The Flying Beaver:
Note- This was the second part of a four-part series I was writing but never finished. It was written as part of a COTEC campaign and contains a race which was wholly invented. Though I do explain what the Lagothians (as they’re called) are to some extent, just think along the lines of Drow from D&D. Anyway, enjoy the story.
My name is Althamon. I come from the province of Avelorn to this Asuryan-forsaken island; I was conscripted into the Levy as an archer to fight the Forces of Chaos alongside some disgusting lizard-people. I write this in the hope that I will be able to return home and my children’s children may read my tale, my story of this stalemate in this ash-choked city; this Hell on Earth.
As I said earlier, I am here on this island, Minnantus it is called, because I am forced to fight the Chaos Powers. To be honest, I never reached Minnantus. My regiment was ordered to attack the Fire Dwarves in their hellish fortress of Zharr-Grond, built on an island off the coast of Minnantus. We went to battle with high morale. Our Lizardmen allies baited the bulk of the Fire Dwarf army off of their island and leaving their garrison vulnerable. We landed our Hawkships on the island and my heart cried out with horror. It was like the earth was dying, the sky blackened by smoke and ash clouds the belched forth from massive forges and furnaces. The black walls were decorated with heads on spears; limbs from various races and even live peoples, starved and screaming were chained to them. I knew we had to destroy this travesty of a race and we attacked.
Our general, the archmage Tisharpilir blasted down the gates with his noble magic while valiant Silver Helms charged into the city. The demented dwarves offered little resistance; their numbers were too few and they fled into the center of the city to make a stronger resistance.
We gathered inside the city and walked their outer streets unopposed. We fired volley after volley of flaming arrows but it had little effect on the mostly stone city. We had time on our side so we studied looted maps of the city and moved to surround the Fire Dwarves then began to engage them. They barricaded themselves in houses, firing their blunderbusses from windows before ducking under barricades. They unleashed screaming slaves of all races upon us but our mighty warriors easily defeated them. Pot-bellied hobgoblins attacked us with wicked curved daggers. They were sneaky wretches and poisoned their blades. Occasionally explosive rockets would be fired at us, though they killed more of their own slaves then us. We fought on in a bitter struggle, having to break into every house and kill every dwarf, slave and hobgoblin within. They were pushed back slowly and victory seemed close. But then the Black Ones came.
A commander who rode a great eagle pointed out that our ships were burning. Seemingly out of nowhere we were attacked by a new foe; they were elves too. At first we thought that the Druchii had come, but their skin was as black as the city we were in. On their shields the symbol of a spider could be seen. Our bloody advance stopped as we faced this new foe. They were frighteningly skilled with their weapons but fought with little nobility; they did not engage us openly. They crept from the shadows and slit the throats of innocents, and volleys of crossbow bolts poured out of houses we thought empty.
Our forces slowly broke, fleeing towards the entrance of the city. We were not pursued, for the Fire Dwarves emerged and engaged the Spider elves on the other side of our remaining forces. They were few in number and broke as well. And that is how this stalemate started.
Three armies are inside the city, no boats to escape in and no side having the strength to conquer both enemies. Every day we fight over a scant few yards but in the end no gains are made. Every day spent here is one of suffering and pain. Our food supplies run low and the hunger has driven us to eating our own horses! We cannot sleep peacefully at night for fear that the Spider Elves (or Lagothians as they’re apparently called) will slit our throats as we sleep. The sickly-sweet smell of death is everywhere; blood runs free as water through the streets and rotting corpses litter the place. Though it is unsafe to remain in one spot we are also at risk of the brutal Fire Dwarf blunderbusses, which are capable of killing or severely injuring many elves in a single shot. I have little left to say now, and I have little time left to scribe anyway. Asuryan, guide my bow and grant me the strength to endure this awful place!
“Move that rocket!” yelled Asgor Jaghoof. The bull centaur of Clan Shadowflame was leading the Dawi Zharr forces in the besieged city of Zharr-Grond. His sneaky git scouts reported movement of the Lagothians nearby and he decided to plan a little surprise for them.
Ever since the lesser races entered the city and locked the place into a stalemate, which was about two months ago, the three armies had settled into areas of the city to control. The High Elves had taken the barracks’ and slave quarters’ located near the entrance of the city, Asgor’s forces controlled the furnaces and keep in the center of Zharr-Grond and the Lagothians took the residential district in the north part. The majority of the city was a No Man’s Land, which was fought over daily.
