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Author Topic: CAIRLANN - Coming Soon  (Read 12212 times)

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Offline Operative13

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Re: CAIRLANN - Coming Soon
« Reply #75 on: October 11, 2021, 02:59:35 AM »
A Tales of Cadamaria Story - Battle of Garagil Pass (Part 17)
Strolling through the camp, Halan was met once more by perturbed, bizarre, and bewildered looks among the troops to see such a large burly man follow the Lord Captain like a faithful companion. Eadgar kept a keen eye on the man from behind, ready to unsheath his blade upon any signs of trouble, yet the hersir merely kept his pace, rather amused in fact by unnerving reactions his presence made to his passerbys. Yet, there were always a brave handful that would hurl curses and obscenities every now and then, although too distant for Halan to reign in their tempers, and certainly too distant for the hersir to bear his grimy fingers into.

Eventually they found themselves at Halan’s pale-white tent, moderately-sized compared to the low, cramped, and dinghy tents of the foot soldiers. Atop its roof flew the banner of the Knights Chaplain, a four-pointed white star with two dragons slivering across its bottom halves marked upon a black veil bordered by white-and-gold edges. Two Knights Chaplain stood guard at the tent’s entrance, keeping vigilance for anyone that might wish to enter the Lord Captain’s private residence. Halan hailed the guards as they approached, to which the guards replied in earnest with a stout salute.

Halan pulled open the cloth vestibule from the entrance and invited the hersir in.

“Come inside. We can talk here in private.”

It might have been amusement or disbelief that painted the hersir’s face, but either way it was evident from the man’s hard scoff that he did not take Captain Halan’s gestures quite seriously. He lifted his chin and strolled in as if an honored guest would. Eadgar then followed suit, but Halan fell his arm between the knight and the opening.

“Just us,” said Halan. “Go to the dressing station and report back to the others. I will return to collect them when I am done here.”

Eadgar hesitated. He glanced over Halan’s shoulder to the hersir, who wandered his eyes around the dim interior to Halan’s furnishments with a jovial sportiveness, worried of what might come to the Lord Captain keeping such an audacious man in close presence. Yet the firm determination in Halan’s eyes reassured the young knight of the Lord Captain’s course of action, and he nodded in acceptance as he stepped back and saluted, before the curtains closed between them.

Halan promptly set aflame the oil lamps within the tent, illuminating the once-dull interior to the vibrant displays of gadgets and tapestries that lined the tent’s walls. At the center was a plain bed with a large oak table containing scrolls, books, and quills posted at its foot. Halan brought forth a chair to the other side of the table before seating himself at the opposite end.

“Sit down,” told Halan.

“I think I’d rather stand,” said the hersir.

“That wasn’t an ask. Sit.”

The man exchanged a callous look to Halan and slowly walked himself up to the chair before easing himself into its bosom. Halan rummaged through a chest and poured two cups of wine before coming back to the table and offering one to the hersir.

“Twenty-year-old wine,” said Halan. “Handpicked from the vineyards of Mercade. You won’t get anything of this quality up north.”

“I’m more of a mead person. Don’t care too much about your fancy southern booze,” the hersir replied.

“It’s yours to drink. I will help myself to my share.” Halan took a sip of the aged wine before setting the cup down and easing into the seat opposed to the hersir. He clasped his hands and paused for a brief moment before speaking. However, the words that came out of Halan’s mouth drew the hersir’s attention.

Do you prefer Ellistrivari or Cadamarian?” Halan spoke. It was Ellstrivari tongue.

Where did you learn to speak Ellstrivari so fluently?” the hersir asked.

When you’re fighting a war for ten years in a foreign land, it helps to learn the local language. You can ask for food, water, shelter... where the enemy is. That sort of thing. You’re not so bad with your Cadamarian yourself.

I lived in the lower regions, in Galthorn, when I was a boy. That was before your people invaded Vermaris.

You were Vermarian?

I don’t consider myself as such. We’re Godwynian by blood, and so are the peoples of the Eastern Sea. Vermarians are nothing more than mud-rolling, grass-mulling fattened sheep-pigs. They know nothing of honor and battle.

Did you fight in the war, then?

Aye, I did. But that was a long time ago. A time when I was naive and stupid, believing I should fight for the sake of fighting. For glory and riches. I quickly realized just how much I was lied to, and that the Vermarians never cared so much about us little folk. Only hoping to line their pockets as they feed us to the slaughter.

But then you came to fight in this war.

Aye. That I did. Fighting for one’s blood. That’s something you can never conquer. No bags of gold and silver can change that.

Fighting for one’s blood… I understand the sentiment. Do you know why we fought this war against your people?

The hersir raised a brow. “Do I need to? All I need to know is that you people killed my family, and that I won’t rest until each and every one of you damned bastards are burning in Vel.

I’m… sorry to hear that.

You didn’t seem so sorry when you lost your brothers that long ago.” The hersir scoffed. “Nothing but a failed act with the lot of you.

I did not fret when I said that you will answer for them. Rest assured, you will. But that is not why we are here today. Today, I simply want to know my enemy. I want to know you.

The hersir bellowed a great, wholehearted laugh. “And how do you expect to do that!?

We can start by talking. I am Halan Aldwych, Captain of the Knights Chaplain. What is your name?
« Last Edit: October 11, 2021, 03:02:40 AM by Operative13 »
“To give of oneself is the noblest of all acts.”

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Offline Operative13

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Re: CAIRLANN - Coming Soon
« Reply #76 on: October 18, 2021, 01:38:03 AM »
A Tales of Cadamaria Story - Battle of Garagil Pass (Part 18)
A tense silence hung briefly between the two as the lamps flickered and the tent’s thin-sheet walls quivered from the wistful breeze outside. Whether it was a wise choice to try and befriend the man or even to bring him to camp, the young knight did not know. Yet, he remained determined. Sir Bowdyn and the others had died to bring this man here. He would not make waste of their sacrifice. Here, he would gain the information he needed that would save this army and the countless lives eager to return home. Halan anxiously awaited the hersir’s answer, but all he received was his twisted, yellowed grin.

My name?” the man repeated. “You don’t need to know my name.

I do,” said Halan.

