Sunday, March 12, 2017

Kanti Crush

Sir Skoluh'r Dehpudzy saw the Thugs advancing toward him. He shouted to his men to withdraw to the village square. The spearmen in front of him he rapidly dispatched, whirled his horse about in the narrow road and went around the corner between smoking buildings. The other horsemen under his command also successfully withdrew behind him, where he had turned about and faced back down the street.

The first archers to arrive at the rear of the barracks and tavern building were attacked by Librohn's pack of war hounds. Arrows and swords made short work of three and the last one ran away and leaped the fence yelping.

Tubby arrived at the intersection, saw the formidable array of lances, and passed on to the other side.

He and his men joined with the longbows in trying to set the barracks building afire. This became problematic, as the well in the square provided the defenders an ample supply of water in buckets, which were passed inside to douse the interior next to the outside wall. No matter how much flaming material was applied to the base of the outside wall, the heat was insufficient to ignite anything within.

The rear door was a very stout affair. Even Tubby could not make headway against it. His men were amused at his feckless efforts and he pushed the closest one in front of the door and said, "Have at it then, if you think it's so easy!" Feeling trepidation at his captain's anger strengthened the Thug's arm and he began to hack sizeable splinters from the door's outer surface. But it was a slog.

Inside, the rebounding "Boom!" of the blows on the door, the damp smoke filling the rooms, and a general sense of panic, sent many villagers fleeing from the building into the square, where they milled in a clamorous mob, interfering with the efforts to fight the brigands' fires placed against the east side of the barracks and tavern.

Meanwhile, the swordsmen, halberdiers and Warrior crossbows had penetrated through the west side of the village, setting more houses alight. The Warriors reached the square and a very brief melee took place against the defenders at the mouth of the street. Dahryl (the White Wing) and some archers resisted the Warriors, and largely through his prowess with his longsword, the forward most Warriors were slain and the rest withdrew to the far end of the street. Here they lined up two ranks deep and threw bolts into the square down the length of the smoke-filled space between the houses. A few unlucky peasants were struck down as they milled about.


Dahryl dashed forward and into the side alley, from where he intended to emerge and shoot quickly at the Warriors. But after his first two shots he discovered that his quiver was empty! He saw no more bolts whining past the mouth of the alley and took the chance to run back to the square.

But the Warriors had been waiting for him. He was wounded, though not seriously, as he reached the square and slipped around the corner. Cursing under his breath, he bent to the corpse of a felled yeoman and took up his bow and quiver (setting his own war bow over his shoulder: there was no way that these comparatively puny missiles could be shot from such a powerful weapon, so he'd have to make do with this "human" implement instead).

The Warriors had continued to snipe up the street. He waited until the next volley and then raced for the alley again, arriving unscathed. The tiny court behind the houses was choked with smoke. A narrow place, between the backs of two houses, revealed the shouts of a group of the enemy setting the nearest house afire. Already evil flames were licking up the walls and getting under the thatched roof. Dahryl quickly loosed three arrows, but without effect, which he blamed on the smoke and the two walls which interfered with the flight path. He reached down for more arrows. Unaccountably, the quiver was empty! Either he hadn't noticed how few arrows it contained or he had somehow lost some in his dash to the alley, while intent on not getting shot.

The houses that formed the constricted courtyard were flaming out of control by then. He had no other choice but to brave the street once more and regain the square. A peasant was cowering in the opening of the alley. Dahryl pushed the man out into the street and the two of them dashed for cover. They made it. But the elf took another light wound from a bolt.

The mass of lesser thugs from the forest had gone over the fence and advanced up the northeast street to attack the defenders of the square. These were Librohn, his four swordsmen and Meaghanne. The thugs were no match for the village's leader. And the girl, with the help of a flanking swordsman, also dispatched the first enemy to arrive within sword stroke.

The casualties from this resistance broke the thugs' morale and they withdrew from the fight back down the street between burning buildings, over the fence and into the trees. They were pursued a short distance down the street by Librohn and Meaghanne, who accounted for several more before the thugs got out of reach.

Feudal spearmen had penetrated across the fences, but upon seeing the discomfiture of the thugs, ran off east, where they rallied upon the field of cabbage, radish and rutabaga. By then the buildings at that corner of the village were flaming violently. The reorganized spearmen slowly approached the village again.

The feudal horsemen and Knights that had followed along the south bank of the stream arrived at the entrance to the village, splashed over the ford and entered in single file between the burning houses. Barely able to keep their horses under control, the foremost of their number approach the square and met Dehpudzy. He unhorsed the first man to cross lances, then skewered him where he lay on the ground. Twice more he slew. And the rest of the company of horsed attackers turned and make rapid tracks out of the burning village, back across the ford, and continued to flee.

The squadron of Antania's Knights pulled aside and let these cravens pass, then closed up and took their places, trotting up the main street toward the square. The first houses to be set on fire had by then burned mostly to the ground. There was a great deal of smoke but less fire now. The first Knight to reach the erstwhile marshal, Sir Skoluh'r, went down as surely and quickly as the others.

By then, Tubby and his fellow commander, Gowhan (he commanded the longbows and spearmen), had had a palaver over their options.

Gowhan's archers were out of arrows by then. The barracks and tavern refused to catch on fire, the rear door was most stubborn, the village was almost entirely engulfed in flames or had already succumbed to the same, and the square was obviously very stoutly defended. What was the point of pursuing this attack any more? The message had been sent: Do not rebel against the twin emperors, or this is the fate that will fall upon you. There were other villages along the outskirts of the Kanti forest, which adhered to the younger brothers, Ebrohs and Gerath. Those rebels needed a lesson, like this one. The village of "Kanti" would become a byword. Other villages might surrender when it was known what had occurred here. The emperors' command to "slay every living soul" could be temporized by the situation: every soul which had come into their power was indeed a bleeding or smoldering corpse.

So it was decided to withdraw, regroup, recruit, and move on to the next village that flew the banner of Ebrohs and Gerath. Hearing the horns, the Knights wheeled about in the street and cantered away. Sir Skoluh'r Dehpudzy let them go. The street before him was choked enough with the bodies of his foes as it was, and out in the open he and his tiny company would stand no chance.

The square was filled with rejoicing and grieving and furious villagers. Many of their menfolk were dead. The whole village was destroyed except for the barracks and inn building, a longhouse and a cottage that fronted the square. Kanti was no more.

Librohn counseled with his men and the remaining menfolk of his mortally wounded village. It was decided to appeal to the Kanti forest elves to help the women and children through to the north territories. Meanwhile, the men would track the brigands and attack them as best they could.

Dahryl said that his folk would provide a support for this effort. Their sacred forest had been physically threatened by this attack. The fired buildings could have easily set the trees alight. That affront must not go unpunished. So the Kantim would have their revenge, and send a counter message: do not come near the forest with fire or sword, or you will pay a heavy price.

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