|Quayam Srae||Elf adventurer and sorcerer, husband of Gristel||M 188|
|Gristel Virage||Adventurer, wife of Quayam||F 51|
|Thristen Alomere||Adventurer, friend of Quayam and Gristel||M 43|
|Zak||Orc girlfriend of Thristen, dancer||F 21|
|Gashley Virage||Retired General of Varay, father of Gristel||M 77|
The Ursian-Endan War of 2484 began on the 17th October with the landing of two divisions of Endan infantry on the Ursian coast two hundred kilometers south of Karadan. For a summary of the causes of the war, see a discussion between Quayam Srae, Ursia-based adventurer, and Richard Crockford, the Endan Ambassador to Caravel, which took place after the Opening Ceremony of the Trans-Outland Highway.
From Gristel Virage's Diary, 10th October 2484.
We are attached to the Sixth Cavalry Division, Ursian Land Forces. All six divisions of the army are cavalry. Ursia has not bothered with infantry at all. The first and second divisions are horse and the rest of us are camel. The first and second are in the west, where there is more water, near Karadan. The first and second are made up of professional soldiers, in the pay of the Ursian government all year round. The camel divisions are made up of Bahai from the desert. They have joined up to fight in this war, and will go home when it's done. We're here with the sixth because we like the commander and they will be fighting in the desert, opposing the crossing of the river. We figured our wyverns would be more use out here.
The Bahai bring their own equipment and wear no uniform. But that's okay: you could not mistake a Bahai in his robe, his face in the shade, armed with lance, buckler, and scimitar, for an Endan in the livery of the king. So their clothes are a uniform of sorts. Although the Bahai are divided into many tribes, and they fight among themselves constantsly, the all speak Ursian. Ursian has been their language for thousands of years, and they take pride in it. The wizards arriving here five hundred years ago chose the Bahai language for the language of their new state, and it is as well they did. Otherwise these Bahai would feel like foreigners in their own army.
The Bahai like to fight. They have sworn fealty to the state, so it's possible that fear of the wizards has encouraged them to come, or reverence of the knonn. And then there is the pay: ten guineas a week in gold coin. We get paid too, and because of our history of service to the state, we get twenty guineas a week. Yesterday was our first pay day. I have twenty guineas in my pocket, and it feels good.
It's been twenty-five years since I last rode in a division. That was in the Varayan Army. I had forgotten the simplicity of life in the army. You know when you have to go to bed, when to stand watch, when to get up in the morning, and where to make camp. All you have to worry about is being killed in battle, which I suppose is worrying to the inexperienced, but I don't seriously think it's going to happen to me in this war. Perhaps I'm wrong, but the fact remains that I'm not worried about it.
This crowd is unlike our Varayan army. It's all men, for a start, which I don't like. Men are tense and boastful when they are deprived of women. It's bad policy to separate men and women when they have serious work to do. But that's the way it is here. The Bahai women don't bother coming out to fight. I've heard it said that their men won't let them, whatever that means. I can't see Quayam telling me I can't do something. One thing is for sure: there's not a woman among the Bahai cavalry. The two horse divisions are different. They are men and women from all over the continent.
There is a squad of ten wyvern scouts from the Ursian Air Force attached to our division. They work with the commander, but they don't take orders from him. There are a hundred adventurers like us. Twenty or so have griffs or wyverns. The division provides meat and grooms for all the beasts, and they provide camels so that we can ride into battle. We have ten wizards. Each wizard has two adjutants to serve him, and a wagon full of equipment. In battle, their job is to break the enemy infantry shield walls with lightening balls and other such spells, or to frighten enemy horses, so that our cavalry can get in and do the killing.
We expect to have one cohort of a hundred hippogriffs from the UAF and one squad of ten wizards on hippogriff working with us as well. The squads of wizards are called Wizard Attack Groups, so we call them "wags". Their job is to fly with conjuring lances and make walls of conjured wood to constrain our enemy, and to annihilate those walls to kill him. The UAF's main job is to control the number of Endan troops crossing the Fen River. The plan is to allow one division only to cross at a time. Our hope is that two of our cavalry divisions can overwhelm one Endan division in less than a day. It that does not work, the WAGs are supposed to make walls to separate the Endan divisions so that we can attack them one at a time. That's more risky, however, because the WAGs have to come low to make walls, and there will be thousands of people shooting at them. So our main hope is to hold them at the river and let them through one at a time.
In the Varayan army, we dig in when we camp. Five thousand troops can dig a ditch two kilometers long, two meters deep, with a rampart a meter high on one side, in an hour. This will sound incredible to those of you who have not seen it, but it's true. If each trooper carries a couple of stakes, he can stick them on top of the rampart, and now you have a pallisade. You use the two kilometer ditch to enclose a square area five hundred meters on each side. Now you have fifty square meters per trooper, which is enough for his horse, his tent, and his fire. The ditch, rampart, and palisade are a formidable barrier. At night you have one man on guard every five meters while all the rest sleep.
The Ursian army does not dig in. The Bahai don't like that kind of work. They don't even bother to bury their toilet. We are having a devil of a time stopping them from fouling what camps we do make, let alone asking them to dig latrines. The desert, however, is dry and windy. We move each day and camp somewhere else. And there's no particular order in the camps we make either. A Varayan camp has streets and places for every squad, platoon, company, battalion, and regiment. We just stop any old how and the officers have to make a map for the commander so he will know how to distribute our scouts.
There's not much point in us digging in anyway. We will control the skies with our griffs. We know where the enemy is. If he attempts to close upon us in numbers, our wizards will put up walls to stop him. We don't expect the Endans to dig in either. We would love it if they did, in fact, but they would be blown apart by our thunder eggs. They must spread out. Without a camp, however, and without being able to watch us moving across the desert from the air, we will be able to attack them at night, and they won't sleep so well.
Our commander is a wizard: Division Commander Banisadre. He's about sixty with a face like a leather bag. I don't think he's much of a wizard, actually. I have never seen him cast a spell. But he must at least be able to cast the spell that permits him to vote in the Ursian elections, or else he would not be here. Ursian law requires that all commanders of regimental rank and above to be wizards. We joined the sixth because we liked him Banisadre. The army needs more like him. Most of the commanders are wizards with only an academic understanding of war. Banisadre has fought campaigns in other countries.
We bake bread around the fire in the evening, but the division supplies us with meat, vegetables and fruit. The food has been pretty good, actually. I don't doubt that they can supply us with whatever they want using the same methods we ourselves use in the Cliff House Hotel: open a bridge to Olympia and have the stuff thrown through in sacks as fast as you can. Expensive, but better than starving your soldiers when they are about to fight. It's not the food for the riders that is prohibitive, it's the fodder for the camels. They can go without water for a long way, and food, which is a fine thing, but when they eat and drink they eat and drink a lot. I reckon they need four times as much of both as I do. So it's Banisadre's job to make sure that we can be supplied wherever we go. We will try to use the UAF to force the Endans to cross at places where we can be supplied while opposing them.
