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Falestian Legend

Title: Falestian Legend

Series: The Imperium Saga: The Warlord Trilogy, 3

Author: Clifford B. Bowyer

ISBN: 978-1-60975-045-9

Product Code: BK0036

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 370

Release Date: February 2015

Cover Price: $29.95

Our Price: $24.95

 

 

 

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Book Jacket

 

The boy and true heir to the Falestian throne returned and reclaimed that which his cousin stole through treachery and deceit. But even as the combined forces of the allies cheer for their victory, the true scope of Rawthorne’s madness is unveiled as ancient enemies return to take advantage of the aftermath of war. Even if Braksis and his allies were to survive the new threat, they will learn that rebuilding Falestia and the dreams of King Worren is even more challenging than they would ever suspect.

 

When Braksis had last been in Falestia he was just an innocent boy. Now he returns as a triumphant warrior. His actions and decisions will turn him into a legend. Follow the adventures of Braksis as becomes the Warlord of legend and fights to make certain that what happened in Falestia never happens again.

 

BRAKSIS

The hero of Falestia who roams the realm seeking out those who would dare threaten the Imperium and all that it stands for. With his companions by his side, he fights with passion and conviction to help make the Imperium a better place for all of its citizens. But even a legend will learn that there is a fine line between confidence, cockiness, and recklessness; and it will be a costly lesson to learn.

 

SIR BRUNE

The veteran knight and ally of Braksis’s father who never stopped believing in the dream of King Worren. He joins Braksis on his crusade to guide him and see him safely through the hardships. But he is far from the land he calls home and everything that he knows.

 

REISTAR

The barbarian who fought by Braksis’s side and vowed an oath of allegiance to the man. His strength, passion, and loyalty will be unwavering as he seeks out new adventures and new threats in service to a government he does not even consider his own.

 

NIYILKA

The childhood friend of Braksis, the orc found herself bound to slavery after the murder of the King and Queen. Freed by her childhood friend, Niyilka swears that she will defend the boy she once knew, fight by his side always, and prove that she is no slave and as capable as any other companion.

 

SOLARA

The mystral warrior who pledges a lifedebt to Braksis and refuses to back down to anyone. She knows nothing of his past or who he had been, but sees the man he truly is inside and knows that their lives will forevermore be entwined. No matter what anyone else may think.

 

Falestian Legend completes the journey Braksis must undergo from child to hero of the Imperium. With the goals that had fueled him since the fateful night his world was turned upside down finally complete, he is free to explore who he is and wants to become, and finds that self-discovery is as challenging and with as many pitfalls as a virtuous mission. With personal moments of triumph and tragedy, Braksis must learn from his mistakes and call upon an inner strength he never knew he possessed.

 


 

Book Excerpt

 

PROLOGUE

 

So much was happening so quickly. After all of the years of thinking about avenging the murder of his parents, of bringing Rawthorne down, the obsession that drove him, he had finally done it. But he did not kill Rawthorne as he had always envisioned doing. When he had finally out-dueled his cousin, and he had him right where he wanted him, Braksis spared his life.

The most ironic part of doing that: he did not regret the decision in the least. He always thought that he would not be satisfied unless Rawthorne was dead, but knowing that he defeated the man, but spared his life, somehow made him feel like he actually had been vindicated. He had done the right thing. He defeated his cousin, avenged the murder of his parents, and did not succumb to the immorality that Rawthorne was known for. He was better than Rawthorne. He had mercy.

Then, right on top of defeating Rawthorne, his childhood tutor—Vo—announced that his actions demonstrated that he was a worthy successor to the throne. Before Braksis could even respond, everyone in the room—his allies as well as those who had served Rawthorne—knelt down and honored him as the true heir to the Falestian throne and as king.

There was no formal coronation, or pomp and circumstance, but there was also no doubt that he was King of Falestia. After all of this time, after his Kingdom believed that he was dead, he was crowned King, the successor to the legacy of his father, the great King Worren.

But like his father, Braksis had more than just a treacherous Rawthorne to deal with. Not even a minute after Rawthorne was taken away, Kaden, one of his father’s most trusted advisors and confidants, rushed forward and warned him that trolls and other creatures were on the march.

