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The Fight

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1 The Fight on 21st July 2011, 4:11 pm

Dov Kayranslayer


MNI Author

MNI Author

Alphain, the thirty-two-year-old, short-and-black-haired, half-elven Major-General of the 5th Army in service of the Grand Principality of Neavilland, surveyed the battlefield. It was flat, wide, reared by hills on the north and west sides, good for cavalry charges. Unfortunately, the Telessilians would take that side. On the south, a small riverling, the Nharli, made its way over the plain, separating the open field from an extensive cypress tree forest on the other side. Alphain watched from his position on the Tarnun Height, a hill in the eastern edge of the field, as the Neavillandian army scattered before him. He gazed as the Grand Prince's envoy unwrapped the flag, depicting two - a gold and a green - chevrons on a black field, before the princely tent, standing only a few steps from Alphain.

For the last three years, the Telessillian Empire was humbled, its entire eastern region falling to the flames of rebellion and their armies crushed one by one, battle after battle, during its own unsuccessful Sanlig Campaign on the Neavilland and the principalities of Cessellia and Akkolfurth. The result was a 'domino effect' of many numerous political alliances, unions, and briberies that essentially signalled an agonizing death to Telessillian power in the region.

Everything is still and calm
In the dead of night
Right before the fight

Since time immemorial, Telessillia had dominated the Southlands. It was Telessillian rulers who spoke to those of the Westlands, to the northwest. It was Telesillian rulers who had embassies from most countries to the north, not excluding even the secluded, secretive Alfantuath. And it was the Telessillian emperor who titled himself, to everyone's envy and anger, kethys-an-kethys, King of Kings of the South. But the further east, the more away from the heartland of the empire, the further away from the coasts of the Great Western Sea and the closer to Neavilland and other, smaller countries bickering endlessly over land that was virtually Telessillian in all but name, the less people supported the emperor. This culminated a good ten years ago, when the empire put down a rebellion in the east raised in support of the Neavillandian Grand Prince and political unity with Neavilland. A quick and disastrous deterioration of relations between Telessillia, Neavilland, and the ethnic minorities of Cessellians and Neavillians in Telesillia culminated in nothing short of war.

After a brief and mostly unsuccessful campaign into Telessillian territory by the principality of Akkolfurth, an ethnically Cessellian ally of Neavilland's situated just to its northwest, the Empire struck back. It threw three entire army groups into the area in a move known as the Sanlig campaign, after the great river flowing through the Empire's eastern regions and then through Neavilland. Nobody would expect they'd meet effective defeat. After two years, the remainders of the devastated, disarmed, mass-injured Army Group Northeast were leaving not just Neavillandian territory, but the territory of the Telessillian province of Upper Sanlig on the borders of Neavilland.

Not Upper Sanlig, Alphain corrected himself. Lower Neavilland. Part of our great motherland.

A similar catastrophe, though one of much greater scale, occured to Army Group Northwest in Akkolfurth. The prince of Akkolfurth hastely signed the Treaty of Chasleand with the principality of Cessellia to the west. He, a twenty-one-year-old, was to marry the fifteen-year-old princess of Cessellia, Ankinnora I. When Cessellian troops had driven back the Telessillians at least a safe distance from Akkolfurth, he, as the new prince of Cessellia, left it to come to his new capital at Ovissiburgh. Just as hastely, he signed the First Treaty of Ovissiburgh, formally uniting the two (both ethnically Cessellian, mind you) principalities into a common state, the Kingdom of Cessellia.

Telessillia's greatest fear had been fulfilled. For centuries, its position in the eastern regions of the South depended on keeping the local states divided, scattered, dismembered in the most painful fashion possible.

That was because any sort of national unification almost naturally included it giving up its own territory.

Soon enough, a revolt broke out. And soon enough, Lower Neavilland and the remaining regions around the Sanlig were a mass battlefield for rebels, allied troops, and the last imperial army group in the Sanlig Campaign - the Southeast Army Group, led by no one less than the emperor's son.

The same army group they'd now face.

Clouds are gathering for the storm
Destiny decides
Who will live or die

Someone nudged Alphain. "Look," that someone, namely another general called Rafaen said, and Alphain gazed towards the far edge of the field in reaction.

The Telessillian army came. Scattered over the hills, bearing weapons upon weapons upon living piles of armor marching, spears in the air, the imperial banners with a crowned griffin. It took only a second for Alphain to notice a very important detail.

"They gots no cavalry," he said, in his slightly-overdone North Neavillandian accent, "Not many, at least. Unless they're hiding 'em behind those hills, and that, friend, makesn't any sense. We checked the river? We don't risk getting flanked by any chance?"

"There aren't any fords. The river's not wide, but it's a heck of a deep and quick one. Cavalry can't come through that cypress forest fast enough to enter the battle on time and in position, and infantry would simply sink in it. Nothing's gonna happen, Alphain. We're going to win this thing."

