‘‘You can rest here for the night if you wish, and help yourself to any food and drink. As for how you wish to handle this, its your choice. This is your test. Though I am sorry to say we cannot spare any horses at this time…’’ he said regretfully. ‘‘Whenever you are ready, your gear will be waiting for you at the gates on your way out.’’
“Thank you. I’ll might as well get on the road now, its a long run back to Winterkeep.” Georgar bowed from the waist slightly, turned, and walked out, escorted by a few guards. Upon reaching the gate, he turned looking up at the wall and towering fortress. “Gosh, I’m glad to be my own ruler. Wonder what being a enemy of his is like?” he muttered, drawing his cloak about him, and vanishing into the gathering snow storm.
It was getting late, and Ara too was beginning to feel tired. This day had taken a very unexpected turn, he doesn’t put much faith in mercenaries, but maybe something will come of this. At the very least, he’s throwing more trouble in the way of those former Altori. Upon Geogar’s departure, he retired to his quarters and got to bed.
Aproximately three weeks have passed, and the province of Duskwind had not progressed much since its integration in to the imperium. The weather was still terrible, the roads project had grinded to a halt yet again, and Grand Marshal Gerrel was yelling at his troops in Dusk’til garrison, up in a narrow mountain pass. The ‘‘Crimson Raiders’’ as they call themselves were still at large, and both the Keelish and the Mireesh were sick of them, though with every one they manage to kill or capture, ten more seem to appear.
A dusty group of men in blue and silver armor appeares, marching through the valley
“Halt!” Georgar bellowed. “Alright I want four volunteers to scout and find these traitorus bastards.” Four gray cloaked rangers broke away from the column and disappeared into the under brush. “Anyone shoots one of these Keelish “By mistake,” I’ll have his head!”
A few hours later
"Sir! We found them. There’s about 850 of them holed up in a small gorge on the side of the mountain." spoke one of the men Georgar had sent out earlier.
“Good! Now then, I want 50 from House Sword to attack up the center, and 20 more to come with me. We’re going to capture a few of them as proof. All Archers follow up with a arrow storm behind the knights. Pass it along!” Shocklord told his two sub-commanders. “Lets move!”
The Altori survivors were waiting, for they had seen one of the scouts creeping up on them. however, safe in their stronghold, they thought that a band of only 200 would pose small threat to them. They formed up in a line across the gorge’s entrance, preparing a welcome of steel for the interlopers. Suddenly, a group of broadsword wielding knights burst from the treeline with a roar! The defenders raced to meet them, and soon a full on battle was raging at the mouth of the gorge. Arrows whined, steel scraped, and men screamed as they died. Meanwhile, unnoticed, a small party led by Georgar rappelled in from the walls of the mountain. Dropping down, they slit the throats of the sentries guarding the camp, and breaking into one of the tents, grabbed the three men who cowered there. Exiting the tent, a party of men sent by the Altori commander find out what was going on attacked the men Georgar had left at the tents entrance. A small skirmish followed, in which half of the GRimguard troops were slain, and Georgar nearly got cut in half by a axe wielding berserker. Nevertheless, they emerged victorious. The knights broke through the Altori line with a roar, killing all in their path. What follwoedd was not a battle, it was slaughter. Georgar’s men had orders to show no quarter, and none was given. The battle lasted into the evening, until all but a few men had been slain.
“Bind them, and find me some horses! I ride to Zhatil! The rest of you meet me back at Winterkeep!” Shocklord mounted his horse, grabbed the lead rein of the prisoners, who had been placed on horses and tied on, and galloped out of the scene of mayhem.
The Grimguard quickly looted the camp of everything useful, and then set it ablaze as a warning to all who consider a life of theivery. They then melted back into the woods from whence they came, leaving nothing but food for crows, and a interesting puzzle for the local Keelish governer to decipher.
A few days later
Georgar gazed up at the gigantic fortress above him. He hoped that Ara’Gotix would remain true to his word. He yelled up:
“Hey! Guard! Let me in, I have a gift and a message for your master! Now hurry up before we freeze!”
