The Siege at Tanveers

Leopold, or Leo, as his friends used to call him leaned against the remains of Tanveer’s southern interior wall. He wrapped the remains of a torn shirt, pulled from the remains of a dead man beside him, around his head and wiped away hair that had become caked with dried blood. All around him he heard the screams of men, the roaring of demons, and the scent of death, fire, and brimstone was heavy in the air. Tanveer was a remote village in Tel’fahria’s southern hemisphere, and a farming community to boot. It had a small contingent of Tel’fahrian warriors, and most of them were dead. True, there were no Tel’fahrians that didn’t serve in some capacity as soldiers, but they were not prepared for the onslaught brought down upon their otherwise quiet community. Human freeman, who had been out hunting along the village perimeter reported the demons several days ago. Messengers were sent to the capital, but until then that small contingent of soldiers, any Tel’fahrian able to life a weapon, and the humans who lived amongst them were left to fend for themselves. The humans, and the Tel’fahrians with the skill for it quickly went about assembling whatever fortifications they could manage, even destroying or blockading roads where they could. In the meanwhile that score of Tel’fahrian warriors engaged the demons in small skirmishes from their battle lines back to the village perimeter. Numerically they couldn’t hope to face their foes in outright combat, thus, small probing attacks served to slow down their progress and drew out only small groups which were more manageable. Even as the fortifications went up, and preparations were made for a siege, the demons continued to expand their battle line until the continually waning garrison of soldiers found themselves holding the very gates against an onslaught of creatures. That was two days ago. Most of the village had been burned, if any of the Tel’fahrian warriors stationed in the settlement still lived he hadn’t seen them since they went over the southern wall under the cover of darkness to attempt a flanking attack the day before last. Leo, and the rest of the humans in the settlement, braced the southern wall with rubble and whatever else they could gather together.

They defended it with polearms, bows, magic and whatever meager missiles and explosives they could manage. For a time he thought they were faring remarkably well, and a battle certainly ought to seem that way to a young man absent knowledge of war that couldn’t recognize a probing attack for what it was. Once the demons had gauged and tested their defenses their second wave was overwhelmingly powerful. They routed the humans back to the solid stone interior walls, and even the walls did not stem their furious assault. It seemed to Leo, as he sat up and glanced about, that he was the only man yet alive on this section of the wall. He tried to get to his feet, but fell to his hands and knees and vomited more from the smell than anything else. He managed to get to his feet by using the remains of the walls inner gate, found a mostly serviceable spear, and leaned around the corner to peer out across the mangled corpses that lay strewn before the gate. Imps and lesser demons picked over the corpses. Some fed, and others fought each other for bobbles and loot. As he leaned a little further out, clutching the spear tightly as his head wound continued to throb, a stone broke loose from the wall and struck one of the metal gates with a loud clang. Several of the demons and imps clamored over the corpses and began making their way to his hiding spot. His breathing quickened, palms sweating, and he thought he might be better falling on his own spear than letting them take him. He tried to escape under his own power, but tripped over a corpse and the sound of a sickening splat as he landed in someone’s burned entrails was all the more indicative to his would be pursuers that he was there. He rolled to his back just as one of the imps made its way through the gate, calling out with what one might only describe as glee as he spotted Leo. The sound of beating wings turned his gaze skyward, and silhouetted against the sun he could make out a Tel’fahrian. It was a male, large even for one of their kind. He was not subtle as he landed, and made no effort to mask his arrival from the small horde that waited beyond the gate. His armor was etched with tiny runes one had to be very close to make out clearly. His armor was ancient, but nevertheless regal and well maintained. It was the sort Leo had never seen before. A pair of swords were crossed just beneath his wings, but he did not bother to draw them to deal with the imp that had spotted Leo. Before the creature could retreat beyond the gate the warrior was upon it, and he did not bother to silence it as he beat it to death with his gauntlets. Leo had heard tales of these violent but unmatched warriors. Few humans who lived in Tel’fahria had ever seen one of them, they stood apart from the very societies they were charged with guarding. He was one of the War Kindred.

Arimus tossed the broken body of the imp aside, glancing backwards over his shoulder as he gave a nod to the human who lay in a pile of corpses only a short distance away. It was as much respect as a war kindred might ever pay a human, after all, his survival up to this point was more than likely the result of luck rather than skill. Even if it was only to be for a short time, the duration of this battle, to stand on the soil of Tel’fahria again was not unwelcome. He would route the demons as his brother asked, and then return ‘home’ to fracture, and continue the war. Other war kindred would be called home, he had no doubt, but Arimus needed to be gone before they arrived. He slid one of his swords free from its sheath as he rounded the smashed gate and looked out over the fields of the dead, thick with demons. He felt their gazes on him, smiling broadly as he waded into the thick of them. At least he would be entertained, if only for a while.

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