You won’t even remember it after I leave.” The hersir then scoffed. “I’ll likely be dead soon. Killed by your superiors who’d all wish the same for my brothers, and all those that oppose you and your pitiful God. But by Tulls, I’ll be welcomed into the halls of Arvalta to rejoin my wife and son with open embrace, and you’ll be damned to walk these hollow lands, lost and alone.

Halan sat back upon his chair. “What you say is true,” he concurred.  “I don’t have many friends. Most of them died during the War, and I’ve never tried making more. I’m a man of God, but here I am killing in His name. When I’m gone, I’ll be damned to Hell for all the grief and suffering I’ve caused, and no one will come save me for my sins. But even so, I still want to do good.

You can start by turning you and your lot around and never coming back,” the hersir spat.

Halan shook his head. “You know I can’t do that. I assure you, I’d want that more than anything. And so do the rest of my men.

Then why fight a war you have no guts for?

Because we must. Because if we do not, who else will fight in our stead? You understand that as much as I do. We are warriors. We fight these battles so that no one else will. Your wife and son… I’m sure you would not wish their fate on anyone else. That is why you fight, is it not?

“I fight because you strung my family up a cross when they refused to welcome your people. There they came, swords and spears in hand, demanding to be housed, clothed, fed, all from our pockets. We could not spare any for the men that came, so instead they decided not to spare their lives. And still, they took what they could and left the rest to burn. Warriors fight battles. Murderers kill innocents. And there was no battle to be had from my wife and son.

I’m sorry.

Are you now?” the hersir sneered. “Do you say that because you care about me, or to comfort yourself whenever you spill blood with that shining sword of yours?

And what of you?” Halan calmly said, staring back at the man. “Why bother surrendering yourself to me when you could have easily fought to the death? Did you really care about your wife and son, or are you just making excuses?

The hersir growled. “Damn you, vile hellspawn!

Before Halan could continue, a commotion outside the tent caught his attention. The guards were speaking to a girl.

“I’m sorry, Madam, but we cannot allow you to enter,” said a guard.

“Please, sir, I insist!” a soft, outspoken voice spoke. “You must let me see him!”

“Captain Halan is very busy at the moment. When he is available again...”

Halan stood up from the table and paced towards the entrance. He unfurrowed the cover to see Eadith holding a small jar cupped between her hands.

Her starry eyes lit up the moment he came into view. “Captain Halan!”

“Eadith,” Halan greeted. “What are you doing here?”

“You left before I could finish treating your injuries. I thought you’d be in pain right about now, so I figured I would bring some oils for you to lather the bruises with.” She approached Halan and presented the jar to him.

“That’s… very kind of you,” he nodded, taking hold of the jar.

She stared unwaveringly at the tunic, then rocked back and forth to see behind Halan. “Where’d you get the tunic? And what are you doing inside there? Are you talking to that man from earlier?”

Halan raised a brow. “What are you on, asking all these questions so suddenly?”

Eadith playfully grinned. She twirled her back to Halan, taking a few strides away from him before stopping. “I… was just using the jar as an excuse to see what you were up to.” She then twirled back to face him, a twinkle in her eyes. “So! Can I meet him?”

“The prisoner? Certainly not.”

“Just this once!” she begged.

“You know this is not a place for a young lady to be, don’t you?”

“But after I heard about what happened, with Sir Bowdyn and all the others...”

“...so you know then.” Halan spoke more softly now, realizing she had known all along.

Yet, Eadith continued with her upbeat demeanor. “I would do a great service to Sir Bowdyn’s men if I were to give him a piece of my mind! And then maybe mend any wounds or soothe his soul so that he realizes just what terrible things he’s done!”

What a strange young girl. Even for brutes, she’s still willing to help them, with a smile, no less. “I doubt you’d be able to convince him otherwise,” said Halan.

“Yeah, I didn’t think so either… but the oils smell wonderful! I bet it could run the stank off that fiend if I tried it on him!”

“You… want to try the oils on my prisoner?”

“Why not? I’m sure with all the smells he’s been rolling around in, he’ll welcome the new scent of fresh apples!”

Halan exchanged glances with the two guards, who could not help but shake their heads and grin at the situation.

“Promise me you’ll just try the oils and be out right after. I don’t want you interfering with my talks more than necessary.”

“Most certainly! I’ll be in and out before you know it!” With that, Eadith snatched back the jar she had handed to Halan and began strolling into the tent, humming a lackadaisical tune.

“You’re too easy on her, Captain,” a guard said.

Halan sighed. “What choice do I have? It’d be a crime for me to ruin that smile... keep up the watch.”

“Yes, Captain.”

Halan then saluted the guards before returning back to the tent. It was then that he was greeted by an astonishing sight.
“To give of oneself is the noblest of all acts.”

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Offline Operative13

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Re: CAIRLANN - Coming Soon
« Reply #77 on: October 22, 2021, 03:30:11 AM »
Midweek Update


Hello everyone!

While I normally don't post outside of the usual Sunday update schedule, I'm making an exception this time around to announce a few exciting updates regarding Project Cairlann.

First and foremost, we are averaging over 200 views a week since this topic's creation back in 2020, with last week breaking an astounding 300 views so far! As we continue to update every Sunday, we're hoping to make that 300 our new running average, so spread the word to support Project Cairlann's continued development!

Secondly, we've been working behind the scenes to organize an event here on MangaRaiders to give thanks for the dozens of people that have kept up with Project Cairlann. No word on an exact date when this event will occur yet, but stay tuned for more details! (There will be a prize pool involved  ;) )

Finally, to help improve the writing and continue delivering memorable stories, we'd like to ask anyone to spend 1 minute to give some quick feedback on our most recent story-in-development so far. In the future, we'll be looking to revisit this story once it reaches its conclusion and invite some potential volunteers to beta-read our next editions, but for now just a quick, anonymous survey will suffice: https://forms.gle/WxHgkj8bVBavyDMn6

This link is also available within my profile banner below, as well as on the first post should you miss it.



I look forward to hearing all of your feedback and delivering those wonderful stories you all crave!
-Op
« Last Edit: October 22, 2021, 03:33:24 AM by Operative13 »
“To give of oneself is the noblest of all acts.”

