My purpose in putting together the Chainmail poster was to prepare for the upcoming battle in my AD&D campaign. I wanted it to be epic.
Here is the recap of the battle that happened on Monday.
Soldiers returning to Sanctuary by the thousands tell of the Summer War, the War of Barbarian Bones, Pash 23rd, 464, when the marches stink of old gut piles and towering figures sway in the thin fog of morning, hefting boulders and screaming for the death of humankind.
The battle goes down in the annals of Ormolu as one of singular timing and obscure motive, the earliest Autumn War of its kind and the only one to transpire in (albeit at the very end of) Pash. It begins with the shuddering blast of horns and the rising clamor of black shields.
Swift-footed bowmen pour down the distant hill by the thousand, leaving a fanlike shadow of trampled earth in the dew-silvered grass.
We laughed, the men say, when our engines found their mark.
But as the sod rains down with a heavy patter and the grassland stills a moment, no trace of those swift archers can be found. The smile fades from our artillerist’s face and whispers of sorcery spread from man to man.
It is at this moment when the dead-eye enemy trebuchets, scrambling with bone figures, launch ordnance that obliterates an entire formation just below the unfinished curtain walls of the Southern Watch Tower.
This is the moment the fear sinks in. And then, there are figures in the air, and dragons. There are charging horse and bands of ogres and giants. Illusions haunt the grassland so that it becomes impossible to know what is real.
The barbarians have not made their yearly offerings at the totems and standing stones. This battle is nothing to do with Ghnall ritual. For the barbarians on this field are already dead. They do not tire, they know no fear, they take no arrows in their empty ribs. Whatever or whoever has come, has killed our familiar enemies and now forces them to do what they did so regularly in life, but better after death.
And yet, our catapults begin to take them apart.
And yet, the enemy trebuchets pound us with startling accuracy.
All war stories are built of lies. But the Summer War boasts more than most. For who will believe that as the enemy ordnance fell (its shadow darkening the God-Knight, Ibram's face and that of his strangely fluttering muse) that the God-Knight whispered to her in a moment and disappeared?
In his place now stands a woman girded in black armor, utterly confused, the enemy commander—so the boys say as they buy another round.
She sees the falling missile and lunges. Moving swift. What would have killed any other man fails to end her. The shadow of the trebuchet stone swells over her but misses. Or does it? She is limping. Her ankle? Something is broken. And then our archers fire. They say it is over two-thousand arrows that drench her like rain. A black carpet of needles drape her, pin her down, sew her into the marchland. She is covered and gone.
Later they will search for her and find something so riddled that the boys laugh about straining pasta with her breastplate. There is nothing of value. She is destroyed.
And even if this is a lie, they swear that the next part is true: that at the other end of the field, a blistering glitter of gold is rising, flashing in the sun, swinging mightily and alone from atop a hillock of accumulating bones.
The others fled the field, the boys say, in the aftermath of their commander’s death. But where she once stood, among her unliving warriors, the God-Knight now stands in her place and toils, surrounded by the dead who do not tire and know no fear and die without care as a product of Ibram's work.
And what they say in the pubs every time the story nears its end, is that Ibram’s golden armor is called the Castle for a reason, that he dealt unending destruction to the thousands of walking corpses around him. And in the faint morning mist, they say, from over five-hundred yards away, the men swear up and down that above the Castle’s flashing speck of gold a strange sun dog or halo materialized in the mist, the bluest part of the rainbow, they say, like a blue eye opening above the God-Knight’s head.
And then a blinding light exploded as the Priestess of Hale touched down in the south, landing on both feet from her dragon’s back. And the winged white and blue figure of the surly ranger of that same company touched down to the north. And the three fought their way to the center, where their friend stood winded but without a scratch.
Some say the company at the Southern Watch Tower used a Wish that day.
And then the boys give a moment for the fallen. And then they buy one more round.