The Evolution of the Barbarians (Fiction)


Prologue: I have been working on this fictional story that relates to the Game in a way that brings it to life. I have written eight chapters so far and will post a chapter periodically if there is interest in it.

The Evolution of Barbarians
-by- Cactus (pen name)
Chapter one
A typical day in the Barbarian Village

It was an early Autumn afternoon and a cool breeze from the north flowed down the snow-capped mountainside through the pine forest gathering their sweet scent and continued through a grove of White Aspen trees fully dressed in their golden Autumn splendor. The gentle rustling of the aspen leaves and the whistling of the breeze through the pines was just a few more notes of nature’s song that was blissfully comforting to those so fortunate to live in the village at the base of the gently sloping hill. The hill was named “Founders Rest” when this tribe of settlers decided they would go no farther in their search for a new home. The Valley of the Moon was beautiful and would meet all their needs. This was where they would build their Village, raise their families, and carve their names into their history. As it had been their dream, so it had become their reality.

The village fore fathers had planned their village well. A design that was well advanced of even the more modern grass and mud structures and tent villages of that era more than 70 years ago. They had a mix of talented thinking people in the tribe carpenters, who designed interlocking wooden logs and rails to form hutches built on wooden or stone floors. Stone masons who could design rock structures such as new buildings and walls. Together they designed bigger and better buildings. There were miners, blacksmiths and metal forgers, hunters, farmers, craftsmen and women from all known trades that would be needed to develop a modern village. Herdsmen tended to the livestock and farmers grew crops. Children were born and raised and taught in classroom settings. New settlers arrived each year in settled in this wonderful little barbarian village. From their meager beginnings in the valley, the settling generation toiled hard and long and became more talented in all they did. They passed their old and trusted talents and their more modern learned talents to their children. The children worked just and hard as the adults. Never could it be said that each house did not have running water. A cool clean stream flowed through the village. Every day, and several times each day, the children would grab a wooden bucket, run to the stream and fill it, then run the bucket of water back home to fill a wooden barrel. It was a fine generation to grow up in and those same children were now the elders of the village.

This was a warm Autumn afternoon in the valley. It had been another day of foraging and stocking of the warehouses in preparation for the cold days ahead. There were tasks enough for everyone and everyone was at their task. Wood was coming in from the forest on the sledges made from iron and wood. Teams of six draft horses were not under strain to pull their loads. The sledges were loaded by the youth of the village as men fell trees with their mighty axes, scaled them free of their branches, and chopped them into manageable sizes for the young lads to do their work. Upon arrival young lads relieved the sledges of their loads and stacked the logs in even rows. There would be enough wood to see the village through the winter in just a few more days. And enough lodgepoles two add two more buildings to their bustling community of over one hundred homes and mixed buildings. The sledges returned for another load.

The women of the village in addition to their daily chores of food preparation and cleansing of their abodes, would take their turns in the clay pits gathering the wet smelly muck and loaded into more sledges to be hauled back to the well-prepared bins designed to keep the clay moist until it could be used. The clay mixed with straw or wool was used to chink the gaps between the logs of the new buildings. Construction was a continuous process most of the year except in the dead of winter when it was too cold, and the clay was frozen. The carpenters had just a few more structures to build and their little village would become known as a city. More people will flock to the area to settle, raise their families, and join in the long-established chores and routine of building villages.

The Stronger more robust of the townsmen were tasked to working the several productive iron mines in the area. They were close enough to maintain a steady flow of ore to the mills in the village where the forgers and metal workers made tools and fittings for all types of crafts and lore. Teams of eight oxen were used to haul the heavily laden sledges which were much too heavy for the draught horses.

Sun up to sun down the laborers toiled and strived to complete their quotas. At the end of this work day as all the laborers returned to the village the cool freshening breeze which brought with it the hint of approaching winter and the sweet fragrance and song of the pine forest. They all departed to their homes to freshen up for the evening of the communal meal to be followed by fun and games for the children and entertainment for the adults. They earned their rest, and their steins of grog and beer. Slabs of venison or beef had been roasted over pits of coals in preparation of the famished appetites that would descend and devour like a pack of wild beasts on a fresh kill. Everyone met in the few stone and wood constructed longhouses that had been built along the town square. This is where they shared their meals, told stories, sang songs, and laughed together. They forced their weary bodies to dance through the evening. They were warmed by the fires without, and by the brew within. When time for rest came, they would depart along torch lit streets, retire to their homes and sleep deeply having been satisfied with their daily toils. The next day would soon be upon them, and their routines would once again gleefully enslave them. No one complained, no one had thoughts or desires of a different life. They all shared the same dreams, the same goals of their forefathers, which was to build a better and more modern village in which to live and raise their families. This was just another typical day in the Barbarian Village in the Valley of the Moon.
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Evolution of the Barbarians

-by- Cactus (pen name)

Chapter Two

“All is Not Lost”

Dawn was breaking into day sending amber and crimson shafts of light across the sky above the Valley of the Moon and bathed the cloud draped mountain peaks in amber hues. A pair of eagles danced above the forest searching the vast meadows and streams below for their daily meal. Their shrieking calls could be heard throughout the valley as they homed in on an un-suspecting meal below them. The meadow larks, jay birds, and a myriad of other song birds were quick to begin their daily symphony welcoming another day. A distant bugle of a Bull Elk could be heard as he seeks to add another cow to his harem during this time of the rut. In the village the growing light of morning had not penetrated all the darkness that still draped like a blanket over the village.

The Villagers had risen in the pre-dawn darkness and consumed their morning meal to make ready for another day in their seemingly unending work of gathering and storing. Today gardeners and farmers will make ready for the fall harvest which will provide the villagers food enough to see them through the coming winter and into the spring when their new crops are planted. Leather tanners will be finishing their work on more buckskin leather for clothing and thick blankets. These were made from the hides of deer and moose (also known as elk) gathered from hunters. Beef hides were also used for clothing but boots and variable foot wear, ropes, harnesses and much more also got their share. Nothing would be wasted. Nothing would spoil. Meat in the smoke houses will be cured to perfection, and a recently discovered salt deposit provided an alternative to smoke curing for the many hams that were provided from the local pig farms located across the valley from the village.

Over the years several other villages, thirty in all, had been founded across the valley and into the plains and forested areas. Trade between villages began years ago. There were many marriages and new families that mixed together throughout the valley. Strong bonds help the valley together in a long and trusting peace. Never were their problems among the inhabitants of these villages or those beyond the mountains. Even though there had been no common enemies, many of the villages had constructed lodgepole walls encircling their villages and a network of support existed between all the villages of the area for many miles. An alarm system made of large metal rings hung between trees and beat with metal bars could be heard for miles. In the event of an alarm, citizens would drop what they were doing, arm themselves an proceed to those in need. Their own village alarm would immediately summon the volunteers from the next villages. Within minutes there would be as many as ten to twenty thousand horse and foot soldiers marching to the sound of the alarm. Just the thought of such a force brought peace and a fulfilling sense of security to everyone in the Valley of the Moon.

This, like every morning, draft horses and oxen were assembled into their working teams and the tenders made ready the sledges and riggings. Soon the caravan of oxen and horse drawn sledges would depart to their predetermined fields and quarries resume their daily labors. The first and last trips of the sledges each day would be to haul the workers to and from the fields. Midday meals were packed in bins which were also the driver’s seat for the sledge handlers.

As the workers assembled in the courtyard to await their sledges to arrive, they milled around and talked to their friends about the upcoming Harvest party which was still four weeks away. Each year the event took place three nights following the night of the harvest moon. It has always been a grand event to celebrate the completion of the harvest and the filling of the warehouses for the pending winter and would be followed by a week of rest and relaxation. Everyone would dress in their gayest apparel and costumes of old and new. Music would be provided by the Provincial Players who are known throughout the other villages in the Province of the Valley of the Moon for their precious and talented entertainment. The preparations of the grand feast would take two days to cook the meat in pits and organize a myriad of other fine accompanying delights. Such were they engaged in their exchange of fond memories of previous celebrations and thoughts of the upcoming Harvest party that they did not hear the cries for help from a night watchman who laid between two warehouses in a pool of his own blood from the wound to his head.

Shortly the sledges were ambling up the street from the stables and would soon be filled with the laborers. The third sledge driver pulled his team over to the side near the warehouses where he would gather some new tools for the field workers. He took his lantern and approached the warehouse door. He noticed it was sitting askew from its hinges. He stopped abruptly and wondered what had happened and at that moment he heard a faint moan coming from between the warehouses. Moving cautiously toward the sound. As he rounded the corner of the warehouse, he raised his lantern and saw the night watchman and the blood. The driver yelled for help several times before anyone heard him. He saw several people running toward him and he yelled again for someone to get the village physician. He then approached the wounded man and carefully lifted his head and gently rolled him over.

The wounded man opened his eyes and thanked the driver for coming. The driver asked what happened and the watchman said only one word that sent shivers down the spine of the driver. “Raiders!” Several of the town folk were approaching the warehouses and the driver yelled, “check the warehouses!” Several warehouses were quickly inspected to find that a substantial amount of their stores had been pilfered during the night. The city council members were summoned, and a quick inventory was taken. Upon completion of the counts, the Mayor addressed the crown of village laborers and other citizens. Speaking in an uplifting and encouraging manner, the mayor said, “My fellow citizens and friends. We have been raided during the night and the night watchman has been wounded but will recover. Though many of our stores were taken, all is not lost. We will quickly recover from this invasion and will still be able to fill our coffers before the Harvest Celebration. Thank you for your hard work and now continue with your daily assignments! Keep alert for more possible raiders and sound the alarm loudly should you see any of the scoundrels.”

As the crowd departed, the mayor and town council members inspected the damages more closely and began making plans on how to prevent a repeat of such an insult and intrusion to their city. More sentries, watchmen, and more lighted torches must be available throughout the night. The militia must be put on alert and patrols must be increased to three times each week instead of twice per month. The wooden walls were never completed and gates that were completed on the north and east sides were rarely closed at night. There had never been any real danger until now. Plans had been completed to build a new type of wall using quarry stone and logs, but they were postponed until all the resources could be gathered. It was estimated that the work on the new walls would take over a year and two hundred laborers working every day to complete it. The stone was almost completely stock piled to the south of the city and maybe two thirds or more of the wood. Decisions needed to be made and more plans to be established. The concerns of the leadership were sincere, and much work lay ahead.

Somewhat discouraged at the loss of supplies and the wounding of the night watchman, the laborers boarded the sledges and proceeded to their daily chores, not quite as cheerfully and they had been each previous day and before. One sledge driver said to his son who sat beside him, “A fine thing to say, says the mayor, ‘All is not lost’. And what if it were all lost? Ta think of such a large invasion as is would take to haul off all that we have. Aye, it tiz a good thing, all is not lost! Aye, it tiz.” His son replied, “Yes Papa.”
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Evolution of the Barbarians

-by- Cactus (Pen Name)

Chapter Three

Just Like Butterin’ a Cake

A final assessment was made regarding the raiding party which had stealthily and successfully penetrated the village interior. The raiders stole away a ton of food and tools and grain. Two draft horses and a smaller sledge were also missing. Apparently, the infiltrators may not have planned on such a successful venture and failed to bring their own means of hauling away their spoils. One could only wonder how they could escape with such a load, undetected. Things could have been worse, people could have died. How many were there, ten men? Twenty? Fifty? When the investigation had concluded it was determined that a minimum of 100 and up to 150 invaders had been inside the village walls? Why had they been there? What was their purpose? Why did they settle for only a ton of supplies when they could have easily taken five or ten tons, and more of the sledges? Why did they not kill the guard or attack others in the city, or even worse, carry off some of the villagers as captives? Such questions without answers drew great concerns to the town council and the citizens. Motivated by an underlying dread for the future, the response and actions of the Mayor and his council were immediate. The Mayor who was also the Commanding General of the militia issued orders to his subordinate officers to establish increased security. Following in quick succession, orders were given to assemble all craftsmen and masons from across the valley to build the walls and gates from the plans that had already been drawn almost ten years prior. Though most of the materials for the wall were stock piled and stored in sheltered warehouses south of the city the work had never begun on the actual foundations because the half completed early designed wooden wall seemed to be adequate for the time being and because there was a lack of urgent need. Such hind sight can make fools out of scholars.

Messages were penned as dictated by the mayor to the village scribes. Riders were dispatched to all the known villages to deliver the messages and bring back the responses. The messages included the reason for the enclosed requests as a security matter involving the entire region, and two important requests. The first request was for all available Stone Masons, wood craftsmen, laborers, and forgers to bring their tools and support teams to “Founder’s Rest’ for a major construction operation including walls, fortifications and other buildings. The length of project was unknown and only noted, “until completed”. The second request was underscored by the urgency of the first request. All villages must immediately draft up to one thousand standing militia with full companies of foot soldiers, archers, and cavalry from the citizens remaining in their villages. The militia must receive as much training as possible in the shortest amount of time. It was “Signed Most Urgent, Mayor and General of the Territorial Militia, Archibald Meade”

Within their own city, all citizens who were available to work on the major project were redirected to begin and prepare for additional men to be arriving and join this monumental undertaking. Three new sawmills were quickly constructed. Miners were redirected to the rock quarries to speed up production of stone for the walls. Craftsmen began to form the timbers and beams according to the plans for the Ramparts, parapets, wall supports. Stone masons chipped and honed some of the more difficult stones for the project. Three teams of surveying parties laid out the path of the foundation of the walls and gates. The large town square would be at the center of the village and the walls would be laid equal distances from the center of the square. A small tent encampment was started near the south east edge of the projected path of the wall foundation to house the visiting masons and wood craftsmen. Another was started to the north east for the loggers and sawyers which was closer to the forest and saw mills. Many of the labors would be housed within the village and a third tent encampment to the northwest. The stream which flowed through the city was also close to the Masons where they would need the precious commodity to perform their magic. The next day the riders returned with the replies from the neighboring villages. Complete support would be given. The Workers requested would start arriving in the afternoon and all would arrive by the end of the next day. Upon hearing the results of the replies from the other villages, one of the councilors said to the mayor, “We’re going to need a lot more tents!”

