Archive for November, 2010

The mist that carpeted the battle field glowed golden in the early morning sunlight. The battle that had begun before first light was surprisingly brief. Prince Bron yr Aurn had not commandeered a battle that short in all his life. There was something disquieting about it. Something felt all wrong but he couldn’t figure out what it was.

The Gnomen had been prepared for war, of that there was never a doubt. Elven Scouts had spied the encampments along the river banks. Over 200 Gnomen Troops were assembled, not the army Bron would have expected but then there was no way to estimate if and how many Gnomen lay in wait tunneled under the battle field ready to ambush their enemy. It was always safe to assume that there were at least twice as many subterranean Gnomen as there were those advancing in the field. But today this hadn’t proven to be the case; only around 100 erupted from the earth. More curious was their retreat. Bron had commandeered his Elven troops to surprise storm the Gnomen army from both flanks rather than meet them head on. The subterranean Gnomen should have been able to detect this movement but apparently they didn’t for the surface battalion was caught off guard. Even more odd, was the way they fought back in a quick retreat. It was not the tactics he was used to from this strange race.

Then there were the Scout’s reports of odd metal discs that the Gnomen were transporting. Obviously weapons, but they had no devices for which to hurl the plates in battle. They didn’t have the discs on the field either. This troubled Bron most of all, the Gnomen were much too clever a race to have come to battle with ammunition but no trebuchet to launch it.

Bron placed a foot upon the chest of a fallen Gnome lying before him in the blood slick grass. Bron’s long sword was jammed in the breast plate of the lifeless creature and it took considerable force to remove it. As the blade finally wrenched free it jarred the corpse and the creature’s head rolled to one side, it’s helm visor slid open. Soulless, dead eyes met Bron’s and for a moment Bron saw this body as something other than an enemy that must be slaughtered. There are those that claim the diminutive yet hardy frames of the Gnomen are evolved from the inter breeding of Elves and Dwarfs living far off in the uncharted territories of the East. For that moment Bron saw the facial characteristics of his kin beneath the facial hair of the Dwarfs and he shuddered.

Quickly he closed the visor with his heel then knelt beside the Gnome to pray as was his clan’s custom at the end of battle. The Elves respected that all creatures had souls and each creature’s soul had a home of some sort in one of the many shadow realms of the afterlife. For this reason they offered prayers of safe passage into the shadows, not just for their Elven kin, but for all living things that they may have had a hand in taking life from, even foes slain in battle.

Whispering the last syllables of prayer Bron stood and surveyed the field. Drifting to him from a distance he could hear the first notes of the ‘shadow realm dirge’ played on flutes and drum. The soft ethereal music called to confused souls that might not yet realize they have left their bodies, a song to ease the transition and indicate where to find the gateways of the after-life.

Across the wide field Elven Troops stood watching their Commander and waiting for him to signal their leave. Bron raised his open right hand and the   trumpeter standing ready blew the call that dismissed the Elven Troops from the field. Not far ahead of him, by the bottom of the hill that the Gnomen had expected the Elves to advance over, Bron saw one of his Captains standing up from prayer. He turned his head and saw Bron and smiled while turning to greet him then exploded in a cloud of armor, gore and flying limbs.

Bron threw himself to the ground and quickly surveyed the area. All around him his Troops had done the same. There was no sign of the enemy anywhere and he could make no sense of what had just happened. Jumping to his feet he called to his trumpeter who sounded a retreat to the hilltop. As he rushed to the hills edge Bron noticed unnatural lumps in the ground and feared it was Gnomen ready to burst from the ground in ambush. He stopped, surveyed a small mound and stamped down on it with all his might. The mound made a small clicking sound.

A roaring explosion tore the ground away from beneath Bron’s feet. Suddenly all was silent and for Bron movement seemed to occur in slow motion.  He lost feeling in his body but understood he was now lying on the ground. His head rolled to it’s side and he wondered why the contorted and headless body lying near him was wearing his armor. Amidst an incredible ringing his hearing returned. He could hear other explosions around him accompanied by the terrified screams of his Troop but he could not move his mouth to shout a warning to them. And as this world faded from his view Bron thought to himself  war had  changed in horrible, horrible ways today.


Read Full Post »