Monday, March 15, 2010

Chapter 2: Lord benedict Emanuel VII

It was perhaps a sign of the times that pretensions should arise. Seeking to echo past glories, many leaders took the names of their forefathers.

Lord Benedict Emmanuel VII was such a one. Certainly, there were great deeds associated with the name Benedict Emanuel. Some have argued that the second was the greatest, though the deeds performed by Benedict Emanuel IV at the Battle of Emanuels Ascension were the sort of which legends are created and kingdoms won. Now, however, he seldom left the homelands, instead sending out his great-great Grandchild.

Be that as it may, Lord Benedict Emmanuel VII had proved his worth to the kingdom many times over. Now that the thirst to expand was upon King Emmanuel IV, he knew there was none better to lead his forces than his favored descendent.

Perhaps the easy successes that had led to his current status were on the mind of Lord Benedict Emmanuel VII when they encountered the small goblin force. The ritualistic prayer to the lady for protection upon the field of battle was hurried and perfunctory at best. After all, what had they to fear from a few Goblins?

Sunlight glinted off the brightly polished armor of the 20 Knights who rode with him, 10 of them accomplished Knights who had taken part in grail-related quests. The peasant bowmen, a motley rabble of perhaps 20 souls, had nothing bright to reflect the sunlight, but no matter...they were only peasants after all.

Once his Knights had swept forward and slain these goblins, there would be scant glory left for the likes of these peasants anyway.

He was about to gesture them forward when thunder peeled and a giant foot came down, smashing off their horses 3 of his Grail Knights.

Furious, he ordered the charge. The younger, less skilled Knights were distracted by some spider-mounted goblins off to his right and headed that way. The more disciplined Grail Knights rode forward towards some goblins carrying a motley assortment of weapons, mostly spears or broken-shafted halberds no doubt gleaned from some forgotten battlefield.

Again thunder peeled through the heavens and a giang, glowing green foot descended, again knocking down 3 of his Grail Knights.

At the same moment, the goblin Shaman called forth the mighty spirit that sometimes infused the goblins. With a bone-chilling war scream...or at least a wine-chilling war-squeak...they surged forward. Another Grail Knight fell to their frantic thrusts.

It was here that Lord Benedict Emmanuel VII proved his mettle.A lesser man, confronted by the fearful assault of magic that had wrecked his finest unit, might have quailed in fear and retreated to return better equipped to deal with the deadly magic of the goblin shaman and the surprisingly resilient goblin troops.

Emmanuel, however, went to work with lance and sword, hewing down goblins like so much wheat. Inspired by his mighty blows, the younger knights made short work of the Spider Riders, but before they could join the fray, the fury of Lord benedict Emmanuel VII broke the spirit of the goblins. They began to flee, but were quickly and easily run down by the well-mounted Grail Knights.

The only goblin left alive was the Goblin Shaman.

Furious at teh havoc he had wreaked with his dastardly spells, the remaining Grail Knights and Lord Benedict Emannuel VII turned their ferocious charge upon him, intent on wreaking vengeance for the harm he had caused their comrades...only to see him disappear in a cloud of smoke, perhaps never to be seen again.

Chapter 1: Captain Nemo

I suppose had Captain Nemo not gone on to greater glory, I might not tell this tale, yet perhaps I might. For not all events must involve the great and mighty to be of value to the reader and this event showed the capacity for greatness to which all might aspire.

Captain Nemo was leading his men around the frozen shore of the Eastern Ocean when they came upon an army of Dwarfs, yet these were Dwarfs of a type he had never seen before.

It was not that the humans and Dwarfs had no contact, for of course they did, even in these dark times. Some have speculated it was the teaching of the Dwarfs as to how the humans might make the mighty cannons they had begun to build that led Patton and Nemo to believe they could expand their territory.

Be that as it may, these Dwarfs had a look of their own. They wore tall hats, some so tall that they eclipsed the height of even Captain Nemo, who was himself a tall man. The Dwarfs had intricately braided beards. Braided into their beards were many dark gems.

Their countenances bespoke anger and fury and they had with them cannons such as the men of Speter had never seen. Unlike their own cannons, the cannon with the Dwarfs seemed to move with a mind and fury of its own.

With his customary efficiency, Captain Nemo deployed his battle line. He set up his cannon upon a hill, anchoring his right flank against a cliff. Beside it he set up his pistol-wielding men to protect the flank of his spearmen. His Knights he deployed on his left flank, though they were delayed in taking their position by a small stream. This delay brought about the events that nearly ended the command of Captain Nemo.

He flew forward upon his winged pegasus to treat with the leader of the Dwarfs. At least, that is the story his men spread after the battle. Some who were there claimed the Speterites fired first.

Their mighty cannon belched forth flame, but the ball whistled harmlessly over the head of the big block of Dwarf Warriors who implacably advanced.

Captain Nemo flew behind the enemy to shoot at their cannon, relying on the speed of his Pegasus to keep him safe. He was able to wound the monster inside the cannon, but in return the Dwarfs unleashed a hail of fire such as he had never seen.