That same afternoon men started flowing into the village. And were quickly organized into work teams according to their trade. Many even brought their own support teems to meet their personal needs of food and lodging accommodations. The tent encampments grew from one hundred tents to over one thousand by the middle of the next day.

The stone quarries, and sawmills began producing and would easily be able to finish what was needed to complete the walls. The only complaints from anyone would be from the tanners who used the former wooden wall structure to spread and scrape their hides for tanning. The second day the footings for the walls were dug and the removed soil sifted for the masons. With the old stripped away, and the new foundations dug the real work could begin.

An impossible and monumental task was performed in just three weeks. Had there been only a small force of two hundred men working, never could such an enormous undertaking be completed in such a short time. Over eight thousand skilled craftsmen, masons, and labors from up to 30 miles away participated in this great event. They labored night and day in shifts for the next three weeks. The stone masons worked their magic and poured a cement grout made from a formula dating back to ancient times which they held in secret for so many hundreds of years. When the grout dried the walls were deemed impenetrable. Carpenters skillfully honed massive timbers for the support foundations of the parapets and the wooden watch towers. When all was finished, the walls were fourteen feet high up to the archer windows with sturdy parapets and scaffolding that could hold hundreds of defenders with no fears of collapsing? The upper wall reached 20 feet high and had another level of parapets. More archer openings were notched into the top of the walls. Watch towers that stood thirty-five feet above the walls were placed every two hundred feet along the entire length of the wall. The longest and most effective distance for the archers and their bows were 250 feet. Each tower could support up to archers with room for a fire pit to flame their arrows and cots in which to rest or to hold any wounded. There were 35 towers along the walls. Great wooden gate posts carved from one-hundred-year-old spruce trees were sunk ten feet into the ground and rose to eight feet above the top of the walls. Pairs of great wooden gates were hung from massive forged hinges which alone took a full two weeks to prepare. Massive locking cross bars on the inside and a metal sheathing on the outside completed the enormous fixtures. There were four such pairs of gates which faced north, south, east, and west. Upon its completion the walls were over one and a half miles in circumference and almost a half mile across to the opposite gates. All of this was miraculously completed in just three weeks. There were also four new two-story barracks constructed inside the north wall. This was a bonus addition to the project due to the overexuberance production from the loggers and sawmill laborers. Over 90 percent of the village structures were enclosed within the gates. Purposely excluded from the interior of the walls, with the exception of the military stables, were the hog pens and stock yard. The one-hundred-foot tall stone church which had been built by the masons ten years prior was just off the northwest edge of the town square and now had a new ten-foot wall surrounding its own courtyard.

The town square which was also the parade and training ground for the militia, was over 400 feet from end to end and side to side and would accommodate the thousands of people expected to attend the Harvest celebration which was just over a week away. The day following the completion of the walls and feast was given for all the craftsmen and laborers who had worked on the wall. The feast was just a small foretaste of what the Harvest Party would be like. Toward the end of the feast, the walls were dedicated for the protection of the populace and declared open to all who might seek refuge or sanctuary from any threats known or unknown.. The mayor addressed the massive crowd from one of the new watchtowers.

“Friends and neighbors of the Valley of the Moon, upon this date we have seen the completion of a monumental and impossible, if not miraculous task! What should have taken a year to complete was done in just three weeks. Truly amazing feat and a salute to your professions and dedication as men of honor and power, and faith. Today we stand ready, and willing, and united, to meet any challenge, any danger from outside these walls, our Valley, or beyond. “Founder’s Rest” will be your sanctuary in times of trouble should such trouble come. A place of training, and of support and of fun. We shall all come together again in the future to assemble more walls and structures in your cities for the same purpose which is security and survival for us all. Today we dedicate these walls as our Fortress of Peace! Congratulations and thank you for a job well done!” Just at that time one of the lead masons yelled, “Mayor, Sir, it was just as easy as butterin’ a cake, is was. You have no worries now!” With that last comment the crowds roared and cheered.

The next day the small army of volunteers left for their villages with promises to return for the harvest party just several days away. Many new friendships had been kindled and a new spirit of brotherhood among the inhabitants of the Valley of the Moon was set firm in their hearts. Though they had separate paths to follow all shared the same feelings and thoughts. They felt they were not just several villages with separate peoples and separate tribes; they had a collective and congenial sense that they would soon all be under one rule; one Leader; one unified and glorious Tribe. The thoughts were warm and welcomed and reassuring. Truly, today was a new beginning.


The Evolution of a Barbarian city

-by- Cactus (pen name)

Chapter 4

The end of Good times

With the walls completed the small army of workers returned to their respective villages and most of them vowed to return for the Harvest Celebration. The next week was just as busy as the previous three weeks but instead of pouring grout laying stone or installing parapets and towers, new entertainment structures were set up for games, contests, plays and other assorted entertainment for the massive crowds that were expected; five hundred new tables and benches were constructed to add to the more than five hundred that had already been made through the years. Many elaborate and colorful decorations had been created and adorned the walls of the eating halls and other buildings surrounding the square. Lines of poles had been erected throughout the square and wires stretched between them for hanging the colored lanterns which would enhance the party atmosphere. The entire center of the village was being transformed into a carnival. At the center of the square an enormous raised eight-sided covered entertainment platform had been constructed and would remain as a permanent fixture in the future.

Nothing has been overlooked firepits were dug for roasting the varieties of meats; bushels of corn and other vegetables were being washed and prepared. The forgers created new and larger pots and flat cooking platforms. Though most of the food could be eaten without a spoon, the metal workers created ten thousand new spoons. Nothing had been overlooked. There were even ten sheds built with private stalls inside where people could do their private natural business. Teams of tenders were assigned to remove and replace the sizable receptacles after they had been emptied into larger tubs on wagons. These in turn were transported by wagon to a more remote area west northwest of town where deep and long ditches had been dug and half filled with water to accommodate the bodily wastes. The ditches would be filled in with dirt later. Nothing had been overlooked.

The guests from the other villages would be arriving through the Eastern gates which would be lit by lanterns and torches. Lanterns were lining the roadway from the gate to the square. Torches would burn brightly along the road between the Gates and the several temporary stables and corrals that were constructed in the area of the warehouses south of the village where the quarry stone and wood for the walls had been stored. The combination of corrals and new hitching posts could hold up to ten thousand horses. Ten new wagons were lined with benches and cushions for transporting the guests to and from the party area. Farther out to the east a tent encampment was constructed using relocated tents from the labor encampments from the previous week. This area would house upwards of eight thousand people.

The day has arrived. The excitement and anticipation of fun and games overwhelmed the children and their mood quickly spread among the adults. Visitors and entertainers began arriving in the early morning to help set up their booths and rooms with their games and trade wares. Additional food and desserts were delivered to the kitchens. Though the official start time of the festivities wasn’t until the fifth hour past the nooning hour, the Provincial Players had set up on the large elevated platform in the center of the square and were doing warm up melodies, checking and find tuning their instruments. Moments before the fifth hour, the Mayor was due to arrive in a decorated carriage accompanied by his family and several dignitaries from other villages. A few of the dignitaries would speak for a few minutes before the Mayor would give a speech regarding the accomplishments of the past year and the hope and a blessing for the new year coming. This would be the official beginning of the three-day Harvest Party celebration. However, for many years in the past, and this year would be no exception, hundreds of citizens, mostly the brawny lumberjacks and stone masons would start their party celebration earlier in the day. They would congregate at the south end of the town square where there was a large plaza set back from the square where barrels of beer, wine, and other experimental ales were lined up. Over a hundred tables lined the plaza which never seemed to be enough.

Just before the fifth hour people were flocking to the town square and the lanterns were lit. The sun was already setting and soon the plaza would be glowing with a golden hue from the hundreds of decorated lanterns that crisscrossed the square on wire supplied by the Iron Works. The square was surrounded by bright flowery decorations. Food was lined up on tables along the north edge of the square where over 800 tables were set up for the massive crowds that would soon fill the square. More tables and benches filled the center if the plaza, and no less than three hundred waiters and waitresses stood by ready to deliver food and drink to the hungry and thirsty masses. Children would soon be entertained by puppet shows and acrobats; adults would enjoy plays, a variety of musicians, and other games and shows. There would be over 10,000 men, women and children at the harvest party and over two thousand servers to tend their needs. The militia provided security in some of the new watchtowers and there were no less than three patrols roaming the territory outside of the gates.

The mayor arrived and made his way to the central platform with the cheers from the crowd welcoming him and his guests. Two of the dignitaries gave short words of encouragement before the Mayor walked up to the podium. He waited until the crowds were once again silent and he began, “My Friends, visitors, and fellow citizens, thank you for another successful year of gathering, foraging and mining. We have met or exceeded all quotas and our granaries are filled. This past year we added new items such as salt mining and a Wheelwork’s to our growing industry. Our warehouses are filled, we have many new neighbors, and no one will go hungry this winter. Many praises and thanks for all the friends and craftsmen who have made our village secure by building the new walls!” The crowd roared with cheers and whistles. After an additional ten-minute speech of praises, congratulations and promises of a bright future, he finally said, “Let the Celebration Begin!” Another roar from the crowd and the Provincial Players filled the square with their music.

The night watchman, a slight frame of a man, who had been wounded outside of the warehouses just a few weeks prior was almost fully recovered and in good spirits. The stores that had been lost that night had been replaced and even more had been added to the warehouses. Tonight, he sat in the southern plaza drinking a strong brew with a couple of friends. One was a red-bearded husky miner and the other a tall burley lumberjack with arms and big as tree limbs. They had an early start to the celebration and were having a great time. The watchman was happy to be alive.

The early evening was cool and the gentle breeze out of the north coming down the “Founder’s Rest” was welcomed by the crowds. Tule fog was forming in the lowest parts of the valley to west and slowly building and deepening as it creeped toward the village. Two loan sentries in one of the watchtowers near the Western gate could hear a great horned owl hooting near the edge of the forest as the moon was slowly rising. They did not have much to do except watch the odorous sanitary wagons come and go from the village out to the pits and back again. “This would be a good night for a hunt”, said one of the guards. The moon would be mostly full and bright and gave promise for a beautiful evening as the Harvest party was now in full swing. One guard was looking toward the west as the other sat sipping some smuggled ail. “’Hey! Would yah take a look at this!” he said. Far to the West there was a faint glow emanating from the forest on the side of a mountain ‘. “Have you ever seen such a thing?” Nay, I have not,” came the reply. “But maybe it has always been there, as now we are fifty feet higher than we have ever been before and would never have seen it. D’ yah think we should maybe tell the corporal of the guard?” “I say nay why spoil his fun tonight but, pray that it is not the start of a great fire a comin’ our way lad, and it would be just so, fir it to spoil the celebrations. I would nay want to miss a few pints when we are relieved tonight. And you wouldn’t want the corporal to find that ail now would you?” said the guard who first spotted the faint glow. His guess estimated the light to be about 10 miles from the village.

The night wore on with dancing, drinking, storytelling, and games for everyone. By the eleventh-hour mothers began to escort their children home and to bed. They would have more fun on the morrow. The breeze had stopped earlier in the evening and the Tule fog had grown into a large fog bank and was about a mile from the western wall. The moon had risen high in the eastern sky giving the fog a bright silvery glow. The guards still had two more hours of duty and were growing impatient with the slow passing of time. The guard who first noticed the glow from the forest a few hours earlier stood up and leaned out over the tower wall. “D’d yah hear anything Lad?”

“Nay! I only here the music comin’ from the plaza, and the laughter from the women, and that’s where I’d like ta be right now.” “Now, you come over hear and tell me what yah hear!” The lad approached the wall and leaned out. They both stared out towards the fog bank and listened carefully. A faint rumbling could be heard coming from the direction of the fog. Slowly their heads turned towards each other and they could see the fear creeping into the other’s face. They once again looked towards the fog. The glow in the fog had spread wide and bright torches appeared. Though they were about a mile from the western gate the guards could clearly see there were rams, catapults and hundreds if not thousands of troops coming out of the fog and heading straight for the village.

It was the witching hour when the call for the Corporal of the Guard was yelled from the tower near the western gate. “Corporal of the Guard to tower 10! Close the gates!” The Corporal rushed to the top of the wall near tower 10 and called up to the guards. “What is it? Why did you call me? Don’t you understand people are busy? The older guard yelled down at the Corporal, “Look out there and if ye don’ see what be there, then ye be daft as a duck or jest plain stupid!” Upon looking to the west, the corporal’s eyes widened. He turned and called down to the squad of militia standing by near the gates which had not yet been closed. “Close those damn gates! Sound the alarm! An army approaches from the West! Report to the commander of the guard to call out the militia!” He then began to yell as loud as he could. “TO ARMS! TO ARMS! PREPARE FOR BATTLE!”

As word of the impending danger spread through the crowds, a mild form of pandemonium was immediate as citizens ran in all directions tripping and falling over each other trying to reach their own chosen destinations. An officer of the defense militia shouted some orders to his troops who in turn started shouting orders to the crowds. “Calm down, do not panic! Everything is under control. All able body men and women report to the armories to draw weapons.” The officer ran to each of three armories with a platoon of militia and stationed a squad at each armory with instructions to pass out weapons and armor. The armories had always been well stocked with weapons and supplies due to the diligence of the Commander of the Defense militia. During the week following the completion of the wall, he, with his military foresight, had moved thousands of arrows and other arms to every tower for easy access. He would never be one to be accused of being ill prepared. The large metal alarm ring began to clang and would be heard by at least two other nearby villages.

What could have become complete chaos quickly turned to organized companies of defenders. The thousands of visitors from other villages had all received various levels of training for the militia over the years. Many had even brought their own weapons as a precaution because of the raid that took place four weeks prior to the harvest party. Their weapons were stored in the tent encampment outside the East gate. Now was the time to see if their training would be put to good use. Several riders were sent out to bring back the hopefully massing volunteers from the other villages. The guests from other villages passed their children to the wives and caretakers at the church and it was filling to capacity. They in turn reported to the armory to draw armor and bows. Women were trained in the use of bows. The Men drew halberds, lances, swords, and axes along with sturdy shields. Those with Calvary experience had found their armor and reported to the stables. Militia officers and non-commissioned officers had taken charge and began moving their defenders to the walls and forming defensive lines within.