King Worren had ended the threat of Matriarch Kovag, spelling the end of the Troll Wars that plagued Falestia. Now that his son was King, the first act Braksis would have would be to try and find some way to make certain that his rule lasted longer than a single night, and that the trolls did not have their ultimate vengeance.

He had been so focused on avenging his parents, defeating Rawthorne, and freeing Falestia that he had never even considered that by destroying the defenses of Reuland he was making it vulnerable for troll attack. After all of these years, trolls very likely could walk on the streets of Reuland as conquerors.

He had remnants of the defenders of Falestia, those Falestian Knights and Guards who had served his cousin. He also had the survivors of the various armies he had brought with him. There were three battalions of the Imperial Army, the Falestian Knights and Guards from Arenberg who had remained loyal to the dreams of King Worren, the dwarves from Carnelian, the barbarians of the Falestian Plains, the Lowland Brigade and their allies from the Mourning Mountains, giants, sarnals, and the recently freed orc slaves.

Coming to Reuland, he had an overwhelming force that was ready to siege the city. Rawthorne had some nasty tricks lying in wait though—especially the tunnels with the carnivorous kriverlings—that decimated the ranks and left the allied forces a mere fraction of what it had previously been. But what they had would have to be enough. The trolls were coming, and they either would repel them or be overrun. There was no other option.

Each of the leaders and allies of Braksis, as well as those who were the officers serving Rawthorne, were summoned to the palace to review their options and try to make plans that would hopefully see them safely through the hours and days to come. Even though some were injured, Braksis was grateful to see the faces of those who he knew he needed the most.

His uncle, Lorrents of Arenberg, had been the first to see the trolls. He had managed to stop the combat between his own Falestian forces and those defending Reuland. They may have considered each other as enemies, but both sides knew that against trolls, Falestians were united. The eastern walls he had been attacking were also virtually unscathed, bringing some solace to the situation.

General Kronos was the supreme commander of the Imperial forces. His entire battalion had been forced to pull back after the kriverling attack so that the sarnals could use the last of their poisonous gases, rhytrin, on the creatures. His men had hardly seen combat at all and were ready for the impending attack.

One of Braksis’s close comrades, Captain Palmer of the Imperial cavalry, was also serving with General Kronos. Braksis was glad to see that the man who he befriended on their journey from Trespias to Reuland had survived thus far unscathed.

Also in the south was Master Cinzia, who had been leading the sarnals and giants. Cinzia looked exhausted, but she claimed that she was ready to defend Reuland from the threat of the trolls. Braksis admired her spirit and knew that no matter how fatigued she was, he could always count on the photon Mage.

The sarnals with her had also been unharmed, though their primary weapon—the rhytrin—had been completely used up. Braksis knew just how dangerous sarnals were though, and even without the gases that had been so effective, they would be valued allies in the fight to come.

Positioned behind the sarnals had been the giants. Although Cinzia commanded them, a half-giant Mage named Diebb spoke for them and was in the room now. His giants had decimated the southern wall of the city, making it the most vulnerable spot to defend against the trolls. They had also used up all of the rocks and boulders that they had been using to throw at the city. Diebb advised Braksis that even as they spoke, his giants were doing their best to fortify the south wall and were taking the debris they had used throughout the night and piling it up to use to repel the new invaders of the city.

General Lowred of the Imperial Army and the west wall were in good shape. He had lost many soldiers in the assault, but they had scaled the wall, not broken through it. The same could be said of Colonel Hinbar and his troops to the north. They had fought the kriverlings, but the orcs had dealt with the city defenders before the Imperial soldiers had to fight their way into the city. Overall, the Imperial forces were in the best shape of those ready to fight the trolls. As seasoned and highly trained soldiers, Braksis was grateful that this was the case.

Kaden was here representing the Lowland Brigade, as well as Frost elves and Vohlmuth dwarves. As he spoke and helped lay out plans, his uncle Mek was organizing the Lowland Brigade’s defenses, just as General Olsson was coordinating activities with his dwarves, and Rillvennen was working with the Frost elves. With the exception of the decimated south wall, the damage done to the north gate was the most severe. The dwarves were working steadily to create a make-shift gate that would adequately keep the trolls out.