Asgor was leading a small party, containing a handful of blunderbussiers, warriors and hobgoblins. A second bull centaur dragged the heavy death rocket with grumbles of indignation. Ogre slaves were at a shortage in the situation, leaving the few bull centaurs with mundane tasks. Several sneaky gits had went ahead to scout the path, though they weren’t totally reliable. In addition to being cowardly creatures, the hobgoblins were far less subtle than their black skinned foes and were likely to be silently picked off. “Still,” Asgor thought, "They might give us some notice of an ambush."
To his surprise, a sneaky git appeared on a rooftop and signaled to Asgor. His forces quickly entered the houses to both sides of then, hiding the rocket in an alley behind a pile of rubble. The git crawled down to street level, and another one appeared an joined it. One “accidentally” tripped on a rock and cried out in pain to attract the Lagothian’s attention. “Run!” one whispered, though it was so quiet that it could be heard from a short distance. They ran back towards the safety of Chaos Dwarf territory but Lagothian crossbows picked them off.
Almost without a sound the small band of Lagothians moved in to inspect the bodies of the dead hobgoblins. Asgor watched out a window at what he was up against. There were five marksmen, two Hands of Despair warriors and an Assassin who was in command. As they searched the corpses, Asgor signaled out the window to fire the rocket. A lever was pulled and the rocket flew true, impacting between the group of Lagothians. With a large boom the rocket detonated and a fireball erupted, scorching flesh and melting armour. In a display of quick reflexes, the assassin somersaulted backwards far enough to be thrown back but not killed by the rocket. Blunderbusses fired out the windows at the winded elf and it was gored beyond recognition; pelted with great amounts of shrapnel that stuck out from his flesh and splattered blood over an area of several yards.
“Back to the keep!” Asgor yelled. The sounds of the rocket and blunderbusses would attract other enemies and he didn’t have the forces with him for a large street fight. Now unhindered by the need for silence, the other bull centaur picked up the rocket and galloped off. If they were to encounter enemies they would have no time to reload and fire it.
Asgor lowered his facemask then drew his axe and shield. The hobgoblins formed a wall of a sort around the Chaos Dwarfs, their shields drawn to take the first hits and protect the blunderbussiers while they reloaded. For about ten minutes they ran uneventfully, bringing them a few blocks away from safe territory. Five marksmen quickly came out of alleyways on each side of the Chaos Dwarf party. They fired on the hobgoblin square, their bolts piercing the low quality shields or hitting them in the head and killing them instantly. The greenskins panicked and attacked the Lagothians only to have more cut down my their daggers. The blunderbussiers fired at the marksmen on one flank, killing three and maiming another. The last standing marksman fired a shot into a blunderbussiers’ leg and ran off only to be caught, gagged and put in shackles. Dropping their guns, they drew their scimitars and prepared for more enemies. One the other side, the warriors drew their spears and shields and rushed at their foes. Their strong scale mail armour stopped a volley of crossbow bolts and they closed the distance between them and the marksmen. The Lagothians didn’t stay to fight though, and ran off.
Asgor knew that that couldn’t be all their opposition, so they picked up their blunderbusses reformed into a smaller square. Slowly they stepped towards their destination, not wanting to stop but not willing to risk breaking formation. It was dead silent; to have safety so close yet danger even closer created an agonizingly tense atmosphere. Finally the Lagothians struck. Crossbow bolts flew out of a house, killing three hobgoblins and wounding another. Five Hands of Despair leapt from the shadows at the opening, swinging their massive swords quite gracefully and slaying hobgoblins and engaging the warriors. A Spittorian leapt from a rooftop at Asgor, who was in the center of the square, supported by a second volley of crossbows. The spider-centaur wielded two wicked swords, which it swung at Asgor’s head in a deadly arc. He parried one with his axe and the other with his shield. At the same time he kicked his hooves at the creature’s stomach, but it’s hairy front legs wrapped around his, pulling them forward and setting him off balance. Leaping up, the spittorian jumped onto his exposed hindquarters. Rage and adrenaline surging through him, he pushed off the ground with his front legs and reared up, sending the large beast flying and landing on its head between two blunderbussiers. They drew their scimitars and beheaded the stunned beast.
This broke the Lagothian’s morale. They did not expect the spittorian to be slain and they fled. Asgor pursued then, with his greater speed he caught four Lagothians who were placed in heavy shackles around their ankles, thighs and wrists and dragged on ropes by Chaos Dwarves. The remaining hobgoblins gathered up the corpses. They would provide food for the slaves and the equipment could be melted down to make new things. There was no more need for defensive formations and they headed for the keep at full speed. Today they had made a victory. Well, as much of a victory as they could possibly get. The Lagothian’s losses meant little and no defendable territory had been gained. Undoubtedly, in another part of the city, the Chaos Dwarves had suffered a defeat of some sort as well, resulting in no upper hand being gained. Until The Voice returned with an army, there was no hope. It was just another day of stalemate.