War and Thornes

War and Thornes by Dagger of Blackwood

War and Thornes: Part 1

War. War was something of an addiction to Dagger. Depending on the company he would even admit it from time to time. He understood the difference between right and wrong well enough. He knew that his fascination with politics, strategy, tactics, and combat was not necessarily something others would look on with favor. Dagger did not mind so long as he could prove himself useful to whatever cause he ended up fighting for he felt as though his own inner interests would not offend others.

The soldier of Blackwood and now Mercenary of the Realm of Roses had little time to speak terms of payment with the soldier of the Archon's personal guard. He could have spoken with the Archon himself but he was not sure it was proper. After all, Dagger's mouth had gotten him in trouble in the past. A lack of tact had made him a wanted man for several years. Needless to say, Dagger was not interested in such an event occurring again.

No, Dagger kept his grumbling about payment to himself and the regular soldiers around him. It was a fact that Dagger would have gone into the fray regardless of payment but he would have fought for the thrill rather than a cause. What would that have brought him; wounds with no way to heal them or no one to stand for him should something go terribly wrong. No, Dagger wanted to work for someone with the ability to give him a place should he need one.

As the armies of the Rose and of the North began to pass through the portal something went terribly wrong. Dagger had passed through such gates in the past and often issues had arisen. He had known people to be locked away in other realms and worlds when various ancient gates had failed. Still, that never seemed to stop Dagger from taking the same risk over and over year after year. This time it was he and those with him who paid the price of fate.

When Dagger emerged from the portal the air immediately left his lungs. He had never felt such a feeling before. He had never been without air, without breath. For a few moments, Dagger could still see the world around him. He caught a glimpse of strange-ethereal women in white. The cause Dagger thought. All those with him had hit the ground gasping for the air that would not come. The last thing Dagger saw was the Archon attempting to swing his great sword at the women in white. No one else had the strength to even try.

War and Thornes: Part 2

Air. Air had never been a problem for Dagger. He always had it at his disposal which is to say he never had trouble breathing before. He did not know yet what fear a lack of air could bring. As he lay in a half-dead daze time seemed to slow. His vision was blurred and sounds were muted. He was not sure how long he had laid there. Fear struck him then. 

By fate or by what the people of this world called the Grace of the Elements air finally returned to the lungs of the fallen. Slowly those around him regained their strength and were able to breathe and stand once again. Death had not come but it had been close for them all.
When finally the Archon's force stood once again a count went up. Soon it became apparent that two-thirds of the united army had been somehow separated from the forces present. Dagger heard talk of Vinshar possibly being the cause. Balor the Red, a knight in the service of the Archon, explained what that was and what it could mean. Servants of the Void and the corruption of a Portal of Air seemed the most likely explanation. It certainly explained the lack of breath in any case.

With what men the Archon had left, the order was given to move out and see what we could find. The whispers of the soldiers caught Dagger's attention. As he listened he learned that not only had the united army been cut off from the bulk of its men and resources but it had also been placed somewhere far from their intended destination. When Dagger asked Balor where they were, the knight could not assuredly answer. Regardless of the circumstance, the remainder of the Archon's army moved on. 

The land was strange and unknown to the men around Dagger. The Realmsian found that discomforting as the entire world was discomforting to Dagger. Know even those who lived in it knew not of where they were. The grounds of the unknown lands were primarily hills with patches of shrub, forest, and narrow rivers. The Archon, using a group called the Naldar, brought his forces close to the forest edge searching for clues as to where they were and where their comrades could be.

One of the Naldar reported a brook that ran along the forest edge and a small-old bridge by which to safely cross it. With silent hand signals, the Archon and the Naldar moved the army quietly forward. Once across the old bridge and beyond the forest line the order was given for complete silence. Dagger moved as far forward as possible but the narrowing of the path through the woods brought to a column of soldiers to one deep forcing Dagger to fall in line.
After near an hour of slow marching, the small army halted its forward movement to catch its bearings. While they waited Dagger ate trail rations and dried meats. It was then that the first screams where heard. Orders were quickly issued down the line to prepare to move again. The sound of screaming could mean many things but most assuredly it was some sort of clue as to where the united army was and perhaps what happened to the rest of it. It was their only clue.
The army hasted to march forward. Balor told Dagger to look to the trees through the precaution was not new to the Realmsian. 

