I know, it's long, but read it, eh?
“Alright, lads, no use putting it off further. Got a full day ahead of us. Come on, get movin’.” Lieutenant Perilag said to arouse his men from their slumbers. He looked around at what was left of what had once been his full company. It had been reduced to only 8, by the invading Restinian army. There had formerly been 3 districts of the Harthanian Nation, the Latarsus, Restan, and Perilag’s district, Thesius. Thesius was the producer of a primarily Archery-oriented Military force, and controlled the central lands of Harthania. It served as a refuge and last defense against enemies, and had about twelve thousand archers at its command, plus a reserve army of heavy infantry and knights of about five thousand.
Latarsus, Thesius’s ally, had produced the Basic men-at-arms and trained the poorer men as a sort of highly-skilled militia force of maybe ten thousand. Restan, now known as Restanaih, was once a great friend to the other districts, until the wicked man known as Eather Darthan inherited the throne from his father, Jesan the Brave.
Eather stayed friendly and hospitable to the other kings, Renan of Latarsus and Thror of Thesius, all the while secretly creating a military so great that no one could resist it. He would’ve done so if Thror’s Elite spies, the “Unicorns”, hadn’t discovered this when they doing a Census, when the Unicorns had been sent out secretly to make sure the other districts had been keeping in check with their protocols. At that time they reported it to Thror, and he mentioned it at their next council.
Eather said that he was a fool for believing at all that someone could ever resist him, and he said that he should be leader of the entire nation, and then the entire world. Thror and Renan realized that this was a problem, but they expected nothing would come of it, only a minor drunkenness or heated mind. Eather, the very next day, set a trap for both of the other kings as they were returning for the council. Renan only had a few armed guards with him, and was immediately captured and executed by Eather’s own hand.
Thror, however, had been trained as a swordsman all his life, and there were few who could match him in all the world. He and a few of his guards managed to fend off the assassins, leaving over 30 men dead. When Thror returned to his own lands, he immediately declared war on Eather.
Eather had been playing his own game foolishly, fighting before he was fully ready. Given that his army’s size hadn’t been discovered, he could’ve trained over 10 thousand more men over the next few years, creating a truly and hopelessly undefeatable force. Its current size was over 30 thousand well trained soldiers, larger than Latarsus and Thesius combined. Eather’s force had taken the southernmost lands of Thesius and conquered about half of Latarsus.
The war was tilting towards Eather, and the odds looked poor for his enemies. The current numbers of men for each army were estimated to be thirty-five thousand or so for Eather, Latarsus’s new king, Kale son of Renan, had about seventy-five hundred men, mostly new recruits, and Thror’s armies had shrunk to about fifteen thousand. Thror’s men had taken to the front, fighting erupting in the least likely places. Kale’s men were used as town garrisons, defending the cities and towns of Latarsus and Thesius.
Perilag’s men had been sent to reinforce the Southern Peninsula ejecting into the Harappian Sea on the border of Latarsus and Thesius, but had only found dead men until they finally stumbled into a trap, where they lost over a hundred men and barely escaped. They were now patrolling the border as an alarm if they detected they enemy army coming forth to the Thesius capitol, Haidinrast.
His force consisted of Himself, Corporal Hether, Sergeant Dodds, Sergeant Baglavech, Sergeant Uther, Private Holsclaugh, Corporal Andevech, and Private Deltos. Deltos, Holsclaugh, and Baglavech were swordsmen, Hether was a spearman, and Andevech, Dodds, and he were archers. Sergeant Uther, however, was much more than a soldier. First son of Thror and heir to the throne of Thesius and possibly someday as far as King of all Harthania, his survival was essential. The purpose of forming that company was to give the raw recruits some seasoning and make them better soldiers. Holsclaugh, Andevech, Deltos, and Hether as well as Uther were the only younger soldiers to survive the ambushes. Holsclaugh was 17, Andevech was 18, Deltos was also 18, Hether was 19 and Uther was 20. Dodds was 33, Baglavech was 35, and Lieutenant Perilag was 41.
As of the current moment, they were packing up their horses and getting ready to head off to a town about 10 miles north of their position called Nezeriah. Within minutes, they were on their way, riding at a walk atop their horses.
When they reached the town, they found it without any sort of garrison- in fact the only men were young boys and old men. There were many women and children whose husbands and fathers had gone to war. When they entered the city, they received some odd glances. Most people were afraid to leave their houses, but that didn’t stop them from glaring through their shutters.
It must have been a long time since they’ve had a garrison, to not recognize our uniforms… Uther thought. The Thesian uniform was made up of a chainmail shirt, leather bracers and gauntlets, leather leggings and mail greaves, leather riding boots, a chainmail hood, and an unfastened burgundy cloak bearing the Golden Thesian Lion. Granted, their equipment was torn, broken, bloody, and scattered, but it seemed to be fairly clear despite its blemishes that they bore that they were no threat.
They approached what appeared to be a tavern and walked in. There, they met an old man wielding a hard wooden staff, holding it at a ready position. “Get out, or I’ll use it!” He shouted weakly. In the back, a woman could be seen shooing her children into another room.
“Easy, mate. We don’t want your money, or your lives, or your children. Stand down.” Perilag said.
“Get out; get out, you damned brigands! Our lives are hard enough without you bastards taking everything we earn!”
