Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What do you think of Chapter 1 of Tony Hilling's "Betrayal"? PLEASE leave a comment!

Unlike the Kamargan “wars”, the hostilities between the Davarenges and the Pintawab took place in one decisive battle. The Pintawab had for generations been subject to the Davarenges and had paid tribute to Davarensrod for the privilege of having their own state and monarchy. Xamindor, the Pintawab king, however, had an independent streak in him and had proved more autonomous than the Davarenges had liked. Malengus, therefore deposed him and appointed a puppet regime under Cheraktav, a rival to Xamindor. As soon as the Davarenge battalion had returned to Davarenspay, Cheraktav was assassinated and Xamindor was restored to power by his own followers. The token Davarenge battalion then retraced their steps but were met at the borders of Pintawab and Davarensrod by a large army of Pintawab warriors. They judged it prudent to hold their position until reinforcements arrived.

The Pintawab were native to the southern parts of Aedistamen. They were a very tall, dark-skinned people, with black hair, large, slanted eyes and delicate, pointed ears. It was generally agreed among the men of Aedistamen that the women of the Pintawab were the most beautiful of all. With respect to battlefield tactics, their warriors were mostly footmen, with long spears and small round heavy shields. They were more organized than the Kamargans and in battle deployed themselves in a large rectangular phalanx of spearmen. They also had a small division of light cavalry.

‘Eagle’ Corps of the Davarenge army, now under Vanus, was dispatched to reinforce the battalion of five hundred men, which had been held up at the border. Vanus, instead of taking the narrow coastal road, shrewdly turned inland and, after sending messengers to the local battalion, took up a position on the west side of the Broad Coulee, threatening Pintawab City to the south. Xamindor, had to turn eastwards in a frantic march to come between the Davarenges and Pintawab City in terrain they knew well, but not to their liking. The Davarenges occupied the desirable high ground in a wide descending slope, which would favour the deployment of cavalry.

There on the third Arc of the fourth Cycle in second Full Season of Malengus III’s reign, the two armies of equal strength met. The Pintawab had only managed to take their positions before the Mid-Arc, after a forced march during the Dark. Again, Vanus had chosen his position well, expecting that the Daystar would be beating down on the enemy during the last Sandfalls of the Arc. However, there was one matter that he was having difficulty controlling, and that was the Davarenge Lords in the Heavy Horse.

Technically, Vanus, albeit a recent appointment as general, was in command. Nonetheless, the Davarenge Lords being of the aristocracy, were jealous of their position and demanded of this young upstart that they drive the enemy from the field in a frontal charge. Vanus felt forced into a strategy that seemed imprudent at the beginning of a battle. He had insisted though that the Heavy Horse charge from the flanks only when the infantry and archers were in po sition to support. The exchange between himself and the Lords was worthy of a battle itself and could well have been the main event.
Vanus thought he had had his way: he had ordered that the Heavy Horse merely probe the Pintawab front line. But in this he was ignored.

The Heavy Horse managed to break the front line of the Pintawab spears but the phalanx held and the Davarenge cavalry ground to a halt at the second and third line. Vanus had felt pressed into joining the charge himself and was dragged along into going farther than he had originally intended. A spear caught him in the armour of the upper shoulder and a throwing axe hit him in the head. Luckily, his helmet took the brunt of the impact, but he was thrown from his mount. A young squire picked him up and brought him back to the Davarenge front line.

Owa’en saw the commotion as Vanus was brought back barely conscious. The squire informed him that not a few of the Lords had found their destiny at the end of the Pintawab spears. Without waiting for any battlefield commission, Owa’en took command and recalled the Horse to the flanks. Then, as the Great Star was now behind him in the west, he moved the whole Corps forward with the archers in the centre. At about three hundred paces from the Pintawab line he ordered his archers to fire in the air, aiming at the Pintawab centre. Volley upon volley rained down on the Pintawab phalanx. With the Great Star in their eyes and their small shields the Davarenge arrows began to find their mark. In addition, it did not miss the attention of the Pintawab warriors that the centre was the target and many began to move to the flanks. Owa’en then re-deployed the Heavy Horse in a narrow charge on the Pintawab centre.

