[Forum Game] Agorath and the Maegi Prophecy

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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Bialaska

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Travellers through Three Rivers, and those visiting to partake in the wedding, will notice a lot of construction work. All around the county small watchtowers are being constructed, with room for a small garrison to guard to surrounding area, but the most impressive is the expansion of the capital, with a massive defensive wall being constructed around the city. Construction is also being done on the fortress of Adlerburg, which has now been renamed Citadel Celestian, with the addition of two more towers and countless new defensive stations.
 

eidur

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The Golden City. Yarpen hated it since the first time he came here. He was sitting in the assembly, listening about the campaign about the Plague but he wasn’t really there. All those important people pretending to care about the good of the realm while in reality they were just scheming, plotting and filling their own sacks. Bunch of hypocrites. In the beginning he made a horrible mistake of being honest about his intentions, he said he wanted to live peacefully and make money. What did he care about the affairs of the great lords.. He liked the Golden City more before he got married, he used to visit a very nimble redheaded elven courtesan in the Golden Watermelon brothel. Unfortunately Yarpen’s wife – Urszula is not so open minded as some other dwarves are. She doesn’t allow Yarpen to come in “contact” with women of other races. A shame really, Zirrael was a very hard working mistress…

Yarpen drifted off into his memories.

Rain was coming down faster and faster, candles flickered every so often. Yarpen knew that his time with lovely Zirrael was coming to an end, he had to leave for Mahakam the next morning. She turned around and looked into his eyes with a lustful gaze. She was dressed to kill this night, her long red hair was wild and floating down around her shoulders, the dress she had chosen was one of those new fashionable ones. A soft black velvet dress with fingertip length bell sleeves and a tight fitting bodice that left no room to hide her voluptuous breasts. She was wearing nothing underneath save for the thigh high suede boots she loved so much. Yarpen’s started beating faster, he grabbed her and ripped the precious dress off of her. So much power and strength in such a simple movement. Her limbs started to tremble. He felt so wonferful and warm. He buried his face in her neck, inhaling deeply. She smelled of grapes and gooseberry. His tongue pried her lips open, slashing his mouth against hers he invaded the small sweet cavern. Their tongues dancing in a rhythm known only to lovers. ..

“Meeting adjourned, good job gentlemen” – loud male voice and sound of gavel hitting the table brought Yarpen back to reality.
“How I miss my sweet Zirrael, If I only had a place where I could have some privacy. Inns in The Golden City are full of spies and intriguers, I could never bring a lover there.”
Yarpen left Chamber of the lords and went for a stroll around the Golden City. It’s immense beauty almost made him forget how much he hates it. As he walked the streets it dawned on him,
“I need my own place here, somewhere where I can conduct my business where curious eyes and ears won’t get to me.” He went back to his room in the Drunken Huntsman’s Inn and ordered to call for his steward Orm, right away.
“I want a mansion in the Golden City my dear Orm, you know me and what I like. Take care of it, money is not an issue”
 
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eidur

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double post ;x
 

GreatSlayer

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The Purge of Coamenel​

Eylinn rode up the hill to get a clearer view, holding her scarf hard pressed against her nose and mouth. The stench from the pyres was terrible, a mixture of sweet and acrid. She looked down from whence she came. The smoke from the village cast shadows on the enclosing farmland. A gale from the shore carried it over the whole scenery. The sky painted red in the sunset. The Archmage’s words still haunted her. She was lost.

They were just in time to stop the last group of infected heading east. It was a close call. She turned around her horse and looked over the plains of Mirrorwater. Her face was dead of emotions bar a set of two tired eyes, but in her chest... A looming chaos. A struggle. A war. It hurt, despite her Light feeling stronger and clearer with the necromancer now dead. She had felt the pulse of magic half across the continent, and it affected her still. First, it had been euphoria. Then, it turned into melancholy. It drove her to steel herself, harden.

