by thefourpartland

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6

So, I’ve spent the last four posts giving my thoughts on how to design a magic system, but I’m sure many of you are curious as to how all of this would work in practice, so I’m going to spend this post and the next on going through my process step by step. Usually, it isn’t quite as formal as this post will be, but I’m trying to make this as clear as possible.

You may have noticed at the end of the last post that I called the magic system I had in mind Ferrous Timber. The name will become clear as I go through the steps, but it’s an idea that has been bouncing around my head for a little, and I want to see how it looks on paper.

And now, on to the choices.

Choice #1: Strength – For those of you who’ve had a chance to pry back the covers of The Four Part Land or Splintered Lands, you’ll know that my primary choice as an author is fairly low powered magic, with strong effects being available only to a few, or in a limited aspect of the world. I will continue part of that trend here. The power available to Ferrous Timber mages will be limited, and there will be no collaboration between them.

Casters draw their power from the world about them, be it from the woods and the trees, or from the earth, and the iron that resides within the earth. Each area will, depending on its characteristics, only be able to support a given amount of magical draining. Too much, and the area will wither and crumble, dying as the lifeforce is siphoned away. Also, the more talented the user, the more efficiently the energy can be utilized, and the less damage is done to the environment.

This magic will exist in a gunpowder fantasy setting, and so there will be high quality ironmongery and effective gunpowder tools to balance out the magicians.

Choice #2: Prevalence – Moderately common. Magic will not require native talent, and so any inhabitant of the setting may choose to acquire some learning in the art, provided that he has the coin to pay for education. However, as each area only has a finite supply of energy, there are strong diminishing returns for having more than a few mages in a given area, and so even towns or armies often have but a small cadre, for more than that would be simply wasteful.

Mages are viewed as a undesirable but necessary part of everyday life. Undesirable because their talents require them to drain the land or the plants, necessary in that their talents help to insure the safety of living, and help produce much of the metal work that is rapidly changing urban life.

Choice #3: Style – Casters will find that they oft struggle to pull on the surrounding environment, for many of the users of the magical talents are little more than hedge wizards, taught a few useful spells by an apprentice in need of coin, but not given the proper grounding in how best to prepare mentally for casting a spell.

Proper ritual will be limited for most everyday use of spells, although any spell that will have a large effect will require longer preparations, as much to focus the caster as to ease the summoning of energy.

As the name Ferrous Timber alludes to, there will be two distinct schools of magic. Both will suffer from the same general restrictions, but the Ferrous half will have a very mechanistic, almost robotic sense to it. Actions performed repetitively, by rote, until such time as the final effect is desired. Each individual spell may not complete the task as desired, but that is no matter, for it is by the repeated and guided application of magic that the final objective might be achieved. The application of logic and of physical law will play into the casting of spells, and most users will have a background in ironmongery, architecture, engineering, or a related field.

By contrast, the Timber half of the magical system will be much more free flowing, with spells that often have no immediate impact, but ones that become stronger over time, growing into their full power as they pull on the energy from the world about them. Timber spells are less damaging to the world around them, but that does not mean they cause no harm, only that the harm, like the spells themselves, is spread out across time, rather than occurring at the resolution of the casting. Unlike Ferrous, Timber can usually accomplish the desired goal with a single casting.

Casters can use either side of the magic, but tend to specialize in one.

Choice #4: Powers – What does the magic do in the world of Ferrous Timber? As you might imagine, each of the two sides has a different range of abilities. Ferrous tends to focus around the shaping of metal, the creation of devices through which actions might then be accomplished. A common application is for a Ferrous user to be an armourer or a weaponsmith, using his talents to shape his output in a way that would not be possible without fine control of magic.

The application of magnetic properties is another area where Ferrous users find themselves at home, and through this, animation of metal creations through the application of tiny magnetic forces.

For their part, Timber users find themselves more at home amongst agrarian lifestyles, using their talents to promote the growth of plants, the diminution of wounds and sicknesses, or the subtle direction of aspects of nature. While many have tried, no mage has yet discovered a principle that allows them to control the mind or thoughts of another. Despite their ability to assist growth in nature, animals are often scared of mages, for at a visceral level creatures can sense the drain that is placed on the rest of the world in order to utilize the spells.

I realize that the powers enumerated here are fairly vague, but that’s because I do not want to list specifics. I find that as a writer having some latitude in what characters can do is of benefit to the creation of the story and the resolution of scenes. I cannot lock out all the inspiration that actually writing the tale gives, and so I leave room within magic to manoeuvre.

