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08-07-1998, 03:37 PM #1darkstarGuest
Birthright Story - Chapter 7 (part
Well things have been busy, so I havn't got as much done on this story
as I would have liked. However the first part of the chapter is complete
enough for posting, so here it is.
In case you didn't know an archive of this story can be found at
More will be coming soon (hopefully).
The Fall of Prince Oden
Part 7: Death, Betrayal & Hope (part 1)
The midday sun shone down on the city of Oden, glinting off the armour
of the legions of cavalry that had gathered in the market square. The
finest soldiers of the northern Rohrmarch army had been mustered for the
coming battle and many were now assembled into one of the largest forces
of mounted soldiers Oden had seen in some time. Many of the men were
none to happy about┬* being sent into battle against the feared Awnshegh
known as the Gorgon, and his legions of Goblins, but the soldiers knew
that if they did not ride out to fight today then it was likely that the
northern capital would fall. The finest strategists in the army had
chosen the site of the battle, and its was their descision that a quick,
mobile stike against the enemy would crush many of the forward Goblins
units and give Oden a much better chance of survival. Most of the
soldiers cared nothing of strategy though, they only wanted to remain
Around them the city was one that was preparing for war, with armed men
gathering on every street corner and barricades being erected by city
tradesmen and their apprentices. The city was also filling up with
refegees from the eastern province of Osternord which had been conquered
by the Goblin army only four days earlier. All who had been able had
fled here soon after the fighting in Osternord had begun, and those that
had not been quick enough had either been killed or captured by the
Many citizens of the city, as well as most of the refugees were
gathering on the cities streets as the hour approached noon. They were
there to see the army ride out, and to those who had yet to see battle
it was a festive time. Minstrals and street venders had set up camp
among the watchers to reap the hard earned coins of the townsfolk, and
the followers of Elo├ęle were slipping through the crowd, eager to nip a
coin pouch or two while the townsfolk's attention was elsewhere.
To the soldiers of the army thought this was a desperate time. Many
already knew that of the destruction of the Osternord army and were not
eager to ride out to face the most feared being on the continent. None
had deserted though, for despite their fears they knew that they were
all that stood between the Gorgon and the defeat of Rohrmarch. Each man
prayed to their god for strength, and hoped that they would be one of
the few that survive.
Standing on the balcony of the citadel, looking over the crowd, Pieter
Oden was not a happy prince at all. With his soldiers in Osternord
province devestated by, if the reports were to be believed, a large part
of the Gorgon's army he was in dire straights indeed. He had sent word
to his rival for the crown of Rohrmarch, King Alaric, requesting aid,
but so far had not received a reply. So he was left to hold out in Oden
City over winter in the hope that the King would forget their
differences and they could work together against the common foe come
With his scouts lost in Osternord he was forced to send out fast riders
from cavalry regiments to survey the battlefield, and attempt to bring
back numbers of how many attackers he faced. Now armed with some of
those reports he was prepared to make the first strike in the war
against the invaders. At first he had thought of holding all his troops
in the city, but with the Goblin army rampaging across the landscape,
slaughtering the populations of entire villages he was forced to act, or
he would lose the support of the people.
So he had organised a counter-attack that would take place later this
afternoon. With the Goblin army already marching towards the city he had
little time to respond, choosing to send out his best cavalry in a
lightning strike to crush the enemy lines and then withdraw to the
citadel, hopefully with few losses.
His son, Alder Oden, was to lead the charge, aided by the best knights
and mounted troops avaible in the capital at the time. He had wished to
ride into battle himself and go charging into the enemy hordes at the
head of his army, as he had done so many times before. His advisors had
convinced him otherwise though, going on and on about how a ruler's
place was in his palace and commenting on his age. He knew that they
were only motivated by concern for him, so had conceeded to their
wishes, knowing that Alder would lead the army as well as he ever could.
The Prince still wished he could be there though.
Cheers sounded from the crowd gathered below and the Prince looked down
to see his son ride out from the Citadel gates with a legion of the
kingdoms lords. Alder looked like a true general this day, despite his
youth. He wore a suit of plate armour, polished until it shone brighty
in the sunlight. A gusty breeze blowing in from the Dwarven mountains to
the west brushed across the market, sending the pendant on his lance,
and the feathers in his helm rustling. His horse was of the finest
Khinasi stock, a tall black stalleon with a fiery temperment, but nerves
of steel in battle.
