by a lone steed.
It was time to depart and hopefully not for the final time.
Summer Day -- Sallowscape Drift
Tyra Andrasta Bluelake
They had been travelling together for two weeks now, Goriad, Tyra, the Luitolf and Renodin wards, soldiers, rangers, the whole entourage. The Lurians countess had been riding double with him during the day, but when they stopped for the evening, the fellish lord would put her alone in a saddle. At first, it had been as scary as when she was a child, but now, the height seemed smaller, the control seemed plausible, the horse seemed... tame. She was impressed enough that she had started thinking about what other beasts could be tamed to obey with a piece of steel and some leather strips. Goriad and Alya had shaken their heads, but little Edelyn jumped right into it. Soon the girl had a small bestiary where she would add information about all monsters who might be interesting to ride. They started making plans on their spare time.
The trip was pleasant and Tyra felt free. The contract with Goriad was proving... Advantageous. He was teaching her much about ambassadorial work, courtly etiquette, discretion, even when he didn't notice it, and in return she was showing him all sorts of ways to have fun. Not only in bed - though she did that too, sometimes allowing him to be pushy like that first time, sometimes being in charge herself, at times having just good natured fun mid-ride, other times having him desperately in the middle of the night after a nightmare - but also as a companion, with songs and card games, with teasing and competition.
Goriad tended to solemnity, and the three noblewomen had started a contest to make him laugh. Some days, none of them managed, but when they did, they gifted token prizes to the winner. Tyra teased him for being spoiled, but truth is, he was spoiling her too. When he wasn't calling her Lady or offering her his very courteous and irritating hand, he sought her, casually touched her, his eyes made promises, and she didn't lack for anything. She kind of missed sleeping under the stars, though...
Summer Day -- Sea of Silence
Alessio de Medici
The Emperor's journey across the continent had neared its end, at least if he were to meet his final fate here. No doubt some, perhaps many, suspected such an ending - more likely, however, this was only the beginning of the journey to learn. Learn more about the mysterious Zuma. He knew they had eight eyes, speak his same tongue, and he knew never to pledge something he could not deliver. However, he knew he had at least something to deliver - some fabric, some wine, art, a small few trinkets. Perhaps the display of art would mean he could see Zuma art. More importantly, however, he had a gamble with his final gift - a scroll of banishing.
How such would be received, he would find out on the coming days. With luck, he would arrive in Nightmarch this evening and begin his meetings with the Daimons.
Summer Evening -- Sea of Silence
Alessio de Medici
The path was blocked and so the evening arrival planned was not going to be so. But he would surely arrive at sunrise.
Autumn Evening -- Demyansk
Mastraacht listened to the banter being thrown from one noble to the next with disinterest. Unsheathing his old falx, he put a wetstone to the long blade. Soon enough the killing would begin and the words would be lost in the haze of spilled blood and the buzz of flies around fresh corpses, and the only sound that mattered then was the cries of the wounded and soon-to-be dead.
Such a grand battle, so far from home. The only problem was, this is not at all what Anastas had imagined. The blood and death surrounding him, this is the first time he had killed fellow men. Monsters, all the time, men not at all. There did not seem to be much glory here. Celebrating with his men before battle and all getting very drunk he now looked around and saw 5 of his men dead. Especially devastating, was seeing his friend Henry dead. The man he had got to know so well during the journey and drunk with on so many nights. Across the sea at home his kids and wife were waiting for a father and husband they would never see again. As his men started to go through the bodies of friend and foe he stood there mostly in shock. Hundreds if not thousands of miles from home, across an ocean, this is not what he had pictured. His nights of drunken escapades seemed silly now, in this land of death. Calling his captain he ordered a proper funeral pyre be made for the men not coming home. He went to find the wood himself. Swearing to himself to never take war as fun joke again. The funeral was set for that night. After setting up the pyre he went to call on his fellow nobles. To determine the next steps and apologize for his actions before now. This war surly still has a long way to go
Garimberto's shook his head. The battle was decidedly one-sided. He hoped that such a travesty would never happen again.
The Westgardians held the field for as long as the could, but they broke and ran under the onslaught of Luria's cavalry charge. There was nothing a band of archers and special forces could do against hundreds of hooves pounding through their ranks. It was an understandable reaction. In fact, Garimberito was surprised that they held their ground as long as they did.