Next week, I shall finish up Ferrous Timber, and open up a contest. I look forward to seeing you all then.



by thefourpartland

As the Lianese forces reached three paces from the barricade, Rhyfelwyr cried “Throw!”, and the glass spheres were hurled outward, smashing into the face and shields of their foe, shattering into clouds of abrasive shards and cutting splinters. The front lines of the charge stumbled and collapsed, blinded Lianese soldiers collapsing to the ground with broken and bloodied faces. Those behind tripped and fell over their comrades, leaving the charge a ruin before it even reached the barriers. And now, when they tried to charge again, there would caltrops scattered across the ground, promising injury to any who tried to step forward.

The Veryan forces watched as the Lianese withdrew, picking their wounded up and pulling back to gather against the edges of the market square, building courage for another charge. Rhyfelwyr wished they had been able to take more advantage of the confusion of the broken charge, but that would have meant breaking the shield wall and stepping over the barricades, and giving up that defensive surety for a momentarily opportunity was not worth the cost. He called out, and the second, and last, round of spheres was brought to hand. There would be nothing but the sword after this, and if the Lianese were wise to that and started to bombarbed the Veryan forces with arrows, the only response Rhy could conjure would be a deadly charge over the barricades, into a waiting force. He could only hope that the battle was going well enough elsewhere, so that these Lianese forces did not have the time for a leisurely battle.

The second charge came, and it was repulsed in the same way as the first, glass spheres breaking the momentum at point-blank range. There spheres rarely killed, but the clouds of abrasive glass would injure many an eye, and the spray of sharpened waste would make the ground a spike-ridden mess, and for that Rhyfelwyr was grateful. In the brief pause as the Lianese forces gathered for a third charge, Rhy spoke with his squad, pulling them from the lines.

“We’ve lost three of the twenty men we started with, and three more are like Locsyn, wounded. They’re going to throw a third round of javelins, and we’ve already tightened the wall once. Do we charge?”

Taflen looked up, examining the Lianese forces for a long moment before shaking his head. “We stay, we’ll take more of them with us that way.”

Gwyth grunted. “Uplifting, you are.”

Nervously twirling the end of his moustache in one hand, Locsyn shook his head. “Rhocas, can you get us out of this?”

The young mage sighed. “I’ve been training as a mage for only a few days, I can just barely manage summoning fire when I want it. I can’t do one of the giant balls of flame. I’m sorry.”

Rhy patted the young man on the back. “Nothing to be sorry about, you signed on as a soldier and you do a soldier’s job. We stand.” Rhy turned back to his post in the centre of the barricade, and only Taflen heard him mutter that “I hope Llof comes up with something.”



by thefourpartland

So, a kindly soul called Rebecca took it upon herself to offer me the chance for an interview on my process of writing. The header to her post is below, and wander on over to her website and give the rest a read.

An Interview with James Tallett

Greetings, folks!

I hope you all are having a fantastic Monday. Today, I managed to wrangle a writer with some very interesting views on the relationships between reading and writing — and in some cases, the lack thereof. Please, sit down and grab a scone and a cup of tea. Relax and allow me to introduce you to James Tallett, creator of The Four Part Land.

Like many of my contacts, I met James on twitter. You can follow him via @thefourpartland.

Before we begin, I wanted to go a little more into the subject matter of this interview: Reading and writing. James has a very interesting view on the relationship of reading and writing. In addition, his motivations for having started genre writing is unique in comparison with many of the other writers I have had the privilege of talking to.




by thefourpartland

I have within my possession a great device. It has been said that, if used, all of those who reside upon this sphere will perish, and ascend to Heaven. Others place suppositions upon its ability to render us unto a Hell unlike even that of Lucifer. Yet I believe none have discerned the truthfulness of its usage, even myself. For despite my many years with the device in my possession, examining the mechanism has proven quite difficult, for to remove the casing and make a thorough inspection would render the great device inoperable.

I have contented myself for the passing of these decades by postulates and theorems, a hope that a rational mind can discern the purpose to which it was built. Yet despite my ponderous researches into the life and history of the machine’s creator, a M. Friedrichs. I believe him to have been born in the province of Alsace-Lorraine, yet I have found precious little of the details of his existence. It is almost as if, having made this device, his history finishes, and what came before was of such irrelevance that it was never recorded.

