The Great Pines, Mountain Territory
The elders of the various tribes lingered, their escorts keeping a close eye on the outside world. Several of the elders of the lesser tribes were getting impatient. What if a Justinian raider party found them all? Such a meeting would easily draw an army, to cut the head of the tribal structure.
Finally, the Macnamiar tribe arrived. With a delegation consisting of Abelard, the wielder of the Spear of Adalgar, and three Adalgar’s Lodge hunters, eliciting a reaction from Oielan. He said, “You are late, Abelard! What kept you? Every second we remain together is another second risking discovery!”
Abelard responded, “Raiding parties marred my path. I had to take care to avoid gathering their attention. It took much longer than I expected to avoid being followed by them,” as he folded in his wooden magically-tuned wings. In one hand he carried his trademark spear. He walked to the rest of the delegation, motioning for his fellow hunters to stay back.
“You should see to it that you are not beaten to the confederation gathering by Iuoes,” muttered Jealon, a grumpy snort emanating from the seeker. Abelard simply waved him off. Now that they were all present, each eldest from each surviving tribe, Oielan began the meeting with a few sharp movements.
Ulysei began, “The Aberys raiding parties, those wretched noble houses, have increased as of recent. My tribe has killed off many, but they are a flood. We need more people in the steppes,” he paused, looking at Abelard, “I hope you can provide?”
Abelard hesitated, thinking for a moment, before accepting with a, “Very well, as long as the hunters I send are well-fed. The days grow shorter and the cold seasons will soon be upon us; we cannot afford to lose more of our kin to such a menace as simple cold.”
Ulysei nodded, and Zealon spoke up next, saying, “There are bad omens in my tribe, our enemies surround us, and I fear that the monsters below may become more active. Should Jealon fall, then we all will fall as well. I believe these are the end times for our tribes.”
Oielan cut him off, “There is no place for doomsaying in this confederation, it only separates us further. We will stand together or fall apart. We will persevere, and we will keep our homeland. No matter how many raiders come for our heads. If they send an army, they will lose much; we will assure that.”
Watching from a fair distance, an out-of-place and posh-looking gentleman watched the gathering ahead, hidden by the tall trees and bushes, behind the man was several dozen soldiers, all carrying the colors and banners of House Nudden, one of several contributors of troops in the Northern Campaign, and the same house of this young man, Phillip Nudden, Heir to the House and its lands.
One of the more well-armored soldiers moved ahead by the noble's side. "Great Justice, never seen this many Artiuns in one place..."
Philip grinned. "Heh, all the more tempting Captain." He said, his pompous tone and arrogance ever present. "Ready the archers, I won't let this chance slip through my fingers."
"Yes, my lord." the captain responded as he turned to face the rest of the crouched troops, signaling for the archers to advance forward, before long, twelve archers moved ahead into position, and were ready to rain death upon the heathens.
To the men watching, the Artiuns spoke in guttural gibberish, however, to themselves, they were perfectly understandable. One of the Adalgar’s Lodge warriors tensed, with the thought of having heard something, but he didn’t do anything yet. Meanwhile, the meeting continued as the elders argued with each other.
They spoke of various things, ranging from current events to their tribe’s individual histories. The archers, when they got closer, could clearly tell it was getting heated between the Artiuns, but beyond that they were unable to grasp the language the creatures spoke.
Philip drew his blade, ready to charge at any moment's notice, and in that very moment, he gave the order. "Fire!" He screamed as the archers let loose their arrows upon their unsuspecting enemy. "Charge!" he quickly ordered as he rushed out from the trees, quickly followed by his troops as they emerged from the forest.
The moment the order was loosed from Philip’s lips, the Adalgar’s Lodge hunters dove into action, with several sharp cries of warning as they flew to intercept the arrows with their wooden shields before they could reach the elders.