King Deisenhammer of Carnelian seemed to be the happiest of the group. He had followed the kriverlings into the tunnels and killed them all. He also found his way beneath the city walls, came up and attacked the defenders from within, making it easier for his allies to scale the city walls and advance into Reuland. Unfortunately, he also ordered his dwarves to destroy the heavy artillery, which could have come in handy against the trolls.

Before joining the others in the palace, Deisenhammer had ordered his daughter Notaheir and the Tregador warrioress Shriva to see if they could do something about the tunnels so that the trolls could not force their way in as he had.

Drighten Blaeinger was the leader of the barbarians, but only one of many barbarians present. His daughter, Zorarna, was the wife of Lorrents and also helping to make plans to defend the city. His son Reistar had been one of the companions to travel with Braksis to seek allies in the battle for Reuland, and was also listening intently to every word. Reistar’s wife, Arnora, was also present. Janak, the minotaur, may not be a barbarian, but had been accepted by the barbarians and found a home for the surviving members of the minotaur race.

Gaurang, Niyilka, and Ong, three orc siblings were also present. Niyilka and Ong had fought beside Braksis, while Gaurang had led his people to the northern gates to try and help those beyond the gates fighting to get in. Enslaved under the rule of Rawthorne, they were grateful to be free, but still a long way from feeling as if they could trust the Falestians as they had when King Worren first welcomed them with open arms and gave them land to call their own.

The Vorstad dwarf Redlin was an ardent speaker. Like Kaden, he had been an advisor of King Worren, and also had fought his way into the palace alongside of Braksis. His words carried much weight, as did his experience in battle.

Vo and Oas, a pair of ja’drall, were intently listening to every word. Vo had spent the past decade in a prison cell where Rawthorne had left him to rot for his unswerving loyalty to King Worren. Oas, after learning that Vo may have been killed in the coup to claim the throne, had sought out Kaden and joined the resistance by acquiring information from Devora—the spy standing close by Kaden, who had married Rawthorne to try and gain insightful information after learning that he had murdered her sister, Charna—and bringing it back to the Lowland Brigade.

Other than the half a dozen knights and officers that commanded the defenders of Reuland, the only other ones in the room were the companions of Braksis—Askari, the aquatican Apprentice of Cinzia; Atherok the adlesian and his pet koxlen, Zoaa; Centain the mysterious human with the elven sword; and Shalin, the wraith girl who claimed to be one of the Unseen, a spy from Shydarthiar.

These were the people he trusted with his life. These select few who were in this room and were discussing the way to defend Reuland and survive the troll threat. If anyone could find a way to overcome the trolls, Braksis knew it was the people here. He listened to each of them as they gave a tactical update of their status. Some were more severely injured than others. Some were virtually unscathed.

Once the status was done, they began discussing plans and how to defend against the trolls. Braksis listened to each and every opinion, doing his best to control the few arguments and differences of opinions that erupted. With limited time and resources, they ultimately agreed on a plan. A plan that they all hoped would work.

The one thing he did not want to do was rely solely on the already battered defenses of the city. They had just spent hours trying to breach and weaken those defenses. If they were to repel the trolls, it would be on the field of battle, facing them directly.

The city would still be defended, but it would be a last resort if the armies defending Reuland failed. It was a dangerous and daring plan, and their forces would be stretched thin, but Braksis was pleased with the outcome. He did not want to change much of what he knew worked and worked well. However, he needed to make sure the trolls could be taken care of.

After agreeing to the plan, based on the information that they had, Braksis stood up, addressed those in the room, and without further question each went about their business to prepare for the worst.

Braksis hoisted the Phoenix up over his head and looked at the blade that Ferceng had crafted for him. He had used it to defeat Rawthorne and reclaim Falestia. Now, he would need to use it once more to keep it. “For Falestia,” he whispered, praying that his parents were looking down at him and in some way helping him to safeguard the Kingdom they all loved so much.


 

CHAPTER 1

 

The human infestation was foolish and deluded. To think that the infestation actually thought that he, Logholm, would be willing to help one group of humans defeat another. They were all a plague on Terra that needed to be eradicated.