The village had built 30 trebuchets that had been stored along the north wall near the new barracks. They were move to the center square. Two hundred men moved several hundred stone projectiles to piles near the trebuchets. The preparations for battle had been well rehearsed and the within twenty minutes most everything was in readiness for whatever threat was coming.

There were about two hundred patrons still slouched at the tables and on the ground in the south end refreshments plaza. They were all inebriated and some were just sloppy drunk. Among the inebriated were the three friends who began several hours earlier to see who could drink the most without throwing up. The husky red bearded miner leaned over his table and said to his friend, the muscular lumberjack, “Well, ah reck’in, this means dah party is over and it’s the end of good times (belch).” The lumberjack looked up at him and said, “I’ll drink to that (hic).” The watchman who kept up with them all night just fell over backwards and passed out.
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The Evolution of a Barbarian city

-by- Cactus (pen name)

Chapter 5

The Battle has Begun

The original settlers of Founder’s Rest had roots to a band of nomadic people who had no claims of belonging to any one country or ethnic group. They originated somewhere in Eastern Europe or Western Asia and for many years they were just another band of Barbarians with no name who had been pushed out of one area to another, and then pushed out again. To resist a larger force would have been fatal but raiding smaller tribes was a way of life. Their ignorance was profound and originally, they had nothing but the clothes they wore, the food they could kill or capture and a few weapons they could carry from one place to another. Their shelters were crudely constructed from tree branches and animal skins but served them well. Though they were ignorant they were also resilient. They persevered to learn new ways. Over time they adapted and overcame any and all threats or obstacles that confronted their meager and ignorant lives. Their group grew over several hundred years were slowly evolving into a more sophisticated society. They had been quick to accept new inventions, clothing, weapons, tactics and other skills into their tribe. Anything new that interested them they sought the secrets of its meaning and its adaptability. They welcomed strangers in smaller groups to join their band and over time they became an educated and honorable tribe. Anyone who became disrespectful or dishonest was banned from the group. The past one-hundred and fifty years found more English-speaking wanderers joining the tribe. The other mixed languages were soon forgotten, and English became the language of choice.

The tribe became more honorable in their trading with other people groups and were known to be trustworthy. The way of violence faded away and as a group they became more respectable. Word spread slowly but did reach even to the affluent or noble levels of society near and far. Many knights and former soldiers and even a few of noble decent had joined their group forgoing any ties to their previous nobility rights. As the tribe evolved their members learned to read and write. They adapted to military tactics, and most anything short of the use of gunpowder had been introduced to the tribe. Artists, mathematicians, physicians, engineers, carpenters, forgers and a myriad of other trades, and professions could be found to exist within the tribe even though they all led simple lives. Bartering was the way of trade. The past hundred years the tribe, which had grown to over three-thousand men women and children, grew tired of moving from place to place and wanted to settle in a perfect place that had everything they wanted or needed to carry on with life. As simple as it seemed to them, they could have just stopped and made anyplace their permanent home. They continued to wander and each year they moved to a new location sometimes only a few miles from the previous location. Eventually their aimless wanderings brought them to the Valley of the Moon.

The Valley was about 90 miles long by 75 miles wide at its widest point and was in an area of the Alps in eastern and central Europe. Many lakes and streams were scattered throughout the valley. Game and raw materials, minerals were all present. The valley was bordered on the north by several mountain peaks, which extended to the west and then wrapped themselves to the south in a horseshoe shape. That end of the valley would be theirs. Stretching from the southern mountains and back to the East from which the tribe approached were plains, gently rolling hills and some weather gouged canyons. The tribe had forded a large river ten miles before they entered the valley. The river flowed north to south and bended to the east across the plains. Vast dense spruce and pine forests with aspen Groves, some oak and other hardwood trees, and wild nut trees filled the valley and up to the tree line of the mountains. Many large meadows dotted the landscape and provided perfect choices for a village.

The tribe was not the first to settle in the valley, but they were the largest group of people to ever enter this lush paradise. They encountered at least 10 small bands of people in the valley. The bands were all fearful of such a large force thinking that they would be captured for slaves or destroyed. The newcomers proved to be friendly and offered many gifts of food and tools to the small settlements which were gratefully accepted. New friendships were kindled.

The tribe moved west into the horseshoe end of the valley. When they had reached a large meadow, which was almost 3 miles across and as wide, and flowed up a hill toward the mountains on the north side of the valley, they rested. They prayed. They had found their new home. They named it “Founders Rest”. This valley offered everything they could possibly have asked for. This is where they would build their village and vowed to never be pushed out again. They immediately began to plan and build their more modern structures of wood and stone. A new way of insulating the insides of the structures was developed by forcing clay mixed with straw into the cracks between the logs. Many masons had joined the tribe and stone floors and fireplaces were added to most of the buildings. Indoor lighting was provided by oil lamps which were developed by the metal workers who were trained in making weapons and farming instruments. The oil was obtained through trading with other villages and was considered a precious commodity.

The Tribe developed their little corner of the valley and enjoyed decades of peace. The plans for fortifications had been drawn up but were shelved because there were no threats from anyone. They still formed a militia and training was performed each month. Every type of industry that were represented in the mixed group had set up their prospective trades. Farming, horse breeding, cattle, sheep, and swine were brought to the valley and food was never lacking for anyone in the valley. Other villages shared in the prosperity brought to the valley by the tribe known only as Barbarians. Gold and silver were among the minerals that were discovered. Iron mining and a rock quarry were soon to be developed. Some precious gems had also been discovered high in the mountains. As a result, from the discovery and mining of the gold and silver, a monetary system was established, and coins were minted to be used in trade. Men and women learned to work for others and received money for their labors. The use of the crude coins soon spread to all points of the valley. Thus, was how the tribe was established in the Valley of the Moon at Founders Rest. Never would they move from their homes and their new lands.

In the 75 years since the Barbarians had moved into the valley, the fifteen smaller settlements grew to thirty villages averaging four-thousand citizens per village. Founders Rest was the largest settlement. The residents of Founder’s Rest still consider their community as a simple village, but in the years since their arrival, their population had increased to just short of fifteen thousand residents. Peace has pervaded over the entire valley for over one-hundred years and though they had a peaceful existence, the communities still had an awareness that led them to build security measures. An alarm system had been set up at each village. Huge metal rings were stretched between poles or trees and were struck with iron bars. The sound would resonate across the valley to other villages which in turn would resound the alarm so the more distant villages could also respond to the danger. Pending on the number of rings, or how close together they were, the nature and urgency of any threat could be determined. Each village had developed a standing militia that could respond immediately, and additional militia members could be assembled in less than an hour. The first responders would be cavalry and archers followed by foot soldiers. Even the farthest village could reach the point of emergency within two hours. A formal support agreement had been established requiring all villages to respond in the event of an emergency.

The citizens of Founder’s Rest celebrated their good fortunes and blissful lifestyle with an annual celebration which followed the Fall harvest. Tonight, was the largest celebration in over ten years. Including the residents and guests there would be 20 to 25 thousand people within the walls of the city. Tonight, their metal would be tested. Tonight, they would put words into action and would face an enemy of unknown origin or size. The outcry of “To Arms,” had raced across the city and those who were of fighting age, both men and women were quick to respond. Because of good training, discipline, and dedicated leadership, the citizens of founder’s Rest and their friends were ready to stand their ground.

Through the dense curtain of fog that had enveloped the valley, the rumblings of wooden carts and the shouts of thousands of soldiers filled the night. During the short time it took to organize the defense and man the walls the Invading army had moved to within a half mile of the village and stopped. The glow of the enemy torches was more visible now and the silhouettes of the enemy troops were becoming more distinct. There were rams and catapults spread across the center of the enemy line. Hundreds of foot soldiers were just in front of them. Cavalry and mounted archers were lined up at both ends. A group of Mounted men appeared in the Front of the army.

The commander of the defense Militia accompanied General Meade to the Top of the wall near tower 10. As they observed the massive army sitting across the meadows, the Commander said, “All defenses are manned and ready Sir. Why do you think they have stopped?” The General replied, I could only guess but maybe they are just making ready with last minute decisions. Have any other invaders been spotted?” No, Sir. Just what we see before us and we do not know how deep their ranks go.” “Then send out some scouts to discover their strength and weaknesses and report back as soon as possible.” The order was given, and the response was immediate.

The Paladin General of the invading army sat atop his mount accompanied by his army commanders and a wimpy nobleman of small stature who was stuffing his face with an apple. The nobleman was only along because he was to take charge of the village once the army had captured it. The general shouted to the commander on his right, “Summon the Captain who led the raiding party in this area last month.” A short time later the captain appeared before the Paladin.

“Your report on this village was different than what I see before me tonight! Why did you falsify your report?” The Captain at that moment wanted to be anywhere else but here. He swallowed hard and said, “Sir, I did not falsify my report! All was as I reported, and we brought back samples of the spoils that were to be gained. We were not discovered, and we only had to contain one watchman. The village was asleep when we arrived and when we left, Sir.” The paladin shouted, “Then how do you explain these great walls when you said there were only timber poles for walls?” “Sir, I assure you that my report was accurate…”, “Silence, you miserable dog! You have failed me and there is no room for failure, your reward for disobedience will be swift!” With the raising of his hand, four mounted archers moved forward from the ranks and filled the captain’s chest with arrows. “Should I have known of this wall I would have brought more rams, catapults, and more men. We will still be successful in our quest. Commanders make ready for attack!”

The twenty-five catapults were moved forward to about 200 yards from the walls. This would enable their deadly missiles to clear the walls and destroy the inner-village causing panic and chaos. The rams were sent ahead with axmen to breach the walls and gates. Archers positioned themselves in ranks ahead of the Catapults. When they received the signal, the would begin lofting their arrows into the fortifications. The cavalry would be held in reserve along with hundreds of additional troops. They would charge when the walls and gates were breached by the rams.

The signal was given, and the first rock projectiles flew high over the walls and landed with no effect. One crashed into the new church wall without damaging it. The children in the church began to scream and could be heard throughout the village as more stones began to rain over the walls. One stone crushed the new entertainment platform where they Provincial Players had been performing throughout the evening destroying the platform and several instruments left behind. The orders came from the wall to return fire. The trebuchets began firing and several of the catapults were destroyed or damaged with the first missiles launched by the huge machines. The archers showered arrows from the walls and towers upon the attackers. Many of the axmen were sheltered under the overhanging coverings of the rams. Some of the exposed lines of attacking archers were hit and many were killed or wounded, but they kept up their own barrage of their deadly projectiles.

Less than thirty out of the eighty rams reached the walls and gates to begin their hammering blows. Over half of the beastly machines were destroyed by the trebuchets and some were set ablaze by flaming arrows. Those that did arrive began to have immediate effects on the new walls. The walls were shaking but holding firm. Only one area near the western gate was taking any real damage.

At the first cry of “To Arms”, and the sounding of the alarm earlier in the evening, riders had been sent to the near-by villages to guide the reinforcements. The defenders on the east side of the city began to cheer and the east gates were opened. Several hundred reinforcements flooded through the gates and found their way to predetermined secondary defense positions to await orders.

From his advantage point high on the Western wall, General Meade expressed his thoughts aloud to the group of officers who were awaiting his orders. “There have been no provocations towards this invading army; no knowledge of their intents nor reason for their attack upon the village. We do not even know from whence they came. It can only be ascertained that their reason is for greed! Greed and the desire to conquer our village. This we will not allow! This we will overcome! This was not a battle of our choosing however, The Battle has begun, and we must prevail over our new enemies.”
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Evolution of the Barbarians

-by- Cactus (pen name)

Chapter 6

Here They Come

“All the ramparts are manned sir”, exclaimed the Commander of the First Defense Brigade, “What are your orders?” General Meade was deep in thought as he considered the army descending upon them and his defense options. He said to the Commander, “Assemble the officers at the base of tower 10 and await instructions. We have no time to lose.” At that same moment, two more projectiles crashed into the church. Its walls shook and were in danger of crumbling. A call went out,” Masons to the church, we must save it. Shore up those walls.” Thirty men broke ranks and went to the church to reinforce the walls. Within minutes the walls were shored up and reinforced. An evacuation of the children was necessary, and they were moved to an area near the East gates.

The village’s thirty trebuchets proved to be more accurate than the catapults of the enemy. These magnificent beastly weapons were guided by flagmen atop the west wall. With almost every stone launched there were results of men being crushed or another ram or catapult being destroyed. Only three of the trebuchets were put out of action by the enemy catapults. As the rams closed in on the walls, they could not be touched by the village artillery. Several piles of stone that had been stored on the top ramparts were cast down upon the soldiers and rams at the base of the walls. This had little effect on the rams, but the axmen were being crushed by many of the heavy stones. A few of the rams were set afire with flaming arrows from the towers, but most were impervious to the fire due to a coating of water-soaked skins that covered the roofs.

One of the patrols had returned through the south gate with a report on the invading army. The Lieutenant reported to the General and officers at the base of tower 10. “Sir, we were able to completely view the entire army and even sent two men deeper into the forest to see if there were any reserves in hiding. There are no reserves, Sir, and the army has no more heavy weapons other than what have already been deployed. There is a total of 5000 to 5500 enemy troops of which about five hundred of them are cavalry.” Excellent report Lieutenant. Return to your troop and wait orders.”

The lieutenant left and the General turned to his officers. “Gentlemen, I need the counts of available troops. Colonel Clark. How many cavalry troops to you have ready?” Clark replied, “we have two-thousand heavy defense cavalry and twenty-five hundred attack troops at the ready sir.” “Colonel Hobbs, how many defending pike men and sword men do you have?” “Sir, we have about four-thousands of each spread between the north and south sides of the village awaiting your orders.” “Commander Jagerman, how are your axmen?” The colonel replied, “I have close to five thousand and growing with the incoming reinforcements, sir.” “Commander Marsh, how are your archers holding?” The commander cleared his throat before speaking, “Sir, about 2000 archers are along the walls and towers and about 400 in reserve we have had some casualties, but the ladies are still able to keep the pressure on the bas…, er enemy, sir.” “Very well, Gentlemen, it is time to take the battle to them!”

