"DRUIDS BANE" A Tundrawolf Story


Part Nine     3500 BC     ‘Free’

As Arthfael and his band of acolytes traveled northward along the eastern coast of Albion they could feel in their minds the army of Meath had finally caught up to them. Through the power of the Black Magick they could sense it was roughly a week behind and knew there were approximately five hundred mounted warriors and Druids and fifteen hundred warriors on foot. The High King and the High Druid Priest had added to their force through the long turns of pursuit with more warriors from Meath and many warriors from the surrounding lands. Arthfael knew this was an army they could not overcome, but that did not matter to him. He did not want to defeat it he only wanted to destroy its head.

With Judoc at their lead he sent his newly formed Star of Black Druids on ahead to a small Nordic trading village that was only a few days march to the north. Morcant and Haerviu went with them to help turn the little village into a defensive fort where they could make their stand against the oncoming army. They took with them three hundred of their slave warriors and the carts that carried the altar table and their supplies.

The village was built next to a small protected harbor where the Nordic barbarians could anchor their longships in relative calm away from the rough waters of the North Sea. Three of their longships were anchored in the harbor when the scouts of the Black Druids found the village. It was home to about four hundred Nordic men, women and children with another one hundred and fifty Nordic barbarians from the longships. From the addition of the new acolytes the Black Druids had become powerful enough to keep the warriors they had enslaved plus put the peoples of the village under their spell. Their band of fighters would double giving them a force strong enough to face the High King’s army.

Arthfael and Drest stayed behind with two hundred slave warriors. They moved their force inland into a thick forest that lined one side of the coastal road which led to the village. Fortunately for the two heavy snows started falling concealing the tracks of their small force as they made their way westward. They had to travel deep into the forest to put distance between themselves and the King’s army as it passed by. Many of the Druids traveling with the High King had acquired skills using Good Magick giving them the ability to sense if any using the Black Magick were close about.

Before they made their way westward into the trees they ambushed and killed four long range scouts who had been spying on them for the High King’s army. They stripped the bodies, hacked them up and left them hanging from four huge old oak trees growing alongside the road. Arthfael knew this attempt at a warning would not stop this army from advancing any farther. But it would serve to enrage the men and cause them to advance towards the village with less care. At least that was the outcome he hoped for.

They had found a clearing in which to make their camp located on the eastern side of a tall hill that overlooked the tree tops so they could see down to the coastal road. They were so far away that it would have been almost impossible for an ordinary man to see the road through the snow and fog but with the power of their Black Magick they could view it as if it were right in front of them. While one of the Black Druids kept sight of the road the other saw to the needs of their enslaved warriors. The entranced men did not feel the cold but that did not make them immune to it. If one of the Druids did not ensure the men stayed warm near a fire there was a good chance they would suffer frostbite or worse, freeze to death. For Arthfael’s plan to work he needed every fighting slave warrior he had in good fighting condition. These men left to their own devices would not last through the night so they built several fires in a large rift beside the clearing and compelled the warriors to huddle around them to keep warm. It would be several days of waiting in the cold and the deep snow before the arrival of the High King’s army.


Judoc approached the village with Morcant on his left and Haerviu on his right. The new acolytes followed directly behind them walking in a line ready to obey any order Judoc would convey to them through his mind. Judoc hid their group of slave warriors in the forest just outside the cleared plain surrounding the village so they would not be seen as the eight Black Druids approached. The newly formed Dark Star (as Arthfael called the group of five) were eager to attack the village using the spell of compulsion. They had started calling themselves the Druids-Bane taking the name their enemies had given them. Arthfael nor any of his original acolytes cared for the name being Druids themselves but these five had no association with Druids in their previous lives. They only knew they desired sacrificing and killing the Druids they had fought against the most. Out of all the enemies they had put on the bloody altar table so far they received more power from the life force of the Druids.

Judoc did not care for the five men that followed them. He did not trust them and was constantly looking over his shoulder when they were around. The men had been cold blooded murderers and thieves before Arthfael took them in under his wing. Their hearts were black even before they were introduced to the Black Magick. But they feared the four original acolytes and Arthfael most of all. Just for good measure Judoc would turn from time to time and send them a mind blast that brought the five evil men to their knees. Though the men were in the process of loosing their hair and gaining the slick gray skin, as their powers grew all five of them together were no match for Judoc.

Arthfael had a real talent for assigning  duties to their newly compelled slaves. He would walk through a new batch of enchanted people yelling out in his coarse voice, “This one for the warriors! This is a workhorse! These are for the cook pots!” Every once in a while he would stop and look a man or woman up and down and whisper, “This one for the table.”  And on very rare occasions, “Brothers, meet thine new acolyte!” Judoc and the other three original acolytes did not have the power to view the life force within a slave like Arthfael and it was growing to be a testy subject amongst the five. They knew Arthfael to be keeping some of the dark spells he had gleaned from the scrolls to himself in order to remain more powerful.