Behind the prince came the assembled lords of Northern Rorhmarch, each
dressed in his personal style. There were lords in Anuirean plate like
Alder, while others dressed in the latest fashions from M├╝den, not much
use on the battlefield, but they certainly raised a cheer from the
common folk who gathered to watch the spectacle.┬* The crowd cheered each
lord as they rode past into the market to take their place at the head
of the cavalry, obviously enjoying the festive ale the Prince had sent
into the city earlier that day to improve spirits.
The only lord who did not seem interested in dressing up for the
occasion was General Otto Osternord, who wore is old battered chain
armour, as he did in each battle. The old campaigner had requested he be
allowed to join the cavalry, not because he was a great warrior when
mounted on horse, which he wasn't, but rather to gain some small part of
revenge against the enemy that had pillaged his home and killed his son.
Otto knew that he would have plenty of fighting to do soon, but he
didn't want to miss out on even the smallest battle. He wanted to make
sure that the Gorgon never wished he came to Rohrmarch, in fact if he
caught sight of the Awnshegh he intend on trying to kill him.
The Prince had taken one look at the General's face when he had made the
request and granted him what he asked. Pieter knew that the General
would likely get himself killed, if not in this battle then a later one.
He had little to live for now, with reports of his entire family killed
at the hands of the Gorgon's lieutenant. As much as the Prince would
have liked to keep the old general alive he knew he could not stop him
from doing what he thought he must and charging off to attack the
Gorgon. Pieter could only hope that Otto came to his senses in time to
avoid being killed.
In the market below the trumpet blew, sounding the call for the advance
and the hundeds of horsemen nudged their steeds slowly forward. Across
the city the people cheered again as the column began the move, the
proud hooves of the horses stamping at the ground, eager to be riding
free across the fields into battle. Prince Alder, riding at the head of
the column, drew his sword and waved in the direction of his father on
the citadel balcony in a salute. Then the lowered it to point in the
direction of the gate and urged his horse forward.
Then to the resounding cheers of the citizens, and the thunderous sounds
of hundreds of horses all walking on the cities cobblestones at once
they left, breaking into a light trot as the column heading down the
road to Osternord. Ahead they faced a two hour ride through the
countryside and then a battle against thousands of Goblins. It was a
battle that they must win though, and with this on their minds the
soldiers rode off to battle.
Above, in what was once a beautiful clear, winter sky, clouds began to
gather. As Pieter Oden watched the last of the soldiers ride from the
city he looked up into the darkening skies and for the first time began
to worry. He suddenly wonder if he should not have spent more time with
his son over the past two days, if he should have even sent him on this
mission or not. These thoughts on his mind he turned from the balcony
and entered his study. What was to happen would happen, he could now
only wait for the results.
Prince Alder lay on his stomach in the tall grass that cover the hill's
sumit, looking down over the barren fields below. In the distance he
could see the Gorgon's army begining to approach down the road from
Osternord. Behind him, milling around at the base of the hill were
gathered the pride of the cavalry regiments from his father's army, all
ready for battle. All they were waiting for was his word, and then they
would charge down the hillside and across the plowed field into the
unprepared goblins units.
At least that was the plan. Already the young prince could see a problem
in the plan. When they had set out from the capital Avani had blessed
Rohrmarch with a fine and sunny day, drying the earth of the fields and
making it nice and hard for his troops. The enemy though seemed to ride
in the shadow of darkness, and as they had drawn closer the sky had
darkened and thick storm clouds had rolled in from the east. If it
should rain then hard earth of the fields would quickly turn into mud,
and his cavalry would flounder.
It had not rained yet though, so Alder was thankful for that. He was
worried however about the effect the clouds were having on the intenisty
of the light. He knew, as well as any soldier that Goblins and Orogs
fought best at night, and had hope to take advantage of the afternoon
sun, which would have shone straight into the eyes of the enemy as his
soldiers rode down on them. This advantage had been lost now though, and
his only hope was that surprise would be enough.
He shuffled back through the grass, and motioned for the other lords who
had come to view the enemy to do the same, trying to be careful not to
give the Goblins any indication of their prescense. Already the men had
been warned to keep their mounts quiet, and most soldiers stood quietly
by the side of their steeds to ensure they were calm. It was Alder's
hope that they could use this surprise to ride over the enemy ranks
before they became organised, and from his observation of the advance
elements of the Goblin army it was looking more and more likely the plan
The Goblins appeared unorgnaised as they walked out of the forest, not
marching in ranks, but rather walking forward more as an undisiplined
mob, rather than an army. Alder knew that this was most likely because
the tiny forest road they had been travelling down had resticted their
march and forced the Goblins out of formation. He had noticed however
that already the soldiers that had left the forest were begining to form
up into rank, and knew if they did not ride soon then there would be too
many Goblins for them to attack and have any hope of survival.