They carried curious rifles somewhat like the long rifles some of his own men carried, yet the end of these was wide, like a trumpet. He would later learn they were called blunderbusses. They unleashed a hail of lead towards him that would have torn him in two had he been just a few feet closer. As it was, they fell a bit short.

Meanwhile, the Dwarf cannon spit flame at the spearmen. Several fell.

Again the Speter cannon roared, only this time it did not fire at all. As the blunderbusses and Dwarf Cannon took their toll on the Speter spearmen, the cannoneers worked feverishly to get their machine fixed.

The battle looked bad for the Speterites. Their Knights were struggling to cross the stream, their cannon was doing nothing, their spearmen were falling to the hail of fire from the strange, monster-driven cannon of the opponent and those awful blunderbusses.

They broke and began to run.

It was at this moment that the career of Captain Nemo hung in the balance. His larger army was on the verge of seeing all break and run. It was now that he showed his steel.

Ignoring the danger from the blunderbusses, he flew over and brought the Knights across the stream, sending them charging into the right flank of the Dwarfs. He directed the fire of his own archers, and stayed there long enough to see a few Dwarfs fall. He shot down the beast inside the enemy cannon, silencing it for good. He even managed to get his own cannon working again.

He seemed to be everywhere at once, and his mighty deeds began to turn the tide. His fleeing men turned back to the field just as the wave of Knights crashed upon the Dwarf line like a wave of steel. Silver reflected from sunlight as their blades rose and fell.

Even the archers were so inspired, they charged into the Dwarf Warriors. Perhaps it was some optical illusion of the land, perhaps it was fate, but their charge ended up hitting the Dwarfs in the side.

Now it was the Dwarf army that panicked, went into retreat. They, however, had nobody like Captain Nemo to rally them.

From certain defeat, Nemo had turned it into a smashing victory. Thus a small, seemingly insignificant skirmish started him on the path to greatness.

The Dwarfs were so demoralized that they retreated from the territory, allowing Patton to move in some of his own people and begin setting up a larger kingdom.

The Chronicler Begins

It is hard to know where to begin a history. Our world has a long and rich history, full of mighty deeds, powerful heroes, treacherous villains and lost empires. Many a nation has risen to power only to descend back into the darkness from whence they came.

My own tale began at such a time. The last of the great empires, that of the noble Elfs, had retreated into its own corner. The world descended into squablling duchies, little pools of power with self-important warlords holding sway over small lands and fighting interminable, pointless battles.

Yet it would not remain so for long. Who knows why the swirling winds of history gave rise to so many great leaders at the same time? We know only that they did, and that after decades of hard fighting, the world was under the sway of...but wait. No need to spoil the end. Let us start at the beginning.

I shall call it year one. There are many calenders to choose from, of course. You could look at that of the Ratmen, or the Arthurian calendar, or the Wind-Breeze of Asrai, for example. I choose to date it from the beginning of the troubles that shook the lands and reshaped the continent as we knew it.

After some years of relative peace and quiet, leaders arose in various corners of the land. The Elfs of the forest, once serene and peaceful in their ocean-side glades, found such a leader in Jahn Etreemane, a wizened tree spirit.

Perhaps his leadership would have availed not had not Windstar walked the lands by the sea with Jahn. So Jahn sent for Windstar to bring the world under his sway.

Why did Jahn abandon the peaceful ways that had been so much a part of him for hundreds of years? Perhaps a woodsman cut the wrong tree or perhaps a shift in the wind caused the ocean salt to kill saplings, rousing his anger. Or perhaps the free spirit of Windstar with all his talk of traveling the outside world, of seeking after Elfkin from beyond their borders stirred him.

I suppose the same question could be asked of the two human commanders who also began their quest for empire at nearly the same time as Jahn EtreeMane and Windstar.

To the east it was General Patton and his violent subordinate, Captain Nemo. To the South it was Vindix of Sevasto. Vindex may have started without the sanction of his master, Galba, but it was soon obvious that Galba not only would not restrain him, but would actively seek to encourage his adventuresome ways.

Meanwhile, across the known world, on the far side of the continent, other forces were stirring.

Among the Ratmen there arose a mighty prophet, powerful in magic and able to motivate the ratmen to great deeds and aggressive cunning. Sending forth his hordes, he began expanding in two directions at once.

Close by, Titus the Titan awoke from his near-eternal slumber. Slain in the past by one of the mighty men of yore...some say by Emperor Mithridates himself, others that it was by one of the reptilian fighters.

No matter, it only matters he left his tomb and once more marched forth to war at the head of mighty hosts of the undead, sending forth Ded-lee to see where he might find enemies to conquer.

All these and more began almost simultaneously to seek lands to conquer, enemies to slay, people to enslave, and treasures to gather to themselves.

Their armies at first were almost laughably small. Their numbers would not even have matched up to scouting parties or even foragers from the Age of Valor. But that would change.

At first the conflicts were small, involving no more than 40 or 50 combatants to a side. Most of the encounters were more skirmish than battle. Yet even here one can find the seeds of greatness.And so we take up the thread to tell you of one of the exploits of Captain Nemo.