Most of the wizards are confident we are going to win. They say superior technology will always triumph over superior numbers. Banisadre says, "Never underestimate the power of superior numbers." The Endans, we believe, are going to field twenty divisions against our six. Quayam, Thristen, and I think we're going to lose. The Bahai don't seem to care. I expect they will fade away into the desert if things go badly. We'll fade away too, of course, on our wyverns. The guys who are going to get the worst of it, I reckon, are the griff riders. They are going to be diving straight down on boats full of Endans, being shot at by longbows, dropping their thunder eggs so that they stick to the water and explode, and when they turn after the drop, their wings are spread and vulnerable. Without them, I think, we will be lost. We think the Endans are going to take Karadan. But we'll do our best to stop them anyway.
We are waiting for the conflict to start. The Endans are amassing their troops north of the Fen River. Our scouts are watching them, but their cavalry move every night, so we must locate them again, and their infantry can move unseen through the forest north of the river. We are together now with the third to fifth divisions, fifty kilometers south of the Fen River and a hundred kilometers west of the Fen Swamps. The first and second divisions are two hundred kilometers to our west. Their job will be to defend Karadan. Ours will be to defend the Fen River. We await the arrival of the Ursian and Karadan newspapers each morning by wyvern courier, and sit around listening to someone reading them out loud. I suggested to Banisadre that the land forces have an information division, printing and distributing news about the war. He laughed at the idea, saying nobody smart enough to read would believe a newspaper printed by wizards. To my mind, this is a poor excuse for not bothering to care for the morale of your tropps. I note, however, that I am the only one complaining about it. Very few of the Bahai can read.
We chronicle the invasion of Ursia by the Endan army with quotations from newspapers carried to the Ursian Sixth Division by wyvern scouts.
At dawn yesterday, 17th October, the Endan navy landed ten thousand cavalry two hundred kilometers to the south of Karadan. At the same time, fifty thousand Endan infantry attempted to cross the Fen River in row-boats five hundred kilometers east of Karadan, at the edge of the Fen Swamps. The arrival of the Endan transport ships on the coast came as a surprise to the Ursian Air Force, and the landings were not opposed. But the attempted crossing of the river was met with vigorous opposition by two cohorts of hippogriffs. Five riders and their mounts were lost in the action. According to the UAF spokesman here, only a few hundred Endans were able to cross the river, and these have encamped in a stand of trees on the south bank. (Karadan Daily News, morning of 18th October)
Yesterday, 18th October, roughly ten thousand Endan infantry crossed the Fen River in row-boats twenty kilometers east of Karadan. Another force of five thousand infantry crossed the river a hundred kilometers east of the city. The exact locations of the Ursian cavalry divisions are being withheld from the press, but the Ursian Land Forces spokeswoman in Karadan assures us that they are active in their persuit of the enemy. (Karadan Daily News, morning of 19th October)
Yesterday, 19th October, our flying wizards engaged the enemy twenty kilometers east of our city, laying down walls to slow their approach to the city. Nevertheless, they appear closer than they were yesterday. The Ursian Land Forces spokeswoman states that the force near the city consists of two divisions of Endan infantry. Another division of Endan infantry was on the same day engaged and driven back by two divisions of Ursian Horse. Farther east, on the Fen River near the Fen Swamp, four divisions of Ursian cavalry engaged two divisions of Endan infantry. So far as we can tell, these two divisions crossed the Fen River despite the efforts of the UAF over the past two days. But they were outnumbered four camel divisions. In a sharp conflict with wizards engaging the enemy at close range, half the Endan troops appear to have been either captured or killed. Details of the engagement on Page Two. The UAF continued to oppose the crossing of further troops at the same bend in the Fen River, suffering further losses among its riders in the process. Details on Page Two. (Karadan Daily News, morning 20th October)
Two divisions of Endan infantry entered Karadan today, 20th October. The city has fallen. Wizard attack groups attempted to slow their progress overland, but the Endans were able to destroy the barriers put up in their way. Their crossing of the river in strength so close to the city two days before came as a surprise to the army and was unopposed by the air force. Two divisions of horse calvalry were not able to intercept the Endan divisions. The Endans entered the city unopposed. Reports from citizens in the city state that there has been no damage of public property, but curfew has been announced, the troops have been quartered by force in the homes of the citizens, and the city ordered to provide food for the soldiers and fodder for pack animals. The Endan commander stated that the local government will remain in control until such time as the Endans incorporate Karadan into their nation, which is their intention and purpose. (The News, an Ursian evening paper, 20th October)
Today, 25th October, the Ursian Air Force reports it inflicted severe casualties upon a division of Endan Cavalry it caught in open country a hundred kilometers south of Karadan. By laying down invisible walls in a circle about the cavalry, and bombarding them with explosions within, the divisions were driven to confusion and up to a fifth of their horses and men are believed to be casualties. These forces south of Karadan have yet to be engaged by the Ursian Land Forces. Their progress towards Karadan has been impeded only by flying wizards erecting barriers, and their only losses have been inflicted by the Air Force. Karadan city itself remains in the hands of the Endans. The ULF has revealed no plans to re-take the city. Meanwhile, in the eastern theatre, the camel divisions continue to battle every day with Endans crossing the river. The air force appears to be stemming the tide of Endan troops crossing the river by row-boat, but several thousand trooops are able to make the crossing each day, despite their efforts. Flying wizards, hippogriff cohorts, and mounted wizards have been acting together to break up the Endan infantry shield walls and frighten their cavalry. For details of their tactics as observed by our reported in the fifth division, see Page Three. (The News, an Ursian evening paper, 25th October)
Yesterday, 27th October, our reporter in Karadan witnessed outside the walls of our own harbor a heroic and tragic defence of our city against Endan reinforcement. Two cohorts of the Ursian Air Force attacked and repelled an Endan frigate, but at the cost of ten riders. Thanks to the efforts of the Air Force, the Endans established in Karadan have received no reinforcements since they arrived. Losses among the Air Force have been mounting. Of one thousand riders available at the start of the conflict, only five hundred remain able to fly. All the rest are either dead, wounded, or captured. Of ten wizard attack groups, only eight remain. The Ursian Land Forces divisions, have lost roughly one in four of their riders and the troops are reportedly near exhaustion from fighting all day every day. The situation on the Fen River now appears to be desparate. Three divisions have established a bridge-head on the south side of the river opposite the Endan town of Biali. Four divisions of camel have ridden one hundred kilometers in two days to encircle them. Another five or six Endan divisions are reported to be preparing to cross the river tomorrow in force and at one time. Because the Endans are moving up from south of Karadan, attempting to land troops in Karadan harbor, poised to cross at several points along the Fen River near Karadan, and planning to cross to their bridge head at the same time, our five remaining hippogriff cohorts appear to be spread too thin to stop them. Losses among the cohorts yesterday at the Endan bridge head were heavy: a total of thirty riders out of a hundred and twenty going into action. The river at the bridge head is narrow enough that hippogriffs attacking boats can be shot by archers on one side of the river or the other, so that there is no safe way for them to drop their thunder-eggs with accuracy. (The News, an Ursian evening paper, 27th October)
27th October 2484
It is late at night. The moon has set. The stars shine occasionally through breaks in the clouds above, but for the most part it is absolutely dark. Quayam, Thristen, and Gristel are on foot, moving along a road in the darkness. They are wearing armor and weapons, and carrying their small packs on their backs. With them is the mysterious Agent Z, a nineteen year old woman who lives in Anon. She crossed the river tonight, to deliver news to the Ursians. She is an Ursian spy. Why she works for the Ursians, our heroes have not asked. But she speaks Ursian fluently, with a native accent. It is she who leads them now, through a garden to a dock where three canoes are tied up. With the help of a dim luminous stone, they board two canoes and set out across the wide, turbid waters of the Fen River.
