Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #53 – Battle of Hellgate Pass

King Kvig led his army to victory over the Varak orcs who had appropriated the mines of Hellgate from Kvig’s vassal Vestar Vastar. (Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #52- The Battle for Hellgate Mines). Kvig now had to decide who to install as jarl over the newly-recovered mines.

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The Kildarian knight Baron Vulmar was outspoken, “We Kildarians have won many battles for you, King Kvig. Vestar has wasted the lives of many warriors and many more miners. Give me the mines and let Kildarian expertise get you rich! I will have these mines spilling forth silver the Vastars’ couldn’t even imagine.”

Vestar Vastar was enraged. “Generations of Vastar blood have paid for Hellgate silver! My clan has fought the Varak orcs time and again. These are my lands by right!”

Kvig surveyed Vestar and his many injured and poorly-armored bonders. Then King Kvig looked to Baron Vulmar and the Kilarians. The elite knights stood tall in their bloodied chainmail. It seemed an easy decision.

“Baron Vulmar shall have Hellgate mines and the keep at Sigivald Hold,” announced Kvig. “Any of Clan Vastar who wish to stay will be given positions defending the lands, or working the mines.”

“Odin curse you, Kvig Melgarson!” exclaimed Vestar. “You and your witch-queen have brought my son to death’s door and cheated my clan. I will have repayment for all your wrongs.” Vestar Vastar gathered a few loyal men and left Sigivald Hold.

Sigivald Hold, ruled by Vestar Vastar.

As the rest of the warriors of Clan Vastar prepared for battle, Bleddyn’s ulfhednar scouts brought a respected adversary to him. Bjorn the Mighty (Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #50- Sword and Sorcery) had come to fight against the orcs. Bjorn looked to show his gratitude for the mercy Kvig and Bleddyn showed him (Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #51- The Warbringer).

“The orcs gather at Hellgate Pass. I have brought my men and those of my kin who would join you and push the orcs back into the mountains,” said Bjorn. “Bleddyn, take my brothers among your ulfhednar.”

Bjorn introduced his cousin Karlsefni. Karlsefni had been a slave to the Varak orcs in the west.

“The Varak orcs look to reclaim these lands on the lake,” said Karlsefni. “We have tracked a new group through Hellgate Pass. They scream for blood, King Kvig, and they are coming with a War-God.”

“War-God?” asked Kvig.

“You will see on the battlefield,” answered Karlsefni.

 

King Kvig, Bleddyn and Wynston marched their troops to Hellgate Pass, and saw the orcs there ready for battle.

Several wild orcs with javelins populated the jagged cliffsides.

Scores more orcs assembled in tight formations, blocking the road through the pass.

King Kvig’s men responded in kind, spreading their forces in a long line across the pass.

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The War-God stood before the orcs and bellowed to his troops.

The heavy infantry of the Gautrian army trudged into the pass.

The speedy ulfhednar and mounted knights sprinted across the gap.

The War-God held his ranks in check.

King Kvig, Wynston, and Bleddyn charged the two-headed War-God with uncanny speed.

Wynston’s picked men ran up the hill in pursuit of the wild orcs and shaman.

The shielded orcs lined up against the human cavalry on one flank, and the heavy infantry on the other.

The War-God held fast in the center against King Kvig, Wynston, and Bleddyn.

The Gautrians’ left flank was pushed hard by the armored orcs.

But it was not enough to threaten the integrity of Kvig’s line.

The unarmored orcs fell to the ulfhednar on the human’s right flank.

The wild orcs all routed, or were slain. The last kill was up to Wynston, Kvig and Bleddyn.

Soon, all that remained of the War-God were two severed heads waiting to be tied to Kvig’s saddle.

“They will return from their side of the mountains, King Kvig,” said Karlsefni. “You cut through their War-God in this battle, but the Varaks will send more fighters. On the other side of Hellgate pass lies their fortress of Langar. They have many of my people enslaved in that compound. Lead us there King Kvig, Orc-Slayer, and we will destroy their stronghold and keep the Varak orcs from returning to Gautria!”

Kvig thought for the briefest of moments before turning to his champion Bleddyn and minister Wynston. “There is only one way to push the orcs out of our lands. We must take the fight to them! To Langar!”

What will King Kvig find through Hellgate Pass? Will the Varak orcs fall before the advancing North Gautrian army? The adventures continue…

Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #52- The Battle for Hellgate Mines

The orc fortress of Dakagog was hard-fought for, and King Kvig the Orc-Slayer was the victor (Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #51- The Warbringer). The orc shaman Tiazig retreated into the stone walls of Dakagog with a handful of fervent followers. King Kvig had his men break down the door but once inside they could find no sign of the shaman.

