Rise of the Battlemaster: Book III

“The Creed tells me that you’re a band of heretics and witches. The Creed demands that I try you all by fire and sword. Since I’ve seen you use that spear of yours, I think we’ll forgo the trial and declare you all innocent.”
  – Deacon Poulson, priest of the Congregation, Ban Llews.

3018

After wintering in Tor Egan, Warmaster Esten withdraws his shattered legions east towards Tor Carath. He sends messengers ahead demanding that the Assemblage invoke the Rite of Spears – conscripting every able-bodied adult into service and transferring command of House forces to the Warmaster – but the call is stalled by Midmarch lords who remain fearful of chaos raids. Whispers begin to circulate in Tor Carath that Esten ban-Amadris intends to sieze the throne for himself.

Kiernan Thirn is now fully recovered from his near-death ordeal in the blizzard and takes his leave of Esgedir. He intends to seek out his companions from the Tower, though he knows that he can never rejoin the Cohorts. His burgeoning talent for Creation has forever marked him as an outsider, or worse – a heretic. He journeys first to the Tower itself but, finding only rubble, quickly moves east and south. He travels a land in turmoil. Blackblood raids are common and many desperate people have turned to banditry. Towns and villages resemble armed camps, the citizens fearful and hungry.

Kiernan’s unusual abilities, coupled with a commanding presence and Tower-trained battle skills, garner him a small and loyal following. Most are refugees – those that he saved from bandits or blackbloods – who follow for protection. Others are mercenaries or soldiers looking for a leader. Two – the twins Hema and Lorri – begin learning the ways of the elemental spirits. They are his first disciples and the first of The Companions.

Three members of the Black Sun cabal – a coven of Chaos adepts, operating in secrecy, from Tor Carath – arrive at Kiernan’s camp in the middle of the night. They seek audience with him, claiming to have been sent by their Magister to aid the Child of Fire and Snow. They are received with little grace by Kiernan’s party but soon demonstrate both their ability and worth. Rather than the skulking necromancer often portrayed by the Congregation, these adepts are warrior-sages, skilled in arts of both the mind and sword. They are Garron, and the siblings Audra and Badron. They, too, will become the core of The Companions.

As autumn draws to a close Kiernan must find a haven for his growing band of refugees. He comes, at last, to the village of Ban Llews. The village refuses them entry, but when a large force of blackbloods is reported nearby, Kiernan brokers a deal for his people and the defence of the village. A pitched battle is fought in and around Ban Llews as wave after wave of the enemy descend on the hamlet. With the aid of the village’s aging priest, Poulson, the blackbloods are defeated and Ban Llews is saved.

3019

Warmaster Esten ban Amadris is growing increasingly frustrated with the Assemblage of Lords. Despite repeated attempts to rally the Great Houses they remain rooted in cowardice, self interest and indecision. In disgust at the repeated accusations that he seeks the throne, he and House Amadris withdraw from the Assemblage.

Justiciar Berennis, a high ranking cleric known for prophetic visions, is given a Seeing. He claims that a warrior born of snow and fire will rise in the West. His coming heralds the Empire’s doom, but there remains hope  – the Empire will survive fire, bloodshed and change should the warrior come to the capital with the blessing of the Emperor. He immediately dispatches messengers to the Westmarch to seek out the object of his vision.

During the winter in Ban Llews, Kiernan Thirn strikes up a friendship with the cleric Poulson. Three more disciples join The Companions, seeking to learns the ways of Creation. Kiernan determines that he must head east, to Tor Carath, to seek aid for the embattled people of the Westmarch. Poulson agrees to accompany him, completing the Circle of Pillars. The refugees and most of the soldiers that had followed him up until that point settle in Ban Llews.

Kiernan and his Companions are intercepted before they can reach Tor Egan. A messenger from Justiciar Berennis relays the cleric’s vision. With counsel from Poulson and Garron, Kiernan turns his band north. He tells them that they must pass into the Chaos March. He intends to seek out not just Emperor Eddelen, but his brethren from the Tower as well – should any yet live. They pass quickly into the Northmarch, avoiding the growing numbers of blackblood war parties, until they reach a secluded mountain pass north and west of Tor Nordia.

Kiernan claims that the spirits have lead him to this place  – that it shall provide a safe passage into the Chaos March. In this place they are met by a band of dwarven rangers, the first encounter between Man and Dwarf in over three millennia – not since dragon fire scorched the sky and earth have these two peoples spoken. For three thousand years the Duer have waited for a “warrior born from snow and fire, who will travel with ancient justice and siblings of decay”. Kiernan and his party are lead to the great underground city of Refuge, the last bastion of the dwarves, where thwy witness the Rite of Unlocking.

With the gates of Refuge now thrown open, Dwarven airships make ready to deliver supplies and warriors to the Westmarch. They plan to return to a world they abandoned long ago and, perhaps, make good some of the harm they unleashed. The rangers lead Kiernan’s Companions through secret ways under the mountains, delivering them safely into the Chaos March.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: