Tales of Ernandel

Hrothgar summoned the sky bull.

They decided to perform the Arming of Orlanth ritual, to help Furlam lead the army to victory. Nallindia gave Wrathful, the spear given to her by Haradangian. Hrothgar gave the lightning, which he stole from Alkoth. Murhardavu gave a sunspear. Martog gave him her lead armor. Verdun gave him a powerful talisman that let him see at night as if it was day. Oswind gave him Silencer, his iron sword. Feolam gave his thunderbolt. And Furlam donned his own ram horn helm.

Furlam crossed to the god plane and found himself in Orlanth's camp. To the north, he saw the camp of one of the tyrants who usurped rule after Yelm's death. He decided to attack the Red Destroyer, leaping on him with a hail of lightning. Although he knocked down the Red Destroyer, he was unable to kill him before the archer god began firing blazing arrows at him. Furlam rushed him and struck him down with his sword, then leaped back to Orlanth's camp before the other gods could attack.

Everyone else saw a huge thunderstorm form over the Dara Happan camp, toppling two siege towers.

The next day, the remaining five siege towers moved up, flanked by many troops. There were also several lodges being carried to the battle, concealing battering rams.

The Dara Happans advanced in good order. The defenders organized themselves.

Hrothgar, riding the sky bull, Nallindia, and 21 other Orlanthi flew towards a siege tower. The Dara Happans concentrated their fire on the bull, which crashed into the drawbridge of the tower. Although two more Orlanthi died, they managed to completely clear the tower, and set it afire.

The first tower reached the walls, and dropped its drawbridge. A mob of elite Pelandan warriors, wearing gleaming bronze armor, charged. The leader stabbed Verdun through the gut. Another was about to skewer Oswind, but Martog's darkness drove him howling back. Furlam fell. Oswind was in the thick of the fighting, single-handedly holding the wall. Martog was unable to heal Furlam, but she did manage to sweep the remaining group of Pelandans off the wall with her darkness spirits. Oswind fought his way into the tower and cut the ropes to the bridge.

As the houses with the battering rams approached the gate, Murhardavu blasted its leader with a sunspear. One of the houses continued, backed by archers. There was a fierce fight, but the gate was not breached.

One of the siege towers completely cleared their section of wall, but reinforcements kept them from going further. Wolenath took a wound. The Dara Happans eventually pulled back.

The city had lost 160 warriors, but the morale was still high.

Although Nallindia preferred to defend, the others decided to offer a deal to the Emperor. Hrothgar took a delegation, offering to give him the city in exchange for allowing the army to leave, and not killing the inhabitants. They met Mahzanelm himself, who answered that all rebels would be treated the way of the defenders of Thubana, and impaled. The heralds felt lucky to leave his presence alive.

The army consisted of 15 Lakreni heroes, 22 Ernandeli heroes, 18 other thanes from Ernandel, 30 Orlanteffings, 47 carls from Ernandel, 50 Thubanans under Wolenath, and 40 Lodrili following Murhardavu.

The leaders discussed their options. Nallindia and Oswind wanted to attack, but everyone else wanted to sneak out that night.

Murhardavu tried to talk to the Lodrili, but found many of them ready to rebel against anyone Dara Happan, including himself.

That night, they brought the statue of Orlanth to the square, and assembled the people.

A group of Lodrili began yelling at Martog, saying "demon! kill!" She tried to order them to help dig, but they scattered when she tried to force them.

Furlam said, "It is time to leave. Follow me to the hills!" He led the horsemen out of the gate, catching the Dara Happan army by surprise. Many of the men were eager for combat, and punched through the few defenders.

The Orlanthi footmen followed, and the Dara Happans rallied to resist, though the warriors managed to break free.

Nallindia tried valiantly to lead the noncombatants to safety, but could only direct their panicked flight in the right direction. 70 managed to stay with Nallindia, but nearly 300 scattered.

Murhardavu's Dara Happans followed too closely, and several were trampled by the mob of noncombatants.

Martog directed the Lodrili through the tunnel. They burst through in a religious frenzy. A few others followed, but many remained in the city.

Everyone joined up and headed south. Many of the Lodrili wandered off, intoxicated by their new freedom. Many of Murhardavu's followers questioned the fact that he was rebelling against the Emperor, but he commanded them to follow him. His own Buserian advised that he kill the peasants rather than let them continue to follow him.

The refugees bargained for or took supplies from the steads on the way. Many of the steadholders joined them.

Two days later, the scouts reported that the Emperor's army had begun moving to the south again.

After about a week, they arrived in Ernandel. Furlam sent out the war arrow to Aldeshtalor of the Sardarkestings. Hrothgar sent his wife on the Sky Bull to Lakrene for help.

The Dara Happan army stopped once they could see the city walls, and began a ritual involving the impaling of many prisoners. Murhardavu realized they were building the edges of the roof — extending the Empire. The next day, they built a watchtower. Three days later, the army returned to the north.

Ernandel sent out scouts, finding the tower abandoned, and nearly a hundred people impaled.

Part Sixteen | To Be Continued

Copyright ©2004 David Dunham. Last updated 8 Mar 04.

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