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Subject: Skirmish on the border, Lord Elladas' last stand. rss

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Life and death come and go like marionettes dancing on a table. Once their strings are cut, they easily crumble.
What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face.
"Raashaa is here" whispered the sentry. Lord Elladas Highbourne knew this was coming. In the past few weeks Raashaa, this Lizardman rogue, was wreaking havoc on the borders, pillaging and destroying without mercy. It was time to put an end to its reign of terror. Highbourne spoke his orders. The elves disappeared in the brushes at the end of the clearing where the enemy was expected to appear. Even if he had planned everything with extreme care, the Lord cursed under his sleek mithril helmet: his forces had stretched far and wide to scout the areas ahead, so he had only his chariots and a couple of platoons of very nervous and green cygnets, a handful of more experienced warriors with some archers. Not much of a force. Nevertheless this was the time to attack. If this moment passed, there was no telling how long he would have to wait for another occasion such as this one.
His forces moved to position. Word came from the patrols ahead that they were attacked by small but very aggressive lizards, and there was no way they could have avoided them. So the enemy knew that they were waiting for them. Too bad. An ambush was now out of the question.

The enemy showed its ugly face an hour later, and it was ready for battle. Elladas could see the units maneuvering right in front of his forces: there was a solid line of lizard warriors in the center, some of which were heavily armored and bearing gruesome banners decorated with the heads of his forward patrols. He gazed to the left and to the right, and he saw small but very fast and hungry looking lizards that were responsible for the first blood he guessed. On the left he saw, half screened by the lizards, other bigger ones, very fast looking. Like a reptile equivalent of a pack of rabid wolves...

According to the intelligence this was it. All in all a small force, such as his. The match was even and this was no good in his view. There was no glory to be found on the battlefield, only blood. And there was no pleasure in the killing of other sentient beings. In war there was no such thing as evenly matched conflicts, very poor generals fought battles at these odds. So he was thinking hard, as to do something bad now could mean a disaster, but the same could happen if he didn't do anything. He stretched his left arm to sign the retreat. But suddenly the rabid lizards moved with incredible speed plunging deep in no man's land, their aim was certainly to take out his archers that were directly in front of them. With that speed there was not a chance that his forces would have made it for the forest unscathed.
This left him with no other choice than to fight.

He had trained for years his battle mind. When the powerful meditations of war opened up to his conscience he allowed the spirits of long lost ancestors to take over him. He could see that his mouth was issuing orders, the bows were already stretched hard, at his signal the volley of arrows cut deeply in the bodies of the predators that were running at neck breaking speed. Two of the monsters fell to the ground bleeding and screaming like slaughtered lambs. But they were gaining ground: there wasn't much time left.
Lord Highbourne drove his chariots with the hands of a possessed, and charged directly to the flank of the hounds just before they were able to put their talons on the archers. A squad of cygnets did the same on the other flank. The order was to crush the lizards before the main bodies of the army met in full.
The rule had been followed: be there the most where it counts.

The charges and the successive volleys of arrows at short range did a horrible work on the reptiles that were nearly completely wiped out.
But things didn't go as expected...
Even if surrounded the lizards fought with a fury the elves had never seen. The cygnets, bearing the brunt of the hounds' anger lost their courage and fled. Leaving only the chariots and the archers to finish the job.
But the chariots had been halted, and the archers, frightened by the massacre in front of them, threw arrows that never found their mark.

The small hatchlings charged the chariots in the flank. Lord Highbourne unsheathed his silver blade and prepared for battle. The small lizards submerged one of the chariots eating large chunks of meat out of the panicked horses and elves. Not even the most tightly knight chainmail could save you from those pests. The horses moving on their own accord turned away from the battle. A second chariot was attacked and destroyed this time by the hounds.
But suddenly it all stopped.

The hatchlings opened up and a fearsome ancient-looking lizardman warrior appeared. Its powerful build was only matched by the toughness of its armor that was richly elaborated with abstract scenes of conquest and beheading; a long, recurved and saw-like shaped saber was in his massive hand. Lord Highbourne recognized his enemy, the lizarman was Raashaa and it came to challenge the champion of the elves.

The two confronted each other. One was very strong but slow. The other fast but frail. Elladas moved like a professional dancer. The crude cleaver that Raashaa used drew thin arches of death all around him. Even in his concentration he could hear the battle raging around him. The hounds had reached the archers that were also flanked by the hatchlings and torn apart. On the other side the hatchlings were sent packing by the battle squads stationed there, but the main force of tyrants had yet to make contact. As the Lord was doing, even the units of elves danced around the slower lizards. But not one of the most powerful blows he could muster had got through the thick carapace his enemy was wearing. And his forces were wearing out...

This battle is lost - he thought - and there is only one thing I can do now.

The ancestors whispered in his ears the Song of Death and Sorrow, that all heroes need to listen before they part from their eternal life.

He moved rapidly and dived right on the blade of his enemy!

A silent scream echoed in the spirit world.
The battle would be lost, but the death of a hero could be heard by all the elves. They could abandon the fight now and retreat in the forests without fear, as the hounds, wounded as they were, would not be able to follow them. And the scream would reach the farthest corners of the realm of Albion to the silvery barrier of the Moon, so that the Seers would know and blow the horns of battle once again.

On that field today there is a stone.
On it magic runes glitter in the darkness.
And words can be read there, that only elf eyes may understand:
"No hero dies in vain."

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