With the threat of a large force of League of Nil-ith Horn orcs looming from their fort at Larbro, Jarl Kvig Melgarson reluctantly accepted the presence of King Magnus and his South Gautrian army. King Magnus however called a Thing to have the people of Gautria agree for his army to lead the attack on Larbro, vanquish the orcs, and declare him King of all Gautria. Kvig hoped enough of the bonders who had named him King Kvig last year remained to gather at the Thing in his support.
Jarl Kvig sent word to his ally, King Ragnar Redblade of the Vell, the foster father of Bleddyn, champion of Kvig, asking him to come add his voice to the Thing.
Gautrian bonders began to arrive the next day. On the eve of the second night, King Ragnar showed with three units of his savage Vell warriors.
“I will be honored to battle by your side against the orcs, Kvig,” Ragnar spoke. “But I will not aid you in your conflict with Magnus.”
“Of course,” said Kvig. “Just lend your men to my spy Wynston for this. She’s our expert.”
“Oh yes?” asked Ragnar. “I’ve heard the tales of your taking of the fort at Sigivald! My folk would gladly fight for her.”
Ragnar withdrew and left Kvig, Bleddyn and Wynston alone. “You have a good plan, right?” Kvig asked.
“Have faith, Kvig,” said Wynston.
“Gods help us,” muttered Kvig.
The sacred fires were lit at dusk by three priests: the Bone Woman Helga from Ragnar’s people in the Vell Mountains, Gunvor Rolfson the leader of Bleddyn’s ulfhednar, and a young beautiful seer named Kaisa who traveled with Magnus. The three watched silently as Magnus addressed the assembled men and women.
“People of Gautria! The orcs are on your shore and have slain your kin. I come North to rid Gautria of these monsters. I, and the brave warriors who march with me, will protect you from this threat!
“This bandit king Kvig Melgarson has no claim to a throne! Melgarson is nothing but lies! He calls himself Valden Slayer but the true heroes of Skarken River fight for me. The man who struck down Valden the Ruthless himself, Bolverk Skallason, commands his elite sword thanes under my banner, and his men have been richly rewarded! So too does Baron Vulmar ride for me. His elite knights hewed through the orc ranks at the Battle of Skarken River! It was they who won the field there, not Melgarson and his meager units.
“Kvig is a liar and oath-breaker! He takes glory on his name from those who earned it! Gautrians, do not trust this man! He will lead you to doom!”
There were scattered mutterings and nods when King Magnus was finished. When Kvig strode in front of the crowd, he heard a few cheers.
“Brothers, I have fought with many of you. We raised arms against the orcs when the boy-King would lead from the rear. We took action while he planned and gathered men at his keep. Together we fought Valden the Ruthless while Magnus would have left the lands of Timlin to be overrun by Vangen orcs.
“Now Magnus marches his well-paid soldiers into our homeland and professes to be our only hope. Yes, he has great men fighting with him, and they performed great deeds at Skarken River. As did you all!”
Several voices roared approval at that.
“We routed the orcs while Magnus wanted our troops to withdraw! He doesn’t know how strong you Gautrians are!”
Boos and hisses joined the commotion.
“Magnus doesn’t understand what it takes to rule Gautria. You people do! You, who named me your king of one Gautria!”
Cries of “King Kvig! King Kvig! King Kvig!” burst from the gathering.
Kvig stood tall on the hillside. Magnus fumed next to Kvig. The priest Gunvor Rolfson raised his arms over the crowd. “Enough!” he shouted. “We will speak to the leaders.”
Kvig, Magnus, and Ragnar followed the priest out of sight of the bonders and to the fire where the two priestesses waited. The old bone woman spoke, “The orcs will slay our warriors and make slaves of the rest if man cannot help man! Magnus, Kvig, put your feud aside.”
Before Kvig or Magnus could respond, Gunvor spoke again, “You three will take a sacred oath. There shall be no quarrel between you until all the greenskins are gone! Let the gods decide each man’s fate but if any of you breaks this oath he shall be called blasphemer and cast out from this country.”
Ragnar stepped forward and drew his blade across his palm, “Agreed!”
