Posted by: lordkyler | July 31, 2010

Assailing Forces – Part One

This was another ill-fated piece of competitive chain story, one which I was loath to abandon, but once again my partner quit before I did.

Sigh.

Anyway, I was having a great deal of fun with this, and hope to one day return to it. I really enjoyed the basic premise, a siege in a medieval setting, albeit with some interesting equipment and people, I even liked the sounds of the names I made up.

Sections in bold were written by me, section in italics were written by my brother. Part One:

•••

Prologue

(Joint collaboration)

The valley was a lush jewel, covered with forest, ranging from majestic titans, mostly conifers, to the small ferns choking the forest floor. The valley was the only pass through the imposing Pandaras mountains for hundreds of miles. To the south was the great pass, hundreds of feet wide. It was guarded by secret, hidden watch towers. To the Northeast was another, somewhat smaller, leading back to the country of Terecarn, whose rulers had held the valley for generations. Hidden to the west was a small, difficult pass, leading into the central mountain range, little known, and little used. The only time it saw any use was in the spring, when hunters followed it up to a small clearing, where the deer congregated at the salt licks there.

In the center of the valley was a small, deep lake, known as the Talgraad. The lake was bounteous, and filled with fish, which had, in years past, inspired some enterprising explorers to found a small town, the walled village of Talgrea. The people lived primarily off the fishing boats, overwatched by the towering castle of Talgra.

The castle had been built years past to fend off marauders, and protect the passes of unwanted visitors. King Tarnteal I commissioned a castle to be built on the cliffs. It sat overlooking the lake, it’s sheer, high walls rising above the surrounding valley. One could see it from anywhere in the valley. It was set on the cliffs, which were scored, replete with handholds and shallow caves. In fact, there was a race every year to the top, where the enterprising young lad would receive a cask of wine.

Three towers adorned the walls, one overlooking the lake to the east, and two flanking the gatehouse, on the upward slope. The tower to the north extended outwards further than the others, giving the defenders another angle. The woods were cut back several hundred yards. A sharp eyed sentry on the east tower could see both ends of the valley. The keep was enclosed separately. All in all, the castle was a well guarded behemoth, keeping unwanted visitors out of the country. This was where war would soon break…

The Lord Dochach, from the south countries, and Lord Clyne, the lord of the castle, had long been at an uneasy truce, neither side enjoying the others presence. Soon the battle would begin, and it would be no small fight.

The South Pass

•••

Day 1, Dawn, of the year 1482

My name is Kaylan Glosen. I am a General in my lord’s forces. We hope to capture the Talgra castle and the town by the lake for our selves. We had wanted that land for many centuries, after they had gone in and settled in and made the castle. The castle itself was a work of art. I had been there myself once or twice. Once during the cliff race. My nephew won the race that year. The cask of wine was good too. Now we would attack that city. My nephew is not in my Lord’s forces. He is currently a blacksmith, making swords, armor, shields, and maces for the troops. Provisions were packed as well. Soon we would begin our journey through the south pass. We would be ready in a matter of days.

General Glosen

•••

Year 1482, Jule 5.

I am Kancro, and I am stationed at the South Watch, in the hidden tower. The tower was not exactly a tower, at least it did not appear to be. In fact, from the outside it was invisible. The tower was a masterpiece of design, even more so than the castle. It contained a number of innovations that make it impossible to detect. The entrance and exits were hidden, one a fair distance from the pass, and the other nearly in it. The former was disguised as one of the many rifts in the base of the mountains, covered with pebbles and shale. It swung open when enough force was applied with lever, prying it outwards. A long unmarked tunnel led to the base of the tower, where we kept the horses and supplies. The other tunnel branched off south, where it lead to a pulley and lever system, which allowed us to lift the large slab of rock covering it. As such, it could only be opened from the inside, after removing the barricades. The stairs climbed up, their plainness not revealing the years that had gone into their cutting. I climbed them. When I got to the top, I saw Balred sitting at the sole table, working on the maps we did in our spare time. Falcro was sitting next to him, eating some venison. All the food we brought had to be smoke or similarly prepared, as no smoke could give away our location. The candle glow was not a problem, as the actual watch was above us, on the deck. Falcro looked up from his food and gave a little wave, then pointed upwards. It was my turn on watch, and I had to relieve Caedro. I stepped into the small room which contained the ladder. It was still fairly dark, so only one door could be open at a time, so the candle could not reveal us.