"I'd not be so sure about the second-last statement, but helluva truth's in the last one," Alphain grinned. "At least, that's as far as now's concerned. Their army's doma--- demera--- demoralalalized. They know we beat the damnation outta them at Salweg Field, they're a'comin' on their feet virtually begging for mercy."

"I wouldn't be so sure," joined in Kalath, yet another general, a grey-haired, fifty-nine-year-old, experienced figure. "Trust me, boys. The Empire's still got one last breath, one last foothold on this soil. You'd better hope it won't blow you away with that breath. You'd better hope that foot doesn't kick you far away."

"Well that's jolly brightening the day," smirked Alphain, almost maliciously. "Thanks very much, old geezer."

I've been waiting for this moment
It's time for the battle
Even if I never make it
Take me home
I may never get my story
Carved in stone
But I will rise again
The fight is to the end

Hundreds of years of waiting resounded in the steps of the armored feet of the Neavillandian soldiers. Pride.

They'd finally reclaim their pride today. They'd finally reclaim their Lower Neavilland today.

The summer sun sent its rays straight into Alphain's eyes. It was difficult to see the soldiers moving across the field like that, so he quickly ran to the other side of the hill, where the tent would shield him from the light. He looked around. All the other generals were with their troops, and here he was, further back than the reserve. The Grand Prince himself, even, was leading his troop to battle. Why was he here?

"Messenger!" he called out only a few seconds of looking towards the field later to a lightly-armored boy who was so young that it was virtually obvious he was one and not a soldier. All the pages and the squires of the knights were either tending to their property or marching along the army. He responded by coming, quickly, what proved to Alphain that he indeed was one.

"Name, messenger," he spat, almost demandingly. The messenger stuttered slightly.

"Uh... uh, it's Thun Karderal, sir," he mumbled.

"Right, Tuall or whatever yous tormented outta youself through sheer force," he spoke, turning to face the field again, where the Neavillandians started a slow, bulky march across the field and the Telessillians awaited them on the hilltops in the far side of the field. "I need you to go to Brigadier Ciadmoc Andertan. Try not to getchaself killed along the way and all that darn bogus; tell the bastard I suppose him to... well, firstly, go to heck, so he knows it's me. Then tell him I suppose him to take his troops toward the right flank. Rafael's boys'll take good care o'the center. And tell 'im I'm going to be joining them soon enough, too. Just need'a'have a brief chat with the chancellor."

The boy nodded and ran down the hill, into the fray.

Horses were worth virtually nothing to battlefield messengers. They'd get shot quickly.

Pounding of the drums of war
Turns your tears to mud
Rivers turn to blood

Alphain, just like the whole battallion around him, fell under their shields in a defensive pose as arrows rained down upon them. The Telessillians were on that hilltop. Ascending it was painful and led, inevitably, to a death by their spears.

... They'd have to attack altogether. Both flanks, crushing across the hills, running them up. If the Telessillians could withstand an attack on both left and right, they'd definitely fail to defend from an attack on the front.

But they'd have to do that quickly, and resolutely, because the Telessillians, focused on defending on the front, would only for now stand with such openings in their flanks.

And now, down the hills, descended a platoon of infantry. Alphain blinked for a second. Why were they doing that? They were in a perfectly safe position on the hilltop. They were essentially wishing to impale themselves on Neavillandian pikes.

Oh well. You really can't cure someone from being so stupid.

He placed his spear in a defensive position, his shield accompanying it, as his formation grew tighter. Alphain felt the shoulders of his men just by him. "STAND FAST, MEN!" his roar echoed, as the soldiers braced for impact.

Blood splattered all over him.

If you live to see another day
Take another breath
Make it life or death

Alphain swore as he screamed for the soldiers to break apart, loosen their tight formation as quickly as possible. Standing in a tight defensive formation, they were an obvious target for the longbowmen on the hill.

Well, screw them. He was going to take the damned fight to them and he was going to take them, damned they be, straight to heck.

"Come on, men!" his voice resounded through the immediate area, "Ciadmoc, bloody demons take you, get your men over here! Karaxian! Temnyth! To the right!"

For a few seconds, the Telesillian army, and the Neavillandian army too, stopped fighting and watched as, defiantly, the 5th Army ascended the hill. Before a rain of arrows descended upon them. Again.

I've been waiting for this moment
It's time for the battle
Even if I never make it
Take me home
I may never get my story
Carved in stone
But I will rise again
The fight is to the end

"Field Marshal! Lieutenant-General!" hissed Grand Prince Therimal II of Neavilland, angrily pointing towards the right flank. Towards the brutally tormented, yet unrelenting 5th Army, that kept and kept ascending the hilltop. It didn't seem to matter to them how many casualties it'd take.

