The Curious Pastime Tales

Here is my tales, My tale of woe, Yet please gather round, As I tell my tale, of The Curious Pastimes.

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9. 1110

1110

During this year, 1110, both the forces of the united free peoples and the Tagmatoi were active in both skirmishing and reconnaissance of each other’s positions and strengths. With the Great Circle sealed and effectively and guarded by the forces of the Factions it appeared that the Tagmatoi were limited to their existing forces only with no chance of gaining any reinforcements, so possibly the events of Renewal 1109 were more beneficial to the free peoples than had first appeared?

As the snows melted and the morning frosts grew fewer the various war hosts prepared once again to engage the enemy in open combat to try to reopen the Great Circle or at least destroy the foreign invaders and remove the stain of their presence from the land. From the snowy north marched the doughty Wolves of Norsca led by their experienced leader Bothvar, from Albion came the knightly Lions with their new King Lucas at their head, from the FirCruthen lands came the painted warriors of the brave High King Cole and from the south marched the rangers and warriors of the Algaian peoples led by the unpredictable Lord Hart. From the snowy wastes of Siberia came the Jhereg Peoples led by the mysterious new Lord Jhereg and from the Steppes of the east the members of the Steppe Treaty Alliance led by that old campaigner Tamerlane Khan, as ever accompanying these hosts were the sell swords and the Hei Ravni peoples all ready and eager to cross swords once again with the Tagmatoi invaders because with the Great Circle unavailable to the free peoples who could tell what the future held?

To further add to the factions troubles the forces of the Brood King were still active in the area and there was of course the possibility of them joining forces with the Tagmatoi, something that wasn’t a pleasant thought at all.
After arrival it was soon discovered that not only had the Tagmatoi placed some sort of magical lock on the Circle but also now doubt due to the influence of the strange Tagmatoi magic’s the circle had visually changed and warped, the previous buildings looked as if they were now thousands of years old and in ruins! Whatever the cause of these strange changes was it was now even more important than ever that the free people regained control of the circle before these changes could begin to possibly affect the other circles of the world.

Throughout the early days scouting missions were dispatched to try to ascertain not only the positions and the strengths of the Tagmatoi but also those of the forces of the Brood King who was still threatening the forces of the factions despite his setbacks of the previous year. In a ray of hope and normality it was announced that on the second night of the gathering that Hapsburg of Teutonia was to marry Tabetha von Drachomorden to bring added stability to that troubled land. All were pleased with this chance to celebrate this happy occasion in the midst of these troubled times and arrangements were made to ensure that the evening went well for all concerned.

Sadly, the Tagmatoi were not in any mood to allow the Teutonians to celebrate and in the midst of his wedding and his armed camp they sent in some of their greatest warriors who despite the odds against them succeeded in kidnapping Hapsburg almost from his wedding bed and whisked him away into the night! Naturally all were appalled by this stunning turn of events and it was quickly decided that the Teutonians now led by the Queens brother Prince Elector Kameron Drachomorden along with the Wolves, Jhereg and the Hei Ravni peoples would assault the Tagmatoi as soon as possible the next day whilst the Lions, FirCruthen, AlGaia and the Steppe Alliance would guard the camps against any as yet undiscovered Tagmatoi forces or the forces of the Brood King.

So with confidence and a righteous hatred of the perfidious enemy in their hearts and minds the combined war hosts set forth into the dark woods to rescue Hapsburg from his captors. Despite their best efforts the factions found that their forces were less manoeuvrable than those of the enemy within the close woods, also the enemy seemed to know the land and its paths intimately and used this knowledge to constantly frustrate and outflank the war hosts despite their best efforts to avoid this. Indeed, for a long time the Tagmatoi enjoyed the upper hand managing to slay both the new Lord Jhereg and Teneniel of the Teutonians and also to briefly capture Loud Thunder of the Jhereg! Surely the Teutonians and the Jhereg seemed to be suffering greatly in this battle but in a slightly surprising move the Tagmatoi agreed to release Loud Thunder back to his troops, who knows what bargain was struck to allow this to happen as it is well know that the Jhereg are a cunning people!

Finally, the factions managed to fight their way towards the Tagmatoi leader, the Despot who surprisingly to some turned out to be a woman but still as piteous and skilled as her tattooed warriors. Held securely by her entourage was Hapsburg and whilst the battle raged to rescue him she seemed to pay little attention to it other than to occasionally unleash her awesome magical and martial powers against the factions should they come close to disturbing her discussions with Hapsburg.

