Meng awoke from his slumber. The morning was sunny and bright , Meng looked around over the crude stone battle ments
of the Keep. To see in front of the Fortress, three armies converging on each from different directions.
Unsettled by this Meng made his way down to his companions.
Only to find as he made his way through to the Guards room. A pair of blackened corpses, petrified in place.
Cuthbert stood nearby and said " There you are, I thought it might be you at first but there's something in here with us.
You and Gulliver, Hector and his Lad , Sleeker are all that's left. Gulliver has been difficult though he wants to get away."
Meng looked at the body of one men. It looked like it would fall apart with a just a gentle push.
As Meng moved away he saw some crude scratches on the wall. " I will be free." It read, it was in the language of Nymareg and just about readable to Meng. The writing was slightly different to what he seen before.
There were Extra letters in the words But still it from Nymareg. His Grandmother was from there and she had taught him the words of her Home tribe to him.
Gulliver felt a shiver down his spine. He hated this place but he hated Sleeker especially as when he was press ganged into
This expedition to the Keep. It had been Sleeker who blocked his way to freedom. Now he and Sleeker were alone in a corridor while Hector was reading through the Keep's records in a room nearby. Gulliver held the lad aggressively as pushed him against the wall causing a gash on Sleeker's head. Gulliver had waited and bided his time get his petty revenge on the lad as he knew Hector had friends within the group. So now was the time just before Dawn while the others slept.
He punched Sleeker on the mouth and then in the stomach knocking the small lad to the ground.
Gulliver felt a wave of intense pleasure as he heard Sleeker groan in pain.
Suddenly, Gulliver noticed a drop in temperature in the corridor and he turned to see a cloud of mist that moved down towards him at speed and as it got to him. He could see something was in the cloud of mist.
It grabbed Gulliver and pulled him up close with a strength of many men.
A purple light emitted from the mist and that was the Last Gulliver knew as his life force was literally sucked out of him.
Leaving a blackened body behind. Now 2 purple lights like eyes could be seen and parts of the interior of a body could be made out. But of a being of a terrible size and build. The mist being picked up Sleeker unconcious body, almost tenderly.
The mist slowly moved down the corridor towards the room containing Sleeker's Father.
Termus secundum Nelloxorum
Titus' Thermae in Carlenz, second siesta.
Nestor sat in the sand at the gym of his favorite Thermae. Naked. Getting his body burnt by the sun.
For a good while he sat there, just staring at his feet and zoning out the noise around him.
A small cat strolled over from a nearby pillar to find some shade in Nestor's shadow.
"I wonder what this evenings orgy is going to bring me" he said to the white cat in front of him.
The cat meoewd and began licking its paw.
"It's a new-new world, don't you know, kitty?"
The cat remained unimpressed. How should Nestor make his stand later today if he couldn't even impress this kitty.
"Kitty, as a proud citizen pet of Laudria I inquire you to state your mood!" He said, now louder.
The cat stopped cleaning itself for a mere moment looking at him.
"Ah yes, well well, the Bruj is blessing us all today with this amazing climate. I will sacrifice an olive branch to him later."
Nestor sprung up, having found new energy from an unknown source. The cat jumped across the gym terrified by his sudden movement.
"Deliver me my Toga, MMCX" he ordered one of his personal slaves who promptly handed Nestor the soft white cloth.
After quickly rolling it around himself and clamping his golden insignia, a golden hand with a coin inside, to his collar, he exited the Thermae with his associates.
Whilst walking up the marble road of Laudria, one of the most beautiful and scenic pathways from the Spa-district to the olive mountainside in the northern district, a small boy appeared.
"Hail Nellox, Hail Nellox" he called from the roadside lifting his arm.
Nestor smiled and greeted his fan.
When they arrived at Nestors weekend Villa, he sat down in his favourite garden chair.
From there he could oversee his slaves and servants decorating and preparing the orgy, to which Nestor had invited four of his close political friends and their companions.
The servings of fish and honey, olive oil garlic bread and especially the suckling pig stuffed with apple fell into his eyes.
Not before sunset would they withdraw to his gardens pavillion and commence their meeting. A very important meeting.
As today Nestor planned to formerly tie their alliance. His term as consul of the people was going to end soon, now he had to find a more respectable way into office.
Marrying the aristocracy.
It had been several hours since Kanmi had awaken on the beach. In that time, he had walked around the island. It wasn't very large - but small enough that he wasn't even sure if there was anything to eat on this island. He could forage for berries, but he'd probably poison himself. He was a man of class - normally he had servants to give him his food. He had never had to stoop to blue collar work before this. But, given the circumstances, he probably didn't have any choice anyway. He walked back into the forest, looking around. The island was beautiful, and quaint. It was so silent here - all he could hear was the sounds of the birds tweeting and the leaves rustling in the breeze. A feeling of calmness washed over him. He soon spotted a batch of purple berries on a bush. He had never seen this type of berry before - but he was getting pretty hungry. He hadn't eaten in - well, actually he had no idea how long it had been since he last ate. He could have been out for days and not have woken up.
Without hesitation, Kanmi popped the berries into his mouth. They tasted sour - yet so good. He started howling the berries down, not thinking twice. Kanmi sat down at the shore, his stomach satisfied. He smiled as he looked out at the waves, but quickly this turned to a frown. What the hell am I going to do now?, he thought to himself, before keeling over to the side and barfing on the sand. Maybe the berries weren't good for him. Things began shrinking and swelling all around him. His vision was wavy. Kanmi stood up, his walking clumsy. He leaned on the side of a nearby tree, clutching his stomach. He looked out to the distance - a boat was moving in the distance. Not too far out either. Or was it really there? He rubbed his eyes to see if it was real - as he pulled them away, eyelids popped open on his hands, looking back at him. He stared at this for a good minute, before shaking his head side to side. Kanmi stumbled to the shore again, yelling to the boat to save him, before keeling over and vomiting again. He picked himself up again and continued yelling at them, jumping up and down as he did so.
Stranded, Pt 2 of 3
The Lone Fleet Pt. 2
Mesha took a moment and looked around the villa. She had only heard of the exquisitely designed buildings of the Hellenic culture. Though her actually being here was shocking in itself, she was always told she was going to be a simple wife living among the rest of the civil population. Now that has all changed, she was Cypronis's top diplomat! She blinked a few times and collected her thoughts to the question at hand. So many questions ran through her mind, should she discuss diplomatic ties? Or should she discuss trade deals, or even just tell about the stories of the East. After a few seconds she came to her decision.
"Well your liege", she paused for a moment before continuing. "Cypronis has been looking to expand her diplomatic ties with the states of the West. As well as possibly opening up some trade routes between our vast empires?". Mesha sat up straight and hoped that perhaps the King will respond in kind.
Theo had hoped for a more detailed answer, but he dealt with what he got:
"You are a woman of business are you? Straight to the point, just how I like it", he smiled a meaningless smile, "I can assure you - that Nymareg is also very interested in good relations with the east"
His smooth voice emphatized every word. "It is also in my personal interest to connect our two nations via trade. We have benefited significan-", he got interrupted by a mesanger approaching the table.
"My King! I bring important news!", the young man said.
"What.", The King spat out the word, gone was his smooth tone.
A little intimidated, the messanger stuttered: "I uh- I bring the news of a great victory. King Leto returned from Tyros"
"H-He beat the enemies general in one on one combat... at least that is what everybody is saying"
"Is this everything they're saying? Come on boy, I know you're not the brightest light on the candle, I want to know the details!"
"What message?! By the gods boy, TALK!"
The King sighed deeply: "Leave now, I want to talk to you later. Alone", and so the messanger left. The people at the table started discussing the news they just heared, filling the room with conversations. The King stayed silent, thinking. Leto was a problem, a big one at that. Not enough that he had to deal with the ephors all the time, no, of course he had to deal with another King aswell. In these times he wished Nymareg to be an absolute Monarchy. Heavens, a world in which he didn't have to deal with politicians and political rivals.
Lone Fleet Pt. 3
Mesha sat quietly at the table, watching the man who had entered with a curious eye. As he spoke she was intrigued by the inner workings of the society she was trying to establish relations with. Of course she was more than interested in a possible war that was occurring. However a war meant that there was another nation that ties could possibly be made with. Though due to the situation she dare not speak of such a thing. That is of course her mission was to come to the West and establish relations and trade. Not start any sort of wars, her head would be on a pike if she came home and announced a conflict with this powerful nation.
After the man had spoke his piece, Mesha spoke up. "Yes I would more than happily agree to begin trade between our nations"
She paused for a moment, "However if you don't mind, can I ask about this ongoing conflict?". She waited for a reply, there were some beads of sweat forming on her head.
An Unlikely Hero - Part III
”The Ekthinos is a strange creature, but not one to be underestimated nor confronted. It resembles a leopard, the spotted great cat seen across the Cercinan seas, but it has an eagles wings, two faces, one of a horned man and one of a leopard, four paws, and a set of human’s arms, with which it wields a sword and shield. They say the beast is three times the size of any man, and it emits a roar so terrible even the most hardy of warriors doubt themselves when facing it. It is a solitary creature, and prefers to dwell in remote or secluded areas. It would rather scavenge for food, but it hunts when it needs to.”