The two men, whose names were respectively Kelost Andogren and Faladh Hamrin, lowered their eyes - hidden behind steel helmets to begin with - in shame. Therimal, a middle-aged, experienced ruler, shook his head in disapproval.

"What the heck are you two doing?" he shouted, "Those boys are getting killed there!"

"I'm sorry, milord, we'll pull the assault back immediately..." Andogren began. And with a glare from Therimal, he understood that he misunderstood something.

"Pull the assault back? You awesome! This is our bloody chance, bastard! Hit the left flank! Hit the bloody left flank!"

Give me strength to carry on
Till my life is done

Alphain swung his sword in a wide circle, razoring off the head of a nearby Telessillian soldier. Another swing, and the sword clashed with another, only to provoke Alphain kicking his opponent in the groin and then, as he was naturally distracted, stabbing him straight through.

Blood splattered all over him.

Only a few of his closest subordinates remained. He saw Brigadiers Temnyth and Ciadmoc still fighting, only a minority of their troops still around them. Of the massive brigades, only a few soldiers remained. That was indeed something to think about.

And then, a flaming arrow whizzed right past him into a Telessillian catapult. Distracted, he didn't notice the sword coming down on his head from behind him. Ciadmoc did. He jumped, incredibly fast, knocked Alphain out of the way and took the blow---

Blood splattered all over him.

Everybody wants the glory
But you better remember
The fight is to the end
The fight is to...

Alphain lunged with his spear, for its probably last kill as he threw it down on the ground afterwards. It was virtually worthless now. A pirouette, and he cuts down a soldier. A half-pirouette, and another's attack is blocked, with the consequence of Alphain throwing his head forward and knocking the soldier out with a hit to the forehead. With a forehead.

And then he saw a sight that quite frankly relieved him.

Two chevrons. Gold. And green. In a black field. His perception was obviously shared by someone in command. They'd struck the left flank. They'd won the battle.

That was his last thought, besides the realization that someone had placed a sword through him.

... the end

2 Re: The Fight on 22nd July 2011, 5:40 pm

Rising Moon


Wordscape Executive

Wordscape Executive
Alright, I gotta admit, I was a bit disappointed by this story. Which isn't a direct insult, by the way--it means I was expecting more from you. You didn't quite choose to not incorporate the writing skills you're talented at--you sort of implemented them without quite as much wow factor as you normally do. Dunno if that's because you decided consciously to hold back, or you just wrote this for fun and posted without second thought.

It's really the first half that disappoints me. Exposition, despite popular belief, is not entirely boring and does not always disrupt the flow with no benefit. There is a place backstory. At least with this piece, though, it is not at the beginning. If this were a book I probably would have dropped it before I reached the second half. First of all, the first paragraph has a noticeable lack of flow. You basically toss out a bunch of facts about everything that needs knowing, in terms of both plot and characterization, but despite pretty fantastic use of language there's no real intrigue to reading it. I kind of skimmed and mowed through the whole first half of the story, waiting for actual action, dialogue, progression, anything, but it was a whole lot of nothing for a little while.

Curiously enough, I consciously thought the first paragraph was a bit choppy and inarticulate, which is kind of the worst paragraph to be so, but you picked that up afterwards. Your language is, as always, expansive, accurate, colorful, and entirely proper and fitting for the scene you are trying to set up. Here, though, you sort of failed to set up the scene. I got a one-sentenced description of the main char, and a couple disorganized glimpses at the battlefield--all in the first paragraph. You've got yourself a lot of potential conceptually with scenery, and it's a bit of a letdown you didn't follow through.

Anyways, you picked it up once things got going. You're born to write war fiction, dude. The dialogue is fantastic, riveting, and particularly accurate. A lot of fanfic wartime authors assume their stuff is accurate, but this was pretty seriously convincing. I've read war fiction written by guys in the army for years, and this matches them pretty perfectly, with your own personal distinct style. It's fast-paced, blunt, characterized, and altogether wholly enjoyable to read. Your voice as the narrator is, as I've commented before, excellent, and totally erases the thought that there might actually some bored guy sitting at his computer thinking all this up. You create and assume character and style wonderfully, so props to you for that. One of my favorite skills of yours, voice.

The actual progression of the battle, which is an obvious major attribute of war fiction, is seriously absorbing to read. I wouldn't classify this as a suspense short story, so if that's what you were aiming at then I wasn't exactly on the edge of my seat, but I can say I was both able to follow the battle (and history of what led up to it, though that wasn't nearly as much fun to read) and got a kick out of watching it unfold. It's brimming with speed, realism, and you pulled off including great voice of both narration and characters as an aspect of it.

So, to clarify, leave backstory for when it fits with the flow, don't start with it--especially in wartime fiction--take your time to expand on scenery and character, use that awesome narration voice and dialogue skills of yours, and keep up and improve the awesome work.

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