The final barbarians within the walls fell, the Kassites of Zagros who beset upon the city Der to escape their harsh homeland were defeated and broken. They lay about the collective sellsword hired by the Imperials of Akkad, their hopes tarnished and trampled over by the peerless allure of coin. Just so, Der itself had suffered greatly, with their Lugal dead, stuck and bled in the throne room, and their homes burnt and battered, it would be a long and harsh struggle for them to recover. Especially so now with the oppressive looming fear of yet more barbarians crawling out of the eastern mountains for another wanton go at imperialism. Perhaps another would-be warlord like Kashtilashu with aspirations of greatness for his people, misguided by those who'd ply at a greater stage.
Yet such musings were both above the heads and purses of Hellions of Gir, no, the little force under Iddin-ninshubur milled about the inner sanctum of the city cleaning their blades and tending fast their wounds with only a mind for today, and the sum of Aurums promised to them. Despite the danger they'd invested themselves in, they were the lucky few who did not find themselves dashed against Kashtilashu's frenzied army, for beyond the walls heaps of corpses and horses alike were strewn about, their allegiance either to coin or to some national cause were irrelevant now. Mercenaries and the Zagrosi found brotherhood in death.
As the Hellions gathered themselves a handful of hooves cried by way of the eastern gate. For a moment it unnerved the mercs again until their eyes affixed upon the warn banner bearing the dual-headed hound wreathed in flame.
RAVINA: ". . . snake, how could we have let them get away? Another enemy to come sneak into our camp at night and slight our boys' throats." She sighs, shrugging as she and Sim-Ma-Sihu flank Captain Doan-Nasir as they each and all trot into the sanctum courtyard.
SIM-MA-SIHU: "Ravina. . ." Is all the lieutenant is able to muster before Doan sets his worries aside.
DOAN-NASIR: "Ravina, hush, a man must do what he can to make a living. It is merely the way of it." Doan's dour voice ablates his companion's woes for now as he and the others halt their hooves before their comrades, the dusty earth pluming forth. With one sweep of his sunken eyes the veteran takes in the situation - The Kassite chieftan's broken body, slick blood dribbling down the shaft of Etor's spear, and Lyun standing with the boys, covered in fresh scars, to that he grants a hearty nod
LYUN: "Home is those who care we are gone. I thank you for giving me my second one, captain."
Looking over the group, soon the rest of the Hellions that aided in distraction arrive from throughout the city and the entire band is collected, no better a time the captain lets his voice be heard. "10,000 Aurums!" The man raises his peculiar lance to the sound of the survivors' dull roar. Doan counts heads deflating his victorious cry for a moment, twenty, just twenty of them now. . . "450 Will go to each of us, that'll be the sum of our payment. The rest we'll spend on great food and drink to honour the fallen!"
The Hellions, twenty-told, dared not to spend the night within the walled city of Der for they were not welcome there. Not among the cowering populace who merely viewed them as hungry wolves and opportunistic dealers of death rather than heroes. And not among the corpses of the barbarians or their fellow sellswords, at least not yet -- Fate deigned they still had blood to spill yet in these harsh lands. So camp it was, just far enough to escape the ire of the common folk picking up the pieces of their lives yet close enough to watch black smoke billow into the cloudless night sky. The band broke into their good stores of wine and cured meats and celebrated well as Kashtilashu's severed head looked on in disgust alongside the covered body of the fallen Yasub-Yahad, once ensi of Der. Both were collected as proof of their concord kept.
DOAN-NASIR: "Hellions!" Called the captain over the central flame of their camp. "A toast to fallen, and to our triumph!" He embellished to word, choosing it over the more realistic 'survival', and as he did, poured out a liberal swig of wine into the Kassite Chieftan's half-agape mouth. It elected the response he desired and a goodly cheer came from the men. "Tomorrow, the least weary of our group will ride to Ur and collect our fare. Iddin, you and yours will rest and recuperate in Awan. I believe it best we remain on this border, there'll be more conflicts between the Kassites and our esteemed šar-kiššati, that, I am sure of."
"Only the fleet of us will go to Ur and prostrate, it should be no more than two weeks before we return, so rest easy."
Indeed, so it was that Doan-Nasir led half of the Hellions on a journey into the heartland of the empire on their way to retrieve a sum of Aurums that'd sustain them each and all until the next job blew in across the arid wind. Meanwhile the group under Iddin-Ninshubar who participated in the insertion at Der made their way east along the Karkeh River, a short ways toward the city of Awan which would be their succor until the mercenaries recovered. Most of the treasury was left with them and a sum of 200 Aurums were doled out to each as advanced pay for the hazards of their work. However. . . The Masters of Fate whispered onto that selfsame wind and spoke that the Hellions would not so easily reach Awan. . .
AKMAAN: "Ia! Do not stop moving! GO!"
IA: "Don't ask me to leave you behind! I couldn't have come this far without you and Gao-Lubaan!"
GAO-LUBAAN: "Be not so foolish lady Ia! Death won't come for us yet!"
AKMAAN: "Now! The ruins will shelter you. And the flames our spirits all the same!"
IA: "Alright. . . But you best be right behind me!"
KURGAZU: "Hehe. . . I thought these barbarians would be harder to track. That silver is as good as ours men, just don't hurt the girl - Too much."
NINIL: "Can't be far now with all the farms huh? Come on ya lead-foots I want a bed and a bath!" The plucky archer throws a finger toward the horizon, leading the pack toward Awan. Yet her pointer waivers after a moment or two, "Hey, uhm, do you guys see that?" Her gaze is beyond the little crops of brush they'd rounded -- a cloud of dust, the sun glinting off metal, and the clamber of bodies.
ASHÜR: "Yes, someone is pillaging the farmsteads, so it seems." The ex-bandit hisses his words as if personally inconvenienced. "Let us not tarry and circumvent this trouble."
NINIL: "How could you say that Ashür? If we deal with it before Awan even gets wind then we've got leverage to negotiate a reward don't'cha think?"
ASHÜR: "It's none of our business. . ."
CHAPTER III -- DAUGHTER OF THE BARBARIANS
DEFEAT THE ENEMY COMMANDER
DO NOT ALLOW IA TO DIE
DEPLOY UNITS AT C-3, D-2, D-4, F-3, J-3, L-2, L-4, AND M-3
UP TO 8 UNITS MAY BE DEPLOYED