I find this truly a pity, for I would very much have liked to examine the mind of the man who had created this infernal device. Or perhaps I should refer to it as an angelic device, as some do. In truth, I do not know, for I find there to be equal cause for explanation on either side. Which suggests that the mechanism is one to bring about the last days, and the return of Christ, yet I would find that a most unwholesome thing. A machine that is the essence of our creator, one given into our hands? A troubling thought.

My own theory as to what this blasted enigma can accomplish shall remain my own, for I do not wish to commit the full nature of my discussions to paper. Suffice to say that if I did, I would find myself within the walls of Kew Asylum, somewhere far away from the grounds that I now inhabit. Rather than risk such derision and treatment, I shall write only this: that it is a device for casting mankind from the Earth, but the destination is neither Heaven nor Hell. No, in my studies I do believe I have understood the true genius of M. Friedrichs, despite being all but incapable of unearthing material on his life.

I am willing to admit the greater possibility that I am in the wrong, for as I was forced to admit earlier, this is little more than a supposition. Yet I hold to it quite strongly, for it has found anchor within my mind, and its tendrils creep ever deeper into my thoughts, until I am all but consumed by a lust for knowledge about the device, about its capabilities, about its creator. I will not rest in studies until I have a full and complete understanding.

Perhaps I should banish all worry from my mind, and pull upon the lever that protrudes from the casing of the mechanism. For I find myself unwilling to eat unless I do so within sight of the bulk of its hull, and I have recently moved my bed to within its shadow. Strange that after so many years of possessing this contrivance that I suddenly feel the urge to spend all but a few precious moments within its vision.

That in itself has produced a worry within my mind, for the contraption pulses like a living creature, as if it awakens from a long ago slumber, and needs but a single pull of the lever to complete the transformation into something unshackled. Yet why resist the siren’s call, when I know that I shall waste away until I do, my life consumed by the singular desire to discover the secret within.

I am resolved. Forthwith I shall enable the mechanism, and may God forgive me if I have erred in my judgement. I stand at the device as I write these last notes, and I must confess that I feel a sense of satisfaction emanating from within the metal hulk. Frightful to have a machine that feels? Perhaps, yet I am certain. May the sun ever shine on this sceptred empire.



by thefourpartland

Marcus went blind on Wednesday. Deaf on Thursday. Friday he lost the ability to taste. Saturday, scents no longer appealed, and Sunday, he could no longer feel even the breath of the wind. Monday, they all came back.

He still worked the full forty hour week, of course. Hardest on Monday and Tuesday, when he could see. Memorize everything he could before Tuesday midnight, and then use Braille the rest of the week, typing away in blissful silence until Monday rolled around.

Thursday and Friday, he was the most productive person in the office. It’s amazing how much you can get done without even the possibility of being distracted.

There were drawbacks, of course. His wife cheated on him, twice a week. Thursday and Friday, between noon and two. Sunday he had to lay in bed, eating nothing. Too much risk otherwise.

It also meant he could never see his children play sports as they grew up, or spend time with them on the weekend. Marcus cried over that, when he thought no one was looking.

Someday, he was sure he’d find out what the affliction of his meant. Doctors certainly didn’t know, they just waved their hands. Oh, they’d been helpful at first, trying every cure and treatment they could conceive. But if you heard of a product with a 99% success rate, well, Marcus was that 1%. Everything failed on him. So he accepted life and moved on. Mostly.

It was Wednesday again. Blindness had struck, as it always did, at midnight Tuesday night. Today though, he hadn’t gone into work. Marcus wanted to experiment. So he shot himself. Dead, of course. No reason to do things poorly. As for what he found, well, he had a hard time telling anyone. But the corpse did have a smile on its face.



by thefourpartland

The Lianese soldiers pressed forward, seeing they had the advantage on this small band, and shouted up for more arrows to fall upon their foes. Their answer came, as a body plummeted from the roof to slam on top of a Lianese soldier, driving him to the ground and breaking his neck. Two more bodies fell, landing again on soldiers, and then arrows began to rain down, piercing the bodies of the Lianese as they sought to retreat from the suddenly charging trio of Rhy, Gwyth, and Taflen. The Lianese flight garnered only a few steps before they were cut down from behind, blades cutting through kidneys and spine to slay the foe. Rhy looked upward and raised his sword in salute, knowing that he would see Llofruddiwr standing there. Sure enough, his old friend waved back, captured Lianese bow in hand, before disappearing down behind the roof line.

A hand clapped Rhyfelwyr on the shoulder, and he spun round to see Rhocas standing behind him, along with two more squads of soldiers. “What are you doing here, lad? You’re supposed to be in the main van.”

