The Fall of Govind
One of the great defenses of Til-Thorin Keep has been its magic. Both the enchantments placed into it's very foundation--but also those given charge over its defense. For Til-Thorin Keep is the southern defense to Andilain. The mägo assigned by King Robert III to keep the people safe, was a brilliant wizard named Govind. A thoughtful and caring man, Govind mingled much among the people of the south--taking a personal interest in not just the welfare of the keep, but in the communities it served. When word came to Til-Thorin that villages were being decimated, women and children being slaughtered and worse, Govind encouraged the keeps steward to leave the safety of the keep and march to meet the invading force head on. His assurance of victory swallowed up in his own gifted pride. A pride which got him, and two thousand soldiers, killed.
The SceneBurning wagons and tents lit the battlefield, illuminating the conflict between men and beasts. Swords flashed in the night, while screams of agony ripped the air. The mountain wall reverberated the sounds of battle across the landscape, repeating the sounds of pain and death. Hundreds of human soldiers formed tight ranks—most shoulder to shoulder—shields raised, spears thrusting. Wave after wave of deformed and enraged creatures, poured out of the darkness. Howling like banshees, they lunged and jumped, screaming, swinging with fist, claw and club. Soldiers stood their ground, defying the horde. The armies chants burst forth. A rising call of deep voices, shouting out as they pushed against the enemy:
GIVE NO GROUND, LEAVE NO PREY,
With each shout, the humans surged forward. Knocking the enemy aside, trampling them under foot. Spears pierced flesh, punctured chest and skull. Swords flashed and severed limbs.
Animals with jagged teeth, curved tusks and thick fur lunged at the lines. They looked like giant puma’s, dark and sleek, with six legs…and scales. They tackled the humans, knocking a dozen or more to the ground. Thick claws raked away armor as if it were cloth—teeth sinking deep into exposed flesh. Some of the beasts found their demise at the end of spears and swords, while others howled victory.
Arrows flew across the field with deadly accuracy, impaling the cat-like beasts through neck and face. Shafts that hungered for soft leather, soft throats and open mouthes found their targets. Even an armored juggernaut fell to crossbowman, who targeted their heavy bolts at the Vallen’s protective chest plate and helmet.
The dawn had already begun to reveal its light along the belly of the clouds. Near the center of the conflict, standing in a semi-circle, were a handful of knights surrounding their fallen leader. Several black shafts protruded from a mound of bright silver armor.
Standing over the silver knight was an old man in faded red robes. His long, white beard complimented the silver emblems along his sleeves, reflecting the firelight.
PROTECT THE BACKS OF MEN,
FEAR NOT THE NIGHT, FOR WE ARE BRAVE,
TURN AGAIN AND REND!
TOGETHER MIGHTY SOLDIERS,
CUT THEM, MAKE THEM FLEE!
FOR BARDS SHALL SING OF ALL YOUR DEEDS,
AND HEROES YOU SHALL BE!
The DuelMaking sudden lifting motions with his hands, the mägo clawed through the air. Flames leapt from the burning wagons, arching through the trees in rolling pillars. Like serpents seeking mice, the flames lashed out, consuming enemies unwilling to retreat from the battlefield. Giants cried out in agony as armor melted, bubbling and turning to slag against their skin. Cheers rang out from the humans. The field lit up with the brilliance of a small star. Light also flared from Govind’s eyes. Trees burst into flames. The sparse grass withered and the few patches of early snow hissed, evaporating under its touch. The Vallen had stopped advancing, but they didn’t retreat beyond the rim of the forest. A black robe, hobbling along, pushed its way through the ranks. Täuku. The hooded hunchback silently lumbered across the field, the flames flickering and dying out as it passed. The soldiers from both sides withdrew from the battlefield. Govind stepped down from the knoll and into the small clearing. He weaved his way through the mangled bodies of noble soldiers, light still flaring from his eyes. The ground shook. A tremor. Then another. Splitting at the feet of the Tauku, the rock and soil ripped open. The tremors continued as nature moaned in anger. The black robe stumbled backwards, hobbling to retreat, but the crack expanded, arcing wide until the robe was encircled, its escape route cut off. Govind’s very skin glowed with power and Wendell could hear the mägo chanting. With a final shudder, the ground heaved flame and molten rock out of the fissure, engulfing the Tauku. Deafening cheers exploded from the humans, swords banging against shields. The cheer, however, was short lived. Flames gathered and curled like the rolling waves of the sea, twisting and lifting above the black robes. The Tauku stood in the center of the isle…unscathed. A rapid succession of shrill sounds pierced the night, snake heads flicking out from under the cloth of the mägo’s black hood. Wings stretched forth, claws formed and a long tail rolled out through the trees, setting them aflame. The dragon blinked its golden globes and launched itself into the air. A fanged maw opened in a silent roar, circling in the sky. It dove at the battlefield. Archers fired arrows, to no avail, some rolling to safety as others too slow to react were consumed.
The dead fell in piles of ash. Govind—the light still shining brilliantly from his eyes, called out words, pointing at the serpent of flame. The dragon rolled and dove, mouth agape, claws extended. Teeth snapped over Govind as the white light flared. The dragon vanished. Govind’s charred body collapsed to the ground. With a deafening roar, the horde launched themselves across the field, charging past the laughing Tauku. …and the slaughter commenced.
“What’s wrong with you guys?! “You’re supposed to run in the opposite direction when you find people dying. You could be next!”
“Now you listen to me, son. I know this isn’t easy. I know it’s frightful—but you’re not here for tea and biscuits. You’re here to make a difference! No, you don’t feel like you can do anything yet. Fine.
But those men down there are doing their duty. Doing their duty…despite the odds against them. This isn’t about fighting fights you can win, son. This is about fighting for other people who can’t. You…are our ultimate back-up plan! Get used to it.”