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Re: CAIRLANN - Coming Soon
« Reply #78 on: October 25, 2021, 02:27:16 AM »
A Tales of Cadamaria Story - Battle of Garagil Pass (Part 19)
Without hesitation, young Eadith strolled right up to the grimy, disheveled-looking man and shined a bright, sparking smile at him as she held the clay jar up for him to see.

“Hello there!” she grinned excitingly.

The hersir, quite puzzled as he was, shot a rather estranged and befuddled look at Halan entering behind through the tent folds.

What is this?” he asked of Halan, ignoring the girl beside him. “Some sort of devilry to curse me with?

Halan shook his head as he sat back into his chair. “Eadith here offered to help with your wounds. She’s brought some medicine for you to use.

Eadith gasped. “Is that Ellstrivari? Here, here! Let me try!” She then cleared her throat before introducing herself to the hersir. “Min heiti Eadith, dottir af Alston. Aen heitir thu?”

The hersir looked stunned. Yet, in a proud, disbelieving sense. “How do you know how to speak Ellstrivari?” the man said, switching back to Cadamarian.

“Captain Halan taught me.” Eadith glanced back at Halan, who peeped a smile in return.

“She asks me for lessons every chance we get,” Halan explained. “She’s quite the curious spirit.”

“Oh, but there’s so much to learn! I’ve only had the chance to use it once in a white moon, but nothing beats speaking the tongue with a real Northman!”

“Your Ellistrivari is very good, little one,” said the hersir. “Better than some Vermarians I’ve known.”

“I’m actually half-Vermarian from my mother’s side. We lived in a small village called Sangrain just off the River Serana. Oh, how I miss it! Dipping your toes in the cool waters, letting your feet sink into the sand... and if you stand just long enough, the little fish comes swimming, nibbling at your legs! It’s a wonderful village I’m sure you’d love!”

“Yes yes… I’m sure,” the hersir dismissed.

Eadith then clasped her hands. “Now, lift up your shirt!”

The hersir raised his brow. “What?”

“Your shirt! I can’t put this medicine on you with that shirt on. Now off with it!”

“I’m not letting any of that... foul-smelling thing touch me.”

“I like to think of it as the scent of fresh apples plucked fresh off the orchids down south! It’s a much better vision than the herbs and roots plucked out from the moss.”

“You mean it’s not apples?” Halan asked disconcertingly.

“Of course not! We’d never put something like apples in our remedies. That’s silly!”

“I’m not having any of that on me,” the hersir insisted.

Eadith sighed, setting down the jar on the table. Without any warning she jabbed at the hersir’s bulging side, which he instantly recoiled.

“Foolish girl!” he spat, raising a hand in the air.

Halan’s eyes widened. He immediately reached for his blade, but Eadith simply continued.

“See? You’re in a lot of pain. And if you don’t want that pain to get worse tomorrow, you best let me see it.”

The hersir swapped gazes with Halan, his blade already halfway out of its sheath. With a slow steadiness, he lowered his palm just as Halan slid the blade back in place.

“Fine. But nothing more,” he conceded.

Eadith grinned as she picked the jar back up and lathered a pinch of lubricant upon her fingers. As the hersir removed his shirt, there they saw large gnashes lining his back, as if something had struck him repeatedly in the same spot.

Yet young Eadith did not seem fazed by this revelation. In fact, she carried on with her upbeat tone as she gently swabbed the oily paste on the wounds. “Goodness! We’ll need more than what I have here. I hope they didn’t whip you too hard, Sir.”

“They couldn’t try if they wanted,” the hersir stared at Halan, the two sharing a cold expression.

“Still, that’s no way to treat a prisoner!” Eadith glanced back at Halan, urging him for a response.

“It’s not my place to tell the camp warden how to handle his prisoners.”

“Please, do tell him! ‘We should be as merciful as God when bending the knee in good faith,’ as Master Gebhart once said,” she quoted.

“That he did.”

“How awful God must feel for us to misuse His Name. We must do our best to live up to God’s image! That is how we have peace. I hope for you two that you make mercy with each other just the same.”

The hersir chucked, quite amusingly. “Funny things, this girl says.” That lasted until Eadith applied more of the ointment onto hersir, causing him to clench his teeth with every passing of her fingers.

“That aside, I didn’t quite get your name before. What was it again?” asked Eadith.

This time, Halan watched in anticipation. He had asked the very question to the man just moments before, but failed to elicit a response. Yet, in the brief moments Eadith had spent talking with him, the man had shown a more candid exchange than Halan had ever managed thus far. Perhaps Eadith might be the key to obtaining what he could not. He waited for the reply.

“Orm,” the man finally said. “I am Orm.”
“To give of oneself is the noblest of all acts.”

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Offline Operative13

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Re: CAIRLANN - Coming Soon
« Reply #79 on: November 01, 2021, 02:55:05 AM »
A Tales of Cadamaria Story - Battle of Garagil Pass (Part 20)
Once Eadith finished with her treatment, Captain Halan sent the two back out of his quarters for the day, just as the light faded into a frail orange tint outside. The guards came and shackled Orm back into his cuffs as they hauled him away, while Eadith bowed her head before prancing back to the dressing station, her whimsical tune following close by. With the day nearly done, Halan stepped out of his tent, closed his eyes, and breathed.

The charcoal scent of dried logs set alight across the camp seared away the musky odor of wet grass that had permeated throughout the day. The air, once wet and frigid, now soft and warm as it slowly wrapped around him, only to be whisked away by a sudden chill breeze. Halan shot open his eyes, and with renewed focus, marched off to meet his master to discuss today’s findings.

Master Gebhart’s tent was hard to miss. In a sea of yellowed-white cloth, the Chaplain Master’s residence was stark black situated prominently apart from the surrounding tents. Gold trimmings with white embroidery lined the tent’s borders, and the Chaplain banners flanked the tent’s entrance where guards would normally station. Only that Gebhart never stationed guards at his tent. In fact, his entrance was wide open for anyone to see from outside. It was the man’s way of saying that anyone was free to visit him, although the rather intimidating-looking structure, with its high figure and grand foray of torch stands sat against white dragons in blackened voids perhaps sung the wrong idea to outsiders.