She had led in every front of their raids. Sending arrows from her horse, and then launched at the Corpus with her blade on foot. It was a violent flourish and grim spectacle, but in those moments, her head was clear and heart at rest. It was divine, such calm, and then when the fight was done, there was such pain. She had led her party furiously, seeking out any fight with gruesome efficiency. Track, lure, hit, burn. Everything to dampen and rid herself of the pain, and it always returned, twice as hard in magnitude. Killing the innocent sick to save even more innocent. She had wanted to create an acronym for their tactics, but couldn’t come up with one that sat well with the tongue.

She turned her head towards the shore. A ship of Nordic design was cruising some way out at sea. “Slavers...” They’ve had to block at least two parties from disembarking the past week. They had not needed to fight them. A few shouts and some rattling swords was enough to scare them off. She wondered if these ones were among those two, or if it was another group, with a full cargo of fresh bodies to sell at the markets. Her eyes narrowed.

“Mistress,” Alvon rode up to her. “We received confirmation that the Golden Army defeated the necromancer.” Eylinn kept her eyes on the slave ship and said nothing. It was no news to her. He obviously hadn’t believed her when she told him about it. It made her even angrier with him. “The armies are returning home. We should head back to the Chasm to greet our own troops.” She would not reply, sticking to focusing on the ship as it headed farther east. She squeezed the scarf harder around the nose, as if to block out the stench from the men aboard as well. She wondered if slaves were allowed to bathe. At least once a day. Or was that too much to ask? It was cold up here in the North. The gale crawled into what little skin she had yet to cover. A hot bath would have been nice. Or the fire she felt in battle, even more so. “We should head back home.” She looked at him for a short moment before turning it to the water, dyed orange by the setting sun.

“We will meet them in Berandreil. From there we can finish the purge of Galadriel.” She moved her other hand up the scabbard, trying to feel it through the glove’s fabrics. “Then we can ride into Highathar and help the dwarves clear out their lands as well.” She was done talking. Couldn’t he tell?
“There are matters at court at hand. The assembly will resume soon. We must return home.” Her eyes darkened and she stared at him, a fiery poison ready to infect him. “The rest of the continent can clear their own lands now.” He was still here.
“You know what?” She dropped the scarf, revealing her face to him. Lower half, without a hint of any expression. The upper half, lethal. “You can head to the Golden City. Bring twenty five chests of gold and install our ambassador in a properly comfortable manor. He will be using it a lot. Because I’m not going back there.” Alvon looked at her with his usual neutral. He was still not leaving. What now?

“What about actual ruling? Are you going to leave your people leaderless? We must go home.” She could feel her blood boiling. Enough was...
“Enough! I’ve had it! Enough!” She yelled so loud that even her horse became unsettled. She panted. “Why do I insist on keeping you with me when all you do is questioning everything I say?” The whole campaign was finally catching up with her, wrecking in like a tidal wave, destroying every single obstacle in its path. True, unadulterated fury. Her flame turned into an inferno. “You spit out all this about a descendent of Barumin leading the Green Chasm, and yet you...” She pointed at him. “...you, still insist on pointing out all my faults and failures!” She pointed into the distance. “You will go to the Golden City, and you will not talk to me again before I fucking allow you to! Have I made myself clear, or do I have to etch it into your eyelids with a knife before you get the hint?!” Alvon stood still, revealing no emotions or interest in leaving. “Go!”

“This again? Do I need to push you down on your back every time you need to get to your senses?” She winced. Her face drained of rage. She looked upon him with distrust and disgust. It stung like a hot iron thrust against her flesh. It turned quiet, but for the crackle of pyres and hissing in the wind. He had hit the sore spot, again, with utmost accuracy. She lowered her head.
“Yeah, about that...” Her eyes clouded with tears. Sniffed, disregarding the foul stench in the air. Just this once. She looked at him. Tired, she was so tired. A drop fell down her cheek but she spoke clean. “Everytime I look at you, my mind just get warped.” It descended down towards her jaw, leaving a moist, salty trail. “My chest feels tight, my respiration, difficult.” She felt it’s every inch as it travelled her skin down her blushed neck, jumping over every vein protruding due to her upset condition. “I want to throw up. Just hoping it would rid me of the terrible feelings I get when you’re around.” It disappeared into the fabric of her shirt.