It is so dark during the crossing that our heroes can tell the whereabouts of the neighboring canoe only by listening to its paddle strokes. At the same time, they take care to make as little noise as possible. They do not know how many Endan soldiers might be hiding in the shadows on the other side. According to Ursian Land Forces Intelligence, the nearest Endan division is five kilometers downstream.
Agent Z steers the first canoe with Thristen in the front, and Quayam and Gristel follow behind. They enter a secluded eddy on the far bank. Here they take their time pushing the canoes up onto a sandy bank and disembarking. Agent Z has them stop moving and listen several times, although they don't hear anything.
There are three divisions of Endan infantry on the Ursian side of the river twenty kilometers to the west. They have thrown up ramparts around their position. Around them are four divisions of Ursian cavalry, supported by two cohorts of hippogriffs. Ursia has only five cohorts of hippogriffs left, and the other three are busy in the Western Theatre, repelling attempted landings of infantry by the Endan Navy. So two cohorts is all that can be spared to deter the crossing of more Endans tomorrow. Tonight, beneath the cover of darkness, Ursian wizards have placed a wall of conjured wood behind the bridgehead of Endan infantry on the south side, so the Endans dare not cross in the dark. But tomorrow, they might attempt to do so, and two hundred hippogriffs are not enough to stop five divisions if those divisions have enough boats.
Ursian intelligence says that they do have enough boats. The boats are stashed in several caches opposite the bridge heat. One such cache of several hundred row-boats is, according to Agent Z, stashed at the center of Biali, a town ten kilometers from the river. It is Quayam, Thristen, and Gristel's job to destroy those boats before they can be used. If the crossing of more Endan divisions can be delayed, even for another day, there is a good chance that the four Ursian divisions, with the help of the air force and the many wizards embedded with the troops, can overwhelm and capture the bridgehead, thus ending this, the gravest threat faced by Ursia so far in the war.
Agent Z leads them up the bank to a road. Hands on one another's shoulders, they proceed in near total darkness to the east, then turn north on a cart track. When they come to an Endan road block, with lanterns and ten guards, they sneak around it through the fields and rejoin the track further north. Two hours walk brings them to the outskirts of Biali.
Agent Z leads them to the center of the town. The streets are dark. Ahead they see a square, well-lit by lamps and torches. At the center of the square is a compound surrounded by a four-meter stone wall.
"The boats are in the compound," she says. "I don't know how they are stored, but I know they are in there. There is also a barracks in the compound, with roughly a hundred men. The square itself is guarded always by four men at each entrance. There are five entrances."
"Got it," Gristel says.
"Can I go now? Am I done?"
"Yes," Quayam says. "We'll take it from here."
Agent Z disappears in to the darkness.
"How do we get in there?" Thristen says. "We could rush the wall and get over by rope while one of us keeps the guards off."
"And then what?" Gristel says. "How does he get over the wall, this last person?"
They watch the sentries at the end of the street. The barracks is visible over the wall. "Men are going to pour out of that barracks like ants," Gristel says.
"I could make a balloon. There is a slight easterly breeze. If we climb a building on the east side, we could just drift down in."
Our heroes make their way along the street, staying in the shadows, until they come to a side street. They walk down this and climb the walls of a two-story building. Once on the roof, they look down upon the compound. They are high enough to see over the walls. Within there is a covered area fifty meters long and thirty meters wide. The roof over it is made of canvass supported by wood.
"The boats are under there," Quayam says.
He makes a basket of brown conjured wood and a transparent balloon, singing as quietly as he can. Thristen and Gristel help him by holding the pieces as he makes them. They work by the the dim reflected light of the lanterns in the square below.
"Its been years since we did this," Gristel says. "We used to travel like this all the time."
"All the way across Harmonia," Thristen says, "Most of the way across Bragos. And on Draxius. Those were good times."
When the balloon is done, Quayam fills it with buoyant foam and it rises from the roof. They step into the basket one after another. In a few minutes, the basket leaves the roof and floats out across the square. Quayam pulls on a rope and foam escapes from the top of the balloon. They descend. The guards in the square notice them floating towards the compound and call out in alarm. Within the compound, the sentries look up.
The balloon lands upon the canvass roof. The three rides jump out and rush along the rafters to the far end. The balloon surges up and away. They drop from the roof to the ground. The sentries, all six of them, are rushing towards them, weapons drawn. They draw their swords and fight. Within seconds, the sentries are unconscious or wounded.
Turning her back on the sentries, Gristel walks under the roof. Her companions follow. It is dark, but she sees the shapes of boats stacked in rows, two or three on top of one another. There must be hundreds of them.
"Go to work," she says. Quayam begins to sing. His job is to fill the space beneath the roof with conjured sponge. Thristen stands behind him and Gristel in front. Sentries in ring armor attack them. Those that attack Gristel must make their way between the boats. Seven of them get through before further incursions become impossible because the way is blocked by conjured sponge. Quayam is using his targeting solenoid to make sure that even the space below the boats is filled with sponge.
While Gristel is faced with seven opponents, only two of which can get to her at a time, Thristen's predicament is less favorable. He is facing out from the boat store, and twelve sentries are facing him, with three attacking him at once. Despite these odds, he holds them off. He and Gristel have agreed to knock out or injure their opponents rather than kill them if at all possible. When Gristel has seen to the soldiers under the roof, she moves to Thristen's side and fights with him.
"I'm done," Quayam says. He takes out a thunder-egg and steps from beneath the roof so that he can address the crowds of soldiers gathering in front of Thristen and Gristel. "Listen up, all of you!" he says in Endan. "I'm going to blow up these boats. It's going to be a huge explosion. Nobody under the roof or near the roof will survive."
The captain of the soldiers says, "You will kill our wounded."
"So drag them out," Quayam says. "We'll move off ten paces. We have a cease fire for one minute. You drag your men out. Then I blow the place. If you try any tricks, I'll blow the place right away."
The captain thinks for a few seconds. The soldiers have backed away from Thristen and Gristel. "Very well," he says, "We agree. Cease fire for one minute."
"Go," Quayam says.
The Endans pull their wounded out of the way. There are thirty-two of them. Almost all are knocked out and bleeding. But some are just bleeding, and bleeding so profusely that they cannot move themselves. In just a little over a minute, their hundred comrades get them out of the way.
"Stay down," Quayam says. "Fire in the hole!"
He throws a thunder-egg under the roof and ducks. There is a hiss and a flash. The flash spreads in half a second through the entire boat store, so that the entire space is one blaze of white light, and then the roof is flying in the air and heat is searing their faces. The crack of the explosion rings in their ears. When they look up, the boats are ablaze. The heat from the fire drives them back to the wall.