The city of Camos was great, for it was one of the twelve Itrean Dodecapolis that originally made up the confederacy. But it had a problem. A distance away from the city was its Necropolis, Viesul, a place which would’ve been considered a city itself were it not populated by the dead. Amidst the Tumuli and the cliff-cut Mausoleums there was a creature, a night-prowler. It ate what dead it could and devoured any visiting mourners who it chanced upon while lurking about the tombs. The Ephors had tried sending a man into the site during the waning hours of daylight, many men, in fact. None of them had returned. Thus, no one actually knew what whatever thing that stalked the grounds looked like.
Attalus was enjoying himself on the walk to Camos. He’d brought along his herdsman’s double-flute, and was playing it on the journey at that very moment. Acastus, on the other hand, was much more serious. He kept his bow in hand at all times, ready to notch an arrow at a moment’s notice. He doubted he’d be given the chance to use it, however. The roads to Camos were safer than others; the cities Ephors made sure of that. It was, after all, one of, if not the most, wealthiest cities in the confederacy. Like moths to a flame, merchants from all over flocked to the Polis. Camos was also known for its many iron foundries and metal-workers. A number of fine bronze and iron pieces were produced in the city. The Italics in particular were quite fond of the darkened metal statues which were made so lifelike that they seemed to be ready to step off their pedestals the moment you turned away. “Attalus,” He spoke up, “Do you have any idea of what we’re off to kill?”
Attalus withdrew his lips from his pipes for a moment. “Not at all,” He stated before returning to his music.
Acastus shrugged. Whatever monster they were going to face, he was sure the payout would be good. At the least, he knew they were going to a Necropolis. Necropolises were sacred places, and most people who lived near one of such grandeur like Viesul would’ve had to be superstitious. The reward for killing whatever lurked there should be grand, for ridding a holy place of a monster for fear of otherworldly retribution was no small task. And even if the pair of adventurers didn’t get that much money, Acastus wasn’t opposed to a little grave-robbing. There were many treasures stored within the Tumuli and Mausoleums. Anything from a valuable trinket to a useful relic might’ve been stored there.
Just as the sun was setting over the open hills of the land, the pair of traveling adventurers saw Camos rising up over the horizon. Once, the city had surpassed Etluna, but those days were a long time ago. Still though, the city was more splendid than most. However, as one might expect, everyone who was anyone there was particularly stingy. It was how the city retained so much of its wealth. Glittering gold was not wasted on fanciful and lavish banquets but warily invested on lucrative enterprises, and cautiously so. People tended to live modestly. Acastus was well acquainted with Camos. He’d visited the city as a child with his father. He’d witnessed the buying and selling of deeds and properties and the complicated act of investing in one industry and selling a claim on another. Of course, his child’s brain couldn’t make sense of it then, but he’d played the investing game a number of times before and had won.
The pair arrived at the Ephor Tribunal Hall before long, though the journey there was made slightly more difficult by the absence of a great source of light. The building, though it was incredibly detailed, was a little less flashy than Attalus had expected it would be. The aristocracy of the city were fine with embellishing their buildings with intricate carvings and well-picked colors, but when it came to using their precious gold as a material for decor, they were staunchly reluctant. As the doors to the structure were pushed open, the two adventurers were surprised to find that the Ephor council was already assembled around them, sitting on the rows of staircasing stone-carved benches that lined the walls. “You are the two we hired to rid our Necropolis of whatever may haunt it, yes?”
“Aye, we are.”
“There’s the matter of payment. Our services don’t come cheap.”
“Oh-ho! Want your payment now? No. What’s to say you won’t run away once you have it?”
“That would affect our chances of getting a job in the future, wouldn’t it?”
“Hmm… I suppose so.”
“Now what exactly is our payment?”
“Enough? What’s that supposed to mean?”
“‘Enough’ assures you won’t not take the job if you deem your payment a little less than satisfactory.”
“Are you implying it will be so?”
“I’m not implying anything. Now go. The night’s begun, and the creature will surely be out stalking the burial grounds. There is no time to lose.”
And so the two aspiring heroes set off for the necropolis of Viesul, off to slay whatever foul creature of the night prowled the dead city’s grounds and vanquish whatever curse may have been set upon the accursed place.
The two reached Viesul in good time. Despite the sheer darkness of the night, the necropolis was easily spotted by its cliff-cut tomb facades outlined by the moon that shone bright enough in the clear skies. The sight of the rock-hewn tombs sent shivers up Attalus’s spine, but he simply shrugged them off and steeled his nerves for whatever laid ahead. Upon entering the necropolis, the adventurers’ horses began slightly bucking with frantic eyes. The pair dismounted and let their horses run off. They’d continue on foot. The horses had probably sensed something that both of them hadn’t. They’d have to keep their guards up.
After hours of idle patrolling and occasional tomb-snooping, the pair still hadn’t found the monster, nor any traces of it that would set them on its path. They’d explored every corner of the city of the dead, or so they’d thought. Out of the corner of his eye, Acastus spotted a large mausoleum which he hadn’t noticed before. And this was surprising indeed, for the tomb, carved into the face of one of the cliffs that loomed over the burial grounds, was massive, its ornate entrance dwarfing those beside it. Acastus also noted that just above the doorway to the tomb, there was a diadem that lay hung about a ledge by a chain of bronze. The diadem too was bronze, and it bore the image of a bull. Though the metal disc was shaped like a shield, it was far too large to be one, and probably far too heavy, so its meaning was lost on Acastus. But he found the tomb interesting, so he motioned for his comrade to see the structure for himself. “Didn’t see this tomb before…” Attalus remarked, awestruck.
“Whose do you think it is?”
“No idea… probably someone of great importance. Don’t know of anyone of note who used a bull sigil though.”
“Whoever it was, they probably left a lot of treasure behind. And if they’re dead, what use do they have for treasure?”
“None,” Attalus said with a grin, and the two hastily ascended the stairs to the tomb.
The mausoleum’s interior was much larger than expected. In most cases, the building plans were simple: grand outside, small, boring inside, maybe with a few frescoes. But not with this tomb. The pair of heroes were instantly greeted by the sight of a staggering drop upon entering the tomb. The only way across the chasm was a thin rope bridge, and for whatever reason a sudden and harsh gust of wind would hammer the spindly bridge. The bridge survived, but any who happened to be crossing the bridge when the gust hit would be thrown off to their death. Curiously enough, the wind rushing through emitted a low humming sound, like pipe. Perhaps that was why the gigantic face of a flute player playing his double-flute was carved on the farthest side of the wall to the chasm. Attalus, generally a less calculated person, made to cross the bridge and, by whatever god watched over him at that point, was narrowly saved from a cruel wind gust. After that, he hurried across the bridge. Acastus waited for the next gust, then crossed without a problem.
As the pair wandered further into the tomb, passing splendid carvings, elegant columns, and scores of treasure, they eventually came to a large antichamber. In the center of this Antichamber was a large sarcophagus, far larger than any average one. Whoever was interred in the marble box had been a giant among men in life, and clearly left a lasting legacy. Attalus moved to touch the stone casket, but just as his fingers were about to graze the polished surface, the smell of smoke and raw meat entered the room. The two turned back towards the way they’d come, only to find that the passage was now blocked off by a gate of metal bars. That and another passage - which none of them had noticed, much like the tomb itself - had opened, smoke seeping out from its doorway. Then, two pairs of fiery eyes emerged from the smoke-filled corridor, followed by the body of a creature so hideous, so reviling, even the best of Sidioch’s warriors would cringe in fear. It was the Ekthinos, and it had come to kill.
The beast let loose a terrible roar and stepped into the ghostly light of the antichamber. By now, both of the heroes had realized that the beast was guarding the tomb, and the tomb was almost certainly cursed. Acastus notched an arrow to his yew bow and Attalus readied his shield and the Ekthinos swung its sword menacingly as it approached, the blade keening, hissing with every stroke. The leopard head growled, and the human head looked at the two intruders with a grim scowl. Acastus took initiative and let loose the arrow strung from his bow. The Ekthinos was quicker though, and shielded itself from the projectile. The accursed beast then made to pounce on the noble archer, but Acastus was also nimble and ducked before the creature could lay its claws on him. Attalus attempted to slash at one of the creature’s heads, but it saw the cowherd and parried his stroke with its own monstrous blade, knocking Attalus back with one quick push-back. Acastus readied his own short sword and curved peltast shield, charging to stab the foul beast in its chest, but the Ekthinos repulsed the man’s attack with its shield, sending Acastus flying backwards. Again, Attalus made for one of the Ekthinos's heads, and again he failed. The strange abomination was seemingly unbeatable, which made sense as to why someone would use it as a tomb’s guardian. But Attalus was determined to receive his payment. So rather than attack again mindlessly, the cowherd decided to stay back until he could determine a weak spot.
Acastus, on the other hand, was not faring as well. Though he wasn’t dying, he was having significant trouble fending off the craven monster that attacked him. He was used to fighting off his foes at range, and so was not as good a swordsman as his friend. He blocked and struck back and blocked again, but he could feel his stamina waning, whereas he figured the Ekthinos could keep up the fight for however long it needed. Despite the fact that the Ekthinos had the upper hand, Acastus decided he’d try to go on the offensive and take the creature by surprise. His gamble paid off when he leapt forward to stab it and found that he’d taken out the human head’s right eye. The creature, stunned, shortly recovered and clawed Acastus off. But now, it had a blindspot. Attalus saw an opportunity with this blind spot, and quickly made it so he was right next to the Ekthinos in its blindspot. The beast was beginning to sense him, but it couldn’t see him, so he had time. Attalus turned around and made a thrust into the creature’s side, which he found harder to do than normally. The Ekthinos recoiled and kicked him in the back with a hind leg, sending him flying to the floor of the chamber. Attalus felt his nose break and the blood slowly drip out, but he didn’t seem to care and painfully stood up, then limped back towards the fray.