“Fine, I’ll go to the capitol.”
“No!” She sobbed. “You don’t get it! I want you gone!” He gave her a grave look; he didn’t seem to understand where this was going. Why was he making it so hard? “I banish you! I banish from the Chasm! I banish you from my presence! I never want to see you again!” She was shaking, unable to control herself anymore. “You betrayed me! Not for gold, not for fame, not for ambition! You betrayed my trust! I trusted you! Completely and without hesitation. I looked up to you, cared for you, thought you cared for me, but it isn’t so, is it?” Her mouth trembled and she looked as if cornered unarmed by a wild beast. “Was it good for you? Forcing me down? Leave me helpless, begging for my life? Was it throbbing? Eager to enter me? Why didn’t you? You could have had me right there.”
“Enough of this nonsense. That isn’t even remotely true in any way.”
“Fuck you! I’m not blind! To the void with you! I don’t bloody give a damn! You violated me, degraded me!” It was a good thing they were alone. It was no pretty words escaping the young maiden’s lips. “You made me feel small. I thought you wanted to be supportive, and I even tricked myself into thinking that for a long time. But nothing, not a fibre in my body says this is true. Go, and never return, ever again.” Alvon looked at her with stern eyes, and it frightened her more. There was no one in an ear or eye’s distance close enough to stop him from forcing her. But it was about time she became brave. He pulled his sword, confirming her suspicions. Her gruesome and degrading end was at hand.

“Alright.” He pointed his sword toward himself and raised it, ready to strike his abdomen.
“Stop! What are you doing?!”
“I swore to be your tutor until your, or my, last day. If it’s to be terminated, I will have to terminate myself.” She reached through the air in a gesture for him to lower his arms.
“Enough! I command you! Sheathe your sword!” He looked at her, with the exact same expression as before. Nothing, nothing at all there to find. “Go to the Golden City! Stand for me at the assembly. I...” She tried to swallow, but it felt tight. “I’ll send my words after you.” He lowered his blade into the scabbard. “Just go!” He took off.

As he went out of sight, the tidal wave returned, but it did something different. She enveloped into true, unadulterated sorrow. She wept hard and loud, leaning forward into her horse’s mane. She fell off and switched into a fetal position on the ground. Recent events had encumbered her to the brink of madness without the need of any infection. Her soul clamoured for some rest, but it just never would seem to come. Her untold past was intent on not letting go. But at the same time, as she cried without remorse on the ground, it was also a wave of cleansing, to rid herself of the horrors of her first quest, her first time of rule, maybe even some of her memories. Just maybe.

It took almost an hour, but she finally put the lid back on and returned to her party. A courier had come bringing message that most of the men was returning home, but it didn’t change her determination. At first break of light, her combined forces returned on their way to the Chasm to rally with the rest of its army coming home from the west, and continue south to purge the last Corpus from Galadriel. The northern campaign had been a success, and with combined help from the realm, and Eylinn’s strategic prowess, barely a dozen men had fell in the purge of the woods.
 
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Last Seed, 1000 Age of Empire

The month of Dragoon was filled with celebration and revelry as the followers of Light celebrated the defeat of the Corpus Horde and the Necromancer High Priest. Though the infected were still present in some provinces, the death of the Necromancer severed their link with the Dark and the disease stopped spreading. As one would expect to follow a great victory, the land celebrated.

The Great House of Kalare joined it's house with the Saxon and invited Lords from across the land to witness the new alliance. Navaris of Kalare, daughter of Arl Kvothe, wed Willhelm of Saxon, son and heir to Count Gunther Von Saxon. Though there was muttering of the hesitance of both the bride and groom among the prestigious guests in attendance, all was forgotten after the splendid meals and fine honey mead. After several days of festivities, including a jousting tournament, and a bardspell (musical play), all guests agreed it was a wonderful occasion and left happy and full.

