"DRUIDS BANE" A Tundrawolf Story

DRUIDS-BANE 'Winter's Fortress'



Part Ten 3500 – 2500 BC ‘Winter’s Fortress’

Before the sun came up the next morning Arthfael and Drest could hear orders being shouted in the High King’s camp. They moved closer and watched as torches moved around below and in their faint light they could see warriors lining up. The attack on the village would come at first light. The High King’s Generals were so confident in their numbers they did not bother to disguise the intentions of their warriors. It looked as if they would actually attack the wall in many places.

Arthfael could see row after row of fires being lit in narrow ditches cut into the snow. The fire lines went almost the whole distance around the village. Archers stood along the lines ready to light fire arrows and launch them into the village. Arthfael whispered a short spell to carve out a group of thirty of his strongest slave warriors. These he would send to attack the archers in front of the gate when the time came. He knew it would not be long now and the fight would be on.

The sun came up slowly illuminating the solid cover of steely gray clouds above. Arthfael and Drest moved their rag-tag group of camp followers and warriors up to the forest line behind the tents of the High King and his Lords. All eyes were on the village and no guards were set up behind the lines. Arthfael and his band had gone unnoticed, just as he hoped and planned.

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The High King Criofan and the High Druid Priest Matha stood side by side outside their tents as the sun came up behind the cloud cover. Matha had been hoping for a sunny day as he had been told by many that the evil Druid sorcerers did not fair well in the direct sunlight. But it looked as if it would be cloudy all day and probably more snow.

“I am not in agreement my King! Have thine men march on the gates only, once those be down thine men can route out this evil!” Matha said.

“Now, now Druid, the Generals and Clan Chiefs have this well in hand. Why art thou so upset?” the High King asked.

“We have been on the trail of this prey for many, many moons now. I would not toss it all away on an ill timed attack. This must be thought through Criofan!” the High Druid said. He knew something was not right, that this was going too easy. He could not feel his son down there and that worried him. But the King and his advisors did not feel what he felt, they could not understand it. They were men of action and the only way they knew to defeat their enemy was by fighting and their enemy, by all accounts, was right before them.

“Abide ye here and watch Druid, no one be tossing anything away!” the King said. “I and mine men wilt send this evil yon way and thou may stamp it out thine self if’n that may ease thine mind.”

Matha looked up and down the line at all of the Clan banners blowing in the breeze. Some he did not know as they were Albion but many he did for they were from the County of Meath. He knew a lot of these men and knew what they had sacrificed to be here. Clan Holds with no leaders for turns on-end leaving their women and young ones unprotected. All of them had lost someone to this evil and all of them wanted it stamped out just as much as he and the High King did. He knew many men would probably not live through this day.

He brandished his oaken Druid’s staff and uncovered the slashing bronze spear head on the end. The weapon was from another time, when he served the land as a Warrior Druid. It was a lifetime ago it seemed, before Arthfael, before he turned to the Druidic ways of peace. He carried it as a reminder of those days, a reminder never to go back to the killing. Now on this journey he has used it to kill again and would probably kill some more. But hopefully the last death dealt from his spear would be that of his son. Other warrior Druids gathered around him with weapons drawn, ready for the coming battle.

Matha listened as the war drums started up and heard the war cries of men as they charged the wall made of snow and ice. Flight after flight of fire arrows went over the wall ahead of the rushing warriors and it was a wonder anyone on the inside could be alive. But as soon as the charging warriors got close, the fire arrows were answered by arrows from the top of the wall and many men fell. Arrows also came flying high through the sky to land amongst the King’s archers breaking up their lines. There were more warriors in this barbarian village than had been thought. This battle was not going to be as easy as the High King’s advisors had been saying.

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Judoc looked around at his forces as he stood on a raised platform at the center of the village. The platform was covered but Judoc had to occasionally dodge an arrow as it made its way trying to find him. Many of the slave warriors around him had arrows protruding from their bodies but unless they hit the heart or the head his warriors still fought on. Fires had blossomed throughout the village but unless they came close to the gates or the platform they were left to burn. Judoc did not care what destruction he left behind as long as it did not effect the battle.

The attacking warriors had made simple ladders through the night by lashing small logs together. Now the ladders were being put to use all along the outside of his wall. His fellow acolytes were spread out in a circle around him dodging fire arrows themselves as each directed the slaves that they controlled. Judoc sent small groups of his warriors to several places along the wall that became close to being overrun. His warriors were the finest of their fighting men. The big Nordic barbarians and the Celtic warriors of Albion were some of the finest killers in the land and they were under his control. Judoc was in another world as he lived the battle through the men he controlled striking down enemy warrior after enemy warrior. He had to be careful or he would lose himself.