At the base of the hill waited General Osternord, who Alder had
appointed his second in command, despite the objections of some of the
other lords on their fancy horses. Alder knew however that the General
was easily the most experienced soldier on the field, and despite the
fact the General was more used to commanding infantry units he could
think of no better man he would prefer to have riding on his flank.
Seeing the prince rushing back down the hill the General rode up to meet
him. "How are things looking Alder," he asked.
"Not too bad, some of their advance units have left the forest and are
gathering in the fields. They will likely start heading for the village
"Do we meet them there, or ride around the hill to meet them?"
"I was thinking it might be best to ride down on them from the hilltop,"
Alder said as he reached the General's side. "That way we will be above
"Yes, but that also means that they will see us first," the General said
as the climbed down off his horse. "These damm clouds are going to cost
"True, I was thinking that we could get better speed though from riding
down the hill, and it would spare the horses a bit of energy."
"They still have to ride up the hill on this side though Alder," said
the General eyeing the steep slope up to the hill sumit.
"Yes that is true, so what do you suggest then? Do we go around the hill
and across the fields or down the road, through the village, and hit
them front on?"
The General thought for a moment as he considered both possibilities
before answering. "I would think around the hill would be best. We can
hit them side on where they will be confused and not ready for conflict,
and then when we have finished our ride it will take less time to turn
and escape. On the ride out we can come through the village and that way
we will already be on the road back."
"Very well, is everyone else agreed then? Alder said, looking around at
the gather lords to see if they agreed. As he expected they would they
all nodded in agreement at the his words and so with their route now
decided he ordered the men to mount their streeds and be ready for the
The gathered cavalry suddenly exploded into action as the order was
passed quietly among them. Soldiers that had been resting on the ground
quickly climbed back into their saddles and hoisted their heavy lances
up with them, ready for the charge. Then when Alder and the lords where
ready the signal was given, again as quietly as possible so not to alert
the enemy units gathering near the forest border.
Then, gathering speed as the went, the cavalry thundered off down the
narrow track that led around the hill they had been hiding behind.
Before the Goblin soldiers even knew they were there the cavalry were
speeding across the fields staight for the enemy. The Goblin camp
exploded into chaos as the enemy soldiers reacted to the attack. Some
ran for cover in the trees, while other attempt to ready their weapons
and institute some sort of order in the camp. A scattering of black
arrows were fired, but with the cavalry now racing across the field most
fell long, and the few that did strike the attackers bounced off armour
A ripple passed across the attackers ranks as they all lowered their
heavy spears as one. The Goblin frontlines, now facing a moving wall of
spikes fell apart, with many of the enemy soldiers fleeing as fast as
they could. Their flight was not as quick as the powerful stride of the
warhorses though and before long the Rohrmarch cavalry ran into the
first Goblin unit.
There was an audible crack as the cavalry struck. Lances snapped and
some riders were thrown from their horse, but most simple rode right
over the first Goblins units, leaving the churned ground behind them
strewn with trampeled bodies. Once they were past the first ranks the
charge began to slow as the cavalry engaged the main body of the Goblin
army. From the trees at the end of the field came the sounds of horns
and more Goblin units came pouring out, eager to engage the Rohrmarch
General Osternord soon found himself surrounded by Goblins and hacking
away with his heavy longsword attempted to free himself and his horse
from the crush. It seemed to him that the battle had become a strange
and alien place. The moans of the dying came to him, even above the
clash of weapons and everything seemed to slow down around him. He
concentrated on killing his opponents, and struck again and again, like
an unstoppable juggernaut out for revenge against anything or anyone who
Then he was free, and he suddenly found himself in open space, with no
more enemies to face. Drawing up his horse he looked around to see how
the other soldiers in his unit were doing, and found himself totally
alone in the centre of the battlefield. All around him he could see
soldiers, both enemies and Rohrmarch cavalry fighting and dying, but
where he now sat there was nothing. A quick glance to the east, towards
the treeline soon bought his attention back to the battle though, as he
saw more enemies charging toward him, this time Wolf-Riders, the Goblin
version of Cavalry.
