Tale of the 1st Red War
Torm was tired beyond all measure but he stood along the wall with his uncles and brothers, friends and elders, all long since known to him in the seemingly unending red war against the demons that plague the land. Already the enemy was attacking again for the fifth time today, unusual as at most they would have stopped on the third wave but something seems to be egging them on, almost like they were desperate or hurried. There has been murmurs of the previous evening that strangers seemingly stepped into perhaps the only safe place in Toria from out of the thin air which startled the northmen for sure but the Vanir seemed to have been expecting their arrival.
There was already a huge crowd gathering around them and for a second Torm thought he saw pointed ears under those hood but surely he was mistaken. It was a conversation that barely lasted five minutes but the visitors then stepped out of existance, drawing a startled gasps from everyone, including Torm himself. However that was last night and there were more pressing matters to attend to. Like the screaming demonic horde that was scaling the walls.
One of the smaller varieties leading the assault wave, with a head the size of his torso and arms the size of two full grown men, clawed their way upward with pitched black talons at surprising speeds for such a huge beast but within minutes they were already at the lip of the walls. A bull horned disgusting head peered over the walls languidly which would have been comically if not for the huge tusks that counts for fangs amongst these things opening wide and snapping the arm off Torm’s neighbour. Pushing the screaming man aside towards safety, Torm shield slammed into the creature’s face, barely nudging the demon backward before it unhurriedly turned its leery red face that soon fixated its eyes on him.
With an almost sibilant hiss, the creature lunged its head forward with a whipcord like speed which staggered Torm to his knees as his took the full blow on his shield where a lesser man would have been surprised and lost his balance. But Torm was no longer a stripling of a boy knocking his knees together in terror in his first blooding against the demon spawn, he was a man of 16 winters now, dressed in the full war splendor of a Jarl and he snarled inside his gold-faced war helm as he bunched the muscles in his legs and arms before he heaved mightily forward, forcing the creature to stand unnaturally upright. Few men could match his breadth of shoulders and strength but that is not all he is war famed for.
“Bear Hold!”, Torm roared the command and his men flowed around either flanks of him instinctively to form a V with Torm at its inverted point, men overlapping shields to protect their neighbour and pushed until the creature was trapped, flailing and trashing against the wall. The second rank rest spears in the dips between shields and as one, they all speared the spawn repeatedly, confusing the beast who was stung everywhere and couldn’t decide on a single target. Out of all the oath-brothers on the wall, Torm’s band was considered the most disciplined and when Torm was elected its Jarl, he brought a depth of tactics that has since been emulated by all.
Blood drained from nearly a hundred wounds, the creature began to slowed and Torm showed again why he was a Jarl. Collecting his breath, he then dropped his shield and hurled himself forward in one movement, unslowed by his chainmail, to plunge his Vaegir forged war axe into the middle of its forehead. The spawn went berserk, it black blood swirling around the air with a whisper of the otherworld and the formation rapidly backed away as a single unit whilst Torm hung on for dear life on the handle of the axe. Screaming it then raised one hand to knock the Jarl off however it was far too late for as it stopped its wild trashing to grab Torm, like a coiled snow viper he unsheathed his short sword and plunged it deep into the monster’s eye and up towards what constituted for it’s brain.
And in an anti-climatic moment, the demon shuddered briefly before slumping to the ground dead, Torm heaving gulps of air through his war mask as his band “hoom” and “heya’s” appreciatively at a fine kill. And like all it’s kind the creature began to dissolve into the air back to the otherworld but not before Torm took his short sword and sliced the guts of the vile thing open, a tide of blue grey entrails flowing out and he felt his nose almost shrivelled at the smell. Finding what he was looking for, he took the severed arm that was still wrapped in chainmail and went to the now cooling body of his oathbrother, the sole victim of the beast and laid it next to him to make him whole again. “See you in Valholl brother. Soon but not yet”, Torm, uttered the ritual and heart rending words, making sure the man had a weapon firmly grasped in his hand before the body was carried inside towards the halls of the honored dead within the fortress.
And for the next three hours, the northmen beat back nearly a dozen more such attacks, each wave becoming more frenzied than the last until finally with something akin to a finality, a warhorn wailed almost despairingly across the fighting and every man on the wall felt a clutch of fear grip his heart. The enemy had broken through. Jarl Torm felt a psionic message pierced his skull lightly though it made his eyes blink once in confusion before he finally understood the full import of the contents. ‘By the gods, we have been breached in twelve places. What are the Vanir doing!?’, Torm cursed inwardly as he roared out the command that every Jarl was also repeating along the wall. “Withdraw!”
Like the tide, the wave of men just broke away and ran from their position, exposing their backs to the foe whilst the few more disciplined warbands retreated grimly step by bloody step towards the doors of the inner sanctum. Torm’s own band was the last to leave the wall, the men silent and gasping, an ever decreasing circle of shields and men as they fought with desperate courage to link with other warbands doing the same.
Unfinished. To be Continued