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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Wyvern

In the lands of Calradia
79 Badges
Apr 19, 2002
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View from the Throne - A Tale of The Final War with Gothmog


Fire had then decended on Southern China and Alesso saw that he had to act.



Alvaro was with him! Alesso felt a quietning of his stomach at this news and he knew it was likely that Amzad too would fight on his side for his hatred of Gothmog ran deep. But what of the others? Qutb expressed support for Alesso in private, yet Alesso felt an undercurrent of distrust whenever he conversed with his brother though he tried to hide it. As for Bistami, he declared he would not join a war against Gothmog at least not at this juncture and Alesso knew fear, fear that Bistami would support the Demon out of greed or desire for a chance to gain the Throne himself.

Before an invasion south could be contemplated Alesso had the needs of the refugees from the border provinces to see to. Deaths had numbered over a million civilians from Gothmog's attack and in the wake of this an immediate march south was impossible for the needs of those that yet lived had to be seen to first. Even so Alesso ordered the mobilisation of his armies under the general Lin Chung whilst consentrating on reducing the unrest caused by Gothmog's dark power.

Two years passed and the worst of the unrest was over. Finally at the beginning of 1786 Alesso was ready to act.

Two armies of over 80,000 men guarded the north, one led by Alesso himself, for he feared an attack in that direction by Reoyl. In the south Lin Chung commanded the bulk of the army, personally heading up a column of over 100,000 infantry and 700 cannons which would form the spearhead of the invasion.

Alesso sent out the call to his allies and breathed more easily when both Alvaro and Amzad answered. Qutb however prevaricated when asked where he stood in the conflict and Alesso's heart sank at the realisation that his brother was truly lost to him.

Marching south across the border Lin Chung stormed the local defenses at Lao Cai and moved on towards Gothmog’s capital at Mekong which came under attack by September of that year. This first attack was repulsed with fearful losses on both sides, but will reinforcements constrantly marching to the front he was soon back in one of the pivotal battles of the early campaign which saw Gothmog triumphant at the of his army, and laughing at the puny humans from behind the walls of his dark citadel. Lin Chung decided to switch his attention from Mekong, known now as the Dark Citadel of Daegûl and instead march west to Bago and ultimately link up with Alvaro so denying Gothmog the west. Such was not to be though and in August of 1787 Lin Chung met one of Gothmog’s lesser Balrogs. Though his troops were victorious yet the brave general would meet his end, cut down by a stray arrow at the moment of victory requiring a temporary withdrawal of forces in the face of Gothmogs imminent advance.

It was apparent that this would be no easy war. Gothmog was fighting in his own terrain with the might of his power behind him, and despite greater numbers Lin Chung had been unable to match his magic whilst Alesso had stayed in the north. Lin Chung and now Alesso both employed artillery, yet Gothmog ignored such innovations preferring instead the extra mobility he gained from pure infantry only armies and letting the terrain bleed the enemy troops, yet the terrain bled Gothmog’s forces also for supplies were short in that rugged terrain.

Alesso knew he would have to head south himself now. Even before Lin Chung’s death he had known this as he watched the southern offensive grind to a halt, none of his commanders able to stand up to Gothmog’s fiery breath. Alesso could no longer delegate this war. He should have known this from the start for it was his responsibility and his alone to destroy Gothmog. He could be helped by allies and kin in distracting Gothmog's armies and fighting his balrogs and allies, yet in the end none of his brothers nor any of his own generals were strong enough to take on this beast from the fiery depths, only he could counter Gothmog’s power with his own.

Throughout those early years Qutb had continued to badger Alesso, distracting him with false promises that he would betray Gothmog and Reoyl at the appropriate moment and that why didn't Alesso invade Manchuria for he just oh so promised it was undefended, why if only Alesso would sail his fleet up the coast he would see this was so for himself. Alesso ignored these feeble attempts at betrayal and planned his next move south.

With renewed vigour Alesso left the northern border. He would not get dragged into a pointless war there though the 180,000 men would remain one step back from the border to discourage any enemy activity. This conflict would be fought and decided in the swamps and mountains of Vientiene. And it was in those mountains that he began a war of cat and mouse with Gothmog, both eyeing the other warily knowing that the death of one would spell ultimate victory for the other, for if either fell the allies of the other would be unable to stand against the victor.

