by thefourpartland

But the blow failed to materialize, and he glanced up again through the heaves to see his foe standing there with a dazed, stupefied expression on its face, swaying slightly in the nighttime breeze. And then down to the courtyard below, where Dregnon was staring at him with a concentrated effort upon his face. What followed was a sudden cessation of the nausea, followed by Dregnon doubling over and collapsing to the ground, wretching all the while.

Somewhat uncertain of what had just passed between them, Yenque was entirely willing to leave such introspection to a later date, and in the very process of rising swung his electrically charged flail in a sweeping uppercut, the spiked ball crashing into the chin of his dazed opponent, shattering it in a shower of sparks, and no doubt snapping the neck that held such a foul mind in place.

The spray of sparks did as it often did, leaping to another foe, setting the poor creature on fire, the javelin that was held cocked in its hand falling away unused as the electricity leapt through its system, frying what little senses remained to one as depraved as it was.

The noise of the strike caused one of the helfarchs to spin about, glancing backwards to see what had caused it. Between it and Yenque stood only one or two more foul creatures, the rest otherwise occupied or dead. Seeing that the attack had in all likelihood failed, and that the commander was most certainly deceased, it barked a short order to the other helfarch, and leapt over the battlements, landing with a solid thud on all four bony limbs but otherwise unharmed.

Within moments there was a general exodus for the ladders, the attackers fleeing as best they could manage, the second helfarch outdistancing them all with its leap.


Ngaphasi watched as the helfarchs leapt off the battlements, their large forms visible even at such distance. His forces had crept to within spear range of the southern gate once the fearsome warrior had sprinted away, taking some half of the forces with him. But enough had remained as to put doubt into Ngaphasi’s mind, and so he had waited, waited for a clear sign the battle was turning in the raiders’ favour.

Given that the next signal he had spotted was the flight of some of his forces strongest troops, he knew to what end the battle had gone.

Turning to his goblin troops, he gave the orders they had all been waiting for. “Mark yourselves like you’ve been in battle. We’re going home.”

And with that, the only unit that could have forced the capitulation of Cynlyaa and its determined Warleader turned tail and fled.


The End



by thefourpartland

Whatever the reason, the creature was quite skilled at combat, regardless of the distractions constantly assaulting it. It was able to catch the chain of the electrical flail, preventing the head from causing anything more than a deep bruise, and duck under the other strike, while at the same time retaliating with a deep claw gouge across the stomach, a blow that no doubt would have been fatal to almost all of the human soldiers. But Yenque twisted, letting the thickest part of his armour take the blow, and it scratched off, sparks flying from the claws as they struck the armour.

A jerk on the flail freed it, no doubt in part because of the creature’s surprise at its fight ending strike doing nothing of the sort. This time, when Yenque came in with both flails, he was more circumspect in how he did so, and the creature took a bash across one arm, but only glancingly so.

With the helfarchs fighting shoulder to shoulder at the other end of the embattled area, his men were having a great deal of difficulty in creating any form of headway. If it wasn’t for the tight confines of the area, he’d have had no doubt that the helfarchs would have pushed his men back, despite their training. Those bloody abominations were bred warriors, skilled at combat in ways that it took humans decades of training to master, and they were showing it. As Yenque fought, he saw one of his men disembowelled, the intestines then cut through by a sweep from the second blade and flicked forward to create a spot of uncertain footing right in front of the helfarchs.

If I don’t break through and smash them from behind, we’re dead and gone. And the fact that Iaprem hasn’t charged over here with that claymore of his means he’s doing his damndest just to keep the north gate closed. So, all on me. Joy.

Sending both flails arcing in on overhand tracks, Yenque watched as the creature did exactly the right thing to defend against that, namely, step into the blows and come across with a strike at Yenque’s face. What the creature hadn’t anticipated was the arrival of Yenque’s booted foot in its midriff, knocking the wind from its lungs. At that moment, it was dead. The following strike that sent it tumbling over the crenellations to fall outside the wall was entirely preordained.

As another of his men was sent tumbling by the helfarchs, Yenque bashed aside the next creature to stand in his way. This one had better luck than the previous, and with a raking blow had left bloody grooves where a gap in the armour did not protect him. The next did even better, the thunder club that it wielded so large and heavy as to be almost unstoppable when swung first. Certainly, with flails, which were a poor defensive weapon at the best of times, Yenque could do nothing aside from attempt to dodge as the massive head swept in from his right.