Nevertheless, those who knew Master Gebhart well welcomed him as one of their own. It was common for regulars to stop by and pay the old master a visit, spending idle talk or consulting with him on various issues from petty squabble to confessions of sin. By any other Master Chaplain, such trivial matters would be beneath them, but to Master Gebhart, he believed it was his duty to serve the people, and thus he should serve his troops as best he could as well.

It came to no surprise to Halan then to find Master Gebhart talking with one of the regulars, clad in his deep-crimson gambison, helmets set aside at the table. The regular’s face turned to greet Halan stepping foot inside the tent, and the two at once exchanged pleasantries.

“Sir Alston.” Halan nodded to the red-ladden man.

“Captain Halan!” Sir Alston hailed. “Back safe and sound, I see.”

“Not quite. I can’t say the same for my men, or those we lost today,” asked Halan.

“Bless their souls. Hard to think we’re still losing brothers even after the surrender.”

“The people of Godwyn are an enduring and relentless folk,” said Gebhart. “They’re not the kinds to give up so easily.”

“On this occasion, one of them did,” said Halan. “But even then, he still shows that bit of resilience.”

Gebhart nodded. “Ah, that’s right. The prisoner.”

“A prisoner? You brought a prisoner to camp?” asked Alston.

“I’m just as stunned as you are, I assure you,” Halan answered back. “I’ve come to give my report on him to Master Gebhart.”

Sir Alston raised his brows in astonishment. “And he confessed that easily, too? Just what kind of prisoner did you take?”

“An hersir. Nearly gave me another hole.”

“Any more and I’d say that hole would be six parts deep. You look terrible,” Alston quipped.

“It’s been a rough day.”

“I’m certain it was.”

Master Gehbart cleared his throat. “Well, as much as I’d like to keep this talk, we must address matters first. Halan and I will need to discuss his findings with the new prisoner, so I’ll have to excuse you for now, Sir Alston.”

“Yes, of course. I won’t take any more of your time then.”

Sir Alston got from his seat, picked up his helmet, and reached his arm out to Halan with a confident smile underneath his thick, bushy mustache. “My best wishes to your men.”

Halan firmly took hold of Sir Alston’s arm in return. “Good tidings, brother.”

Sir Alston saluted the two Knights Chaplins before departing off into the camp, to which Halan then took Alston’s previously-occupied seat.

“Eadith stopped by my tent while I was interrogating the hersir,” Halan mentioned.

“Does Sir Alston know she’s here?” Gebhart asked.

“Not that I’m aware. She simply asked me to put forth a good word for her.”

“What exactly was she doing at your tent?”

“Handing me some oils. But she decided she wanted to treat the man’s wounds from Sergeant Sloan’s whippings.”

“Good Lord!” Gehbart exclaimed. “Do take care that you don’t put her in any unnecessary danger.”

“Of course. There was... a brief moment with the man and her, but at the end of it, I think her presence gave the hersir the openness needed to cooperate. He finally spoke his name. He had refused to offer it up until Eadith appeared.”

“Perhaps he has a softness for Eadith.”

“She’s well-adored by everyone here. I wouldn’t put it above him to see that too.”

“That said, I hope you’re not suggesting that we use Eadith to get the hersir to collaborate.”

“Not at all. I made that clear to Eadith when she visited my tent.”

“Good. It’s best we keep the civilians out of our duty as much as possible. God knows she and the others are already risking so much tending to our care. We should not burden them anymore.”

Halan nodded. “I agree.”

Gehbart then leaned to his side upon one of the armrests and asked. “And so, what do we have from the hersir now?”

“His name, his life story, his motivations for fighting against us…” Halan listed. “...but nothing of value yet.”

“It’ll take some time to win his trust, but the Lord General grows impatient. He’s expecting to march forward by tomorrow noon once the vanguard clears a path. We’ll know tonight how things go.”

“Does the Lord General expect to engage Olvek tomorrow?”

“We’ll have to wait and see. The fog of war is still unclear to us, and it would be unwise to engage blindly without some foresight, yet he remains confident our forces will triumph regardless.”

“If we move, I won’t be able to interrogate the hersir by then.”

“I’m fully aware of that. I’ll speak to Cuthred about it and see if I can buy you a few more moments to get what we need from him. Otherwise, he’s to be executed with the other prisoners by dawn.”

“By dawn? We only started this afternoon!” exclaimed Halan. “How am I expected to work with him then?”

Gehbart only shook his head. “We’ll have to work with what we’re given.” He then stood up from his seat and grabbed his helm. “I shall leave to Lord Cuthred to get you that additional time. But until then, I entrust you to do your best.”

“I sincerely doubt that, Master.”
“To give of oneself is the noblest of all acts.”

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Offline Operative13

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Re: CAIRLANN - Coming Soon
« Reply #80 on: November 08, 2021, 02:59:23 AM »
A Tales of Cadamaria Story - Battle of Garagil Pass (Part 21)
Darkness had fallen. Not even the glimmer of stars could be seen through the thick casting overhead. A slow fog had rolled through the encampment, clouding the outside borders. Though the fires repelled most of the cold, murky air from the campgrounds, it still remained difficult to see no more than a few lengths away from one tent to the other. Weather such as this posed a constant danger. Godwyn had always used such weather to harass Cairlann’s lines, raiding and harassing behind the cover of the fog’s gloomy embrace. Against the soldiers’ crimson red, getting caught alone in such conditions often proved fatal.

Yet the Northmen were not the only ones to be wary of. Ravenous wildlife and the land’s alien terrain made traversing such paths hazardous. Oftentimes, even the slightest misstep could be fatal. A fall in a ravine, a bite by a venomous snake, the ire of a great bear. These were only a few of the casualties Halan had come to witness during his years-long campaign against Godwyn. The unfortunate souls that passed not by the hands of a human foe, but by Nature’s wrath.

Tonight, Captain Nerian and his vanguard would stand guard outside the camp. A regiment of no less than two-thousand strong, standing at the forefront against Jarl Olvek’s fighters. Outnumbered, and alone. Even if Nerian camped only a few fields away down the jagged path, a mere horse-ride away, the army would not move on such a night. Commanding a force of thousands took foresight and planning, but with such broken fields and uncertain ground, the fog of war meant any march would be perilous to the men’s safety. Captain Nerian would have to fight alone that night, with only the messengers’ steeds bearing the only lifeline to Lord Cuthred’s army.