Grabbing the reins of his horse the General pull his steed around and
rode as hard as he could back towards the main battle, knowing that the
enemy would not be far behind. Thought of revenge against the Goblins
who had killed his family fled his mind as he concentrated on staying
alive. His lance lost long ago the General jumped over the first enemies
he came to in the main battle, slashing at them with his longsword,
although he was not sure if he hit anything.
Then he found himself in the heat of the battle, with both Goblin and
Human soldiers fighting each other in a sea of bodies. Here and there he
noticed a riderless horse fleeing the battle, their riders born to the
ground by a swarm of Goblins, or in most cases killed by arrows from
archers stationed near the edge of the battle. The General joined up
with a small group of soldiers to form a small unit, fighting off any
Goblins that came near them.
The chaos in the battle then grew even worse as the unit of Wolf-Riders
he had noticed earlier struck from behind, in some places riding over
the top of their own allies in their eagerness to get at the enemy. Otto
deflected the lance of one of the enemy riders with his shield before
smashing his sword down on the enemies weapon, breaking the wooden shaft
in half. The Goblin rider dropped the now useless lance and drew his own
sword, ready to do battle with the General. Otto however just nudged his
horse forward and the much smaller Worg the Goblins was mounted on was
trampled by the armoured bulk of the General's steed. Then after making
sure the Goblin was dead the General turned around to look for more
He had no trouble finding them, seeing another three Wolf-Riders heading
towards him, picking their way through the bodies of the dead which now
lay scattered across the battlefield. The General drove his heels into
his horse's flank, urging it forward once more. The well trained beast
obliged and Otto rode off to fight the next group of enemies, his horse
jumping over the dead bodies, while the Goblin cavalry was forced to
ride around the dead.
With a mighty swing of his sword he ended the life of one of the enemy,
the Goblin's head flying through the air, before landing with a thump
and rolling across the ground. Two other Human soldiers joined up with
him to take care of the other two Wolf-Riders, although one of them was
injured by a Goblin arrow, as it struck the soldier in the sholder joint
of his armour, causing him to slump forward in his saddle. Otto slapped
the injured soldier's horse on the rump and sent it racing off towards
the village. He hoped the soldier would survive but he did not hold out
any hopes. The other soldier he had join up with him, as he looked
around the battle once more to see exactly what was going on.
He was surprised at exactly what he saw. The fields seemed to be covered
with the dead, mostly Goblins but with a good number of Human cavalry
lying scattered across the bloody ground as well. Nearly a hundred
metres from his position he could see the Prince's banner, with a large
force of Cavalry still gathered around him. The rest of the battlefield
was a confused mass, with Goblin infantry and archers fighting to bring
down the Human cavalry. He could see that many men had already lost
their horses, and he knew most of them would die if they could not
regain their mounts, cut down by the goblin army.
The sound of the battle was incredible, with the ring of weapons the
most common sound, although the crys of those wounded also rang out
almost constantly. The whole field also seemed cloaked in dust, no doubt
from the Cavalry's wild charge across the dry field, and the stench of
freshly spilled blood came strong to the Generals nostrals.
Despite the destruction things seemed to have gone very well for the
Cavalry. It looked as though about half of the army still had their
mounts. About another quarter had been unhorsed, but were still alive
and fighting. The goblins seemed in disarry and their was no order to
their fighting. Hundreds of enemy troops lay slain or wounded on the
ground, and hundreds more had fled into the trees. The Goblins that were
left were heavily outnumbered and it would not be long before the
Rorhmarch troops had won the field and could retreat back to the
capital, having given the Goblins a good sting. General Osternord
spurred his horse in the direction of the prince, hoping to join up with
the main force. From all sides came other soldeirs, following his lead
as the Cavalry began to form up for the retreat.
The General was about halfway to Alder's position, having killed another
two Goblins along the way when a flash suddenly lit up the battlefield.
The flash turned into a streak of lightning that began at the forest
edge and ended in the midst of the lords. A horse's scream broke the
air, and the smell of burned flesh soon followed as the lightning bolt
tore into the gathered troops. Otto noticed one of the lords, he could
not see which, being thrown into the air by his horse, coming back to
earth with a sickening crunching sound. The fallen lord was set on by
two Goblin soldiers who stabbed their shortswords downwards, ending any
hope the General had the lord would survive.