It was some time midday and it was snowing. A guard peeked over the side to take a glance of the shouting man down below, the same human he remembered from a few weeks ago. To Georgar’s misfortune, this was the same guard at which he threw the rock, and he felt some personal revenge was in order. So he simply ignored him and decided to leave him out in the cold for a while longer.
After an hour had passed, and no help was forthcoming, George’s had had enough.
“damn it. No ones coming.” he muttered. He drew a long bow, placed an arrow the string, and looses a shot. It does up and over the wall, heading toward the general location of Ara’Gotix’s window. When it was almost there it burst into a shower of red sparks. George then drew another arrow from his belt, and fired all the way over the wall. It caught somewhere on the other side. A rope trailer behind it. Georgar motioned the man guarding the prisoners to wait there, and once more began to climb.
Little did Georgar know that the guard was fully aware of him wanting to get their attention, and was just out of sight the whole time, waiting and observing, when suddenly an arrow flew past him and blew up in bright colors of red. At that point, the rest of the guards became aware of the visitor as well, and were beginning to make their way over to see what the hell is going on. Meanwhile, another arrow flew just over the wall and hooked itself on top of it, right next to that sneaky guard in fact. The guard swiftly drew a dagger from his belt, and before Georgar even began to climb, the cut-free rope fell back on top of him.
As the rope slithered down next to him, Georgat decided it was time for desperate measures. He drew his swords, turned and yelled: “Plan’s not working boys! I guess we make our entrance the old fashioned way!” a small group of 15 blue and silver clad troops charged up the mountain, reaching the wall in a few seconds. They formed up in front of the gate, and Georgar, yelled up at the startled guards: “you boys better open up, or I swear I’ll tear the gate down. I’m delivering a package to Lord Ara’Gotix if I have to take your pile of stone apart piece by piece, and hand it to him! I’d open up if I were you. I’ve spilled enough blood already.”
The rest of the guards came to take a peek of what that unintelligible yelling was, and what they saw looked something akin to an attack.
As protocol demands, the horn was sounded, and the entire garrison was on its feet. The first line of defence: they spilled cauldron fulls of boiling oil on top of the enemy, that seemed to have positioned themselves perfectly for this action. If the oil weren’t enough to wash them down the side of the mountain, it was accompanied by flaming arrow shots, igniting it and setting the men and the very ground ablaze.
Georgar thought fast. He had hoped that Ara’Gottix would prove true to his word, but it would appear that he had been double crossed. Well, he could show the two-faced bastard how to fight. “ROOF!” He bellowed as the steaming liquid poured over the wall. A few of his men failed to react in time, and were burned alive b the terrifying substance. “Fall back! Regroup!” His men scrambled down the hill, to be joined by hundreds more who began assembling a ram from a tree they cut down. Georgar walked back up the hill, regardless of the arrows that whined and skipped about him. He decided to give them one last chance before he tore the castle apart. “ARA"GOTTIX! I KNOW YOU"RE UP THERE!” He roared. “I KNOW YOU THINK YOUR SAFE UP THERE, BUT IF YOU DON"T HONOR THIS AGREEMENT I WILL TAKE YOUR CITY APART FROM THE FOUNDATIONS! THIS IS YOUR LAST, AND FINAL WARNING!” He hoped the Keelish soldiers had heard him this time. He had the numbers, and the men to take the castle, but he didn’t want to unless it was completely certain they would not honor their agreement.
The men in the fortress saw the ram and laughed amongst themselves, good luck pushing up that thing to the tippy top of this mountain, even worse with it snowing. But they didn’t mean to wait and see if they could manage, they decided to roar back at them instead, with canon fire. The mountains began to thunder as they target the ram, though some shots missed their intended target, they would land amidst the forming soldiers instead. All the while showering the attackers with volleys of arrows. Meanwhile, they refilled the cauldrons with oil again.
The signal beacon at the top of the castle also began to burn when the garrison saw more soldiers arriving.
“Well, I guess that’s that.” Georgar spoke quietly to himself.