“Commander Marsh assemble any reserve archers you have on the roof tops and in the buildings closest to the West gate. The rest of your archers are to pull together to be able to direct their fire into the compound near the gate.” The General continued, “Colonel Clark, you are to divide your offensive cavalry into two attack forces and post them at the south and north gates. When the signal comes, they are to ride out and attack the enemy troops from both sides. They will have to ride out about one half mile before they attack to achieve surprise.” “Colonel Jagerman, your axmen will be divided into three groups Two groups will be at the same two gates and will charge the enemy from outside the walls circling around on both sides. Your third group of axmen will be lined up across the road two hundred feet inside the west gate as a reception committee for our guests.” “Finally, Colonel Hobbs, your pike men will be positioned behind the axmen, giving them as much protection as you can, and between the buildings lining the roadway towards the square. None of their cavalry must get through. The swordsmen will assemble behind the buildings and along the west wall to close in from the sides and surround the enemy when they enter.”

“Gentlemen there will be two signals the first will be for the cavalry and the axmen to leave the gates and commence their attack. The second signal will be to open the gates and let the horde enter our trap. Are there any questions?” The officers all looked around at each other and back to the General. “Sir isn’t this too risky?” Asked Commander Marsh. “Commander, the risk is in our favor, I believe the real danger will be if your archers can’t avoid hitting our own troops.” They all laughed. With his final order, the General said, Gentlemen, I have never been prouder of our village or the people of this valley as I have at this time. You, gentlemen, are the back bone of our community and I am proud to serve with you. Let’s get the job done, my friends! Gentlemen you have your orders. Be ready to launch in fifteen minutes. Dismissed?” Without hesitation the officers returned to their units and met with their subordinates.

The rams along the walls were hammering at the masonry structure and some of the stones were loosening. There was one ram at the gate and was splintering some of the heavy timber in the gate but not yet penetrating. The Enemy Paladin General was sensing the collapse of the walls or gate was imminent and he ordered his ground troops to split into two groups and advance. Orders were given to the cavalry to prepare to charge when the gates are breached. He was salivating at the thought of a quick victory. The relatively light defense put up by the defenders would be no match for his armies and victory would be his by morning.

Within ten minutes the entire defense militia of close to twenty-thousand men and women were positioned at the gates and along the walls. The archers, who were mostly the women, had been thinning the approaching enemy troops with their precise marksmanship. Many of our own have fallen to the arrows of the enemy archers, but the morale was high, and the archers aim continued to be true.

The loud crunching sounds of the wooden rams against the thick walls and gates could be heard throughout the city. The defending troops were quiet, standing steadfast with resolve that they would be successful in defending the city against such an enormous army. The minutes seemed like hours to the defenders as they awaited the impending battle where many will die, but they know they must hold. Sweat poured from their foreheads and their palms were so moist it was hard for the spearmen to hold their Halberds.

A flaming arrow was fired down the center of the city which put into action the Cavalry and the axmen who started pouring through the southern and northern gates on the way to meet their enemy. A minute later a second signal was delivered and the bars across the western gate were dropped to the ground. At the same moment that the bars were dropped a large hole was punched through by the rams just forty feet away from the gate. The upper ramparts and parapets started collapsing in the immediate area and many women archers died when they fell and were crushed by falling debris.

The Paladin General of the invading army watched as the walls began to crumble and the gate was pushed open by the rams. He barked his orders to his commanders to attack. “Send them all! Everyone through the gates and the breach. I will lead the Cavalry and the city will be ours tonight!” He turned to the wimpy nobleman and said, “You need to be in on this too if you intend to be the governor, you idiot!” The nobleman looked at the General and said, “You can’t talk to me that way General, remember that my father has financed this silly campaign of yours. All I have to say is that you are squandering his money and you will be stripped of your troops and sent home.” The General looked at the Nobleman with piercing eyes and said, “I already talked with your father and he said for me to make a man out of you, you greasy, whimpering piece of pig fat. Now get in there and fight!” Without further hesitation or arguing, they both joined the cavalry charge and headed for the opened gate.

The loud bellowing yell from the Commander Marsh was heard by everyone within 300 feet of the western gate. “Steady men! The time is now! Here they come!”


The Evolution of the Barbarians

-by- Cactus (pen name)

Chapter 7

Victory is Ours!

The first signal of a flaming arrow was observed by the entire village as it arched high over the defender’s heads at the western gate and landed in the middle of the road toward the center of the village. The response was immediate. The north and south gates flew open and the cavalry charged out towards an area that would be about one-half mile from the right and left flanks of the invading army. The axmen quickly poured through the gates and advanced along the walls towards their foe. Both forces raced to reach their positions. Just as they reached their positions still out of view by the enemy forces, the second signal of 2 flamed arrows was launched and all knew that the western gate was being opened. Their orders were to hold until the enemy cavalry was advancing into the city through the gate. At that time, they would attack the enemy troops that were still outside the city walls and destroy them.

The walls near the gate were crumbling but elsewhere along the western wall they held firm. Several more rams had been put out of action due to the accuracy of the archers on the walls. The men operating the rams were slowly picked off as they carelessly exposed themselves. Several of the village archers along the ramparts and in the towers were lost from enemy arrows. More died from being crushed as they fell and heavy beams and stones from the walls fell upon them when the rams were breaking through.

The two archer sentries who first spotted the enemy and sounded the alarm had quickly overcome their initial fear and each of them accounted for 10 or more of the enemy dead or dying. The younger sentry said to his friend, “How many di’ ye have killed now, my friend?” His friend replied, after loosing another shaft at an exposed man under a ram roof; the arrow piercing deep into the man’s left side slicing through the heart. “Aye, that be eleven fer me lad! What a fine shot that be, even though I say it myself!” “HA!” said the lad, “Ye should ‘ave joined me with the ail when ye ‘ad the chance. It improves the eye fer aimin’ it does. I’ve ya’ beat by five more, an’ I think ye will not catch me now.” They both laughed and strung two more arrows.

The signal was sent and the bars on the gate had been dropped but still blocked the gate from moving freely. At first the gate did not move until one more hit by the ram pushed it open about five feet. A loud cheer was sounded by the attacking infantry. They were now storming through the opening in the wall and charging the defensive line of axmen and spearmen that were stretched across the road. The clang of metal rang sounded loudly as ax and swords were swung viciously and cutting deeply through the thin armor of the each of the opposing forces. Many of the enemy axmen split off and began spreading out around the buildings. They had not advanced more than 150 feet archers from the roof tops and the walls began to cut them down. The armor was heaviest in front, but their back sides had little protection from the darts of death. Defending swordsmen hidden around the buildings closed in and started cutting down the surprised enemy troops.

The enemy Paladin General observing the opened gates gave the order for his cavalry to charge. They would charge in two waves with him, his personal guard, and the nobleman, following the first wave. The first wave had almost three-hundred mounted archers and light cavalry. The second wave had close to two-hundred. Many in the first wave were cut down by archers in the towers as they approached the gate.

The Colonel Clark’s cavalry on the south flank of the enemy forces started their charge as the first horsemen of the enemy had entered through the gate. They were closing quickly on the ground troops who were still outside the walls. The defending axmen were now within three hundred feet of the attacking ground troops before the alarm was raised within the enemy ranks. “Run, before we are lost!” We are being attacked from our side!”

Totally taken by surprise the enemy foot soldiers began to turn and run towards the northwest. There were about one thousand of them that started to flee. Before they got very far, the Clark’s troops on the north side flank began to close in and the escaping troops turned to the west. They were almost a half mile from the gate when they ran directly into the pits that were dug for the body wastes from the village. Several hundred fell into the pits with more piling on top of them and drowning the first to fall. Those that were fortunate to avoid the pits were soon cut down by their pursuers. None were left alive. The Commander Jagerman’s axmen quickly surrounded the enemy forces preventing any more from trying to escape. Their blades were swift and hit home stroke after stroke. Some fell from the enemy’s efforts to counter attack, but the defenders overwhelming numbers proved too much, and they were quickly cut down. Those that might have surrendered fell next to their tribesmen just as dead.

The charging Paladin General was already inside the city and the rest of his cavalry were entering the gate unaware of the impending chaos and destruction of the ground forces which were still outside of the walls. Ahead of him he saw the defending ranks of axmen, swordsmen and pike men standing off his cavalry. He saw his enemies ranks slowly moving backwards deeper into the city. His first thoughts were that he would soon have a victory. As he drew nearer to the front of the battle, he observed many of his horsemen lying dead on the ground and some were under dead horses. He didn’t understand why so many had fallen to so few and so fast. He did not see the arrows in their bodies at first. He pushed forward and shouted orders for his troops to advance. He also did not see the gates being closed behind the last of his cavalry when they entered the village.

The defensive line was holding their own against the advancing mounted enemy. The ground that was being given was done so on purpose to draw the enemy deeper into the city. They slashed at the enemy troops with sword, ax and halberds. Many men died on the line but many more of the enemy were falling never to rise again. The spearmen with their long-shafted halberds kept the enemy cavalry from slicing through their brethren with their lances or swords. General Meade’s trap was working just as he had planned. The troops outside the fort were over whelming the enemy forces. The catapults had ceased their bombardment; the rams had stopped pounding the walls; and no more troops were coming in through the collapsed section of the wall. Now it was time to spring the trap on the inside.

Another signal of three arrows was launched toward the east gate. The heavy cavalry moved quickly and lined up two-hundred yards behind the battle line. The archers on the roofs and the towers focused all their efforts on the enemy troops inside the walls. Swordsmen and axmen that were held in reserve were called into action. They killed off the remaining ground troops that had entered through the wall and then moved to the gate area behind the enemy cavalry surrounding them. They pressed on the cavalry from the rear.

The Colonel Clark’s defensive cavalry was led by Commander Alexander. When the signal came, he led his troops at the gallop toward the defensive line and the enemy cavalry just beyond. At the precise moment when the cavalry were just one-hundred yards from the line, the line fell away to the sides to allow the cavalry to have their way with what was left of the enemy troops.

The enemy General realized his fatal mistake when the village’s cavalry was coming at his army at a full gallop, he yelled, “RETREAT! Get out and reform!” He still had not realized that he and his elite cavalry were cut off, surrounded and losing the battle.

He turned his steed and tried to make his way to the gate. For the first time since he had become a general in the army, he tasted true fear! The dead and dying all around him were not those of the enemy but his own trusted cavalry!

A shout from Commander Marsh of the archers was heard over the clanging of metal and the screams of the dying men. “There he is! The Paladin leader! Kill him!” High on the wall, an expert marksman, Alaina, the woman Archer who was the lead trainer of women archers for all the Valley of the Moon’s villages, rose to her feet. She chose an arrow with perfect fletchings and dampened them slightly with her tongue. She notched the shaft to her bow and drew it fully to her cheek and waited for the perfect time to launch. The Paladin General was moving toward the closed gate and stopped his steed when he realized he was surrounded, and the gate was closed. That momentary pause was the right time. Alaina let loose her dart of death which flew true to the mark. The shaft penetrated the thin armor between the shoulder blades of the Paladin and pierced his heart. His body fell to the earth and was crushed under the hooves of his panicked steed. Three other archers trained their arrows on the crying Nobleman who was waving his hands in the air hoping to stave off his imminent doom. His fate was not unlike his former General’s. Three arrows punctured his heart and lungs and before he could even take a last breath, the darkness of death overcame him, and his limp body fell from the saddle and was trampled by the horses around him.

The shouted command of “No quarters! No captives!”, was music to the defender’s ears. In the frenzy of battle, the clanging of steel blades against the thin walled armor of the mounted enemy, no mercy was shown. Not one of the enemy attackers would be left alive. The slaughter would be complete. Moments later a great roar was heard throughout the village. The battle had been won.

It was over! Though many brave men and women were lost, peace would once again come to the village. Never again would the people of the Valley of the Moon be so lax in their security or complain about the drudgery of their military training. Walls would be rebuilt, and more defenses would be constructed. The armories would be restocked and a new respect for the leadership of the village would fill the hearts and minds of the villagers. The camaraderie of the village and the neighboring villages was strengthened. All knew they were safe once more. Their village would no longer be just another village but become a mighty city that would be able to defend from any danger whatever may come. The citizens were tired, angry, and yet joyful that they survived. They all sensed that they would no more be mere defenders of their city but would take the battle to their enemies. This night would no longer be remembered as Celebration of the Harvest but one of survival and victory over an oppressive army that came from the west. Among the shouts of joy came the noble cry, “Victory is Ours!”. This cry of victory was euphorically shouted throughout the city that all would hear and cheer.

The husky red bearded miner and the muscular lumberjack who were too inebriated to even stand up and join the fight, pulled their night watchman friend off the ground sat him at the table between them. They had heard the noise of battle coming from the west end of the village, and then they heard loud cheering. They heard a loud voice that carried over the cheering crowd yelling, “Victory is ours”. The lumberjack leaned over and slapped his red bearded friend on the back and said, “I’ll drink to that!” And they did!


Evolution of the Barbarians

-by- Cactus (pen name)

Chapter 8

New Pride – New Determination

Flames of vengeance would burn hot in the minds and hearts of the citizens of the Valley of the Moon. Though the victory was complete over the invading Army from the west, the conundrum regarding those that sent them and why was overwhelming. Answers were needed, demanded and no peace would really be known until the lust for revenge was satisfied. Somewhere out there in the lands to the West was an enemy that needed to pay for their unprovoked attack. They had to be found, punished, destroyed! In the frenzy of the battle none of the enemy had survived to disclose their origin. A mistake? Possibly. This lack of knowledge exacerbated the flames of revenge that would hold a permanent place in the consciousness of the residents of the Valley.