"You do not belong here," came the hissing voice of a woman.

"These are the Queen's lands," came another voice from nearby. 

The Archon's force halted at the sight of the local inhabitants which occupied a nearby clearing. The united army began to fan out as best they could to build a line to confront the potential threat. Weapons were drawn.

"What is that," asked Dagger to Balor. "Who are they?“

"Undead Flesh.“

War and Thornes: Part 3

Undeath. The undead was nothing new to Dagger. He had fought wars with and against their kind. For a long time, Dagger had served Sir Lord Dark the Duke of Idaris. Idaris was a land within an old Principality plagued by the side effects of the broken Planar Shield Stone. The nation was overrun with the undead both friend and foe. Sir Dark himself being a Death Knight did not seem all that concerned about such things. 

Dagger, with the people of CrestGrath and Idaris, had also battled the undead on countless occasions. One particular war came to mind as he hacked one of the Undead Flesh: The War with the Cult of Zermarx. Dagger had been held up inside a fort with a small army for some twelve hours once fighting off hordes of the Cult's fast moving undead. That war had been waged all over the Realms. Dagger supposed that these Undead Flesh were not much different in regards to undead enemies; Just better armored.

It did not take long for the Archon's forces to take down the remaining Flesh. The United Army was well prepared to skirmish. Once the group had regained its composure it was ready to move out again in search of its lost companions and perhaps more information about why and where they were where they were. With a few hand signals and whispered orders, the small force was on the march again.

Torchlight flickered through the trees. The Archon's men turned down a wide path in the forest to bring the group closer to the source of the flames. Perhaps we would find our people or perhaps we would find the infinite army. Either way, it was the only way. The Archon, Karl Weber, was resolute in his quest and Dagger enjoyed that steel.

As the Archon's force neared the source of the lights it became apparent that the torches and fires were a part of a very large war camp. Quiet but quick the Archon's men moved toward the camp. Once closer it became obvious that it was occupied not by the enemy of the free people but the people of Mythodia themselves. Relief fell upon the United Army. Friends, not foes had been found.

War and Thornes: Part 4

Unity. Dagger had lived long enough to learn that people, in general, had difficulties remaining united under one banner. The foundations by which cultures are built limit the success of such unifying attempts. Dagger witnessed such failures as the Commonwealth of Independent Nations, the Empire, and the Free Kingdoms. They all fell to discord with one another but the man Dagger now followed was trying to do the same: Unite them.

Inside the camp appeared to have been abandoned by the Undead Flesh. That gave some insight into where we were. Dagger had studied the maps in the city prior to making the journey north with the Reich der Rosen which led him to believe there were few possible places where the United host could have ended up. After making the tented area livable, Dagger set out to try and collect what information he could.

As the sun set over Mythodia, a basic understanding of the makeup of some six hundred men and women about him. The people of the camp were made up of forces from all over Mythodia. Naldar and Mercenaries camped with the Reich der Rosen under the Archon and there were sections of the camp from lands north, south, east, and west. It was the south that knew where we were.

As the day wore into night scouts reported potential hostile movements. The Archon tasked one of his personal men, Dany, and Dagger to scout for possible Black Ice camps in the nearby lands. The two set out not long after the sun had set.

One of the first encounters two came upon was that of a legion of the United host being assaulted by a group of undead. Dany and Dagger rushed to their aid and fought until it appeared as though the legion had the enemy unit well in hand. Using the confusion of battle, the two then slipped into a nearby field where they moved toward the concealment of the hedge that split it.

"We can use the shadow of the hedge to move around back to the road unseen but once we get there we will be again in the open“

"Let's try it.“

The soldier and the mercenary moved their way up, around and then back down the hedge ever so slowly. When finally the two had reached the other side they heard the noise of people somewhere along the road. The sun had long since set in Mythodia bringing the concealing darkness of the night. To add to the gloom the air was wet and the night sky covered in a blanket of clouds. The two crouched and tried their best to see and decern the identity of the noises. Was it friend or foe?

"There are two of them but I cannot see their "Wappen“"

"They spotted us.“

"We are lightly armored but we have the burn before the road. We can use that to our advantage if they are enemies.“

Even in the misty-low light, Dany looked uncertain of the pair's success. Unfortunately, there were few choices. When the two figures that had spotted Dany and Dagger on the road started running toward them, there were only two options: run or fight.