War Story – A Crusade of Knights, pt. 1

Submitted by Kaleb K. of Pennsylvania:

Ser Baldaflax whistled a cheery tune as he ambled slowly northwards.

He and his merry woodsmen had met little resistance on the road. Ser Baldaflax felt his heart soar the closer he came to his destination, the lord of plagues was returning home. Back to Ghyran where all true knights of the order belonged. Shyish was dead. And while he and his kin had labored endlessly to bring some meagre imitation of grandfather’s garden to the sterile land, the efforts of the rotbringers had proven largely fruitless. Thunderous hoofbeats broke the jolly knight from his homesick ruminations.

“Duke” Spolio and his knights.

Ser Baldathrax frowned, and turned to face his self-proclaimed superior.

“Hail Spolio. What brings you from the Rothold, eh?”

Though his fellow Nurglite gave no outword show of displeasure, Ser Baldathrax knew it rankled Spolio to be greeted without his new title. Spolio had named himself the Duke of this fledgling duchy months ago, but Ser Baldathrax and his men would need to hear it from the Lady herself before they accepted him as a liege.

Besides, Ser Baldathrax thought eyeing his famine thin peer, I could take him.

“Urgent news. There has been a change in plans.” The duke’s sneer, though invisible behind his iron faceplate, was audible. “You will not be returning to Cankerwall today.”

The haft of Ser Baldthrax’s ax creaked in his grip, and the plauge knight felt something tighten in the pit of his bloated frame.

“Excuse me, brother knight.” Baldathrax spat ” but I don’t believe you can stop me.” As Baldathrax spoke he could hear his men lumber into position around him, awaiting his order to attack. Just as he could see the Duke’s men loosen their blades from aelf-flesh scabards.

This is not how knights of the order should conduct themselves, he scolded his short temper. Shyish had worn on him, the land had barbarized his manners and differences in philosophy had opened a rift betwixt himself and Spolio. Foolishness. Base foolishness.

Violence barely restrained could be felt between the factions.

Suddenly Baldathrax began to laugh at the absurdity of it all.

“Apologies, cousin mine,” the knight gasped between laughs “I let my longing for home get the better of me. Cankerwall can wait. She shall stand proud as she has ever stood.”

“As our grandfather ordains, cousin.”

“Where am I to lead my merry men, most chivilarous duke? Back into the Bonewood?”

“No, you are still to enter the Gate of Broken Hopes into Ghyran, but you are being diverted to join a new crusade.”

Ser Baldaflax smiled widely.

“Bubonicus leads the knightly hosts again, yes? Ha, a fine day, I have longed to war by his side again.”

“No. Bubonicus will command the defense of the duchies. You will join the crusade of Varanguard Quron Sarn.”

Ser Baldaflax stared dumbly at the Duke for a moment.

“I am to march with the Basalt Lord?”

“Aye. Our lady has given him our allegiance for his quest.”

Ser Baldaflax chewed on his thick chapped bottom lip, thinking on this news.

Qarang Sarn, The Basalt Lord was a truly mighty warlord. A corrupter and blood spiller of such renown that few could be said to match him as a warrior.

It was Qarang Sarn that had shattered the Crystal Gates of the Dream Lords. Qarang Sarn that had broken and scattered the hordes of the Fedithir Blood Pact.

And Qarang Sarn that had abandoned the newborn duchy of Shyish over a century ago, leaving Spolio and Baldaflax isolated and overextended without promised reinforcements from the Varanspire.

“This… Is what our lady demands?”

Baldaflax rasped after sometime.

“Our service to her cannot always be of our choosing, brother knight.”

“As you say, cousin mine.”

“I’ll be sending some of my knights with you… Ser Baldaflax?”

“Aye, duke?”

“I look forward to seeing you again. Return with tales of glory.”

“Aye, duke.”

The plauge knight turned and trudged his way along the road to Ghyran, ax haft creaking in his grip.”

4

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