Sledges were converted to wheeled platforms for hauling the dead enemy troops and horses to deep pits located three miles southwest of the city. The location was directly adjacent to the area where the enemy army had emerged from the forest entering the Valley of the Moon. Over 5,000 enemy corpses were cast into the pits to be burned. The wreckage of the destroyed catapults and rams were used as fuel to cremate the enemy dead. Those that remained intact were placed in the village’s weapons inventory. The weapon’s simple design would be copied and improved by the village engineers. It took three weeks to complete the cremations and the ashes were covered with earth. A large vertical sign using the flat bed of a former sledge was erected facing the west at the burial site. Craftsmen carved a message and filled in the deep letters with clay blackened with soot from the ashes in the pits. It read, “If ye cometh in Peace, ye be welcomed to the Valley of the Moon. It ye cometh not in Peace ye shall be buried here.”

The losses from the city and the reinforcements were light in comparison. When the counts were compiled, 747 defenders had paid the ultimate price with their lives and, 392 others recovered from their wounds. While the pits were being dug for the enemy dead, individual graves were dug, and grave markers constructed for the perished defenders. The dead were honored and buried in a lush area of the meadow on the hill just north of the city. The Aspens encouraged by the autumn breeze had begun dropping their golden leaves as if they were tears being shed in respect for the dead. The site was named “The Hero’s Rest”. A stone monument was built, and the names of the dead would be engraved by a team of craftsmen into ten large stones that surrounded the monument. A period of mourning was declared and would last for thirty days.

During the thirty days of mourning the leadership representing many neighboring towns and provinces met and developed resolutions and propositions to present to the citizens of the area at a meeting which would be held at the end of the period of mourning. The Valley had been known by distant provinces as the “Province of The Valley of the Moon” because it included so many villages. The former little barbarian village was now considered a city and had a name to be proud of, “Athamas”. There were five other cities that were directly under the rule of Athamas. Colamas had grown from four-thousand residents to nine-thousand in less than 5 years. Likewise, the cities of Bogamas, Gregamas, Megamas, and Regamas had similar rates of growth over relatively short periods of time. These cities had been developed through the overflow of immigrants that migrated from the north, south, and east who came to settle in the city of Athamas. Representatives from the other villages in the province and from other provinces as far as 100 miles also attended the event. The word of the invasion from the west had quickly spread far across the land. What had become a danger to those in the Valley became a deep concern for those neighboring provinces as well.

The convention of the area residents was held over a period of three days and had many positive results. After two hours of presentations and explanations of the resolutions and propositions, the meeting was adjourned until the next day and the area residents provided a huge feast. People had brought food and drink to the event and a small tent city had been erected the previous week to accommodate thousands.

The next two days a series of ballots had been cast. A vast reorganization of the provincial government was happening immediately. A new shorter name for the Province would be “Valotmoon”. Athamas would be renowned as the “Avenging City of Valotmoon”. Overwhelmingly ballots were cast in favor of induction all the Valley villages into the tribe which would be known under a new name, “Avengers of Valotmoon”. “AoV” and would be on the new Coat of arms, banners, and flags which would be displayed throughout the tribal territories. Along with the new tribal Establishment were resolutions and ballots that allowed other self-governing leaders who represented many cities of their own, to apply and if accepted, become an honored member of the tribe and yet retain their rule over their own groups of cities.

Also established was the leader of the Newly formed Tribe. The Former Mayor and Paladin General of the City, Archibald Meade, was elected as Supreme Leader and founder of the tribe. He would develop a strong council in the tribal government which would share in the decisions of tribal concerns and have certain powers over varied factions within the tribe.

The foundation of revenge had been laid during the convention. In addition to the new military and leadership changes initiated by the citizens, a new series of academies would be established in the tribal cities for training Noblemen who would assume Governorship positions over potential future territorial villages. Each self-governing tribal member would be responsible for developing their own Academies, city infrastructures and armies. They would be responsible to the tribe for their actions and participations in tribal defensive or offensive operations.

A new taxation plan had been presented and voted into law to help pay for the new infrastructure, development of trade routes, and military training that would need to be established. New skills were needed and developed and shared throughout the tribe to enhance the cities strengths and meet military necessities.

The final day of the convention was mostly for the six cities that were under the direct rule of Sir Meade and his council representatives. Many of the warriors were honored for their valor during the defense of the of the city. There were many promotions in the ranks; Sergeants, lieutenants, Captains, Commanders and even a new Paladin General.

A few of the most celebrated promotions were those of Colonel Clark, Colonel who was in charge of the cavalry, was promoted to Paladin General and would be in command over the entire military forces of all six cities. Commander Marsh of the defensive archers was promoted to Colonel and would oversee all defensive troops and logistical support. Commander Alexander, the Calvary Commander who had bravely charged and over whelmed the enemy with his Heavy Calvary also received the rank of Colonel and would oversee the offensive field operations Directly under Paladin General Clark. The Master Archer Alaina who slayed the invading Paladin General was promoted to Commander of the archers and would defend the city in the event of future attacks.

Over the next few months through the relatively mild winter and into the spring, many things would transpire in the Valley of the Moon. Scores of weapons that were collected from the battlegrounds would be stored into the armories or forged into plows or other useful tools. Many of the reinforcements that came to the aid of the city had taken up permanent residence in Athamas. Many were inducted into the new army that was being formed. In just a few months the little Barbarian village would grow from 15,000 residents to a large city of over 30,000. The defense brigade which were militia volunteers would grow into a powerful army of over 15,000 troops. A new defensive support network was being developed and in addition to the 4000 city defense troops in Athamas, many supporting troops from other villages and cities throughout the Valley were encamped around the city.

During this period of recovery and regeneration, not only a new and much stronger offensive military machine was being developed, but additionally, hundreds of new homes and business establishments would be constructed where tents had once been erected to handle the flood of new residents. New trade routes were established between cities in other provinces across the mountains and plains to the north, south, and east. There would be no shortages of food or materials for building. Horses were brought in from the southern plains and strong cavalry battalions were formed. The army and multitude of other public services which seemingly sprang up overnight. Carpenters were employed to build new and improved catapults, rams, and defensive trebuchets. Forgers worked long hours to make new weapons. Army training camps were established outside the city for the new trainees which were to fill the ranks of the new army. Never again would this seemingly helpless city be a victim preyed upon at the leisure of invading armies. As it was in Athamas, so was it in the other five cities under their leader, Sir Meade. An underlying binding force that permeated the entire population was the promise that there would eventually be a satisfying revenge.

The origin of the invading army was not known, but the leadership vowed to find out who had attacked their city and killed their friends. Groups of spies were organized from men and women who spoke several languages and had varied talents or skills that would be needed in their ventures to the west. Groups of two to four spies of spies would be sent into the west from whence the invading army had come. Their mission would be to seek the origin of the invading army, gather military and superstructure information then report back to the Athamas. In all, ten groups of spies were commissioned from the six cities to seek the origin of the enemy army. Every two weeks a group would be sent. A month would pass, then two, and after three there would still be no word from any of the spies. Over five months all ten groups had been deployed to search for the truth. The determination of the leadership and the populace would be, do what it takes to find the dung heap from which the invading vermin had crawled then eliminate it from the face of the earth to avenge those that lie in “The Hero’s Rest.”

Seemingly in a blink of an eye they were in the sixth month after the battle. New friendships are kindled, a new Government, new promises, new hope, and a new pride and determination. The pride of being winners in the face of humility and possible defeat, and determination to find and destroy an enemy who without warning, took so many lives of their loved ones and changed the directions of their own lives forever. A month had passed since the last group of spies had been deployed to the west in hopes to discover who was responsible for the attack on their city. The yearning for information tested the patience of the citizens.

The additions of new troops to the army and focus on the daily tasks kept the tempers of residents of Athamas in check. It was now April and a warm pleasant spring day when a loud call came from one of the sentries at the western gate. “Rider comin’! Corporal of the Guard! Rider comin’ in.” The word of the rider approaching the city swiftly spread faster than a wild fire on a windy day. Thousands of residents and troops in training paused what they were doing and those that could, affixed their eyes upon the Western gate. Could this be what they had been longing for?
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Evolution of the Barbarians

-by- Cactus (pen name)

Chapter 9

The road to Hohenwerfen

The month of April in the Valley of the Moon was always pleasant and full of life. Cool nights and warm days along with a few spring showers brought an abundance of wild flowers that carpeted the meadows in a brilliant rainbow of colors. These warmer days brought the deciduous trees from mere buds to bright fresh green leaves. On this warm spring day, wildlife was abundant in the meadows! Deer and moose, also known as elk, in this eastern European territory, were not shy as they filtered into the meadows near the streams and lakes. The mild winter afforded more calves and fawns to survive, thrive and frolic in the pastures near their mothers. The birds of prey had no problems finding fresh food during each of their lofty hunts as rabbits and other offerings were also abundant. It would be a good year for hunting and harvesting. The farmers had an early start on their planting and would produce much more this year if the mild weather did not turn to a freeze. The livestock herds produced more than expected as well. It was on this day that many questions and prayers would be answered.

The sentries in tower ten near the western gate of the city were the same two who first spotted the invading army advancing on their village six months ago. The older of the two was gazing across the meadow watching a herd of deer grazing by a small pond which had formed from the spring runoff. Four fawns were prancing and chasing each other around the pond. He looked back at his partner who was re-stringing his bow and said, “Lad, ‘ad ye ever seen such a fine day as this? The perfect weather and the glory of the animals at play in the fields? Ah what a fine day it ‘tis indeed.? The younger of the two looked up from his task and said, “Aye, ye old fart! Tis jist like yesterday an’ the day ‘afore that. Where ‘as yer head been all this time? Stuck in a pickle barrel I assume.” The elder sentry, gave him a scowled look and said, “Y’ur jist like a child who dun’ know how to enjoy a fine day and the simple pleasures it per-vides.” He then turned back towards the meadow and his gaze caught a distant movement which he supposed was not another deer. “Lad! Come here an’ tell me what ye see! Be quick now!” Somewhat annoyed by his partner’s interruptions, he laid down his bow and walked to the tower wall. “I sees the stupid deer ye be a watchin’ an’….” “Nay, nay,” interrupted the elder, “Look out there beyond the pond. Tells me whatcha’ sees!” With a second look the young lad’s eyes widened and he almost whispered, “Tis a rider, I see, it tis. Aye a rider!” The elder sentry leaned over the edge of the tower wall and yelled down to the guards at the gate, “Rider comin’! Corporal of the Guard! Rider comin’ in.”

A single rider approached the rebuilt and reinforced Western Gate. He was the lone survivor from a group of scouts that were sent to the west just six weeks earlier to search for the origin of the enemy army. Each group were to operate separately from each other and to avoid being at the same locations at the same time to lessen the chance of detection. However, they did have means of communications such as setting up rocks or branches in special ways that only the scouts would understand. The closer he got to the gate the better the view the sentries had of him. They noticed blood stains on his torn clothing and his left arm was in a sling. The elder sentry called down to the guards at the gate, “‘ey, ‘ave someone fetch the doctor, an’ someone go out ‘n fetch ‘im! He be wounded fir shore an he don’ look so good.”

The call went out for the city physician who was quickly located and headed for the gate. The gate was opened, and two riders went out to escort the man to the city. The rider was taken to the guard house near the base of tower ten where the physician met with him. The gash across his chest was not as bad as the dried blood on his ragged clothes had indicated. It could be cleaned and treated immediately. The broken arm which was splinted and in the sling was of more concern to the doctor. He said the arm would have to be reset so the bone could heal properly. The rider said he had important information and insisted that he must report to the council immediately. The wound and arm would have to wait.

Despite the objections of the doctor, he was escorted to the headquarters to present his report to the Council. Most of the council members and representatives from the six cities were present for a scheduled meeting. A clerk approached the Supreme Leader, Sir Archibald Meade, and said, “Sir, Bentz Andris from one of the scouting groups has returned and desires to make his report.” “Show him in.” said Meade. Upon seeing the scout’s haggard condition immediately ordered food and ale brought in. He ordered that the scout be taken to a private room where he could clean up, have his wounds tended to, and change into fresh clothes. The doctor was summoned to help dress his wounds. The arm would have to wait but a fresh sling was provided. Painful as it was, and with the doctor’s help, Bentz was able to clean up and change his clothes and have a fresh dressing placed on his wound. Thirty minutes later he returned to the council chambers and took a few moments to consume some food before beginning his report. “Thank you, sir, for the chance to clean up, and for the food set before me. It has been three days since I have eaten last, and that was a small snake I happened upon on my return journey.”

“My companions and I traveled west through the dense forest following a crude road that had been cut through the trees. A few miles from here the road turned Southwest. We eventually came to a high pass through the mountains and followed some signs left by the previous scouts. The trail led us to a long valley which again turned west and then to the North. We past many small hamlets and had traveled about a week when we came upon the first of two larger villages and a larger town. This first village was ‘Schladming’. We spent three days gathering what information we could. Fortunately, they spoke German which is my native tongue. I learned they are Austrians and their ruler is a Prince-Archbishop Matthaus Lan von Wellenburg who rules the territory from Salzburg which is to the north of the valley. We also learned that the Prince left a Herzod, which is German for a Duke, in charge of his rather large army in or near a town called Werfen and was looking for volunteers for his army if we were interested. There are 1500 troops stationed at an outpost within the village who were sent from Werfen to keep order and protect the area from intruders. The village has about 4500 people who are mostly miners and farmers. We had to leave because people had become suspicious of us and we heard the military had sent out patrols looking for us.” Bentz paused for a few moments to take a few more bites of his meal and drink some ale before he continued.

“Over the next couple of days, we had passed more smaller hamlets but nothing worth investigating. We then came upon a larger village of Radstadt and entered it in the middle of the day. Everyone seemed friendly to us even though we were strangers. One of my companions who spoke French heard a couple men speaking French. He introduced himself as an entrepreneur and was thinking of setting up a trade shop in the area. The Frenchmen said that it might not be a good idea to set up a business because the Duke who doesn’t like foreigners is threatening to push them out of the territory. They said the Prince Archbishop does not know what the Duke has been doing with his army. The Duke is in the castle of Hohenwerfen which belongs to the Prince Archbishop. There is an encampment of about 2000 troops just north of the village and there are about 6000 people living in Radstadt and several surrounding farms. Again, mining is one of the principal means of income for the village.