The dodge was partially successful, in as much as he was hit by the upper part of the shaft rather than the head square, but such was the force of the blow that he was driven fully across the walkway and slammed into the crenellations, leaving bruises and likely worse up and down both sides of his ribcage. It also stopped all the momentum that had gone into the flails, and they hung limply, the one still furiously blinking and howling from its enchantment.

In the end, it was likely that enchantment that saved Yenque’s life, for the following blow was a slightly misaimed overhead from the thunder club, this smashing into the ground and splitting the stone of the walkway as Yenque dived out from under the heavy strike. Thankfully, the thunder club was, if anything, an even worse defensive weapon than the pair of flails, and so now that it was safely out of the picture and lodged into the stonework of the battlements, it was possible for a hefty kick followed by a circling mace head to dispose of the foe wielding it, sending the rather startled orc over the battlements and to the courtyard below.

Whether the foe had died was rather immaterial, for at that moment Yenque found himself facing down the imperious leader of the raiders, the tall muscular creature bending slightly at the waist and spreading his claws in response to the opportunity presented. Accepting the challenge, Yenque swept the flails into motion, their heads spinning back and forth in front of him, their whirling heads too dangerous for his foe to challenge directly.

At which point, his foe grinned, stood tall, and flicked something concealed in a claw at Yenque. Whatever the small object was, it took Yenque directly in the chest and exploded in a spray of red mist, coating him in a foul, nauseating, substance that had him all but on his knees in moments.

When next he was able to see, he looked up to find the creature standing above him, a gloating smile on its face, claws raised to end the engagement almost before it had started.

I have failed. Both myself and my people. I guess I really well end up as a goblin turd. What a noble end that is going to be.



by thefourpartland

Yenque had had, up until this moment at least, a rather dull battle. Given command of the southern gate, he had found the enemy singularly reluctant to attack his position, and so had been forced to watch the frantic signalling from the tower on high, conveying some status of the attack on the northern gate. There was almost nothing he could truly determine from such dim and distant signals, other than that there was attack underway, but one thing for certain was that he had not been called in as reinforcements. Which meant the battle for the northern gate couldn’t be going too badly. Most likely thanks to Iaprem and his great claymore.

Indeed, his battle was so dull that he had affected a pose of complete disinterest, and taken to napping leaning up against one of the crenellations. Because if he wasn’t going to be involved in the fighting, he certainly wasn’t going to miss a good night’s sleep in the bargain as well. Which meant he was snoring quite loudly when one of his soldiers gave him a shake hard enough to send him tumbling to the ground, his armour clattering upon the stone.

“What is it?!” Yenque leapt to his feet, looking at the messenger.

“That.” A pointing finger picked out the helfarchs slamming into the back of soldiers already hard pressed by an assault over the walls.

“Half of you stay here. The other half, WITH ME!” Grabbing his flails from where they were hooked into his belt, Yenque sprinted along the battlements, calling up what magics remained to his weapons.

By no means as impressive as those within the great blade of the Warleader, his own flails were still highly useful weapons upon the field of battle. One, when he got a good clean blow in, would spit a field of sparks across those nearby. Sometimes including himself, if he wasn’t careful. The other blinked and flashed in a pattern entirely random and incredibly frequent. Mixed with the occasional noises the weapon would make, which were of deafening volume, it was an amazing distraction on the field of battle to those who had never experienced it before.

Sadly, it was something that applied to his own soldiers just as much as any other, and he was charging in to the rescue of men who could barely be called soldiers. Certainly, he wouldn’t do so. But they fought and died for their country and their friends, and at the moment that was all that mattered.

When Yenque and the charge from the southern gate finally arrived on the scene, more than half of the recruits who had held his portion of the wall were down, and in their place stood a motley assortment of vicious humanoid raiders. The leader of the mob appeared to be an overly muscled and slightly elongated creature, possessed of claws on both hands. It gave off an aura of inherent command, gesturing hither and yon at the orcs and others of its race that surrounded it. Even the helfarchs seemed to obey, now that they had broken through to the assault coming over the walls.

With a section of the walls in possession of the raiders, there could be seen others of their kind climbing over the battlements and into the fight, although the rate was not that great. Clearly, the commander of the raiders had not yet realized the success of his attack, or if he had, was having trouble marshalling his troops and sending them to the right location.

