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The men of Mortheal started to march down the battlefield. The Territorial Army of King Oreck followed with stable weapons. The army's march soon turned into a slow jog, and then to a run. The spear-bearers led the way with spears held lightly in their hands as they prepared to hurl them into the approaching horde.
The armies were not far from each other now. Orcen armies had been attacking in groups for the last two fortnights, and had suffered many casualties but that did not seem to lessen their numbers any as they streamed forth across the field with no end in sight. Mortheal's army was now running forward as fast as possible while still maintaining their balance. The spear-bearers launched their weapons, desiccating the Orcen front line.
Mortheal himself was one of the first to enter the fray after the spear-bearers had accomplished their task. An axe came at his head speedily, dodging it, Mortheal ducked and twirled, sending his mace into the orc's face; the orc fell to the ground, not moving. Then all hell broke out Swords, axes, polearms and maces crashed into the Orcen crowd. Arrows, like missiles, whistled out of the sky with deadly accuracy. Many of the orcs were lifting their shields to protect them from the weapons of the sky, leaving their bodies open to ground level attacks, which Mortheal's men took immediate advantage of, slashing and stabbing with ferocity.
Mortheal, noticing one of his own injured on the ground, dropped back from the fight and concentrated on the injured man before him. He threw his hands to the heaven and, seeking the assistance of a holy power, healed the wounded on the ground before him. The man got up from his prone position, looked around in wonder, reached down and picked up his weapon and ran to join the battle, a whole man once again.
Mortheal looked around for his apprentice, Faede who should have been doing the healing during this battle instead of Mortheal. He spied him on the other side of the battlefield doing the same thing that Mortheal had just done.
Mortheal smiled grimly, satisfied that Faede was doing as much as possibly could be done.
It was obvious that Mortheal and his men were winning the battle, that the orcs were outmanned, and that they had not nearly the training or discipline of Mortheal's and the King's men, who were a well trained and disciplined army.
When the King's men entered the fray, the archers stopped shooting, in fear of hitting one of their own men. Since the archers were no longer able to participate in the battle using their long-distance weapons, they quickly donned their battle-gear, starting with leather jerkins with leggings to match. Over this under-covering they placed a light-weight mail and completed their ensemble with head-gear that allowed for maximum field of vision while still being quite protective. After quickly dressing, the archers sprinted into the fierce battle.
The grunts, groans, moans of pain and cries of anguish could be heard coming from all quarters. Men's cries of anger and exertion mixed with the strange and guttural language of the orcs as they attempted to overwhelm Mortheal's army. In the distance the first rumbling sounds of the sacars announced their proximity and Mortheal knew that he would soon need to lead, or send a phalanx of his men against the sacars in order to quell any dread felt by his men concerning their invincibility. He turned and caught the eye of his second-in-command, Adionis, who he signaled with a slight nod and a hand gesture.
Immediately Adionis signaled back that he understood Mortheal's order and that it would be complied with. Adionis stepped back from the battle and raised a small silver horn to his lips. He gave three low blasts ending with a high note on the horn, and then slowly lowered it with a grim look on his face. He had followed Mortheal through some mighty tough campaigns and knew that overcoming the sacars would not be an easy task, especially if Lord Doomhammer had vested them with any magical abilities. Adionis remembered the last fight against the dreaded beasts, when they had been unleashed with a special power to feel no pain. That had made them even more difficult to overcome, but the sacars had finally been conquered when Mortheal had hit the hairy animals with a spell of his own that reversed the effects of the 'no-pain' spell. Mortheal's spell had caused the sacars so much pain at the thought of entering battle, that they had immediately turned tail and run back to their dens in the Sacartan Plains.
Adionis felt, like Mortheal, that the animals should be left alone and not used as weapons against man, or any other species for that matter.
Adionis wondered why Lord Doomhammer felt it necessary to support the orcs in this battle and why it was that the sacars had been forced to battle once again. He did not have too much time to contemplate Lord Doomhammer's actions however, because he was too busy gathering his men to him so that they might answer Mortheal's call to arms.
Adionis was not only Mortheal's second in command, but he was also in charge of special operations, operations that needed a cool hand, an intelligent leader. The operations were considered above and beyond the call of duty and were also exceptionally dangerous to the men and their leader. Though the group of men was small in number, they were elite in both manner and war, and whenever one fell in battle there was any number of others that volunteered to take the fallen man's place. Only the few and the proud could be part of Adionis' elite corps. Adionis group had even taken on the feared Broudens of Brouda and had beaten them soundly. A recent rumor was that the wind carried the cries of the Broudian women out of the mountains where they lived, overcome by the knowledge that not only would many of their men not be returning to them, but that they had (for the first time ever) been defeated in war. The lamentations were called the Broudian wind, and those that had heard it, shuddered from its effects.
Adionis led his men towards Mortheal who had disengaged from the fighting and had found a small area near the castle gate in which there was enough space for a quick discussion.
"Men" he said as he looked around the small group, "I invoke your pledge to me that you each took when you became a member of this elite unit." Each man stared back at Mortheal with intent eyes, and a fierce demeanor. Their faces showed only determination and a duty to their leader. "I am asking you to once again to conduct battle against the sacars." Before they could reply or react, he continued. "Most of you will remember that the last time you battled these creatures, many good men met their match. The surprise we discovered at that time was that they felt no pain; they would keep fighting even when pain would have normally felled them in their tracks. Hopefully, Lord Doomhammer realizes that we know that trick."
The men smiled small grim smiles of remembrance as they watched Mortheal and listened to his words. The casualty rate in that remembered battle had been over 50% and many good men had been lost. Mortheal continued.
"I will give you each a talisman before you enter the battle that will protect you from any grievous injuries, but you cannot lose it. If you lose it, your protection will dissipate.
Wear it under your jerkins." He handed each man a small silver stone drilled through the center and hung on a silver small-linked chain. The men took the offering and placed it about their necks. After doing so, they turned their attention back to Mortheal.
"You don't have much time," he said, "the sacars are approaching. Adionis is an excellent leader, look to him for direction. I will do what I can to help you, but I have to make sure the other men take care of their responsibilities concerning the orcs. Good luck, although I doubt you will need it." Mortheal touched his chest with his fist and his men did so likewise in a show of solidarity.
"Alright men," said Adionis as he stepped forward to take charge, "let's head out and remember to look after your fellow men." He led them out at a jog as Mortheal watched them go.
Turning his attention back to the battle, Mortheal noticed that a segment of the King's army seemed to be bogged down against the orc's left flank. Many of the Orcen cavalry had swung to the right in an…[continue]
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