Once at the wall, Quayam builds a semi-circle of conjured wood. Thristen throws the grapnel over the wall and climbs over. The soldiers in the compound touch the wood with their swords, but do not attempt to chop through it. Thristen lands upon the other side of the wall. Four sentries attack him. He fends them off while Gristel and then Quayam come over behind him. By the time Quayam reaches the ground in the square, Gristel is knocking out the last of the sentries. The square on their side is deserted. What happened to the other sentries, they cannot say. But they do not stay to wonder, they rush out of the square and into the streets, and so disappear into the night from whence they came.
Quayam, Gristel, and Thristen were one of six groups of adventurers who went across the river that night to destroy boats. Four out of six were successful. One group was captured. The next day, the Endans attempt a crossing, but with too few boats to overwhelm the efforts of the hippogriffs, their attempt fails. On that same day, the Ursian cavalry overwhelms the three Endan divisions.
A summary of the war appearing on 5th November in The Echo newspaper of Gripp, home to the Vatzit School of Wizardry in Weiland, where interest in the struggle between wizards and armored soldiers was intense.
The Ursian-Endan war of 2484 is over. Ursia is the victor. The cunning savant has triumphed over the armed giant.
The Endans entered the war with a hundred thousand infantry and thirty thousand cavalry. They had at their disposal forty frigates built to withstand attack from the air. Their air force consisted of one hundred hippogriff scouts. The Ursian Land Forces fielded twenty thousand camel cavalry and ten thousand horse cavalry, but no infantry. The Ursian Air Force fielded one thousand hippogriff fighters, one hundred wyvern scouts.
Two hundred wizards took part in the war on the Ursian side. One hundred flew hippogriffs, carrying conjuring lances to build and annihilate walls of conjured wood. Another sixty were attached to the cavalry divisions to break shield walls with lightening balls. Another forty maintained the apparatus of communication and bridge suppression. The wizards were assisted by at least a thousand adjutants. These counts do not include the higher-ranking commanding officers of the Ursian Land Forces, all of whom Ursian law requires to be wizards. The regimental commander we spoke do described this policy as, "Making sure that the wizards had some skin in the game."
|Commanding Rank||Qualification||Army||10,000+||Army Commander||Wizard, 20 Years Service||Division||5,000||Division Commander||Wizard, 15 Years Service||Regiment||1,000||Regimental Commander||Wizard, 10 Years Service||Battalion||300||Battalion Commander||1 Year as Company Commander||Company||100||Company Commander||1 Year As Platoon Commander||Platoon||30||Platoon Commander||1 Year Squad Commander||Squad||10||Squad Commander||1 Year As Private|
The war began on the morning of 17th October, with the landing of two divisions of Endan cavalry south of Karadan. In the days that followed, five divisions of infantry crossed the Fen River just east of Karadan, and on 20th October, two divisions entered the city itself. It appeared to this correspondant, watching the shining troops of the Endan army marching through the streets of this unfortified city, that the war was already lost. But it now appears that this surrender of the city, and its lack of fortifications, were all part of the Ursian plan to win the war.
But the Ursians thought otherwise. South of the city, two divisions of cavalry were unable to make their way north to join their victorious comrades, for they were obstructed constantly by conjured walls erected among the hedgerows of that region by WAGs, and occasionally bombarded with thunder-eggs by the UAF. Three Endan divisions to the east of the city, were separated conjured walls and defeated one at a time by two divisions of Ursian horse. Ten Endan divisions attempting to cross the Fen River four hundred kilometers east of Karadan were repelled by UAF bombardment. Four divisions crossed one at a time, and each was defeated and captured in turn by the four divisions of Ursian camel opposing them.
According to the commander of a regiment in the fifth cavalry division, the moment the Ursians thought they might lose the war was on the 27th October. Just south of the Endan town of Biali, two hundred kilometers east of Karadan, three Endan infantry divisions were encamped on the south bank of the river, with six divisions preparing to cross from the north. The four Ursian camel divisions surrounded the Endan camp on the south bank. But half the UAF pilots had been lost in combat. Only three cohorts were available to repel further crossing at Biali.
That night, Ursian commandos, consisting mostly of adventurers who had been fighting in the Ursian ranks, crossed the river and destroyed most of the Endan row-boats with the help of thunder-eggs and equivalent spells. We spoke briefly to one wizard-adventurer, Cyrus the Red, about his role in the destruction of the boats. "I did not mean to burn the entire village. I believe that most of the people escaped. The boats did not escape. That's war for you. We didn't start it." Some of the commandos were captured, and a few are reported dead, but overall they were successful.
Lacking sufficient boats to cross all at once, the Endans failed to land any further troops on the south bank the next day. The four ULF camel divisions, assisted by UAF bombardment and by the participation of adventurers and wizards, defeated the three Endan divisions on Ursian soil. The Endan commander surrendered in the late afternoon of 28th October.
The Endans north of the river moved west. The camel divisions followed them on the south bank. On 1st November, an Endan flotilla destroyed a UAF cohort and landed another division of infantry in Karadan. But this was too little, too late, for on 2nd October, all six Ursian cavalry divisions entered the city. By the evening of 3rd, the commander of the three Endan divisions occupying the un-fortified city surrendered.
On 13th November the Endans signed a peace agreement. In this short conflict they suffered 5,000 dead, 20,000 wounded and captured, and 35,000 captured unharmed. Their small air force lost 50 of their 100 hippogriffs. For their part, the Ursians suffered 1,500 dead and 4,500 wounded. The UAF suffered 150 pilots dead, 450 pilots captured, 300 hippogriffs captured, 300 hippogriffs dead, and 5 flying wizards dead. Under the terms of the agreement, both parties were to care for the wounded, and to exchange prisoners within sixty days. The Ursians will keep 60,000 sets of armor and weapons. The army plans to distribute half of these as booty to their troops. The Endans will keep the captured hippogriffs. The Endans and Ursians promised to cease all hostilities for one year. Almost all alleged crimes by individuals of either side in the years leading up to the war, when these individuals were acting in an official capacity for either government, are now forgiven as acts of war.
The Ursians relied heavily upon conjured walls and thunder-eggs in this war. The walls were erected by the flying wizards. They blocked the movement of Endan troops and separated one division from another. These walls can be created again. The Ursian border with Endor, south of the Fen River, has been prepared for the past two centuries to anchor these walls to the ground, for they cannot be layed securely upon flat ground. Laborers have been building low walls of stone, planting lines of trees, or erecting fences, in a lattice-work of lines across the land south of the river, so as to anchor such walls to the ground for the defence of the country. These anchors remain.
But thunder-eggs are a different matter. It takes a thaumaturgist a week to make a thunder-egg. Ursia is reputed to have stock-piled twenty thousand before the war, and twenty-thousand sponge-eggs. If Endor strikes again one year from now, this will hardly have been time enough to replace these twenty-thousand missing weapons. The Endans might conclude that there will be no time better to attack Ursia than the day the armastice ends. If they do, then we must hope that Ursia, the cunning savant, can produce some new tricks with which to thwart its armed and gigantic neighbor.