As the Westgardians fled, many left their weapons and armor laying on the ground. The dead also remained with what equipment wasn't damaged. Garimberto's ordered his men to scrounge what they could. Garimberito didn't join them, as it was far to dirty a task and his clothes were too expensive to ruin with mud.
Once his men returned, heartened after the battle, he ordered them to hunt the fleeing Westgardians. It was not a task he relished for his men, but it was incredibly important that as many enemies be captured or killed before they rallied.
This was a sad day indeed.
The Sunset War of Demyansk - Part 1
Battle was not something that drove, Kiran though it may have been the way his family had previously made their existence prior to being able to attain an estate. He had a twenty-seven strong cavalry retinue alongside him and knew very well it was likely to be a devastating battle for himself and his forces. He did not expect to be bringing many of his mercenaries out of this one and had thusly paid them handsomely for the risk and danger that could be inflicted on the battlefield that coming evening.
The day would be spent keeping the horse's reasonably fresh, it was to be Kiran's first proper battle commanding cavalry. Though he had spent time researching the art of cavalry, you needed risk to truly grow but with risk came caskets. Spending much of the day dispatching missive's by scouts of reports and information, they had successfully gathered while being able to gain intelligence by remaining the only coalition forces within the Demyansk region before the sunrise. Kiran hoped it would give them an advantage that they needed to outplay the Westgardian field tactics. Captain Ernst would hopefully gain experience but Kiran had hoped he would be able to spend more time in training with the retinue before this day. Ernst was inexperienced and a battle of this scale was to be a new thing even for Kiran.
It would be as the sun set that Kiran would go to battle with these men. Adorning armour that wouldn't in truth appear truly "noble" a mixture of chain and scalemail, monster leather, hide and bone. In truth, any material that could be used to form protection, rather than indulging his gold in magical equipment. Kiran had sought knowledge as at least in his view knowledge was the greatest weapon one could have. One could only hope that the horse's would remain calm come the battle after all by nature they were skittish creatures....
Night would roll closer, the mercenaries would spend there time entertaining themselves from gambling to whores and more. Kiran, however racked his brain due to his strategic opinions as he tried to decide the best course of action for getting his men out alive this day, as well as being rather disappointed with the missives that seemed to end up in every camp of the nobles of many a faction belittling each other.
The sun would fade on the horizon and the last embers of the light would bring their battle. It seemed as the gathered their forces across from each other than the peasantry of Demyansk had come to fight banding rough militia to fight their Westgardian occupiers. This at least would aid with the density of forces of which they would need to face this day, but Kiran silently despaired about the loss of life that would be caused. If only the Westgardian's hadn't succumbed to the greed of gold, they claimed a moral high ground but they seemed silent with the Zuma Coalition's vigorous and sometimes bloody advance across territory of the west.
The horns of war would sound as human and horse would move across the battlefield. Arrows, bolts and all manner of projectiles would begin to swiftly begin to fill the sky from both sides as the Coalition moved upon the dug in positions of the Westgardian forces. It wouldn't be long before the cavalry committed to their final charge three retinue's together with the sole focus of crushing underfoot the dig outs of the Westgardians.
The strikes of blade and hooves were swift and the screams of man filled the air, it was shortly however filled by the screams of horses as Kiran found his retinue and himself swiftly entangled within the mass of Westgardian soldiers and the weakness of the horse was getting entangled. Kiran found himself swiftly dismounted alongside the thin lines that made up his twenty-seven cavalrymen as they were swiftly dismounted as horse's had their legs cut from under them or dropped from their flanks being filled with the tips of missile weapons. It swiftly came down to man to man as they found themselves scattered among enemy lines encased within the enemies fortified position.
Now their was only one job to do and that was survive.....
The Sunset War of Demyansk - Part 2
Tattered Luria Novan Heraldry scattered across his crumbled horse now covered in coatings of mud, the creature had already breathed its last. As Kiran quickly ruffled himself to his feet, he sort of hoped that his rag-tag armour would at least avoid him drawing the attention of any Westgardian soldier's that intended to take noble captives but he duly hoped that he would not be bowed or cut down by coalition forces in the chaos of the melee.
Kiran had employed a shield on his right arm this day, it was a smaller shield strapped onto his arm in two places once at the wrist and another before the elbow around ten to fourteen inches wide and off centred with around sixteen inches in length, he had been focusing on improving his ability to fight with either hand should he be forced to fight his way up a tower or to lose the use of either of his hands in combat. Kiran would employ whatever weapons that he could acquire scattered across the corpses as he fought through man and mud to find any of his scattered retinue. Though he would not reject any coalition forces that he could at least find still in fighting shape in the mess of this mud.