The Druids-Bane were natural masters at killing and the carnage they created atop the wall was horrific. There possessed no honor in the fight as they each controlled small groups of warriors mixed with villagers. Women and children ran in from behind, stabbing enemy warriors in the backs, or from below if they made it over the wall. The High King’s warriors were horrified when they watched their fellows being struck down by small hands and they had to turn their swords and spears on children that would not die unless they took their heads. The sand that had been spread on the walkway became soaked in blood and guts and became just as slippery as the ice they had tried to cover.

Judoc scanned the tree line behind the enemy tents that had been set up wondering when Arthfael would make his move. Judoc was hoping for a different outcome than their Master had planned. If Arthfael and Drest succeeded in cutting the head off of this army there was a chance it would collapse and the Black Druids could stay on the island. He liked it here and did not relish the thought of crossing another sea to a new land to conquer.

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Arthfael looked down on the tents and the battle at the walls of the fort. The High King with his father stood in front of their tents watching as the battle progressed. Their men had not breached the wall yet but it would not be long before the King’s warriors would be at the gates. The time was now for he and Drest to make their move.

Their warriors came running out of the forest silent as snowfall and deadly as wolves. They were covered in snow and frost so they blended right into the white snowy background of the hills. The enemy warriors standing guard around the tents did not know they were under attack until they lay bleeding on the ground. Shouts of alarm started going up as bands of their slave warriors attacked the targets the two Black Druids had put in their minds all around the High King’s tent and the cavalry in the forest. The snow all around the tent started to turn red with blood. With what was left of their warriors Arthfael and Drest rushed the High King’s tent, the time had come.

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Matha looked on at the failing attack all along the wall as men tried to scramble up the frozen ice and snow. When they made it to the top they had to fight their footing on the slippery ice while battling tireless warriors that did not die unless they were dealt a fatal blow. That was hard to do when you could not keep your feet steady under you. He watched as their men were hacked to pieces when they slipped or were skewered by long eight foot spears before they even got there.

On one part of the wall the High King’s warriors started sheathing their swords and laying down their spears to take bow and arrow up their stubby little ladders. The archers shot their arrows straight into the white faces of the slave warriors as it was the only way to put them down. On another part of the wall a Clan Chief tired of watching his warriors slip and die on the ice and sent his men to the beach to fill their helms with sand. The men made trip after trip throwing the sand all along a section of the wall next to the front gate. Though his warriors still fell from arrows and spears they managed to cover one small section in the brown of the sand instead of the white of ice and the red of the blood. It would not be long now and enough men would be able to breach the wall and open the gates for the cavalry to rush in.

The High Druid Priest turned away from the battle as he heard the shouts and screams of dying men from around the camp. He also heard the screams of horses from the forest as their cavalry standing by in the trees were attacked. He now knew why he could not feel his son in the little village fort below. His son, the evil monster he had become, was behind them and coming for them now.

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Arthfael slashed through the tent and ran to the group of men standing around a fire before it. He held a heavy bronze battle-ax that had a ten inch razor sharp blade on one side and a short heavy armor punching spike on the other. Without all the power of the life forces he had taken and the Black Magick running through his veins he would not have been able to carry such a heavy weapon. There stood the High Druid Priest and the High King of Meath before him. He did not see his father anymore just an enemy that had been pursuing him and he was going to put an end to it.

Arthfael used the spell of glamour to change his looks back to the son his father had last seen. He wanted the men to know who was killing them. He wanted them to look into the eyes of the boy they once knew as they died. As he kills warriors that stand between him and his prey his father turns to look at him. The High Druid is holding his wicked spear but he is frozen in place as he watches his son walk towards him. Not even with warriors being hacked to death in front of him by the boy does he move.

“Arthfael?” Matha silently whispers when he sees his son.

The High King does not carry any sentiment towards the boy, that disappeared a long time ago. The big man pulls his steel longsword and looks at Arthfael with murder for the boy in his eyes. He yells “Murderer!” in a rage and charges with sword raised. For over three turns they have been pursuing this evil thing and now the time was here to put an end to it. Now was the time to get justice for his son.

The High King is a warrior of many battles and has bested many a man. But before him he sees only a boy. A boy he can destroy easily with one swing of the sword. He does not listen to his friend the High Druid Priest yell stop as he rushes forward with his sword raised over his head.