In January 2485, the Trans-Outland Highway Authority institutes its tolls. People on foot travel for free. The toll per wagon axel is $1000. The toll per horse, donkey, mule, or ox is $500. There are still no hostels along the way, which makes the trip in winter a chilly one. But the orcs and giants living near the road are starting to bring firewood, forage, and food to sell to the travelers.
The Cliff House Hotel is now equipped with ten furnished rooms, a space bridge vaporizer for waste, twelve hippogriff stables, six wyvern stables, a corral for livestock, and four staff. Giants guard the corral and the base of the stairs that lead to the hotel. Queen Daybreak of Gutak, King Garandalsmashum of the Long Hills, and King Trackandslay of Mokul, have granted permission for all flying travelers to proceed through the outlands by following the path of the Trans-Outland Highway. The hotel charges $1000 per night for room and board, $500 for a wyvern, and $300 for a griff.
In the spring, Larak Moodmender returns to the outlands and completes the surface of the road across Mokul to the Green Horn Tavern. His team builds twenty shelters of conjured wood along the path of the road, so that there is one every twenty kilometers.
|Month||Toll Revenue (k$Ursian)||Hotel Profit (k$Ursian)|
In January, the TOHA board members settle their accounts with various people to whom they owe money, such as hotels in which they have stayed on credit and equipment vendors who have let them have armor and weapons on credit. The three of them each lend a million Ursian dollars to the company, which is incorporated in Varay. At the end of the year, TOHA's fixed costs, which consist of Larak Moodmender's fee ($500k), staff salaries at either end of the road ($300k), hotel staff salaries ($300k), staff food and lodging ($250k), Travis and Romayne ($300k), maintenance of all but magical road surface ($100k) come to a total of $1,750,000. They started the year with $300k. At the end of the year, they have $2.93M in the bank, and owe $3M to themselves. If it had not been for a saboteur annihilating sections of the road in October, which caused a dramatic drop in traffic in November, they might have made a profit. Even during the summer campaign, which crossed the road in July, traffic remained high. Wagons and riders shared the road with ogres carrying war supplies from Gutak to the battle fields on the north edge of the Long Hills.
Dusk, 4th November 2485, Long Hills, Western Outlands.
On a cold Autumn night, Quayam, Gristen, and Thristen are camping in the Long Hills. They are here to find and capture a saboteur. On the nights of October 4th, 16th and 30th, sections of the conjured wood surface of the Trans-Outland Highway, each about a hundred meters long, were annihilated. All three were on the plain between the Long Hills and Mokul. Each time the resulting explosion could be heard several kilometers away. Travelers passed word to the Green Horn Tavern and The Birdcage, and traffic on the road came to a near stand-still.
Our heroes' wyverns shelter together beneath a conjured canopy on the far side of their camp fire.
"We could be out here for weeks waiting for it to happen again," Gristel says.
"We have time," Thristen says. "The Endans won't invade Ursia again until 13th November."
"I was thinking more of the comfort of my fifty-one year old body."
Almost a year has passed since the night of the burning boats. Ursia and Gutak have opened diplomatic relations. Coldiron is the Gutak ambassador to Ursia. He and Cloudmover now live in Pakesh. Quayam and Gristel spend the early spring helping them settle into their new life. In the reverse direction, Bolus, one-time adventuring comrade of Quayam, Thristen, and Gristel, moves to Gutak City to be the Ursian ambassador to the court of Queen Daybreak. He discusses politics with the Varayan Ambassador, Gashley Virage, and plays cards with Dominican and some black-orcs of the court. By mid-summer Bolus is fluent in orcish, and takes to going for walks in the city. He has with him a hippogriff, and visits the Cliff House Hotel when Gristel and Quayam are staying there. Thristen is living in the Gutak Court with Zak and their baby Kim, who was one year old in August.
The summer campaign of the Western Outlands has come and gone. General Rackhammer of Gutak took to the field in early June, using the Trans-Outland Highway to cross the Long Hills. He commanded a total of nine divisions on the eastern front drawn from Gutak, Mokul, and Dag. Allied with him was General Rockorso of Gadz, commanding four divisions on the southern front. Opposing them were thirteen divisions drawn from Garaz, Vaz, and Ankh, commanded by General Carnus of Garaz on the western front. Quayam, Thristen, and Gristel watched the campaign from above. They acted as scouts at times for Rackhammer. On June 19th, the Battle of the White Horse was fought in the Old Hills south of Kiali. Rackhammer captured two of Carnus's divisions and placed them in Mokul. The Battle for Garaz was fought on July 11th between the Boome River and Garaz City. This battle was indecisive. After it, Rackhammer's forces withdrew four hundred kilometers and entered the Long Hills using the Trans Outland Highway. Carnus did not attempt to follow Rackhammer into the hills, but instead took his forces across the highway to the outskirts of Dag. On the way, he rescuing the two two divisions Rackhammer had captured earlier in the campaign. But Carnus over-stretched his supplies. After a few days foraging in Dag, he withdrew his forces along the north bank of the Mokul River. He fought at a disadvantage in the Battle of the North River on July 28th and retreated through the Old Hills the next day, with Rackhammer in pursuit. The campaign ended with Rackhammer forcing Carnus across the Boome River south of the border with Caravel on August 11th. Carnus and Rackhammer agreed to a cessation of hostilities until the following summer. No tribute was paid, but for the first time in twenty years, Gutak and her allies brought the war to Garaz soil, and for a second year running, Gadz fought as Gutak's ally and paid no tribute to Garaz.
"I'm looking forward to camping for a while," Quayam says. He strokes his goatee. "I'm getting weak from soft living."
A few minutes pass. The fire crackles and our heroes watch the flames.
"In the old days we would have someone keeping watch," Gristel says. "Now we don't bother."
"It would be great if someone attacked us," Thristen says.
"Well, exactly. When we were young, we were always excited. We had so little and hoped for so much. Now we have everything we could ask for: money, fame, family, friends."
"Wyverns," Thrisen says.
"Yes. We have wyverns. It's damned cold on a wyvern."
Another minute passes. Thristen looks at Gristel. "So what's your point?"
"I think I'm depressed."
Quayam nods. "She's depressed."
"Cardil went throught the same thing at my age," Gristel says. "She called it a mid-life crisis."
"That's what everyone calls it," Thristen says.
"It's a wonder to me that elves don't go nuts living forever. Everything must get old."
"I'm an elf. I'm doing okay," Quayam says.
"You're a bit nuts," Thristen says.
"Well, go nuts then," Quayam says to his wife. "You'll be the better for it. Or maybe you need to have an affair or something."
Gristel rolls her eyes. "He always says that. I stub my toe he tells me to have an affair."
Thristen puts more wood on the fire and they admire the rising blaze.
"Well," Thristen says, "Maybe someone will attack us any minute now. We are in the middle of the Western Outlands, on top of a hill in Giant Bandit country, with a roaring fire announcing our presence. What a temptation. Someone is going to attack us."
"If they do, I'm going to sit right here and mope while you two deal with it."