Kovag would be pleased with him, he knew. She had been ruthless, unyielding, unforgiving, and treacherous. He was all of those things and more. When the Falestian, Sir Grizz, had presented the proposal to him, he feigned interest and listened to what was offered. He even accepted the plan. When the castle tower was engulfed in flames, he and his trolls were to charge down and squeeze those who were besieging Reuland between his forces and the defenders of the city.

As the flames and smoke filled the sky, Logholm moved into position, and watched as the two armies fought each other. He studied them to see what tactics they were using, learning from them and creating strategies that would help him defeat whoever it was that survived. It was a most enlightening experience.

But his duplicity did not end with the trolls. Sir Grizz also gained other allies in the name of Rawthorne. They formed allegiances with the quiltoth, yinzella, Ice trolls, and Frost giants of the Mourning Mountains. It had been a simple matter to persuade them to abandon their newfound allies and wait for the conclusion of the battle and then to attack the weakened victors.

The trolls under his command almost rivaled that of the ones who followed Kovag’s command into battle against Reuland once before. With his added allies, who he would order to strike first, he was certain that where they had failed once before, now they would succeed. It was only a matter of time before the infestation was eradicated.

Logholm was not alone watching the events unfold. He had hundreds of goblin slaves from the Red Mountains who were carefully monitoring all sides of Reuland and racing back to inform him of what they knew. They were simple minded creatures and of little worth other than as scouts, but they were a step above the infestation that was man and served their purpose.

One of the goblins, out of breath, wheezed and coughed as he was brought before Logholm to report.

“Tell me what you know,” Logholm ordered.

“Soldiers in white and black are moving,” the goblin said. “Moving to north and east.”

Logholm had none of his forces to the south or west of the city. The infestation must have been aware of that and were repositioning to strike the best that they could. Glancing up at the heavens, he saw the azastywellha soaring overhead with their dwarven riders. He had his goblin spies, and the infestation had the flying dwarves.

Although he would have preferred to fight the infestation with their current deployment and obvious weaknesses, but it did not matter. They could reposition as often as they would like. The end result would be the same.

“Send word to our allies from the north,” Logholm said. “Attack the vulnerable areas of the city! Let the infestation see that no matter what they plan, there is no hope for them to escape the cleansing.”

 

v  v  v

 

To fight giants, the first and best strategy is to avoid the giant. When that fails, one should hope that they can outnumber and overmatch the giant. If that is impossible, then one typically hopes to outwit a giant. All three strategies are tried and true, but regardless of which one is used, it is generally accepted that giants have a tendency to do considerable damage to their foes in battle.

The southern wall of Reuland was just a small example of what giants could do in battle situations. The giants who were allied with King Braksis had not even gotten close enough to the city to risk reprisal or harm, but they had successfully decimated the wall and scattered many of the defenders. If those same giants engaged an army on the field of battle, a single swing from one of their massive clubs could batter aside entire regiments of foes with ease.

Having giants as allies was a considerable boon. Of course, when there are giants on both sides of the war, things got very interesting, and unfortunately for allies and enemies alike, destructive for all around the combating giants.

It had been Sir Grizz who recruited the Frost giants into Rawthorne’s cause, but Logholm is who now commanded them. They basically looked like any other giant, but were the largest and bulkiest of all giant kin, growing up to twenty-one feet in height and weighing up to 8000 pounds for males and 7500 pounds for females. Their skin coloration was also different, varying from a light snow-white or ivory to a pale ice-blue. Their hair was similar to their skin, almost always snow-white, but occasional shades of light blue could be seen, most often in females. Regardless of their skin or hair coloration, the eyes of every Frost giant was a clear and vibrant ice-blue.

Frost giants also tended to be more fully garbed than their cousins to the south, but not because they required the extra warmth in their icy habitat, because they were immune to the cold. Their preferred garments were polar-bear hides, which often required seven or eight kills to make a single suit to clothe a Frost giant. For weapons, they tended to use stalactites and stalagmites found in caves in the mountains, though few also had weapons crafted by precious metals that they uncovered in those same caves. The forged weapons were rare, requiring considerable deposits of ore to be found to make a single weapon.

Ironically, Frost giants were not the most feared creature on the Mourning Mountains, though they were counted amongst the deadliest. Very few survived an encounter with a Frost giant, much less when many of them were combined as they were here.