Yet for all this Gothmog did not stand alone. The armies of Reoyl bolstered Gothmog’s left and center, fending off Alvaro and Amzad’s forces from linking with Alesso though unprepared themselves to face Alesso’s host when he decended upon him. And there it was in central Vientiene that the trap was cleverly sprung. Bago had been overrun and the enemy escaping to Lampang. Alesso gave chase and again destroyed the enemy yet he had allowed himself to become dangerously extended and knew he must withdraw back west to his waiting reinforcements, yet before he could get back Gothmog sprang his trap, descending on Lampang in full might and scattering Alesso’s men to the four winds. Alesso found himself with nowhere to retreat to but southwest, southwest to Irrawady and the waiting claws of Reoyl’s army!

If Reoyl was prepared for his coming there might be no escape for Alesso had less than 9000 men remaining to him with which to enact an escape. Sending his scouts ahead desperately seeking a way out, one route remained, northwest this time back to Bago where his regiments gathered and upon which Gothmog himself now marched. Would he escape from Reoyl? Would he reach Bago in time? Leaving a screen to the south he broke out of the mountain pass and sped north at full speed, Reoyl being left to wonder where he had gone and how he had escaped. Battle was joined in Bago before he arrived yet better to arrive late than never, and with reinforcements coming, more every day it was enough to tip the battle in Alesso’s favour and see Gothmog for once flee the field. It would not be the last time that either saw defeat, though perhaps it was the start of the pushing back the tide.

This would be the closest Alesso came to disaster and he knew well he must take greater care in future. Whilst reforming his men for the next attack Admiral Dai Chi was now ordered to sea. Reoyl's navy had been spotted off the western coast of Vientiane and its numbers whilst formidable, were only in the region of 450 warships, a number that might well succumb to Dai Chi's 510 ships. It was at least worth a gamble rather than leave the navy to rot in harbour.

That Alesso's navy had stood idle throughout the first years of fighting may have led his enemies to lower their guard and assume this situation would remain unchanged. That would explain how Dai Shi found a fleet of 50 warships off the west coast of Vientiene all alone and so sank them to a vessel without losing a ship himself, an outcome that shifted the remaining numbers more securely in Dai Chi's favour. Reoyl's main naval force had now taken shelter in the harbour of Irrawady, still 400 ships strong to Dai Chi's 500 and there it sat as Reoyl himself fled south from Alvaro's invading forces.

On Alvaro pushed imploring Alesso to have his navy blockade the habour and so prevent any escape by Reoyl for the blood hunt was upon him and he sensed Reoyl’s capture was close. Alesso relayed the orders to his Admiral and then watched as Gothmog rushed to aid his ally who had dragged Alvaro far too deeply into enemy territory with no support for safety. There from the shore Dai Chi saw Alvaro fall to the devil from the deeps, pierced by both sword and dark fire. With this loss and Reoyl’s escape Alesso now ordered the navy back home for Qutb had finally entered the fray, landing his main army in Hanoi and quickly retaking the province for Gothmog.

Alesso also knew that Qutb and Reoyl’s navy combined would likely be too much for Dai Chi, for though lacking in quality Qutb still had numbers behind him, over 390 ships to be precise, and Reoyl had both numbers and greater quality than Alesso and some even argued better leadership in the form of the fearful Kraken, so that Alesso was warry of ordering Dai Chi to attack their combined fleet. But what if he could catch Qutb navy all lone as it sailed down the east coast of Vientiene? That was a prize worth gambling for and so Dai Chi sailed east with the wind behind him and Reoyl’s Kraken not far behind.

So it was that three battles in the same number of months saw the question of mastery of the seas answered. The first pitted Qutb’s fleet against Dai Chi with half of it destroyed before the Kraken joined the fray at which point Dai Chi beat a hasty though perhaps unneeded retreat. Yet then the enemy admirals still failed to combine and Dai Chi sank the remaining Nipponese fleet as it fled north before meeting the Kraken once more and finally proving who was the master of the waves! Not the Kraken but the Water Dragon Dai Chi!

With his navy destroyed Qutb sued for peace and after a while received it. Qutb was irrelevant, Gothmog was Alesso’s consern, yet it was a decision Alesso might rue. With his full attention once more on Vientiene Alesso abandoned his invasions of central Vientiene, he would leave that now to his allies, instead he would hit the east coast storming the provinces of Hanoi, Tanh Noah and Laos in quick succession before escaping to sea onto his awaiting fleet. Mekong had been taken and retaken on a number of occasions in the mean time but now Gothmog stood there alone. His last armies around him 140,000 strong and his country overrun. Alesso prepared for the showdown and called his allies in for the kill. A 100,000 waited in Yunnan to the north of Mekong, and another 100,000 came through the harsh mountains of Lao Cai. Yet these were not all for Gothmog had proven time and again that he could beat twice his number in open battle. On the coast of Tanh Noah another army formed and it was to this that Alesso disembarked from the fleet signalling the final march upon Mekong and the Citadel of Daegûl and it was at this time that Qutb pulled his final betrayal, posessed some said by Gothmog himself for Qutb had stayed in the province of Hanoi since the time of his surrender, biding his time, waiting, and now at the final hour he struck, cutting down a fourth 100,000 strong force that was set to arrive in Mekong.

