Fortunately, there are no Peruvians waiting for you as you exit the forest. It is a long and slow and harrowing 6 day journey south. You are hunted in Prince Rinvolin’s own lands, always sure the Knights of the Rising Sun will at any moment appear on the horizon and ride you down. You can get little real news, for rumor flies through the land swifter than any Pegasus. The Northern Principalities are invading, the Snorivians are invading, the Peruvians are invading, the Harjakt are staging a coup. Duke Gardnelle has joined the traitors, Duke Grenfeld has been proclaimed king, the Akt have all been slain, Tollidarius is the original Tollidarius. Three hundred Knights of the Rising Sun have invaded, 500, 1000, none at all. Duke Gardnelle’s war with the Peruvians goes poorly, it goes well, it goes so well he is soon to be proclaimed the next Satran. Prince Rinvolin has fled the country, Princess Mruria has risen from her grave, the Peruvians are led by a giant, man-eating monster. A terrible plague has beset the south, earthquakes, avalanches, divine wrath. Prince Rinvolin has at last been named king, the Akt are still deliberating. The Peruvians come as liberators, the Peruvians come as exterminators. Ikrir has fallen, Gardnelle, Grenfeld, Tirin, Deruvr, Yeor!
The whole land is in an uproar and a state of panic. Soldiers rush in all directions, whether charging or retreating even they aren’t sure. Whole villages uproot and flee west or even north. Warriors desert, brigands spring up from the ground like weeds, duke after duke is unaccounted for. If there is a positive side to the confusion it’s that no one asked about your whereabouts will give a trustworthy answer.
Shanba and Rukh Astroa speak on the road, she counseling him endlessly to train harder as well as discussing with him his fears over what the Red-Ribbon Knight and invasion of Yeoria mean about Peruvia as well as his own divided loyalties.
Johannes and Sygfryd speak about Sygfryd’s nationality and eventually Sygfryd agrees to train with Johannes in the mornings.
Six days on the road. Six days of bruising, scratches, bug bites, and sleep deprivation. Some of you even caught a cold or something like it. But at long last, the vast Yeorian camp sprawls into view as twilight falls. It is almost like a different army from what you saw before, the men are somber and dispirited. They huddle about campfires on the damp ground, nearly half are injured and the ranks have been greatly thinned.
As you ride in past the sentries every head turns toward Prince Rinvolin and many stand to bow, seemingly recovering bit of their resolve. Prince Rinvolin smiles back at them all, but it’s clear his mind is elsewhere.
In the center lies Duke Gardnelle’s red pavilion ringed by a hundred sub-camps. The League of Akaldin is quartered nearby and so a vast number of glossy-skinned pegasi walk to and fro. His tent’s fabric has faded from long use to something approximating that of dried blood. Inside it is dark and somber, lit only by the candles with which Duke Gardnelle grimly studies a vast selection of maps. He has no servants about, not even a herald, only other old warhorses like himself.
Without any announcement, he seems instinctively to know Prince Rinvolin is come. He stands with dignity but some difficulty- by the looks of his armor he took a spear to his right thigh- and his scarred old face twists with great effort into something almost resembling a smile.
Duke Gardnelle: My dear Prince Rinvolin, I’m overjoyed to find you still drawing breath. When Tirin suddenly fell to the Peruvians I feared the worst.
The duke steps forward as if to embrace the prince but thinks better of it.
Duke Gardnelle: No, I’m too bloody. There was quite a glorious battle with morning. One of them managed caught his spearpoint betwixt two of my tassets. Were these soldiers any less skilled I would have attributed it to luck alone.
Prince Rinvolin: It’s thanks to these mercenaries as well as the Ospreys that I was not captured.
Duke Gardnelle: Truly? Well then I am grateful to you, Tsaba. Now let us speak of the war. I regret I’ve no chairs or other comforts to offer, but such things only serve to distract, do they not?
Prince Rinvolin: I will stand.
Duke Gardnelle: Perhaps you should tell me your news first, for it must be better.