Taking no more than a moment for a breather, Yenque charged along the narrow stone battlements. Wide enough for two normal soldiers, with his flails Yenque took up a space much greater than the average man-at-arms, and so had directed those following him to charge down the stairs and attempt to come at the besiegers from the other end of the conquered territory, albeit with a few giving him support.

While those whom he had ordered set off, Yenque activated the beacon in his flail, letting the light and sound play across his foes. So bright and rapid was the light that the world seemed to resolve itself into a series of frozen images, each one at some remove from the last. In reality, that was merely a trick of the mind, and Yenque was able to send his maces spiralling inwards, one coming across high, the other low, and smiling to himself as the brightly flashing one distracted his first opponent, a scrawny, spear-wielding orc with a snaggletooth, from the second, which burst into glowing electrical life when it crunch into the hip of his foe.

The spray of sparks set the creature immediately behind the orc on fire, the hide armour it wore catching alight. Rather than slow his assault, Yenque brought the weapons around again, stepping over the crumbled corpse of his foe and launching into another blistering assault, the first strike of which sent the flaming orc stumbling to the side, his foot coming down on nothing but air and tumbling off the walkway to the ground beneath, where he was quickly stabbed to death by a spear thrust from one of the Cynlyaa soldiers.

The next opponent to come within range of his flails was one of the taller, muscular creatures, the type of which he did not recognize. And yet, since one of them was directing matters, they were clearly amongst the leaders of this band of rabble. Curious. Perhaps they feel the need to fight only when absolutely forced to do so.



by thefourpartland

Glancing backwards, he saw that the line of his soldiers had stretched out to the right, the man on that edge of battle attempting to hedge his unprotected side away from the foes who assailed him, with those placed near him unconsciously following. It was a natural outcome of fighting, and one which the sergeants and junior officers should have corrected. But his was the supreme responsibility, and so he paused in his individual combat to yell at the men, for in places their line was growing thin, either where wounds had taken place, or where soldiers had found the needs of their own survival to overtake their reluctance to appear cowardly in the sight of their friends.

What scant amount of reserves had been able to him were already in the line of battle, doing their utmost to keep the ring about the gate’s mouth closed. It was a ring that was all but broken, however, the numbers on the small keep overtop of the gate having mostly been overwhelmed, now fighting back to back against assailants from both the walls outside and the steps in. Granted, the attackers were being forced in the same perilous manner, their backs exposed to assault from further along the wall, but at the moment the greater physical abilities and natural ferocity of the humanoid raiders was doing the greater damage.

But it was to the next of the helfarchs that Iaprem’s attention was drawn, for the creature spared no time in slamming into the back of him as he was shouting the last of his orders. Immediately after the bulk of the creature struck him, he felt the thin trickle of blood, as one of its bladed hands sliced into a vulnerable gap in the armour, leaving his off arm much weakened and bleeding. There was also the foul stench of its breath as its teeth closed upon that same arm, but his armour being of a much higher quality than his poor subordinate saved him, and they found little purchase on the metal skin.

Swinging wildly, the sword overly heavy in but one hand, Iaprem spun about, blade flashing, but it was an attack well anticipated by the helfarch, and the large creature leapt backwards, settling easy onto its four limbs as it looked down upon its now wounded prey. Iaprem circled to his left for a moment, regaining feeling in his left arm and placing it once more upon the grip of his sword, the tip held out towards the helfarch in a challenge. The beast snorted, doing nothing more than looking with stern derision upon its smaller, weaker, foe.

Which drew quite a smile from Iaprem. A smile followed a mere second later by a great burst of flame, leaping from the tip of his sword in a solid line towards his surprised enemy, all too unable to manoeuvre its great bulk out of the way. The liquid fire splattered against the helfarch, engulfing the creature in a blaze which rivalled that from the massive bonfire at the back of the courtyard.

What followed was the screams of the helfarch, piercing, loud, and altogether unsettling, leading even Iaprem to step back in sudden horror as the flesh of the creature began to melt under the magical assault, slow drips sizzling and falling to the ground, there to smoke and fill the air with a putrid stench.

Shuddering despite having seen that effect of his sword in times past, Iaprem turned aside, looking to find the next of the helfarchs, but the last pairing had placed themselves in spots barely reachable, both visibly chewing upon limbs dangling from their mouths, one having been sliced clean, another torn free by the action of the jaws. Neither was unmarked, but the Cynlyaa soldiers around them were already the merest moments from flight, and did so as Iaprem watched, leaving a gaping hole in the left edge of the line.