And so, even as the porridge poured from its ladle into Halan’s bowl, he watched the camp gates with unease. From experience, Halan knew such weather posed an opportunity to strike. A few dozen raiders pervading the lines, followed by bloodied bodies and the ringing of bells. It was enough to keep the soldiers wide-eyed in their slumber and their hands twitching at the blade’s handle. Simply the threat of an enemy incursion robbed many of countless nights’ rest. Yet those that bore the brunt of those attacks were the vanguard. They stood at the forefront of every fight, acting as the army’s spear and thrust. If they were to fight, the vanguard would be the first to answer.

The cook caught notice of Halan’s distant gaze as he poured another scoop into his bowl.

“Hey, get a move on,” said the cook.

Halan broke from his thoughts. The men behind him began to mutter irritably as they waited for their turn. Halan turned and nodded to the cook. “My apologies.”

Pacing through the crowded campfires, he eventually found Anso and Aldred at one of the pits. Halan placed himself down at an empty spot before them and churned his porridge.

“How are the others?” Halan asked.

Anso shook his head. “Between us, not so much,” he replied, sipping a spoon out. “Koneth and Irmin were shot right through. They’ll have to rest for weeks before they can get back. The others were lucky the armor stopped the arrows as they did. Several of those were killshots.”

“Those aren’t any ordinary archers,” Aldred mentioned. “They stuck us riding at such speed and with such distance! You’d think they’ve been training their whole lives for it. I couldn’t say the same for ours.” Aldred eyed over to the white-cowled men sitting a short length behind them, drinking away and having a lively chat, their bows and quivers leaning idly against stone mounds.

“These are mountainous regions, Fjollen-Ellstrivar.” said Halan. “Not many chances for one to grow crops or ride by horse. The people here hunt for their food. It comes to reason they would never miss their meals.”

“I’m not quite fond of that comparison, Captain...” Aldred bellowed. “...the last thing I need to know is that I’m fighting cannibals or blood-drinkers, or some other heathen goat praiser. And God knows I’ve already seen enough of that.”

“I doubt they would eat you, Aldred,” said Anso. “You’re too moldy to be worth biting down.”

Aldred scoffed “Why, I never! I’m still alive and well, I’ll have you know! We could go have a swing if you say I’m too old again!”

“My coin is on Aldred,” Halan gestured with his spoon.

Anso looked on, dismayed. “You’re betting against me, Captain? After all we’ve been through?”

“Men like us don’t usually grow old, Anso.” Halan lifted his bowl and gobbled down the last bits of porridge. “But more to the point, it looks certain we’ll be facing those men again fairly soon.”

“Just how soon?” asked Anso.

“Tomorrow, at the earliest. Lord Cuthred plans to engage Olvek as soon as we link up with the vanguard.”

“We still don’t know how many we’re facing. Is he certain we’ll be able to make it through this engagement?” said Aldred.

“Myself and many others have tried arguing that point, but to no avail. We can only wait.”

As Halan uttered those words, a rider galloped past them at blistering speed. He turned to see a rather frantic look on the rider’s face before realizing what direction he was heading: to Lord Cuthred’s tent.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2021, 03:02:42 AM by Operative13 »
“To give of oneself is the noblest of all acts.”

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Offline NO1SY

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Re: CAIRLANN - Coming Soon
« Reply #81 on: November 09, 2021, 01:49:22 PM »
Yo Op!

So I finally got around to reading and commenting on more of your story here. I have focused on the first 7 chapters (8 seemed like it isn't finished yet?) and it seems that The Battle of Garagil Pass is its own thing, so I'll get to that another time.

You can read my feedback here if you are interested.

I must say, reading your story has given me an itch to go back to my more Nordic inspired project... but I left it in such a disastrous state I don't know if I can face it :push:

Offline Operative13

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Re: CAIRLANN - Coming Soon
« Reply #82 on: November 09, 2021, 08:31:30 PM »
Why, many blessings No1sy! I appreciate the candid feedback, and I certainly welcome more when you have the time for it.  ;)

To be quite honest, I've had a bit of a dry spell in my writing lately: it's not easy writing quality work on a consistent basis. But that's the benefits of first drafts. You never have to worry about getting things wrong. Juggling this project with life obligations can have its moments, but it's a welcoming sight to see someone expressing a lively interest in my work. I'll take that to heart as I continue updating!  ;D

As a quick reminder, the 2 minute survey for the Battle of Garagil Pass is still up and running. It's currently the ongoing story developing for Project Cairlann, so I would love to get some feedback on that as well when you have the time. Of course, you are always free to provide your personal editorial as well if you so wish!

As always, I look forward to hearing more about your interests (and gripes) in Project Cairlann, and hope to deliver more extraordinary stories to you all soon!
“To give of oneself is the noblest of all acts.”

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Re: CAIRLANN - Coming Soon
« Reply #83 on: November 15, 2021, 02:45:01 AM »
A Tales of Cadamaria Story - Battle of Garagil Pass (Part 22)
“They’re here,” the rider said, struggling to keep his breath.

The man clutched his side, his face visibly sour, his legs bent and shivering as he stood before Lord Cuthred and the other captains at the table. Everyone stared at him in stark silence, their eyes attentively fixed upon his figure.

Behind the man, Captain Halan entered the tent and stepped off to the man’s side, joining the other captains as they watched and waited. Master Gebhart stood to Cuthred’s side, and nodded to Halan as they briefly exchanged looks. As Halan took his place at the table, he glimpsed upon the man’s hand to see blood running through his fingers as he held his side, a small pool congregating upon the crimson-red rug.

Lord Cuthred lifted his chin and called out. “Speak, soldier. What does Captain Nerian have to report?”

The man coughed. “Thousands… thousand of them. They came upon us all at once. We didn’t know what happened until it was...” He stopped to hurl blood upon the rug, illicting concerned glances among the captains.

“Get him to the dressing station,” Cuthred ordered the guards. “That’ll be all.”

All eyes now laid upon Cuthred as he sat back down upon his high throne, a sneer of displeasure in his eyes.