Warriors from around the village watched as the group of eight hooded men approached. They came out of their turf covered huts built of logs carrying weapons to meet the strangers before they walked into the village. They were immediately enslaved and turned to walk with the eight as they made their way through the village putting every man, woman and child under their spell. It did not take long and they had another five hundred people to stand with their warriors. As their men came out of the forest to mingle with the new group of slaves the Black Druids immediately put them all to work. While Morcant and Haerviu saw to the loading of one of the longships with their altar table and supplies Judoc assigned each Druids-Bane a work crew and a section of wall to build around the village. They got to work quickly for their was a lot to do and little time to do it in as the snow started coming down heavier again.


After almost five days of waiting Arthfael and Drest finally spied the army of Meath marching down the coastal road. The snow was falling so hard they could barely see them but they could certainly sense them through the Black Magick. Arthfael knew his father to be there because he could feel his influence but he could not feel him in his mind. This was the closest he had been to his father in several turns. A thin tendril of fear went down his back as he realized he was still afraid of the man and how his powers in the Good Magick had grown. His powers had grown too and he would put an end to the fear of his father soon enough.

They watched as the army approached the four mutilated, frozen men hanging from the trees. The two Black Druids felt the anger and outrage in the minds of the men below. As Arthfael had hoped the High King moved all of his Druids to the front to sense any dark evil ahead of them. They did not know of the little village that was ahead of them but after cutting their men down they continued on following the deep cart tracks that were still outlined in the deep snow. Arthfael could tell that after five days Judoc and the other acolytes had prepared the village for the attack from the army. Through his mind’s eye he communicated with his acolytes and had constantly watched their progress. Silently he and Drest led their two hundred warm and rested slave warriors down from the hills to follow the High King’s army as it moved forward.

It took a while for the army to pass by because of the gaggle of camp followers strung out behind them. Arthfael and Drest had to wait a day before coming out of the forest with their small band. The snow was coming down heavy enough to hide the two Black Druids as they came from behind putting camp followers under their spell. No one noticed as people disappeared because they were insulated from each other by the heavy snowfall and trying to stay warm in the freezing cold. Soon Arthfael’s little force doubled as they all marched to what awaited them at the end of the coastal road.

It was early in the morning and Arthfael could tell they were coming close to the village so he turned his small force back into the forest to await the army as they made camp. The two hundred warriors and about two hundred camp followers would be in for a long cold night with no fire because they could not risk being discovered. The two Black Druids had their slaves lay side by side to help keep warm through the night as they went to scout from a small hill the layout of the army and the defense of the little village. They hoped the army would attack the village in the morning so that their slaves would not freeze before they had a chance to fight.

As the two watched the army surround the small village Arthfael marveled at how much his eight acolytes had accomplished. A stout wall of snow and ice standing roughly eight feet tall completely surrounded the entire village. Pointed wooden stakes frozen into place faced outwards towards the enemy all along the top. Inside the wall they could see a crude wooden walkway that warriors stood upon as if frozen into place like the stakes, each held a long spear and shield. The only way one could tell the warriors standing the wall were alive were by the small amounts of steam escaping their lips every time they let out a breath. Two rough gates of logs were made with hinges frozen into the wall, one at the entrance and another on the other side where carts went down to the harbor. The hinges on the gates were the only work of finesse as the wood came from one of the longships and was worked much better than the rest of the rough hewn wood throughout the fort. From their vantage they could see men, women and children standing in the center of the village as if frozen like the warriors on the wall. All of the villagers were armed in some way with most carrying bows and arrows. The people were spread out in a big circle all facing the inside of the wall. Most all of the huts throughout the village had been torn down to build the wall walkway in so they had a clear field of fire for anyone coming over.

Arthfael had only seen the village fortifications through small glances in his acolytes mind’s eye. The wall was not so tall the High King and his Generals would want to take the time to build many ladders when they could just send their fifteen hundred foot over in a swarm to open the gates so his cavalry could get in. Then it would be a blood bath for the people inside the fort. Arthfael hoped the wall would hold long enough for what he needed to do.

Light broke out all around the village as the army encampment began lighting huge fires placed evenly around the walls. Arthfael and Drest had to move several times as groups of torch bearing warriors came through the forest looking for firewood for the bonfires they had placed around the fort. They heard the fearful talk of the men as they gathered firewood. They were afraid of fighting the “ghost warriors”  they could see on the village walls. Arthfael thought he rather liked the name as he and Drest watched the guards in the camp standing restlessly around fires. They both could see all eyes were on the wall keeping an eye out for any movement.

Small campfires sprung up all around the camp as warriors not on guard duty and camp followers bedded down for the night. Arthfael’s stomach churned in greedy hunger as he caught the smell of cooking meat. The two Black Druids were sustained by the life forces they took from sacrifices but their physical bodies still craved meat and it had been awhile since they’d last eaten. Arthfael thought of the meal he would have once his business here was concluded and this chase was over.

Finally the two watched as several large tents were set up on small hills overlooking the area of battle. These were the tents of the High King and the High Druid Priest of Meath along with all of their Generals and Clan Chieftains. This is what Arthfael had been waiting for. Now that he knew their location he and Drest marked the closest point from the forest and returned back to their slave warriors for the night. They had seen all they needed to see for the upcoming battle that would hopefully be launched on the morrow.



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