Rather than seek to turn the line, as Iaprem expected them to do, they both cantered away, heading for a spot on the walls equidistant from both of the gates. And when his eyes were able to see past the blaze of heat and smoke from the twin bonfires in the courtyard, Iaprem could see the soldiers on the battlements there already struggling with their attackers, the helfarchs from inside the wall, and some humanoids from without.

The fresh recruits were doing far better than expected, in as much as they as yet held their posts and fought with intelligence, but with the northern gate as pressed as it was, there was little he could do aside from hold the entrance, and pray Yenque was able to assist.



by thefourpartland

The soldiers of Cynddeir gave even better than they got, however, and despite the rust and the age of the weapons they wielded, there was no give when blade found opening and piercing flesh. Indeed, after the first heady moments of the clash, the front line of the battle could be seen more as butchery than as combat, as undisciplined barbarians left openings that skilled fighters could take advantage of, thinking only of the person in front of them and never watching to their flanks or the flanks of their allies. In such a way, ferocity bled itself out upon the wall of steadfast courage.

All that changed when the helfarchs entered the fray. There were four of them, the latter pair having been hidden behind the former when first Iaprem had spotted them, and they entered battle with a howling charge, thundering through the gate four abreast and slamming into the line. Three bowled over their targets immediately, the fourth being unable to do so, its arm hanging limp and bloody from the javelin that had pierced it through. The wound made the creature all the more vicious, however, and it bit down on the armour of the nearest soldier, sawing back and forth with its teeth as it sought to drive them through the old padded cloth and leather. Within moments, the teeth found their purchase, and the deadly bite could be seen to go to work, blood pumping from the wound and into the helfarch’s mouth, its tongue visible as it lapped at the viscous fluid.

Unable to stand the sight, Iaprem leapt at the foul beast, only to find his attack blocked by the bony blades of another of the creatures. This one smiled down upon him with all the menace its bulk and hideous visage could provide, slavering jaws gnashing at his head in a lightning fast strike. Only a sudden shift to the side saved Iaprem’s face from an intimate encounter of a kind he most certainly did not want, and even then he could feel the hot breath upon his cheek.

Lashing his blade upwards, he sought to have the flaming claymore cut through the extended next of his foe, but the helfarch was more than ready for the attack, and kicked the Warleader in the thigh as his strike began. It was a thudding, bludgeoning blow, made somewhat awkwardly, but with enough strength behind it to send Iaprem stumbling backwards, all the strength fleeing from his strike.

His weapon waved in one hand for a moment, doing little more than vaguely attempting to keep the helfarch away, before he was able to set his feet beneath him once more. This time, the helfarch came on with arms spread wide, the blades extending from its hands held low and to the side. On a normal creature, this would be all but inviting a thrust down the middle, but against one with such a vicious bite and sturdy kicks, it merely meant the creature was expanding the options available to it.

Rather than take the invitation so offered, Iaprem waited, letting the helfarch make the first move. Normally, with a weapon as large and as cumbersome as a claymore, that would be a foolish thing to do, but he was no mere soldier in his first year under arms. He was the Warleader of Cynlyaa, and that title had to do with a great deal more than just administrative duties.

A lunge from the left hand of the helfarch was batted away, while a thrust from the right was countered by stepping inside the arc of the blade. This left him perilously close to the distended lower jaw, which took its moment to lance outwards. Only to be meet in a thunderous collision by the heavy steel ball that formed the counterweight upon the hilt of his weapon. The resounding blow sent a crack rippling out over the battlefield, and even those who were engaged in desperate struggles turned their heads to see what could have caused such a fearsome noise.

For the helfarch itself, it reared back, its jaw shattered, its front legs and arms all flailing into the space that Iaprem occupied. But these attacks were the disorganized actions of a stunned and wounded beast, and he was able to slip beyond their reach with ease, his claymore up and in the ready position so that as the beast landed back on the ground, weight now firmly on its front legs, he was able to sweep his weapon across in a great swing, the magically sharpened edge slicing through first one of the limbs and then the other, leaving flame-blackened flesh around the edges. The smoking ruins of the limbs fell to the ground, as did the sickened and stunned face of the helfarch, now flopping about on its side, unable to understand what had happened to it.