Sagas of The Gautrian Kings #51

The King was furious at the strapping young hero Thrand Vestarson that his father Vestar Vastar had let the orcs establish such a firm base this close to Kvig’s silver mines at Hellgate. Kvig refused to leave needed troops to secure Dakagog until the mines were reclaimed from the orcs. Instead, Kvig demanded they take to the boats and sail to Vestar’s wooden keep at Sigivald Hold before night fall.

Sigivald Hold, ruled by Vester Vastar.

Sigivald Hold, ruled by Vestar Vastar.

Kvig, Wynston and Bleddyn each led a fast ship away from the orc fortress of Dakakog. Dark strings of clouds spun unnaturally over the waters. A mist covered the 3 boats.

“This is evil sorcery I’ve not seen before,” spoke Thrand to Wynston.

“Storms from the Shaman Tiazig?” asked Wynston.

“It could be him,” replied Thrand, “or it could be Queen Svala instead.”

The tall hero straightened over the steerboard. “Since crossing Lake Tagova, I’ve felt a mist lifting from my mind. I no longer have such…devotion for the Queen and I fear she knows it. She has sent this fog to keep me from aiding my father.”

“Kvig is come now to Sigivald to kill the orcs,” Wynston assured Thrand. “He will see your father’s keep defended.”

“The Queen dominates Kvig’s mind, as she once ruled mine.” Thrand was resolute. “Through him, she will claim all our family lands.” Thrand scanned what little he could of the lake’s surface through the fog. “She will swallow our boat with this mist and my father will never know of my end.”

The warriors grew more uneasy as they heard Thrand and the mist turned their fellow ships to shadows.

SGK52_Picks_106.jpgFrom the dank fog, several canoes full of orcs appeared and rammed Wynston’s longboat. Another larger boat of shielded orcs drew alongside Bleddyn’s boat and engaged his ulfhednar.

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Several javelins arced from the canoes into Wynston’s boat, all aimed at the helmsman, Thrand. He fell to the deck, skewered by orc spears. Wynston’s picked men were able to quickly bring the unarmored orcs to heel, but the mood was somber.

Bleddyn’s men fought the attackers on board their ship. The shielded orcs fell to the savage wolf-skinned warriors.

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Bleddyn ordered the attack onto the orcs’ boat. His ulfhednar slew the orcs, threw their bodies in the lake and took their ship.

As the orcs were defeated, the fog dissipated and Kvig’s boat was seen untouched nearby. Poor Thrand was unconscious, bloody and pale in Wynston’s boat. King Kvig ordered all 4 boats to make haste to land near Sigivald.

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The troops arrived without further incident and disembarked. When they came through the forest, the ulfhednar reported orcs ahead in the hills.

SGK52_Picks_114.jpgShaman Tiazag was surrounded by his orc followers on the cliffside.

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From the heights, he hurled magic fires at the wooden fort.

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Kvig’s forces broke through the treeline and marched for the hills. The orcs rained javelins down on the fighters. Sigivald’s gate burned brightly, but Kvig was firmly in control of the field.

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The slow-moving fighters closed the distance to the hills and scattered the orcs into the forest.

Vestar Vastar commanded the people of Sigivald to escort King Kvig and his close advisors inside. When Vestar saw his gravely injured son, his thanks to Kvig died on his lips.

“Kvig Melgarson Orc-Slayer! This is how you return my son to me?” Vestar cried. “I send him to your Queen seeking aid seasons ago, and you finally answer with his soon-to-be-corpse?”

“If you held the mines, your son would have been by your side ruling over Sigivald,” said Kvig. “Thrand was wounded fighting honorably and valiantly for his king. Send him back over the water and my Queen’s personal physicians in Mosveld will see him standing again.

“But you, Vestar, have not so nobly acquitted yourself,” continued Kvig. “Have my men fed and sheltered inside your gates. Assemble what warriors clan Vastar has remaining. We take back Hellgate Mines in two days.”

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While King Kvig received scouting reports from the ulfhednar, Wynston listened to the rumblings of the clansmen unhappy with Vestar and the state of the orcs around Sigivald. The loyal Vastars left in Sigivald bid a tearful farewell to an unconscious Thrand.

The next day when Kvig called for the troops to assemble, a unit of Vastar bonders pledged their service to the King.

Vestar himself showed ready for battle. “Clan Vastar honors its Land and King! I will defeat the orcs in your name!” Vestar shouted at Kvig.

Kvig took the hero Vestar into his retinue, and marched to Hellgate mines with a unit of heavy Kildarian infantry, a unit of ulfhednar, Wynston’s picked men, and the bonders from Sigivald. They found the orcs encamped outside the mines, but the orcs saw them and had time to form up in response.