Acastus, seeing what his friend had done, tried to do the same, but failed. The abomination’s tail turned the man around and Acastus felt claws rip into the exposed back of his leg. He cried out in pain and launched away from the creature to try and get away, and the Ekthinos pursued. Acastus still had his bow though, and let loose an arrow, catching the creature in its underbelly. It winced, then continued its advance, but at a much slower pace. Acastus, now sprawled out on his back, looked around for something to counter the creature when he noticed a brazier and beside it a slave brand. He crawled towards it, picked up the brand, and heated its tip in the fire. The Ekthinos, though it may have had two heads, had the mind of an animal and could not comprehend what Acastus was doing, so it pounced. Acastus flung the brand around and the glowing, white-hot brand met the leopard head of the Ekthinos and fully blinded it. The creature reeled back, bellowing out a blood-curdling roar. Attalus too struck at the creature from behind, plunging his blade deep in the beast’s side. It screamed again, went to slash at Attalus with its sword, then stepped back and fell to the floor. The Ekthinos was dead.
After Attalus had skinned the carcass and fashioned a cloak out of the leopard skin, the two turned to investigate the large sarcophagus. Heaving with all his strength, Attalus managed to open the casket, and lo and behold, the skeleton of a huge man lay before him. But strangely, the remains had no head. They did, however, have a torn piece of fabric where the head was supposed to be. It was Acastus that recognized this fabric. “This is from the Out-Isles,” he muttered, passing the piece to Attalus. “The Out-Isles?”
“The Out-Isles, off the coast. They’re largely deserted lands, save for a few villages. Don’t even have kings or lords. The only reason they’re even on the map is because the people of the island produce some of the finest garments on the market. But there’s probably a great treasure there, greater than rare silks. Think about it. A grandiose tomb filled with treasures and guarded by a legendary monster houses the remains of a giant, but this giant lacks his skull. The person who stole his skull came from the Out-Isles, an entire set of islands isolated from the rest of the world. Whoever took the skull, they wanted to be far, far away from civilization. Hiding, perhaps.”
“Then we go to the Out-Isles.”
“One does not simply go to the Out-Isles. They’re dangerous, infested with terrors the mainland’s never seen. It’s why the islands are largely deserted. Only the bravest of merchants make the trip, for the journey is long and treacherous. And individuals like that are hard to come by, and don’t offer their services willingly.”
“So we acquire a ship.”
“And how do we intend to do that?”
“Well, there’s quite a bit of treasure here. We’ll sell some of it, but not too much lest the government become suspicious. A little here, a little there. Enough to buy passage on a decent ship. Then, we take over the vessel.”
“The crew won’t like you for changing course. Even if you made it to the Out-Isles, they’d leave you as soon as you stepped ashore.”
“Well, do you have a better plan?”
“I suppose I could call in a few favors…”
Nymareg and Mythos realms
Theo looked over to the emissary, she seemed nervous. 'Welcome to Nymareg', the King thought, this was no place for the faint-hearted.
He fell back into his normal, calm tone and began to speak: "Across the Sea, south west of Nymareg lies the realm of Cercina, a powerful maritime nation. They are known for their colonialism and three month ago they tried to colonize the city of Tyros in the south of Nymareg. My fellow King Leto", Theo put on a ironic smile, "decided he would not let Cercina get a foothold on hellenic soil as long as he was a King of Nymareg. He took a good chunk of our armada and sieged the city. And well, it looks like he beat the cercinian forces rather quickly, normally a siege lasts months"
In this moment, an idea formed in the King's head.
"Lady emissary, your nation is known for the great inventions regarding war machines. A few years ago, you shared with us the knowledge of the great cypronian battering ram. I am sure you must have produced some even more exceptional machines, do you or your advisers happen to know something about such machines? You must know, siege equipment is very important for warfare, especially when conquering cities"
He looked at the young woman: "Inventions like these, would make me and Nymareg very glad to trade with your nation", he added and waited for a response.
Hildur: Birthright PT.2
Whilst the bow kept Hildur in the middle of the Maelstrom, the spirit that dwelled within it spoke out to him. The one who had imbued the bow with it. Hildur opened his eyes once he heard the voice, seeing himself exactly where he was in the Maelstrom, but as if time had grinded to a halt.
”Hildur...can you hear me?...” - asked Thrundir
”Who are you...and why am I here…?” - replied Hildur
”I have come to speak to you properly…” - said Thrundir
”I believe it is a bad time to ask for a small chat… - said Hildur
”Do not worry, you, and the beast’s perception of time has been encumbered…” - replied Thrundir
”What will happen when that is no longer the case…?” - asked Hildur
”The beast will sink its teeth in your chest, and you will surely meet your end...do not fear however, trust in me Hildur…” - said Thrundir
”You are the spirit of the hero king...you better not...otherwise you are not” - said Hildur, skeptical of Thrundir
”Very well then, Hildur the Skirtchaser…” - said Thrundir
Hildur’s perception of time returned back to normal, the Maelstrom still violent, and the dragon heading towards him like a sharp arrow. Hildur aimed the bow towards the beast, drawing it and watching the arrows have sparks of lighting come out of it. He let loose, the arrow travelled at the same speed as the dragon. The dragon dogged and flew upwards into the eye of the storm and spread its wings out again, and like a falcon, coming down fast, like an arrow. Hildur aimed the bow again, facing towards the dragon’s wing. He lets loose once more, the arrow lands, and hits the dragon on its right wing. The beast does not come down easily though. The storm calms down for a bit, letting Hildur reach the beast’s cave. The dragon follows him through the network of tunnels the dragon carved from the searing hot lighting striking at the rock of the mountain. Hildur made it to a large open area still within the mountain, it looked like a large scar. Hildur tried to find a place where to hide. The room seems to be where the dragon left the skeletal remains of its prey. Hildur hid behind the ribs of a large whale. The dragon looked around frantically for him. Crushing large skeletons under the weight of its steps.
”Coward! Thrundir you become less of a hero and more of a trickster with every turn...honorless man!” - shouted the dragon
Hildur looked at the bow, it was charging up another arrow. Hildur peaked around the corner of the giant rib protecting him, he took aim and shot at the dragon, the arrow bouncing off the seemingly leathery scales of the beast. The dragon looked at the direction of where the arrow came.
”Found you! - the dragon shouted as it flapped its wings into the bonefield. The force started pushing the multiple skeletons together, which were nearing closely off the edge.
Hildur made his way to the surface of that ocean of bones and rotting flesh. He held onto the vertebrae of the skeleton, so as to not fly off into the behind him. Once the dragon spotted Hildur, it stopped, preferring instead to shoot out its searing lighting breath. Hildur jumped out of the way and hopped from skeleton to skeleton, as behind him the lighting fried and destroyed the carcasses. The boneyard had been set ablaze, the smoke from which, visible in Thrunda.
The town was still experiencing heavy winds, but no rain. The storm had eased up enough to allow for a clear image of the mountain, still covered in a thick haze. The populace looked on as it heard the roars of a beast. The townspeople hid in their homes, preferring to stay with family rather than think of the possibility of whatever killed those miners to come to Thrunda.
Hildur continued to battle with the dragon, its fury, unrelenting. Its hunger for revenge, insatiable. Hildur had to be clever. If the dragon expected and still expects a hero, a warrior, then its time for Hildur to put his speed to the test. He will bring the dragon down, the only way he knows how to. Hildur stood amongst the burnt skeletons. And spoke to the dragon
”Hear me great old one! If the tide of our battle will only be a game of cat and mouse, then let me offer you this...I hit you with my fist and you try your best to kill me, I hit quite hard, you have been warned” - said Hildur, in a more confident way.
Stop trying to trick me pretender...you cannot simply fool me with your lies and antics?” - said the dragon, deciding to hear out Hildur before trying to torch him.
”Who said I was lying?” - said Hildur, dropping his bow on the ground and kicking it far enough to reach the dragon’s tail.
The dragon looked intrigued by Hildur’s actions. Hildur cracked his knuckles and his neck, but before going on a melee with it, he asked the dragon.
”Tell me, great one. How long have you been here sleeping and taking whale calves from their mothers?” - asked Hildur
”That does not concern you, you imputent runt” - replied the dragon, keeping its eyes firm on Hildur, expecting of him more.
”I have surely done many bad things in my life, maybe you may be able to share your’s? Am I not your guest?” - replied Hildur.
”You are my guest, just not a very desired one…” - said the dragon, slightly lowering its guard.
”I see…” - said Hildur, observing the bow from afar.
”I have nothing to say, I know you deceive me” - replied the dragon, disgruntled
”What if I am not? You have no way to determine that” - Hildur replied, giving the dragon a confident smile.
The dragon swiped its tail, in an attempt to kill Hildur. Hildur ducked under the dragon’s mighty body, crawling his way to the bow.