House Kalare gains a dowry of 20 Gold!
Builds Manor if Golden City
No Prestige Earned!


House Stronghelm joined its house with House Rostani in a marriage pact. Arl Arnulf the Young wed the Arezou Somar. The clash of cultures between the desert people and norselanders was a tense one in the opening days of the ceremony. Several fights broke out when attendees became drowned in their cups. Luckily High Steward Mathlion, ever the diplomat, was in attendance and able to restore order. The wedding was marked by dancing, drinking and eating and every guest was left not wanting. All tensions were expelled and guests left having made new friends.

House Stronghelm gains a dowry of 10 Gold!
No Prestige Earned!


House Frostverd proposed a blood-bond between his house and House Celestian. Travelling to Three Rivers, the Nordic Lord was in high spirits and received well by Count Justinus and his beautiful daughter, Anastasia, the River Dove. The ceremony was almost thrown into chaos when the customary releasing of the doves was lost on the Nords. Not understanding the custom of peace and prosperity in the marriage, the Ecclestius guests were horrified when Arl Alfodr raised a crossbow and proceeded to shoot the doves. Anastasia, however, surprised all by joining her new husband and proceeding shoot arrows at the doves as well, stating "I believe my Lord-Husband and I have born a new custom, one more entertaining than the last." Anastasia proved to be a very good shot as well.

House Frostverd earned a dowry of 5 Gold
Prestige Earned!


Meanwhile, in Coal, House Coalmenel held a memorial to honour the victorious dead. A somber affair filled with quiet reflection, prayer and thanks. The ArchMage himself was in attendance, though he stayed only briefly and shared some quiet words with Master Armas before departing. The memorial went will and the dead received full honours and many lords gave thanks.

House Coamenel earned 15 Gold
Prestige Earned!
 
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BlackBishop

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Last Seed, 1000 Age of Empire...

Though festivals and revelry spread across the land, the armies of the Great Houses could not rest, as there was still much work to do. Corpus was still present in some provinces, and ranks needed to be reformed and new recruits trained.

House Urist recalled their army and secured their borders while patrols purged the land of the Corpus infection.

Emir Asad's troops returned victorious from the battle in the Wilds only to find their land riddled with the walking dead. Unable to rest the army secured their oasis' and cleansed their desert home.

The war packs of Goi'Orks returned to their mountain valley home and hunted and killed the last of the Corpus that infected their lands.

The army of Arl Alfodr Frostverd returned to their home province, and after recruiting young warriors from the villages and towns, had refilled their ranks. Meanwhile, agents of the Pale were busy at work within the Kalare city. Arl Kvothe, busy with holding wedding celebrations became aware by his marshal that a plot existed to infiltrate his castle, to what end had yet to be learned. Acting swiftly, Kalare city watch was able to round up the agents and arrest them. Learned to be behind the plot were the Houses Frostverd, Mindrilla, Huaindren, Deagrin, Coalmenel, and Celestian. A stain on his honor and inability to protect his agents and co-conspirators has caused Arl Alfordr of Frostverd to lose prestige!

With his lands secured, Arl Kvothe Kalare ordered immediate reforming of his ranks.

Master Armas of Coamenel recalled his troops and reformed ranks.

Emir Saladin, having played a decisive role in the battle to end the horde and defeat the Necromancer begun work to cleanse his own land and was successful. The lord of Misr also established a trade mission along the river to give aid to the settlements effected by Corpus as his ambassadors in the Golden City ordered his manor to be upgraded to an embassy. Saladin earned 30 gold for his trade efforts.

Justinus Celestian kept a regiment of 1000 soldiers under the command of Mistress Eylinn as scout ships searched the ocean for new lands. Though no new lands were found, Count Justinus did capture a pirate vessel containing 5 chests of gold. The gold was sorely needed as the Count began construction of improved defenses across his province.