Rhocas chuckled. “Always new orders. Didn’t you used to tell me that? I’m supposed to assist you in capturing the warehouses, along with this lot.”

“Good. Give us a few minutes and we’ll be ready. Llof is already scouting ahead.”

Rhocas nodded, and the soldiers sat down in the alleyway, free to rest. While they waited, a cutter came and attended to the wounds on Gwyth and Locsyn, breaking the arrow off and pulling it from Gwyth’s arm. The large man grunted once, then fell back into silence. For Locsyn, the cutter had to saw through the metal head of the javelin, and by the time he was done, Locsyn was white, his face sweating as he breathed rapidly. Pulling the spear from the wound saw Locsyn faint away, and the cutter stuffed herbs into both ends of the wound before wrapping it in cloth. Rhyfelwyr gave Locsyn a few minutes unconscious before prodding him awake. Sighing as he rose to his feet, Loc cut the straps from his shield and stuffed his now-useless left hand into his sword belt. Glancing around at the assembled soldiers, Rhyfelwyr nodded once, and set off towards the warehouses.

Several times they were struck from the side or the front by opposing Lianese soldiers, but each time, the Lianese were repulsed, although one close encounter had hung in the balance until Rhocas had gathered himself and sent a jet of flame playing across the Lianese front lines. Their moral broken, the Lianese tried to flee, and were slain by the charging Veryan forces.

Each skirmish brought Rhocas, Rhyfelwyr and their forces closer to the warehouses, and now they could see the bulky shapes only a few streets away, the heavy forms promising food and sustenance for weeks to come. Calling to his troops to rally on, Rhyfelwyr trotted round a corner to find himself in a market square, still filled with the stands and stalls of the hawkers. Cautious for an ambush, he gestured left and right, sending Taflen and Gwyth to scout through the remains. The other soldiers tucked themselves in tightly, forming a small square of shields at the edge of the open area.

Taflen advanced cautiously, his sword and shield held at the ready, eyes as much on the roofs around him as they were on possible foes hidden behind the stalls. Gwyth strode forward, openly challenging any who would dare to come stand with him, using his shield to swipe the stands aside, knocking them to the ground. After both had passed through two-thirds of the square, they glanced at one another, and nodded at Rhyfelwyr. The sergeant led his forces forward at a steady pace, until he glanced upwards and saw Llof standing on the building opposite, waving and point down at the street below. Rhy cursed, then shouted at the men around him. “Square, form a square! Pull the stands in as barricades! Now! Now!”

The Veryan soldiers leapt to obey, with Gwyth picking up two stands at a time and stacking them into a deep wall in the direction that Llof had gestured. Within moments there was a shielded square of Veryan forces, wrapped around by an outer barrier of wooden stalls and market detritus. As they finished readying themselves, Lianese forces poured from two of the streets into the market. Combined, the two forces outnumbered the Veryan three to one or four to one, and Rhy steeled himself for what was to come. Leaning over, he tapped Rhocas on the shoulder. “Don’t both using your magic until we’re engaged. Otherwise, you’ll be a pincushion.” Turning to bellow to the soldiers around him, the sergeant cried out orders for the defence. “Grab spheres! Meet their charge at five paces! Then swords!” The soldiers readied appropriately, their faces showing the strain of half a day fighting in the alleys of Horaim, for the sun stood high overhead, and it had barely crested the horizon when the fire had first struck the north gates of the city. Here and there, a shield or a sword sagged towards the ground, but their comrades would jostle the arm back to its proper place.

A trumpet rang out from within the Lianese forces, and Locsyn saw the javelins being readied that would precede the charge. His arm pained him greatly, and was still all but useless, but he had been able to sling his shield from his shoulder and strap it to his upper arm. He could barely move it, but it covered half his body, and that was better than before. Wordlessly, he took the sphere of glass that Rhocas proffered him and tucked it away in his belt pouch. A second trumpet sounded, and Locsyn ducked down as the Lianese charge began and the javelins flew overhead. Most were deflected away, caught in the barrier or glancing off shields, but a few pierced through the shields, and others found gaps in the defences, opening small holes in the Veryan forces. Men stepped forward to fill the holes, leaving an already thin line even thinner. Soon, Locysn knew he would be called to step into the line, and do the best he could with but one arm.



by thefourpartland

Thiasa waved his hand at the thousand campfires that sparkled in the night. “Perhaps none have seen their end more clearly.”