Prince Rinvolin, Ilyana, and occasionally some of the others relate their story, dwelling upon concern about all the attacks on churches by the Peruvians and the mysterious creature they fought before. Duke Gardnelle is not particularly concerned about this compared to the war however. Prince Rinvolin skips over the question of the massacre of Duke Grenfeld and his folk.
Prince Rinvolin: In conclusion, the Knights of the Rising Sun have by now most likely subdued half of Yeoria. 300 of them will be more than enough to take the country.
Duke Gardnelle: It will take many more to hold it. Sadly however, I have no better news to offer. Indeed I have much worse. The war goes very ill indeed. We fought valiantly at the River Yoru, but were a day too late. While we held the northern fortress of Kirin, the Peruvians smashed through to the south and so bypassed many of our defenses. Their numbers are great and many of them fight like two men or more. Truly this is a magnificent foe, their soldiers set a fine example for us. Although we have slowed their advance and fighting has been fierce and bloody on both sides, they have moved our line like a spoke rotating about the hub of Fort Kirin. We are now stretched west- south west and they will flank us for sure if we do not reverse this wring soon.
However, it is fear that is destroying this army. Dire rumors have spread like a brushfire, hundred of men desert every night. I would have made an example of them, but the spineless dukes threatened a mutiny. The chain of command is in ruins for in their stupid pride they would sooner risk their men’s lives than take my orders. They have made a mockery of this army and this country, when the war is over I humbly ask that they be charged with treason along with the traitors.
Johannes: A just revard for such men, great duke.
Prince Rinvolin: There will be a full investigation and charges where charges are due. Incompetence however is not a crime. Please, continue.
Duke Gardnelle: Well besides that the army hangs by a thread and are overmatched by the Peruvians, I’m afraid I have worse news. At first I did not credit the reports myself. The Akt in Yeor was attacked by Peruvia, although the Peruvian agents were all slain there were no survivors. The Akt is no more, the traitors were slain alongside the loyal. Nothing remains of Yeoria’s dukes and duchesses save those in this army and their heirs in their castles.
Johannes: Castles zat even now are falling to ze Knights of ze Rising Sun.
Prince Rinvolin: No survivors? Tollidarius!
Duke Gardnelle: Put that civilian from your mind, my prince. We must fight for the survival of Yeoria’s army now. The political implications are clear however.
Prince Rinvolin: Sekeriah have mercy, yes! If there’s no Akt there can be no new king!
Duke Gardnelle: On the contrary. I and the dukes in this army are now the Akt. We will meet forthwith and confirm your coronation. Anyone who says nay is a traitor and I shall run him through myself.
Johannes: A vonderful idea!
Prince Rinvolin: No. That would not be legitimate. I forbid it. I shall have to wait till the Akt can properly convene again.
Duke Gardnelle: As you say, my prince. Very well, here is my plan. See this church on Squagin Hill? We should extend our lines a quarter of a mile in that direction. It is a natural fortress, with that as an anchor we will stop the Peruvian advance and turn them back. Provided the Knights of the Rising Sun are otherwise occupied, I am confident we can halt their advance and best General Agralaera Mida.
Prince Rinvolin: And who will prevent them outflanking us?
Duke Gardnelle: Ikrin Nirin is confident he can turn back their cavalry if they attempt it, at least for a time.
Prince Rinvolin: Very well, what shall these men and I do?
Duke Gardnelle: You and several battle groups will be the ones to defend this essential hill. It is a crucial role to play.
Prince Rinvolin: Agreed. We shall set out promptly.
Prince Rinvolin: Before I leave, there is something I must ask you.
Duke Gardnelle: Anything.
Prince Rinvolin: No… no, it can wait till the battle is won. Fare thee well. I shall take my men and those others to Squagin hill and fortify it as best we can.
Duke Gardnelle: Hmm… in regards to what you mentioned before, I have indeed heard reports of churches being broken into. Oh well, it is a small matter for now.