Nobody attacks them.
Dawn, 5th November 2485, Long Hills, Western Outlands.
In the frigid morning, they emerge from their conjured shelter, revive the fire, warm up, have breakfast, and set off on their wyverns. They are looking for signs of saboteurs camping on hill-tops. At mid-day they land in a camp used several days ago. Thristen inspects with Quayam and Gristel following behind him, marveling at the signs he detects.
"Remains of five sheep," he says, "These are claws of hippogriffs, one, two, more, five in all. The riders slept in bags here, beside the fire. There were six of them. Once was very small, perhaps a child." He stands up and stretches. "They made no effort so hide their camp. And it's been used before, a few months back." He points at the remains of the fire and rolls a stone over with his foot. "This is most likely the camp of riders following the highway."
"Too cheap to stay in the hotel," Quayam says.
"Where did they get the sheep?" Gristel says.
"In the valley, I imagine," Thristen says. He points to a flock of sheep a kilometer farther down the slope. Further investigation reveals tracks going down and returning with the sheep. "Let's assume they were purchased. We'll hear about it if they were not. Garandelsmashum will send us a bill."
They have been receiving such bills at intervals from the North King. At first, there was confusion as to how and where disputes such as these should be settled. If a traveler steals a sheep from a giant shepherd, where does the shepherd go to obtain compensation? In September, Queen Daybreak and King Trakandslay appointed two black-orc judges to settle disputes along the road by moving their court from one hostel to the next according to a schedule posted on every hostel wall. The giants have not understood the system yet, but travelers are using the court to settle disputes between themselves.
"I'm cold," Gristel says.
"Me too," Quayam says, "Let's go have a hot bath."
They fly to the cliff house, bathe, and sleep. When the gibbous moon rises, they mount their wyverns again and fly in the freezing air a thousand meters above the hills, just beneath ghostly, scattered clouds. The wind is out of the south-east, moving at five kilometers per hour. They cruise up and down the path of the highway on the plain. After an hour, they are almost numb with cold. A kilometer away beneath them, they see the road blaze suddenly with white light. Several seconds later comes a rumble like thunder.
Quayam happened to be looking at the annihilated section of road. It is two hundred meters long. Half-way along he sees the shape of a hostel made of conjured wood flashing into nothing. They dive. Quayam sees ahead of him the shape of a wyvern flying south from the scene of destruction. As they descend, Gristel strains to see through her goggles, with the freezing wind on her cheeks, what it is that Quayam is pursuing? She spots it when they are within a few hundred meters. Thristen, however, sees only Quayam and Gristel, and he remains two hundred meters above them.
Nor does the fleeing wyvern-rider see the three pursuers. Quayam and Gristel come up on either side. They shout, but still the rider does not hear them over the sound of the wind rushing around the rider's helmet. Quayam and Gristel string their bows and fire at the wyvern's wings. Immediately, the wyvern rolls, zooms and reverses direction. At last Thristen sees it, and dives in pursuit.
There follows a breath-taking chase between hills, over tree-tops, and along valley bottoms, with the fleeing wyvern weaving, rolling and zooming in an effort to escape, or perhaps to drive one of the pursuers into an obsticle. The pursuers keep shooting at the wyvern's wings, knowing this to be the safest way to bring the animal down without killing either the animal or the rider. A wyvern will not fly with a crippled wing, but nor will it allow itself to crash.
First Thristen shoots. He zooms up while Gristel takes his position and shoots. Even as she is taking aim, Quayam is divind down to take her place and cocking an arrow to his string. And so they make their way through the foot-hills, and out to the plain again. The chase lasts several minutes, but in the end, the fleeing wyvern lands. Quayam and Gristel land beside it.
And so they meet Daylight, black-orc sorceress. They introduce themselves.
"You are the three who held King Orbelastican to ransome."
"That's right," Quayam says. "Do you work for him?"
"I am in his service. It is my power to annihilate conjured matter. But I cannot create it. Until now, this power has proved to be of little value to anyone. The king sought to enhance my reputation with this mission. I have disrupted your road, as you can see."
"Yes, you have." Quayam and Daylight are speaking in Latin.
"But I am not from Garaz," Daylight says, "I am from Ankh."
"I see. And now you are our prisoner."
"So it would appear," Daylight says.
"Where shall we take her?" Gristel says.
Quayam looks up to make sure that Thristen is still above. "The Cliff House. It's close."
And that is what they do. Once in the Cliff House, she gives her word that she will not attempt to escape, and they sit and talk. She describes to them what life is like in Ankh, a nation of orcs rules by the Cardinal of Beelzebub, God of Pain. Quayam and she discuss how she might learn to create her own conjured matter. "I could be like Hawkwing," she says, and laughs. "Although I'm not as beautiful as she."
"I disagree," Thristen says, "Your smile is far more likeable."
It is near dawn before they go to sleep. When they are tucked into their bed, Quayam says to his wife. "How are you feeling now?"
"But not depressed."
"No. Sore and tired, and still cold deep down, but not depressed. Good night, my husband."
The next day, Quayam and Gristel go forth and repair the road together. Thristen keeps watch on Daylight. The day after they escort her to Gutak, where she becomes the prisoner of the Queen. The Queen writes a letter to the Cardinal of Beelzebub, demanding a one-thousand guinea ransome be paid to release Daylight.
"These things take months," Daylight says. "I shall be your guest for some time. So you had better get used to me."
"I'm already used to you," Thristen says.
13th November, 2485
It is mid-afternoon on the final day of the year-long armistice between Ursia and Endor. The sky is clear, with a light wind out of the north-west. Quayam, Gristel, and Thristen are mounted on their wyversns at an altitude of 1000 m, flying in circles above the Fen River. A hundred kilometers to their west lies the Karadan on the coast of the sea. Here the river is five hundred meters wide. Ten kilometers south of the river is encamped the Sixth Cavalry division of the Ursian Land Forces, to which the three riders are attached. Somewhere in the forest north of the river is encamped an unknown number of Endan divisions. Above the Endan forest, at about the same altitude as the three wyverns, are scores of hippogriffs. These are flyers of the Endan Air Force. Their riders are armed with long-bows.
Thristen looks up, into the clear, deep blue of the Autumn sky, shading his eyes with his gloved hand. He sees one and then two wyverns at two thousand meters. These are Ursian Air Force scouts. There are a few Ursian Air Force hippogriffs in the air also, but the majority of the two cohorts encamped with the sixth cavalry division are resting. Everyone in the division thinks the Endans are about to attack. Spies report dozens of Endan divisions preparing to cross the river. This time, each division is equipped with a thousand boats, so that the entire division can enter the water together, and row for the far shore in one crossing.
Ten wizards on hippogriff are making their way along the south bank of the river. Occasionally, a hippogriff of the Endan army will dive towards the wizards, hoping to disturb their work, but when this happens, one or other of the three wyverns will dive also. The wyverns are faster than the hippogriffs, and can always interpose themselves. The wizards are trusting to this protection to allow them to finish their work, which is the erection of a conjured wall to resist the expected crossing of the river. By sun-down, there will be a wall 160 km long along the river. The Endan divisions occupy a front of roughly sixty kilometers.