Eventually the battle seemed to reach a standoff with the Factions clearly having the upper hand but that was balanced by the Despot and her forces still holding Hapsburg captive and now threatening to slay him should the factions advance further, a threat that they seemed more than capable of carrying out. Suddenly Hapsburg ordered his forces to lay down their arms, he had to repeat this order several times in the din of the battle before his loyal troops reluctantly did so. The Despot likewise ordered her forces to cease fighting and gradually silence and calm descended onto the woodland broken only by the cries of the wounded and the dying. After a brief discussion the Despot released Hapsburg back to his forces and at his orders she and her remaining forces were allowed to leave the field under arms! All that Hapsburg would say that it was for the best and all would be revealed in time. With these enigmatic words he left the battlefield trailed by his relieved but puzzled troops and allies, happy that they had rescued him but frustrated by the manner of their ‘victory’!

With the withdrawal of the Tagmatoi forces the factions gained possession of their power stone which it was quickly determined by Brother Joseph and various ritualists to be the key to their hold on the Great Circle, after much investigation it was determined that the Tagmatoi had somehow shifted some of the power of the circle to draw upon their own plane, thus preventing the factions from accessing it. Why had they surrendered it and Hapsburg so readily, did they and now possibly Hapsburg know something that everybody else didn’t? Whatever the truth of the matter a combined force of ritualists from every faction was soon gathered to perform several rituals of immense power to regain access to and thus control of the circle, eventually they succeeded and once again the natural order of things was restored along with the flow of the wellspring and the factions were once again able to access the Great Circle of Teutonia.

After spending much time with his new bride Hapsburg went that night to Circle where he was joined by the Tagmatoi Despot and after announcing that they were to perform a ceremony to restore him to his people and to then completely restore the Circle to its former state both stepped into the circle and then the despot in an astonishing show of power sealed the circle completely. As everybody nervously looked on they suddenly both turned as one against each other and without any attempt to defend themselves they both slew each other quickly and effectively whilst quietly whispering to each other! Nobody was expecting this turn of events and whilst ritualist’s hastily worked to unseal the circle, healers prepared their best spells. All of this was however in vain as the seal suddenly dropped probably as the Despot died and the healers reached their bodies both were totally lifeless with their spirits flown to where the gods only know, each however had a calm look on their lifeless features and perhaps the hints of knowing smiles! What was the purpose of this seemingly unnecessary act and what did they know that others didn’t? Had Hapsburg confided in anybody what they intended to do or had he even know? These were all questions to which at this time there were no answers so with tears the Teutonians bore his body back to his new bride and Tagmatoi swiftly and saying nothing to anybody stole into the circle and bore away their own leaders body presumably to enact their own form of funeral rites on their fallen leader.

That night it was a sorry and confused mood that enveloped the camps, in the Teutonian camp Hapsburgs funeral was held and his widow made her brother the new leader of the remaining war band. That night it was decided that with the apparent removal of at least the immediate Tagmatoi threat it was decided that the remaining war hosts would engage the forces of the Brood King on the morrow, they hoped to be helped in this endeavour by a magical box given to them by Buboes a member of the Brood Council who had apparently turned upon his former master.
So in the sunshine of the next day the forces of the AlGaia, Lions, FirCruthen and the Steppe Alliance set forth to try to finally remove the threat of the Brood King forever. His forces had been located the previous day and seemed themselves to be determined to bring matters to a close finally, attacking the war hosts again and again. Such was the ferocity of these attacks that the factions soon decided to stand on the defensive and try to lure the Brood King to them.

They found themselves often surrounded and outflanked many times but their tactics were effective as the enemy dissipated its strength against this resolute defence until finally the Brood King himself appeared to try to break the factions will. The factions deployed the box that Buboes had given them and in an outpouring of strange magical energies the Brood King was finally defeated and his forces in their utter fear turned and sped from the field pursued and cut down by the victorious factions. Thus the Brood King who in one guise or another had threatened the lands for so long was finally defeated!

Thus despite Hapsburg’s death the factions had succeeded in not only regaining control of the Great Circle of Teutonia but also in defeating both the Tagmatoi and the Brood King deep in the heart of the Black Forest of Teutonia.