”Hey! Hey! He-”
The charged up its breath, launching multiple thunderbolts at Hildur, who took cover behind a mossy pillar, the thunder burned so bright and hot, it made the wet moss catch fire, forming a pattern up to the roof of the arena. Hildur was left with no other choice than to kill the dragon once more. Negotiations failed. And Hildur was short on time. Hildur gripped the bow, pulling back on the string and aiming at the dragon’s neck. He lets loose and the arrow hits the dragon, but it was unfazed by it. The dragon looked around for Hildur. Hildur felt a deal of headache as Thrundir tried talking to him.
”Do not resist me Hildur, you need my help’ - said Thrundir
”Make your entrance less painful then, besides I already told you it's a bad time for chit ch-” - Hildur said, noticing his arm move into a firing position, aiming to a series of cracks on the dragon that emitted steam.
”Hildur, let loose at your will, it is time I finish what I started” - said Thrundir
Hildur looked dead straight at the searing cracks in the beast’s armor. He lets loose and instead of an arrow coming out, it is a pure lightning bolt, akin to the same beast’s breath. The bolt hit the dragon, wounding it. It roared in pain but kept on fighting, now knowing where Hildur was.
”Fight me, coward!” - said the dragon, furious.
Hildur charged at the dragon head first with the bow drawn, he jumped from carcass to carcass, using the last one to jump high enough to cross eyes with the beast. Hildur lets loose once more, the bolt of lighting goes through the neck of the beast, nearly staggering it. The dragon groaned and panted. Hildur landed on the ground and pulled out a shortsword. The dragon moved its head towards Hildur, slithering like a snake with its neck. It aimed and shot a lighting bolt at Hildur, which he dodged. The dragon raised its bleeding neck in an attempt to eat Hildur, but it was unsuccessful. Hildur had landed on the Dragon’s back, stabbing both the joints at the wings, crippling the dragon.
”Bested by...a lowlife...if this is how I end, then this is how he ends” - thought the dragon, using what was left of its strength to burst through the gaping hole in the wall of the arena that led down to thick forest and series of sharp rock formations.
The dragon kicked Hildur off, launching him down hill, the dragon rolled and tried its best to maintain balance while scraping at high speeds down the mountain. Hildur saw a path, where he hopped to stop rolling down the hill. The dragon caught up to him, smashing into the great and mighty pine trees. Hildur shot two more standard arrows at the dragon, both missing. The dragon roared and tried its best to chase Hildur down the hill, shooting bolts after bolts into the forest. The trees ignited even if wet. The chase continued for a couple more minutes, they ran past forests and creeks chasing one another. It had started to rain once more, Hildur continued to run through the scorched forest the fight had begun at. The fires had calmed and the two belligerents were already tired. Both looked at each other with menacing intentions for the other. Hildur crawled through the mud with the bow, struggling to stand proud. The dragon could barely muster enough strength to shoot even a spark of electricity. The beast began to stand, then swiping its tail and knocking Hildur against a charred pine tree.
”Hildur, stand up” - said Thrundir
”That is easy for you to say, you are not the one even breathing…” - said Hildur, spitting mud out of his mouth.
”You are correct, but your struggle hurts me as much it does to you...I am a part of you now. - said Thrundir
”I hope you are not confessing your love to me, old man...it is still a bit too early…”
Thrundir did not respond, instead using the little strength he had left for the moment to null Hildur’s nerves, not allowing him to feel the pain. Hildur stood up and aimed at the dragon, who had entered into a state of hardening, its armor thickened but stationary as the mountain it lived in.
”Hildur, you cannot pierce my armor now, you have lost and your quest was for nought.” - said the dragon.
”Is that so?” - Hildur said, as he walked towards the dragon.
Hildur shot an arrow into the air, its trajectory was back at an almost collapsed pine tree as it arched midway, coming down with fury and becoming charged as Thrundir manipulated the arrow. The arrow landed on the tree, making it collapse, it fell diagonally, hitting the dragon on the head, shattering its armor. Hildur jumped as the dragon rose its head to eat him. The last roar of its dominion. Hildur landed on its mouth, keeping it open with his feet and stabbing his shortsword through the dragon’s brain. The dragon died, as its head on the ground, kicking mud up. The skies cleared and the miners have been avenged. Hildur looked sorrowfully at the dragon, not being able to resolve things peacefully made his heart ache. However more would be in store for Hildur, as he has claimed his birthright. He is the new Hero King of Aendryyd. With Thrundir’s guidance, he will lead Aendryyd to victory.
END OF BIRTHRIGHT PT2
Lone Fleet Pt. 3
Mesha smiled at the king, she very well knew of the machines and weapons of war that the Cypronians had constructed. She was also well aware of the new advancements in such weaponry that has occurred over the past few years. She rolled over the idea in her mind, her job was to open up trading relations with the West. It was in her best interest to pursue such a deal, however she felt... uneasy around the king. Perhaps she felt there was something the man was hiding. Or it could've been her own nervousness getting to her. This of course was her first time ever engaging in diplomatic talk. Though she did have one thing in mind, she wanted to learn. She wanted to achieve something no one else of her nation ever had. However she also had to take into consideration what the king of Cypronis would do if she had miss stepped . At this point however the rewards outweighed to risks and dangers.
A smile came to her face, she was trying to make herself slightly intimidating. "Hmm... I will say over the past few years we have developed some new siege weapons that have proved quite... effective against walled cities". She took a sip of some wine that was on the table, she of course wasn't used to this new wine from this region. Her eyes widened a little as she tried to adjust to the taste of it. She swallowed and continued, "A trade deal is of course preferable for both our nations. Though I do have a request,,, I would like to see this... war of yours". As she said this, a few of her aides gasped at the idea.
The King licked his lips while he looked at the Lady from the east, she was so young and naive. Though, he had to admit. that he didn't expect her to out right ask to see a war up close. He took a last zip from his wine cup before putting it down. He stood up, hands behind his back, a pose of a man that was used to giving commands. Looking down on the emissary by his side, he said:"So war, it shall be!"
The Ephor, Damratos, hastly stood up aswell, pushing back his chair. "The Armada just won the war, let them rest for a while, they earned-"
"WE ARE NYMARIANS, WE ONLY REST IN OUR GRAVES!", the King yelled across the room while the veins on his neck popped and pulsed. The Ephor sat down, silenced.
The King sent out a servat to get a map, the slave quickly returned and rolled out a map of the Cirean Sea. King Theopoles moved his index finger over the map, stopping on diffrent locations, but eventually continuing. He searched for about ten minutes when he finally stopped and smiled. "Kinthos", he exclained, "they embargoed us a few month ago did they not?" No answer. "DID THEY NOT?! Damratos for the gods sake, answer me!"
"Yes my King, their league issued an embargo against us, we had to seek out other trading partners to deal with the losses"
Theo smiled again: "Kinthos needs to be tought a lesson then, sent word to Calmut, I want some of their ships to support our fleet. Oh and someone tell Leto I want to call in the favour he owes me for allowing his stupid siege"
A month or two later...
"You let them keep the city?! Even after you took it from them AND beat their general? Leto, sometimes I ask myself if there is a head below your helmet"
----------"Im not wearing a helmet, Theo. Look, it was the best chance for us to make friends overseas. Nymareg can't fight everybody forever"
"It always has and always will! WE ARE NYMARIANS, may the gods damn you Leto, why does it seem like I have to remind people of that all the time? Where is your nymarian pride? You're a King Leto!"
----------"We both are. I haven't lost my pride, I'm just saying, that our first response shouldn't always be violence. That this league embargoed us, supports exactly my point. If we keep terrorising the nations arround us, they will form alliances against us. We may be Nymarians, but we are also Cireans and we shouln't forget that. Imagen a united Cirea under our rule, no one could stop us. No one would even dare. I agree that we can't tollerate Kinthos' embargo, but maybe just consider it in the future"
"You've listened to to many politicians Leto, you begin brabbeling the same nonsens"
----------"You always tell me to listen to you more", Leto grinned
The older King sighed and gave Leto a look that expressed a mixture of amusement and irony. The two Kings were walking along a hallway. They stopped as the corridor ended in a set of double doors. With a small gesture of his hand, Theo indicated the other King to open the doors. Leto put a hand flat on each door and pushed it open. Inside he found a few people waiting: A Ephor he reconized as Damratos of Dagos, the General Lycander, who was a good friend of his, a important looking man in a calmutian military uniform and a young woman with an exotic appearance. They where all sitting around a big table witha detailed war map on it. The old general stood up and gave Leto a warm welcome: "Finally arrived huh? Took ye' time, did ya?" Leto just smiled and gave his old friend a hug. He greeted the Ephor with a nod, which he returned and proceeded to the woman, who he guessed was the foreign emissary from Cypronis
Leto put a hand on his chest and hited at a bow before saying: "And you must be Lady Mesha, if I am correct. It is an honor to meet you. I must say, I've heared of your beautiy and it was not exaggerated"
Theopoles rolled his eyes: "Stop flirting with the emissary, she is here for the war, not for compliments", he continued, "Kinthos is a big city, but not well fortified. Due to it's location on an island I guess. We can either attack from the sea side or through the territory of Calmut on the east. When they refuse our demands that is"
"Which are?", Leto asked.
"The lift of the embargo, reperations and higher taxes on their trade for a year. If they refuse, we take them and make them our vassal. What do you think?"
Nymareg's request for reinforcements reached the Calmut capital, to honor it's word and continue the prosperous relations of Nymareg and Calmut, a fleet of 60 ships would leave the ports and go to Dagos, 15 ships of the largest class than the fleet of the black cross has joined the reinforcements, another 15 medium ships follow them and the remaining 30 ships would be "small" ones, the fleet would mainly consist of archers with some spearmen and the veteran admiral Adsur Armen would be leading the fleet in the Nymareg campaign.
