Posts Tagged ‘The Liberation of Cruinne’

“General.”

Hasios stared at his men slowly gathering on the grassy plain below. They were congregating from three points, mainly by divisions. Archers, infantry and special units. He felt like a chess player about to unveil his master strategy to a novice.

“General.”

Standing atop this high hill, Hasios had never felt so free in his life. The breeze blew through his long, thick hair, and he raised his arms to his sides then let them drop. Gazing to the north at the far-off mountain range of Elikizm, he imagined being in the snows of the mountain known as Rek. Turning to the east where the elves of Nilar-Kepoto dwelled, he thought of walking through the forests. To the west where the dwarves of the high hills of Soahg plied their skills. All the time with Jilier.

Jilier.

Jilier! Hasios watched until he could look no more, then turned away as she fell. Jilier!

And finally to the southwest, where the self-proclaimed Baron Lord Olc waited with his army. But wait no more! Today was the day that Hasios struck back with a vengeful strike. No longer would Olc hide in the shadows, evading Hasios’ every attempt to bring him down! Today would be the day that—

“General!”

Interrupted from his reverie, Hasios turned to face Coron. “Yes?”

Jilier.

“The troops have all formed up. We’re just awaiting your orders.”

“Tell them…tell them to stay in the formation previously ordered. I will be there shortly.”

Coron saluted and went off to relay the order.

Jil—No! He would not let himself become distracted with wild thoughts! Hasios’ face buckled, tears coming to his eyes, only to let them go back to where they came from. Regaining his composure, he walked down to where his troops waited. Arriving at a stage, he slowly walked up the steps then turned to face his whole army.

“It doesn’t feel right to be standing up here with the rest of you down there. I am just a man, and I am no better than any of you. I’m just your leader.” So saying, Hasios leaped from the top of the stage (it wasn’t very high) and began walking amongst the fighters, talking as he went.

“When I began my campaign against Olc, I knew there were people who were disgruntled with him. Some thought taxes were too high, some wanted to keep the grain that they grew instead of having to give up half of it. Some just hated him because they could. I knew I would be able to put together a guerilla force of a hundred to two hundred men and make small strikes. Liberate a garrison here, free a farm there, all the while gathering more and more troops, until finally being vast enough to take down Olc.”

He stopped for a moment.

“But what I didn’t anticipate was the amount of sympathy I received from the people. From all over Old Cruinne people came, telling me of the cruel oppression from Olc and their desire for justice. And then the dragons came to me, explaining how they heard of Olc and his cruel ways and wanted to help in our fight for good. Then the elves came out from hiding and joined me, knowing it was the right thing to do, as did the centaurs.”

“Then last night I had some visitors. They were shorter than most, but they seemed like true warriors, fighters every one. They wished to join us in our fight. I immediately said yes. And if you haven’t guessed by now, I’m talking about the dwarves of the west.”

Silence. Then from the back, clapping. Then it was joined from the right, then the left, and soon the whole army was cheering their new allies. The dwarves walked out from their hiding place along with the elves and centaurs and took their stations. The dragons flapped overhead, their heavy wings sounding like many birds all flapping at once.

Hasios’ voice rang out.

“Thank you my friends. However, if you find that you cannot fight against Olc, you may stay behind. Are there any that wish to do so?”

No one moved. They had come this far. Why leave now when all they had worked for was at stake?

Hasios nodded, their grim task before them. “We march at dawn tomorrow. Be ready, all of you. This is not going to be easy. They outnumber us by many, and at last estimate, they had more than five hundred million troops ready for battle. However, with our troop strength of ten thousand, plus the one hundred thousand dwarf crusaders, fifty thousand elven archers and whirlers, we have less of a disadvantage. They outnumbered us fifty thousand to one. But we have shrunk that to three thousand one hundred and twenty-five to one!”

The task seemed impossible.

“I know that seemed like a lot of math.”

“But we also have the dragons.”

Breath came collectively out in a whoosh of air.

“We all have trained for this day. Strategies have been set. Reports have it that Olc’s troops are untrained except for his elite guard. He has not planned strategies as we have. That is our advantage. And we are also fighting for something else. Do you know what it is?”

The roar came like the ocean crashing on the shore.

“CRUINNE!”

Hasios, standing in front of them all, raised his arms for silence.

“And so it begins.”

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“We will wipe out the insurgents! We will be victorious!”