Arthfael swung his ax with all the force and power from the Black Magick he could summon. In that moment he changed from the boy to the monster he had become. His father saw it first and yelled for the King to stop. But it was too late. The King’s face changed from grim determination to horror as Arthfael buried the stubby spike of his ax deep into the King’s armor, smashing his heart with the blow. With fear in his sightless eyes the High King fell dead on the carpeted floors of his tent.

With the spell of glamour dropped Arthfael stood in the middle of the tent with the dead King laid out at his feet and faced the man that used to be his father. Then he did something he had not done for turns since he started feeding the darkness within him. He smiled.

But at that moment the battle between the King’s guards and his slave warriors drifted into the tent like a whirling thunderstorm. Men, steel and bronze flew around the space locked in a fight to the death and carried Arthfael one way and his father the other. The Black Druid that his acolytes called the Master was enraged as he fought warriors coming at him while his father slew slave warriors right and left with mighty slashes of his spear. In short time he was carried to the bottom of the hill by the fighting close to the road that went to the gate. The battle raged all around him as the gates had been opened to the fort. He looked and could not find the man he wanted to kill most amongst all of the warriors locked in combat. Flicking his robe over his shoulder he turned and walked slowly into the fort surrounded by slave warriors and two of his acolytes. He had killed half of the threat but was furious that the other still lived as he walked towards the gate that led to the waiting longship. He did not know if his father would continue after him as he left the battle. Before long the overwhelming numbers of the High King’s army would have all of their slave warriors killed and the battle could turn deadly for them. It was Time to leave.

Arthfael walked up onto the deck of the longship and greeted Morcant and Haerviu. He held the rail and looked out over the little village that was running red with blood. Then he sent out a mental wave to the rest of his acolytes, ‘Burn it to the ground, time to board thine ship!’ The two longships that his acolytes had beached for their timber went up in flames first. Then everything that was wood in the village turned into a blaze as the Black Druids used their magick to send out flames. Even the slaves from the village had flaming torches and were setting fires to their own homes. Before long Arthfael could see the shapes of seven black hooded figures walking through the thick smoke. They would be underway soon.

Arthfael took one last look at the village and saw another robed figure striding through the village on his way to the shore. His acolytes were walking the plank onto the boat as Haerviu gave the orders for the crew of Nordic barbarian slaves to shove off. As the boat made its way farther out into the harbor Arthfael took one more look at the shore.

There stood his father looking out at him as the ship made way. Arthfael watched as the Druid Priest pointed his oaken staff at the longship and chanted. He wished again that he could have killed the man. Or better yet, had gotten him on his bloody altar table. The power from his father’s life force that he would have gained woke the darkness inside him. He hoped the seas were calm so he and his acolytes could try a sacrifice on the water.

As the ship cleared the harbor and turned towards the east Arthfael cast his thoughts to something else. At that moment he forgot his father, never to think of him again for a thousand turns. Somewhere towards the east and north from far, far away something called to him. Something he needed but did not know what it was. He did not care how long it took or how far he had to go he would find it.

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The High Druid Priest stood on the beach and watched the longship row away carrying the person that had once been his son. The chase was over, he could only hope that the Bard magick spell he cast would bring down the elements of air and water and drown the ship and all of its evil in the stormy sea. The battle in the village was coming to an end with the slaves became more lethargic as each paddle-stroke pushed the Druids-Bane further  out to sea. They became easier to kill as the spell of the black sorcerers fell away.

He turned and walked back to his tent, the battle was over for him. In the morning he would prepare the body of the High King, his friend, for the journey back to their homeland to be placed in the barrow next to his son. It would be a very long trek home.

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2500 BC

The Dark Lord looks again into the face of the little girl he holds. She is dead in his arms as are her parents at his feet. He lays the girl down in her mother’s arms still running ancient memories through his head.

He looks about the cavern and finds the leader of the Black Druids that brought in this group of slaves. They start following as the Master croaks out orders to put fear into the slaves.

“Those, for the sacrifice,” he points to a group along the wall. “Those for the slave pins, those for the fighting pits,” he looks towards the group of people gathered around the bodies of the little girl and her parents, “and those, for the cook pots.”

The Dark Lord walked away with his memories leaving as if they never happened. He would never again think of his sister. His mind returned to the task at hand. Ridding the world of the Wolf-People and their pets the Tundra-Wolves. He thought of all the power that he would gain from their sacrifices on his bloody table.

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So ends the origin story of the Druids-Bane sorcerers and the Dark Lord that rules them. I hope you enjoyed it.

For the continuing saga of the Druids-Bane read my story ” Elves of the Northern Vale”  Thanks for reading!

Tony


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