Squagin hill is a prominent and rocky outcropping, nearly a small mesa. Most of its slopes are almost untraversable, but a few paths have been worn out of the brown rock over time. Dangerously, some of these are actually the remains of small rock slides rather than man-made so that the canny climber must always be careful that there are footprints in the dirt ahead of him. Atop it lies the Southern Church of Ornlu, which has seen better days. The clerics stationed there however were ready and willing to offer their services –medical and funerary- to Prince Rinvolin’s forces, this precious resource combined with the height makes it a very valuable area to control.
It should be a safe post, here at the farthest end of the long Yeorian lines. Although the Peruvians are indeed very numerous, as Duke Gardnelle said their crack troops in fact number fairly few. With morale buoyed by Prince Rinvolin’s presence, the Yeorian army holds their line amid the raging battle. Their uniforms and equipment may be ragtag, their training may have been uneven, but their courage and determination are strong. Though the Peruvians are ever ready to strike at weak points with their deadly cavalry, Duke Gardnelle is well-able to stop them from riding far enough to flank. Whenever a Peruvian cavalry contingent slinks west, the League of Akaldin rushes out to cut them off. Losses have been terrible to judge by the pegasi raining from the sky, but the Peruvians have been thwarted again and again. The duke himself rides back and forth down the line with his own guards, helping wherever the fighting is thickest. Several grisly heads adorn his long lance by midday, though he himself was apparently struck in the shoulder by a morningstar.
It is a terrible, bloody, baffling spectacle. And a boring one. The day grows hot and you have no opponents save the horseflies. You must stay on guard, but there is time to talk.
Vendrik speaks with Prince Rinvolin and counsels him not to distance himself from other people for fear of them dying. Prince Rinvolin counters that as a prince his affections must be first to the people as a whole and that he has fine friends in Johannes and Tollidarius.
Prince Rinvolin has been repeatedly honing the point of a spear with his whetstone, sitting against his horse’s legs. He made a show of poring over maps before, but gave that up eventually. Duke Gardnelle clearly meant to keep him safely out of the fighting so there wasn’t much point in pretending otherwise. Now he stands and approaches Tsaba.
Prince Rinvolin: Hail, Tsaba. (He asks whether Tsaba intends to continue in his service, concludes with ‘look what’s that’)
It should have been a safe spot. Over the last hour more Peruvian reinforcements have been arriving. Unfortunate, but not unexpected. But in a single, sudden swoop, one large such company that had looked about to provide fresh horses and join the middle of the line suddenly mount up and gallop west. The maneuver was evidently well-planned, for archers all along the Peruvian lines are immediately prepared to keep the League of Akaldin on the ground. Almost before you know what’s happening, several hundred men are moving to surround Squagin Hill. A force of heavy cavalry nearly as large rushes to break through the odd weak point in your line where the Yeorian force runs up against the slope of the hill. Though the hill itself is a strong point, it is too steep and you are too few to quickly reinforce your allies. The result is a dreadful melee and many Peruvians are brought down, for the League of Akaldin does make an even more desperate and deadly sortie to relieve you.
But when you can make sense of the tumult, the results are dire. Squagin hill is now surrounded and you are well-outnumbered. No doubt you could hold your ground against these numbers, but you cannot sally forth and defeat them. And now the enemy can reinforce themselves with impunity.
Prince Rinvolin, however, immediately sees the weakness in their position.
Prince Rinvolin: Counterattack! We’ve got to move now, before they’re ready! See there where they’ve cut us off from the main force? That’s where they’re weakest, we may be surrounded but if we strike there, they are flanked. We can break through to Duke Gardnelle, but we can’t let them bring in any more of their best troops. Tsaba, give me six men and have the rest guard the other slopes. 5th battlegroup, form up and come with me!
Johannes: Both vise and daring! You make your fazer proud.
However, a small contingent of Peruvians has been sent to intercept you. They do not number many, but they must be seasoned troops. They sweep in the south and defend the back of the Peruvian force desperately fighting back against the nearby Yeorians from your advance down the hill. You must break through them for Rinvolin’s plan to work.