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The ulfhednar and picked men sprinted to occupy the right flank.

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But how long could the lightly-armored right flank hold against the heavier orcs?

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The Kildarians assessed the orc units.

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The disgraced Vestar fought heartily in an attempt to win King Kvig’s favor back.

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The Kildarians led by Vulmar slew many orcs and held firm the left flank. Our heroes fought in the center, challenging the urogs.

 

Humans and orcs fell to swords and axes until only Kvig, Wynston and Bleddyn remained.

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Hellgate Mines once again belonged to the kingdom of Gautria. Would King Kvig show his magnanimity and allow Vestar Vastar to work the mines? Or would Kvig give the holdings to a more reliable vassal? Will the orcs let this defeat go unanswered? Find out in Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #53.

Legend of the Volsung #2- Wolves in the Hills

The days before the Allthing were a blur for Aedelfrid Volsung in her betrothed’s home of South Hold. Her husband-to-be Ottar and the other cavalry were busy on patrol. The servants and bonders in the village gathered provisions for the imminent campaign against the Varak orcs. Aedelfrid’s brother Jarl Thorgils kept a close eye on her and on the young rider Melkor who had shown such interest in Aedelfrid.

Aedelfrid was relieved when at last they left South Hold and traveled to the Allthing.

The Gautrians made their camps by the ancient temple.

The Gautrians made their camps by the ancient temple.

As soon as Jarl Gudmar’s people set up his tent, an angry Jarl Gunnkel demanded audience with Gudmar. Jarl Gunnkel was furious, and ranted that his daughter had long ago been pledged to Gudmar’s son Ottar.

Aedelfrid and Melkor listen to the slighted Jarl Gunnkel protest Ottar's engagement.

Aedelfrid and Melkor listen to the slighted Jarl Gunnkel protest Ottar’s engagement.

“There is a forest full of orcs ready to descend on our homes and holdings,” answered Jarl Gudmar. “That concerns me much more than your daughter’s wounded pride.”

“My men are here to fight the orcs,” said Jarl Gunnkel. “But I will not forget this slight against my family.” Gunnkel stormed out of the tent.

Later that night the Gautrian priests summoned the people to the foot of the ancient stone temple. The jarls who called the Allthing, Gudmar and Thorgils, climbed the hill and presented Ottar and Aedelfrid to the holy ones.

Ottar and Aedelfrid are brought before the priests to seek blessings for their marriage.

Ottar and Aedelfrid are brought before the priests to seek blessings for their marriage.

The old man gave consent and there were muted cheers in the crowd.

Later that night during the drinking, Melkor was approached by Frodi and Gudlaug, two bondi from the village of Rathus.

South Gautria and Lands of Timlin

South Gautria and Lands of Timlin

Rathus was the holding of Melkor’s father, Baron Vulmar Voclain, but Baron Vulmar had sent no men to the village for a year.

“There are bandits in the mountain stronghold of Aigist that raid us. Our women are being taken, our livestock and crops stolen! Help us deal with these men, young Voclain.”

Melkor pondered the troubles of the bonders from his father's village of Rathus.

Melkor pondered the troubles of the bonders from his father’s village of Rathus.

“I ride together with my shield-brothers from South Hold, but I will see that you have aid,” Melkor quickly decided.

Melkor found Ottar drinking by a huge fire, and told him of the bandits plaguing Rathus.

“Father has ordered our cavalry to return home,” said Ottar sourly. “We are to guard South Hold. Father and the other Jarls are headed to battle with the orcs in Sudskog Forest and he expects me to cower in the palisade!”

“Rathus is almost in your father’s lands,” said Melkor. “A threat to that village could be a threat to us…”

“It’s our duty!” shouted Ottar.

When Aedelfrid heard the plight of the people of Rathus, she was in full support of the plan. “My fighters from Var will join your cavalry to aid these villagers.”

Aedelfrid and Melkor followed the bondi from Rathus to the foothills of Aigist Mountain.

Aedelfrid and Melkor followed the bondi from Rathus to the foothills of Aigist Mountain.

Frodi and Gudlaug led them to a cave the bandits were occupying.

The cavalry from South Hold, bonders from Var, and militia from Rathus surrounded the entrance to the bandit's lair.

The cavalry from South Hold, bonders from Var, and militia from Rathus surrounded the entrance to the bandit’s lair.

Aedelfrid, Melkor, Ottar and their shield-brother Skefil dismounted. They lit torches and boldly walked into the dark cave. A howl cut through the darkness and a shaggy shape crashed through the circle of torchlight and struck Ottar a heavy blow. Melkor swung back, and felt his sword sink into a man. Aedelfrid heard more howls from outside the cave.