Theoso, his brother, grunted as he stirred the last of the meat into the stew. “We will be the last of our tribe to walk through the gates into Valhalla. Behind us, they will close the gates, and our people will be forgotten on this earth.”

Thiasa grinned. “They have taken our women, our children, our homes and our friends, but I do not think they will take our memories.”

“You have a plan for that, do you?”

“We are the last two. We will challenge their army to combat while it rouses itself tomorrow morning.”

“You have courage little brother. Tomorrow will be a good day.”

“Sleep well, big brother. Tomorrow we make the world remember our tribe.”

The sun rose crimson over the two brothers as they strode to meet their final hour. For what they did that day, their names and the name of their tribe lives on forever more in song and in spirit.



by thefourpartland

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6

Over the course of the series, I’ve looked at how Strength and Prevalence affect a magic system and a setting, how Style and Powers shape and define that magic system, and finally how Magical Interaction and Items and Artefacts impact the setting and system. Today is the last of the posts in this part of the series, and I’ll be looking at a few bits and pieces that have cropped up during the course of writing. I won’t be marking them as choices, because I don’t think they’re on the same level, but I do think they are rather important all the same.

Randomness – Is magic in the setting random? If so, how much? Randomness can be outstanding fun as an author, because it allows your mage to try killing the villain with a massive spell, only to have him turn in a small cuddly penguin instead. But it can also be a crutch, because it allows the writer to conjure wildly improbable effects to rescue the protagonists from trouble, rather than intelligently writing the scene.

The other way in which random magic can be used is in a grim manner, wherein the casting character is begging and pleading for things to work, but knows that they will not, that most of the time, the magic that he is calling upon will either do nothing or actively harm him in some way.

It is important to note the distinction between random spellcasting and random spell effects. Random spell effects are usually used in a humorous manner, although this isn’t always true. Random spellcasting often endangers the life of the character or those around him, and is generally the method of choice for grimmer outlooks on magic.

Sourcing – Where does the magic come from? I’ve spoken about this a little before, but it needs going into in further detail. Is the power a gift from the gods, dependant on that god still being ascendant, and upon that god’s whim? Is it from blood sacrifice, where only the death of a living creature will call the forces to the caster? Is it from infernal sources, a dark pact with a demon?

Each of these affects the way the magic is portrayed, and also the reliability of that magic. In general, sources that come from nature (the character, the elements, even blood sacrifice) tend to be stable in usage. Their strength and powers are repeatable. Whereas demonic or religious power often depends on the whim of a malevolent outside force, one who would be all too happy to see the character fail.

This often ties into randomness, for certain sources are more likely to be random than others. Likewise, it impacts how the character is portrayed. If the power is within him, it is entirely and exclusively his own. If the power is external, he is a conduit for a source greater than himself. If it is demonic or blood related, the character is usually, but not always, evil in nature. Or at least straddling that line. On the other hand, elemental and natural powers imply a close bond to the land, to the outdoors, and so on.

Range – How far can the magic reach? At first this sounds like a bit of an odd statement, but it’s a rather important one. If a magician can cast a spell hundreds or thousands of miles (say, through a looking glass), then the writer has created a character who has godlike powers to a greater or lesser degree. He can look in upon characters and curse them, slay them, or bless them as might be his wont for the day. This generally means that there has to be a way to avoid the omniscient gaze, and often much of the story revolves around hiding from sight.

The other aspect that comes into play frequently is teleporting. If it is that easy for a character to cover great distances, then it is disruptive to the world as a whole, because there is very little information lag, and there is no great need to journey through wilderness. It is an even faster method of transportation than aeroplane, and think of how international flight has changed the modern world. It’s certainly something to consider when designing a magic system and a setting.

That wraps up my advice on Creating a Magic System. The next two posts will be me exploring the choices raised herein as I design a new magic system as an example. Look for Ferrous Timber in about a week.



by thefourpartland

Later that evening, Rhocas returned to their camp for the first time in several days, nodding at all of those around him. He still wore his battered and dirty armour, and on the outside had not changed at all, but Rhy wondered if the nascent firemage stood with a straighter back, and a stronger gleam in his eye.

“Oh, so you can finally get back to work?” Locsyn twirled one end of his moustache in his hand while he spoke.

“I’m to be one of the secondary mages on this side of the walls, in case a breakout attempt happens. Hopefully, it means I don’t have to do much in that regard. I’m better with a sword than with fire, still.”

“If you can do anything with fire, it should cause a fair bit of panic. Just make sure to keep that armour on you if you do, because waving fire around is an invitation to end up looking like a pin cushion stuffed full of arrows.”