From Lake Senya, the Frost giants rose from the calm waters, making their way onto land and glaring out at the giants as they continued trying to refortify the southern wall. They were not about to throw stones as the giants had the night before. They wanted a more personal confrontation. It would be giant versus giant, and in such a battle, the Frost giants knew that they would claim victory.

The Frost giants began walking to the city, then turning their approach into a jog, and then a full sprint. The ground around them shook like there was an earthquake, announcing their presence. The giants turned, seeing the Frost giants charging for them. It was enough for them to begin throwing their stones at their attackers, trying to stop them from afar. The Frost giants would not be denied the pleasure of the physical confrontation.

The first Frost giant reached the giant lines, swinging his fist with such might that he thought he would take the head off of his foe. The blow was powerful, sending the giant battering through a building, but not enough to decapitate him.

The giants began shouting, regrouping, trying to defend against the Frost giants. The Frost giants were upon them, striking with the fury of the frozen elements. As with most battles between giants, the battlefield took the most damage, and those who were there to see it desperately wished to be elsewhere.

 

v  v  v

 

Logholm may consider the quiltoth as his allies, but the twelve-foot hulking humanoids rarely considered any alliance to be binding. That was not to say that they did not make alliances over time, especially with the yinzella if they felt that it was to their benefit. However, if they found that they were not able to direct the alliance and maintain command, they had a long history of betraying or abandoning their allies.

The quiltoth were completely furred with snow-white to light beige hides that helped them blend into their natural surroundings of the snow of the northlands. Large horns grew from their foreheads, some curled like a ram, others straight back like a goat, and some pointed direct from their foreheads like a unicorn. The eyes of the quiltoth are black orbs, but they see through heat signatures, which, on the icy peaks of the Mourning Mountains, make any living creature stand out like a blazing sun in the sky.

Whereas Frost elves are generally considered a force for good by those on the Mourning Mountains—even though many Frost elven cities feud with each other—the quiltoth are considered their polar opposites. They are just as organized, though prefer to remain nomadic, and fight with weapons as finely crafted as their elven nemesis.

The quiltoth have always considered Frost elves, Frost giants, and waltri to be their sworn enemies, and typically would strike them on sight. Under their current allegiance, they have tolerated siding with the Frost giants, though every quiltoth was prepared for the moment when they would turn on their allies and attack the Frost giants as well. However, no matter how much Logholm wanted them to confront the humans defending the western wall, the quiltoth refused to listen while there were Frost elves to kill.

With their mammoth mounts—the woolly elephant-like creatures that weighed up to five tons and had tusks that grew up to sixteen feet in length—the quiltoth charged the northern wall of Reuland where the Frost elves were. It was a confrontation that was familiar to both sides, and the Frost elves rode out on their brontotherium to meet the quiltoth head on.

The battle was vicious and deadly, the hatred both races had for each other pushing them forward, and no matter what Logholm or anyone else commanded, there was no other enemy worthy of the quiltoth’s attention than their sworn Frost elven nemesis.

 

v  v  v

 

It is rare to ever see yinzella outside of the depths of caves upon the Mourning Mountains. They are a plague to weary travelers who seek to find shelter from the elements and storms. Some see caves as a safe haven and solitude, only to find their demise by wandering into a cave that belongs to the yinzella.

Yinzella are cunning and scheming survivors of the northlands. Not only do they deal with those who wander into their caves, but they will also lay traps for those that wander too close to the opening, and wait for the perfect moment to strike when the yinzella know that they have the advantage. A yinzella attack is almost certainly a fatal experience, and most travelers know that these deadly creatures are never alone. Unyielding and uncompromising, the yinzella focus upon their goals of survival by slaughtering their enemies and making certain that no survivor can ever identify where the nests of the yinzella could be found.

Even their appearance was shrouded in mystery. The yinzella wrap themselves in heavy bandages and cloaks, including a shroud around their heads to hide their true nature. The wrappings are typically white in color to help them blend into their icy environments as much as possible. Yinzella do, however, have four massive spider-like legs with their main bodies resting erect in the middle of them. Their legs are also wrapped most of the way down to help add to their camouflage in the ice and snow.

