999 – The Fall of Yardossi

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Dagalur braced his back against the smoldering tree, oblivious to the smoke and heat. He spiked the tip of his spear into the soft earth to stand for itself. A squad of 4 huge orcish beasts lumbered by, their grunts seemingly syncronized as if a marching cadence. Drool was flung from their wide maws with each footfall. Their hair was impossibly thick, matted and lumpy, and their smell was like a foghorn announcing their approach. Dagalur was only interested in their feet and he checked them closely as they passed. Only two of them were even wearing boots, and they were shoddy and cheap. The other two got by with only the rough hide of their natural feet. 

He hated them, not because of their looks or smell, but because of their innate stupidity. Their utter lack of understanding anything more than the most base violence and greed. They were useful fodder as shields on the field of war, or mindless battering rams to be sent against resistance, but to his mind, they were barely worth the trouble of feeding.

His hatred for them had only increased in these 3 months of siege, being constantly in their presence, always having to put down their predictable fights and arguments over the most mundane possessions. Dag would bet he lost more of these stupid brutes to violence in their own camps than in battle. He had nearly thrown them all senselessly against the castle defenses just to be rid of them, but then the most surprising turn of events. Three days ago the gates had opened and the war was won, if not the actual battle. There was simply no way they could withstand his sheer numbers on the open fields of battle. Not without the queen and her staff.

 

Orcs, lizardfolk, centaurs, screaming banshees, dreaded wraiths, cyclops, ogres, giants, worgs, fell beasts, and at least two dragons advanced in a screaming and lumbering mass across the flat plains before the castle. The ground shook as if wracked by earthquakes and the sky burned with orange red flames as huge fireballs screamed in both directions, landing in thunderous explosions that sent creatures and humans hurtling into the air.

The frontal assault was the only path, as the castle rested on a cliff that prohibited assault from the rear or flanks, except by dragons that could do little against the massive stone. Several waves of warriors tried landing by war gryphons from the rear, but their numbers were far too few and a small squad of defenders was easily able to bring down the beasts before they could land, sending their riders crashing to the rocks far below.

Even from the front it was an uphill battle because though the field was smooth, it sloped steeply down and away from the castle for almost half a league. 

All along the castle battlements archers sent arrow after arrow into the sky in high arcs that looped over the kings’ men and fell upon the attacking beasts. Among the archers, a half dozen mages drew upon the elemental energies to cast fireballs, or call down ruinous ice storms; giant frozen shards slicing through rows of orc invaders. Others sent rolling balls of arcane energy through the walls of hate inspired marauders.

King Silas, known throughout all the kingdoms as the good-hearted beast, stood midway across the drawbridge and called out battle orders. His men were rallied again and again despite the impossible odds. The attacking hordes were relentless, coming in waves one behind another, each having to climb over ever growing masses of the fallen.

Overhead, huge fell beasts would drop from the sky screeching in thunderous response to the banshees and freezing the hearts of men as they dove down above their heads, bashing crowds of defenders from the parapets or grabbing them up in their foul talons and carrying them high and away as they screamed. As one of these profane creatures hurtled toward the king, he drew his sword, stepped deftly to the side as the beast was about to strike him, and swung with all his strength into its weak, unprotected neck, nearly severing its head.  It fell from the drawbridge into the murky waters below, which suddenly boiled with agitation. The long sucker covered tendrils of some enormous beast wrapped around the dead carcass and pulled it beneath the roiling surface.

A guard ran quickly from the castle to the king, passing news of the greatest import. The king turned to face the castle, and his men, and proclaimed with all his energy, “Fight! Fight! For our freedom is at stake, and the lives of our families! Turn back these accursed demons!” With that, he quickly crossed the bridge and entered the castle. He took the winding stairs to the kings’ quarters three at a time and burst through the heavy wooden door in a near panic.

There on the bed lay the queen. She looked at peace for the first time in months. The king looked at her a shocked instant before racing to her side and taking her hand in his. They were cold and lifeless. He bent to her face and kissed her lightly, his tear dropping onto her face and spilling down her cheek as if hers.  Only then did he notice Rutherford, her speechless turpid, who stood solemnly at the side of the bed and held the kings’ newborn daughter. Rutherford almost imperceptibly shook his head, his shadowy eyes downcast. The kings’ own eyes filled with tears as he looked back upon his wife. The world had grown silent in the depths of his pain and he did not know how long he stared at her. Only when his daughter cried did the sounds of war return with a heaviness that shook him. He turned his eyes to her. A smile tried to draw up the corners of his mouth against his despair. He rose and took a step toward her. At once, a blue and white misty haze gathered beside Rutherford. The kings eyes grew wide and alarmed as he realized the meaning. He lunged forward, his arms outstretched. ‘Noooo’ he pleaded, his voice seeming distant to him, but it was too late. Rutherford took a single step sideways and he and the child vanished into the haze. It dissipated without a trace and the king was left grasping only emptiness.

On the battlefield, Dagalur, the Orc chieftain in command of the legions, sat astride his massive worg and smiled as his forces pressed ever closer to the drawbridge. The defenders upon the walls were thin now, and those in line in front of the bridge were thoroughly decimated. Ulkaur would be very pleased with the battle today. Perhaps pleased enough to give Dagalur the Breavia Kingdom itself, as that would be customary. He should be a king, Dagalur thought, and if Breavia wasn’t the largest of the kingdoms, that was alright. It was long known as the hardest, it’s soldiers and defenders, its king, the fiercest in all of Aveena. That would suit him, at least for a while.

Presently one of his ravens returned. It perched upon the head of his steed and croaked its message. Dagalur listened attentively, then smiled, revealing his gruesome teeth. The queen was dead. That ended everything since the heir to the throne, whether princess or prince, would also be dead, and in a short time, the king would join them.

Now there was a ruckus at the castle gate and his minions were falling back. He prodded his foul steed closer. It was the king, rallying his men and pouring forth from the castle in a furious, but doomed attempt to push back the overwhelming tide of destruction. As Silas ran headlong across the span smashing and slicing all before him, he began changing. This was a sight Dagalur had hoped to witness. The kings’ arms and legs thickened into fur covered tree sized appendages; his hands and feet becoming huge meaty clubs of sharpened claws, his face swelling into the massive and powerful head of a giant bear. He abruptly let out a roar that sent the nearest men in backward flight. He dropped to 4 legs and charged after them.  This was it then thought Dagalur. The king knew he was beaten, or he never would have resorted to such a useless effort. It was a madness that may well cost many of Dagalur’s forces as the king expended his rage, but it could have only one ending.

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999 – The Fall of Yardossi

by Richard Crossley time to read: 6 min
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