Several ulfhednar appeared on the cliffside and rained spears on the surprised militia men.

Several ulfhednar appeared on the cliffside and rained spears on the surprised militia men.

Aedelfrid and Melkor watched as the half-naked militia from Rathus took heavy losses from the ulfhednars' missiles.

Aedelfrid and Melkor watched as the half-naked militia from Rathus took heavy losses from the ulfhednars’ missiles.

More howls echoed from the hills and a unit of berserks showed themselves in the rocks. They jumped down and ran at the cavalry. The cavalry charged to meet them with disastrous results.

The berserk unit destroyed the cavalry while the men of Var stood strong against the ulfhednar.

The berserk unit destroyed the cavalry while the men of Var stood strong against the ulfhednar.

Inside the cave, another fur-cloaked figure rushed at Ottar. Ottar fell to the bandits’ wild axe-blows.

Melkor and Aedlefrid fought the bandits over the wounded Ottar.

Melkor and Aedlefrid fought the bandits over the wounded Ottar.

One bandit was slain, but the other wounded Skefil.

Melkor warded off the axe-blows and Aedelfrid stabbed the last bandit.

Melkor warded off the axe-blows and Aedelfrid stabbed the last bandit.

Melkor and Aedelfrid helped their injured companions to the mouth of the cave. They were able to get Skefil battle-ready, but Ottar was badly hurt.

Melkor and Skefil slipped out of the cave and mounted their horses.

Melkor and Skefil slipped out of the cave and mounted their horses.

The riders charged at the berserks.

Melkor rode straight for the biggest man.

Melkor rode straight for the biggest man.

Aedelfrid crept behind the line of ulfhednar and swiftly eliminated two of the shaggy men.

Melkor thundered past the large bandit and cleaved through his head. As the big man fell, Melkor swung at the next man.

Melkor and Skefil slice through the remaining berserks.

Melkor and Skefil slice through the remaining berserks.

Skefil slew the man with the warhorn, but fell to his injuries.

Melkor turned and looked to fight the last of the ulfhednar.

Melkor turned and looked to fight the last of the ulfhednar.

The ulfhednar chopped Melkor’s horse from under him.

One ulfhednar remained.

One ulfhednar remained.

Aedelfrid stabbed at the ulfhednar from the flank. Melkor chopped at him from the front. The ulfhednar had no chance against Melkor’s swings and Aedelfrid’s precise strikes. He fell to the muddy ground.

The battlefield was bloody. Ottar was barely alive. Several of the bandits were dead, the rest were bound and taken prisoner.

The men of Rathus quickly searched the bandit lair and brought out their missing kin. The bandits had a huge cache of supplies, and livestock as well. It was decided to take the loot back to Rathus, there to heal and feast.

League of Nil-ith Horn Chronicles #4 – Ottarson’s Ambush

Eskander Toshe secured another victory for the League of Nil-ith Horn and reclaimed control over the Mines of Rostok. His urog ally Vaak Akarya insisted she and her orcs accompany them back to Rostok Hold to protect against the humans from the Upplands who frequently attacked the caravans and troops on the Silver Road.

The Upplanders spoke many boasts to ready themselves before the League of Nil-ith Horn army marched through their ambush.

Valgar Ottarson made brave boasts to his warriors they would crush the League of Nil-ith Horn forces in their ambush on the Silver Road.

Eskander agreed and they marched together for Rostok Hold. Very shortly, the scouts brought Eskander word of  significant enemies ahead. The Upplanders awaited their army.

The urog Vaak Akarya led 2 units of orcs to bolster the League infantry under Ekander Toshe.

The League of Nil-ith Horn forces deployed ready for a fierce fight through the pass.

Lookouts spotted the League army arrayed for battle on the road.

Valgar Ottarson gave orders for the Upplanders to take position.

The bonders shook their swords and shields.

Valgar’s bonders positioned themselves up the cliffside above the route of march the heavily armored Nil-ith Horn infantry would have to take.

The swift-moving ulfhednar bore down the road towards the pass.

The ulfhednar ran straight towards the pass at the League army, and instead climbed the short cliff by the bonders.

Valgar Ottarson called his elite berserk warriors to his side.

The utvalt men hurled insults at the orcs while Valgar Ottarson summoned a unit of elite berserk warriors from out of hiding.

"Let no orcs through this day!"

Valgar rallied his warriors as the League of Nil-ith Horn troops approached.

Gazzi brought his elite valdgrafs along the ridge while the League of Nil-ith Horn infantry marched into the pass.

Vaak Akarya brought her units up the left flank. The smerdi led the way for the League forces, followed by the League’s Gautrain Guardsmen.