These legs contain tremendous strength, and have been known to crush boulders with ease. If the yinzella had time, and were able to focus the pressure of their spider-like legs on faults in harder substances, even metals, they have been known to be able to shatter those as well. Unbreakable armor, like illistrium, even at times can yield unexpectedly under the pressure of a yinzella’s legs.

The legs do not only give them strength, but like spiders, they can cling to almost any surface, including the icy cavern walls of the Mourning Mountains, giving them the ability to strike a foe from any angle.

It is hard to determine gender between the yinzella, but females are larger than males. Both would stand up to fifteen feet, but males only weigh up to 1000 pounds compared to the 1200 pounds of a female.

Logholm wished for the yinzella to strike the sparsely guarded western wall. With their ability to cling to any surface, there would be no stopping them from climbing the city walls and attacking the defenders directly. Once they were in, they could virtually leap from rooftop to rooftop attacking any human that they came across.

Hundreds of the yinzella darted out at the western walls. Soldiers upon the walls fired their arrows from bows or crossbows with little effect. Within moments, the yinzella were scaling the wall as planned and battering aside the defenders with their legs, striking them down with massive halberds and spears, or spraying a web-like substance from their mouths and immobilizing the guards.

The attack was nearly over before it had even begun, but before the yinzella could continue their advance into the city, General Olsson and his dwarf-riding-subhyracodons were charging through the city to fend against them. If any ally of the Falestians could fight the yinzella, it would be the dwarves who had suffered so many losses by the spider-like creatures.

The dwarves attacked swiftly, the yinzella responding with their normal unyielding brutality.

 

v  v  v

 

The Mourning Mountains have long been known to be the home of some of the deadliest creatures in all of the Seven Kingdoms. One Mage expedition generations ago had nearly lost all members before a survivor, Argyle, finally produced a book—Deathtrap: The Expedition of the Mourning Mountains. It served both as a guide for those who would dare traverse the mountains so that others could learn from the Mage exploration parties mistakes, as well as a warning for others not to venture into places where they should not.

The creatures aligned with Logholm all had prominent references in Deathtrap. Entire chapters were written in detail on each of the races and just how deadly they could be. Unfortunately, none of the defenders of Reuland had ever even heard of the book, even the three Mages who fought alongside of King Braksis. If they had, then perhaps they would grasp just how dangerous these enemies could be. If Logholm had, perhaps he would have been more careful about trying to use his allies as cannon fodder the way he was.

The last of the Mourning Mountain races was the Ice trolls. As trolls, Logholm was less inclined to sacrifice them as he would the others. Even if he had, the Ice trolls would have done as they pleased. They were cunning and scheming, using their intelligence against others, accepting the fact that they were not as powerful as other races on the Mourning Mountains, such as the Frost giants. They instead out-thought their opponents, setting elaborate traps and ambushes that would allow them to take advantage of their foes weaknesses or limit their abilities. The Ice trolls were patient and predatory, and in this battle, they were more than willing to let others do the fighting and dying before committing themselves to battle.

The Ice trolls appeared very similar to the trolls under Logholm’s command, though they were a couple of feet shorter and were slightly more than half the weight of their troll-kin. Their bodies were similar in shape and structure, but they have cold, semi-transparent skin that makes them look more like ice sculptures than humanoids. Their bodies also grow more chiseled, with long pointed noses, knife-sharp talons on their fingers, and jagged ice-like heads with no hair.

With their uncanny resemblance to ice, they are able to blend easily into their surroundings on the Mourning Mountains, lying in wait for another creature to come upon them—sometimes sitting right next to them without ever being aware that an Ice troll were there—and striking when they were certain they had the advantage. They were similar to the yinzella in this way, but were able to hide themselves far easier than the spider-like creatures of the caves.

The Ice trolls sparingly wear clothing, knowing that any garments would inhibit their natural ability to blend into their environment. What clothing is worn generally consists of ice-armor, doused with their own blood which strengthens the ice to the extent of steel, but still is nearly transparent ice so that it does not attract attention. Any weapons they carry are similarly treated ice sculptures that create swords or spears.