Tearing the remnants of his Novan Banner from his horse and quickly tying it off on his left arm, gripping a baselard in his shield hand and in his main hand retrieving a mace from the mud. Kiran would employ his training as he picked engagements to join or rather soldiers to aid as he would expend weapons in combat. Choosing to bury the mace with full force into the engaged back of a armoured westgardian soldier's knee to take the man off balance before using his baselard as a weapon to plunge into the rings of the chainmail and through the gambeson that protected the man's throat.
Kiran made attempts to move and gather as many coalition soldiers as he and whatever living remnants he could gather. Eventally, he would find men he recognised but less that he could count of his hand and no Ernst. Exhaustion seemed to set in so quickly as sweat built up under the armour. He would fight using anything he could find from employing a missile weapon to wound or kill a man from afar to any and every thing he could think to employ as a weapon as he found weapons less caked with mud, grime and blood.
How many had he aided in cutting down, as Kiran's concentration faded as exhaustion and fatigue set in. These were the points when anyone could make a mistake and even Kiran was not divinely protected from any harm as a blade rode down his right shoulder across his armour and locking onto his wrist and shield as it attempted to drive downwards. The force behind this action at its angle was sufficient to pop Kiran's right arm from its socket causing a substantial amount of pain from both the area affected as well as the teeth that bit down into part of Kiran's tongue. Driving himself upwards and slightly backwards Kiran used his mass and the backswing on his helmeted head to headbutt the mans own head. Even beneath the padded protection worn beneath the helm, it still felt as if his ears rung with the sound of bell and Kiran in hindsight imagined the same afflicted his quarry to as they both stumbled about to regain their balance.
Kiran his right arm somewhat limp as he tried to focus on his opponent through hazy eyes. The battle between the two felt like hours but was more like minutes as the rest of the melee retinues and peasant militia pushed through the scattered lines of the Westgardian Vanguard. Even being able to relieved of his engagement.
It wasn't long before Kiran would find a horse to collapse back on, in his semi-sorry state with whatever wounded remnants he could remain with. He was done for the day, the fight was done the others could mop up. He had done his part.
His helmeted head resting back on the corpse of the horse's belly as he remained somewhat conscious.
Emyhr le Craint
The aftermath of the battle has settled. Taking this opportunity, Emyhr headed straight for his estate. Due to the region having taken very little damage, the manor itself was in good condition. However the large oak gates were wide open. Concerned, he darted through them without any hesitation. To his surprise, he came across a large crowd of people waiting within the courtyard mostly women, children and the elderly.
Emyhr caught sight of the attendant of his home standing outside the door way, attempting to calm the crowds.
"Now calm down, I am sure the lord shall return shortly. Last I heard the battle had ended and our magnificent benefactors had won."
He then caught sight of Emyhr as he stepped down from his horse and rushed over to him.
"Earl Emyhr, I am glad to see you well. Do not mind the crowds, many are reffugees from Farrowfield and Golden Farrow. Come, come, you need to rest..."
Before he could finish, Emyhr cut him off, holding his hand out politely. "Bring a chair from inside, I wish to speak with those who have come here." The attendant rushed inside and brought out a simple seat, placing it on the step of the entryway he guided Emyhr. The crowds once again formed around the entrance, this time calm. Emyhr took a seat and addressed the crowd.
"Greetings civilians. As you have heard, we came out victorious. The barbarians that sought to defame and break out realm have suffered at the hands of us all. The peasants that served this realm today shall be remembered and those who lost their lives shall be mourned." A bit of a commotion erupted from the crowd before Emyhr held his hand up once again, "This shall not end for this war has only just begun. However, this shall not be the last of our victories. The barbaric oppressors shall not succeed."
Beyond the Battle of Demyansk
Solomon had looked forward to this battle for a long time. To finally take the fight to Westgard, defeat their special forces and to meet the allies that Solomon knew too well.
After reading the report of the battle from his scribe and ensured he spoke to each noble of Tol Goldora, he went over to other members of the coalition. Battles and horses littered the battlefield while one could still see the remnants of scattered units. Fortunately, casualties were not as great as expected.
Entering the camp, he wished that Emyhr did not have to tend to his region first. Solomon saw so many familiar faces from Luria and Sol, along with many new ones.