“Thanks, that’s really making me feel happy with this new role.”

“Well, if you’re smart, you can be so far at the back the arrows can’t reach you. That makes it a lot safer.”

Rhocas shook his head at the comments, and the banter continued on into the night, one of the squad taking watch duty for each stretch, while the others spoke around the fire. The next morning saw them wake tired from the night before, and to the mists and fogs of a grey and wet sunrise. The damp collected on everything, and with no breath of wind to stir the blanket away, it appeared ready to sit on the camp all day long. Rhyfelwyr sighed, and ordered the men forward into a picket line near the walls of the city, but still out of bow shot. The mist damped sound enough that if the Lianese troops sought to sally forth from their city, there would be little warning, and so better that his squad be across the mouth of their gate.

The day passed cramped and uncomfortable, and when night fell and the fog began to lift, the squad returned to their fire damp and grumpy, only to be met by orders that stated the attack was to come the next day, near dawn. Hearing that, Rhyfelwyr ordered the entire squad to sleep, and did not bother to set watches for the night. They would need all of their strength on the morrow, and it was unlikely the enemy would sortie at night. A hearty meal in their bellies, the soldiers lay down to bed, although some had trouble sleeping. It was to be a momentous morning for all of them.

The next morning, before the sun had arisen, Glanhaol Fflamboethi assembled facing the north gate of Horaim, silently slipping from their beds to form in a great mass. Formed into a long column, orders had come that they were to charge the gate as soon as it was destroyed. Rhy hoped they could catch the Lianese forces before morning woke them, but as he looked out over the field of battle and towards the distant walls, still shrouded in night, he shook his head. Today, he had a bad feeling.

A great burning noise filled the air, and a massive ball of fire lifted from the front ranks of the Veryan army and slammed into the north gate and surrounding wall, shattering them into rubble. A roar thundered out, and the column surged forward, quickly building pace to a run. Rhyfelwyr and his squad had been designated to go capture warehouses, along with many other squads in the army. The food situation was desperate enough that capturing those supplies could change the outcome of the campaign, and so Rhy gritted his teeth and raised his shield high above his head, warding off the arrows he felt sure to come. Around him, Gwyth and Locsyn and Taflen kept time, while Llof had disappeared. That didn’t surprise Rhy at all; it meant Llof had been close to the walls when the explosion opened the gates, and was causing havoc inside Horaim.

Glanhaol Fflamboethi crossed the open ground to the north gate with no shower of arrows or waiting defenders in their way, and as the column passed into the city, it began to fracture into many smaller commands, each heading towards their set targets. It was but a few moments later that the sounds of fighting erupted all around, and archers appeared on rooftops and leaning out of windows as Lianese soldiers burst from their places of concealment to strike the Veryan troops in their flanks. Momentarily bewildered, the Veryan forces found their footing and fought back with a vengeance, blades clashing against shield and short spear.

Rhyfelwyr found himself fighting alongside Gwyth and and Locsyn, the three of them broad enough to block a small alley, using their mass and their skill to carve into the Lianese troops, each sword thrust a quick stabbing motion made to kill or maim. Gwyth was less graceful, using his brute strength to batter the foes in front of him with his shield, before slamming his sword point through their armour. Taflen had taken station at their backs, and his sword flickered over the shield wall whenever an opening appeared, oft taking a foe in the neck, leaving them writing and bloody on the ground.

An arrow sped down out of the sky and slammed into Gwyth’s arm, causing him to curse and look upwards. Archers had taken station on the roof above them, and were picking their spots to fire down into the Veryan squad. Rhyfelwyr glanced at Gwyth’s wound and then upwards, and sighed, for he could not use his shield to protect both his front and his top, and so he hoped that the archers would be of little skill. Waving with his sword, Rhy called for the others to step back, slowly disengaging from the Lianese forces in order to make a break away from the archers. Staying alive was more important than killing these few soldiers.

Locsyn screamed, and Taflen looked over to see that a javelin had been thrust through his shield and the army holding it, locking the two together and leaving it almost useless. Diving forward, he brought his shield up in time to stop the counter-thrust coming over Locsyn’s useless defences, and was able to flick his sword out in a low cut, hamstringing his opponent. Stepping in front of Locsyn, the historian placed his shield so that it might cover both of them as best as possible, and began to step backwards, Locsyn taking Taflen’s former place at the back of the shield wall, his sword stabbing over the defences, but without much strength behind it, for his wound was grievous and incapacitating.