Part 9: Dead TensionsChapter 8: Dead Tensions
"Runes used by the Svarts differ from, say, Elvish runes. If for the latter runes are just the embodiment of magic spells that require mana, the Svarts grasped the essence of the elements and learned how to make runes that are actual sources of energy. There are hundreds of varieties of such runes. Some make blades sharper, others can strengthen any armour, some reduce the weight of things, or radiate pure light."
(from "Chronicles of New Worlds" written by Master Vardies Teleran)
A new company was presented before King Lich VI in the square in front of his of his tower. Arrayed in serried ranks, before him stood women.
Well, thats something new. Im more used to singular, well armed messengers of Krolm and angry gnome housewives
Row upon row of Svart women stood there, clad in leather armor, faces hidden under heavy metal helmets. Their hands firmly gripped poleaxes. And axehead was inscribed with runes that gleamed with sinister fire.
Svart women arent your puny human or elf waifs. Svart women are strong, strong in magic of the runes! Some are stronger than others, of course, but even those not as skilled in magic are more than a match for what others can field. So they make axes, inscribe them with runes, and go to war
Their armor doesnt look that safe
Theyre not some squishy human princesses! All a Rune Warrior needs is her runes. See those pouches?
The king indeed saw small pouches hanging off the belts of women.
Rockworm blood mixed with metal dust. They use it to draw runes on the armor. Makes it very strong, before the rune burns off
Now listen here and listen well: our women can break any line you want, but dont you dare leave them unsupported. Lord or not, Ill make you King Lich VII
King Lich paid little mind to Svarts warnings he felt certain that he had enough loyalists and magic to protect him and went on to collect the incentive promised for drafting Rune Warriors.
Cursed skeletons! How did they get a boat?
Maybe they strapped some skins to some bones
Ship engineering remained a mystery since the nearby garrison noticed it and sunk the skeletons with ballista fire.
Lichgrad Herald reports: Our King casts spell on Uglin that will increase crop yelds! What does that mean to local denaturated alcohol production and local drunks? Also: is grain vodka cause of impotence? Experts claim: this is a curse of yamshine spirits!
And while King Lich was working to increase the life quality of his stunty subjects, random spell attacks continued, this time turning patches of ground into desert.
This had the unforeseen consequences of sobering up a few drunks, who immediately flooded the usual haunts to restore status quo.
My lord, the scouts have returned! They have found the spell we were looking for! Well, that and this here war hammer. Not sure where the found that
So, where is that spell?
There were some... Complications
When is it ever easy
Er, an ogre came in and kidnapped the witch. Something about unrequited love. Our scouts have tracked it, and it wasnt hard
Oh yes, I know very well how it is with ogres and maidens
First, well bombard the ogre with spells, and then, well get the witch by force!
If only everything had been that easy. Krells troops had been seen sneaking around the borders and looking for a good way to get inside the lands.
Some even tried to buy silks at the new silk farm, but it was well known that spider silk had magical properties, and as such wasnt sold to outsiders.
There was no diplomatic way to of barring their entry, so King Lich VI was forced to just shuffle troops around, placing them to block avenues of advance and firmly turn the human troops away.
This was especially strange considering that Krell agreed to another Non-Agression treaty. Still, the mage had been treasonous before, attacking while ink was still on the paper.
Let them come again. This time, there will no mercy for treacherous curs, false knights and breakers of oaths.
With my hammer Ill crush them to pulp and dust!
Ladies, draw your runes, fire your axes, we go to war!
So they did. They assaulted the ogre just as he exited his hut. He was a formidable opponent, but the swings of his club only scattered Svart women around, magical proctection absorbing most of the harm.
And flaming axes slowly but surely cut the giant down
Finally, the spell!
Im sorry to report, my liege, but there are complications
King Lich VI started grinding teeth.
The witch says that she wants compensation for moral damages, as well as funds to repair her house. That and something about the spell using a proprietary scroll technique, whatever that means
Sigh How much does she want to extort from us?
A thousand pieces of gold?
A THOUSAND?! Suddenly, I regret you Svarts not having talented torturers
Howling Sorrows and Burnouts were lands preparing for war. Long Shores, however, were slowly scouted out by crow flights. They had barely left the shore when they ran into trouble:
"It appears that Sea Serpents are distant relatives to the native dragons of Ardania, which have been thought extinct since before the times of the Great Kings."