Walking into the temporary camp, he began to recall the faces of friends and respected members of the Coalition. He did not have the time unfortunately to meet them all. However, there were a few he had to greet.
To Imperatrix Perdita of Sol, he gave a deep bow. A sign of respect. Solomon believed both of them knew the hardships that both realms took to get to this point. It was the Imperatrix after all that sanctioned the creation of Tol Goldora. It meant a lot to Solomon to see Sol here.
Next, Grayson of Swordfell was tending to his wounds. However, Solomon caught his eye and nodded in appreciation.
Finally the Lurian contingent. Approaching Royal Margrave Cador and Legatus Viscount, Solomon reached out and shook the men's hands:
"Royal Margrave, your Cavalry charge was a sight to be hold. I shall not forget the impact of such a copy charge for as long as I live. Legatus, I feel that we have much to discuss. For now, let's save that for later. You need to tend to your troops."
Leaving the two men behind, Solomon travelled to see the nobles of Luria Nova. First, he shook the hands of Marshal Viscount Owen and Sir Kiran, giving both men a sense of respect which they deserved.
Solomon then turned to Duchess Ciarghuala. Seeing his former leige brought the sentimentality of the occasion to Solomon: "Duchess, it is a honour for you to be here. After long letters about this moment, it has arrived. We shall bring back civilisation back to the West, for the whole of humanity." Finally, to the King Bennet of Luria Nova: "Friend, it has been a long time, I am very glad to see you here today, fight side by side once again. Your support is invaluable and despite me not believing so, you have earnt even more of my respect and trust."
Turning back to both nobles, Solomon continued: "I wish that you both could of come under better circumstances. However, war and the dishonourable do not wait for such things. I unfortunately have to return to my camp and direct orders. However, when we have taken back Golden Farrow and Farrowfield, which I am sure we will, I wish to host the coalition in my estate for a feast. We have many things to discuss. It will be just as memorable or even more so than the Ball of Dantooine."
With a nod, Solomon left the Coalition forces and returned to his own with a smile.
A cheer erupted from the crowd, many people hugging and smiling out of pure happiness. Emyhr sat and watched the crowd, welcoming all those who wished to talk and discuss the political matters. Many just thanking him and those who defended this region. This continued until the last of the light of the sunset dipped below the horizon. The crowds began to make their way out of the courtyard, leaving only a few. Emyhr stayed until the end, listening and talking to the people. He couldn't help but think about tomorrow, what the day shall bring. He held his head high knowing that Tol Goldora shall survive.
Her men routed, Selena shed a tear at the carnage before her. But above all, her greatest regret were for the innocents that had been slain in the looting before the battle. She wished she could go see the families, explain that it was all a mistake, that her orders had been misunderstood, that she never wished to inflict any harm upon them. But the enemy now controlled the field. And it would probably be of little consolation to them anyways. "I'm sorry...", she muttered into the void, before calling onto her men to rally.
The old king could barely contain himself. Drums pounded, hornets blared and soldier shouted their war cries, but he barely paid them any heed. All he could see was the enemy, their banners fluttering in the autumn breeze. The sight of them filled his heart with anticipation. No more shambling undead or feral beasts. For the first time in decades, men in steel suits would use all manner of wicked weapons to do him harm, to kill him if they could. They were outnumbered, but what of it? Their front rank was the elite of the enemy, the Exarch herself commanding. Hers were the banners Cador's eyes were fixated on. When he had burned them into memory, he wheeled his destrier around and faced the heavy cavalry behind him. Some two hundred knights and freeriders, more than half them his own. Since he had provided the bulk of the cavalry, the old king had taken it upon himself to lead the charge.
"My fellow knights!", he bellowed, "I'm sure I could spend a good while praising our forces and berating the enemy, speaking of the noble plight of Tol Goldora in the face of Westgardian aggression, and drumming up courage in your hearts for the impending battle. But they call me Cador the Silent, and I am not much on lengthy speeches. I've waited damn near thirty years for this day. When the horns sound the attack, I intend to ride that way." He pointed straight at the Exarch's banners behind him. "I'm going to put the point of my lance between the eyes of the first fool to stand in my way. Then I'm going to twist the shattered remains of my lance into his friend's face. Then I am going to bash people in the head with my warhammer left and right until there are no more heads to bash. And then I am going to go back to camp and down a horn of mead for every man I have killed this day."
He turned to his captain Grimwold and grinned. "What do you say, Grim? Too graphic?"