The Ice trolls did not give in to their emotions like the quiltoth. They were not excited by the prospect of victory like the Frost giants. They were not as capable of scaling the walls as the yinzella. But they waited and watched, searching for an opening when they would decide that it was the time to strike. Whether Logholm ordered it or not, they would attack only when they were ready.

 

v  v  v

 

Back where he had begun, Logholm waited for reports from his goblin slaves. The battle had begun and was progressing well. The goblins anticipated victories all around. It was the news he had been hoping for.

Looking out at the battlefield before him, the infestation had formed ranks and were ready for battle. It was time for them to see that no amount of preparation could prepare them for what was to come.

“Cleanse the infestation! Charge!”


 

 

CHAPTER 2

 

According the Oas and the dwarven riders of the azastywellha, the bulk of the opposing forces were coming from the east. A large contingent was also coming from the mountains to the northeast, with the remainder on the northern side. The defense plan that Braksis agreed to focused on these three key areas of defense.

He himself along with most of his close companions were with the Falestians, barbarians, dwarves, and sarnals and were poised to defend Reuland from the creatures from the east. General Kronos and General Lowred had their combined Imperial forces to defend against the attackers from the Northeast. Colonel Hinbar, Kaden and his Lowland Brigade, and the Frost elves were defending the north. All other forces, including the defenders of Reuland, the Vohlmuth dwarves under the command of General Olsson, and the orcs—with the exceptions of Niyilka and Ong who refused to leave Braksis’s side—were within the city and moving to defend the areas that needed their efforts the most.

Braksis had rode past the soldiers of the Imperium and saw that they were lined up in formation and ready to strike. The archers were in the back, the heavy spear units in front, and hundreds of formations of squares and triangles were scattered over the battlefield waiting for the order to attack. Each square or triangle was comprised of an Imperial unit of up to one hundred soldiers. The cavalry units were waiting in reserve. They would let the trolls charge them, and then the cavalry would circle around and attack the trolls from behind.

Confident in the abilities of the Imperial generals and soldiers, he had made his way to the Falestians that he was to command. He knew this group had the most experience against the trolls. His uncle, Sir Brune and Gullerud, Redlin, Shriva, Deisenhammer, Reistar, and all of the others were seasoned veterans when it came to the trolls. He could not have a better group to be fighting with than the forces he had aligned here.

“Here they come,” Lorrents said with resigned acceptance.

Braksis knew what he meant. After all of the years that the Troll Wars had raged, they had finally thought that it was over when King Worren killed Kovag and the troll armies were defeated. But here they were, looking just as powerful as they ever had.

As the trolls charged down to meet them, the forward lines braced themselves. Falestian Guards with heavy spears raised their weapons and pointed them at the oncoming trolls. Those in the front crouched down on their knees so that more of the weapons would be prepared.

In different sections, the dwarves of Carnelian had warriors with spears stepping forward to meet the attack head on as well. Once the trolls reached the lines, Braksis knew that things would grow chaotic quickly. But his warriors were ready, and failure was not an option they could consider.

With the Phoenix in his hand, sitting in the saddle of a war mount, Braksis slashed his sword in the air as the trolls charge was within range of the archers. He had assigned Atherok and Niyilka to the archers, and knew that they would not let him down. As his sword slashed, moments later the sky turned dark as arrows filled the sky and soared at the oncoming trolls.

The trolls did not even defend themselves. They had no shields to raise, or cover to take. They just kept running, allowing the arrows to strike them and tear into their thick hides. An arrow would not likely kill a troll, but Braksis hoped that it might at least slow them down.

Twirling his blade overhead, he gave the signal to fire at will. Volley after volley of arrows were sent at the trolls. Some did fall, but far too few. Within minutes the trolls were upon those dwarves and Falestian Guards at the forward lines. The spears skewered some, merely brushed off of others. The trolls kept charging, climbing over their own dead and forcing their way into the midst of the Falestian defenders.

Braksis watched as the trolls advance moved into his lines, forcing their way forward until the battle slowed their assent. Soldiers were fighting the trolls now, actively engaged, their weapons swinging and slashing and thrusting as often as they could to try and defeat the trolls. Overhead another volley of arrows soared to the trolls that were further behind.