Sir Meade interrupted his report by saying, “Mr. Andris in your gathering of information did you learn anything about an army that may have traveled through the area or maybe even came from those villages?” Bentz answered, “Not at that time sir but we did gather more information later regarding an army.” “And you said there are about thirty-five hundred troops between those two villages?”, asked one of the council members. “Yes Sir, but they are about 30 miles apart.” “Please continue, Mr. Andris”, said Meade.

“Three weeks ago, my friends and I tied our horses in a grove of trees outside of a sizable city. It was early evening and the moon had not yet risen. A sign was posted near the city gate which read, 'Dies ist die Stadt der Werfen: Lass deine Knochen nicht ruhen, ohne deine Steuern zu zahlen', which means, This is the city of throwing: do not let your bones rest without paying your taxes.’ This was the city we were searching for, named ‘Werfen’. We approached a gate that was green in color and there were two guards. We said good evening to the guards, and one asked what our business was in the city. I said we were just traveling buy and wanted to visit a tavern before continuing our journey. He asked where we were from and where were we headed. I told him we were from Schladming and were heading to Salzburg. The other guard who seemed to be senior to the first guard, said it would be okay, but we should leave before morning unless we had money to pay taxes. He said there were a couple taverns close by and don’t get lost. I thanked him and said we would only be a couple of hours. We knew that the best place to gather information was in a tavern. We walked around for a few minutes until we came to a sizable tavern named ‘The Green Gate Tavern’. We separated and I went in first because German would be the main language spoken there. I entered a large dimly lit room and quickly mingled among the numerous inebriated vermin and painted women. There was a second smaller room in the back of the tavern, and I found a table near the rear to make observations and to gather what information I could. In the next few minutes each of my companions had entered and spread out in opposite parts of the main room. I was able to befriend and talk to a drunk soldier from the city guard,” said Bentz. He took two more bites of the venison dinner and drank half a mug of ale before he continued. An attendant came with a fresh mug of ale and removed the empty one.

“In the village of Radstadt we were able to trade some of our gold and silver for coins that we could use in the local taverns. I bought the soldier a pint of mead and started shifting the conversation from family and city life to the military and praised him for being in the Archbishop’s guard. He slurred his words and the conversation drifted to the subject about their army, located in ‘Festung Hohenwerfen’, the Castle near the city. He complained that about half of the army had marched to the east to capture a village for the Duke. He thinks the Duke was using the army for his own purpose of setting up his own little empire. He said that about five-thousand troops left on the mission and were never heard from again. Some of his friends were with that army. Sirs, that would be the army that had attacked Athamas.” Bentz paused for a few seconds to collect his thoughts, “The guard told me that scouts had been sent out to search for the army, but they returned in a couple months and reported seeing a large sign near the edge of a meadow. They also saw a large city with great walls just three miles away and some troops heading in their direction, so they dared not to go any farther. Apparently one of the scouts understood the message and brought it back to the Duke. What the guard had heard, was the Duke was so angry that he grabbed a sword and almost cut the scout in two who had translated the message. The guard was agitated because there were rumors that the Duke intended to send another army to go find out what happened to the first army and the nobleman who was his son. He said if that happened, he would have to leave his family in Werfen and go with the army. I asked him how many people lived in the city and he guessed that maybe 8,000 to 10,000. When I asked about the guard, he was hesitant about answering, but said there were almost ten-thousand men and the duke was looking for more volunteers. Many of the villages in the area were forced send their young men join the Duke’s army. Soldiers like himself would get reward money if they found men who would volunteer for the army. In the morning he was going to take me to his sergeant to get a reward. Before I could ask him any more questions, we were interrupted.” Bentz paused and took a couple more bites of food and drank some more ale.

“What do you mean you were interrupted,” asked one of the council members. Bentz looked over at the councilman and said, “Pardon me, sir. I just had to have a couple more bites. I am still starved.” Sir Meade added, “Take your time and continue when you are ready Mr. Andris. We are glad to have you back and able to give this report.”

Bentz continued to eat for another couple minutes and then continued his report. “Sirs, the interruption was when a contingent of the city guard burst into the Tavern and shouted declaring there were more enemy scouts in the city and asked if anyone had seen any strangers. A patron in the outer room quickly pointed out my companions and said they were Frenchmen and had been asking questions. Both drew their swords and started fighting the guards. They killed two of the guards and I knew I had to leave to get the information back to Athamas. The guard I had befriended looked at me and was about to yell so I hit him and knocked him out. I laid his head on the table as if he had passed out. No one saw me because they were all looking toward the other room. There was a panic when the fight started, and people were leaving as fast as they could get by the guards. I followed them. Just before I reached the door, I saw one of my friends go down when three of the guards rushed him. I don’t know if they killed him or not. The other partner shouted, ‘fly with the wind my friend’, as he too was being rushed by the guards. He was telling me to escape.” Bentz hung his head for a moment, and said, “I could have helped them. I should have helped them! Three of us could have possibly escaped.” Sir Meade exclaimed, “No, sir, you did the right thing! Should you have met the same fate as your brothers, we would still be waiting to find out who our enemies were. You have done well.” “Yes sir, you are right. There really wasn’t anything I could do except leave”, he paused. “When I left the tavern, everyone was running to the left, but I had turned to the right and was heading toward the gate of the city. I heard someone shout behind me, ‘there goes another one. Get him!’ When I heard the shout, I started running but slowed to a walk when I got close to the gate. I said good night to the guards and walked through the gate unquestioned. Outside of the gate I turned to look back. A crowd of men rounded the corner of a building and were shouting. I suppose that saved me because the guards at the gate hearing and seeing the approaching crowd, quickly closed the gate. I ran to the grove of trees where we had tied our horses and left taking my friend’s horses with me.”

Sir Meade was a little puzzled and asked, “How did you get your broken arm and wounds?” “Sir, the wound was from a zealous guard that tried to stop me as I was galloping my horses past his position near Schladming. He had a halberd and slapped me with it as I passed by. I suppose he thought I may have stolen the horses because if he had wanted to, he could have killed me instead of just slapping at me with the flat side of the blade. As it was, the edge of the blade caught me across the chest and cut me. I had to stop a mile from that village to tend to my wound. Once finished, I continued my journey. A few miles later my horse stepped in a hole and broke his leg. I fell hard and that is when I broke my arm. I still had my friend’s horses, so I was not without a mount. Three days ago, the second horse became lame and I had to leave him.” Bentz finished his report, was thanked and rewarded with a small pouch of gold coins and dismissed. He reported to the doctor’s office to have his arm mended.

Sir Meade and his council discussed all that was said, and they concluded that the town of Werfen and the Castle of Hohenwerfen was the origin of the army that had attacked their city and killed their citizens. This Duke must pay for what he has done to our village and our people. It was not known what had happened to the other scouts but from what Mr. Andris had said, regarding the guards saying more spies having been in the city, it was presumed that the other teams may have been captured or killed.

The council and military leaders met for three more days and established plans for a campaign. The following four weeks were filled with strategic and logistical preparations to assemble their mighty army for war. All six cities would take part in the campaign. The day was approaching that would find their armies marching on the road to Hohenwerfen to avenge the fallen citizens of Valotmoon and the city of Athamas. If they were successful, they would either capture or raze the city and castle as punishment for those who dared to attack them
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The Evolution of the Barbarians

-by- Cactus (pen name)

Chapter 10

March to our Destiny

The news brought back to Athamas and the Tribal Council in April by the Scout, Bentz Andris, regarding the discovery of the enemy whom had attacked Athamas in the previous Fall, had the effect of a lightning bolt electrifying all the villages of Valotmoon charging the people with renewed energy and focus on the tasks laid before them. Preparations for war commenced almost immediately. The Supreme Leader of the Tribe of AoV, and former Paladin General, Archibald Meade, was a most perspicacious leader and worked directly with all the military and village leaders for several days to devise a plan for going to war. Many of the military leaders had great experience with their former tribes or governing employers before they migrated to Valotmoon to settle in their new homes. Their combined experiences of battle victories, and losses, has been invaluable to the military machine that was being assembled. The Time was the middle of May and all was in readiness.

Mr. Arimis had promoted to Commander of the Scouts and had been assigned the task of instructing the scouts from the other cities on what signs to look for and how to leave signs should plans be altered. The scouts would be traveling in advance of their perspective armies and would be accompanied by a squad of cavalry troops who would act as messengers or defend the scouts in case of an ambush.

A summer campaign was planned, and it had taken four weeks to bring the plan to fruition. There would be six cities involved in the campaign. Three cities would provide the attacking armies and three cities would provide logistical support armies. The support armies would provide everything from food, replacement weaponry, and horses, to reinforcement troops, physicians to care for the wounded, and Noblemen to govern any captured cities or territories. They would also bury the dead or transport them back to their home cities for burial. No detail was overlooked. No problems went unsolved. Everything had been completed.

The cities of Bogamas, Megamas, and Regamas would be the support cities whose armies would follow the attack armies just a few hours behind. Each of the support armies would have over four-thousand personnel in their ranks. Other cities in Valotmoon would send support troops to all six cities to be used for defense while the armies were away on the campaign.

The village of Schladming would be the target of for the army from Gregamas. The army had eight-thousand troops and would be attacking an estimated guard contingent of approximately 1500 troops and over four-thousand city inhabitants which could possibly provide a militia defense. According to Commander Andris’ report, there were little or no walls surrounding either of the first two cities, so there would be no need of the heavy cumbersome rams and catapults. Battalions of axmen, light cavalry and mounted archers would be enough to handle the task of attack and capture. The support army from Megamas would also have replacement troops should they be needed. The attack on Schladming would take place three days in advance of the main army from Athamas and one day before the army of Colamas would be passing by on their march to Radstadt.

The army from Colamas with their twelve-thousand attack troops, and their support army from Bogamas, would be making their attack two days after passing Schladming. An estimated eight-thousand residents and troops were in Radstadt which should not present any problem for the attackers. The report of no walls around the village would enable swift movement of the attacking forces. Any troops that were not needed in the occupation of Schladming could accompany the army of Colamas to Radstadt for the next leg of the campaign.

Athamas had assembled and army of 25000 troops for the main attack on the city of Werfen and the Castle of Festung Hohenwerfen. There would be walls around the city and castle, so rams and catapults were necessary for a siege. The slow movement of the siege weapons necessitated an advance departure of the armies from Athamas and Regamas by a full week. They would be passing by the villages of Schladming and Radstadt the day after those villages had fallen. The planed date of the attack on the city of Werfer was the Sixth of June.

Paladin General Arden Clark was placed in charge of the campaign and was responsible for the coordination of all the attacking and support armies. Colonel Branden Alexander was the overseeing commander of the army of Athamas. Numerous commanders, captains, lieutenants and lower ranking front line leaders would all work together with a common goal. That goal was the destruction or capture of the armies of their enemy and the capture and occupation of their cities.

The paladin General had marched with his troops for ten days when the army from Gregamas and their support army passed them as planed in route to the village of Schladming. Three days later, the armies headed for Radstadt also passed by on schedule. Another Three days had passed when bellowing smoke could be seen on the horizon and Bentz Andris personally reported back to General Clark that the village of Schladming was only four miles farther and had fallen to the army of Gregamas. There very few casualties and a nobleman is being placed in charge as Mayor of the village. This was good news to the General. All has been going as planned. Sir Meade had thought of everything and victory over the enemy would be realized in less than two more weeks.

Upon passing the Village of Schladming, the General gave orders for his army to proceed as schedule and he would catch up to them. He wanted to address the citizens of the village with a message from Sir Meade. Upon his arrival he was given a report of the operation and the results. Complete surprise was accomplished as the army had surrounded the city and the encamped contingent of guard troops. No one would escape to warn other villages or cities of the battle. The Guard troops put up a fight and were destroyed and their camp was set afire. Only a small group of about five-hundred citizens that formed a militia put up a brief fight but laid down their arms when they faced the huge army before them. Remaining were about close to four-thousand five-hundred citizens. General Clark ordered that all the citizens be assembled in an area large enough for their numbers so he could address them. An hour later he was able to address the crowd.

Since the General did not speak the language, Commander Bentz was summoned to act as interpreter. Many people recognized him as one who had passed through their village just a few weeks before and started to shout names and obscenities at him. General Clark stepped forward and shouted “Silence! The man before you did his job and is a good man. Please hear what I have to say!” Bentz translated and the crowd went silent. General Clark continued, “Ladies and Gentlemen, and families of Scholadming. I am here to address your concerns and to give you peace of mind.” Before he continued a dull moan and some heckling rose up from the crowd. He continued, “let me assure you that your lives need not be further threatened by our presence providing you cooperate and not cause any problems for the army that is now in control of your village.” A voice rose up from the crowd, “What assurance; what proof do you have for us that we might believe you? Why did you attack us? What did we do to deserve your attack and destruction of our village and defending troops?” The General turned to his aide who handed him a scroll before he continued, “I have here your assurance and reason for the attack. It is a message from our supreme Leader, Archibald Meade from the Valley of the Moon.” A woman from the crowd and close to the General shouted, “We have never heard of such a place or this Leader of yours, Meade, or whatever his name is; why should we listen to you?” “Let me read his message to you so you will understand and possibly find comfort in his words.” said Clark as he unrolled the scroll.

After clearing his throat, he began reading the scroll speaking loudly that all may hear and pausing periodically so Bentz could translate.

“From Archibald Meade, Supreme Leader of the Tribe of AoV In the Province of Valotmoon, to the citizens of this city. I must first tend to you my apologies for the way we have had to overcome and take control of your village. It is not your fault that the attack has come to you, but the fault does lie with your Duke in the City of Werfen. Over six months ago he had sent an army to attack us and tried to capture our village. We were able to successfully defend our village but lost many loved ones as the result of the battle. We vowed to find and destroy the evil person or ruler who had ordered such an attack. Through our long search we were able to discover who had sent the army and why. The reason was because of greed and the person was the Duke. We are going to defeat his army and capture the city even if we must raze it to the ground. We also vowed to capture any villages in the path to this end. This is how we came upon your village and this is what I am proposing to you.

At the end of our campaign you will have a choice to make. You will be allowed to leave your village and the territory which will be under our control or you will be allowed to continue in your homes and your businesses within the village but under a different ruler. There will be taxes to be paid, which will not be a suppressing burden. There will be a small occupying force that will offer protection and peaceful control of the community. Your community will be allowed to elect a mayor and be self-governing within the laws and standards set up by our tribe.