“An overestimate, my Lord,” one of the captains spoke up. “The Northmen always carry out raids at this time of night.”

“Indeed,” said another. “Captain Nerian has always been a paranoid fellow. Always worrying about trivial matters. It would come as no surprise he would exaggerate his claims.”

“Captain Nerian does not lie,” Halan shot back. “I’ve served with him on several fronts, and time and time again he has saved my life and many of our brothers. I can assure you his claims are no exaggeration.”

“Nonsense!” the captain berated. “We all know these raids are little more than a handful of brigands. Always has been! It is impossible to command a force of such size at this time of night, in this kind of weather. His baseless claim that there are thousands descending upon us at this very moment is absurd.”

“Are you implying Captain Nerian has been baseless every other time, Captain Wihtred?” Halan accused.

Immediately, Cuthred slammed the table, silencing the men.

“Enough! If you’ve nothing useful to offer me other than petty babble, then get out of my sight. I want solutions. Now.”

A captain cleared his throat. “My Lord, even if we could do something, we’d be marching at night in fog. We could very well be another casualty if we move to assist.”

“So your solution is to do nothing? Do nothing as a fifth of our army gets cut down in front of us?” Cuthred chided.

“We should reinforce what we have now. If the enemy tries to advance forward, we’ll be more than ready to meet them.”

“We’d be fighting in the same conditions as the vanguard,” another captain rebuked. “There’s nothing to gain from simply reinforcing our defenses.”

“We’re moving the army at dawn, regardless,” said another. “Your suggestion makes no sense.”

“Get out,” Cuthred suddenly said, staring at the two captains opposing the man’s idea. “The both of you.”

“But my Lord, we’re merely just…”

“I said OUT!”

The two captains recoiled at Cuthred’s sharp tone and promptly left the tent.

“Anyone else want to waste my time?”

Cuthred scanned the table, nearly all the captains shying away but Captain Halan, who returned a firm gaze back at him. After a brief silence, Cuthred slowly leaned back into his seat.

“Captain Halan,” Cuthred spoke everso curtly. “You were so kind to inform us of Captain Nerian’s accomplishments. Tell me, what suggestions would you have for the Lord Captain’s ordeal?”

“I wouldn’t know, my Lord,” Halan answered. “Perhaps Master Gebhart would be better answering that.”

Cuthred scoffed. “That’s a shame. Your peers have much to offer, but you cannot do the same. Master Gebhart, I’m failing to see your lessons materialize with this... apprentice of yours.”

“He’s as much as capable as I’ve taught him, my Lord. He would be right to defer to me.”

“Then if he’s so capable, he should be capable of answering my query.”

Halan looked back at Master Gebhart, looking for a sign. Gebhart nodded back, an assured smile on his face, and with the patronizing Cuthred, tapping his finger upon the armrest, Halan stepped up to the center of the table.

He nudged his way between two of the captains, and over the flickering candle lights above, he studied Lord Cuthred’s army positions on the map marked by miniature stones, and then to the known positions of Jarl Olvek’s forces. Cuthred had camped the army between a narrow valley with a single path leading out into the open and jagged fields further out into the pass. Jarl Olvek occupied several hills along this field, all within sight of the valley’s opening. If Nerian claimed that thousands had attacked them at the valley opening where he was stationed, then it would be impossible for Olvek to flank them due to the valley walls securing Nerian’s flanks. If the terrain was impossible for Olvek to cross, then...

“We should march tonight,” Halan finally said. “Captain Nerian is protected by the valley walls on his flanks, preventing any incursions by Jarl Olvek to infiltrate behind our lines. If Captain Nerian’s claims are true, that means Olvek intends to annihilate the vanguard, hoping we won’t come save them in these conditions.”

Lord Cuthred smirked. “Something intelligent for once! And? Anything else from you lot?”

The other captains stood in silence.

“Nothing else… then I suppose I have no choice but to take your suggestion, Captain Halan. But the army will not march tonight.”

A strange, confounded look swam across Halan’s face. “What do you mean?”

“The army will not march. If the vanguard fails, we’ll be in a favorable position to engage them here. Captain Nerian will bleed them dry before the heathens have a chance to stand up against us, as intended. But if the man wants to beg for his life, then I suppose none would be better suited to comfort him than the Knights Chaplains. Go. Take a hundred riders with you and go to his lines. I expect us to still be holding that position by the time we arrive at dawn.”

“And if there’s nothing left?” Halan asked.

“Then take it back! Certainly you’re more than capable of handling a bunch of rabble. You’ve had all the experience for that already.”
“To give of oneself is the noblest of all acts.”

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Re: CAIRLANN - Coming Soon
« Reply #84 on: November 22, 2021, 02:43:33 AM »
A Tales of Cadamaria Story - Battle of Garagil Pass (Part 23)
A hundred men to face thousands. Overwhelming odds that haunted Captain Halan time and again. Perhaps it was Fate beckoning him to join his fallen brothers. Perhaps it was the will of God, demanding his debts be paid in blood. Yet, despite these odds, Halan had always found a way to survive. But not without great sacrifice.

Without fail, half of his brothers would die. The rest were either wounded or dying. In his ten years of war, Halan had escaped the worst that battle could take from him. No missing limbs, no broken bones, no torn muscles or organs. He had escaped everything war could throw at him, and in return, Halan only had the scars to count among his body. Scars that reminded him of the costs. The sacrifices he made. Sacrifices he had to make to survive.

Anso and Aldred waited outside for their captain, cross-armed and uneasy as they heard the banter raging inside the tent. Young Anso paced back and forth across the entrance, pacing his steps as Aldred stood before the entrance blocked by Cuthred’s guards. The guards kept their jagged gaze upon the old man, ice-cold eyes cutting at the knight that stood firm before them, their spears interlocked as the banter continued inside. Then, as footsteps approached, the guards lifted their spears before two men clad in red-clothed armor came out.

“Captains,” Aldred saluted.

But they did not reply. Rather, they marched right through him, vexing looks upon their faces.

Anso noticed their approach and saluted. “Capta…”

“Out of the way!” a captain sneered, shoving Anso off to the side. The other shot a vexing look at him before the two captains headed off into camp.

Anso dusted off his surcoat and gave a troubling look back to Aldred.