"I say we get this battle started before you completely lose your mind. Some of our allies seem more confused than inspired."
Cador laughed. "I told them I was not much on speeches." He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "Alright then. Let's see if we've trained them properly... We hit the enemy with the biggest close fist we can make, and hit them hard. We head straight for the Exarch's banner. Do not worry about our allies, they will have plenty of others to fight. And for Tyr's sake, Grim, none of your usual stunt work. We're not fighting hordes anymore."
Grimwold looked disappointed in earnest. "Bah... who will remember my deeds?"
"Only the dead worry about being reme-."
Finally, the horns sounded. Almost reflexively, Cador raised his lance in the air and pointed his horse at the Westgardian lines. Without a word, he pulled down his visor, drove his heels into his mount's flank and rode off. The men closest to him had no doubt expected this, because without missing a beat, they fell in on either side of him. More and more of his Equites joined in until they were riding fifteen abreast, eight rows deep. At first, the thundering of their hooves was a cacophony, but before long, the horses matched each other's stride. With every beat, they closed the gaps in between them, until the knights were riding knee-to-knee with one another. Still, they pressed closer together, until the they and horses themselves became a single mass of hooves, muscle and steel. The training had paid off marvelously. The knights were now packed so closely, they could ride through a rain storm, and only a few drops would ever hit the ground beneath them. The Imperial Fist, lashing out at its foes. The allied lines marching ahead of them gave way, opening a gap for the cavalry. They would surely be the first to close the distance.
At roughly a hundred paces away, the horns sounded again, this time to form the wedge. The horses at the center of the pack gradually increased their speed. Grimwold was now at the head of the formation. Cador had argued endlessly with his captain about it, but Grim had not budged. "As your sworn bodyguard, it would look poorly of me if you were the first man killed." And so it was that Cador rode just slightly behind him, to his right. A third horn sounded. This time, it was the one Cador had longed for most. The enemy had loosed their volleys straight at them. He looked upwards, and sure enough, the sky was full of arrows. Now the expense of covering every horse in mail would prove its use. Sure enough, less than a dozen arrows found a mark. A few horses at the rear fell, taking their riders with them. The charge was not hindered.
Now, the last horn sounded, for the final charge. Time seemed to slow. Cador couched his lance under his arm. The inexperienced knights gripped it firmly in their hands, but Cador simply rested it on the palm of his hand, its flickering point staying almost perfectly level. It was child's play for him, even after all this time. Wherever he wanted it to go, there it would go. Grimwold knew it, as did the Forlorn, his chosen companions. He let the lance swivel gently, picking out a target as he rode. Thirty yards away, the choice was made. Now, the point of the lance was fixed. Twenty yards, then ten, then five. He tightened his arm's grip. Less than a yard. With a quick flick, the lance pointed up, away from the enemy's waiting shield and between his eyes. It splintered as it struck, the first man still tumbling down, half of the broken shaft jutting out from underneath his helmet, as Cador drove the other half of it into the man's friend's face. All around him, his Equites broke their lances as they hammered through the line. Men and horses tumbled where the charge had failed to break through, trampled over by friend and foe alike. All of the Forlorn were still with him.
The charge had run its course, and now the real butcher's work began. Cador dropped the broken lance for his warhammer, and began laying about left and right. The mass of knights slowly pressed forward, an irresistible push towards Exarch Selene's unit. He looked for Grimwold, and found him still at the head of the knights, his mace bringing death upon those within reach. One of the Forlorn cut down a Westgardian lord, but was killed in turn before he could finish it. Before long, the Exarch was in spitting distance. Still, hers were the sort of soldiers who would fight to the last. His own numbers were falling quickly. Heavy horse was deadly on the charge, but unsuited for prolonged melee against hardened opponents. They would have to break off soon if they wanted to play a further part in the battle. The Exarch was only a good fifteen yards away, but she might as well have been on top of the highest peak in the West. Cador cursed, and in an instant, his arm was winding up behind him. With a mighty effort, he hurled his hammer at Selene. He laughed as it bounced off her helmet, leaving a small dent and sending her falling to the ground as he rode away.
The battle was now as good as won, and only a few hundred archers remained. By now, a troupe of squires and armorers had caught up to the front, bring fresh horses and lances to replace what was lost. Less than half his men were still in fighting shape, still more than enough to finish the job. The Imperial Fist closed once more, and struck the archers with a terrible blow, but this time, the arrows had found their way. One even struck the old king square in the visor, less than an inch below the left eye slit. As good a time as any to sound the retreat, he thought. And as the Equites collected their dead, some forty in total, Cador wondered how many horns of mead he'd earned that day.
