Commander Katisch Moss's Report on the final battle of the war, NOT TO BE REMOVED FROM THE NOBLE'S LIBRARY UNDER ANY COST SAVE FOR INVASION, THE PENALTY FOR THE SAID CRIME IS DEATH, BY THE HANGMAN'S "SINNER'S" NOOSE.
Western Bank Of The Baylern River, Sovereignty of The City State Valiquet And Land Of King Solourn, Winter Of The Year Three-hundred And Forty-two Of The Sixth Era Of This World.
Cold, wet, dreary, the mist had risen up and now swirled all around them. All around men coughed, it didn't do much to ease the tension, just prolonged the eternity of waiting before the final reckoning in the hundred years war. Either they would win it here and now, finally. After everything they had been through, able to go back to their families, and what's more go back a hero. Or here they would lose and die, and for all eternity they, those four hundred men, would be remembered as the people who lost the war. The war that their father's and their father's father's had fought and died in. The war that their country had poured so many innocent lives into, just to see some light at the end of the tunnel for not just themselves but for the whole known kingdoms of the world. The war that was a part of their bloodlines more than blood itself, it was their life and livelihood; it was everything. More than one man was scared what would happen if they got just one step of the battle wrong. On their own borders it would, either one way or the other, all be over within the next hour. All around men were on edge, biting their nails or trying to pour down some food in their mouths in what could be their last ever meal. The older, more experienced, men sharpened their weapons with whetstones, though even they looked anxious. Of the four hundred troops by the river over one hundred were already at the ford, the rest were ever so slowly making their way over there. The battle would take place at the northern Baylern crossing by the scouts reports. Of the two crossings, the north and the south this one was not a bridge, whereas the southern crossing was. One hundred archers, all with standard issue oak made longbows, would stand back and, as soon as the attackers began to cross the river, let loose with their arrows. Another one hundred troops, these with shields as big as, or bigger than, a full grown man and a long pike was the last line of defence before the archers. World renowned, the Valiquen pike formation was best out of all the known kingdoms in the world. They would not forfeit the line, not these highly trained, elite, troops; at least not without being bribed out first, and the Valiquen army had had no deserters or traitors since its founding in the year two hundred and twelve of the fourth era. That was where he would stand, right from the centre of the pike line, commanding the army, it was his job. Today, the responsibility fell on his shoulders, and he felt the burden more than any else. The rest of the army, between two hundred and two hundred and fifty troops all carried a standard issue long-sword which most had strapped across their back at this point in time. Some of the men had their own weapons aswell, either duel wielding or would choose an individual weapon when the time arose for it. They would form the bulk of the army and, from as soon as the attackers entered the ford, they would launch themselves forward in two waves of around fifty troops, then an all out charge with all troops remaining after that. The elite soldiers wore plate-mail, tough sturdy armour that did not break under duress, the others only had the standard issue chainmail armour, but it was still more than the studded leather that they were going up against. Possibly, after the battle, and war, finished and all had gone well the king would promote the elite soldiers to the sole guardians of Valiquet instead of the guild's self employed mercenary forces. Of course they still had to finish the day today before anything else. Katisch Moss strolled through the army camp, going to collect his weapons and armour. He was young for a general being only nineteen but he had shown extraordinary talent in the war so far and besides, all the others had been killed, either in battle or assassinated. He was the only one that could put an end to the war today, his duty to his country. Sloshing through the mud a score of men passed him with their weapons out, clearly going to the front line. 'It's begun' Moss thought as he trudged on through the grim settings towards the commanding officer's tent. As the wind howled and whipped across his face it blew his long black hair across him. Turning the corner in the path to where the bulk of the tents sat he looked around at the decidedly optimistic faces of the men. His own tent was now at the far end of the path, ten tents stood on either side of him before he would get to it though. He could see that the flaps to his tent were open and a large mannequin with his own armour resting atop stood in the doorway. Whilst the enlisted troops had cramped two man tents with an olive green exterior and a light shade of blue interior his own tent could hold four or five people, had a burgundy exterior and a green interior; it was solely for him, and for any company he might choose to have with him. As he moved past the remaining men by their tents he urged them to get moving, if they didn't he'd kick down their tent to get them moving. It wasn't a matter of go when they felt like it, it was a matter of do it, or we all die. Eventually he reached his own tent flaps, waving around as madly as his hair; he stepped inside. It took him almost a full ten seconds to realise that he had company.