Gazzi and his elite valdgrafs climbed along the ridge while the League of Nil-ith Horn infantry marched into the pass. Eskander and his officer Selibek held their horses to the rear.

Vaak's orcs challenged the berserks.

The League shields proved strong against the javelin fire as the infantry entered the pass.

Shielded bonders rained javelins down on the League of Nil-ith Horn infantry.

Though the bonders had the advantage of height, their javelins failed to drop any League orcs.

The ulfhednar ran through the woods and wrappped behind the slower League infantry.

The ulfhednar passed through the wooded terrain and attacked the rear of the League infantry.

The berserks jumped down to slay the smerdi.

The berserks jumped down to slay the smerdi.

The smerdi fell in numbers to Valgar Ottarson and the berserks.

The smerdi stood strong against Valgar and the berserks.

One resilent smerdi stood against the mighty Valgar and his elite berserks.

While the stoic League smerdi pinned the berserks, the Gautrian Guardsmen fought the ulfhedanr, and the valdgrafs destroyed the utvalt men.

While the stoic League smerdi pinned the berserks, the Gautrian Guardsmen fought the ulfhedanr, and the valdgrafs destroyed the utvalt men.

The last smerdi was slain, and Vaak's orcs crashed into the melee against Valgar.

The last smerdi was slain, and Vaak’s orcs crashed into the melee against Valgar.

Vaak and Eskander joined their strength to bring down the ulfhednar priest.

Vaak and Eskander joined their strength to bring down the ulfhednar priest.

As all seemed lost for the Upplanders, the bonders leapt into the fray.

As all seemed lost for the Upplanders, the bonders leapt into the fray.

The orc reavers overpowered the lightly armored bonders, while the Gautrian Guardsmen stepped over the fallen orcs and hewed at Valgar and the berserks.

The orc reavers overpowered the lightly armored bonders, while the Gautrian Guardsmen stepped over the fallen orcs and hewed at Valgar and the berserks.

Finally, Eskander and Vaak closed with Valgar Ottarson, and the heroes slew the mighty Upplander.

Finally, Eskander and Vaak closed with Valgar Ottarson, and the heroes slew the mighty Upplander.

Birthday Battle

What a Saturday Night Wargame! Ten of us gathered around the gaming tables to celebrate my birthday with a 5 on 4 battle. All our players from 3 storylines, plus Bleddyn’s wife, came for the fun.

Birthday Battle

This battle was for control of the Hedemark, the penninsula to the east of Gautria. The Free Jarls, who swear to no king, call these lands theirs but the League of Nil-ith Horn orcs looked to firmly entrench themselves on this side of Lake Kisilev. King Magnus of South Gautria had camped the previous winter here with intent to crush the orcs early in the campaign season.

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My husband set up the troops ahead of time. He assigned units and/or heroes, and primary and secondary objectives to each player. There were 3 points of intrinsic value: the circle of stones (nearest to the camera), the ford, (which is behind the ridge where the flags are) and the slave wagons (on the hill furthest away from the camera).

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None of our player characters were actually present, but we played pieces with similar interests to our own.  Bleddyn’s wife debuted in her first wargame with several urog heroes on the hill guarding the slave wagons. The League of Nil-ith Horn Chronicles fellows played the orcs. Two players held the ford, one with units of Great Northern Orc mercenaries, and the other with League troops. Eskander had a mage with 2 units of valdgrafs, and a large unit of smerdi to hold the stone circle.

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The humans had Bleddyn playing as ulfhednar who were tasked with freeing the slaves from the urogs. Aedelfrid played as Queen Inga and her cavalry unit, and 2 units of footmen. Melkor represented the Kildarians. Their cavalry and sargents had pledged to support the Queen as she took the ford. Kvig played his brother Hegg, commanding Hegg’s cavalry, a unit of bonders, and Kvig’s own heroic unit of thanes (left behind in SGK #43). And I played as Jevenkah, who is currently lording over the northern-most village on the Hedemark and brought with her a unit of berserks and a handful of heroes. Her primary objective was to gain the stone circle.

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The units quickly moved to contact. The ulfhednar raced up the hill to engage the urogs.

The ulfhednar raced up the hill to engage the urogs.

The ulfhednar raced up the hill to engage the urogs.

Inga’s troops plus one unit of Kildarian knights crashed into the shield wall of the spear-wielding smerdi holding the ford.

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But the other Kildarians were swayed by Hegg to lend their troops to the fight for the stone circle. The Kildarian knights galloped to get behind the enemy line.

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Hegg lined his forces up against the orcs and attacked while Jevenkah sprinted up the left flank for the stone circle.

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There was heard then a great clash of hard plastic in polished wood boxes as battle was joined.

BirthdayBattle_030.jpgThere were fights up and down the table, and figures came off the board rapidly.