Then out of the dust and the dark forest came the creature who had cast
the lightning bolt, spreading panic among the cavalry. The Gorgon rode
on a pure black steed, a massive beast larger that any other horse on
the field. Otto quickly pulled up his horse, a grabbed his horn, ready
to sound the retreat, knowing that they could not stand against the
Awnshegh and his magic. It seemed the prince already had the same idea
though for the sound of the retreat echoed across the battlefield. The
single note from the horn seemed to break the spell the Gorgon's
appearance had cast over the field and those who were still able turned
Otto was doing so himself when he noticed the prince was not following
his men, choosing instead to ride out to meet the Gorgon. The General
could barely believe what he was seeing and screamed out in the prince's
direction. "Alder, don't be a fool." The prince seemed not to hear him
though and just stood quietly awaiting the Gorgon arrival. He shouted
again and this time he got a respone, Alder turning his head in his
direction and indicating in the direction of the village. He realised
then what the prince was trying to do, sacrifice himself for the good of
the army, but he wasn't going to let Alder die that way though. Spurring
his tired horse forward once more he rode to save the prince's life.
The Gorgon, seeing the Human lord awaiting him pulled hard on the reins
of Black Thunder, causing the mighty warhorse to rear up as it skidded
to a halt. The Awnshegh climbed down off the horse's back and drew his
mighty weapon, ready to do battle. Across from him Alder did the same,
stepping forward, while all around the two Orog and Goblin troops poured
from the forest eager to watch the fight.
They did not have long to wait, as the Gorgon rushed forward eager to
end the conflict. He could sense the bloodline of the prince and wanted
to claim its strength as his own. His mighty sword, lifender was in his
hand, its curved bulk easily twice the size of the prince's own weapon.
Alder however looked calm in the face of death as he raised his own
sword to fend off the Gorgon's first blow. Barely he managed to turn it
aside, but had hardly even recovered before the Gorgon was on him again,
sweeping downwards with Lifender, and attempting to slice the prince's
body in two. Alder just managed to get his sword up in time and with a
screech of metal fought off the Gorgon blade again.
The next minute or two followed the same pattern. The Gorgon would
strike and Alder would just manage to fend off the blow, but then the
Gorgon's blade twisted at the last moment and slashed the young prince
across the stomach, the tighmaevril alloy in the magical blade slicing
easily though steel breastplate, and leaving a long gash in the flesh
below. Fortunatly for Alder it was not deep, and barely even cut through
the flesh, but he knew the wound would weaken him, and he would tire
even quicker now. He could only hope that the rest of his army made it
away safely before he died.
All around him he could here the sounds of the enemy soldeirs cheering
their master, and knew that even if he wanted to he could not flee now.
He could only hope to surivive long enough to give a good account of
himself. With that in mind he struck out with his own blade striking the
Gorgon's armour. The magical spiked plate did not buckle though, as his
own armour had done and he found himself open to another attack. The
Gorgon wasted no time in taking advantage of the opening, kicking out
with his goatlike leg and smashing Alder in his already wounded stomach
with a diamond hard hoof. Alder lost his grip on his sword as he flew
backwards though the air, landing with a heavy thud at the feet of some
of the gathered enemy soldiers.
He tried to stand, but found that he could not, doubling over in pain.
All around him the enemy soldiers surged forward, reaching towards him.
Just before they reached him he felt something grab him by his cape, and
drag him, armour and all off the ground and deposit him on the saddle of
a horse. Automatically he reached out and grabbed hold of the reins to
steady himself and was carried forward on a wild ride as the horse he
was on galloped off, away from the Orog, Goblins, and one very angry
Awnshegh, most upset that his prey was escaping.
Alder soon became away of the shape of Otto Osternord on a horse beside
him, and realised with a gasp of surprise that the General must have
come back for him. He tried to speak, to thank the General, but words
would not come, only a dry cough as he still fought to recover from the
kick the Gorgon had given him. The General glanced in his direction and
nodded though, and Alder realised that he did not need to give his
thanks, Otto already knew. He hunched himself lower on the horse's back
to try to prevent and arrows from striking as the two warrior rode off
toward the road to Oden.
Behind them came a scattered rain of arrows, none of which reached the
target, and the shouts of the angry enemy as they fled the field, riding
hard to catch up with the rest of the cavalry. Behind them they left
about half their number, either dead, or badly wounded and at least
three times as many Goblin soldiers. Despite the losses the battle had
been a great victory. For the cost of around two hundred lives over
seven hundred Goblins had fallen, including an entire unit of
Wolf-Riders, the elite of the Gorgon's army.
This in mind the General and the Prince rode off in pursuit of their
army, just as the storm clouds above broke, showering the battlefield
with heavy rain. The rain washed the battlefield, forming pools of red
tinged water, before sweeping off to the western mountains, a brief but
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