So after burying and mourning their dead heroes and heroines the war hosts set forth to the west for the formally peaceful island of Gibraltar at the behest of Bothvar of the Wolves to seek out the truth of the rumours that Jarl Jarfin the recently defeated leader of a rebellion against the rule of Bothvar was on the island stirring up yet more trouble and also more worryingly that there were also Tagmatoi forces there causing trouble themselves.
Upon arrival on Gibraltar the war hosts found a somewhat confusing situation, for many years the island had been governed jointly by both the Wolves and the 95th Regiment of Teutonia but with the demise of the later and the confusion brought about by Jarl Jarfin’s revolt there was little order on the island and indeed it had become a haven for many less salubrious types including various pirates and thieves along with Jarfin’s supporters and as suspected some Tagmatoi forces. In addition, the Elementals that had been plaguing the factions for some time now were also in evidence and seemingly becoming more active and bolder as time progressed.

Whilst on Gibraltar a new situation came to the free people’s attention, a mysterious box which seemed to be some sort of portal to a different realm but which also regularly released creatures from within it whose task seemed to be to subdue users of corporeal magic and then return to the box. It is assumed that these creatures are somewhat akin to the Harvesters previously encountered by the factions albeit in a limited form and of lesser power. It was eventually discovered that it was possible to enter the box and attempts were made in this area, once ‘inside’ the box those brave souls daring to enter were confronted with the denizens of that realm whom they were forced to defend themselves against. Whilst mostly successful in this task there appeared to be no way of stopping the creatures leaving the box but many vowed to return to this strange realm should the opportunity arise again, which of course it did.

Eventually after many twists and turns order was once again established on the Island of Gibraltar, the Tagmatoi forces destroyed along with those of Jarl Jarfin who sadly however made good his escape to places unknown.
After the trials and tribulations firstly in Teutonia and then on Gibraltar the free peoples could at last look forward to a small period of at least some rest and recuperation at the renowned annual Highland Games of Caledonia. The combined war hosts had been invited by High King Cole on behalf of all the FirCruthen people to show their gratitude for all the recent sacrifices to free their lands from the Keltoi amongst others invaders. Each year these games are held around the festival of Lughnasadh in honour of the sun god Lugh at the ancient and mystical Circles of Atholl. These games are governed by ancient laws that would ensure that no matter any man or woman’s status they could all enjoy the games equally no matter the game or task at hand.

When the factions arrived they found the area already set up and waiting for them with an impressive arena, stalls and other competition areas ready and waiting for them. Also within the area near to the Ritual Circle was a mysterious Faerie Glade which few dared to try to enter and even fewer it transpired could actually enter as it seemed that certain offerings were needed to enter that mysterious place. Those brave or foolhardy few who did enter and returned seemed quite confused and spoke as if they had been away from their friends for months when in reality it had been but a few hours, some returned seemingly enriched by their experiences but some seemed diminished in skill somehow and yet others seemed just as they were before. Whatever they experienced or for how long matters not really the fact remains that entering a Faerie Glade is not a matter of whim but should be treated with caution by all!

Rumours also abounded of a strange gigantic creature called a Venomhag causing trouble within the area which also appeared almost impervious to any attempts to drive it away however it is rumoured that it was driven away by of all things children! It seems that this world has no end to the surprises that it harbours for all of us.
There also seemed to be some type of power struggle going on between two members of the MacDuff clan to decide who should rule the area but how this ended I know not.

Whilst in Caledonia the strange box which allowed access to a seemingly different realm appeared once again and so those who had vowed to attempt to discover its secrets once again dared to enter it and once again did battle with its inhabitants but still could not find a way to stop them leaving the box to complete their mysterious tasks within our world.

There were of course many games and contests of skill and lore, far too many to name here but one of the final one’s and most keenly contested was the Faction Tug of War which was eventually won by the Teutonians famous ‘Teutonia Ton’ team. It is rumoured that heavy bets were wagered on the final of this contest with much of those placed on the Lions team that had advanced to the final with some ease, when they lost it is rumoured that King Lucas of Albion was not best pleased along with some other notables who it has to be assumed had also wagered on a Lions victory! Despite such niggles all agreed that the FirCruthen had been excellent hosts who had truly lived up to their reputation in this area and that the Highland Games had been an excellently organised event and one which would live long in the memory.