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The League of Nil-ith Horn at the stone circle were whittled down first by Hegg’s infantry, then by Jevenkah’s acid arrows.

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Finally her berserk warriors came upon the rear of the smerdi and eliminated them.

Birthday Battle
The League mage with his valdgraf guards lasted a little longer, before being stamped out in the same manner by Hegg’s men and the Kildarian knights.

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The urogs on the hill took few losses and dealt out major damage, but were overcome by the numbers of attacking ulfhednar.

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The battle for the ford swung back and forth.

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Once the left flank was won, Jevenkah, Hegg and the Kildarian Baron brought their units to the ford. They joined Inga and sent the remaining orc forces sprinting for the trees.

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It was a great game and super birthday party!

Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #50- Sword and Sorcery

After the united human army destroyed the League of Nil-ith Horn orc force at Larbro, King Magnus took possession of that lakeside fortification.

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Jarl Kvig Melgarson marched his own troops west, headed for Queen Svala’s capital city of Mosveld.

On the way there, Kvig stopped at his ancestral home of Helvik.

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He gathered all the troops loyal to himself into his retinue, left a skeleton crew in control of the wooden fort, and announced they were going to a wedding.

Three days later, Kvig Melgarson and his army arrived at Mosveld to the sight of sparsely manned walls and wary citizens.

Kvig and his companions Bleddyn and Wynston were immediately ushered into the Queen’s keep by the lawgiver, Rig Steinarson. They were met by two huge scowling men, one a beardless young warrior in fine clothes and the other a bearskin clad berserker who towered over Kvig and Bleddyn.

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“This is to be our King?” spoke the barbarian angrily. “He is not half the man I am!”

“If our Queen wills it, we will abide her choice, Bjorn,” said the young man. He met Kvig’s gaze. “I am Thrand, son of Vester Vastarson who now holds Sigivald for Queen Svala. I have long heard the tales of your victories over the orcs, Kvig.”

With a dismissive grunt, the giant Bjorn shoved through Kvig and Thrand and left the castle.

“I hope you will bring your fight against the orcs to our holding,” Thrand pressed Kvig. “My father has been harassed by wild orcs from the western mountains. These orcs have taken up residence in the ancient stone fortress of Dakagog, and he has been unable to drive them out.”

“Plenty of time to discuss that at my wedding feast!” said Kvig. “Take us to the Queen!”

“The Queen waits within,” Steinarson the lawgiver said to Kvig. “She will have audience with you only.”

Wynston was nervous to leave Kvig alone with a woman of such power, and Queen Svala had a reputation for witchcraft. But it would be Kvig who took the wedding oaths with her, so into her chambers he went.

Bleddyn shrugged. “No point in staying here. We should see the troops.”

Wynston followed Bleddyn to the gate tower. From there she could make out less than a dozen of Queen Svala’s red-clad guards strung along the stone walls.

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Wynston saw Mosveld’s heavy cavalry in the stables, and Bjorn the Mighty with his unit of warrior berserkers.

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Kvig’s army would more than double the forces garrisoned now in Mosveld.

“They better have this wedding soon. We need to get our guards up here,” said Bleddyn.

Wynston nodded. “The lakeside gate is undermanned, too.” She looked to the castle. “King Magnus will know what we’re doing soon enough.”

“Let him come!” scoffed Bleddyn. “We’ll have the walls, and the numbers. He won’t be able to challenge us.”

Wynston was unconvinced.

When Wynston and Bleddyn returned to the castle, Steinarson informed them the wedding would be five nights hence. A bleary-eyed Kvig came out from the audience chamber and gave his approval. “Start the feasting tonight!”

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Rig Steinarson put the chamberlain in motion and had the tower set for a feast. The castle staff hurried to make the keep seem festive. More food and drink were brought in. Even Bjorn returned and joined glumly in the nightly meals Queen Svala hosted.

By the time the ceremonies were to begin on the fifth night, Kvig had eyes only for his Queen. In fact, Wynston and Bleddyn were concerned at the doting stares Kvig fixed on his wife-to-be. He seemed a bit smitten for a warlord whose eastern borders were occupied by a rival king.

However distracted, Kvig spoke his oaths true, and Queen Svala said the same, and the Lawgiver announced them man and wife. Wynston and Bleddyn were overjoyed.

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They feasted long into the night. Impatiently, Wynston and Bleddyn got the couple off to the marriage bed, and began to bring Kvig’s men into the city in support of the Mosveld troops.

Their timing was fortuitous, as the next day before King Kvig was out of the marriage bed, riders brought news that King Magnus had taken control of Helvik, and would be at Mosveld within three days.

