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Author Topic: Era 2, Prologue  (Read 3844 times)
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« on: September 16, 2008, 16:21:48 PM »

It was so cold that the eyes had to be nearly closed, so they do not freeze, and the breath was instantly turning into a microscopic icy crystals.
The stormy northern wind was blowing furiously, waving up snow-drifts everywhere, covering the far distant, turned his back to the earth sun.
It was like that all month already.
Hellish cold gripped the eastern boundaries of the Imperian land, brutal blizzards rooted out ageless trees or covered their naked branches with thick ice. The snow, looking like a dense tulle curtain, never stopped, massing two feet high cover.
The fierce winter spared no one.
And it fell over the nomad camp like a sword of destiny.
Not used to this kind of  raw cold, the Steppe sons did not bare the nature's wrath so lightly and many of them died.
Sarans, who were deployed in the eastern provinces, undefeated in battle, payed a bitter price to the raged weather.
After the close by forests were all cut down nearly two weeks ago, the nomad camp had to rely on the thin clothed walls of their tents and the animal skins to fight the cold.
The food was diminishing too.
Half of the barbarians succumbed to the white death and the hunger.
The other half was on the edge of its strength.
The thousands fires, never put down only a month ago, was reduced to couple of hundreds glittering lights, constantly obstructed by the dense snow curtain.
Nomads were exhausted, waiting for the darned winter to finally come to an end.
But the winter had no such intentions, obviously.

Broken down form the freezing sea storms, the ship was ready to fall apart any moment now. It was obvious that some kind of magic was still keeping her in one piece.
Defying the brutal wind and the stormy dark sea, which was hammering the pier constantly, she somehow managed to dock safely.
A single dark figure went down and stepped into the deep snow.
Krum - The Fearsome Mongol, Hero of the Battle of the Wall, the legendary leader of the elite Steppe infantry, folded his eyes and strained all his muscles in order to stand on his feet. The force of the freezing wind was throwing him around like a rag doll.
Two guards met him and bowed their heads in respect. They had to scream to out loud the blizzard:
'Welcome to the land of Imperia, General! We will take you to your tent now...'
'I want to meet Xaoc immediately', Krum interrupted him.
'But he is currently at a war council, General...', the guard startled, but Krum interrupted him again:
'Even better. They are all there with him! Lead the way!'