“We will lose,” muttered Rhyst Ongerhyst. He turned to his friend and fellow collaborator, Priom. Priom only went by one name, and no one dared ask him what his last name was. Legend had it that the last person to ask him had gone to the moneychanger’s one day only to realize that his name had been erased from their records. He never learned what Priom’s last name was.

“You surely agree with me? Our leader is an imbecile, and was only able to get to where he was by his devious words and skillful swordplay. He has no head for strategy and will not face the truth.”

Priom nodded. He was also a man of few words, and never spoke with more than he had to.

“The others have been notified about the meeting in my tent tonight?”

Another nod.

“Then it’s settled. We will depose our leader in the midst of battle and come to a rightful truce with the insurgents, for we are really the insurgents, and they are the defenders!”

*

That night, Baron Lord Olc was going over some maps, trying to remember what his strategists were saying. Bah! He had no head for this. His skill was in fighting and using others to get what he wanted. Let others do this. He looked up as a dark shadow flitted into his tent. “Ah, they are meeting tonight? Well, good. I want you to go in there and find out all you can. We will stop these rebels within my army and tomorrow stop the rebels fighting against us.”

The shadow bowed low and moved out.

*

Rhyst greeted his fellow conspirators at the entrance to his tent, motioning them in. He took a hurried glance around to make sure no one was watching this secret meeting, then ducked inside.

“My friends, we stand at the pinnacle of a change of government. I presume you all have heard of or know personally the man called Hasios Politon. He is our Baron Lord’s target. What the Baron does not know is that he is our target. The plan calls for a breakaway of troops from the Baron’s forces in the beginning of the battle, almost before the two sides meet. Priom, you will take charge of the cavalry that you have under you. Ergis, take your archers and do the same. I will take my infantry core, and Irrita, you will take your Raiders as well.”

Irrita, a dark-haired woman with a volatile temper, bowed low.

“If all goes well, perhaps a quarter or more of our forces can be turned against the Baron. The insurgents will use our numbers to be able to defeat the Baron, for I have chosen you for a special reason. We all control the best fighters, archers, cavalry, and Raiders in the army. Our troops’ skill is unmatched by the rest of the army, and we may even pick up more from dissidents that we are unaware of. Who knows, the rebels even may have something up their sleeve. But we will defeat the Baron and end his reign of cruelty!”

Rhyst showed his fellow traitors the way out, watching each one of them to see which way they had to go. Ergis went right to his tent, as did Priom, but Irrita took a different path. He stood up, donned a black cloak to disguise him against the night sky, and followed her at a distance. She first went right, then took a left, then aimed straight for the Baron Lord’s tent. Rhyst gritted his teeth. Traitor! But then, Irrita turned on her heel and went down another corridor straight to—the mess hall. Rhyst grinned. She must have been hungry after their meeting. He made his way back to his tent and thought no more of it.

*

Irrita peeked out from the mess hall. Good, he was gone! Now she could get on with her assigned mission. She made her way back to the Baron Lord’s tent and entered. He looked up.

“Irrita. I trust you have some important information for me?”
“Yes, my Lord. The three traitors are Rhyst, Priom, and Ergis. They believe the men under them and under me will follow us to the rebels.”

“This could work to our advantage,” muttered Baron Olc. He thought for a moment, then wrote something on paper and handed it to Irrita. “In case ears are listening where they are not supposed to, these are your instructions for tomorrow.” He pointed to a corner of the tent, which was darker than the surrounding material. Irrita nodded and made her way out of the tent toward the section as the baron waited inside. In a few moments then he heard a squeal, a curse, and a successive, “Lie still and keep quiet, if you want to live!” He strode out of the tent and found Irrita bending over a man, obviously a spy, with a dagger at his neck and a boot on his chest.

“What do you want to do with him?” asked Irrita. In a second, the baron rendered his decision.

“Ordinarily, we would try him in court. But we have not the time or the place to do so. So I will take the place of judge.” He drew his sword and ran the man through. “And executioner. Any qualms about the decision Irrita?”

“N-None my Lord!”

“Good! Dispose of this trash, will you? I need my sleep for the morning.”

“Right away, Lord!”

Baron Olc went back into his tent, pleased with the discovery of the spy and of the traitors amidst his camp. But he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was going to go very wrong.

The Liberation of Cruinne

Back and forth. Back and forth. Traveling the same steps over and over again. Through the camp. Into his tent. Around the table. Past the pillow and blanket serving as a mattress. Back out into the camp. Around the guards. Outside the furthest night patrol. And back into the camp. Around and around Hasios Politon went, too nervous to sleep. The army of Baron Lord Olc was massing just across the river to the southwest of his camp. Hasios was unsure of almost everything. How many fighters the enemy had, what types of fighters the enemy had, their placement, their strategy, and how they were going about their plans. Waiting for the latest information from his advance scouts could take a few hours, a few days, even a week. Unless…yes, there they were, flying in.

