Legend of the Iron Toughs
Dedicated to the finest army on Dwilight, the Fissoan Privateers, and written for praise and glory to the Grand Duke Leon Agenor.
Legend of the Iron Toughs: “To the Last Man!”
During the campaign against the Monster Scourge in the sixth month of 1008, the Fissoan Privateers fought with courage and unity. Within that army, one outstanding unit earned glory and fame by fighting to the very last man. This unit was the Iron Toughs, its commander, Bowie Ironsides.
Bowie was a youthful knight, with limited experience on the battlefield and green as a commander. Aside him was Captain Heimar, a brave and wise second, who was solid to his bones and a tenacious fighter. The two led the irrenowned infantry into battle with the army against the monsters. Bowie had faced undead and monsters before and knew the campaign ahead was not going to be a walk in the sun. “The fight must be done”, he said, and he understood that victory could be taken so long as the Fissoan Privateers marched as one. The first battles in Mangai were quick victories. The monsters roaming that land were unorganized and their aggressive attacks brought them to destruction. Pleased with the outcomes, the warriors of the Iron Toughs became confident and proud. Bowie was not so quick to think these victories were going to be repeated so easily, and continued to ensure the men stayed fit to fight. He had lost a unit once before when his men challenged a monster contingent all by themselves. He did not want to repeat that tragedy. These men said he was over protective, that they were soldiers and would be able to overcome any obstacle. After all, they were iron tough.
This overconfidence and surge of battlelust brought the unit into Kamade too early along with other fine Fissoan squads. The region was infested in abundance with the vile creatures. These ones were as ignorant and primitive as all the rest except they had taken the time to stand in line as the advanced units attacked. The battle of Kamade was a disaster. Casualty rates were so high no one on the battlefield could produce accurate numbers. Gore covered banners and carts were jammed by body parts. The monsters feasted well, and the Fissoans paid the tab. The Disaster of Kamade took an especially heavy toll on the Iron Toughs, the entire unit suffered. With eighteen killed in action and seven wounded, there was not a single man who was able to recover fast enough to be effective. The orders were to press on, but Bowie wanted to pull his men out and salvage what he could. He knew they were lucky to have lived and did not want to test his fate too early in life.
With courage gathered from the depths of their sullen hearts, the wounded unit decided to remain a battle group. Each Iron Tough prepared for their death. They knew they were to achieve a glory only fools or heroes earned; that of a good death. Bowie did not share his men’s resolve. His caution told him it was a waste of resource to lose a full unit, but his mind changed as he witnessed the strength of his men, their valour and furious mettle, even in the face of sure death. He realized that this was going to be a magnanimous end, and he was proud to lead the finest unit Fissoa has ever seen into history. Captain Heimar rallied the men, and from then on the command became “fight to the last man!”
And that is exactly what they did. The next two battles of Kamade saw more men slaughtered by the Monster Scourge, an engine of death and brutality only the darkness could take pleasure in. By the end of the monsters reign in Kamade, the Iron Toughs were down to three men. Sir Bowie, Captain Heimar, and a foot soldier named Nur-Zim. They were given the name, the Three Knights of Iron, by other soldiers who knew their condition and were inspired by their sacrifice. It was not often low knights rose to the status of heroes. That was prestige reserved for the top brass. But the Iron Toughs were stalwart and stubborn and hungry for their due. The campaign was not finished, and neither was the Iron Toughs. The next battle was to be their epic finale, the first battle for Nuas.
One of the only two infantry units on the field in Nuas, the Iron Toughs were severely depleted in numbers, but not in courage. With bravery unmatched, the Iron Toughs began the march beside Sir Diarmid’s Ash to Ash and the Special Forces unit, Sir Hengist’s Achenar Elites. As Sir Quaseth directed the archers’ fire, the front line advanced into the fray.
After the monsters were rained on by arrows, the Fissoan foot soldiers charged into the ranks. The battle cry: “To the last man!” was roared by the Three Knights of Iron who were now unchained, butchering a few beasts instantly. Sir Bowie slew one by decapitation; Captain Heimar removed the jaw of another then thrust his sword into its heart while the newly promoted Sergeant Nur-Zim tussled with two before vanquishing them both. These matches were fairly quick and proved little resistance, but doom brood over them. Though they fought on, killing two more abominations, the monsters overwhelmed the heroes. Nur-Zim was the first to go. He was tackled by a maniac beast and eight other monsters pilled on, eating his limbs and his face to death. Captain Heimar and Sir Bowie stood back to back in the epicenter. As screams from the other units echoed from the massacre and blood spattered across the field, these two men faced their final moments.
The monsters issued no moment of grace for the heroes to swallow their dread and horded into them. Slash and thrust, parry and pierce, each cut of the sword merely stalled their fate. Captain Heimar was disarmed as he was dismembered and pulled into the depth of the mob. Bowie was now the last man standing. He fought valiantly, taking gashes and claws from the violent demons. The creatures had no soul and no ability to pity this beaten human. Just as he was about to brace his final blows, another shower of arrows dropped the crowd of monsters, hitting him as well, but saving him from certain death. He collapsed to the ground heavy. Three arrows pierced the top of his shoulders, and his armour was in pieces by the assault. He had survived the battle. Wounded, and surviving a unit of twenty seven warriors, but alive. Thus, the legend of the Iron Toughs and the Three Knights of Iron was cemented into the history of the Fissoan Privateers.
Praise be to the Grand Duchy of Fissoa!
Hail! Hail! Hail!