“What’s their problem?” Anso asked.

“Bad news, I assume,” told Aldred.

“The rider came all the way here bleeding his guts out. When has that ever been good news?”

“Only when the captains don’t have tempers. When they’re moody, that’s when things are bad.”

“Just how bad, exactly?”

Soon the banter stopped, and more footsteps approached from the tent. Then, Captain Halan appeared before them, and the two knights saluted their captain. Yet, Halan could only stare at the ground before them, squeezing his grip on his helmet held beside him.

“Captain,” Anso spoke. “What’s going on?”

Halan lifted his sorrowful eyes. “Olvek’s attacked. We’re to reinforce Captain Nerian at the passage.”

“Now? In this darkness?”

“I need a hundred riders ready. We leave immediately.”

Aldred interrupted. “With all due respect, Captain, we’re in no position to be doing anything at this time. Let alone yourself. You still need time to heal.”

“I must. The Knights Chaplain look up to me to lead them to victory. I cannot let these men die lost and hopeless out there as I stand idly by.”

“You’ve let us countless times through worse things. Our brothers will understand your absence. I beg you, Captain. Rest now. You can trust in us to deliver that victory for you.”

Halan sighed. “I don’t believe that’s possible this time. What Cuthred asks is nothing short of suicide.”

“How much are we at odds?” Anso asked.

“Thousands.”

Anso and Aldred exchanged grave looks to one another.

“All the more reason you should stay here, Captain,” Anso answered.

“I agree.” A voice spoke out from behind them. It was Master Gebhart.

“Master,” said Halan.

Gebhart then faced the others. “I will get Captain Nerian and his men back here to safety. It’s not too late to save who we can, but we need our best to do so. Sir Anso, Sir Aldred, gather the men.”

“Master, I still have strength to fight,” Halan pleaded. “You shouldn’t be risking yourself in my stead.”

“When I say we need our best, I mean our best, Halan. You’ve fought all you could today. That’s more than I could ever ask for.”

“You know what Cuthred’s asked for is impossible. He means to make a show of our lives. I cannot have you be a part of this.”

“And neither can I let my good apprentice pay for his mistakes. That is why I am the Master.”

Gehbart nodded to Anso and Aldred. With his signal, they saluted the Chaplain Master and hastily dispatched themselves into the camp.

Halan shook his head. “Master, I...”

“What have I taught you about leadership, Halan?” Gebhart suddenly asked.

“I don’t...” Halan paused and hesitated.

At first, he couldn’t seem to grasp why Master Gebhart would ask such a question at this time. Lives were at stake, and time was withering away. But from all his years studying under Gebhart, the man’s queries always imparted a profound wisdom.

“Lead by example,” he answered.

Gebhart nodded. “The strong must always protect the weak. What would it say to the men if you were to lead them in your condition?” He then placed his hand upon Halan’s shoulder. “You’ll make an excellent Chaplain Master one day, Halan. Live to see it.”
“To give of oneself is the noblest of all acts.”

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Re: CAIRLANN - Coming Soon
« Reply #85 on: November 28, 2021, 03:08:03 AM »
A Tales of Cadamaria Story - Battle of Garagil Pass (Part 24)
The sword clinked upon the graystone floor. With a soft chuckle, the woman smiled and raised her hands in surrender.

“You win, Cairlannder.”

In the flickering flames of torches surrounding them, their shadows danced against the castle’s cold walls, reaching up into the starry night sky in that empty courtyard. Halan lowered his blade and smiled back at the woman’s shimmering blue eyes, her long, blackened hair resting neatly upon her shoulder.

“It’s not like you to surrender so easily, Svaena,” said Halan, sheathing back his sword.

Keeping her grin, the woman paced forward and lifted her sword off the ground. “I figure it's better to know when you’ve been outmatched than to try and play things out.” She then pointed the blade back at Halan. “Save yourself the sweat and tears.”

“Yours, or mine?” he asked.

Svaena chuckled. “You know I’ll never tell.”

Together, they sat down at the steps around the courtyard’s edges. Halan grabbed hold of the silver jug waiting patiently at his feet and began pouring water into a pair of chalices. He offered Svaena one, to which they drank in silence as they watched the stars above flicker in tandem with the flames below.

“Did you ever think a day like this would come?” Halan asked.

“Never in a thousand lifetimes,” she answered, still gazing upon the stars. “I lived under these stars all my life, wondering how everything came to be. ‘Who stuck all those fireflies up there?’ I once asked my mother. She would say ‘The Ancient Ones did.’ ‘Why did they stick them up there?’ I’d ask again, and she would reply ‘to show us the way.’ My people told tales of everything. Of how things came to be. Why we live, why we survive, why we fight. In every tale, there was always One that started it all. The One that gave birth to the way things are now.”

Svaena drank the last drops of water and sat the chalice down beside her. “Everything we do bears the legacy another carries into their lives. I always thought my legacy would be with my people. But I never thought I would make one for myself. And certainly not with you,” she said, turning to meet Halan’s gaze.

Halan broke from her gaze and looked up to the stars above. “Fate has a strange way of bringing people together.”

Svaena scoffed. “Well, Fate is terrible at making decisions.” She grabbed the jug and poured herself another cup. Yet, she stopped short of pressing the chalice’s rim against her lips and simply held it between her legs.

“You would think a day like this would be something to celebrate,” said Halan. “The end of everything we’ve worked towards. All the blood we’ve bled, the tears we shed… all of it. We should feel… something, after all we’ve been through.”

“Do you?”

The sound of song and cheers echoed from afar, the boisterous music of pipes and drums accompanied by the clanging of cups and the noise of euphoric laughter filling the halls nearby.

Halan shook. “Apart from the spinning headaches... Honestly I don’t feel anything. I feel… nothing.”

Svaena tilted her head. “Lost, perhaps?”

“Lost… it does feel like that…”

“I feel that too.” Svaena leaned softly against Halan’s shoulder.

“Is it wrong to say I wish I could go back?”

“No… but we wouldn’t be here if you did.”

Halan let out a heavy sigh. “There were so many things I could’ve done. So many things I could’ve changed. The people that were meant to be here, and aren’t… I can’t bring myself to enjoy this as much as I do.”

