WAR OF THE CARDS : ORCLANDSPIEL

Chapter 2:
"Lieutenant, deploy your group towards the left wall of the bluff. Make sure that our flanks are covered while we penetrate their lines from the central slope. I don't care how many men you lose. Defend it down to the last able body. We will move out on my signal." commanded Wingate while clutching his ever-sharp mace.

Six companies of the Geffen-Prontera Combine positioned themselves in the various densely treed areas of the ravine. Only that of the moon's reflected shine lit the evening sky. An atmosphere of mixed anxiety and enthusiasm mingled with the tingling feeling if the cold wind blowing from the basin.

" Bishop, we are ready to attack on your signal. Rangers have reported minimal activity in the orc camps. Half of the towers are active as predicted." said one of the knights coming from the ends of the communication lines.

" Very well. Commence the attack once you see the grand cross. I'll be seeing you on the other side of this ravine, brave generals" said Thames. "The gods favor those who are willing to gamble their lives for their cause. Let our actions sing an ode of glory this evernight!"

The knights went back to their companies. The whole place started to quiet down for the final command. The Deathprayer shut his eyes for a few seconds. And uttered a short prayer that he said each time he went to battle.

"My faith is my strongest sword. I shall become
the undoing of all who oppose the Mother Church.
Forgive me for all blood that I shall spoil and
redeem the souls of those who will be lost.
Let my actions tonight be an aria of purification"

With his final prayer finished he threw an azure gemstone in the air. The gemstone exploded in a bright light bearing the shape of a celestial cross. Slowly, men hidden between the trees that lined the lip of the gorge started moving down the slopes. The slow pacing soon sped up. Faster and faster they went down. Soon enough, an avalanche of man and beast thundered down the uncovered parts of the slopes. Leading them was a singular shadowy figure riding a white beast.

It wasn't too long before the camps of the other side started to notice. One by one the lights of the towers lit up and the horns of the greenskins wailed across what would have been a tranquil night.

"Now!" shouted Deathprayer. All at once the wizards of Geffen atop the tallest trees started bombarding the guard towers with fireballs. The night sky on top of the assaulting parties glowed bright red. After the first wave of bombardment, the orcish lines still laid silent. Fires raged across the other side and yet not an arrow answered the challenge of the wizards. Thames put on his usual smirk and rushed forth with doubled flair.

The low hum of the rumbling march of the alliance was suddenly interrupted. Loud explosions bristled across the bottom of the gorge. Squads of men were literally erased by the blasts. Blood, guts and soil showered all over those who were fortunate enough.

" Gobling landmines! Our paths are mined! Halt the advance!", shouted Thames' adjutant knight who was equally as startled. Shouts of orders and terrified screams of pain echoed all over with the army now nearly at the bottom of the ravine. Countless whistling sounds filled the air shortly after the blasts. Dark arrows rained down upon the stunned men, causing more deaths as they found their marks and poisoned the living spirit out of the disheartened men.

The Bishop rode across the disorganized ranks of swordsmen shouting. " Do not stop! Let the clerics take care of the dead and the wounded. March on and let the clouds of Pneuma become your umbrellas. Take one step back and I shall slay you myself with the same swordmace that I use to spill black blood! " The men could only sport the look of horror and at the same time motivation as they saw the raised baroque swordmace of Thames reflecting the light of the burning trees.

The march started moving forward once again. In a better tiding, fewer and fewer mines exploded. A second wave of fireballs once again rained upon the enemy camps. Shrieks of orcs in pain emanated from the far side of the towers as the waves of arrows momentarily stopped. The marching pace picked up quite a bit after the rain of death ceased. The men at the front most lines were slowly climbing up the rocky side of the ravine. Aside from a rouge arrow flying towards the attackers randomly coming out of the enemy towers, no attacks troubled the climb again. Thousands of lives were lost in that ravine, which would soon be christened the "Devil's Drop" by those who survived without wounds. Those who were even slightly wounded by the arrows started convulsing a few minutes after and not an acolyte in the whole force could do a thing to prevent the creeping death.

When the forces reached the outer sides of the northern villages, all that was left was a burning inferno and disoriented orcish warriors. The orc hero of the north only known as the Arrow Breaker could not be found anywhere. Wingate fought as brilliantly as ever. And many an orc made a fatal mistake of thinking the whiteness of the Pecopeco was a sign of weakness. Soon enough, the remaining guard towers were taken down at the price of countless lives for nobody would ever survive the deadly poison of an orcish dagger or the creeping sting induced by the laced orc arrow.

"Bishop Thames, " said a lead knight of another company who lead the raid to the eastern gates, which led nearest to the human camp, " the eastern gate has fallen. The guards didn't even see us coming. That which has been impeding our attack for weeks has swung open. Victory is finally ours!"

Losses were high but they were not incurred as he would have expected. He lost men in all the wrong places. Bishop Wingate inspected the piles of dead orc bodies being rounded up after much of the fighting. It was almost all too easy.

Another lead knight came back riding from the central parts of the villages saying, "Sire, the remote areas have been secured. This portion of Orcland is ours. But like all other companies, I have come to report that the orc hero is nowhere to be found. He must have fled to the central villages of the high orcs when they heard the deathprayer coming. Sire, the men are all tired from the fighting and we still need to give our dead the final rituals. Shall we set up camp for tonight Bishop?"

The bloodstained cleric fixed his glasses once more. He sighed in an empty relief that the worst part was over. And yet something was troubling him. "Post only half of the available forces for defense of the reclaimed lands. The rest will be coming back with me to the camp, TONIGHT." said Wingate, still clutching his bloodied swordmace. With that, the rider of the white pecopeco turned his back on his fellow commanders and disappeared to the far reaches of the northern village.

The gathering knights watched the bishop as he rode away. "If it were up to me, I'd stick around and prepare for the next assault. We can retake the central plains of Orcland tommorow morning if we stopped fooling around and take advantage of our position." said one of the more discontented company leaders.

The eye of the storm brought calm in the hearts of all men who survived the Devil's Drop. But the stench of blood in the air put in a looming dark intuition that just won't go away.