'Hi sexy'. She lay down across his bed, draped in the shadow of the tent so that he found it hard to make her out. She had dark, tanned, skin like that of the far eastern desert kingdom of Kaern. Like much of her people she was naturally quite small and it had been hard for her since she had arrived in Valiquet two years ago, a slave for the highest bidder. Moss smiled to himself, even he knew little of the woman's past and even less of her current fortunes, though only half a year younger than him (based entirely on rumours) she kept her cards close enough to her chest to give her some privacy. Some of Valiquet's people believed she was a courtesan to the king of the city himself, others just that she was Madame Murrier's best whore or that she was Madame Murrier herself. Moss himself didn't care about all the rumours floating around concerning her, why? Because she had seduced many men before him and would surely seduce many more men afterwards, who was he to question her motives? With only a flimsy, weak, red silk robe around her otherwise naked body she pushed herself up off the bed and into the rays of sunlight so that Moss could see her better. Allowing the robe to fall crudely around herself she chuckled to herself as she poked her index finger towards Moss and used it to bring him closer. Moss found himself unable to resist 'definitely the best whore in the business' he thought as he pulled her closer to him and brought his hand up to her firm breasts. Normally this sort of treatment was for after the battle had finished but, under the circumstances of the battle, he thought he could handle it.
She was laughing, anyone told a joke and she couldn't not laugh it seemed. He smiled as he came up behind her and put his hands around her, it felt better just to have someone else around, no matter who they were. If this was to be the end he wanted someone else there to see it, share it, with.
'You had better go' she finally said minutes later, still resisting the temptation to laugh at Moss's joke. Realising what she said was true he drew back from the embrace and his hand rested on the armour that stood on its mannequin. The commander's golden platemail armour was unscathed from previous battles, half an inch thick at the toughest point and made entirely from platinum mined in the Valiquen mountain's it clanged loudly as he tested it with a punch. Tightening the straps with one hand to make it slightly tighter, but not too tight, he reached for his weapons with the other. A heavy steel long sword rested against a woodblock beside a two handed broadsword, taking both and strapping them across his back his gaze turned elsewhere. Picking up a quiver of bolts he strapped that also on to his back, the large crossbow that rested on the table though it seemed heavy was actually incredibly lightweight and designed to reload faster so as to shoot more enemies. Finally he reached down and picked up a large round wooden shield which he slung over his back, over the weapons.
The cold wind was harsh and the fog still lingered as the commander stepped off the path to find his army waiting for him in their positions by the river bank. All the men with pikes sat behind logs and bushes, whatever cover they could find, and when the enemy came in range, would spear them, hopefully back into the river just feet away from them. Fifty feet back stood the bulk of the army, simply shadows at that time with fog all around them. The archers already had arrows notched to their bowstrings and the main infantry stood as if guarding them. Moss stepped away from the riverbank and began to move towards his soldiers when he saw the first signs of movement from the enemy. As the fog on the other side of the river began to clear he could make out what was coming clearer and clearer; soldiers. Vastly outnumbering their own force of five hundred men, he estimated that the army of Sorset had at least seven hundred men, probably more.