Raising his sword again, Braksis slashed it through the air, the next signal to advance. From the right lines, Lorrents, Brune, Gullerud, and Murad rode out with the Falestian Knights and plowed into the troll lines, swinging their swords and attacking the trolls as quickly as they could. From the left lines, the barbarians charged past the dwarves, crying out the name “Xeorn” in honor of their God, and dove into the troll lines attacking as well.

More of his warriors died in the first few minutes fighting the trolls than had perished against the kriverlings in the battle to reclaim Reuland. Yet even amongst all of the death, Braksis saw valiant warriors fighting for their homes, their kingdom, and what they believed in. Above all, this is what made Falestia great. This is why his people would win. This is why the trolls, no matter what they sent at him, would finally cease to be a threat to Falestia as his father had intended.

 

v  v  v

 

During the Great Wars, General Kronos had fought many battles in his life. He knew that the battle best fought was the one where you won without killing a single foe. Emperor Conrad had the charisma to bring that about, and it had been his honor to fight alongside of the visionary and witness it firsthand.

Everything he had heard about King Worren indicated that he was equally great. Equally charismatic. Equally successful. Whenever a leader like that walks the surface of Terra, they are to be cherished and followed. He saw the makings of just such a man in Braksis, too. He was quite interested in seeing Braksis continue to grow and come into his own. He was young, inexperienced, and at times gave in to his emotions a little too much, but just looking around he saw the magnitude of what Braksis’s determination could bring together. Whoever would have imagined a force as large and capable as the one they had united first to claim Reuland, and now hours later to defend it? Not even Emperor Conrad could have gained the aid of non-humans in his campaigns. Braksis truly was a unique individual.

It was his honor and pleasure to be assigned to support Braksis in his efforts. He had been impressed with the boy with grand plans, only to see those plans realized. He had felt jipped when his own battalion was forced to sit out of the siege of Reuland and leave the conquest to other allies. But now he was ready to fight, ready to show just what the Imperial Army could do.

This was not a battle that could be won without taking a single life. This was going to be a grueling conflict with many casualties on both sides. But even he, a General who had survived the Great Wars, felt privileged and honored to fight in the name of someone who was in all rights still just a boy. Charisma had a way of inspiring faith and confidence and loyalty in others.

As the trolls charged, Kronos issued his orders from behind the lines. With Imperial precision, the archers had attacked. The heavy spear units met the trolls face on. The infantry marched forward and pushed the trolls back. Captain Palmer and his cavalry charged in and split the troll lines in two.

This was what it meant to fight the Imperium. Precision, quality, effectiveness, and discipline. He was proud of each and every one of his soldiers under his command. He could see further down that General Lowred was having similar success, and undoubtedly was equally as proud of his “boys.”

The trolls were tough. He would give them that. But they did not know that a legend in the making was leading the forces against them. The sheer spirit that flowed through the ranks was uncanny. Kronos was only proud to have been present to experience it.

 

v  v  v

 

Kaden and Hinbar had been fighting trolls alongside of King Worren for a long time. They both knew what they had to do and exactly what was on the line. As their Frost elven allies were fighting the mammoth-riding quiltoth, the Lowland Brigade and Imperial Army met the trolls head on.

Their strategy was somewhat different than the others. They had reserves lying in wait, but had their cavalries ride out to meet the charging trolls, keeping the battle lines further from the exposed gates of the city. No matter how much King Deisenhammer and Zanielle swore by the patchwork job they did, neither man was willing to bet the lives of those within Reuland on it.

Once the cavalry had engaged, they sounded the advance. Lines of soldiers marched forward, spears and sword lowered, and entered the fray stabbing and slashing at every troll they could find. Only half of their forces were committed, the other half and all archers remaining behind in the event that the trolls broke through the lines.

If they got through both forces, and the Frost elves were unable to add support, then it would be up to Gaurang and his orcs who were positioned along with Falestian defenders within the city.

Neither Kaden nor Hinbar were willing to accept that the orcs would need to intervene. The trolls were their enemies, from a time before Rawthorne had torn this Kingdom apart. In tragedy, a common and known foe did wonders to unite a nation and repair the wounds and bitterness that undoubtedly would have been present between those who had sided with Rawthorne and those who resisted.


 

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