The 2 armies stood silent across the final field. Angaria’s generals had marched as far south as they dared before choosing the place for their attack. The archers stood forward with the infantry standing in files behind them ready to move forward. To the flanks waited her cavalry, not yet mounted but ready to take to horse when the order was given.
Her generals had chosen a large hill to make their stand. The place mostly chose itself as it was the perfect place to mount a defense. Their enemy would have to meet them 1/2 way up the hill thereby running uphill and getting tired in the processes.
Looking down at her enemy she could see the entire field of battle. In a surprising move Moira had placed her trolls to the rear of her formation. Angaria wasn’t sure that putting the man eating carnivores at her men’s back was the best move. How Moira held the creatures in control was beyond her.
The last part of Angaria’s main line was her artillery. Various siege engines lay to their rear next to vast piles or rocks and stones that they had piled in place. Along her front lay a strong earthen wall with various entanglements and traps laid out.
The enemy’s disposition was almost identical except they had no defenses. They would march toward Angaria until the archers were almost in range, and then the infantry would leapfrog their lines to attack. As the infantry moved forward; so too would the archers coming in behind the infantry to harass and harry the defenders.
A disturbance to the rear of Moira’s lines drew Angaria’s attention. 3 riders on horseback broke through the lines and rode out to the middle of the field where they planted a white flag.
She turned to General Toroth and he nodded to her. “Parlay, my lady.” He then kicked his horse forward and Angaria and her page rode forward with him. They picked their path through the field of entanglements and rode out to the center to meet Moira and her own officers. When they reached the center they too stood their horses. General Toroth removed his helmet and spat upon the ground. Moira looked amused and a smirk briefly crossed her face before she turned her attention back to Angaria.
Angaria sat still returning Moira’s gaze. An oppressive silence hung across the battle field and no one said anything for some few moments…
Moira finally spoke. “You really are the beauty aren’t you?” Her words seemed more sad than angry. “It’s no wonder he loved you so.” Angaria looked confused and asked “who loved me?”
Moira didn’t answer directly but her next words left little doubt. “You favor him you know.” The irony in her voice was unmistakable.
Angaria was angry at the remark. “As if you could know,” she hissed. Then she asked. “Why this? Why all this? You destroy the world and kill everything in your path,” she said. “Why this war?”
Then in exasperation, she gestured at the armies around them. “Were you ignored as a child? Did someone not give you some treat that you wanted? Were you beaten as a child,” she asked. General Toroth spat again and mumbled “Not beaten nearly enough I’ll gather.”
Moira again looked amused, but she raised her voice, “Still your dog Angaria or I shall muzzle him myself.”
In the next moment, the amusement slid from her face and a look of pure loathing replaced it. “I’m here Angaria to destroy you and everything dear to you.” Haven’t you figured it out yet little queen,” she spat. “You could use my face to apply your makeup,” she purred. Angaria’s face lost all color. “You, no. That can’t be!” She said.
“Actually,” Moira said tossing off a laugh. “It’s true”
“But why this war?” Angaria anguished. She could not believe this admission about her father, and yet the evidence was right in front of her.
“You could have joined us,” she said. “Why did you kill our father?”
Moira sneered at Angaria’s NAÏVETÉ. “Tell me sister,” she asked Angaria. “What do they call a girl who is a bastard? A person so low they don’t even have a name for it?”
Toroth saw the anguish on his queen’s face and wanted to spare her the pain but he knew it was true.
Then in a moment, Angaria seemed to shake her pain off. She remembered why she was here. She remembered what she had to do.
“So, she said regaining her hold on her nerves with an icy resolve. “This whole thing is because father couldn’t, acknowledge you,” She said.
“Wouldn’t” Moira raged
Angaria nodded then. “I can’t talk you out of this then. General Toroth, this parlay is over. We’re to send good men on both sides to their death because my SISTER wasn’t loved as a child.” She turned her horse and started back towards her lines. Behind her, Moira screamed at her and practically foamed at the mouth. “Come back here you little shit,” she called. “You spoiled bitch, I’ll kill you and everything you’ve ever loved.”
Angaria rode back to her men. “You already have” she thought.
It took quite some time for Moira to calm down. She was so incoherent she couldn’t even order the attack for an hour.
Finally her troops started forward.