Kvig and Magnus stared coldly at each other. “Agreed,” said Kvig at last.
“Yes,” nodded Magnus. “I will aid you. We will take Larbro from the orcs, Melgarson. And after that, the gods will shine their favor on the one true King of Gautria.”
Kvig and the two kings left the sacred circle and joined their commanders in the war tent.
Wynston had been with the scouts gathering information on Larbro. The village of Larbro was located on the shore of Lake Kisilev. The League of Nil-ith Horn landed their first forces there in the spring, then slaved the inhabitants and razed the village.
On the ruins the soldiers constructed a fortified camp and docks surrounded by 15-feet-high palisade fence. It was well-built, manned by disciplined troops. Guarding the gate was a wooden tower, undoubtedly where the orc priest Graf Shalmenasar and his acolyte would be.
Wynston knew the only way to take Larbro was by getting the Gautrian heavy infantry inside the palisade to battle the well-armored League forces. Someone would have to open the gate.
King Magnus turned to Kvig. “How are you and your army of bonders intending to drive out these orcs? Are your people ready for a siege?”
“We shall put our fate in the hands of my master infiltrator,” Kvig said fixedly. “Wynston can get us the fort in one night. You want your troops in that gate? Let her lead the raid.”
“Ever the shifty one, Melgarson. You preach to the bonders how you lead from the front, yet it’s your spy who’ll do the hard work for you,” scoffed Magnus. “Fine, woman, what’s your plan?”
“We will use cunning and surprise to take the tower quickly,” stated Wynston, “then throw open the gates for our army.
“I will slip inside Larbro and gain entrance to the tower. Once there, I’ll slay the priests.”
“While the tower is in confusion, Magnus will have the heavy infantry rush the gate.”
“Bleddyn, you and your ulfhednar will swim through the lake and take the docks. Burn the boats if you have to, and let none escape.”
“Ragnar and his followers will climb the fence at the tower base and engage the priest’s elite guard there.”
“And Kvig himself will lead the picked men over the wall on the left and open the gate.”
“We will show them how true Gautrians fight. The League of Nil-ith Horn will face warriors now at Larbro instead of women and children!”
A mighty roar engulfed the tent. All were ready to march on Larbro.
The Gautrian army arrived outside the village shortly before dark a few days later. Wynston entered Larbro unseen and made her way to the tower. Disguised as a kitchen girl, she was permitted up into the chamber of Graf Shalmenasar just as she planned. A Gautrian warhorn blast startled the priest and he turned his back to Wynston. She sprang behind him, threw her arms about his throat and snapped his neck. Before the dead priest’s acolyte could respond, Wynston grappled him and broke his neck as well. A guard in the room tried to cry for help, but the soldiers were scrambling to secure the gate against Magnus’s infantry.
Kvig and his picked men moved up the ladders and over the palisade. The orc troops held strong though and kept Kvig’s group from reaching the gate.
Ragnar Redblade and his Vell warriors swarmed the tower walls and fought off the priest’s guard.
But at the docks, the League of Nil-ith Horn unit kept Bleddyn and the ulfhednar pinned in place.
From her vantage in the tower Wynston could see the closed gate and no other option. She hooked a grapple around a plank, shimmied through the window and slid down the rope to land behind a large banner at the foot of the tower. The guards on the wall never saw her as she struck them down from behind. Wynston worked the winch for the gate and Kvig’s cousin Bolverk Skalason led the Gautrian infantry into the courtyard.
The final battle was quick and bloody. Kvig and the picked men slew all the gate guards. Bleddyn and the ulfhednar kept control of the docks and the boats. Wynston kept the gate clear. The heavy infantry surged through the village and killed every orc they found.
When Magnus finally rode into the village, he kept to his saddle while the foot soldiers around him put the orcs to the sword. Kvig, Wynston, Bleddyn and Ragnar celebrated the retaking of Larbro by participating in the carnage.
The League of Nil-ith Horn had lost their foothold in North Gautria and a large expeditionary force in a single stroke. The Gautrians were free of the dark cloud of the raiding orcs. Would the cloud of human conflict disperse so neatly for Kvig and Magnus now that the orc enemy was gone? Could one of these men rule all of Gautria?