Across the Amber Sea
A number of stories were surfacing about a group of pirates. Piracy was nothing new but this was. These were an organised group who attacked single ships in threes or fours. There were few survivors; usually those who lost balance and ended up in the water uninjured but otherwise out of the fight.
The only details all of the survivors could agree on were that the attackers did so from the North and that their boats were of a mixture of designs.
The Senate debated a suitable course of action. Fairly early into the session it was proposed that a naval flotilla of at least 10 ships be sent Northward. Newly updated maps showed a group of islands that were marked as unoccupied.
The motion was carried but 15 ships would be sent. Their mission - seek and destroy the pirates and occupy their base.
Across the Amber Sea pt2
The flotilla made fine progress and on day 2 found signs of a recent attack. There were barrels and timbers strewn across a fairly large area. The barrels were carrying olive oil - those that had sustained damage sent a small slick across the surface. Someone had survived, however by clinging to a timber hastily lashed between two barrels. It was lucky that the boy, barely 13 years of age, was not in a heavier sea or he would already have drowned.
Despite the warmth of the day, he was freezing cold from being in the water for the last few hours. He was also in shock, having seen an uncle and elder brother killed by the raiders.
Undas, the young man recovered from the wreck, confirmed that the raiders came from the North. Their ships all had black and grey sails as well as a black eye symbol carved into their ship's bow.
The flotilla made their way North and spotted three ships on the horizon. While keeping their distance, the flotilla followed the ships towards a large island and what looked like a fairly sizable settlement. The 15 ships were carrying roughly 2750 men made up as Belim Islanders and Light Infantry. With the 5 heavier ships having to stay in the water until a favourable tide, the 10 lighter ships could beach themselves on the other side of the island; their men could scout ahead and check the lay of the land and possibly recce a land based attack.
Across the Amber Sea pt3
The settlement was home to a fair sized port; one that was either part ruined and reclaimed or was in need of substantial maintenance.
The Belim Islanders were extremely good at hiding their numbers and moving relatively unseen. They were skirmishers / light infantry and tended to rely on ambush and surprise against heavier armed foes. In this case, their foe were light Infantrymen armed only with a buckler shield and various swords of non-uniform type. It appeared that much of their weapons and armour were captured rather than crafted or made in the settlement.
A view inside the settlement was impossible as there was a palisades wall around the perimeter. However, the palisade was, again, built some time ago and timbers looked to be in poor repair in places. The settlement was also surrounded by a fairly thick bush and jungle - this hadn't been cleared. It would offer superb cover to any attacker wishing to probe the defences.
From higher ground it appeared that there were 10 ships of various designs - presumably some were prize ships - in port. The raiders returned at dusk and tended to send 4 or 5 ships out at day. This have 2 options: attack at night time from both land and sea or wait until the raiders leave and attack at daytime. It was only luck that had kept the larger ships from being spotted so far...
Across the Amber Sea pt4
The attack happened at dusk. It was decided to catch all of the rats in the nest. As soon as the ships were spotted returning and entering the natural harbour, a fire was lit at a piece of headland with pitch. The smoke was the ship's signal to attack from the sea. As the larger ships attacked from either side of the harbour mouth like a pincer, the troops still landed on the island assembled quickly by the palisade.
As previously noted, there were weakened sections of the wall that the Tartezossian infantrymen either pulled apart or knocked down. These gaps only allowed a few men to pass at a time so those first inside made straight for the land side gate.
There must have been some confusion inside the settlement as the gate was only partly guarded and these defenders were quickly despatched. This allowed the men waiting in the jungle by the palisade to pour in.
Almost immediately there was fighting inside the settlement. The black eyes on the ships appeared to have symbolism as many of the raiders wore black paint around their eyes to make them look more savage. It also made them appear undead, which is something they weren't after several minutes of hard fighting as the surviving raiders broke and ran from the Tartezossians.
They appeared to be running for the ships, only to find two ablaze and one with a gouge in its side from one of the rams, it listed at a sickening angle and may have sunk completely, were it not for the shallow water. Troops were now pouring onto the remaining ships and onto shore, trapping those raiders in the town.
Several of the raiders tried rallying their men by charging forward, only to be cut down immediately. The remaining troops were backed into the palisade wall and faced Spear, Javelin and sword point. With the situation hopeless some dropped their swords, followed by a few more and eventually all of the survivors surrendered.
As the main group of raiders were captured the boats were being cleared. Seeing their colleagues surrender made them lose heart too and, they too surrendered.
The prisoners were rounded up and the houses and shacks checked for stragglers. It appeared that there was a small civilian population of women and children in one of the larger buildings. It also appeared that the women - mostly captured from Tartezossian and ships - were brought back and 'married' to the raiders. In actual fact, they were raped, enslaved and kept in terrible conditions. Surviving children were obviously the progeny of the raiders and judging by their condition survived on scraps and handouts.
As harrowing as the experience was for the women, they were asked to identify any leaders, captains and any man that had violated them. Of the 327 captured raiders, 33 were executed that night based on evidence from the women prisoners. A further 6 attempted escape and were executed with 12 beaten unconscious as a warning to the others.
7 prize ships
725 (inc wounded)
The remaining prisoners would make their way back to Tartezos in chains as many ships would be under-manned due to the casualties sustained. They would face fair trial and many would survive but be put to work in mines and fields for several years.
The imprisoned women were repatriated to Tartezos or to their homes. Those without families (or unfortunately shunned by them in a few cases) were supported and not allowed to starve.
Meanwhile, back at the island, an outpost was constructed. The hope was that the town would eventually be restored as a mini trading hub with nations that lived to the North.
Lone Fleet Pt. 4
Mesha studied the men in front of her with detail, she knew the need to trade with this nation. Though she was also well aware of the need to see modern warfare and to bring these secrets back home to the kingdom. Even though she wasn't supposed to meddle in the affairs of other states... She was all but too curious not to pursue for the knowledge she could achieve. She sat at the table and continued to watch the king and his aide as he begun to discuss the situation with the armada. She quietly drank her wine, and thought to herself. "With the knowledge I gain from this, it's possible we can bring these lessons back home in order to protect Cypronis". She also had the thought of continuing the development of ties with the nation of Nymareg.
As soon as the king had mentioned, "Then it is war". Mesha gave off a kind smile, this was it. For her country and people, for the king. "Excellent! This will be great for all of us!", She clasped her hands together and prepared for their journey. Though she also took notice in the Nymerian ways of wanting to wage war even if their enemy had been defeated.
A few months later, Mesha had documented her journey to great extent. From the simple interactions with sailors to more discussions with the king and his own aides. Not only did she transcribe her thoughts and dialogue with them, she also described the sea and the land that was around them. From the Geography to the types of flora that grew there. The lands of the region were beautiful and bountiful, albeit they seemed to be such a mountainous terrain. Though on this day it was different, along with the head of the Nymerian government and his aides. She took into great interest of the city states of the Cireans, the inter politics they seemed to have were... complex to say the least.
Mesha's cheeks turned a little red at the king, though she gave him a bow back in respect. "Yes I am Mesha, though I feel I have some siege equipment that we can use for Kinthos", she responded to the two men. She also took great interest in the map that was laid out in front of them. She studied it intricately and the men around her would notice that she was actually doing some planning of her own.
A tale of two brothers – Part I
Long ago, in the lands west of the Cirean Sea. There was a golden age of powerful gods and extraordinary heroes. It was during this time, that the gods of sea, sky and underworld, decided to prohibit the other gods from fighting eachother. The gods have always fought amongst themselves. Every day brought a new conflict. As you can probably imagen, a fight between gods can have serious consequences, consequences mostly felt by the unlucky humans, who happened to live in the lands of these gods. As an example, as the god of fire and sun, Focos, once had a dispute with Forona, the godess of nature. As a result of this conflict, fields and forests were set ablaze. Wildfires destroyed a big part of that years harvest, only for the fields to be extra fertile in the following year as a compensation. To stop the gods from fighting each other and to prevent such disasters, the main gods declared, that conflicts between gods, may only be carried out by humans. And so it became custom for the gods to pick a champion among the humankind. The chosen individuals often became famous heroes and the gods started to make a sport out of who could produce the strongest heroes.
One god, above all, was desperate to create the strongest hero of their age. Dianthos, the god of war and justice. Not able to produce a hero that outmatched the champions of his twin brother Aeripeus, he came up with a plan. For his champion to become the single strongest hero of their time, a simple human, even a strong and experienced one, wouldn't be enough. So one night, Dianthos traveled down from heaven. In his shining armor, he set foot on the land of the humans. In the dark distance, he could make out the lights of a settlement. A small town without a name. He had observed the town from above. In a small house, located in the city center, lived a woman. A beautiful and strong woman. When he saw her for the first time, he knew she was the one. The perfect mother for his children...
It was an unusually sunny and hot day on the isle of Kessel today, so Leden decided that he'd rather stay in the shade of a tree and daydream instead of going to the beach with his friends. He started to wander through his memories and started daydreaming of his past, especially his military experiences.