The benefits to you will be a new trade route to the East where no less than 30 more villages and cities exist. No one will be pressed into military service nor will you have your property be confiscated for the enrichment of any overseer. Your son’s and daughters will be able to attend schools and you will be allowed to come and go as you desire.

All this and more will be offered to you after we complete our campaign against the Duke. Until that has taken place you will be restricted to your homes and businesses. A curfew will be established that you may not leave your homes after the sun has set or until the sun rises the next day. You will not be allowed to leave the village and all horses shall be corralled and under the guard of the commander in charge. Thank you for your cooperation. It is our hope that you will remain and carry on your lives in your community in the future.

Your Supreme Leader,

Archibald Meade”

The crowd began talking among themselves and the General asked, “Are there any questions?” A man spoke up and said, “This Meade person says no one will be pressed into the service of the guard. I had three sons, one was sent with the army which was sent to attack your village and never heard from again. The other two were to be taken to Werfen next week to serve in the guard. I was told they could serve, or they could be hung at the gallows at the end of our village if they did not go. Will I be able to keep my sons to help me run my farm?”

After Bentz finished his interpretation, General Clark said, “I am sorry for the loss of your first son sir, there is nothing I can do about that, but I assure you that the ranks of our armies are filled by volunteers and receive a wage for their service. They sign a pledge to serve for five years and may leave after their term of service has been fulfilled. No one is forced to serve but those who do serve have the obligation to finish their contract of service. I hope this answers your question and will give you peace of mind.” After the interpretation was complete the crowd cheered and clapped with joy. It was learned later that almost every family had been affected by the Duke’s policy that required all young men must serve in his guard for seven years for room and board and five copper coins each month. Those who refused were imprisoned or hanged as traitors. Many are still in the dungeons of Hohenwerfen or in forced labor mining camps west of the Castle.

One man stepped forward to approach the General and asked to speak. The General asked who he was and was told he was the mayor until today. The General said, “Please come to the platform and speak to me”. The mayor joined him on the small platform and spoke loudly so all could hear. “Sir, you tell us nothing new except that maybe the new leader, Sir Meade, may be a more reasonable, honorable, and trusting leader. We have been suppressed for years now and much as been taken from us and nothing given in return. The villages of the area are revolting against the Duke and his leader, the Archbishop. We want changes and will fight for those changes. We would like to join you in the fight against the Duke. We will not stop there and will not ask that you join our cause only that you not interfere in our efforts to overthrow the Arch-Bishop.” The General was taken by surprise in this turn of events and thought for a couple moments before giving an answer.

“Mr. Mayor and citizens of Schladming!”, he began. I can sympathize with your grief and anger. Your desire to attack and destroy the Duke or carry on with a revolt against the Arch-Bishop is commendable but must wait until our mission has been completed. Not until then will you be able to pursue your revolt. Your village will still be under the rule of Sir Meade and this will take precedence over your desire to march on Werfen. When we are finished and return to our homes you may proceed with your plans.” Though some what disgruntled with the General’s reply, they agreed to his compromise and would not interfere with the attack on Werfen.

After many more questions and answers the crowd was dispersed and allowed to go to their homes or businesses but none could exit the village. Those that had homes outside the city were put up in tents for temporary housing. When this was accomplished General Clark returned to his army with his escort and Scout Commander Bentz Andris.

After two more days of marching they came to the Village of Radstadt. The village had fallen the night before. This time however the guard troops had not been present for the fight. The city was quickly captured, and scouts sent out to find the missing troops. The tracks of a large group, presumed to be the missing troops, were heading Northwest and were followed for several hours. It was determined they were heading to Werfen. Based on the turn of events, two-thousand troops from the Colamas army were transferred to the Athamas army.

General Clark addressed the residents of Radstadt in the same manner and the results were astonishingly similar. One man spoke up and said, “We heard you were coming General, and the troops left us to defend ourselves. We have been oppressed by the Duke and his men long enough. We will abide by your rules and hopefully your Leader will be a man of honor and live up to his promises you shared with us.” The General replied, “he is a man of honor sir and thank you for your response and the information about the guard troops.”

The village was secure, and the General caught up with his army. The date was the 3rd of June and in two more days they should be at or near the city of Werfen. They were running a day behind so the siege of Werfen and the Castle of Festung Hohenwerfen would begin on the 6th of June. The anticipation of the impending battle was fueling a fury that was building up within the army ranks. Varied information was filtered to the general from reliable sources. He was hearing disturbing messages such as the troops wanted to maim and mall all the residents and troops in the area. No mercy would be shown. No one would be left alive and the city would be burned to the ground. He had to stop these rumors. He met with his officers and asked them what they have heard, and their comments confirmed what he had been told. We will stop early this day and I want to address the army before night falls.

The camp was set up near a large rock out cropping at the base of a canyon wall. The army was assembled, and he began his speech.

“Men, in two more days we shall besiege the town of Werfen and the Castle within. This is our destination and soon we will fulfill our mission of retribution for the attack and deaths of our citizens eight months ago. I have heard rumors that many of you want to crush every life within the city and the castle. I have heard disturbing comments that maiming and chopping off heads will be the focus of the battle; that no person whether man woman or child shall be spared a cruel, undeserving death. This can not be! This will not be the course of this battle. Conquer as we must, we shall not kill indiscriminately. If we can capture and restrain the population, this is what we desire to do. We shall not murder just for the sake of killing. We have come a long way not only in the miles to get here, but in our ideals, our dreams, and our communion with the inhabitants of the villages and cities that we have left behind. We face a challenging battle. Let us not mar our tribe’s name by destroying a people who may not have had a choice in their acts of war against us. We are not evil! We are not murderers!”

After a moment of pause, he continued, “We are not the Barbarians of old but a new breed of men! We have a conscience! We have respect, and we have the right to pursue peace and freedom, and to defend that right whatever the cost. That is our desire! That is our destiny! If your personal desire to maim and kill, just for the sake of killing, out weighs the desire of this leadership and the honorable warriors of this tribe you may move to my right and assemble in the canyon. We are over twenty-five thousand strong. If there is even five hundred of you who have the desire to kill everyone in the town, then I shall step down as your leader because I have failed you and I will no longer want to lead you. Let it be done.”

There were discussions going on throughout the army and a few people were moving toward the right where the General had indicated for the separation to take place. Five minutes had passed, and less than fifty men had moved to the right.

The General continued, “Are these all who desire the heinous destruction of life within the city?” silence was acute and one man in the crowd before him spoke out. “We are with you General!” The army roared in acceptance of the General, and he raised his arms to quiet the men. “So be it. You men who have moved to the right will be escorted to the rear of the army and held under guard until the battle has ended. You are not part of us, and you will not be with us. You shall not share in the glory of the battle and you will not return with us to Valotmoon. You will be banished from the tribe forever because you have brought shame upon this people.” As he had spoken a company of men surrounded the group of undesirables and stripped them of their weapons. They were then marched off to the rear of the support army and would be held under guard for the remainder of the campaign. “Men tomorrow we shall march to our destiny. We shall fight the good fight and find victory as it waits for us. We are a great army, we come from a great tribe. Commanders dismiss your men, Tomorrow we shall continue our quest!”
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The Evolution of the Barbarians

-by- Cactus (pen name)

Chapter 11

The Day of Atonement

Preparations were being made to get underway on the march to Werfen. A meeting was called in the morning for the senior officers and the and the commander of the scouts. When they had all assembled, General Clark addressed the group. “Gentlemen! I have been informed that the reason we did not find the garrisoned troops at Radstadt was because a merchant traveling from Radstadt to Schladming was just close enough to the village to observe the attack and the destruction of the troops. The smoke was also seen by some miners who were returning to the village. The merchant saw the miners and told them to hide while he road back to Radstadt to tell them of the attack. The mayor of Radstadt spread the word that they might be attacked, and everyone could leave if they wanted, or they could defend the village. The commander of the garrison decided it would be better if he and his troops retreated to Werfen. There numbers would add strength to the army and the walls could be better defended. When the Mayor heard the troops were leaving, he advised that everyone give up the idea of fighting and just assemble outside the city and wait for the approaching army. They had sent a scout out and he returned to report that an army would be there within hours. That is why there was no fight at Radstadt.”

The General continued, “We have to assume that our mission has already been compromised and the enemy will be prepared for us when we arrive. They may even set up ambushes to throw us off and demoralize our ranks. Gentlemen this will not detour us from our mission. I want a battalion of cavalry to ride one quarter mile out on each flank and a company of mounted archers to ride on point of the column. I will send Commander Andris five miles ahead with his troops. And one hundred additional mounted archers will follow him within a half mile should there be an attack. Today is the 5th of June. Tonight, will be our last night before the attack. By noon tomorrow we will have started the bombardment of the city and the castle and advance our rams to the city walls. You all know your orders. Are there any questions?” There was silence! “Gentlemen prepare to move out. We will depart when the rising sun is half way down that tree.” He pointed to a giant spruce tree that was over 100 feet tall. “Dismissed!”

Preparations had been made. The sun rose to the point on the tree to signal the departure and twenty-seven thousand troops, horses, oxen which pulled the siege weapons, and all other accompanying wagons and personnel began to march toward Werner. The main column of the army was flanked on both sides by over 600 cavalry troops to each side and spearheaded by another 250 mounted archers to the front. Bentz and his troop had left an hour earlier followed by another hundred mounted archers. By the time the column was underway, they were already five miles ahead. Another hour brought them in view of a river that flowed in the Direction of Werfen. The night of their infiltration into Werfen to gather information, Bentz and his companions did not know of a river and only that they had to cross a bridge to get to the town. This could present a problem should the army have to ford the river. He sent three of his men to follow the river south for a few miles to see if there were any places to cross should it be required. They could report back to the General with what they find.

Several hamlets were approached by Bentz and his men. No one raised any arms toward the group, but fear was present on every face. Bentz shouted in German, “No one will be hurt providing no attacks are made against us. We are not here to hurt you. Our mission is against the Duke in Werfen. Not against the people of this valley.” With that said, they rode on. This message was repeated in all the hamlets they came to and there were no attacks against them. In several of the hamlets a few of the citizens voiced their approval of what Bentz had said and expressed their dissention against the Archbishop.

The town of Werfen was about 7 miles ahead when Bentz and his scouts stopped. A large field near the river which was well hidden by groves of trees lining the banks of the river was chosen for the army to bivouac for the night. Two riders were sent back to the column which would soon arrive at the site and commence to set up their camp. General Clark would meet with his senior officers regarding the events that would happen the next day and would inform them that Commander Bentz and his scouting party would be moving on towards Werfen to gather as much information as he can and would be reporting back by morning. They would all meet again in the morning when he returns to give his report.

Commander Bentz and his scouts left about two hours after the sun had set. It was a bright full moon night as they road slowly on the road to Werfen and were about four miles from the camp and three miles from the town. He had his men separate into six groups of three men each and kept 100 feet between each group. If there was to be an ambush they would not be bunched up and some could escape or flank the attackers. No one spoke except for an occasional whisper. They rode through the trees and each time they came to a clearing they paused to look across the brightly moon-lit field for any sign of movement. When they were sure it was clear they proceeded at a quickened pace to reach the trees on they other side.

Such it was when they were crossing one of the clearings when a voice came out of the shadows of the trees. “Bentz, is that you!?” Somewhat startled, Bentz said to his men, “Hold!” They all stopped, and some drew swords, others notched arrows on their bows. Bentz thought he recognized the voice but wasn’t sure when he said, “Who’s there? Who calls me by name?” “I am Frederick! Your friend!” came the voice from the darkness. The shadows released their hold on the figure as he approached the men in the moonlight. His clothes were torn and ragged and he had a mud-caked face and beard. “Don’t shoot for it is surely I!” said Frederick. Bentz quickly dismounted and approached his friend and they embraced with a hug. “How? Why? What happened? I thought you to be dead in the tavern when I left that night!” Bents exclaimed.

“I will explain but we need to move into the trees. There are patrols out looking for me.” The entire group moved into the shadows of the trees away from the road. “So how do you happen to be here, Frederick?” Asked Bentz. Frederick commenced to tell his story. “That night in the Green Gate Tavern right after you left, I was knocked out. Someone hit me from behind. When I came too, I was in a cell. I soon learned from a guard that I was in the dungeon of the Castle and would soon be questioned by an officer. He also told me that Jon was killed at the tavern. I was soon brought to a room and questioned and beaten. They wanted to know where I was from and if I gave them wrong answers I would be tortured and killed. Strangely I had no fear of them and no matter what I told them; they were going to beat me anyway. So, I told them where I was from and why I was there. I said I was from France and I wanted to start a business. They beat me and burned me that night, but I kept my story straight. They asked why I fought the guards at the tavern, and I told them because they were attacking me after someone said I was a spy. Somehow, I think they believed me and took me back to my cell. I stayed in the cell for two weeks until they needed more people for work parties. It was then I could see that I was not the only one from Athamas in the prison. There were fifteen held there besides me. Ten others had been killed or just disappeared. They would take us out on work parties to haul stone for their walls or to clean their stables. Different work parties were sent to different places each day. Then just a couple days ago I heard that a group of soldiers from one of the villages we had visited had come to the fort with a warning that a large army was approaching from the southeast. I knew then it was our army; that you had made it back and they were coming to Werfen. The next day I was taken to the stables to clean out the stalls. I was moving the wastes to an area outside of the castle walls. There was only one guard watching five of us. I told another prisoner to create a distraction. When he did, I picked up a rock and stove in the head of the guard and escaped. The other four ran in opposite directions and were quickly pursued by some soldiers on foot. I slipped into the river and made my way down past the town. I hid in a grove of trees until dark and made my way toward where we are now. That was yesterday. Some how I knew you would be coming along so I waited. I almost got caught twice but laid low until they rode on.” Bentz said, “I am glad you got away and found us. Are you hurt?” “Not hurt but starved! Do you have anything to eat?” he said. One of the men pulled some cheese and bread out of his saddle bag and handed it to Frederick. Another handed him a skin with water in it and said. “I’m sorry it isn’t wine, friend.” “This will do just fine,” replied Frederick.