In the conflict of the year before, the Ursian hippogriffs had dropped their thunder-eggs and sponge-eggs from an altitude of only a hundred and fifty meters, because their fuses were only three seconds. Half of the one-thousand riders were shot down by archers. In preparation for this conflict, the Ursians have ten thousand thunder-eggs and ten thousand sponge-eggs of an improved design: they have a fuse of five seconds. The riders can drop them from two hundred and fifty meters. In order to accumulated this fresh supply of magical devices, the Ursian government banned their sale to private citizens, so that all that were made in Ursia must be sold to the government. These new supplies add to the ten thousand three-second thunder-eggs left over from the previous conflict, and another ten thousand three-second sponge-eggs.
The Ursian Air Force has swelled from one thousand to two thousand hippogriffs. To its Land Forces it has added another four camel divisions. Instead of ten Wizard Attack Groups, there are twenty. Five of these are not mounted upon hippogriffs, but instead upon one of Ursia's new weapons: the Flying Fortress. Thristen examined one hovering over the division camp that morning, and made a sketch.
There are two other secret weapons that may see use in the next few weeks. One is the man-made tornado, which the wizards on the flying fortresses are said to be able to create, or the air force can create by dropping enough conjured sponge eggs in the same place. Quayam claims that his father can make storms so powerful that they can destroy armies. The tornadoes our heroes have been told to expect are smaller, but Quayam suspects that they are created in the same way: by a vast cloud of conjured wood in the air, which rises and sucks air across the ground to create a vortex.
Another secret weapon is one that Thristen himself pioneered with the Ursian Land Forces: a catapult that fires thunder and sponge eggs towards ships attempting to land. After some work on this project with army engineers, the catapults have attained a range of three hundred meters. It took several months to figure out how best to make a catapult string out of spirit rubber, and how to set the stretch of the string to set the speed of throw, and so to deliver an egg with a three-second fuse to the sail of a ship in such a way that it would stop, drop the the deck and go off immediately. But now, with a table and dials and range-finding with the help of an optical viewer, the system works well. The only problem is that it must be transported to the place of invasion, and the catapults are rather too heavy to carry on a wyvern or a griff. So far, the wizards of the Flying Fortresses, which can make about thirty kilometers per hour using their space bridge thrusters, have refused to carry a supply of catapults, and Thristen is sympathetic to their reasons.
For their part, the Endans now have an air force. So far as Ursian spies can determine, it contains two hundred hippogriffs, all of them captured from the Ursians in the last conflict. They have built up their supply of thunder-eggs also. Each company in their army is reputed to have its own thunder-egg, so that the twenty divisions on the other side of the river must possess a thousand between them. And there are reported to be more in the hands of their air force.
Another thing Thristen is going to be watching for during the campaign is the manner in which his own division is supplied with food. In the previous conflict, he was surprised by the ease with which food arrived at the division, but the commander had assured everyone that it had all arrived by land or air, not by summoning or, as Thristen suspected, by gating in violation of Olympian law. Thristen's fear was that Ursian was using the services of some nefarious god or daemon. Only this morning, Thristen got to thinking about the same issue. Some adjutants were gathered around an old, ornate, metallic apparatus they had taken out of what appeared to be a cave, and they described it to him as a bridge suppressor, and told him they were going to get it working. They would not tell him why.
"We don't want the Endans to summon food," Quayam said. "That's all, nothing more mysterious than that."
But the Endans have as much food as they want on the north side of the river, and on the south side, the rights to summoning are owned by gods allied with the wizards, and no summoning for the Endans would presumably be permitted. So what purpose can the bridge suppressor serve? Upon further investigation, Thristen discovered that every wizard attack group carries a bridge suppession amplifier so that they can create suppression in a thirty-kilometer radius. But to what purpose? Looking down upon the river, Thristen decides that the Ursians suspect their friendly gods will betray them once the Endans get across the water.
That night, an hour after midnight, the Endans invade.
14th November, 2485, 2 am
The Endans announce the renewal of hostilities by annihilating holes in the Ursian wall on the south bank of the Fen river. They launch their boats and begin to cross. They embark in waves, and their boats fill the width of the river. As soon as it becomes apparant that the crossing has begun, Quayam, Thristen, and Gristel mount their wyverns and fly up and out of the way to observe what happens next. Sixteen cohorts of UAF hippogriffs take off on the south side of the river. Each cohort has been divided into two half-cohorts of fifty riders. Each half-cohord has orders to make four passes over the river, and to drop fifty three-second sponge eggs upon the boats on each pass, for a total of four drops per rider. They are to take aim and drop as they fly over at steady spead. The crescent moon has long since set, and the night is dark. The hippogriffs will be visible against the starlight, but they will fly at two hundred meters, beyond the range of Endan bows. So that they can follow one another in the dark, each rider has a red luminous stone on the top of their helmet.
According to experiments performed this past year, fifty sponge eggs going off in close proximity will create a vortex powerful enough to overturn boats and drown people swimming in the water. This is why the riders must make one pass only over the river, and then proceed downstream to make another pass in a different place. The vortex created by the sponge eggs will make flying impossible for several minutes afterwards.
And so the three wyvern-riders are above the river, hoping to see these vorteces in action. They are not disappointed. The half-cohorts below them are visible as fifty red dots, and when they cross the river, the sound of shoutind and bows twanging is audible even from five hundred meters up. The Endans boats carry no lights, but they are visible as shadows on the river in the red light of burning trees where the conjured walls have been annihilated. Quayam sees one griff shot down. But there is nothing he can do for the rider, who lands amidst the Endan boats. As soon as the griff have flown past, he notices the sound from the Endans has diminished, and the boats appear to be stuck in the water. People are unable to move. He gazes downwards.
A soldier rises up out of a boat, and then a boat rises, spilling a few men into the water below, but others remain stuck to its interior. Two boats move across the water, tipping sideways as they do, and making waves. His wyvern surges to the left, forced by a blast of air, or perhaps rising conjured sponge. Quayam urges his mount higher, and with powerful beats of its wings, it obliges. He looks around him, but cannot see his comrades. He trusts the good night vision of his wyvern to save him from collision.
Down below, a patch of the river perhaps a hundred meters in diameter appears to be in turmoil. Boats are being dragged about in a rough circle. Other boats are being lifted up, and these turn about in a circle, surrounded by clouds of water droplets, soldiers, and loose equipment, all lit as before by the red light of the fire on the south bank. The soldiers in the boats outside the vortex are shouting, and in many cases trying to rescue those caught within the raging wind and flying debris. But there is little they can do, for the closer they come to the commotion, the less able they are to control their boats.
Quayam's wyvern screams in alarm as a great ghust of air pushes it upwards, and a side-wind thrusts it aside. Quayam steers south, so that he will not be above the vortex. Even as he does so he catches sight of a cape or perhaps a tent cover whipping by him in the darkness. Within a couple of minutes, the vortex has lost its power. But the damage it has done remains strewn across the river. At least ten boats have been over-turned, and there are dozens of soldiers in the water.
But the Endans cross all the same, and form up on the south bank.