He was one of the lucky few on the isle that was sent over to the capital city of Syre to get educated and get a good profession, possibly join the military as an officer. He did so and learned how to read and write and some mathematics and then decided to join the army. He could've joined as an officer right off the bat due to his education, however he decided not to do so and first experience at least some combat as a regular soldier. He passes through volunteer training quite easily, as it is mostly just there to see if a soldiers is capable of combat, rather than actually training him. He then was sent over to a small slave camp as a guard. Nothing of much interest happened during the short time he was there, as the positions of guards are mostly appointed to soldiers either unfit for regular service or while a full company of future trainees is still mustering. Eventually Leden was told that he would be transferred to a professional soldier training program near where the old Gold River ran across the Lozen border.
He was escorted there by carriage along with the rest of the volunteers, with whom he became friends, finding many topics they all agree on despite their different upbringings. Once they arrived in the training camp they had a day to sort out where they would sleep, to unpack whatever few things they brought with them and to rest.
The next day the training began, firstly getting the men fit and agile so that they would not tire as much under the weight of their equipment. After the basic physical training and assessment of the physical situation of all the recruits, each of them got separated into different groups which would get different levels of physical training. Due to these separate training regiments, Leden got more rest and a different diet than some other recruits. Due to this all, by the end of the physical training all of the recruits were of similar physique and fitness.
Now, the theoretical training began, which taught the recruits the basic tactics of the Lozen army, how to use their weapons in the most efficient matter, how to handle and adapt to the changing situation of a battlefield and some other basics in theory. Later on, the training expanded and taught Lozen offensive and defensive tactics as well as some common situations which could be problematic without prior training. Lastly the recruits were taught proper military conduct and etiquette, among other, not fully combat related things.
Then began the practical training, which heavily focused on teamwork and proper implementation of the things they were taught in the previous training step. Improvisation and innovation in difficult positions. The recruits were given wooden tools rather than real ones as to not injure themselves or the trainers. During this part of the training the recruits got much rest as the training was both tiring and for purposes of realism, since in real deployment they would not go to battle often, only quelling slave rebellions. During this time they were let out to go to the nearby villages, towns and even the capital once every week, as well as getting their first wages and payments.
Most of the recruits were of peasant or average Lozen families and mostly saved up their wages so that they could bring them back to their families, however since Leden was from a relatively rich family he could spend his money elsewhere, so he bought books, mostly historical. He then discovered how glorious, in his eyes, the Kingdom of Lozen used to be but couldn't seem to find out why such a powerful and glorious nation could collapse so quickly seemingly out of nowhere. This was largely due to the censorship of books by the King and his selected officials and most of the writers who created any literature, especially books complied with this censorship due to how expensive books were to make and how hefty the punishment for not following these censorship guidelines were. Eventually Leden wanted to know more about this downfall and eventually, through friends and shady sources acquired a small book that presented the truth on how the Kingdom crumbled. After discovering the truth of the Kings of Lozen pretty much destroying the Kingdom themselves, he decided to learn even more about them and their wrong doings, so he dove deeper into this illegal sphere of politics. Eventually he also became religious after researching them for a bit as well.
After a while he decided to tell his fellow recruits about all of the things he found. Since he had gotten along well with most of them and had shown himself to be a good soldier, they believed him (of course after some reasoning) and they all started conspiring on what they could do to change this. Some of them said that they should revolt together with the slaves after their training's finished, however this idea wasn't very popular and didn't seem all that logical to Leden. Eventually after many days and nights of debating they decided that for now, they would do nothing, but if any important event that could be useful to their cause would happen they might change their views.
After some time the training progressed further, into one of the last steps, the branch training. This training taught the recruits the basics of cavalry and it's tactics as well as siege, siege defense tactics and how to operate siege equipment. Lastly in the training, they were taught a bit of sailing, sea combat and tactics as well as common enemy naval tactics. Mind you, all of this was very basic army branch training as it was more so that the recruits could replace members of other military branches if need be and not to actually serve as members of the other branches, this training happened so late for the exact same reason.
Lastly, there was both the easiest and hardest part of the training - service training. In service training, the recruits basically were just soldiers that were below regular troops and would prove their worth and what they learned in battle. This was both the easiest and hardest part because you only needed to serve in one or two battles, so you got to rest a lot, however you still needed to serve in real combat against real enemies without any experience of doing so. While the training did teach them tactics, conduct and many other things, but it could not teach them the horrors of the first battles of your life. However those battles did eventually come and Leden proved himself with the rest of his men, even showing great leadership skills after their assigned commander was injured.
In end of this training, the soldiers were paid quite a nice wage for all of their time and service, as well as get special uniforms and proof that they were official Lozen soldiers in the form of a small paper. While it was advised, most soldiers left these papers in their tents or places of rest and did not bring them on patrol as they could even be discharged from the army if they lost the paper and did not have an official replacement by 5 days. There was a ceremony to celebrate these recruits becoming full-on, professional soldiers. All of the high ranking officers as well as the King came to watch the ceremony, however the King's presence reinforced the now soldiers views of the Kings not even being worthy of their throne, as the King lazily sat on his throne barely keeping his eyes open watching the ceremony, making one of his officers read the graduation speech.
After the graduation ceremony, the soldiers were given a choice of either going on to real military service as a regular foot soldier or picking another branch of the military to serve in, however they would have to go through that particular branch's training and only then they would become real soldiers of another branch. Leden, being keen on horse riding and finding interest during the cavalry branch basic training during his time in the training camp, chose to become a cavalryman and invited his comrades to join him as he saw their skill in combat and wanted to stay with them, as well as keep spreading his political ideas with them. The men, being friends with him, joined the Cavalry branch as well, of course there were a few exceptions and some of the men who trained with Leden went back home because there was a third option, which was to be a trained soldier but not actively serve and to only be called upon in case of war. In fact a lot of volunteers were forced to do this as there were restrictions on the size of the Lozen army, however this time there were lots of free spots in both the cavalry branch and regular infantry, as there was recently a slave revolt that killed many good infantry and cavalrymen.
The trainers of the now soldiers were quite surprised at the number of volunteer cavalrymen but were quite happy as it nearly filled up the cavalry army of the men it lost in the last battles. The men were shortly sent over to the small village of Gersonniki, which was mainly used as a cavalry training and equipment center. There they began their training pretty much instantly on arrival to prepare and get the men used to the fast paced combat and tactics of cavalry warfare.
The first part of the training was once again theoretical training, teaching the men cavalry combat tactics, getting them to know their equipment, they were also taught proper cavalry conduct in this part of the training as it wasn't a lot of information.
Later on, the advanced horse riding training began which just taught the men how to be better cavalrymen on horseback as well as some info, tactics and tricks while riding on horseback. At this point of the training the men also chose their own horse which they could name, Leden named his horse Pah.
Then there was the practical training, which's purpose was similar to the infantry practical training. During all this training the men kept up their views of the Kings being corrupt and bringing down the once glorious Lozen Kingdom. A large portion of this part of training was dedicated on what to do if you see enemy person on the border when you're on patrol.
Lastly there was the service training. To pass the men had to prove themselves in both a battle and on patrol. The men did this easily and Leden once again proved himself as an able commander when he was given command of his comrades in a battle. This earned him even more respect from both his fellow cavalrymen and some of the higher ups and officers.
Once the men had proved themselves in combat, there was another graduation ceremony that went similarly to the previous one, just more cavalry based.
After graduation, the soldiers began their service, now as cavalrymen. Leden was assigned as a leader of the newly trained and forced 9th Mobile Company.
At first they mostly just went on patrols along the border, until one day there was a somewhat large rebellion that managed to destroy most of the cavalry sent there, so Leden and his men were called upon to reinforce the infantry battalion sent there on the beginning of the revolt.
Once the men arrive they find the infantry battalion being charged by the rebels and their lines nearly breaking, however Leden ordered a small volley of arrows to be shot at the rebels and then directed his soldiers to the side of the enemy offensive, where he took out a decent amount of the enemy and halted their offensive. They questioned the leaders of the infantry, who witnessed the previous cavalry force be demolished, how the rebels did it. Eventually the leaders, who had orders to keep any negative info or wrongdoings of the government to themselves, told Leden and his men the truth, seeing the situation could become catastrophic. Leden discovered that when slave rebellions are suppressed and the remaining rebels surrender, they are not killed, as it would be far too expensive for the Kingdom of Lozen to pay back the slave owners for the loss of their property. Due to this many of the surviving slaves had now understood and found out ways to counter Lozen cavalry and infantry tactics, the only reason Leden's forces were not crushed and relieved the infantry was because of the element of surprise.
After getting this vital information, Leden thought up a new strategy. He asked the infantry commanders to muster up all of their reserves and prepare for a hard, long and big defense. The commanders were hesitant, however once Leden said that if they would not do so, he would leave with his forces and let their defenses crumble, they cautiously submitted to the demands. Leden then gathered up a small force of volunteer cavalrymen to lead a usual charge from infantry lines toward the enemy, so that they would be fooled into thinking Lozen tactics had not changed. These cavalrymen were ordered to set up a fire and to throw various plants into it to color the smoke red once they would begin their advance. The rest of Leden's cavalry forces would go far behind the enemy and await for the signal smoke.