I climbed up the ladder, and relieved him. He climbed down the ladder, bored to death, and longing to talk to those below. The watch was the most innovative and important feature of the tower. The steep cliffs allowed for a trick of perspective. What appeared as broad sweeping window to me, was, as I knew from experience, practically invisible from the ground seventy feet below. If I wore the concealing hood on the cloak, my head, the only part of me sticking out was also disguised so as to be indistinguishable from the rest of the cliffs. I could see and not be seen, as long as I watched my head. Hours passed, and suddenly I noticed smoke rising. It could be loggers, or hunters, but they hadn’t been there yesterday. The border patrol would have to ride early. My watch was over, so I signaled for a replacement. We had a system of ropes that lifted small flags, at the tunnel mouths and in the floors of the tower which allowed for silent communication. Falcro took the post, and the rest of us moved down to start the border patrol. Caedro and I saddled up, dressed in dark green cloaks, which were splotched with lighter green. We were armed with a light sword and a longbow. Balred was coming to shut and lock the door behind us. After Falcro sent us the clear signal by the flag system, and we rode forth, the door shutting behind us with a dull thud.

We moved quickly riding south to the brook that marked most of the border. Our valley was the only practical route through the vast Pandaras mountain range, and as long as we protected it, the rest of the kingdom was safe from southern rivals such as Dochach or Sierlo, and our territory did not extend much further than the Southern Pass’ outlet. Suddenly we froze. There were voices, coming from roughly where the smoke had been earlier.

We dismounted, and moved up cautiously. The horses were well trained, they would not leave unless we told them to. Even though it might have been a band of hunters, we exercised caution, and were soon glad we did.

An army was camped in Dael’s clearing. The off-white canvas tents were numerous, and the men were busy suiting up. More supplies began coming in from large carts. They were obviously gearing up for war. I racked my brain for other possible reasons. I came up with none. They were too far up the country to be moving somewhere else. The only standard I could see was on a much more elaborate tent, around which the more heavily armored troops were surrounding. I quickly laid low, hiding in the brush. I made quick observations, noting their strengths, size, troops, and all the other information I could see. Then we mounted up and rode like madmen for the castle.

Kancro, Tower Sentry

•••

Day 3, late afternoon, 1482

We had moved ahead about two or three miles to Dael’s clearing. It suited the army just fine, and there was plenty of wildlife in the forest for us to hunt, so we didn’t deplete our supplies before we got to the castle for the siege. They would also have border patrols every so often, so that would be a perfect opportunity to grab a few hostages. No torture would be necessary. They would be for later. Just in case we ran out of options, they could be used for bargaining. We had set up camp early morning, marching during the night, just in case there were enemy in our lands. Most of the day had been spent sleeping, for some people, and the rest of the day was spent eating and practicing our fighting skills. At the moment, it was time for the evening meal. The cooks had made fresh venison stew with bread and ale. It was nothing like what we had back at the castle, but it was very good. After sitting around the fire for a while, telling stories, and singing songs, everyone went to their individual tents, and the first watch went to one of the lieutenants, and hoping that there would be no attack during the night, we settled down for some sleep.

General Glosen

•••

1482, Jule 5

We had arrived at the castle, tossing up a warning at the tower on the way. We had exited the pass, and galloped through the woods, on the beaten dirt path. The gate guards gave us no trouble, they knew who we were, and we knew the password. We required a direct meeting with the Lord. He had been in the middle of the People’s Court. However, he knew our position, and he instantly made time. The magister took control of the court. We were in his private room, and we told him all.

The Lord was a tall man, and imposing in his age. He had seen forty years, twenty of them as the Lord of the castle. A scowl crossed his bearded face.

“We cannot be sure that he comes to attack us,”

he said imperially. “But to be unprepared would be a great folly, especially if we proved wrong.”

I nodded my agreement, a bit out of line, but we were his intelligence, and he knew all of the tower men personally.

“So, we shall adopt a ready stance. We shall prepare for the worst, and hope for better. Go and tell the townsfolk to be ready to get to the castle on an instant’s notice, and I shall prepare for a defense at the castle. Gather the outriders, I have jobs for them.”

The outriders were dangerous men, some of almost mystical status. They were purported to be able to walk on snow without footprints, and strike a man dead from fifty paces with a glance. I doubted this, but I had met a few, and the assurity with which he moved seemed to suggest that the estimates were not far off. They would probably be used to scout the enemy and get a message to the King about the impending invasion. Their steeds were almost as legendary as they were. I left to warn the townsfolk, and Caedro left to get the Outriders and inform the tower men.

Kancro, Tower Sentry

•••

[Notes] General Glosen seems a rather short-spoken individual, given the shortness of his segments. *cough cough*

It’s pretty clear I was enjoying this far more. The hidden tower and staircase are, in my opinion, quite interesting. Also, if the sentries (and later, outriders) seem very similar to the rangers in Ranger’s Apprentice, just know I had not read the book at the time, so they still count as original. More installments to come.

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