Along Angaria’s lines, trumpets sounded readiness and signal flags snapped out messages. As they came within archery range, Angaria’s men opened fire. The eastern part of Angaria’s lines seemed deceptively weak. Several enemy companies angled in that direction. To the rear, Angaria’s artillery began firing. In most cases, they weren’t firing rocks however.
A caltrop is an evil little weapon. It’s a small piece of metal made up of 4 spikes arranged in such a way that no matter how it lands, one side is always facing up. These little devices are terrible on infantry and easily pierce the thin soled shoes and boots the infantry wore. At least for the ones who wore anything on their feet.
Moira’s troops consisted of farm boys and street thugs. Many didn’t own shoes. Screams echoed across the field as the enemy reached the lines of caltrops. The advance on the east side stalled for a moment and Angaria moved some of her troops to cover the weak side. Moira ordered 2 more companies to that flank as the infantry passed the area where the caltrops had landed. Moira’s men surged forward in a teeming mass of angry hurt humanity.
At 30 yards from the base of the hill, the ground opened up in front of the soldiers and the front lines were swallowed by deep holes filled with sharpened stakes. Men further behind in the lines didn’t really know what was happening and they pushed the line forward forcing other soldiers into the deathtraps. Men to the front jumped across the pits and ran forward only to fall into a second line holes.
All of these tactics were designed to slow the enemy down and keep them in a kill zone. All along the battle line the pits opened up and the enemy advance faltered. Arrows rained down on Moira’s troops and started claiming lives as well.
From behind her infantry, Moira deployed her heavy armor. They crashed through their own army center and rode towards the archers aligned behind the battlements. Signal flags snapped at the hilltop and Angaria’s men responded. Firing as they went, the troops abandoned the first line and fell back to a second line. The last of her troops were crossing over the barricades as thunder sounded on a sunny afternoon.
The enemy armor halted 1/2 way across the lines as flaming bundles lifted aloft. Angaria had deployed several batteries of mangonels behind the hill. Instead of heavy rocks, they launched burning bundles of pitch and barrels of Naphtha. The flaming weapons were timed perfectly. They landed in front of the charging troops and exploded in their faces. Men were cooked alive in their armor and again the charge faltered.
To the West, Moira’s soldiers fared better and managed to grab a toehold. The infantry marched slowly with their shields raised to protect the archers and the archers would harassed Angaria’s men.
Angaria’s response was to send a company of cavalry to disrupt the enemy attack.
She looked at Toroth who was busy giving orders to his adjutant. The Lieutenant ran off toward a signal platoon nearby to signal a shifting of companies. He looked at her. “Now you know why we chose this spot, my Queen.” She nodded, but the good feelings would not come. Good men and even young boys were dying down below.
Then it happened. The eastern point of Moira’s advance collapsed completely and her troops started to retreat. As they retreated past the base of the hill, Moira deployed her trolls. They deployed to the east attacking everything in sight. And they didn’t distinguish between friend or foe. Retreating soldiers became food in the creature’s feast. And it had the effect of turning Moira’s troops back toward Angaria’s men. Luckily for the human elements, the trolls and goblins became distracted by their banquet and they soon stopped to finish their feast.
The battle raged on through the long day and into the night. As darkness fell, so too came the rain. Men on both sides were exhausted and hacked at each other in ineffective tiredness. The only good thing to happen was because everyone was so tired; casualties on both sides were lighter.
A few hours before dawn saw a surge in enemy activity. Moira had finally committed her reserves. Angaria ordered her lines to fall back to the 3rd line of defense. Now her troops would be just below the crest of the hill.
“Breach,” came the call. “The enemy has breached the eastern line!” Angaria could see in the growing light of dawn that her men were being overrun. She turned to Turoth to order a reserve company forward when the general was cut from his saddle by an arrow shot. Angaria was startled from her horse and she fell into a puddle at her feet. She blinked water as nearby troops rushed to fill another nearby breach.
She turned to the adjutant and ordered a regiment of soldiers to buttress the eastern line.
2 companies came to her section of the line and the enemy was forced back.
As dawn broke across the field, Angaria saw thousands upon thousands of troops arrayed on the field waiting for the order to annihilate her men. Along the lines, her own men were finishing the last of the enemy who had attacked during the night. Most of the men who survived fell to ground where they stood. Exhausted and most were bleeding from multiple wounds. Angaria didn’t wait. She ordered her troops to retreat. The only place left was across the top of the hill and down the other side.