As he moved closer to the bulk of his troops the fog lifted on his side of the riverbank and it became clear that the battle was about to begin. The army of Sorset, Moss estimated, had about one hundred and fifty archers, then a good six hundred infantry troops to back them up. Emerging from within the ranks of his men Moss saw his second in command, lieutenant Harral Havrason, the man was built like an ox. He had two javelin like spears attached onto his back aswell as a long sword, broadsword, two handed battle axe. He wore full spiked platemail and war paint atop his dark, native Harrillen, skin to scare his enemies, for a shield he held a giant piece of metal six feet tall and two across; a 'tower' shield. He himself was six feet and seven, a giant in all respects. Acknowledging each other's presence on the battlefield they stood with the minor officers who held ten green flags each with a red number emblazoned onto it going from one to ten. Each flag was used for unique units each of around fifty men. One and two were for the archers, three to six were for the infantry swordsmen whilst the final four were for the pike men by the riverbank. As the two commanding officers hunkered down the flags for units one and two went up. Knowing their orders pre-hand the archers stepped forward about twenty paces, in range to reach the far side of the river with their arrows. When Sorset was to cross the river they would be bombarded with arrow upon arrow, whilst being forced backwards by the spears of his hidden men. Suddenly, just like that, it all began in earnest. There was a cry from the far side of the river and the infantry of Sorset rushed out to try and charge the Valiquen army. All across the Valiquen line troops held their nerve as they saw hundreds of Sorset soldiers rush forward towards the river ford.
'Fire!' Moss shouted as the first man reached the river and one hundred arrows flew up into the sky. Blotting out what could be seen of the sun through the tree-line the arrows sped through the air with a whooshing sound. The first arrow struck its mark, embedding itself in a Sorset coat of arms bringing down the soldier with that single hit. Then all arrows thudded to the ground, more than three quarters of them striking intended targets all across the river, many more striking unintended targets or coming close to the target. Over two scores of troops dropped down dead on the river as the Valiquen archers notched more arrow's to their bowstrings. The few soldiers that had survived the onslaught rushed onto the riverbank, continuing to charge, unaware of the pike men waiting in cover. Shooting out of their hiding places two hundred pike men plunged home their blades killing, if not wounding, their opponents. Then the real battle began in earnest, as more Valiquen arrows flew over their heads into Sorset troops the Sorset army returned fire realising they were in range of the pike men.
Arrows were fired from both sides of the conflict and the Valiquen pike line pushed into the Sorset troops. Using large tower shields as their defence the whole Valiquen line seemed continuous, the men in front holding the line while the second line doing the killing with the large spears. With every volley of arrows from the armies the huge battle line grew thinner, though with more men deployed on it the Sorset line was considerably larger. Then, right on the far flank, the Sorset army broke through the defences. Immediately the archers attention turned towards the break in the line. 'Pull them back!' Moss cried out above the din of battle and four flags were raised bearing the unit numbers of the remaining pike men. Though some of the men were cut down as they turned to run from the line most Valiquet pike men charged backwards, away from the more tired Sorset army. Trying to kill anyone who got close to be a problem to them the Valiquen's brought about a gap between them and the chasing Sorset's of around ten to twenty feet.
The minor officers looked at Moss, he nodded; it was time to fight. Raising the flags for units three to six Harral shouted the order to charge. Two hundred Valiquet soldiers drew their swords and began to follow him. As the scores of troops sprinted past him Moss looked over at the opposite riverbank, he could see what must be the Sorset commanding officer reaching the river, kill him, finish the war right now. Drawing out his broadsword and shield he sucked in the ecstatic breaths that only come before a battle. Charging into the fray he contributed his own voice to the overpowering clamour that was everywhere around.
The fog now completely gone from sight, bright sunlight in its place, Harral Havrason reached behind him as he neared the line of pike men coming back at them. Taking a javelin from his back he readied himself quickly before letting fly with the weapon. Striking home with the force of a bull behind it the unlucky target was impaled through his guts as he tried to avoid the javelin, the impact sending him sprawling back into another Sorset soldier creating a disturbance in the Sorset line. As the infantry came to relieve the pike men they made five 'wedges' in their line to punch through the Sorset defence. In the Valiquen line where there were gaps between the wedges the pike men ran through so as to get back to the archers and defend them. Harral, finding he was in the middle wedge with the most amount of soldiers, let loose a second javelin, easily bringing down another soldier before reaching back for his hefty two handed battle axe and the two armies met once again.