He spoke without sparing to Lord Festa’an, the Cavalry Commander. “I want you to charge on their centre, do you hear me? Not at their shield wall, as you did before, but at their centre, where our arrows have made a passage for you. I want you to be an arrow at their heart, not the flat of a sword against a breastplate! Do you understand? Inform Lord Galandus now!”

Festa’an was taken aback, but had to acknowledge that the Cavalry had made no ground earlier on. He passed on the message and the Heavy Horse charged again as the last of the arrows poured down on the Pintawab. This time the Heavy Horse came from the flanks and converged in a “V” formation. They sliced into the remainder of the Pintawab phalanx. The Davarenge archers had done their work, and the cavalry were able to push right through and effectively cut it in two. Meanwhile, Owa’en moved forward with two of his infantry divisions and poured into the gap created by the Horse. The remaining foot soldiers spread out like the horns of a bull and engaged the Pintawab flanks. The long spears were somewhat successful at stopping the Horse earlier in the day but the Davarenge infantry just hacked them out of the way. Their shield wall held momentarily, but with their lines split and outflanked, the Pintawab panicked, turned and fled.

With little vegetation or rocks to hide, the Pintawab were slaughtered mercilessly on the open coulee. As the Great Star sank, the Davarenge Heavy Horse had to rest from the carnage such was their exhaustion from pursuing and slaying the defeated. Xamindor himself, was badly wounded and captured. Those that threw down their weapons fared better at the hands of the Davarenge infantry. About four to five thousand Pintawab were taken prisoner. The remaining five thousand had either fled or had been butchered.

The Davarenge Lords were exultant and felt that they had deserved the glory of the Arc, though Festa’an grudgingly acknowledged that Owa’en’s command was the real reason for the great victory. His success was dampened a little when the Lords insisted that they impale Xamindor. Owa’en bluntly refused. He explained why: the king had surrendered; the battle was over. The Lords then wanted to have sport with the prisoners, which Owa’en again refused. Lord Galandus, the Heavy Horse Assistant Commander questioned Owa’en’s authority, but Vanus, who had recovered consciousness, backed him squarely.

“Owa’en is in command even now, though I am somewhat recovered; you know the army order,” he declared to Galandus. “You know that I cannot even require Owa’en to return that command. It was legitimately taken while I was unconscious and cannot be restored without his approval. What is more, if I were him, I still would retain command until he is assured that I am fully able to function.”

Vanus was having not a little pleasure at the Lord’s discomfiture. He was lying on a canvas bed inside his tent, bandages about his head and shoulder.

Galandus was pacing with nervous energy. He was small for a Davarenge and disliked being off his mount, which accented his small stature. He was red-haired and green-eyed, with a choleric disposition, and given to great expansive hand gestures.
“But he did not even wait for a battlefield commission,” said the Lord, his hands flailing uselessly in all directions. “Does not the Army Order say that you have to relinquish command?”

“If the commander is unconscious, or even wounded and functioning with some difficulty, the second-in-command may assume command. This can happen even if hostilities have not commenced. And as you well know, we were in the midst of a battle. I was unconscious. Owa’en had no choice but to assume command and direct the army. His command continues and his decisions apply whether you like it or not.”

“But he wouldn’t even let us have our way with Xamindor, or the prisoners!” Galandus was still pacing, shaking his head and clenching his teeth, as if being denied a basic right.

“Owa’en has his reasons,” explained Vanus patiently. “He’s no doubt thinking of the future. Xamindor has been cowed. He’s easily the best leader and will probably cooperate with us. This will mean a smooth transition, more money in the treasury, Malengus happy at home and fewer problems abroad. And anyway, there are four thousand Pintawab corpses out there, My Lord, don’t you think that’s enough? How much more blood do you want?”

“We are the Heavy Horse, My Lord,” said Galandus, barely hiding his anger. “We are not accustomed to being reined in by some general fresh out of the Academy.”

“That fresh general won the Arc for you, Galandus, and probably saved your lordly hide into the bargain,” said Vanus, his patience now fully depleted by his fatigue and wounds. “I find myself growing tired, my lord, perhaps you would be good enough to raise these matters at the next meeting of the Davarenge Lords. As it is, Owa’en is in command and his orders stand.” The interview was clearly over.

Galandus barely saluted, turned and strode out of the tent in disgust.

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  1. A very intricate story. It's obvious a lot of work and sanctified imagination went into this.