Without waiting, her men turned and left the field of battle…
Moira’s troops marched through the silent deserted lines. Only the dead and dying remained. Her men paused in their march to finish the wounded off and pillage the bodies. In all, it took the better part of a day before they would continue their march.
Moira rode to the top of the hill and looked down the other side. Then she screamed. Another hill awaited her and this one was steeper and it was armed the same way. Below her in the valley, enemy engineers had set fire to their mangonels before retreating to their lines. The last of Angaria’s weary troops crossed through and Angaria’s reserve closed off the lines.
It was almost nightfall when Moira’s troops finally engaged the enemy.
Throughout the night the battle raged neither side pressing any advantage. On the morning of the 3rd day, the enemy pushed through on the western side of the line. “Breach, Breach! Came the yell. But there was no reserve able to respond. Moira called her household guard to ready and they all picked up swords and ran toward the breach.
As Angaria left the safety of the command post, Moira who had seen her, sprinted to her own horse. She broke through her lines flogging her horse mercilessly. As she rode, she kept raging “No no no no nooooo,” she yelled as she reached the western line. In a blind frothing rage, she cut down anything that got in her way.
Angaria swung her sword like a farmer hewing at his crops. She laughed to herself as she cut down the enemy soldiers. Her teachers had been professionals who would have been furious at how she cut and hacked at the soldiers. But she also knew that her instructors would say whatever works and whatever keeps you standing.
During a brief respite, she saw Moira more than 1/2 way through her lines trying to fight her way to Angaria. To the east, the trolls had returned to the field creating havoc along the entire area. There was no organization, just hewing and hawing at each other.
Suddenly an arrow came out of the dawn sky and slammed into Angaria’s shoulder. She was thrown on her back. She lay down on her back staring into a clearing sky. Smoke rose above her and her page was suddenly at her side. She smiled at the boy and brushed his hair. She tried to sit up but there was too much pain. Little James tried to help her but several troops ran by and he was forced to the side to avoid being trampled. One of the soldiers stepped on Angaria’s right arm as he ran by. She didn’t know if it was one of her soldiers or of Moira’s. Her sword fell from her grip.
And then Moira was there. Her white hair mangled and covered in blood. She carried her sword in her left hand because her right hung limp and bleeding at her side. She stumbled to Angaria’s side and looked down at her. “Don’t die yet little queen,” she said. I want to kill you myself.
Then she lifted her sword. She could have said a lot of things. She could have made an entire speech. Instead she just leered in triumph. Then her eyes glazed and her sword seemed to jump from her hand. She looked down at Angaria with a strange almost sad expression. A moment later a spray of blood fountained from her lips and she stumbled and fell to her knees. Then, her head fell lifeless onto the ground at Angaria’s side.
As Moira took her last breath, the air suddenly cooled and clouds raced across the sky. There was an explosion of sound and wind and debris that rushed out in all directions from Moira’s body. As the noise died down on the battlefield, the enemy troops were running south. Across the field, the trolls and goblins also ran off to the south. With Moira’s death, they were no longer in her thrall.
Moira was carried from the field on a stretcher. At the end, it was her page James who held her sword and took the life of the white witch. After the winds died down, he crawled to her side and refused to leave until she was taken to a medical tent. Even then he had stayed by her side. On the 2 hills, her soldiers were piling the bodies of the dead into large piles to be set aflame. There weren’t enough men to bury them and disease was always a concern.
As the wagon carrying the queen left for home, she contemplated what had happened. Her sister had great power. In that final destruction there was nothing left of her body behind.
Angaria looked out of the back of her wagon. She looked above the fires and saw the sunrise through the smoke. The sun consumes itself in a fiery destruction at every moment, its light being reborn in an instant. Its power can be used for good for growing things and sustaining life. Or it can be used for destruction such as in the forest fires that come in the heat of the late summer months.
She laughed at herself. The first laugh in a long time. As she drifted off to sleep, she wrote herself a note. When she got back, she wanted to make sure she promoted a certain boy from her page to a squire. He deserved a title. At the least.
Angaria – Katie Rycraft
Moria – Carmen Peruzzini
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