Tales from Forgotten Europa

Across the moors

An old friend gazes across the moor at his enemies

The knight shifts, his gleaming and embossed armor clinking very softly, almost silent in the stiffening morning breeze. His almond-shaped eyes take in the scene before him, a morass of grey and olive, squelching muds and oozes, hillocks covered with grasses and mosses, and everywhere the autumn-blighted skeletons of dark cyprus and willow trees. And through the morning’s early haze and shadows, his elfin eyesight picks out the forms of his enemies.

They hunker on a long, low series of hillocks barely half a wheel away. The smoke from their fires muddying the newly-bright Octubrim skies, adding to the fog. They are many, and even from here, he can pick out their off-kilter shapes and forms. Their barbaric standards and symbols already assembling for what will be today’s butchery in the mud. Many bodies, numbering in the hundreds, are drawing up, cajoled by the screams and whipcracks of what must be their sergeants. The knight stood fully erect and stretched. His men needed no whips to be driven to the line. Turning to face them, the knight saw his own camps emptying, the staff teams already breaking down the tent lines and camp sites, his horsemen already through prepping and brushing their proud white and roan stallions, his archers already stringing their long, powerful wood bows. And everywhere the proud, defiant emblem of his army and his purpose, the straight and true ivory arrow, embroidered on every surcoat, or mounted on every standard. The Army of the White Arrow was readying itself for combat.

Lord Kil’Derek settles his own bow across his back, a glorious waldenwyrd bow, carved with runes in his native tongue, and weighted with the blessings of countless priests, friars, and clerics. Blessed in every town, every village, every hamlet that he has passed through, every land he has saved. The bow, for all its august presence is nothing compared to the arrow itself however, tucked serenely in its quiver, the lone occupant, and safely secured to Kil’Derek’s hip, flanking the elfish knight with his silver longsword. The white arrow always travels alone in its quiver. Its Lord never needs another.

Horns begin their nightmarish song from the hills to the South, the hills where the enemy rouses itself. The song is part martial beat, and part dirge ,and entirely horrifying to behold. There is no question that the Dark Powers themselves side with that army. The songs and cheering grate on every man-jack in Kil’Derek’s force, and unnerves them as much as it infuriates them. But they will go forth with their own war-song on their lips. Driven forward by thoughts of glory and victory and led by their sterling white knight, who has never lost, and never given ground to an enemy, regardless of who or when or how badly outmatched he has been. The Knight of the White Arrow is charmed, touched by the godes and will never fail. Hopefully.

Kil’Derek mounts his war-stallion and draws forth his spyglass to view his enemy. Already his cavalry move east to flank the crew of Ork and Troll he spies before him, but he knows his artillery will serve him little, mired down in this everlasting muck. His pikemen will have to win him this day. His spyglass shows him teh standard of his enemy, his opposite number, the fell general he must kill today. Oddly enough, instead of a severed head, or single glaring bloody eye, the banner he focuses on bears the silhouette of a drooping tree of some form, brown on a dull grey field. Such a strange icon for these animals.

Kil’Derek draws his bow across his lap and begins to string it, as his field party begins their own drum and pipe war-song and his men ready themselves for the charge across the morass. He has already forgotten the standard and instead whispers softly to the arrow on his hip, promising the victory they both want so very much.

And so the armies of the White Arrow and the Mangrove Tree clash under a bleary red sun rising sluggishly to the east, in a muddy bog in the farthest reaches of North Germania.

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The Mad Viking

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