Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Anerrim the Knight

Knights are called by many different names, depending on the culture. The Rasnians famously employ clibanarii, skilled knights with lamellar armor that specialize in riding, bow shooting, and employing an array of weapons, especially the lance and mace. In the highland plains of Kelet, knights are predominantly man-at-arms and mounted cavaliers. The Vann folk call their elite foot soldiers, huscarls. The Crocána prefer cataphracts. And in the human realms there are various orders of knights. Ultimately these skilled warriors are derived from the knight class. There is, however, differentiation in their equipment, and choice of skills.

The most veteran knights reside in the aelfen and dunaelfen kingdoms. The dunaelfs of Maetra are in constant conflict. They’ve had only a few years of peace in a hundred since the Aelf War. Their skills are unmatched by all but the aelfs, especially the Tegeans. Tegeans are raised in militant households. Their discipline is unrivaled. They have many human lifetimes of experience and are well practiced in the chaos of battle.

Greater still are the wanderers. They are found in the most unlikely of places. In Gealdor, legends of fairy folk stealing away children and replacing them with changelings or fell creatures are commonly known. Beyond Gealdor these stories sound fantastic and unreal, but some residents of those mist-laden hills know them to be true. Many of these children return to their birthplaces years later as strange people. The residents of Gealdor accept these estranged wanderers as children of the fae, fated to achieve great things. They are no longer the children of their birthparents, now they are the princes and princesses of the fae. Some male children return from the great halls of trolls adorned with enchanted armor and weapons. These knights are champions of myth with mysterious powers.  

I remember blood spraying across my face as the marishi’ s body fell backwards against my shield. Though the loss of my spell-slave was regrettable, it was admittedly only a matter of time before he had gotten himself killed. The caster never took direction, no matter how many times he had been flogged. But I digress. The tulclenar had the high ground and because of the fog it was difficult to determine the number of their reinforcements or their location. I used my whistle to signal a short withdrawal down a few paces off the slick slope. The lands of these foreigners seemed to be made entirely of mud and water. The bowmen in the center of our unit shot at the tulclenar during the tactical retreat but their missiles glanced harmlessly off their fine plate armor. The effect was similar to the efforts of my caster. The streams of force and fire he had thrown at them seemed to wash over them like rain. Truly, these were men of iron ore. Yet, they were not of unearthly durability. Six slain tulclenar lying in these highland mists could attest to the efficacy of Rasna’ s pikes and a well-trained skirmish line. Still, our losses were unacceptable. I could ill afford the eight deaths; a full sixth of our force. It was time to use the mindless savagery of these beasts to our own advantage. With the shout of a single command, the unit broke formation and retreated. The soldiers fanned out in apparent disarray, with my bowmen and lancers weaving in seeming randomness.
The shield bearers would be hard pressed to keep up but that was why they trained with double the standard kit. A glance over my shoulder confirmed that some tulclenar had taken the bait. The strange battle cry of our opponents was answered by a single shrill blast of my whistle. The bowmen immediately coalesced around me. After a few paces, my command halted them. They turned and shot their marks as one. I smiled with satisfaction as one found its target in the eye socket of a surprised tulclen’s mask. Within a second, lancers at the center, secur sacniar at the flanks and the shield bearers at the skirmish line surrounded the defenseless archers. If the tulclenar were of iron, than surely we were men of quicksilver. The tulclenar had committed themselves and crashed into the shields haphazardly. While they were ferocious and skilled, their lack of cohesion made them easy targets for pikes striking from a multitude of angles. However, it was not hard to see that we had dispatched a minority of their force. Most had stayed with their chieftain and were advancing in a solid grouping.
I commanded the injured to be cycled back and replaced. I sheathed my arming sword and withdrew the mace, commanding bearers to do the same and the secur sacniar to form up in preparation for throwing their axes. The next moments would decide whether it was tulclenar flesh that appeased Vanth’s hunger, or our own.
Hason, first macstrna of third zeri
Anerrim put down the manuscript and rubbed his eyes. Vanth. Likely the god that was the source of Vantin, the Crocána name for the third day of the week. Perhaps, the forgotten deity had been a patron of violence? According to the scant remains of their ancestor's literary corpus, they had once been a proud culture of warriors. But Crocáno had not fielded an army of native soldiers in hundreds of years. What kind of fighters and tactics would be effective? Could the answers lie within memoirs of long-dead generals like Hason? Or was the fighting spirit of Crocáno lost like the cults of the old gods? He glanced over at his own expertly crafted lamellar coat, presented to him by the Patriarch himself. The time would soon come for Vanth to be appeased again.
Anerrim is a high-ranking officer in the city of Crocáno. Like most nobles, he is well versed in the arts of fencing and a lifelong student of military history. His father had drilled his family’s soldiers to the point that other nobles joked about them being automatons, but the investment may soon prove its worth. The situation in Kelet is spiraling out of control and the demand for disciplined and intelligent knights like Verra, is surging.


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