Mistress Eylinn commanded her joint army of Elven and Imperial troops to cleanse all of Galadriel from the Corpus infection and succeeded - though she was careful to avoid the fortresses and holdfasts held by Arl Kvothe in Mirrorwater. Mistress Eylinn has wonprestige and built a manor in the Golden City.

With his lands clear, thanks to the efforts of Mistress Eylinn, Master Zephfer was able to reform his ranks.

Mountainshadow Under Siege!

20110515212934677.jpg

In the province of Mountainshadow, Galadreil, a warm summers day in Dragoon gave way to the call of trumpet and the clash of steel. The Elven province was waylaid by a large force of 6000 soldiers led by Ser Aethelwolf Karre under the standard of Stronghelm. The levies of Mountainshadow marched out from their fortress home to meet the Nords head on in the field of battle. The elvish heavy horse charged into the ranks of Ser Aethelwolf. The proud Nord hollered orders to his men, and his spearmen marched to the front of the army and routed the Elven horse.

Not to be deterred, Elven bowmen sent a devastating volley of poison tipped arrows into the invading army. With both sides weakened, they charged. The morning gave way to the afternoon and the Nords became overwhelmed by the ferocity of the defenders. Reeling back, and bloodied from a poison arrow, Ser Aethelwolf, knighted under Imperial tradition, ordered a general retreat. The army returned to their fortified camp, having been unable to hold a siege of the mountain fortress and buried their commanding officer.

Defeat!

5400 Troop remain.
Ser Aethelwolf fatally wounded!​
 

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The Wedding of Misfortune​

Their trail of longboats just left the Silverfish river, now entering the Nord Lake. They were lucky it was summer, the lake were too warm for the snowflakes to settle on it and freeze the water. But it was indeed a beautiful view with the heavy snowfall and the clear lake and nature around them. Freyja was leaning on the edge of the boat and looking into the reflection of herself with the gift from her brother around her neck. The father was staring into the distance, back to where they came from.

- "Something troubling you friend?" The head of a noble family spoke to him, Thor af Sálhöfðinn, he looked back at him "It looked like a tribesmen in the forest were starring at us back there... but something was a bit off..."
Thor started laughing and started patting Alföðr on the back. "You worry too much, not even on a day of celebration can you relax"

The longboats continued down south towards Three rivers. It consisted of soldiers, thralls, family members and various prestigious people from The Pale. As they neared their destination they started see in the horizon various large construction works in progress. The Celestian family was a rich one, some might find that a reason enough to marry, but Alföðr's intentions were not those of silver and gold. The last Assembly had put him worried, the conflicts between the various rulers and especially having such an aggressive neighbor, he did not dare to stand alone. What the Celestian motives where he could only guess, was it trade or was it soldiers. The honour of the housecarls The Pale is fairly known by now, but Bronsholm has large quantities of metal for mining and the fishes in the north sea are large and bountiful. It matters not, they both benefit from this bloodbond.

Finally they reached the docks, the garrison stood already ready to welcome them.

- "Hail milord! On behalf of house Celestian I welcome thee!" The Captain of the Guard said as they tied their boats to the dock "If you would follow us, we will guide you to Celestian Citadel"

The nords disembarked and followed the Celestian troops to the citadel, eventually they reached the inner castle's great hall.

- "Father!" Anastasia were yelling in the great hall but she quieted down as the enormous doors opened and the announcer proclaimed "The Crownless Arl of The Pale has arrived!"

As the group of nords are walking towards them she leans over to her chamber maid and asks about the crown-less part in his title. "Don't you know milady? He does not have a crown, he killed the previous Arl and destroyed his crown.". Great, keeps getting better she thought. Not only are she being married to a savage but one not of noble birth. What are you doing father she wondered.