The elders, meanwhile, took to the air, some of them rapidly flying away from the situation. However, Ulysei and Abelard stayed behind, joining the elite hunters’ ranks. They took to the air as well when Philip’s men charged into the clearing, and Abelard, with his hunters, shot past the heads of the soldiers, intent on the archers.
The rest of them remained in the air, flying over to the soldiers and beginning to jab at them from the air with their spears.
The Archer line was quick to break once the hunters struck, scattering as several of them fell, literally as the hunters would impale them and drop from up high. Back in the clearing, once the Artiuns took flight and begun their assault, the spearmen among the raiding party's ranks begun tossing their own spears up into the air, with some hope of striking down one of the hunters. The Captain and a select group of swordsmen stood close by the Nudden Heir, keeping his head where it should be.
A few hunters fell to the spears, but many more of them remained, blocking the spears with their shields. They struck down the spearmen who had thrown their spears quickly, before they could draw another weapon. They began to surround the raiding party, with Abelard and the three other hunters coming up from behind after dealing with the archers.
Abelard shot through the lines, attacking the swordsmen around the heir. One of them attempted to parry his spear, the slash of the spear cutting right through the sword. He yelled, in Elvish, “Surrender or you will all be killed!”
"Damned Savage!" Philip shouted out, tearing away a sword from one of his guards and once again made an attempt to fruitlessly thrust the blade towards Abelard's gut out of desperation.
The blade was met with another slash of the spear, this time at the base of the sword, chopping off Philip’s fingers. He then batted away the swordsmen with the end of the spear, causing them to jump back in fear from the tip as he waved it in their direction. He yelled, again, in Elvish, as he suddenly rose the spear to Philip’s throat, “Call off your dogs or this will be your last sight!”
In that brief moment, as his fingers fell to the ground, the young prince screamed in pain, clutching his bloodied hands, the Artiun was not one for sympathy as it appears, suddenly being held at spearpoint as he raved in elvish. Philip couldn't afford to care to clearly understand what the savage spoke of, but he clearly could see he no longer had the upper hand here. "S...s...stand down!" He struggled to get a word out.
In that instant, the surviving soldiers dropped their weapons. The hunters quickly surrounded the surrendering soldiers, holding them at spearpoint as well. Abelard said again in Elvish, “Do you understand me, boy? Does anyone in your party speak Elvish? Speak up!” he looked around as he held the spear to the prince’s throat.
“Oh..I can understand you, savage.” Philip responded, his eyes seething with pain and anger towards this heathen. The Artiun narrowed his eyes, keeping the spearpoint at the man’s throat as he said, “Then you and your remaining raiding party will carry this message; this material realm, while its life ebbs low in the furnace of war, will be delivered by our tribes. Heed these warnings, for ruin will come to those who bar our way.” with that, he barked an unintelligible order to the hunters.
Each of the surrendering warriors was grabbed, a single swipe of the spear removing their fingers similar to the prince’s. A cacophony of screams filled the air, and after it was finished, Abelard continued, “We will fight for her, our mother’s survival. Tell your wretched, sneering kinsmen of that.” with that, he barked another order at the hunters, who all took to the air. Within moments, they were out of sight among the trees, leaving the raiding party alone with their dead.
Without much to be said, besides the cries and moans of pain, Philip and his surviving men made their trek back to the frontline encampment, a journey that would take three days. Unfortunately, over the course of time, one by one, the number dropped as soldiers collapsed and eventually died from either blood loss, infection or were picked off by local predators. Those that persevered through the pain were the fortunate ones.
The few that remained finally returned to the camp, fallen at the entrance as healer clerics rushed to their aid. A group of soldiers started to encircle the scene, much to their shock and horror. Philip was quickly under the care of one of healers as he grew more aware of his surroundings. "By Justinian...what happened?" One soldier muttered. "Savages...." another muttered.
"Those monsters took my fingers...that bastard dared laid his heathen hands on my pure flesh...he will burn for this..this whole realm will burn for this..."