They were all here.
Seated directly on the ground, forming a wide circle, observing the huge, stretched out map of the Free Kingdoms. Xaoc was walking straight through it, squatting from time to time to point out in it.
Despite the lowered morale of the soldiers, the faces of their generals contained no sign of doubt or hesitation.
The battled hardened Generals were still burning for battles.
"My loyal dogs..."
Xaoc loved each one of them, but that was not going to stop him from sending them to their deaths, if necessary.
And the Generals themselves were not going to accept lesser death than the glorious one during battle.
But the harsh and merciless winter had left its print in their souls anyway. The Leaders had become grumpy. The long absence of action, heavy losses, which were not so many even in the times of greatest peril during the war, darkened their faces.
The tension was so heavy that it could be cut with a knife.
'After the blizzard calms down, we will have to reclaim our positions, west from this river. The forests and roads are empty...
(because the sarans are lying death beneath the snow and because I ordered their supply to be ended, so the food is enough for the soldiers in the camp) 
...and the Emperors most certainly have resumed the trading with each other. At least - the ones in the eastern provinces.'
'And where will we find reinforcements for such an operation', Jane raised her voice without even caring about the total lack of respect in her question, 'The Sarans units are growing thin anyway almost in all they locations. We are receiving reports (the ones that can reach us) that imperian troops are sweeping out the forests and the roads westwards. The Sarans can not intercept the heavily armed imperian convoys and prefer to lay low. They desperately need reinforcements and supplies themselves!'
Xaoc kept silent, looking at the Amazon.
The Nomadess did not turned her eyes from his look and the Chieftain of the Horde sighed.
'We have no choice, but to replace them with a regular infantry. I can not allow myself to order a reinforcements form the Steppe until the winter passes. Not a single ship would reach these shores.'
'In that case it is better not to send regulars at all. It will be their certain doom. If not the blizzard, the imperian patrols will surely kill them', Oton's voice was rough. The cut off hand was hurting him. Every time when it was cold.
The quarrels and long discussions irritated him.
'How about we surrender all our positions in the east? And - better - let us all go tomorrow and leave ourselves to the mercy of the imperian scum', Caxo haughty raised his chin and showed his teethe.
'And since when a suckling like you knows so much about the art of war', Oton replied the question with question.
'Just face it, old man. Has that blond trash in your tent soften you so much that you can not send your soldiers in battle anymore', Caxo mocked him.
The Butcher was instantly filled with rage and grabbed his sword.
And the Blood-Thirsty stretched flexibly, waiting for his move.
'SILENCE', Xaoc roared.
Generals muted and pierced their crossed feet with their eyes.
'Are these my Princepses? Are these the Generals for which my sons are willing to die? One more quarrel and you will all hang from the tree', Xaoc spitted aside and continued, 'So... The woods and roads will be ours again, but first we will fix the things in our own back yard. The Emperors are recovering. They will fight back. To beat them we will have reevaluate our tactics. Frontal assaults will not do the job. They already know the drill and they are taking over the trade routes again. The winter stopped us... but just for the moment. Once it passes thousands of ships, carrying reinforcements and supplies will embark.'
Xaoc made a pause.
'Besides... we will make a little change in out hierarchy. All the attacks will be coordinated by a single General. First among the Princepses. You will answer to him. He will answer to me. It is about time we strengthen our ranks and show that imperian scum we are no lesser when it comes the military discipline.'
Xaoc kept silent again and looked at his Leaders.
Their thoughts could be easily read through their foreheads.
Each one of them was seeing himself like the First one. And each one of them deserved it.
'Who will be that.... First one, Chieftain', Caxo dared to ask the common question.
And, as if it was the answer to present himself, the tent entranced moved aside and a 7 feet giant went in, all covered with snow.
His eyes were just like a cat's, his long hair was tied on the back of its head, his temporal bones - grayed.
The Generals could not believe their eyes.
'Shut your mouths, you all look stupid', the giant smiled.
'Mongol', Oton started, 'But how... did you even get here?'
Krum fixed his eyes on him.
'Where is your arm, Oton? Did you, by any chance, pinched some imperian juicy lady where you were not supposed to, and she was not agree?'
The Butcher stood up and smiled widely. He shaked his old friend's hand.
'You must be a wizard to reach those darned shores, Mongol!'
One by one, the other Generals greeted the Hero, as he was known. A legend was standing before them, probably the greatest warrior ever to be born in the Steppe. Everybody knew him.
'This is the new First among equals', Xaoc proclaimed and... all the smiles and joy instantly disappeared from everybody's faces.
"It was expected."
Oton's face momentarily curved with and anger he could not hide.
'With all due respect, Chieftain, Mongol has never faced imperian troops. What does he know of this war? This is not the Wall', he turned his face towards Krum, 'No offense.'
'Non taken', the Hero replied calmly.
'I think there are some which are more suitable for this position', Oton finished.
'Like you, for example', Caxo spoke mockingly.
'Yes, me', Oton raised his voice, 'I think that, among all of you, sissies, I deserve that post most. My cut off hand proves it!'
'In the name of the Mother, how pathetic', Jane lisped.
'Why don't you and the suckling go to your tent? I think it's time for you to milk him!'
Xaoc slowly drew his huge dagger.
The sound of the blade coming out made all mute.
The Chieftain swung... and sticked it in the middle of the map.
'Everybody out. Oton and Krum will stay. Now!'
After everybody went out, Xaoc poured wine in his chalice, drank and looked at both warriors.
Krum stood out at least two heads above Oton. He could squash him like a bug.
"But not before the Butcher gut him like a fish", Xaoc thought in irritation.
'Will I have problems with either of you', he only asked.
'None, Chieftain', Oton was looking straight forward.
Krum did not reply at all.
Despite his greatness, he had always troubles with the discipline and the military protocol.
The giant startled:
'None, Chieftain.'
Xaoc kept looking at them for quite some time and then he waved his hand.
'Both go and get some sleep. Krum will come to me tomorrow, by sun rise.'
Outside Krum put his heavy arm on Oton's shoulder.
'I am not here to take away your immortal glory, Butcher...'
The bloody nomad General removed it harshly.
'I have always been in your shadow, you miserable mongol worm! What is it you have that makes you better than me?!?!? The glory was always yours! Why did you ever had to come here!'
Oton drew his heavy sword and sticked it into the snow.
'I will never bow before you, even if it will cost my head!'
His long years friendship with Krum had ended right in the moment Xaoc announced him as the First one.
And the respect... was replaced by hatred and blind rage.

The war was about to start.
And it would not be against the imperians only.
This time there would be a war for power, for domination, for honor, for immortal glory - not only in the eyes of your soldiers, but in your own as well.
The time of mercy had long gone.
There could be only one.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2008, 17:04:13 PM by Oton » Logged

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