She studied the group of brutes in-front of her, which one of it could it be. They all looked the same to her. They were old, they had braided facial hair and dressed in pelts. It must be the man leading the pack, but he seemed even older than father. Her father stood up.

- "Welcome Alföðr! I hope you had a pleasant voyage" He had his arms open towards the nords. The old man raised his hands and thanked him "You have a beautiful realm count"

The nord's voice was dark and he spoke with experience. He had scars in his face and looked like a warrior who had never smiled. He was exactly what she had expected him, a common brute. She wanted someone civilized, someone with real power in the capital. Not some filth from the distant north where she can do nothing but sit and be pretty in-front of a fireplace. Too bad he seems strong and healthy, probably won't die off anytime soon. Her thoughts started to drift away from their conversation, she didn't care for it. She was thinking about what a horrible place The Pale must be to breed men like these. The chamber maid poked her and she noticed the Arl was starring at her.

- "Young maiden, these are for you" he had sent forth a thrall with a bouquet of colourful flowers she had never seen before "These are stone flowers which grows all over Bronsholm"

In the bouquet there were also several small crafts of bronze, Common metal in a bouquet for the woman he was about to wed? These people don't know anything about proper etiquette. The very thought of them sharing bed made her both angry and sick. Even so she accepted the flowers and made a curtsy in the old mans direction.

A reluctant start on the bloodbond.
 

Marschalk

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Many years ago the border Lordship of Mountainshadow was a vassal of the Norse Kings. We protected them from their agressive neighbours - and they paid us tribute. But then our kingdom started to fall apart - and the vile masters of Mountainshadow have forgetten about their oath of fealty. My ancestors sent envoys - but alas, they were killed by these cunning feudals. For a long time they scorned Norseland - but soon it will come to an end. We must fight, until our rights are respected. Only then our unity will return.

Today we mourn. These evil mutineers have demonstrated, that they do not know, how a knight and a follower of Light should behave in battle. They used poisoned arrows, the most vile weapon of all. Noble Sir Aethenulf Karre is dead, he is with the Creator now. I promise, that his children will receive the best education and serve as pages in my castle. And his death will be avenged - and Norseland will get what belongs to it.

- Arnulf the Young, Erl of Stronghelm, the Descendant of the Last King - and true master of Mountainshadow
 

Deaghaidh

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((This game moves fast. I haven't had time to finish my response to the one turn before the next starts. Could we have a longer minimum time between turns in the future? I had two lengthy ICs in the pipe, as well as a marriage negotiation. Instead I totally missed a turn. :())

Deagrin Wrothiron rises to speak.

"I will spare everyone the bother of asking. I leant my support to the endeavor to investigate Arl Kavarthe, because it is my belief that a dark spirit bound to the Hammer of Korak is responsible for the sudden surge in unprovoked aggression from that house. I hoped to find evidence on the matter before making my misgivings public. But I feel the spectacle of my servants being involved demanded some explanation.

Such sneaking about is contrary to my nature, and I would not have taken part in it for any less serious a cause. I shall hear reasonable terms of ransom for my agents, or if he prefers the Arl may seek his satisfaction from me personally on the field of honor."
 

BlackBishop

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((This game moves fast. I haven't had time to finish my response to the one turn before the next starts. Could we have a longer minimum time between turns in the future? I had two lengthy ICs in the pipe, as well as a marriage negotiation. Instead I totally missed a turn. :())

((Yes, we'll slow it down. Assembly will open tomorrow to give you guys all some time to do some IC's. We will have two days of debate and proposals before the end of the turn. Sucks to miss out on your ICs so we will go at a less fervent pace so we all have a chance to play.

EDIT: For now Deag, go ahead and put forth your proposals and ICs and I will do a mini on your results.))
 