Autumn Day -- Farrowfield
As Sevastian and his mixed group of Special Forces crossed the border into Farrowfield, they spied a sign, marking the beginning of "Westgardian" territory.
Kingdom of Westgard! We are the Shield of Humanity against the nightmares that shamble, creep, and stalk from the Wilderness. Enter our lands with a pledge to do no harm to your fellow humans, but to do grievous harm to the hordes.
Sevastian approached the sign, and read it with a smirk. He drew his blade, and plunged it into the ground, dropping to one knee.
"I firmly pledge to do harm to my fellow humans. I shall be the nightmare that stalks this so called Shield of Humanity from the Wilderness. All this, and more, in the name of the Empire."
Sevastian stood, and sheathed his blade. He turned to his men, grinning.
"Pull that sign up, I want to hang it in my manor."
Bennet watched his old friend Solomon walk back towards his retinue before departing. Their conversation had been brief. But much had gone without saying. But that was their way. He appreciated the man for that.
Bennet surveyed the slaughter around him before mounting up. The army was moving out. These men had died in vain, and it gave him no pleasure. That was rare. Westgard had stood as a bastion. And there were friends among the dead.
How far the west had fallen.
Horns announced the arrival of Grand Panetier Ciarguala on the road. He sent the men forth, hanging back. He would ride with the illustrious Queen, as they often did. And talk about old days, and new conquests.
Autumn Evening -- Farrowfield
Ciarghuala rode next to King Bennet flanked by Captain Septinia of The Free Fontanese Guard and Synne, her Royal Esquire and bodyguard. She'd had precious little to say since they'd set off, lost in memories of a day long before when the last hopes of the West had been overthrown.
Few who knew Farrowfield of old would recognise what had become of the once prosperous town during the long years of anarchy, the sullen remnant of her population reduced to scratching a living on fortified homesteads, mistrustful of strangers by day and doubly so by night when horror ruled unabated and unchallenged, living by that most brutal of all laws: the law of survival. The long, hard, unremitting toil which had somehow allowed them to endure years of tribulation was written in every face and uttered by every whispering tongue.
The unlooked for arrival of settlers from the Eastern continent under the banners of Sol wasn't the first attempt to restore civilisation to the coastal strip but to date it was the most successful, raising new dwellings and shops amidst the fallen edifices of onetime Caerwyn and Kabrinskia. A new town was taking shape, overshadowed by an imposing motte & bailey in the Eastern style, graced until recently with the Golden Anchor standard of Tol Goldora. Now tools lay idle and nervous eyes watched from behind shuttered windows as the allied host marched through the town to a medley of gay aires under the arms of two dozen knights, more than one thousand warriors hot-foot from their victory at the Battle of Demyansk.
What spirit had possessed the Lords of Westgard that possessing this new settlement of Tol Goldora should become fixed in their hearts? And how did this relate to the resurgence of the Zuma? To one raised in those haunted lands the timing seemed more than coincidence...
Autumn Day -- Farrowfield
Eoghan the Bard, who penned the Ballad of the Brave, has created another ditty for the coalition warriors on the front.
Let it be shared and credited!
All across the Western Plains,
A bitter wind she howls,
As the Daimon-kin do rise,
From the wicked bowels,
And yet as Monster Hordes do swell,
And rise to fight once more,
Westgard ignores the Monster threat,
And burns the Gylded Shore.
A darker time begins to creep,
And rear its ugly head,
The Defenders of Humanity
Are attacking men instead,
Tol Goldora sits alone,
Against the rising hand,
Of Westgard and their zealous greed,
To own the Northern Lands,
O’Selena wrings her hands,
Whilst Westgard loot and burn,
But as the innocent are slain,
The wind begins to turn,
Upon the Rising of the Sun,
At the River’s Mouth,
A Mighty force of Righteous Souls,
Rode in from the South,
Demyansk is where the armies met,
Under Greybrook’s banner,
Westgard between the Righteous Anvil,
And the Gylded Hammer,
Hail to Schwarzherzig and conDoin
Of the Sister Realms,
Hail to the Marshal o’ le Craint,
Who took the Gylded Helm,
Hail to the Men of Swordfell,
Led by Lord Grayson,
Hail to Garimberto,
Of the Rising Sun,
Hail to the Coalition of Righteous,
That saw the battle won,
And raise your drinks to Cador,
Who saw The Witch undone,
The War is far from over,
And to Westgard we say,
The Gylden Throne will never yield,
To your wicked ways,
We’ll fight you in the Gylded lands,
Until the bitter end,
To the Coalition of Righteousness!