So it was in good cheer and refreshed by their time in Caledonia that the war hosts set sail for Norsca and the fields of Odinsheim to celebrate the festival of Renewal and to also hopefully bring an end to the uncertainty in that land brought about by Jarl Jarfin’s revolt for he had again surfaced in Norsca and was even now gathering the support of other disaffected nobles and peasants alike to try once again to gain control of that fair land. Who would rule in Norsca Bothvar or Jarfin, only time and probably blood would tell!

So that summer the war hosts of the free people arrived on the fields of Odinsheim from Caledonia, for some it was an uneventful journey but not so for others. Turmoil reigned in the Teutonian camp as their new lord Kameron Drachomorden and his personal guards and followers had apparently been diverted back to Teutonia to assist his sister the queen and widow of the fallen Hapsburg, Tabetha von Drachemorden in some matter of importance and urgency. A letter however soon arrived explaining that he was a day’s march away and that the war host should prepare the camp as normal, which with typical Teutonia efficiency they proceeded to do. Later that day however various messengers began to appear informing the war host that things were not at all well in Teutonia and that the war host should prepare to return home as soon as the important Ritual of Renewal was completed as Kameron Drachomorden and all his guards and followers had mysteriously disappeared! It would seem that ‘his’ letter may well have been a fake sent by person’s unknown to keep the war host out of Teutonia, who could have done this and what did they hope to gain from this deception?

Uncertainty and some degree of confusion reigned until an exhausted messenger arrived from the Supreme Spiritual Guardian Council ordering the war host to remain in Norsca as there was no need for them to return to Teutonia as religious leaders with the blessing of the Queen were in complete control of both the situation and country and there was no strife or dissention that would necessitate the war hosts return. With some misgivings the Teutonia war hosts decided to remain in Norsca and eventually Flaminica Callista of Riga and Arch Duke Nash took charge of the host and agreed to lead them throughout Renewal, with the titles Keeper of the Faith and Defender of the Faith respectively. What would the ramifications of these strange events be not only for Teutonia but for the rest of the world be, only time would tell?

So as the Teutonians struggled with their internal problems the rest of the war hosts made their camps and took council as to their next moves. Jarl Jarfin was indeed present at this Renewal and indeed had the gall to give a welcome speech to the war hosts as Bothvar and the Wolves seemed to be mysteriously delayed, biding them welcome to his lands and giving them the use of strange building to meet within! The building was situated near the Ritual Circle and so whilst being in an excellent location it was not used much except by the College of Celestial studies perhaps because most people were loath to associate themselves with Jarl Jarfin and his cause, this decision if indeed it was a conscious decision proved to be a wise one as later event bore out.
At this event the Elementals who had plagued the factions for some time now seemed finally to be defeated or at least deflected from their goals with the death of Brand but as ever who can tell if this is truly the case or not, for many times in the past foes long thought vanquished or banished have later returned to once again strike at the war hosts. So all should be on their guard in the future.

The mysterious box known to now be the home of the creatures known as the Fade once again was investigated by many brave souls and finally after many trials it would seem that the denizens were finally defeated and no longer would they plague the free peoples, at least that is what all hoped!

Throughout the festival Jarl Jarfin tried with an increasing desperation to rally support amongst the war hosts against Bothvar who he named as the ‘Bucher of Norsca’ citing various examples of so called misrule and acts of cruelty against his own people but most folk were un swayed by his accusations and at times ridiculous statements. Most people’s hearts were turned against him by the bullying tactics of most of his supporters who acted in a high handed and arrogant manner and did not seem to care how much damage they caused not only to Wolves loyal to Bothvar but also to anybody else who was unlucky enough to get caught up in any of their periodic brawls! This culminated in an open declaration of war against Bothvar and the Norscan traitors who supported him and also the foreign mercenary invaders that he had brought with him to further oppress his long suffering and abused people! This was more than enough for most right thinking folk to declare for Bothvar and despite letters hinting at and even openly declaring past or future crimes and betrayals of and against factions by other factions most people dismissed these as clumsy attempts to sow discord and to deflect the wrath of the war hosts from Jarfin’s forces.