GreatSlayer

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((This game moves fast. I haven't had time to finish my response to the one turn before the next starts. Could we have a longer minimum time between turns in the future? I had two lengthy ICs in the pipe, as well as a marriage negotiation. Instead I totally missed a turn. :())
(( You definitely should post them anyway. Prequel posts have been posted before, and the more to read the merrier, at least in my opinion. :) I kind of agree that turns are very fast. I tend to like to update with longer and more detailed posts as events unfold, or events leading up to current events so it's a lot of typing every day to satisfy my own demands on myself at the current pace. GM Ninja'd ))
 

BlackBishop

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((New Assembly convenes tomorrow, 12:00 pm eastern time. If you missed the previous turn, feel free to send me your orders and I'll do a mini of your results. This include's you, Jeeshadow. I didn't forget about you, bud. Well, I did, then I just remembered. lol.))
 

Deaghaidh

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Marriage proposal between House Deagrin and the Mahakam Clan of dwarves:

Deagrin Benthorn will marry Żelisława of the Mahakam clan

Zoltan syn Yarpena will marry Deagrina Magmamane

These marriages will seal an alliance between our families

Deagrin and Mahakam will jointly host an engagement celebration in the Golden City's Dwarven Quarter, then the brides fathers will host each wedding at their own hold.

Each party agrees to contribute 20 gold in total to these celebrations.

[x] Deagrin Wrothiron, Master of Kogansunan
 

Deaghaidh

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Deagrin Benthorn's first day as acting Master of Kogansunan was almost pleasant. Before his father's army was out of sight, the civilians and remaining gurads began stocking the Bazaar with food for refugees. The first of these came before nightfall. They were familiar humans, of Hrondien stock, whose father's fathers had moved to the shadow of the mountain to graze goats and trade with passing caravans. When challenged, they knew the password. His father had told him that as his army marched, if they encountered villages untouched by Corpus he would send the people to the mountain for refuge. The refugees encamped under the silvered vaulted ceiling, safe from the horrors outside.

The second day saw more and more refugees, more and more desperate. As they approached, the guards above the gate demanded the password. Early on the bedraggled humans answered correctly and were admitted. But in the afternoon people began showing up who did not know the password. Many refused to go, banging on the door and cursing the dwarves. Their lingering presence meant that later comers who did know couldn't be admitted, as they were exposed to the risk of infection at their very door. The groups started fighting each other, striking each other down in desperation, cursing each other, the dwarves, and the creator himself.

It was about this point that the first corpse rose and attacked, clawing and biting at the press of desperate humans. The contagion spread, and within the hour there were no living humans at the gate, just a clawing mass of the hungry dead. Benthorn pulled the lever that dropped the massive basalt slab. It impacted with a wet thud, crushing the undead and sending the sawblades spinning. Putrid congealed blood stained the stones.

Fortunately, without any nearby necromancer, the undead made poor besiegers. They would claw at the unyielding stone with their bare hands for purchase, ignoring the spike traps and crossbow bolts the defenders would periodically activate to thin out their numbers. Their most effective weapon was the stench of their rotting forms, and Benthorn made sure that for every shift at the gate, the guards had two at more posts with more wholesome air. But if there was little prospect of the enemy breaching the gate, their was also no prospect of news. For all the dwarves within knew, the siege might last forever.

***

Far from his besieged halls, Master Deagrin Wrothiron was roused by the horns of the outriders. He had been expecting this more and more as the army marched, and had taken to sleeping in his gold steel mail. He calmly strapped his pauldrons on, and strapped his great gold-crested helm on his head. With the wings on his helm, he reached nearly 5 and a half feet tall. Wrothiron never approved of banners, thinking it a waste to encumber a perfectly good soldier with one in a fight. In his own army, the heads of the officers were the banners, letting the men know where their leaders stood. He slung his great double headed hammer over his shoulder, taking up a plain square shield and the same hybrid axe-hammer that his own guards carried.

