Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 20 - The Ambush

I am now given knowledge of a great relic, a symbol of power and of wealth which is of the family of the Ubar of Tyros. I, and a small band of brave warriors have ventured into the enemy line to seek word of its location. The lands here, of course, are now in chaos. There are fires, and smoke, and impaled bodies of Free and of Slave alike upon the roads.

We find a man from the Caste of Players who tells us what we seek was liberated by Mercenaries from the ruins of a tower that fell to Ar some days prior. He gives to us the directions and instructions of where he last saw it. I return with the men to Camp, preparing to strike out at first light to the roadway that leads to the sea-port where I suspect the men of Ar will seek to secure a place of landing for their troops. Here, I suspect, we will find an easier course along the coast to the place indicated by the man with whom I spoke.

It is just after sunrise that I spot a scout of Ar. Quickly, we rally ourselves, yet not full to wakefulness when the first arrows descend. We find the warrior who was on watch, murdered in the night. The camp is surrounded. We fight, as larls, cutting down what Arians come within the camp. I have with me slaves now, who bind the enemy that we are free to fight, and who help greatly in the balance of things.  Yet their numbers are too great, and they have taken us by surprise. One by one, we fall beneath their blades.

When it is done, I am gravely wounded. I find near me, the trussed and wounded men of my encampment. Too, there are the slaves which had been taken as prizes.  We are moved then, by wagon and foot to the distant City of  Ar, and there am I separated from my men. They, to place, I another. It is in a guilded cage upon a marble floor that I find myself, left now to wonder the fates of the warriors who survived this grim day.

Day 22 - Zalika

Once, long ago, was I but a humble Sailor and Sea-Captain. I, of the low Castes, with no means to curry the favor of the House of High-Caste Lady.

I had met, on those dusty streets of Tyros so long ago, the Lady Zalika and her sister, the Lady Isolde. I did not think then, my future would be in her arms.  It was the Lady Isolde, in those early days, who had been my personal Physician, and tended me with great skill and care.  Her sister, Zalika, and I found ourselves in conversation when time permitted and our paths in Tyros would happen to cross.  Too, did I find, the Lady Isolde becoming bitter and confrontational, questioning then my intention toward her sister - of which then I had naught.

I had strived to remain away from the two women, for it became clear that the Physician was given to bitterness in my presence, and her tongue bit like that of an Ost.  Yet, despite this, I found my heart began to yearn for the Lady Zalika.

Now,  laying in the Infirmary of Tyros after the clash of Thassa, I am under the care of Zalika who in those long months since our first encounter had become of the Caste of Physicians, leaving behind the Caste of Warriors of which I had since become.  In those quiet moments before the sun rose, she confessed to me, and I to her, the unspoken love harbored so long and in such secrecy, for fear of offense or retribution by our Houses.

It is she, Zalika, with her radiant beauty and magnificent kindness, her sharp wit and great wisdom, who keeps me alive. Not only, shall I say, by virtue of her work to save my broken flesh, but that she touches my spirit and brings a wholeness to what was until now only incomplete.  A Warrior may feel deeply, it was often said. Great passions for War, and for blood, but also for Love and for beauty. Indeed, this is the measure of a man, I think, that one feel so deeply and live so boldly.

As the war grows, I fear for her safety and have appointed men paid wage from my own purse, to see to her constant protection.  Having seen my Caste brothers of Ar, however, I fear it may not be enough.

Day 17 - The Battle of Thassa

How shall I describe the great clash at sea, between the mighty vessels of Tyros, and the Warships of Ar which, launched by some secret port, have plied the waters to our very shore.  The green back of Thassa turns red with blood, and littered with smoking hulks of sinking ships. Bodies cast to the waves, wash upon the shores and rocks of Tyros, warriors and sailors of both nations lay broken and battered.

In the wooded shores of Tyros, I come to the aid of our Ubar, who is falling beneath the blades of Ar's men. One, I dispatch quickly, a sword to his liver. He dies at my feet with only a moan. Arrows bite at my shield and I find more men of Ar, emerging from the brush. A swordsman comes and drives a blade through my belly. I feel the teeth of an arrow in my shoulder. I cling to my sword and my shield as I fall to the sand, red I see, with blood that is my own.  I smile. It is a glorious death, I think. Through my broken vision I see a Man of Ar bring sword to my throat. He asks, if I shall beg, or scream for him. Yet I refuse. He asks then if he shall spare me and place me in the collar.  I cannot, I said, for I am a Warrior. It is not a fitting end. He seeks to give me a Warriors death, and I am pleased.  The sword is thrust through my throat and I am in darkness.