Svaena watched the flickering shadows upon the ground, whisking back and forth before them. For a brief moment, the two held together upon those steps, letting time wither away, until Svaena finally spoke.

“Remember when we first met?” Svaena said.

“You stabbed me twice and threw me over a ledge,” Halan recalled.

Svaena giggled. “But you spared me nonetheless.”

“I hesitated then.”

She scoffed. “No one lowers their blade if they mean to strike. Did you have doubts then as you do now?”

Halan paused, a solemn look in his eyes. “Always.”

Svaena wrapped her arms around his. “It’s never easy to know when things are right. But you never know until it happens. I could’ve died that day, Halan. But you chose to save me. Out of every other decision you could’ve made, you made that one.”

“And a thousand other decisions.”

“But you made it happen. And now, you made today happen. No one else could have brought us together here but you.” Svaena lifted her hand and reached out into the sky. “We all leave legacies. This is yours. And mine, too.” Svaena turned back to Halan, a longing gaze in her eyes. She leaned closer to him, their eyes shimmering, their lips quivering, as they drew closer.

But at the last moment, Halan withdrew, and he stood up from the steps.

“No. It can’t,” told Halan.

He stepped away, and looking out from the courtyard, he could see the city as dark as the skies above. There he stood, peering over the ledge of the castle, watching over Godwyn’s denizens. Yet, while the tunes of revelry and jubilation filled the halls nearby, he heard nothing of the sort below. Simply silence.

Svaena stepped up to Halan’s side and looked upon the fireless city with him. She too had the sorrow seen in his eyes, but dared not watch further as she turned her gaze to her feet.

“The things we’ve done...” Halan finally spoke. “...we can never take them back. The more I see, the more I realize just how messed up everything is. And we’re no less guilty of it all. I can’t take you, Svaena. Not for anything.”

Her chest tightened. Her eyes welted, her face pale. Svaena gasped for words, but her throat stiffened at the touch. “Did you... ever love me, Halan?” Svaena uttered, a pain in her voice.

“I told myself that a thousand times, wanting to believe. Believing I did. But I’d forgotten. I lied to myself, Svaena. Just as I lied to myself fighting all those years, for a cause I never truly believed in. And lies are not what I want to build a future upon.”

Halan began to walk away, refusing to look back at her, fearing to see what he had done. But he could not bring himself to end things as it was.

“I never regretted being with you, Svaena. Not for a moment. But you deserve better than a man that chains you down with him.”

Svaena didn’t answer. She simply stood, watching silently over the city as he left the courtyard. Only the icy winds caressed her face, wrapping around her fur pelts as it howled through the halls amid the merriful chorus afar.
“To give of oneself is the noblest of all acts.”

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Offline Operative13

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Re: CAIRLANN - Coming Soon
« Reply #86 on: December 06, 2021, 01:12:06 AM »
A Tales of Cadamaria Story - Battle of Garagil Pass (Part 25)
The horses whinnied, wheezing and buckling as the knights gathered with spears raised, their eyes white and strained through the narrow visors of their helm, as they waited for their Chaplain Master. A hundred bodies gathered at the gates, their breaths frosting in the cold air, eyes front, chin up, and attention directly ahead. Many years they’ve trained, and many years they’ve fought. For some, it would be their last moments in this world. For others, another duty to fulfill. It was apparent to the men that more would perish than before: Master Gebhart waited patiently by his steed as the knights prayed in silence. They whispered prayers to their crosses and to the skies, asking for forgiveness, for blessings, for hope. And when the whispers finally died, Gebhart raised himself upon his horse and looked to his men.

“Knights!” he cried. “Knights of the Royal Chaplains! Tonight, we ride forth and face our destinies once more. Tonight, we face our foes, and answer the call to arms.You all know what must be done. Our brothers call for aid, and in kind we shall answer. Bring forth your courage, steel your hearts, and let them know God’s Fury! Ride out!”

As the Knights Chaplain reared their horses around and passed through the gates, Master Gebhart turned to Captain Halan standing aside at the camp gates with Anso and Aldred. Halan nodded as Gebhart rode by, before watching his master disappear into the black fog with the others, their white capes sinking into the abyss.

“He’ll be back,” Aldred spoke up.

“It doesn’t help that you say that, Aldred,” told Halan. “I would’ve been there for him just as much as any of you would for me. But I’m forced to stand by and watch my brothers pass.”

“Gehbart knows what he’s doing. It’s not his first time facing such trials.”

“Trials from a man actively trying to get us all killed.”

“Cuthred can go to Hell,” Anso spat. “Gebhart will make sure you don’t go there with him.”

“We’re not the ones that get to decide that. Only God knows what’s next.” Halan then started walking back into the camp.

“Uh, what do you want us to do, Captain?” Anso then spoke out.

“Look after the men,” Halan called out. “That’s the least we can do.”

But Halan knew well that would not be enough. Tonight, Jarl Olvek had struck the first blow. When dawn breaks, Cuthred would soon see the true extent of the damage, and knowing his character, Cuthred wasn’t one to let any insult go unanswered, no matter how small. Tomorrow, Halan will know if he still has a master to guide him when he must face the Lord General.

As he ventured back into his tent, Halan ran his fingers upon the large map splayed across his table. Etched in fine ink, the name of the land he was in.

Fjollen-Ellstrivar. The Mountains of Gods.

It was then that Halan recalled what Svaena had told him before he left for these lands.

The Ellstrivaris are a proud and independent people. They will not bow down to just anyone. But they are not the only ones you must win the hearts and minds of.

Halan soon remembered that Orm was not an Ellstrivari. He came from the lands down south, the village of Galthorn in Vermaris. Most of the war was fought around the borders, but never as far north as Fjollen-Ellstrivar. How did a man like him manage to Jarl Olvek’s ranks so far up north? He traced the lines across where Orm said he came from and realized.

They had walked into a trap. All this time, he thought Nerian’s flanks were secured because of the mountainsides. But he was wrong. Olvek’s goal wasn’t to bludgen his way through. His goal was to trap them inside the valley. Halan had been focused on the frontlines for so long that he had forgotten to consider what was behind him. When was the last time the rearguard reported anything?

He had to know.
“To give of oneself is the noblest of all acts.”

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