From "The Overall Description of Everything" by Master Alfus Bumblegate.
and kill swarms, in addition to ten other kinds of nasty.
Krells dismissive attitude didnt bode well, so preparations were getting done fast.
Like researching Morloks Shield of Overprotection. While it lacked the total immunity offered by Dauros spells, it also didnt stunt the person who it was cast on. Some over protective mage parents thought it was actually a flaw in the spell, but other, more military minded wizards and witches found it useful in both offense and defense.
Impending war or not, but life went on. A new town was established to capitalize on nearby magical plains as well as whatever could be found in the nearby burrow.
No, we dont have the money and wont have it for a long time, tell her to go away.
Meanwhile, the trend of free cities far slowly catching up. Thankfully, it was mostly draining away deviants and other social detritus. The new city, situated dangerously close to the edge of the shard, was dedicated to free love, smoking cactus drugs and wild domesticated pig racing.
"Giant turtles are commonly used by Koatls as work animals, but they can easily be turned to unstoppable ravaging war beasts."
(From "The Overall Description of Everything" by Master Alfus Bumblegate)
A giant turtle!
Leg it, boys!
Ice, deserts, now plains of life whats next?
Heeelp! A grape wine! Let go, you monstrous wine!
Oh, right, this again
Two can play the mountain killing game.
Not that I have mountains I really need to lower
That magic testing area dome it sure is disturbing to see
Screw your magic dome, the turtle is upon us, again!
And so did the last of Svart Prospectors that had pledged their crossbows to King Lich VI died.
To avenge their deaths, Sir Hugue was sent with orders to slay the beast. The burden of duty laid on his shoulders almost as heavily as the hammer.
Lads, the war is not far away, I can smell it, you can smell it, and the King can smell it and he doesnt even have a nose
What do we do, knyaz?
You continue with your practice, lads. And pack in everything you need for healing. Try got get health potions, too. Well need everything we could get in the coming war.
Trust me, you dont want to find yourself underequipped once blood starts flowing
It seems theyre massing mages, and at an alarming rate, too
One thing you must know about humans is that theyre quite hasty and callous when power is in question. More mage academy students end up as flaming corpses than mages, but it is a fast way to mage wizards
How about goblins?
Goblins are too stupid to understand that there might be something wrong about the amount of casualties they get.
This might come in useful if that daft ghost starts throwing more dangerous spells around. I dont expect Dremer to be trouble anymore.
Lads, we will take Baytown this time. And mark my words, there will be fighting between those walls. You there, new guy, let me tell you something about fighting inside the city
Training grounds were established between the Honorable and Rune Warrior guilds. Troops used it for training with heavier gear and more advanced tactics.
The plains of life on the way to barracks were used for dangerous amounts of frolicking.
Rurik, was is the aspiration of a honorable warrior?
To become part of the Elite Guard
And not death? Im relieved
Dying is for the enemy that faces us with inferior tactics and arms. Why do you ask, lord?
This war I feel it is inevitable. And its going to be brutal. I want the troops to know that I value their service. Just in case some of them dont return
My lord, theyre already honored to serve
Never the less. Send the word to the veteran formations and get the forges started
"Troops of Elite Guards are the pride and joy of the Svart army. Only the most experienced and strongest warriors from the Honourable Svarts are recruited into these units, because according to the tradition, in addition to other tasks, the Elite Guards are protecting the King-in-Stone, and therefore, armed only with shields and one-handed axes, they must prevail in a battle against any enemy, no matter what technologies or magic they use."
(from "Chronicles of New Worlds" written by Master Vardies Teleran)
Honorable Warriors! You are the backbone and the iron fist of my kingdom. No man nor lich can expect to have troops as devoted and brave as you are. Truly, I am honored by your service and your achievement.
And I want to show you my gratitude. Elite Guards served the King-in-Stone, but he failed you. I hope to meet your expectations and more. So when you kneel, today, as Honorable Warriors, you rise as Elite Guards!
Mages traveling to Gatehouse were met by sir Hugue.
Hail, ser knight. What do you want with us this day? Taxes or maybe a document inspection? Or maybe you came to extol the virtues of serving the dead?
I came for the only tax my lord needs from you
And what is that?
All along the border, Svarts surged from their positions and killed, killed, killed. Warriors and hunters fell under axe, crushed and cleaved into bloody pulp.
Mages were swept away as their spells, hurried out of surprise, failed to found purchase in Svart armor. The front was pushed all over.
I pray I did not doom them all