And so the stage was set for a final showdown with Jarfin’s rebel forces to restore order to the land. Jarfin openly declared his enmity for all the war hosts and his forces openly attack anybody they came across, as these skirmishes developed and reports began to arrive detailing his forces and their dispositions unsettling rumours began to come to the fore that maybe all was not as it seemed and possibly Jarfin was in league with other forces! Rumours of Svart Elf warriors being seen in the enemy camp surfaced along with hints at other darker allies and practises happening within his camps, some hinted at the possibility of Undead being raised but these were dismissed as even Jarfin could not possibly as a Norscan sink that low, or could he?

It was decided in the war council that as Jarfin’s forces strengths and locations were still not fully know and that there was every possibility of him disposing of more than one army some of the war hosts should remain on the fields of Odinsheim to protect the camps, the nearby city and the non-combatants against any assault upon them. The AlGaia, FirCruthen and Lions agreed to perform his task and so on the third day of the festival of Renewal 1110 the war hosts of the Wolves, Jhereg, Teutonians and Steppe Alliance took the field against the traitor Jarfin, in this battle they were joined by the mercenary sell swords and the people of the Hei Ravni. Facing them were a surprising number of disaffected rebel Norscan folk along with Jarfin and other rebel Jarl’s huscarls, the scene was set.
The forces first clashed in a crowded, wooded area where the trees and difficult ground hampered both sides deployment but slightly favoured Jarfin’s forces which were arranged to receive an attack rather than to deliver one. Never the less the combined war hosts despite casualties pressed forward and slowly but surely drove the rebel forces in front of them towards Jarfin’s camp.

Eventually the war hosts cleared the woods of the rebel forces and now faced them on open ground where their superior cohesion and organisation would hopefully stand them in good stead against Jarfin’s less well organised but still numerous largely peasant levies. After a short pause to redress their lines and to tend to the wounded both sides clashed, the war cries of each nation mingling in with the screams of the dead and the dying, the almost constant whirr or arrows and bolts overhead competing with the words of power unleashed by mages with often devastating results all against a background of the snarls of opponents as they hacked and slashed at each other in the din. Soon the ground was slick with the blood of the dead and the dying as gradually the war hosts gained the upper hand and drove back their opponents faster and faster as their losses mounted and the experience of born warriors tempered in battles all across the world outclassed their desperate but less skilled opponents.

Soon Bothvar’s loyal Wolves came face to face with Jarfin and his bodyguards and so each challenged the other for the right to rule Norsca. Around them the battle still raged but here there was an island of calm as both warriors circled each other seeking openings or mistakes by their opponent as their supporters cheered them on and jeered their enemy in equal measure. Blows were struck by both but then Jarfin managed to land a telling blow that either by poison or magic paralysed Bothvar, Jarfin was elated and proceed to belittle Bothvar as he unable to either defend himself or respond to Jarfin’s taunts and accusations, this was too much for some loyal wolves and soon both sides were engaging each other in bitter combat once again. Soon however Bothvar recovered from the treacherous blow of his enemy and his wrath was a sight to put fear even into the gods themselves! He flung himself against Jarfin in a flurry of blows that Jarfin was soon hard pressed to defend himself against and then with a final mighty blow Jarfin was struck to the ground and in a show of utter contempt for his defeated, traitorous enemy Bothvar hacked and kicked his opponent to death! Not even death spared the traitorous Jarfin from further blows as Bothvar disfigured and abused him both physically and verbally until this anger was finally abated, such is the fate of traitors to Norsca!

There were still however enemy forces to be dealt with further up the hill where there seemed to be some sort of Rite being performed and as Bothvar and the Wolves dealt with Jarfin and his guards the rest of the war hosts advanced against this seemingly last remnant of rebel troops. Suddenly as they engaged the enemy in their hour of victory disaster strikes! Even as they cut down the rebel Norscan’s fresh hitherto unknown enemies smash into the wounded and weakened lines, Werewolves and Undead lead this fresh and murderous assault, backed up by Svart Elf warriors bristling with iron and blood crazed Berserkers who tear at both themselves and their enemies in their madness!