He headed back down the hill. Once there he set his men to making mantlets to cover their assault, and more to retrieve their picks and shovels from their campsite. Once they had returned, they began constructing a huge mound of dirt at the bottom of the steep slope. It began to gradually shape into a ramp heading at a less steep angle up the mountain, creeping slowly towards the gate. He also sent a raven to King Frostwither, asking for men, supplies, and especially wolfriders under Lord Gerrey. He had about 2,000 men gathered, some building the ramp, other the mantlets, and about 800 ready to repel a sortie.
15 hours later
Georgar walked up the mountain, with a piece of white cloth in his hand. He waved it above his head, and waited, hoping Ara’Gottix was on the battlements, and called out:“ARA"GOTTIX! I ask for a truce so that we do not have to spill blood needlessly! If you accept my offer, come down and meet me by the gate with no weapons!” He dropped his swords and bow at his feet. “See? I too am disarmed! Now come out if you’re man enough!”
15 hours later
As Georgar was waving his white piece of cloth, the Keelish reinforcements summoned by the flaming beacon atop Zha’til from the north and south arrived, each counting roughly 12k of armed legionaries, with shielded spearmen at the front, swordsmen in the middle, and archers at the back, with men on horseback riding along each side.
The gates of the castle stay shut, however the canons stopped firing for a moment. The two generals of each army met up between them and the rabble of humans who were having a most futile attempt at a siege. Observing a man waving a piece of white cloth, they dismounted their horses, and slowly began to make their approach, but did not go too far away from their horses. Then, they waited.
It was over. Georgar could not fight that many troops with the men at his disposal, but maybe he could see about an arrangement. If not, they would go down like men. He turned, picked up his weapons, and order his men to draw up in battle formation against the newcomers. He walked toward them with his palms out, and called “You here to make an arrangement, or to watch brave men die? I only wish for the goods promised us to be handed over, and we’ll go.”
The two generals looked at each other with questionable expressions. Both of them being well versed in the common tongue of humanity, one of them spoke. ‘‘What arrangement? What goods? All I see is you and your men wanting to siege one of our strongholds. What good reason do you have for us to not crush you straight forward? Your actions here are a cause for war, you do realize that?’’
“I came here to recieve the promised price for destroying a large band of outlaws. When I hailed the guard, he nearly dropped me from a great height and then, after I stated my request for entry that I might speak with your Lord Protector, but all we received was boiling oil poured upon our heads. I therefore decided to break the gate open, and here is where you come in. Will you kill us, or let us go?” Stockport reposnded
‘‘The guard dropped you from a great height?..’’ the other asked, ‘‘What the hell were you doing?’’
’‘Oh, your THAT guy.’’ the first one interrupted, ‘‘I’ve heard of you, braking in to the castle. Bet it didn’t win you any friends.’’ he teased. ‘‘I don’t care what arrangement you made with Ara, he isn’t answering your calls for a reason, or he simply isn’t there, that’s not the point.’’ he continued as he lowered his angry brow, ‘‘The point is, you are ATTACKING us now, and we are here to TAKE CARE of you. Now, you either leave Kleriel and are never to return again, or I will have my army drag you out in body bags, and mailed to your homeland. The choice is yours.’’
“My men will take the offer. I too am leaving. But tell Ara that I will not forget.” Georgar turned, and vanished into the woods. His men sheathed their weapons, and waited to be given an escort out of the strange land they had ventured into.
The two generals mounted their horses again, the southern army returned to their posting, while the one from the north made sure the human knights left Kleriel without delays before returning to theirs.
The three prisoners that were left in the valley below by Georgar were picked up by Keelish forces and taken up to the castle to be thrown in to the dungeon for interrogation.
Upon Ara’s return from his time in Kha’Rann, discussing possible treaties with the Grimguard at the gathering of the Conclave, he was given a full report of the events that had taken place, and has had one of his greatest facepalms yet. He walked up to his office, took a seat behind his desk, and from one of the drawers he pulled a blank piece of parchment on which he began writing a letter…