The True Defenders of Men!
Autumn Evening -- Farrowfield
Ishild awoke in a state of confusion. After a few moments, she pushed herself from the ground and looked around. The sun could barely be seen, just starting to peak over the horizon. After the week spent in almost constant pitch black of a Nightmarch cell, it still burned into her eyes as it were midday and lighting up every ally.
Ishild got up to her feet and started to groggily move about the docks. They seemed familiar somehow, but in her confusion, she didn't recognize them at first. The giant harbor and the coquina beds rising from the sea looked just like Giask. Allowing her eyes to readjust to the unaccustomed light, she realized that it was Giask!
This is impossible, she thought to herself, Just yesterday I was talking to that rainbow rabbit in a Zuma prison. Could this be another one of their tricks?
She remembered her time in the Zumalands hazily, but well enough. First, she had seen the emperor and one other noble, at least that's all she could remember. She remembered thinking it was odd that the emperor recognized one of the greeters. The woman seemed to change age ever so often. Though maybe she didn't, maybe that was another trick. Then, as if out of nowhere, she found herself thrust up into the air higher than even the trees! A voice had spoken to her, it pounded throughout her head and body as if a god himself had come down to speak to her. It was coming from the thing that held her. She couldn't quite remember exactly how it looked save for thick claws around her waist. Ishild had begged for her life because this thing had put the fear of death in her by its very presence, and the next thing she knew she was in a pitch black cell, not even knowing how she had gotten there.
It was this cell, or what happened there rather, that she remembered the most clearly. What seemed like days had passed, then a loud screech, and light filtered through to her cell. The four colorful people the entered poked her with long, sharp rakes until she moved with them to see one of the oddest things she had ever seen. A huge, fluffy rabbit that seemed to be many bright colors at once, and many eyes across its face. It attacked and left a big gash across her right cheek. Then they had a conversation, and she remembered the last of it well before she woke up here. Word for word.
“Some humans seem oblivious that their lives have little meaning. They come here and think they are important. They only matter if they serve a purpose to us. You seem to have some understanding of this, yet the human you chose to follow seems to have less value than you.
“What is it you would like to happen next?”
Giask held little of her interest of experiencing this. Better to die doing something worthwhile than to slave in mediocrity. She had to get back there to see if any of this was true or if it was just a dream.
Autumn Evening -- Farrowfield
With the announcement that the Solarian expedition was heading home, Anastas ordered his men to prepare for the travel. They had gained many memories together and become more somber then when they left Sol. They were all young men, except the captain of the men. Many were ready to return home, and Anastas promised that all who wanted to be released from his service would be allowed to. Even if they had not fulfilled their obligations. No one had taken him up on that offer. This was a good fight, he thought to himself, but now it is time to return home. Defend our lands from all who dare try to attack them. The chapter of his life that was the war across the sea to liberate Tol Goldera was coming to a close. As he ran his hand through some dirt he wondered if he would ever be back on this side of the world. Would it be a happy occasion or would he be returning to spill more blood. As his men put up the camp he went around saying his goodbyes to the nobles of other realms he had met.
Autumn Day -- Sallowscape Drift
Alessio de Medici
Far from Nightmarch, the Medici family remained in Giask. Where Empress Andrea prepared to leave for Shinnen with the babies, two of Alessio's triplets were waiting for the end of the war.
"Do you think Mother is excited to see Madonna la Stylo?" Lisa asked her sister, as she looked out the window and down to the streets.
"Certainly. She took another gift, two bracelets; for mother and baby. Not to mention she is having a servant ride out there to drop off a basket of luxury items. Did you not read the stock log?" Lena laughed, pushing Lisa gently with her arm, before finishing putting her hair up as a good 'taken' woman does. She was betrothed, they both were, with their men abroad fighting in the war.
Interrupting the two triplets, there is a loud knocking upon the door, followed by Raskolnikov, their father's most trusted ally entering, laying down several pages of missives from rulers of the continent. After sifting through, a flushed Lena looked up to the agent:
"Get the printing presses set up again, I have a job to do."