His soldiers were already forming ranks. The enemy was too near at hand for much in the way of maneuvering, already rushing towards their camp. A shallow valley separated their positions. He could hear the war chants and cries of orcs and men preparing themselves. To his own men, Wrothiron bellowed a simple piece of advice. "Hack the flesh, but crush the bone!" He blew a short blast on his horn, and picked up his shield, and thousands of other dwarves did the same, making a living wall. Behind him his sworn shields lowered the heads of their halberds. Behind them he heard the click of crossbows being wound. The mass of howling wildmen, orcs, and walking dead grew more distinct, nearing the bottom of the valley.

From his flanks he heard the chant of "Death, Death!" from his flank, and their own Orcs charged into the enemy ranks. Not subtle, but effective. He blew a signal, and his marksdwarves let fly a high volley. There was no need to aim, the enemy numbers were such that the bolts couldn't miss all of them. Some orcs and barbarians fell. Their fellows trampled them into the dust. But the dead ignored the bolts. The enemy grew closer, and Wrothiron took a throwing axe from his belt, hurling it at the massed enemy. He didn't bother to watch its flight, but braced his shield arm for the charge.

Minstrels might sing of the ring of sword against sword, the bravery and skill of heroes, and other nonsense. But the reality of holding the line against the forces of darkness was much different. There was the thud and crush of receiving the enemy charge, the chaotic swing and hack of hammers and axes, and all the while the periodic whirr of crossbow bolts firing blindly in high arcs over their heads. Dwarves fell, only to have another step forward from behind him. Wrothiron noted with pride that none of the militia in his front ranks had fled, though in truth they simply would not have been able to if they tried.

The enemy ranks thinned, as the first fury of the assault was spent. Wrothiron blew his horn, one long blast followed by a short one. The shield wall wavered as thousands of dwarves began a steady march forward. The other forces of the Golden Army had carved their way through the enemy ranks, now fighting in separate bands. Wrothiron meant to carve his way through, reform the line, and consolidate their gains. He blew another note, and the march picked up speed. He was nearly upon the enemy when the sudden darkness struck.

The line faltered. Brave dwarves dropped their weapons and threw themselves upon their faces. In the rear ranks many turned and ran. Even Wrothiron, veteran of countless battles, could not bear to look at then enemy's terrible power.

Then there was a blinding light. After which Wrothiron's memory became indistinct. He remembered laughing, running headlong into the enemy ranks. At some point he lost his shield, and swept out his great golden hammer, swinging it in borad arcs, laughing and shouting as he slew. There was an Ogre thrice his size before him at one point, and Wrothiron hit him with such fury that its head sailed through the air. For the first time in his life, he felt the true martial trance of the berserker, terrible and beautiful.

Clarity returned by the time he found Ra'Gru with the severed head of the necromancer. His silver beard was drenched with red and black blood, and his hammer so covered in gore that its golden head scarcely gleamed. He took three breaths before weariness and aches returned to his old frame. He leant on the haft of his hammer for support.

"Well, " he said after a moment. "That could have gone worse, I suppose."
 

Plutonium95

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Arl Arnulf, the argument that your people held the lands years ago shouldn’t hold any weight here. Not so many years ago we were all vassals of a mad and abusive Emperor, but we have moved on and all of the lords have sovereignty now. The current lord of Mountainshadow is a friend of mine, and I can tell you that he did not swear fealty to any nord king, and the actions of his and your ancestors are not an excuse for war now. These are independent people and you must end your war.

While I am sorry to hear that Aethenulf Karre died, I cannot feel bad, because he would have brought harm too many more had he won. As far as poisoning their weapons, while it is not strictly honorable, I have known the nords to behave without honor, such as the sneak attacks and raids against Galadriel. Those soldiers did what they had to do to protect their people from the slavery and abuse that the nords always seem to bring to Galadriel, barring a few exceptions.

I do not wish to go to war, but I will not have any more elven lords suppressed by the aggression of the nords. I plan to commit my troops to the defense of Mountainshadow until the threat of nord aggression has passed. I ask other lords who seek peace in the north and an end to hostilities from the nords to send their armies to defend Mountainshadow as well.

((BlackBishop you saw my post about building upgrading my cities fortifications right?))