From the journal of Bashir Hoghooghi, wizard's adjutant assigned to the sixth Ursian Camel Cavalry, 14th of November.
In the early hours of the morning, the Endan army formed up into divisions on the south side of the River Fen. At dawn two of our flying fortresses made walls behind and on either side of two Endan divisions, so as to isolate them. These two isolated divisions were on the western end of the Endan front, with two further divisions to their west and another estimated sixteen divisions to their east. The flying fortresses used their lighting ball cannons to great effect, causing dismay and confusion among the enemy and not a few casualties. This done, our division and three others, making four camel divisions in all, and supported by eight cohorts of hippogriffs, each ordered to drop one five-second thunder-egg, attacked immediately and annihilated the Endans. Within a few hours, our soldiers were collecting ten thousand suits of armor and all manner of other booty from the wounded and dead.
In order to prevent these wounded from breaking out, if such a thing were possible, two wizard attack groups made further walls to seal them in on all sides, and more walls to keep away the sixteen divisions to the east, so that our four camel divisions could attack the remaining two Endan divisions to the east. This second battle began in the late afternoon. Our cavalry were supported by eight cohorts once again, but this time with orders to drop two five-second thunder eggs. The effect of this bombardment from above, plus the contribution of our own division's wizards, was devestating. Within two hours, the Endan surrendered without condition, and once again our solders were plundering the wounded and dead.
From the journal of Throm Beausis, griff-rider in the Ursian Air Force, 14th of November.
This morning, a wyvern scout sighted eighty Endan frigates sailing south, probably intending to land troops on the coast south of Karadan as they did last year. We flew out from Karadan at mid-day, six cohorts strong, each rider carrying two five-second thunder-eggs and four three-second sponge eggs. My squadron flew at five hundred meters above the water. As we approached the ships, we found the Endan air force in its entirety, all two hundred hippogriffs armed with heavy bows, there to meet us. There ensued a vigorous and chotic dog-fight. Into this fray came my old friends, Quayam, Thristen, and Gristel, riding wyverns.
Our objective was to drop thunder-eggs on the ships. To do this, we would dive down to 180 m or thereabouts and drop our egg, at which point we were slightly vulnerable to archers in the masts. But those of us who found ourselves attacked by an Endan rider would have to break off and take evasive action. Our tactic in this one-on-one fighting was to release a three-second sponge egg over the shoulder so as to sponge them. Meanwhile, they would be shooting at us. Quayam, Gristel, and Thristen persued the Endans with their faster mounts, and shot at them with bows.
We lost a hundred and forty griffs and riders today. I lost two from my squadron alone. We sponged around eighty of theirs, but don't know how many survived. Quayam, Gristel, and Thristen each shot down eight, so they lost almost half their air force in one day. We had roughly three hundred hits with thunder-eggs and estimate we killed around three thousand of their men.
Tonight I have the pleasure of the company of my old friends, but I cannot enjoy it for thinking of the two men I lost today, and all the others, and the griffs as well.
From the journal of Throm Beausis, griff-rider in the Ursian Air Force, 15th of November.
We went out again today and found that the Endans had landed four divisions of cavalry on the coast and were making their way north. We engaged what was left of the Endan air force and dropped thunder-eggs on the cavalry. We sponged thirty-five of their griffs, and my friends shot down another twenty-four, leaving the Endans with only fifty or sixty hippogriffs. We lost thirty-five ourselves, but none from my squadron. We are not sure how many cavalry we wounded, but think it to be a thousand or so.
From the journal of Bashir Hoghooghi, wizard's adjutant assigned to the sixth Ursian Camel Cavalry, 17th of November.
From the western theatre we hear news of the loss of one of our flying fortresses. It was brought down by thunder-eggs thrown from the ground while it attempted to isolate one of four Endan cavalry divisions south of Karadan. We fear that all those on board were killed. We almost lost another fortress that same day, this time pulled down by grapnels thrown by Endan griff-riders, and dragged towards the earth by Endan cavalry pulling on the same ropes. The Endan soldiers threw thunder-eggs into the fortress and killed seven of the ten wizards therein. But the fortress was not lost because our own Quayam, Gristel, and Thristen were on hand with their wyverns, and cut the ropes, allowing the fortress to rise up. By landing his wyvern on the roof, Quayam was able to climb in, revive one of the wizards and have him take control of the fortress. It appears that the war goes badly in the west, because there is talk of bringing all our forces east to unite into one great army. Last night our thirteen cohorts of hippogriffs bombarded the thirteen Endan divisions here in the east, and we believe we caused them a great deal of consternation thereby.
From the journal of Throm Beausis, griff-rider in the Ursian Air Force, 17th of November.
Four cohorts flew out from Karadan today and we attacked what looked like eighty Endan ships. But there was no air force to defend them this time, and we dropped an egg each on them. But they were able to land a division of cavalry all the same. Our western army rides out tomorrow to join the eastern and bring together all ten of our calvarly divisions. We feel that this is once again an abandonment of Karadan. We ourselves are flying tomorrow at dawn.
From the journal of Throm Beausis, griff-rider in the Ursian Air Force, 24th of November.
I just slept for sixteen hours. We had been riding ten or twelve hours a day at low altitude, landing and taking off, always in the saddle except when we had to take a pee break. We dropped so many eggs I lost count. The day after our cavalry went east, the Endans moved six of their cavalry divisions inot Karadan and started to fortify the place. Naturally, we could not bombard them there. Our own army, now ten divisions, joined upon on the twentieth, after figuring out that the best thing to do with all the prisoners they had taken was to wall them off and drop food too them. We did some of the drops. On the twenty-second, our ten divisions attacked our own city of Karadan. The Endans came out to meet us, but we gave them such a pounding with eggs that they went back and hid behind their which were impressive, considering they had only three days to erect them. Our cavalry did not want to try to get over them, so the army went east to meet the main Endan infantry force of thirteen rather diminished divisions. These divisions we the air force, had been pounding for days with eggs until I don't think they would have been able to sleep for fear of it happening, night or day. The two combined armies met the next day, the twenty-third, and with total support from the air force, the flying fortresses, and wizard attack groups. We defeated the Endans in a matter of hours. The Endan army surrendered. We captured a total of one hundred thousand suits of armor. This leaves the six cavalry divisions in Karadan. They are still holding out, and they are supplied by sea. We're not sure what to do about them.
From the journal of Bashir Hoghooghi, wizard's adjutant assigned to the sixth Ursian Camel Cavalry, 26th of November.
Today the Endans surrendered. We have won again. Their forces in Karadan withdrew by sea as part of a treaty between our nations. By this treaty Endromis agrees to a ten-year cease fire. For our part, Ursia agrees to require licenses for the purchase thunder-eggs and maybe other dangerous devices. There will be an annual summit between the two nations to resolve differences. We will see how this works, but it is a great victory for us. We have, according to my estimates, no five-second thunder-eggs left, around three thousand three-second thunder-eggs, six thousand three-second sponge eggs, and ten thousand five-second sponge eggs. It's as well that we did not have to fight another week. If the Endans had known how low were were in our supplies, they might not have given up.