Lance Corporal 4th Class Liluan Kardau: Alright everybody, listen up. You all know me and know I’m not much of a speaker, so I’ll keep this simple. We’ve been put through some fierce fighting over the last year or so and some of you don’t think we’ve been recognized for it as we deserve. Well that will end with this victory, because we’re going to end the war! On yonder hill waits the barbarian prince of the Yeorians. Slay him and the campaign is over, Peruvia shall be safe! But who are the enemy? The Yeorians are a savage and bloodthirsty people. They fight without honor and never take any prisoners. I once knew a good Peruvian soldier who was banished and fled to Yeoria; I never heard from him again! But do not fear such frothing beasts! We are the children of Peruvia, land of the rising sun! We have not their savagery, but our courage and our discipline are greater! Stand by one another and do not falter, and we shall surely be victorious. Forward!
Characters Allowed: 6 + Prince Rinvolin + 16 Allies
Characters Participating (MVP in Bold): Dame Andrine of Deruvr, Hunts, Ilyana, Magdalene,Prince Rinvolin of Yeoria, Rukh Astroa of Peruvia, Vendrik
Characters Slain: Dame Andrine of Deruvr
Victory Conditions: -
Loss Conditions: Prince Rinvolin dies.
Belligerents: Prince Rinvolin’s Personal Forces (Red Claws roughly level 5, Ospreys roughly level 6, Prince Rinvolin roughly level 9) and Yeorian 5th Battlegroup (Roughly level 4, Ragnar level 4) vs. Lance Corporal 4th Class Liluan Kardau’s platoon (Roughly level 7, Lance Corporal 4th Class Liluan Kardau level 9) and the Knights of the Rising Sun (Roughly level 16, Red-Ribbon Knight level ?)
Outcome: Peruvians take heavy losses, but the Yeorian army is completely defeated. The Red-Ribbon Knight goes AWOL. Prince Rinvolin surrenders and the war ends.
Treasure Acquired: 1000 Silver North-Ring (payment from Rinvolin for the battle), Mystery (Thrown by Red-Ribbon Knight).
Treasure Missed: Steel Greatbow (Dropped by Lance Corporal 4th Class Liluan Kardau)
Location: Near the border of Yeoria and Peruvia Southeast of the Yeoria country marker
Battle Summary: The two armies meet in a massive clash for a few rounds. Both sides take heavy losses with the Yeorians doing surprisingly well. While Hunts waits in vain for an opportunity to use his magic, Magdalene and Vendrik cooperate by sharing a Meteor tome to selectively target important enemies. Andrine tries to engage the Peruvian cavaliers on their left flanks, Ilyana roams the lines picking off targets of opportunities, Rinvolin charges in to support the troops, and Rukh hangs back before seizing an opportunity to talk to the Peruvian commander. She recognizes him but is shocked to find him fighting for the Yeorians. For his part, he is annoyed that she knows nothing of the motives for the war.
Before either side can get a decisive advantage, the Knights of the Rising Sun arrive on the scene and the Yeorians must begin retreating up their hill. Then the Red-Ribbon Knight arrives and decides to win the battle himself. He slaughters many of the Yeorians and Dame Andrine but then suddenly throws away his weapon and leaves, infuriated that he was not able to kill her in a single blow with it.
(1st Turn) Ragnar, commander of the Yeorian battlegroup, addresses the men under his command too. Ragnar: I won’t lie to you, these Peruvians are much more dangerous than any rabble of norsemen. But just like a bear caught by its den, they’ll find we fight much harder than they expect? Why? Because we’re protecting that man there. He may be our prince, but does he hide in his palace? No. He’s out here in the battle alongside us and he’d gladly give his life for any of you as if you were his closest comrade. And that’s why we can’t let him. Yeoria needs a man like that for a ruler. Maybe we’ll all die here today, but if he lives our families will count themselves lucky nonetheless. That prince of ours is this country’s future. Don’t let the Peruvians put so much as a scratch on our future! CHARGE!