What followed was merely an execution, for although the helfarch would no doubt eventually die of the blood pumping from the severed stumps where its limbs had once rested, it was still possessed of those fearsome jaws and edge bone blades, and thus a danger to any man who came near to it. Thus, when Iaprem severed the head of the mortally wounded creature, he felt no remorse about having to do so. Battlefield necessity trumped all else.



by thefourpartland

It was now midnight in the courtyard of the old palace at Cynlyaa, and all was still, silent, and, mostly, dark. Torches lay scattered here and there along the battlements, and occasionally one would rain down before the gate, illuminating the ruined roadway there, but otherwise little in the way of movement from either of the factions involved could be seen.

That all changed as the moon swept out from behind the clouds that had obscured it, bathing the scene below in a dim and dusky light, barely enough for those of a human persuasion to navigate by. Certainly not enough for them to fight, or to see projectiles fly out of the night. But fly they did, in the barest number, but enough of an indication that the raiders assault was underway. And a sign to Iaprem that, no matter how ferocious the beasts that made up their shock troops, the forces of the raiders were little more than undisciplined rabble. Most certainly not soldiers.

He stood, waiting, as did the elite soldiers he had been able to cobble together from the various units, in the courtyard behind the gate, assuming that the main thrust would break the rotted would in short order. Of course, such a positioning meant that he was unable to see the first phases of the battle, and so it was only the shouts of the men on the battlements, and the whoosh of their slings and javelins, that told him the raiders had approached the gates themselves.

Soon there came the sounds of strain and then thumps, some wet and some not, the audible signals of stones being levered over the crenellations and onto those creatures below. But even as the first wave of impacts drifted away into the night, there came the heavy thud of something striking the gate, no doubt driven by arms more than human. Indeed, the way the gate groaned from but the second of the strikes suggested that whatever was wielding the battering ram was a great deal stronger than a human, or that the gates were weaker than anticipated.

As it was, it took a mere four strikes for the gates to fall open, their rotted wood snapped backwards over the barricade of stones that had buttressed their lower half. And to the top of that buttress leapt the attackers, gnolls, goblins, orcs, and all other manner of humanoid detritus. But most frightening of all were those creatures only just putting aside the logs they had wielded as battering rams: helfarchs. Several times the size of an adult human, they were quadrupedal in nature and possessed of a vicious lower jaw, while bone blades extended from the hands of the helfarch, replacing the last two fingers. Muscles rippled under the scaly skin, the arms attached lower upon the torso, while their feet were little more than bone stumps. If they were able to get past him and amongst his men, almost nothing would stop their rampage.

Knowing that the outcome of the battle rested upon the his ability to break through and rout the helfarchs, Iaprem leapt forward, his claymore sweeping from left to right in a simple attack at waist height. And as it did so, it burst into dazzling, stunning, light, fire roaring along the length of the blade and searing through the flesh of those unfortunates who had made themselves the front line of the humanoid charge. They fell to the side, mewling in pain, what fur they possessed releasing a foul stench as it slowly burnt away.

Behind him, the bonfire blazed into glorious light, and all along the ramparts torches that had lain dormant gave forth a warm and welcome glow, illuminating all the battlements and courtyard with light to see by. The attackers growled in frustration, their eyes forced to suddenly adjust to the blazing light they faced.

Despite the impressive actions of his first strike, around him there was no reluctance from the raiders to press forward, and although they generally attempted to stay out of his range, they had no qualms crashing into the front rank of his men, some even leaping straight onto the crumbling rock walls of the castle and climbing to get at the slingers and archers who made up the guards upon the top of the gate.

A bellow from below was able to warn those of their approaching danger, but soon they were hard pressed, apparently beset not only by climbers from this end of the gate, but also from without. Whatever happened there, though, was going to be beyond his powers to affect, for Iaprem soon found himself pressed in close about, his great sword proving somewhat less than effective when forced into a fighting line by the discipline of the soldiers behind him and the constant assaults of the raiders.

Flails, spears, swords, and all manner of weapons crashed into his men, most to be deflected away by shields, armour, or upturned arm, but there were always some that got through, and staggering away from the fighting line could be seen the wounded, heading towards the blaze at the back of the courtyard where stood those few men who were able to be spared and who had some knowledge of herbs and the like. Amongst those, of course, was Dregnon, although his eyes were often turned upwards, watching the boys in the tower above, waiting for the signal that the other gate had been assaulted. As of yet, the signal had not yet flowered, and the battle was merely being fought on the one front.