The enemy is too strong, their assault too sudden and unexpected the war hosts lines waver, buckle and finally break! Pockets of free folk are cut off and then down as these new and fresh enemies tear into them, shock has destroyed their cohesion and none seem to be able to either stem the enemies advance or to form the war hosts for a defence. Many are cut down alone and friendless as many are slain with their friends and kin about them, flight is the only option for many but a last futile stand is the fate of many that day. The Hei Ravni peoples are almost wiped out as they bravely battle for their lives, the Teutonians try to make a stand but are engulfed in the waves of their enemies but go down fighting their strength shattered. The Steppe Alliance lines are sundered and they lose many brave people in a desperate struggle, the Jhereg also suffer heavy losses as they recoil from this vicious assault. Only the Wolves still in relatively good order as they were not struck in the initial assault offer haven and some form of coherent resistance to the enemy’s attacks. Gradually a line is formed and the enemy’s attacks lessen in ferocity and number as the shattered war hosts retreat in defeat from the blood stained field.

It is an evil day, a blood day, a wolf day as the survivors finally reach the relative safety of the encampments but how long will it be until the new enemy strikes again? Counsel is taken amongst the survivors and the as yet unengaged AlGaia, Lions and FirCruthen, who controls these new enemies’, where have they come from, what is their strength and purpose? All these questions and more are voiced not only in the war council but amongst the camps mingling in with the prayers and lamentations for the fallen and the cries of the wounded. It would seem that the reports of dark forces being in league with Jarfin were correct or perhaps it is the other way around, perhaps he was a willing or unwilling pawn of these dark creatures who can really say for sure? What can be said is that the free peoples now face not just a rebellious noble and some unhappy peasants but powerful and mystical creatures who very names strike fear and loathing into the hearts of not just Norscan children but also after today battle harden warriors as well!
Counsel is taken and in the crowing gloom of the evening as the funeral rites of the fallen begin it is decided that on the morrow the AlGaia, Lions and FirCruthen will attempt to take the hill from whence the new enemy first appeared as this seemed to be the centre of some sort of Rite enacted by them just before the Werewolf’s and other creatures were unleashed upon the war hosts earlier that dark day.

Great was the sadness in the camps that night for the losses and the hurt caused that day, scouts were sent out to try to gather more information but with battlefield in enemy hands information was both scant and difficult to obtain. What was ascertained was that all the gains of that day were lost in territorial terms as then enemy infiltrated back into their old positions during the hours of darkness.

So the first task the next day was to recapture the ground from the previous days fighting and the proud forces of the AlGaia, the Lions and fierce FirCruthen set out with hope in their hearts and vengeance in their minds to avenge their fallen allies. They engaged the enemy forces once again in the broken woodland but this time as well as facing the peasant levies they faced large numbers of Undead! These were being raised by Necromancers from the fallen bodies of the previous days fighting and many feared that they would be soon be forced to face old friends in an abominable parody but luckily few of their friends had fallen and been left in this area the previous day but great was the fear in many hearts of what they would find if they reached their objective of the hill, the scene of such slaughter yesterday. Despite these fears all fought bravely and resolutely drove their enemies backwards trying to reach the areas where the Undead were being raised before this terrible deed was done, sadly they were usually too late and were thus forced to dispatch the bodies of the fallen rebels once again to the void.

Once again the enemy is driven before the swords of the war hosts, ever backwards towards the killing grounds of yesterday’s clash. They hack and slash the foul imitations of life before them until at last they burst out from the doom and dank death filled woods onto the still blood soaked fields, the carrion birds are disturbed from their gory meals and flap into the summer sky crying out against this disturbance of their age old right to feed, the noise is an obscene parody of a lament for the fallen and helps to lighten the tense mood not at all.

The war hosts are forced to pause to tend to their wounded and to root out the last pockets of enemy forces still operating behind them in the woodland, with plenty of fresh corpses behind them nobody can run the risk of any surviving Necromancers raising fresh Undead hordes to cut them off from the safety of the camps. When the woods are declared clear and the lines formed and redressed the war hosts advance once again against their by now mainly lifeless foes although scattered amongst them are still units of rebellious peasants and iron clad Svart Elf warriors, how can they stand the stench of their allies?

The lines collide and the air is filled by the cries of the wounded, the clash of steel, the harsh war cries of the Svart Elves, all of these sounds to a backdrop of the unintelligible moaning of the foul Undead and the shrill cries of the carrion birds wheeling overhead in anticipation of yet another feast! The orders are barely heard above the din but each man and woman knows what to do as the drive their enemy before them, they must break through these enemy lines to try to stop whatever foul deeds the enemy leaders are bent on upon the distant hill. Gradually and at great cost the enemy lines are pushed backwards and finally sundered, the Undead fight on in their own mindless way until finally hacked to pieces by the vengeful warriors of the AlGaia, Lions and FirCruthen who all abhor such parodies of life. The Necromancers responsible for these foul creations receive no mercy as they seek to flee before the onslaught of the war hosts and most are cut down but a few manage to outpace their pursuers, the Svart Elf warriors fight intelligently and flee where they can but few escape the blades of vengeance.