Kvig ordered his entire camp, followers and all, into the city. King Kvig Melgarson’s loyal soldiers took to the walls and streets.

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The city gates were closed. Two tense days passed. Then Magnus’ force was spotted.

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King Magnus had an impressive army, but surely not grand enough to siege Mosveld? Bleddyn was highly suspicious.

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King Magnus arrayed his professional army for battle. Units of blue-and-yellow Kildarian elite heavy cavalry, including those led by Kvig’s ally Baron Vulmar, bolstered the Gautrian heavy fighting forces. Also under Magnus’ banner was Kvig’s cousin Bolverk Skalason, and the elite warriors which had earned him much fame at the Battle of Skarken River.

King Magnus called for Kvig to come out and surrender Mosveld. Kvig laughed. Magnus ordered his troops forward.

Kvig and Bleddyn responded. Bleddyn deployed his ulfhednar in the courtyard. Kvig readied the heavy cavalry.

Then from the gatehouse, Bjorn the Mighty bellowed:

“Now men! Death to the witch-queen of Mosveld!” And the bear-skin warriors threw open the gate.

The Kildarian cavalry thundered through the tunnel.

A stunned Kvig was mounted there to meet them.

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Bleddyn dropped inside and challenged Bjorn. Wynston ran for the winch but was attacked by two of Bjorn’s men guarding the lever. Thrand Vesterson jumped from the battlement and engaged the traitorous berserkers to get Wynston clear. There was mayhem within the walls.

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A huge explosion rocked the walls of Mosveld. The lakeside gate was breached! Bolverk Skalason led his crushing infantry through the hole.

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Mosveld’s cavalry broke off to meet the axe-wielding warriors.

Bleddyn and Bjorn battled fiercely in the gatehouse. They exchanged several blows until the mighty Bjorn lay mortally wounded on the wooden floor.

Wynston secured the winch and slammed close the gate, trapping the dwindling numbers of Kildarian horseman inside the walls. Bolverk’s heavy infantry unit was in the courtyard confronted with Mosveld’s cavalry in front, and javelins from men on the ramparts above.

The cavalry of King Magnus, led by his warrior wife Inga Storolfdottir, reigned in and wheeled back to the King’s lines.

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The Kildarian foot soldiers fell in behind the cavalry and left the gates unchallenged.

King Kvig stood tall in his saddle and called to the commanders Vulmar and Bolverk.

“Your King Magnus has abandoned you! Vulmar, you pledged to be my vassal when I held sway in the south. And cousin, you have never done wrong by me. Both of you, take oaths to me, be my steadfast swordarms, and you will be well rewarded.”

Vulmar quickly brought his knights to a halt. “King Kvig!” Vulmar shouted.

The Mosveld cavalry fell back and allowed Bolverk’s unit to approach Kvig.

“I am with you, cousin!” shouted Bolverk. “King Kvig!”

The warriors surrounding Kvig picked up the chant. “King Kvig!” was shouted from rampart and horseback.

It was a might victory roar that poured from the city and echoed in King Magnus’ helm as he retreated from the field of battle.

 

King Kvig had won and defended his stone city. How would King Magnus react to his defeat at Mosveld? And what of the new orc threat to Gautria’s western borders? Can King Kvig build his forces and kingdom to stand the tests of time?

 

 

Being Thankful- A Fantasy Warriors Battle

Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend we had the opportunity to introduce another player to “Fantasy Warriors.”

Our experienced League of Nil-ith Horn Commander took her smerdi and valdgrafs against our daughter’s Kildarian cavalry units plus unit of picked men, while the new fellow was granted 2 units of ulfhednar and a unit of berserks.

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The smerdi commander stacked her units, pikes at the ready to fight from two ranks. The vicious and ambitious utvalt men sprinted out to challenge them.

Thankful_004 The ulfhednar raced forward to support the flank. The berserk unit gained the advantage of the hill.

The cavalry held.

The orc commander charged across the field.

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The onrushing wolf-skin-clad humans threw a storm of javelins and unexpectedly took down a few shielded orcs, then clashed in hand-to-hand combat. The berserks and cavalry watched from their hills.

Our youngest helped me to document the swift destruction of the unshielded utvalt unit.

Then he joined in the dice-rolling fun on the side of the orcs.

The orcs destroyed the ulfhednar, chewing through the unarmored units. The bearskin-clad humans rushed from the hilltop into the rear of the orc formation and briefly bolstered the flank.

All looked lost for the humans when finally the cavalry spurred into motion. The knights charged into the ranks of orcs.

The League Orcs fought bravely, but they could not survive the onslaught from two units of heavy cavalry.

The knights and remaining infantry surrounded the League of Nil-ith Horn orcs and awarded our new-comer his first victory.