As the lines met with each other Harral swung his huge axe, cleaving a man in two. All around him swords were flailing everywhere and orders were being shouted to 'hold the line!' or 'take the flank!'. It all made no difference to him as he swung upwards with his axe taking a man in his guts doubling him over. As he looked up Moss joined the fray next to him, slicing a man's head off with his broadsword as he blocked an attack with his shield. Jumping in to help his friend out he hacked into the second attacker's back, cracking the soldier's spine for his fifth kill of the battle. Moss took another two down in quick succession with low blows as they rushed forward with their weapons up high, practically giving him the opportunity to strike. On the other side of the battlefield the Sorset commander took down another Valiquen man to add to the three he'd killed already and turned to face off with another. Wielding a large mace the Sorset man bludgeoned through three more men, including a minor captain of Valiquet. His eyes snapped upwards, his body breathing hard and he picked out his next target – Harral. The big Harrillen man was in the middle of cleaving a man in two as he turned and saw the Sorset commander slowly walking forward, hacking any man down who got in his way – friend or foe alike. Another soldier attempted to kill Harral but, almost into double figures now, the lieutenant hefted his axe into the man and it stuck in his guts, not coming out again in this world or the next. Reaching for his two swords he wielded his broadsword in his right hand and longsword in his left. Each man swinging madly they cut down a score of troops between them before they got close enough to strike one another. Harral attacked first, swinging in with an attempted high blow from his broadsword, then a low strike from his longsword. Wheeling backwards and around in one fluid movement the Sorset commander launched his mace towards Harral's temple in an attack to bludgeon him. Stepping back a pace Harral once again took the offensive with two large swings of the blade, bringing his long arm span into play before finally lunging forwards to try and stab the man with the longer of the two blades. Retaliating however the commander withdrew a cruel looking knife from within his belt, holding both weapons down against Harral's left hand he pushed down against it and Harral dropped his longsword to the floor. Sneering, the Sorset man followed up his attack by swinging in to batter Harral's temple. Too fast for him though the seasoned fighter stepped back and held him off with his broadsword, each pushing us hard as they could against the others weapon. Stalemate, both soldiers were as strong and as experienced as the other and no clear winner could be decided between the two of them. The Sorset commander opened his mouth to shout wildly at Harral, scare him, but he was shocked when he heard another scream - from behind him. He turned, commander Katisch Moss stood behind him, swinging his broadsword in a horizontal arc through the air. The blade hit his neck and, ripping through the main arteries and blood vessels, proceeded to tear through his spine and lop his head completely off from his body. The commander of the Sorset army lay dead, the end of the war now surely within their grasp.
'Kill him!' Harral could hear from nowhere as he muttered his thanks to Moss in assistance for the killing of the enemy commander. Rearing his head up Harral saw a Sorset crossbowman take aim for Moss and fire. Stepping in the way of that crossbow shot was possibly the noblest thing Harral had ever done. The bolt, as he stepped into its path, pierced its arm and he staggered backwards in pain – better than hit Moss in the heart and the battle be back to square one again though he thought. Moss looked up, upon seeing the man, who was in clear sight reloading his crossbow for a second attempt, he moved to charge the soldier. Suddenly an arrow volley came out of nowhere though and the crossbowman and all his friends were cut down by arrow fire in the blink of an eye. The battle wasn't over yet though, yet another soldier ran forward with his blade raised high and though an arrow struck this one in the chest it did not stop two more troops getting to Moss. Blocking the attack with his shield Moss cut downwards with a killing stroke cutting through the man's ribs for his first attacker, the second getting the treatment of Moss's sword through his solarplexis as he failed to parry the attack or avoid it completely. Harral forced himself back up again and, upon picking up his two swords, was immediately thrust back into combat. Charging a man down and finishing him with a stroke across his shoulder Harral turned and swung his blade again, hamstringing another attacker. The Sorset army was however, being thinned down, rapidly. Valiquen troops, both ranking officers could see, had flanked the Sorset's from both sides and were cutting them down like flies. Harral finally had time to draw breath. All over the Sorset line it was clear that the word was out that their commander was dead, for the fight had gone out of them, many were giving up – only to be killed anyway in the confusion of battle, and nobody would stop the Valiquet soldiers either. The war, having lasted over five generations, was finally over – and in their favour too.