Hasios flew towards his incoming scouts, and then dismounted his gryphon just as his scouts were dismounting theirs. “1st Scouts! Report!”

“General! They well out number us. At least 50,000 to 1. There is no way we would ever defeat them.”

Hasios clapped him on the back. “Don’t worry. I have the situation well under control.”

He turned to his second-in-command, Lieutenant General Coron Farscope. “Coron, we must prepare for an attack in the morning.”

Coron shook his head. “General, that’s madness! Our losses would be staggering, and our army might even be completely destroyed. Have you-?”

“No, Coron, I have not gone insane. I simply have a few ideas and plans which I have not talked about even to you, Sidefuo, or anyone else. Now if you will excuse me, I have one plan to implement before the coming battle. Tell the troops to gather in the central circle at sunset tonight.”

“But you had that closed off—“

“It will be reopened by sunset. Now do what I tell you.

Coron, mouth agape, watched his commander walk off, head bowed. He shook his head to clear his senses, and turned to the lead scout. “Well, we might as well do what he says. Tell everyone to be ready.”

*

Hasios walked around, observing the preparations he had made. Excellent. Everything was in place and perfect. Seeing the confused troops all milling about the circle, with a few stragglers still coming in, he decided that it was time to spring his trap. He pulled the lever, lit the match, and watched as his work came into fruition. The torch went up, lighting another torch close by, which in turn lit another, and so on, until finally it split, went around the camp, encircled and finally came together. The flames rushed up the tall stake until they ignited a huge ball of grass, weeds, twigs, and other miscellaneous combustible items found in your local backyard.

Then it hit the explosives set inside the ball.

The troops gasped as rockets made their way into the sky, exploding and creating pictures, symbols, and most importantly

“Cruinne,” breathed Coron. He glanced at Hasios who had made his way next to him. “You got a map of Cruinne?”

“And the flag. And a picture of King Verne. I figured the troops needed to…remember. Now if you’ll excuse me.”

Hasios went up the stairs located near a conveniently located stage, and began to speak to his men.

“Friends, Cruinnians, countrymen—You know what? That one’s been used before.”

The troops laughed. Hasios smiled.

“We’ve been through this war together. We’ve lost many friends, myself included. Dariel, Gulan, Werv.”

He paused.

“Jilier.”

He moved on.

“But I’m sure they would not want us to stop now. They would want to continue fighting, to finish the enemy off! Why? Because we know we can! Because we will!”

Hasios let the fierce words settle on his men’s ears.

“Now if I still have your attention, I have some surprises in store for you tonight.”

He snapped his fingers, and 15 dragons rose from outside the camp, where they had been lying in wait for this exact moment.

Coron found himself babbling orders almost immediately. “Delma! Stop those dragons. Throw all we’ve got at ‘em. I’ll handle the traitor.”

“You’re accusing me of treason, Coron? I’m ashamed. I thought I taught you better than that. These dragons are not against us, and neither am I. Rather, they are on our side.”

Coron stared blankly, unable to comprehend this contradicting fact.

“Coron, Coron, Coron, as unbelievable as it might seem, these dragons are on the forces of good. They’re working for us. As are these.”

Centaurs sprang out all around, surrounding the infantry.

“Those are our previously unknown cavalry. And these…”

Elven archers, whirlers, and Elite Guards came walking out.

“…our good allies. Oh and King Eaion, thank you for coming.”

“Th-That’s the Elven King!” shouted Coron.

“Friend Coron, I beg you not to shout in the presence of royalty. It displeases them, and it is completely rude. Now for the feast!”

The greatest cooks in the Kingdom of Cruinne came out flanked by tables of the best food eaten in months by the army.

They feasted long into the night, with their joyous merriment ringing far and wide.

Across the river though, things were different…

Greetings friends. For a while now I have been working on a short story. It is a spin off to my novel, The Epic of Verarde. This new short story is titled The Liberation of Cruinne, and will contain an unspecified number of sections. Who knows, this may turn out to be yet another long story. But be that as it may, the first section will either be posted tomorrow morning or Sunday morning/afternoon. After that, I will try to update either weekly or bi-weekly, more information on that coming soon.

Till then,

Verarde/thisoldsoul

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