Draconia Chronicles: Conquest

Chapter 1: Gathering Storm

I look upon a hill, and survey the lands our kind so valiantly protect and defend. A cool mountain breeze flows through my fur as gentle as the caress of a lover's hand. On my stallion, I am clad in armor that clinks and rattles with my movements. The fields will soon become a battlefield. My name is Sui, and I welcome you to the Kingdom of the Tùzǐ.

Although in our language Tùzǐ means 'Rabbit', our kind are actually Pikas. For centuries, we fought amongst ourselves when our kingdom was separated into four smaller states. That was until the Empress Hui Yin united us all under one banner. Our kind face a threat greater than anything we have faced. It saddens me that our enemy is a sacred animal

Dragons. In our culture, dragons are creatures of fortune and prosperity. What saddens me is that these Dragons reflect none of the traits that we associate with their kind. The only thing I see in them is greed. Our kind are as tall as the average Dragoness, and built just the same as they are our bodily shapes. The deep sound of war drums thundered.

"They're here," I said, seeing the Dragon,

"It's only one Dragon," said Lieutenant Xia

"No...they're here," I replied without fear

Like the Imperial Cavalry Units I command, my weapons and armor are a part of me like my own beating heart and my own skin. The armor we soldiers wear is called lamellar armor. This scale armor makes up the cuirass, pauldrons, and the groin guard. The pauldrons have brass 'beast heads' on them resembling the heads of the guardian lion heads.

The vambraces and greaves are tempered steel. We soldiers also wear a waistcloth, belt, sash, corset, and pants. A tasseled kettle helm, and a pair of boots finish the armor. We have a large variety of weapons. To me, my sword or 'Jian' means is as dear to me as my own soul. My sword is 104cm long. 77cm make up a 3.5cm wide blade with a 21cm hilt

Our archers, whether on foot or mounted, use a bow in the 'Kaiyuan' style. Lieutenant Xia commands the archers. For the start of our military campaign to press forward into the Dragonlands, we are using archers on foot with supply carts of everything from arrows to food and water. Empress Hui Yin leaves us in charge of the army. It is in capable hands.

"When will it begin?" asked Lieutenant Rushi

"Soon," I said, waiting for them all to arrive,

Lieutenant Rushi commands the infantry of 60% of which our one hundred thousand strong army is mostly composed of. Their weapons are the 'Qiang' or spear, 'Yanyuedao' or 'Guandao' which is a halberd. Alongside that as protection against cavalry is the 'Zhanmadao'. Although Dragons don't use cavalry, it will still prove to be a very effective weapon

Every lady in armor to their respected unit is a trained soldier. For example, archers are not just trained with a bow. When the arrows in the quiver run dry, they can unsheathe their swords and function as 'light infantry'. I look at these soldiers, young and beautiful they are. They smile to me. In their brown eyes I see their readiness for a coming battle

It's because our land, and our empress are worth fighting for and defending. Empress Hui Yin came to the throne at fourteen. She's twenty-one now, and has ruled our kind with a just and fair hand. She is looking to make peaceful alliances with the Tigerfolk, and their leader, Princess Kiriad. I hope to meet the Tigerfolk one day. Truly, they're very strong

"Here," said Xia with a bowl of millet congee

"Thank you," I said accepting her food offering

It's the meal before the battle in the camp. Spirits seem high among the troops. The night before battle is usually not the best time to get some sleep. During the conflicts of the 'Warring States', sleep, like salt, was a precious commodity. You never know what the enemy will do in the dark cover of night. On this morning, it was different. I am well rested

It was the morning of battle, I put on my armor piece by piece. My Jian was at my belt, and tied my bandanna in a tight knot. I put on my tasseled helmet as I walked out to see our warriors in organized lines and units. I mounted my armored stallion, and signaled with a gesture of my hand for the army to move out. The war drum sounded in our march

The armor of one hundred thousand would clink and rattle a unison clatter with their every step. Spears stood firm in the grips of marching soldiers like a moving forest. Swords were at the ready. The war banners flew proudly in the wind on the poles of long spears. As we took the field, I looked upon the sky to see a fast-moving cloud or a flock of birds

"Dragons," said Lieutenant Xia in observation,

"Indeed," I said, unsheathing my Jian to fight

I gave a nod to Lieutenant Xia for us to make our first move, "Archers...Forward!" called out Xia as her orders, the drums sounded as the archers emerged from the organized ranks of soldiers. Archers in their thousands lines up, and had their bows at the ready with arrows nocked in the string. The archers use a two-pronged attack when firing volleys

In unison, the first volley fires straight at the charging ranks, the second volley shoots overhead to rain down on the enemy. The 'Kaiyuan' bow is a powerful bow that works with this tactic, "Archers...Draw!" the bows went into the arcs at their lines. The front line fires forward. The back line shoots upward. This battle had begun with only a word "Loose!"