When my eyes opened, I was upon my back in the Infirmary, I have no recollection of getting there. Yet I see Lady Zalika and Lady Fantasia tend my wound. Too, I see my slaves at the foot of my table, weeping.  For days I am there, under the care of the Caste of Physicians, my wounds slowly are mended.  The Priest-Kings, I surmised, had more purpose for me yet.

Day 15 - Nerina

Long days have passed since my return to Tyros, and I am pleased to be again in my home on Tyros. Here, I am met by my slave-girl that I call Nerina. She, a barbarian, gives me great joy. The embrace of the slaves arms, and of her soft skin against mine own, is a pleasing and comforting thing. It is said that barbarians are fit to be only the slaves of slaves, and indeed I count myself among them. Yet, she has become my favorite for reasons I cannot well describe. She is only a girl, of which I have many, but within her is a fierce loyalty uncommon in the savages of Earth, which I call the Slave-World. That strange place that is said to be beyond the Central Fire, obscured from us, but known in the Second Knowledge.

Nerina had I found some year prior, when sailing from Tyros to Kar, I, being a victim of Thassa's angry storms, found our hull leaking too badly to be mended at sea. In the shelter of a small island I anchored and commanded the planks be replaced and tarred while I, with four of my men, came ashore to explore what was thought to be a stranded man.  I was surprised to find a young slave-girl, washed ashore on these sands by some Slave-ship which had found its fate in the very same storm that damaged my own.  I took the girl there, on the sands, and placed her in my bracelets and collar, a prize to be taken to Tyros and to be used for my delights if not sold.

In the months that followed, I saw in the barbarian slave a remarkable transformation as she grew to love her Master well, and I perhaps her, in the manner that one might love any of their beasts.

We have learned that Ar has sent a fleet, and we expect now that they will seek to land in Cos. We move soon to engage them in the sea, and I ready my sword, my spear, my crossbow, my shield and helm.

Day Two - Clash in the Fields

I have met the enemy on the field, and found them to be a tenacious and well-trained foe. Many soldiers of Tyros were slain the initial charge, a glorious death by the steel of worthy soldiers.  I envy them.  I have taken a band of men along the river, and flanked the enemy from the west, while the Ubar and Captains move along the center.  Two fallen men have I dragged to the safety of a small house and bound their sounds. I am tormented by a Tarn above, and I see the livery of a Legatus or better, yet I cannot determine for the sun is in my eyes and my wounds pain me. I have been struck by swords, small cuts, which bleed well but do not pose danger to life. An arrow has found my leg, but I have broken it and removed it, binding my flesh in the rags of a fallen slave-girl nearby.

Several men have fallen to my sword, but I am among the last of my men now. The enemy draws focus upon me and soon I am overwhelmed from above, and from both flanks. There can be no retreat, the codes forbid it, and I move ahead.

I cannot recount the length of the battle, but I shall say several ahn have passed since we marched from the camps. The Arian host is victorious, our numbers now too depleted to continue we are made to hold the embankments and await reinforcement. Runners have come to us, and we learn other phalanxes of Tyros are lost, decimated by the legions of Ar.

We can now but wait, and ready for the words of our Ubar.

Day One - The War of Ar

It is a clear day, and the men are eager. We are led by the Ubar of Tyros, who is called Galahad, in this war which begins now as words and quills, fall away from the hands of diplomats.  Mighty Ar has sent her ships across Thassa, toward Cos, which lies north of Tyros.  They sail upon waters claimed by Tyros, and in so doing violate what is deemed the sovereignty of Tyros and of the Ubar.

The soldiers of Ar, await us, they have indeed dug in and established defenses. Even from my tent so far from the field, I can see the lines of pikes set to receive our advance. The great saddlebirds of Gor, which are called Tarns, are high above. Scouts, I suspect, to learn our numbers.  We have camped until dawn, when we will engage the enemy in the fields ahead.

I think upon my daughter, Salena, and my beloved Zalika, who now are some thousands pasangs away awaiting word of victory, or defeat.   I shall sleep, now, and be refreshed for the morning.