(4th Turn) While the battle rages, you suddenly hear Johannes bellowing above the clash of weapons and the screams of the injured horses. Johannes: Prince Rinvolin! The Knights of the Rising Sun! They’re here!
Every head not at risk of being lopped off turns where he points. There they are, a blinding, golden light galloping over the fields. And with them strides an enormous man in black.
Prince Rinvolin: Back! Pull back and defend the hill!
(Knights of the Rising Sun Arrive) Sir Colonel 1st Class Agurta Barthing: The rest will demolish the Yeorian army. You five with me! Get the wounded off the field, both sides! Capture anyone you can.
(6th Turn) Sir Colonel 1st Class Agurta Barthing: Let’s just hope Prince Rinvolin is wise enough to surrender to us before-
Red-Ribbon Knight: Before what? Before I arrive? Get your men back, I’ve had enough of relying on sniveling underlings like you.
The colonel is silent. The knight in black and red draws from a scabbard a simple shortsword and strides purposefully toward the hill. While the weapon looks simple enough, out of the corner of your eye you sometimes see something completely different. It is like a spike of material darker than black and from it slowly billows something like a black fog or dark smoke. The knight’s shadow seems distorted and unhuman, but you cannot place what it truly looks like.
Meanwhile, not a handful but a platoon of the Knights of the Rising Sun have charged into the Yeorian lines from behind. A great groan of despair seems to come from them as the matchless warriors fell man after man, tearing through the army like wet paper. With the fight taken off their hand, a vast horde of Peruvians moves toward your hill. The battle is lost. Yeoria too is lost.
Prince Rinvolin: It’s… horrible.
Johannes: It is var.
Prince Rinvolin: No one… ever taught me how to go about being defeated.
Johannes: Defeat? My prince, zis is but a chance for greater glory. How zey vill marvel through ze generations at ze mountain of corpses ve shall heap up before ve fall. Let ze ozers surrender if zey vill, zis is not ze vay of ze knights. Vhy, all ze company of Sythmyr vere slain in terrible routs so zey say, but zey vould never give up zeir svorn cause. In dying, ve and our country shall live forever in legend! Let us charge zat band over zhere! For honor and glory undying! Vhat say you?
Prince Rinvolin: I say… that I am a prince as well as a knight. Since the day I was born there’ve been nigh on a quarter of a million souls working day after day so I could lead a pampered life. It’s true I was hardly idle, I put my youth to good use learning things I thought I would use to rule well. But if I die today, right now, seeking glory? Well it’ll all be for nothing, won’t it? Every effort they spent on me? They’d have been better off without a prince at all if I do nothing but live and die as I please. No matter what I do now, the Peruvians have won. They attacked us without cause or provocation and put many of us to the sword. I was certain that meant we’d win in the end, surely nothing so unjust would be suffered to happen as a nation being destroyed on a whim. But if this is the end, that’s just what happens. No, the story can’t finish here. We’ll be defeated, but we cannot lose. I’m going to surrender. The Peruvians value their soldiers, if I can spare some of my people by threatening to kill some of theirs then I would be a terrible prince if I didn’t. Maybe I’m a coward. Maybe I’m not a knight. Maybe I’m not a man. Maybe I don’t deserve to wear the symbol of my father’s house. But this is what Mruria would have done, and she was usually right.
Johannes: As you say, my prince.
Though this decision has plainly taken a lot out of him, Prince Rinvolin squares his broad shoulders and sets his strong jaw. There is still some left of that confidence you once saw in him at the gates of Miffin so few weeks ago.
Prince Rinvolin: Tsaba. I’m glad you and the Red Claws chose to serve me. Here is your payment for this battle. I suggest you and your men get out of the mercenary business, but I don’t think you’ll agree.
He then walks to the precipice, toward which the black knight is marching slowly.