As the warriors of the war hosts pursue their quarry they are brought up short by the sight of their next foe, a creature few have seen before or in many cases even thought really existed an Ice Giant of Jotunheim has taken the field against them!

Easily standing the size of two men this fearsome creature bellows its challenges to the silent free peoples, surrounding it are more dead bodies from the previous days fighting along with by now inevitable chanting Necromancer’s bent upon performing their evil arts to the detriment of the factions. How this new threat can be dealt with is the thought in most people’s minds, few know how but dealt with it must be. So cautiously the war hosts move to engage their massive enemy and his foul allies trying as ever to deal with the Necromancers before they can complete their gory work but ever mindful of the new and unknown threat posed by their awesome new foe. The Ice Giant taunts the factions over and over again daring the ‘little people’ to fight him and eventually some try to, he is a fierce and strong foe with a long reach and virtually unstoppable strength in his blows. Many are struck to the ground not just by his blows but by the reverberations of his blows to the ground which cause the very earth to shake and roll as if an earthquake is occurring. His touch is like ice and he seems impervious to most weapons but he also seems arrogant in his superiority not even trying to move out of the way of what he calls the ‘gnat bites’ of the war hosts weapons, have they nothing better to offer he calls as he dumps mighty warriors to the floor without a thought whilst all around others try to dispatch the Necromancers and their foul raisings before more can join the fray.

Suddenly the Ice Giant seems to tire of the fight and turns, ignoring the blows of his pursuers he quickly outpaces them as he strides into the forest, the way is clear to the hill but all suspect that they have not seen the last of their gigantic new foe. After a brief pause to reorganise their lines and care for their wounded the war hosts press onto the hill, where they are faced with yet more foes. Humans, Svart Elves and the by now expected Undead and as they all feared they begin to find the animated bodies of old friends and foes slain yesterday before them now seeking their lifeblood as unthinking and unfeeling moving cadavers! Flitting in from the flanks and shadows come creatures of darkness that are virtually impossible to kill with normal steel further thinning their ranks as they push on towards the scene of yesterday’s rite.

Through bravery, conviction and skill at arms they attain their objective but now they must destroy a strange orb that seems to be the source of some or all of the enemy’s power, swiftly the Ritualists who have accompanied them they swiftly begin an impromptu ritual led by Oak of the Ael to try to achieve this. As they do this the warriors fight to stem the tide of increasingly desperate enemy attacks as they seek to regain control of the Orb. The Ritualists chant on but they have little idea of how long it will take and all the time their friends bleed for them as the enemy attacks with increasing savagery and seemingly unlimited numbers, several times they break through despite the desperate sacrifices of the warriors and interrupt the ritual necessitating it starting again. By now there is little left in the way of healing balms or potions and almost nobody has any magical powers left worth speaking about, few warriors are left unwounded and fatigue is now beginning to take as heavy a toll on them as the blades and claws of their opponents. Finally, the awful truth dawns they must pull back or risk total annihilation and so we with heavy hearts the orders are given and the Ritualists give up their task and join their brothers and sisters in the long retreat from the hill.

Surprisingly the enemy does not try to hunt them down but rather skirmishes only with them as they leave the field and in another small mercy they do not unleash the Werewolves or berserkers nor does the Ice Giant reappear.
Thankfully there is no repeat that day of the slaughter of the previous day’s battle but still the losses are heavy and the enemy still holds the field. With heavy hearts and hurt pride the lessened war hosts are reunited on the fields of Odinsheim. The air is heavy with the smell and taste of death and defeat and with the carrion birds once again circling overhead they take hasty counsel. With the enemy undefeated and still of unknown origin for certain they decide that for the second year running they cannot disperse to their own homes and lands but must instead stay to block any further moves by the enemy.

Is the power of the war bands and their leaders failing or is it simply that the enemy caught them by surprise, what is certain is that next year will be a pivotal one in the history of the world as we know it and that the terrible events of 1110 will live long in the memory of those lucky enough to have lived through them.

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