Eventually, after a few days of anxious waiting, the red smoke is spotted and Leden starts the charge against the enemy from their rear. The rebels left no reserves or anyone to guard their back, as the deception of the small, usual cavalry charge had worked and the rebels wanted this to be their final blow to crush the remaining elements Leden's forces and the infantry forces. Leden's men started to wreak havoc behind enemy lines and cut down the unshielded, unguarded, unarmored and underequipped enemy. With each swing of the sword and the spear another slave fell, with each passing minute, hell even second, more and more rebels died. After some of the organizers of the rebellion had noticed the enemy coming from behind, they ordered their men to retread or scatter, however they were now encircled as the Lozen infantry commanders had recently called for reinforcements and those had arrived now and struck the enemy from the sides. However little of the rebels had escaped were cut down by Leden's cavalry. The rebels then surrendered and the infantry commanders were rounding them up to return them to their owners, however then Leden asked to be given this task to his forces. His wish was granted, however he did not simply just round up the remaining slaves and start bringing them to their owners, he rounded them up and slaughtered every single one of them. Not a single man or woman or even child remained from this rebellion. The infantry commanders and some of Leden's own men were in shock and disbelief and started questioning why he would do such a thing, however after his reasoning and him proving himself an extremely effective commander in battle, most of the officers remained neutral on this subject and Leden's own men rallied on his side.
Once government officials discovered that Leden and his forces had killed all of the slaves from the rebellion, they were furious and even considered putting him in prison for multiple years, however once the infantry commanders said that he turned the tide in the battle as well as his men, comrades and trainers telling them of Leden's skill as an officer, they let him go with a simple warning and order to apply less force and more pacifying methods after the enemy surrenders (if possible).
After this all Leden serves in the army quite a long time, earning a good reputation among both regular troops and other commanders. His company of cavalrymen becomes one of the most feared fighting forces in the whole Kingdom, until one day, a new recruit joined the company after a battle as Leden's cavalry force had taken some casualties. He joined in one of Leden's secret political meetings with his company that discussed the Kings and their wrongdoings. The new recruit knew that this was illegal and himself was a big supporter of the current royal family so he reported the whole company to higher-ups. They were all almost immediately stripped of all their titles, badges and honors and were soon after dishonorably discharged from the Lozen military and exiled to the isle of Kessel, a place where Leden's family live and where he grew up. Sometime after his exile he found out it was for "Treason against the Kingdom and His Majesty the King".
Once on the isle he did not stop his political activities and became quite religious, as the island had one of the few remaining places of worship in the Kingdom of Lozen. He continued to live off of the fortune he and his family had amassed during his time in the military.
Leden then snaps back into the present day and starts wondering what sorts of thing he could've become were it not for his political views, what sorts of wealth and respect he could've amounted. But he then dispersed these thoughts with the facts that the Kings of Lozen truly did lead Lozen into ruin and that he always was right, but the higher-ups and the King simply did not like it. He then got back to his house, ate lunch and decided to stop laying around doing nothing and go to the beach with friends. And so he did.
Leto and the general exchanged a look and the general nodded knowingly. The first one to speak was the calmutian Admiral, with an accent that made clear he was not from Nymareg, he said: "They will noat accept this- this... oaffer...", he made a guesture with his hands, making clear he was searching for the right word. "The demands?", Leto helped him out, "I agree, reparations, taxes, those are some pretty heavy sanctions. No sane leader would accept that. Especially, when you think about it. They wouldn't have embargoed us if they wouldn't think they could at least repel our forces". With a raspy voice, the general agreed. King Theopolis rolled his eyes: "I am fully aware of the fact, that they won't accept these demands. I just simply refuse to accept that there is a nation in our close proximity, who thinks they can mess with us. Leto, you must understand this, didn't you march against the Cercinians out of this exact reason?". Leto nodded: "I did", he sighed, "you are right". Leaning on the table, he supported his head with one hand. "That means we will have to face their navy", the King muttered in thought. "And doan't foarget their... league. They will proabably call in Ittrea foar support", the Admiral from Calmut added in his accent.
General Lycander took a closer look at the map and saw that the young emissary was doing the same:"Kinthos alone got a pretty sizable fleet, If I may say so meself. Together with their league, it will be a pretty hefty sweat to take em' down. Lady Mesha, are there by chance any weapons your nation developed that could mounted on deck? Because, you have to know, Kinthos itself is not fortified well, so when we are on land it's easy game, but we have to take out their fleet first or they'll take us from behind when we make landfall"
"The general is right, even if we goa oan land in calmutian territoary, they will burn doawn oaur ships as sooan as we head foar their capital", said the admiral.
"Which means we are forced to sail straight into Kinthos-bay, where they will already wait for us", remarked King Leto, who was bruting over the map, now holding his head in both hands.
Ravena, Kingdom of Aviskonia
The Royal Palace was silent. Nothing was to be heard save the flickering flames of the torches mounted upon the walls or the footsteps of the palace guards, watching for any signs of intruders or assassins. The King was asleep in his chambers, alongside his Queen, naked and huddled together. The two were hoping that they might raise a son or daughter to be their heir, the next king or queen of the kingdom, so during the night they had engaged in love hoping the Gods would bless them with a child. The King, Tertius Sergius Belisarius, was the first to awaken as the morning light creeped through the windows and into the large, white-walled bedroom. He climbed out of bed slowly, so as to not disturb his wife's slumber, before dressing himself. After he had put on his white-and-red chiton and sandals, he put on his purple-and-gold tunica and exited his chambers. A servant approached him, a young brown-haired woman of about nineteen or twenty. "My King, shall I tell the palace cooks to prepare thine morning meal?" She bowed her head as she asked, her hands crossed in front of her. The King smiled and replied, "Wait until my wife awakens, then you may tell the palace cooks to prepare the morning meal." The servant nodded and the King walked on to a nearby balcony facing out to sea, followed by two guards on either side of him.
The morning air was cool, a pleasant contrast to the colder nightly hours. The moon goddess Noctis had begun to retreat below the horizon for her daily slumber, taking her cold darkness with her as Solis, god of the sun, awakened. As the sun god bathed the city of Ravena his light of blinding gold once more, with him came his warmth; his gift to man. A warmth that raised the people's crops and snuffed out the nightly cold, at least until Solis returned to his own sleep and Noctis awoke once again. Gesturum, the god of the sky and of the weather, had blessed this morning with no rain and no clouds. A good omen for the day, the King thought to himself. On the horizon he could see traders' ships sailing out or in, no doubt carrying goods to be bought and sold. The city looked alive. Crop harvests had been good thus far, and so the city planned a festival to honor the harvest goddess Messis and thank her for a good season.
It was not long before the Queen had also awoken, dressed herself in her chiton and royal jewels, and came out to meet her husband on the balcony. The King turned to see his wife approach and smiled. "Good morning, my queen." The Queen smiled and the King returned to gaze upon his city. "The morning meal shall be ready soon, then we may see the festival's preparations."
"Of course," replied the Queen. "The sky is clear and the air is warm. The Gods smile down upon us this day." The King nodded in agreement. Soon the servant returned to inform the King and Queen that their morning meal was ready. They were led to the dining chamber where they were served a mix of meat, bread, vegetables, and a cup of royal wine; the best wine in Aviskonia. There they feasted and drank and talked; they were both in good spirits, joking and laughing throughout the meal.
After they had finished their meal, the two exited the palace surrounded by guards, and began walking throughout the city and inspecting the festival preparations. Houses were decorated with flowers and small statues of Messis, and some were already making offerings to the goddess. In the center of the city sat a large plaza where a much larger statue of Messis had been brought in. At the base of the statue sat a massive altar where sacrifices would be offered to the goddess throughout the festival. There was already bundles of food laid out across the altar as offerings; bread, wheat, apples, grapes, etc.
The statue was about the height of a house and sculpted out of marble. It depicted Messis as a four armed, two legged, four winged dragon, similarly to all the other major dragon gods, and two horns coming out of the sides of her head to indicate her femininity. In her hands she held bundles of wheat, as she represented crop harvests and fertility.
The hours drew on and the evening came and then the night. All throughout the day, the King, Queen, and citizens of the city partied, drank, laughed, feasted, and said their prayers and gave their offerings to Messis. The night drew on and people started returning to their homes so they may be well rested for the next three days of the festival. The King and Queen returned to their palace, ate their evening meal, and went to bed.
The Great Journey - Part I
“Styrkar, my son,” Began Helgi. “You are nearly a man now. You know what this means?”
“Yes, father,” Styrkar responded. “I leave in the longships tomorrow.”
“Yes, Styrkar. The warriors will come, and they will drag you away from our arms, and they will drag you to the longships, and you will sail away. But do not fear tomorrow, my son. Though they may drag you away like you are nothing more than a criminal, you are respected by all who watch. Even great Ceolwulf bows to you that day. The humiliation is symbolic, you see. It is representative of the final step of your journey to manhood. You leave the port unwillingly, like a foolish child, and you return a hardened sea-wolf, a true man. Tomorrow is not a day to fear, boy. Tomorrow is a day to look forward to.”
“Yes, father,” Styrkar repeated, nodding in agreement. Though he wouldn’t dare show it, he was nervous, scared even, of the Great Journey. It was the ritual that turned boys into men, whelps into wolves, but it was a long, grueling trial that went on over the course of a year or so. Styrkar had heard tales of the men in the south. Sudlings, they were called, and most were regarded as weak and too trusting in their wits by most men of the Isles. But there was one tribe of Sudlings that was different. Nymar was what the Norse referred to them as. It was said they sent their young men off to massacre slaves they kept pent up like livestock in a city. Which was as good a practice as any, Styrkar supposed, but there was nothing else gained. When the black-painted longships returned, their men having endured the test of combat, they returned laden with riches. It was how Ingradreyar amassed a decent-sized portion of its wealth.
