by thefourpartland

The twelfth installment of a 30k word short story set in The Four Part Land. It takes place 400 years in the past from the time of Tarranau and Chloddio, and details the collapse of Hymerodraeth Heula, the Empire of the Sun.

Two days of march passed, and on the morning of the third day, the army paused on a ridge, overlooking the city which they had come to reclaim. The officers gathered there, on the highest point, and discussed the strategy to be used in taking this bastion of Lianese strength. Some spoke in favour of the soldiers, others for the torches. In truth, the discussion mirrored that of Rhyfelwyr and his squad some nights previously, but these men had to come to a conclusion, and so it was that the skirmishers of Bhreac Veryan bound rags to their javelins, and brought forth burning brands. Ringing round the city, a thin line of flickering flames, they charged, shields held high to ward away the arrows that streamed down from the outlying buildings. Dashing through the streets at a full run, torch after torch sailed into warehouses, apartment towers, mansions, hovels, any building that looked as if it might burn.

Miath Mhor was a city made of wood, and as the skirmishers fled the burning in ragged numbers, the rest of Glanhaol Fflamboethi could see the flames of their namesake licking through the city, building into an inferno that would swallow Miath Mhor, devouring the heart of the people within. Citizens fled their burning city, and Glanhaol Fflamboethi let them go, their hungry mouths a burden on those who lived further down the peninsula, starvation made into a weapon by the commanders of the Veryan army. Those men who looked liked soldiers, or even of a fighting age, those were cut down by battalions positioned about the city. Many more fled into the fishing boats, and white sails filled the harbour as they sought to flee the sparks and the smoke of the city. In their haste, many ran aground or crashed into one another, and soon wrecks began to fill the harbour. It was a day of carnage for the Lianese, their city destroyed, their livelihoods stolen away, bereft of their belongings.

The Veryan soldiers had taken losses on this day, more than the commander had hoped, but a paltry few compared to the brutality of street combat, and that pushed the campaign further onwards. And so after witnessing the destruction of a city, the army settled down for the night, only to move the next day, the path of the war turning them south, their next major goal the city of Horaim, a good three weeks down the peninsula. There were lesser towns and villages in the way, but those were expected to present no danger, aside from the odd small ambush, as the Lianese reformed their broken forces and built another army about the city of Horaim, the last major point of defence before the city of Niam Liad itself.

It was smiling soldiers who led the way south that morning, striding out down the road towards glory and spoils. Two days later, those smiles had begun to disappear, as Glanhaol Fflamboethi began to pass burned out farmsteads and fields of scorched grain, the legacy of the Lianese retreating to the south. Rhyfelwyr looked at Taflen, his eyes asking why would they do such a thing. “It promises annihilation to their own people, doesn’t it?”

Taflen shrugged. “There will be very little food this winter, aside from what the few fishing boats left will bring in. No grains, no vegetables, no meat. Their commander must despise us to a degree we have not yet seen. I wonder if our burning of Miath Mhor was a cause of this scorching?”

Llof joined the two soldiers. “No, it wasn’t. This was planned before we arrived, as a fall-back measure. Wait till we get south.” With that, he wandered off again.

“Does he always have to speak like that? It’s annoying, being the educated one and having him run rings around me.” Taflen muttered.

“Hah. You’re still not used to that? Llofruddiwr has usually figured out what the enemy is going to do before they’ve even done it. Why do you think I keep him around? Keeps our necks safe.”

With a miserable look, Taflen stomped away, his back straight, still muttering about soldiers who don’t know their place in life.


  1. Adam Byatt on 12.21.2010

    Keep up the great series. Enjoying this.

  2. #TuesdaySerial Report – Week 34 – Dec 21, 2010 | Tuesday Serial on 12.22.2010

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