Prince Rinvolin: Peruvian commander! I am Rinvolin, Son of King Treferdin, trueborn heir to the House of Yeor back to the beginning, and Prince of Yeoria. You have beaten me fairly and honorably, though I confess I don’t know the cause that began this war. I wish to offer my surrender on reasonable terms!
The dark knight does not pause in his strides, but does not immediately answer either as if unsure the Prince is addressing him.
Red-Ribbon Knight: Even were you to offer unconditional surrender, still would I reject your terms as unreasonable. I’m just going to kill every last one of you.
Prince Rinvolin: What? But by the sacred precepts of The Shining Path, you can slay no man who yields!
For the first time, a touch of emotion leaks into the Red-Ribbon Knight’s cold voice: repressed fury.
Red-Ribbon Knight: You speak to me of the Shining Path? You know nothing of it! Now stop talking and prepare to die.
Prince Rinvolin seems genuinely stunned by this turn of events. Johannes has the good grace to remain impassive, with not so much as a hint of an ‘I told you so.’
Prince Rinvolin: Then we’ll fight to the death! With me!
(Red-Ribbon Knight fails to kill Andrine in 1 stroke)- Red-Ribbon Knight: What? Still standing? AUGH, WORTHLESS PIECE OF TRASH! He hurls the terrible shortsword from him with such force that when it strikes Dame Andrine it snaps her neck immediately. Enough of this farce. I’ll be back one day with a weapon worthy of one such as myself. Till then, farewell. He turns without another word and – leaps! What a leap! His speed was tremendous, he jumped so high he does not come down till the far side of the encircling Peruvian army.
Chaos ensues. In the confusion, Tsaba is able to pluck the Red-Ribbon Knight’s sword from where it lies. The hilt thrums with fell power in his hand.
Prince Rinvolin reacts swiftly.
Prince Rinvolin: Peruvian commander! Parley?
Sir Colonel 1st Class Agurta Barthing: Gladly, Prince Rinvolin. Raise a flag of truce while I bring in General 1st Class Agralaera Mida as well.
And so begins the parley. Prince Rinvolin and Johannes sequester themselves in a cloister of the church with General Agralaera and Sir Colonel Agurta. The rest of you are stationed outside, on the hill overlooking the bloody battleground. Tiny silvery men crawl slowly about the vast trampled fields now, as seemingly aimless as the meandering of ants from up here. Overhead flutters the flag of truce, it was made from the donated robe of one of the priests and a spearpole, for of course no one actually carried such a flag. The talks and drawing up of the treaty stretch on for hours from not long after noon to nearly sundown.
At long last, Prince Rinvolin and Johannes emerge from the church. Johannes looks grim, but Prince Rinvolin manages a slight smile.
Prince Rinvolin: It is done.
He leafs through a many-page document
Prince Rinvolin: It’s all in here. Cessation of hostilities, a pledge not to attack Snorivia for 5 years, Yeoria has a governor, but he’ll be a Yeorian –Duke Gardnelle specifically- , Yeoria must disarm
though the Ospreys will remain, Peruvia will secure the northern border, the people of Yeoria are not to be harmed, you all go free, Peruvian soldiers leave within 6 months – except up north-, and-
He pauses, Johannes glowers, and General Agralaera finishes as the colonel holds open the door for her.
General 1st Class Agralaera Mida: And the monarchy ends. Rinvolin comes with us.
Sir Colonel 1st Class Agurta Barthing: Yeoria shall have a republic, after the period of the governor ends.
Prince Rinvolin: And with those terms I hereby surrender both for my own part and on behalf of Yeoria… to the Knights of the Rising Sun.
General 1st Class Agralaera Mida: What? That wasn’t part of the agreement!
Prince Rinvolin: Nor, I noted, were any means to bind Peruvia’s army to its side of the bargain. But there’s no surer bond than a knight’s oath. Don’t worry general, this shouldn’t cause you any problems- unless you were planning to renege once I was in your custody.
General 1st Class Agralaera Mida: Take him away!