“So come, boy, let me look at ya one last time before you venture out beyond the Black Coasts, out over the frothing seas.” Said Helgi, firmly resting his hands on Styrkar’s shoulders. They were man’s shoulders now, Styrkar noted. Broad and sculpted. They would serve the lad well on the ship. Styrkar embraced his father in the same manner, and Helgi nodded in approval. “Now get some sleep boy. Gods know you’ll need it.”
The next morning, there was a firm knock on Helgi’s door. The old man opened it, and was greeted by the sight of two mail-clad warriors. Helgi didn’t want to surrender his son - no man did, for that matter - but he knew he had to. And the warriors were huge and clad for war. Helgi may have been able to fight in his younger days, but those days were long gone. If the old man was to resist in his current shape, he’d be beaten to a pulp, maybe even killed. So he nodded, and opened the door fully. The warriors marched inside without so much as a single word and dragged hoisted Styrkar up from a bench and towards the door. He too made no effort to resist.
So Styrkar was dragged away from his household, the warriors muscling him away towards the oceanside of the city with their arms firmly wrapped around his own. He looked to the side and saw the same scene happening with many other young men, and then looked towards the nearing waterfront. And there he saw a giant figure silhouetted against the gimmering waves of the Boreal Sea. At first he took it to be a statue, but then the figure moved. And as he neared it, he could hear it speaking, shouting and talking. It was Ceolwulf. So the stories were true about the northern king. He was taller than the prow of a longship, had the strength of ten men, and wore an amalgamation of an armor kit. He wore a thick chest piece from the south, a winged helmet of Celtic craftsmanship, a mail shirt made from ones he’d taken from his enemies. Styrkar gawked as the warriors hauled him by the king, and whether it was fate or sheer coincidence, Ceolwulf noticed his staring and stared back. “Stop. Bring that one here,” He commanded, his deep, gruff voice halting the men who dragged Styrkar away. The did as Ceolwulf commanded, and within seconds Styrkar found himself face to face with the towering form of his king. “Do you fear me, boy?”
“Y-yes sir! Very much so!” Styrkar hastily blurted out. Ceolwulf threw back his head and laughed heartily before giving Styrkar a slap on the back which nearly left him winded. “Don’t fear me, boy! If you’re to go raiding, you may encounter others more fearsome than myself. And you won’t be allowed to fear them if you want to live.”
Styrkar gulped and nodded up at the towering giant of a man. “Alright, off to the ships you go,” Ceolwulf said with a wave of the hand, smiling down at the young man. Styrkar felt the firm grip of the warriors heave him away, and he watched almost in a dazed sort of trance as Ceolwulf returned to barking out orders, somewhat unable to comprehend what exactly had happened.
Before he knew it, Styrkar was standing with around thirty or so other boys in one of the many black-painted longships that lined the shore of the port. And on the rest of the shore, he saw a mass of grim-looking fathers and crying mothers, his own parents among them. Whether the mothers cried out of grief or pride, he didn’t know. Everything was just a mess of discombobulated background noise, swirling like a whirlpool. There was Ceolwulf making a speech, there was the weeping and wailing from the throngs of parents whose boys were being shipped away, and there were the shipmasters shouting orders to their youth crews to push off. Styrkar heard them, but not in full. He was perhaps looking at his home for the last time, and he wanted to take it all in. The entire event was like a lucid dream, and the young man barely felt real. Then the sting of a horsehair whip brought him back to earth. “Earsling!” Fumed one of the ship’s veterans. “What’re you doing! Cast off, damnit!” For fear of another lashing, Styrkar did so. And so, as the shoreline of Ingradreyar became smaller and smaller, the Black Fleet sailed south.
Fjad was the shipmaster of the Fyrdraca, Styrkar’s ship. He was one of four veteran warriors that accompanied the inexperienced youths. Together, the four men were responsible for picking targets, training the boys, and commanding the ship. Fjad was a simple man. He never said much, and never seemed to lose his temper with the crew. He was respected by the other veterans though, probably due to the fact that the Fyrdraca was indeed his ship, and probably due to the fact that he was bigger and broader than most men. Not as big as Ceolwulf, who was rumored to be an actual giant, but definitely tall. And so he was the undisputed leader of the crew.
As the Fyrdraca unfurled its sail and Styrkar stored his oar, he noticed a large serpentine form swimming a good distance out from the ship. He leaned over the deck to get a better look, afraid the sea serpent would attack. The creature reared its head, looked at the ship, then dove below the waves. Styrkar breathed a sigh of relief. “Don’t mind it, whelp,” said Fjad. “They’re ‘armless, mostly. ‘Is only in storms they strike. Wrap ‘round the stern and capsize ya, then they pick ye off one by one. But the weather’s clear now, so ‘is harmless.” Styrkar admired Fjad, almost as much as Ceolwulf. How he could keep a smile on his face when talking about the possibility of death was beyond the lad, and he admired the shipmaster all the more for it. “Tell me, whelp, you ever stand in a shieldwall? Ah, who’m I kidding. You’ve scarcely been spit your your mother’s belly, ‘course you wouldn’t ‘ave been in a shieldwall.”
Styrkar bridled at the insult, but saw truth in the statement. Compared to the veterans, he might’ve as well been a newborn baby. He had no prior experience with weapons, unless hunting rabbits with pitchforks counted as experience. So he took the insult and didn’t dare talk back, lest he be given a sharp thrashing, verbally or physically. “No, sir, I haven’t stood in a shieldwall. But I’m eager to learn and I’m sure I could prove my worth.”
That made Fjad laugh. “Alright then, whelp. It’s getting late. We'll beach the ship and make camp. Then I’s to train you, if ye gots the guts for it.”
So the Fyrdraca was beached on a woodland shore due west of Aendryyd, and its crew disembarked and set about making camp. Styrkar was stringing his bow when another one of his shipmates, Ruweard, came trotting up with two other boys, each equipped with a bow, a spear, and a full quiver. “We’re going hunting,” Said Ruweard. “Wanna come?”
“This whelp’s not going hunting with ye, so run ‘long now,” Commanded a gruff, growly voice. It was Fjad. The boys, Styrkar included, quickly turned around to look at the warrior, wide-eyed. He’d come out of nowhere, but it was clear he didn’t want Styrkar to go hunting, so the others rang off into the woods to see what game they could find. “You’re coming with me, whelp. You said you was eager to learn. Now I’s to teach ye.”
Fjad gestured for Styrkar to follow him, so Styrkar got to his feet and did so. The two walked a little ways out of camp to a clearing in the woods. Notably, there was a crude stone sculpture, likely intended to be an idol of some sort. A clear sign that the crew had moored in Celtic lands. Fjad eyed the crude figure with caution. He was a superstitious man, and believed in the spirits, so he gave the statue a wide girth. But it wasn’t the possibility of spirits that bothered him. The Celts were sneaky, underhanded, wild mongrels. And they wouldn’t take too kindly to the Ingrish presence on their shores, should they ever discover the Fyrdraca.
“So, whelp. Show me what ye gots. I’s brought a greataxe, seax, and sword for ye, now let’s see how ye fights. Strike my shield, whelp.” Styrkar struck with the sword first. It was a pitiful strike, lacking in both strength and form. Fjad easily repulsed it. Styrkad struck again, and that time Fjad disarmed the lad with a simple flick of his shield to the left. “Ye’s bad with a sword, whelp. Fight like that and ye’s bound to get yourself killed by an earsling Celt or milksop Sudling. Maybe a sword isn’t for ya. Get used to the axe then.”
Styrkar hefted the greataxe with some difficulty. He was unused to the weight of such a large weapon, but was slowly growing accustomed to it. “Simple hook and pull. Hook on the shield, ya pull.” Styrkar tried the method for himself. He let the hook of the axe flop meekly onto the rim of Fjad’s shield and pulled as hard as he could. But the shield remained in Fjad’s hand, no matter how much force Styrkar exerted. Fjad laughed again. “By Stalli, ye’s terrible! But, ne’er did I’s expect one to become a wolfskin first try. Anyway… again, whelp! ‘Is how ye get good at the craft of combat!”
Styrkar was about to try again when he heard something rustling in the brush behind him. He turned around and looked towards the sound. “Hey! What’re you doing, whelp? We’s not done with ye!” Called Fjad to Styrkar. But Styrkar was barely paying attention to his mentor. Because out from the bushes emerged the angry, wild-looking faces of a group of Celts.
Lone Fleet Pt. 5
Mesha studied the map that was laid out in front of her intensely. Even though she herself had never experienced warfare, it was something she had read about in the royal archives. Before she had even left for the diplomatic mission she was placed on, her favorite past time was studying. This ranged from warfare to diplomatic ties with neighboring tribes on the straits. However she did recall an old report of a certain mix of a vessel and a ballista which proved quite effective at both taking down vessels and defenses. Her face brightened up as the idea came in mind of the weapon. However her own fleet held one large warship, and 2 smaller ones. Though with that being said she could help arm many of the vessels of the forces at their disposal with ballistae.
"Yes! I have an idea. There was this report that I once read in which an old tribe on the straits attached ballistae to their vessels. It was effective at both destroying ships and damaging and taking down defenses. Perhaps we could stick the ballista to our ships and gain the advantage?", she sat up the table with smirk on her face. "This could possibly solve our answers for the situation at hand", she gave a reassuring nod to the men around her.