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Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #49- Siege on Larbro

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.”

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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.

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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.”

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“While the tower is in confusion, Magnus will have the heavy infantry rush the gate.”

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“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.”

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“And Kvig himself will lead the picked men over the wall on the left and open the gate.”

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“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.

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Ragnar Redblade and his Vell warriors swarmed the tower walls and fought off the priest’s guard.

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But at the docks, the League of Nil-ith Horn unit kept Bleddyn and the ulfhednar pinned in place.

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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?

Gautrian Games

In the next Fantasy Warriors battle, 2 of our junior players fought against myself in a Gautrian (Red banners and Blue banners) versus Kildarian exercise with equal forces.

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The girls each had a unit of Gautrain heavy cavalry and a unit of heavy infantry. I commanded 4 units of blue-and-yellow Kildarians, 2 of cavalry and 2 of infantry.

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I deployed my cavalry on the hill to meet the Red Gautrains, and lined my infantry up on the right, ready to slowly move up the field against the Blue. (The large landscape piece in the middle of the table isn’t really there.)

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Blue put her cavalry on the attack and charged into my infantry line. Next to them, her Gautrian infantry became mired in the swamps. Red started the march down the hill with her infantry, while her cavalry waited to pick their target.

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My heavy infantry and Blue’s cavalry took slight losses. Blue’s infantry slogged through the swamp. Red attacked my center cavalry with her cavalry. On my left flank, Red’s infantry approached my cavalry.

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Blue’s infantry charged into the fray, displacing and disorganizing her own cavalry but decimating my first infantry unit. My second unit closed ranks and continued the fight as Blue’s cavalry crashed forward into the infantry. Both sides’ cavalry units in the center lost riders. My cavalry on the left held strong and dealt many blows to Red’s infantry unit.

Blue’s mounted standard bearer occupied my remaining infantry. Blue Warlord got her infantry into oppose orders and pulled them across the field to bolster Red’s infantry unit. I prevailed in the center and attacked the scrum on my left.

Red’s infantry fell to the swords and spears of my riders. Blue’s forces fought bravely, but in the end were overcome by my cavalry.

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Ambush on the Road to Kednvald

This Fantasy Warrior battle featured a father-daughter team as a League of Nil-ith Horn Orc relief force ordered to the Vangen capital of Kednvald. They were attacked en route by a rebellious Great Northern Hertog urog and myself, his unaffiliated urog ally.

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Scouting rolls decided that the League orcs form their units anywhere in the middle 2 foot stretch of the 6-inch-wide road. The Great Northern Orcs could deploy no closer than 12 inches to either side of the road. Daughter commanded a unit of elite medium infantry armed with pikes, an elite orc hero, and a unit of veteran smerdi heavy infantry with spears and shields. Father played the elite warlord, a unit of veteran medium infantry with swords and shields, and a second unit of veteran smerdi . They marched up the road: Daughter’s elite unit and hero in the front, followed by Father’s veteran unit and Warlord, his smerdi, then her smerdi followed. GatnvaldHallRoad_0005web The Great Northern Hertog urog warlord had his units hidden in the woods ahead of the League of Nil-ith Horn column. A unit of elite urog valdgrafs with shields and heavy armor fought for the Hertog, along with another urog hero and his unit of orc reavers with 2-handed weapons and medium armor. I commanded an urog warlord with a unit of veteran reavers who bore shields and wore heavy armor, and an urog heroine and her unit of elite orc ambushers. GatnvaldHallRoad_0013webMy warlord and reavers climbed the ridge for a more threatening position of the road. The elite orc ambushers displayed uncanny speed as they and the heroine attacked the unit of smerdi at the rear. There was a great clash, but few casualties. The Hertog brought his unit of elite heavy infantry around the woods and bogs, while he attacked the League of Nil-ith Horn medium unit in the road with his reavers.  Father answered the reavers in the road with his veteran shield unit, and attacked my reavers on the ridge with his smerdi infantry. Daughter sent her elite pike unit up the road at the Hertog and his elite heavy infantry.

GatnvaldHallRoad_0021The orcs fought furiously and soldiers began to fall.

Daughter found her elite unit wiped out quickly, save for the bannerman. When he fell, the Hertog and his valdgrafs continued down the road towards Father’s unit. Father’s smerdi proved more efficient killers as they eliminated my reavers on the ridge, then rushed down the hill to support his hand and shield unit.

GatnvaldHallRoad_0047webBut Daughter’s smerdi were worn down by the savage ambushers and the Great Northern orcs converged on the remaining League of Nil-ith Horn forces.

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The rebellious Great Northern Orcs slaughtered the League of Nil-ith Horn forces.

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And none of that relief force reached Kednvald.