Upon his battlements Gothmog stood, raining bolt after bolt of fire down upon his enemies. Alesso cast a silvery dome of ice over his forces and they pressed onwards bolstered by his precense, hacking, slaying their way ever closer to the dark citadel. With a flap of his leathery wings and cry of rage Gothmog launched himself directly at Alesso in one final bid to slay his nemesis. Alesso drew himself up and waited, calmly and at peace. Drawing on all his power, the power provided by the Jade Emperor and that of the Priest King he drew his sword as the Demon descended raising it on high and smiting the beast through it’s chest so ending once and for all it’s reign of terror!

Peace.

The fortress of Daegûl was stormed, the Horsemen of Alvaro joining the finall assault.

Peace.

Gothmog’s remaining armies were rooted out and disarmed or slain if they failed to surrender.

Peace.

Qutb was bound and placed in chains, yet his mind was empty, a puppet of Gothmog’s at the end.

Peace.

Reoyl’s chains of slavery were broken, and yet, and yet….
 

Wyvern

In the lands of Calradia
79 Badges
Apr 19, 2002
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EPILOGUE

Alesso called his remaining brothers together. His task was done and he could depart now in peace. It would be for others to forge the new future for this world. New men, younger men. For though he was the youngest of the brothers he felt the oldest in his heart, the weight of responsibility and power pressing down upon him. He would leave the Throne now in new hands. In safe hands. The Throne would now be the responsibility of Alvaro and perhaps someday it would show him The Way.



Alvaro returned to the Valley of the Wolf, the first time in countless centuries that he had set foot in that place, not since in fact the old Priest had lain dieing on the temple steps beginning the undieing curse had he been there. The memory stirred up sad thoughts. And now on the steps sat the Priest King. His flowing beard tapered to a fine point and his steely eyes watching Alvaro carefully. As Alvaro approached the old man pushed himself to his feet and regarded Alvaro gravely.

“Welcome Alvaro. Wecome. I am vindicated at last.” And if Alvaro saw a tear sparkle in the Priest Kings eye he studiously ignored it.

“There is one final thing you must do now Alvaro. As Alesso’s successor it is for you and you alone to choose.” The Priest King paused a moment as though choosing his words carefully. “You have two choices before you. On the one hand you can ascend the Throne and become as Alesso, Guardian of these lands. Or” and the Priest King eyed Alvaro carefully, “you can destroy the Throne, ending it’s power and influence in this world.

“Choose wisely my son, I await your decision”, and with this pronouncement he ascended the temple steps and entered the interior.

For hours Alvaro stood at the base of the temple. Pondering, wondering. Was this some sort of final test? Destroy the temple? Rule from the temple? What should he do?

He pondered what the Throne had done. He could not deny to himself that the Throne had brought good to people, providing peace though at times with a heavy hand.

Yet it had also been the cause of great wars, wars that raged for centuries.

But, but, Gothmog was now cast away. The only evil remaining to the world was the evil of his brothers. Would the brothers who had turned to Dark paths be also relieved from Immortality? Or would they stay on Earth, unhindered with the Throne gone?

Alvaro did not feel good. He wanted to end his eternal journey, he was sure he would do that by destroying the Throne, but would he leave the World to Darkness?



Alvaro could not take the risk.

He wanted to be free, but his soul could never be free if Darkness won because of him. And so he walked into the temple with a heavy heart, there to meet the Priest King.

”You have decided then Alvaro?”

”I have decided.” Alvaro replied. "I will guard the Throne. I will hunt Darkness with all my powers, new and old. I will not give up until I am sure I can go freely. Then, I will look for the Way to relieve me from this burden. But I will not be Alesso, the careful Guardian. I will be the Zealot, hunting for Evil, looking to stop it where ever it might happen to turn up. There will be no questions, just the zealous hunt.”

"Ah." And you think you see the Priest King sigh, though whever in relief or not you cannot be sure. "Then it is decided and let none gainsay it. The Throne will remain, together with its power over your brothers. Guard it well Alvaro for they still seek its power and who can say what should happen were they ever get it."

And as he shuffles off, his robes flapping about him you hear him mutter, "And so the curse of the brothers continues...."

[And Jarkko mutters in the background – Oh Crap!].