“We only want to stay a night, friend. That’s it.”
“Then why the hell do you have those weapons?” He said, beckoning towards the swords at their belts, bows over their shoulders, and spears on their backs.
“We are soldiers of Thror king of Thesius. We do not wish to hurt you, nor take your possessions or kidnap your sons and daughters. Only to serve the will of Thror.”
At this, the old man lowered his staff and glared at them through squinted eyes. Finally he said “Fine. Take a seat, the food will be ready in an hour.” Then he promptly stuck out his hand. Perilag jammed his fist in his various pockets and collected 4 Hathruses, named for the founder of the nation of the Nation of Harthania, whose line tragically ended in 4E419 (419th year of the 4th Era (It was currently 5E633)), with Urion the Bear Slayer who died in the siege of the Latarsus Capitol, Seadel while fighting the Arian Empire, now only a misty legend.
After an hour of talking and drinking, a serving girl came with their meal. Uther caught her eye for a second, and she grinned and looked away. Just as they began to eat though, the door burst open, and a woman ran in, followed by several other women, elders, and children.
“They’ve returned!” The woman shouted, looking alarmed.
“Who have returned!?” Perilag demanded.
“The brigands! Dozens of them! At the gate!” She yelled frantically.
“Crap, figures it happens right when we get food, too…Come on, men, let’s reinforce this position. Uther, take Hether and Andevech, and round up any other villagers that you can find. Dodds, take Holsclaugh and barricade the doors. The rest of you, with me, we’ll hold them off as long as we can. Move!” They all carried commands fluently.
“Come on, we have to circle the perimeter and look for a safehouse to either defend or escort the contents of it back to the inn. If we can, we should try for the latter rather than the former, but god knows how long Perilag can hold off the brigands.” Uther said to his men to spur them on. They had run for a decent while at their top speed without stopping, and that was catching up to them. They had so far not found any of the villagers.
Just as they rounded another corner, seven or eight boys with knives, pitchforks, and clubs jumped out of various locations. The soldiers began to loosen their weapons in their various holders, but Uther motioned for them not to.
“Lads, we don’t want to hurt you. We aren’t ill-bearing folks, and from the looks of it, neither are you. We don’t mean any harm..” He said.
“Likely.” One of the boys said sarcastically. “When we have you surrounded, you disown yourselves.”
“Believe me- we aren’t afraid of you. And if it came to a fight, we would win. Not one of your weapons would penetrate hard leather or steel.”
“That’s what you would want to think. But our friend,” He said beckoning to another boy on the roof, whose bow was drawn, “would probably make you think otherwise.”
But Andevech, ever the quick-thinking archer, noticed a small fumble of the bow in the boy’s hands. “That bow is too powerful for him. If it came to fighting, I doubt he’d be able to get a lethal shot off, or even get a shot off at all for that matter.”, he muttered into Uther’s ear. Uther nodded briskly, his brain at work.
“You see these uniforms? Why would we all have the same Thesian uniforms if we were brigands?”
“Enemies of not only the village, but of the Thesian army, as well! Isn’t that wonderful! You should know that even if you were soldiers, it wouldn’t matter. The Thesian Empire has abandoned us, its men wasting slothfully in their homes. Their names are mud, now, and their laziness is on the backs of our women and elders.”
“Boy, you speak over-much! Respect the men who died to keep your ungrateful ass alive!” Uther groaned.
At this the boy took a half step back unconsciously, and slipped on a loose stone, losing an amount of gravity as only inadvertency can. Uther nodded to Hether, who promptly grabbed him by his collar and pointed a sharp steel dagger to the underside of his chin. Uther took his large buckler and stood between Hether and the rest of the boys. “Drop your weapons, and follow us.” Uther said, readying to step forward and collect their discarded weapons. The boys consented. Hesitantly, at best, but at the sight of their supposedly invincible leader captured so easily they had little opportunity for creativity despite whatever fighting skills they may have possessed.
Uther scooped the weapons into his knap pouch, and asked the boys if there were any people further out than their current location. “No, they abandoned the outer levels of the town after the first raid,” said one of the boys. “Prob’ly used the cellar system.”
The cellar system. It’s essentially just a tunnel system that runs between cellars from house to house, usually concealed by a bookshelf or the like.”
“Interesting. How long have these been around?”
“Well, their construction started around the time when it became evident that the brigands weren’t going anywhere. But this attack is the biggest I’ve seen.”
“Well, we can’t doddle, there quite easily could be men dying while we chat along about some bloody tunnel!” Hether groaned impatiently.
“Right. Let’s go, make haste.” Uther said.
The boys having been sufficiently convinced received their weapons in agreement to fight alongside the Thesians. The group of 12, 4 men and 8 youths, hurriedly made their way back to the inn.
When they arrived, they saw a group of those who must have been the brigands camped at the intersection near the inn. The soldiers and guerilla boys sneaked (ah, I was mistaken, my former belief was that it was snuck, although according to my Windows ’98 dictionary, it is not) in one by one, and the brigands were none the wiser. When they arrived, they saw Dodds laying on the table, being treated for a wound to his side, which looked potentially fatal, Perilag standing weakly nearby Dodds, Holsclaugh waiting at the door, eye to the spyhole, Deltos was sharpening his stone on a bench while speaking to Baglavech, both of them sporting minor wounds, although still combat-ready at a pinch.