“Bentz, I need to get back to the commander. Is it Clark?” “Yes.” “I have information about the walls of the castle and the town that he will need. There is also some troop information and danger areas where they have deep swamps filled with bark and peat which will act like quicksand. They also have stake pits that I helped dig on one work party. How far is it to the camp?”, Bentz said, “It is about 5 miles from here we must ride quickly.”

One of the archers gave his horse to Frederick and said he would double up with someone. Bentz split his troop into two groups. One would ride with them back to the camp and one would follow with the doubled-up archers.

They arrived back at camp sometime after midnight and made their way to General Clark’s quarters. Bentz asked the sentry to awaken the General. Hesitant at first, the sentry relented when Bentz said, “if you don’t wake him, he will have your head on a pole in the morning.” When Clark heard it was Bentz, he yelled, “why didn’t you say so! Show them in! And send for the senior officers to assemble in my quarters at once!” Over the next hour Frederick told his story to the group of officers and drew out the positions of the pits and the swamp. He showed in detail where the safe paths were to each side of the castle. He had learned through his work parties where the weak spots were in the walls of the castle and the town fortifications. Unfortunately, the castle was on top of a steep hill and the rams would be useless. Only a few catapults might be able to get close enough to cast a few stones over the walls. The rams could focus on short walls around the town of Werfen. There were three troop encampments about 2 miles to the west of the castle and just under a mile apart. He had been on a food wagon that delivered supplies to each camp. Inside the walls of the Castle were about 2000 troops another thousand in the city. The rest which numbered about five to seven-thousand were in the camps. The river had three bridges but only two of them would support the weight of the rams or catapults. He also pointed out where the dungeon was in the castle so his comrades could be rescued. When the General asked him, how did you get all this information, let alone remember it, he simply replied, “I had a good teacher, Bentz Andris, Sir.” “You did good, son! Very good!” said the General, now I hope you don’t take offense at this, but you smell like the south end of a swamp rat and look like a weather-beaten scarecrow.” “I will have to take your word on that, sir. I have never smelled the south end of a swamp rat to be able to make any comparisons.” Everyone roared with laughter! “Someone get this man some clothes, a hot bath, and a place to sleep. Feed him too!” yelled the General. An aide yelled from outside the tent, Yes sir! Right away sir!” Frederick started to leave but turned and said, “General, I would like to make a request Sir.” “Yes, what is it?” Replied the General. “Sir, I pretty much know my way around the dungeon and I also know a way in that is pretty much unguarded. I request, Sir, that I be granted to return to the castle with a small group of men to free the prisoners. There are about 300 men held there under appalling conditions. The weak one’s are usually disposed of or tortured for the pleasure of the guards. The strong ones are forced to work. I would like to free them Sir if you could spare 20 men.” When Frederick finished, the General looked at a Captain standing nearby and said, “Captain! Find 20 volunteers to accompany Frederick ah; What is your last name?” “Marsh, Sir. Frederick Marsh.”, he said quickly. “Captain! Twenty volunteers to accompany Mr. Marsh to the Werfen Castle.” The Captain in brisk reply said, “Yes Sir! Sir, would it be possible for me to accompany Mr. Marsh?” “No, Captain, I need you with your cavalry. You will be busy enough on this day.”

The general looked at Frederick again and said almost in a whisper to himself, “Marsh. Marsh!” “Mister Marsh, are you any relation to Colonel Marsh who is in charge of the Defenses at Athamas?” Frederick replied, “My Father, Sir.” The General smiled and said, “He will be very proud of you and very happy that you are alive. I will have word sent back that you have survived and will be coming home.” Frederick swallowed hard and half choked when he said, “Tha- thank you! I appreciate that very much Sir.” The General turned to Bentz and said, “You go along with your friend and keep him safe, after he gets that bath and some rest of course.” “Yes, Sir! And thank you Sir!” said Bentz who was happy with his orders, and they turned to leave. Bentz and Frederick left the Generals quarters while everyone else stayed behind to discuss battle plans. “Frederick, you go with the aide and we will get together in about four hours. I need some rest too, my friend.

With the information supplied by Frederick, the General and his commanders made plans for the assault on Werfen, the Castle and the three troop camps. It was already about four in the morning and the sun would be rising in little over an hour, so the word was given to wake the troops. The support army would have a good breakfast ready at five thirty and the army would be ready to march by 7 AM. The day would be long, strenuous, and demanding. People are going to die, and the General said a prayer asking that those who were about to die would be the enemy and not his own troops. He spoke aloud as if he were addressing his commanders, “The day of our dreams is upon us. The hope of Athamas stands firm with us. God, protect our troops as they fight this day, and may this day be the day of atonement for our enemies. Amen!”
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The Evolution of the Barbarians

-by Cactus (pen name)

Chapter 12

“Then let’s move!”

The night before after General Clark had placed several of his troops under arrest for their plans to butcher the residents of Werfen, he was seriously bothered by what had taken place within the ranks of his army. Killing in the heat of battle is one thing, but to just kill every man, woman, or child indiscriminately was beyond his comprehension and he was a seasoned warrior. He could only hope there were no more men with the same thoughts in his army. His thoughts drifted to what the Mayor of Schladming had said regarding the Archbishop and their desire to revolt against him. This too weighed heavily on his mind, but he was quick to come to a decision regarding this matter. He drafted an order for the commanders in charge of the security troops at Radstadt and Schladming and messages for the Mayors of both cities. He was ordering his commanders to leave the cities and camp three miles away to await further instructions. If he and the army from Athamas did not return within 10 days, or they did not receive further orders, they were to return to Valotmoon and end their campaign.

Commander Aramis had translated the General’s orders into German. Before they began, Bentz told the General he had several other scouts that could also speak German. Two would be sent to the villages to carry the General’s message. The general stated his message as Bentz transcribed it in German. The General began, “Honorable Mayors of Radstadt and Schladming: I have given much thought and consideration to your desire to carry out your own plans against the Archbishop. Our fight is not with him but with the Duke. Therefore, I have instructed my commanders of the occupying forces within your villages to withdraw and camp some distance away. They will not interfere with your efforts to organize and march against the Archbishop. We will not destroy the Castle but will do what is necessary to complete our mission against the duke. Furthermore, we will make every effort to allow any member of the opposing forces to lay down their arms and leave their ranks to return to their homes unharmed. Those that decline our offer will suffer the consequences of our attack. We shall return to our homes once our mission is complete allowing you to do what you will in your land. Good luck and best wishes in your mission. Signed General Merriweather Clark, Commander of the Forces of Valotmoon.” He sent twenty riders with the messengers to ensure their mission was successful. His night of rest would be peaceful knowing that he had done what is right. In the morning they would move on and his conscience was clear.

The last day of marching had been short and less tiring than any the previous days. The armies had arrived in the afternoon. Tents were raised, horses and oxen picketed, and orders were given to post triple the number of guards around the perimeters. Lanterns would be allowed after dark but must be kept low and away from the outer limits of the camp. The only campfires would be for the cooking of food by the support army and were to be kept small and in pits to lower the possibility of detection. There was time enough in the day allowing the food to be prepared before dark. The camp stretched over ½ mile and before dusk the support army delivered the food to feed the thousands of troops. Each person was given a double ration of ale with their meal. The rest of the evening was spent polishing armor, sharpening weapons, and sharing stories. All was calm through the camp. Everyone was preparing their inner selves for the battle which was soon to come. All would think about their loved ones back home before they turned in for their rest. All would sleep well that night for none was afraid of what was ahead of them. The fear of death was banished from their minds and replaced with the thoughts of impending victory and glory. They were ready for war.

Reports had come in that patrols were spotted across the river but did not come close enough to see the thousands of troops encamped just a mile away hidden behind the thick groves of trees lining the river banks. That afternoon, General Clark summoned Commander Andris to his quarters. He was pleased with Andris’ report regarding some of the comments from the citizens in the hamlets. He knew that what he had done regarding Radstadt and Schladming was the right thing to do and the report from Commander Andris just confirmed his convictions. He drafted a set of standing orders for his commanders, and a document for the “Demands and Conditions of Surrender”, which Bentz translated and penned into German and made several copies. They would be given to his commanders that evening during their briefing.

The terms would be sent to the city and the castle regarding the demands and conditions for surrender. Just one hour would be given for the city and castle to comply before the attack would begin. Stated within the demands was his promise to the Mayors of the two villages that, “any member of the guard who desired to lay down their arms and return to their homes would be allowed to do so unharmed”. The second condition which would avoid bloodshed was that the Duke be turned over to them to face his punishment for his role in the invasion into Valotmoon. A few less significant and negotiable demands would be added to the conditions, but the surrender of the Duke was non-negotiable.

When his officers were assembled, and the information was shared regarding the demands and conditions he emphasized that before any attacks are started the enemy armies would be allowed to lay down their arms in surrender. Many of the local families have sons and fathers that were pressed into service and should be allowed to go home. Those that remain to fight will be attacked. After the fighting begins any additional troops that throw down their arms in surrender will be allowed to do so and will not be harmed but will be placed into a holding area under guard until the battle is over and our goals achieved. I have instructed Commander Andris to take his scouts and find out as much information about what lies ahead of us on the morrow. He will be leaving shortly and will return in the morning with his report. I will summon you all when he returns that we may have fresh information. We will make our final plans at that time. Are there any questions?

The Commander of the Axmen stepped forward and asked. “Sir, for months now everyone had been looking forward to exercising their revenge against what is now a known enemy. They will want to fight and kill as many enemy troops as they can. Do you think they will accept these orders and restrain from killing the enemy troops in their path when we find them?” “Gentlemen, I had hoped that I made myself clear when we had several men step forward who wanted to kill everyone in sight.” The general stated. “We may have been known as Barbarians in the past and for hundreds of years. We were known to kill our enemies when, and in any way we could. We defeated them in battle and survivors were usually impaled on stakes, beheaded, or mutilated in some grotesque way. However, times have changed. We no longer need to kill everyone whom we attack for revenge and we no longer attack for greed or for the sake of killing. For the past hundred years our families and forefathers have lived in peace. We have developed friends and have been good neighbors. We have outgrown our barbarous ways and life style. We are now civilized and have opportunity to overcome a ruthless barbarian who is the Duke in Hohenwerfen Castle. He is our enemy and must pay for what he did to our people. His army is made up of people who wanted no part of his barbaric desires. We will give them a chance to surrender. Those who remain to fight will meet their fate by the ax and sword. However, they too must be given a chance to surrender. Again, we are no longer Barbarians and will fight our battles in a just and honorable way. Is that clear?” When he finished, the entire assembly of the officers in unison said, “Yes Sir!” Get a good night’s sleep gentlemen. Tomorrow we will not have such a luxury as sleep.

The scouting party under Commander Andris had departed on their mission. And would return sometime after midnight. They completed their mission when they returned to the camp with Frederick Marsh. The information brought to General Clark and his commanders by the scout, was most valuable for planning the attacks on Werfen, the Hohenwerfen Castle and the troop encampments. Frederick and Bentz left the briefing to get some rest. The remaining few hours of the night was spent in strategic planning. The decisions included dividing the army into four attack Brigades; and an infiltration squad to free the prisoners in the dungeon at Hohenwerfen. The main siege force of five thousand troops included over four-thousand axmen, almost nine hundred mounted archers and cavalry, and a few dozen siege weapons, would cross the main bridge at Werfen to attack the city. Three attack Brigades were to attack the three military encampments simultaneously. The Demands for surrender would be delivered while the Brigades gained positions for battle.

Frederick was pleased with the badly needed bath, fresh clothes and above all, the food which seemed to not be enough to fill his empty frame. While he ate, Bentz and him talked about the Castle and the dungeon. They made some plans of their own, but Frederick was soon overcome by exhaustion and collapsed into a deep refreshing sleep. Morning would soon be upon them.

Dawn was breaking over the mountain peaks in all its splendor and washing the darkness from the trees and the camps of the Athamas and Regamas armies. Though the morning air was cool, the slight morning breeze that flowed over the herds of oxen and horses that were pastured over a half-mile away brought with it a most unbearable, odoriferous, and poignant aroma that only a cavalry man would attempt to call pleasant. The rising troops masked their nostrils to filter the tainted air that they must breathe. It didn’t work very well. One axman turned to a friend and said, “this jist ain’t right! It be bad enough to ‘ave to follow them pony boys into battle, but this is jist an insult to our rights as a man to ‘ave a decent breakfast ‘afore we must fight.”

Commander Andris stepped into Frederick’s tent and shook his feet to wake him. He jumped backwards almost stumbling out of the tent when Frederick coiled up on his bunk and shouted, “NO MORE! PLEASE STOP!” Bentz raised his voice to his friend and said Frederick! Wake up! You are dreaming! Frederick Wake up!” He took his friend by the forearm and could see in Frederick’s eyes that he was finally waking up.

“WHA-what happened?” Frederick stuttered. “I thought you were one of the guards beating me again! I’m sorry, my friend.” “No need to apologize! I am sorry that you had to go through what you did,” Bentz replied. “Are you still hungry?” “No, but what’s that awful smell?” You might say it is the smell of an army about to go into battle. Come on, we have a few more details to go over. I have already picked some men and they are gathering extra weapons to take with us,” explained Bentz, as his friend dressed himself.

The leadership had calculated the travel times to their prescribed areas and shared orders with their troops. The Army of Athamas would soon depart but he army of Regamas would stay encamped awaiting orders. Food would be prepared to take to the front when riders reported back with updates on the actions of the army and instructions for the support army. Bentz and his small force of twenty men had departed over two hours before the main army would be ready to move. They took with them two extra horses per man and enough weapons to arm a hundred men. They would tether their horses in the forest below the castle and approach on foot from a steep blind side near the stables. When Frederick worked in the stables, he noticed a weak area in the wall where water had undermined the wall and washed out some of the foundation. The gap with a little help could be enlarged to allow the men and weapons to pass through. The stables blocked any view from guards or tower sentries. It was also near a side entrance to the Dungeon area where men were taken out for work parties or execution. This was the area where they would be able to launch their attack. They needed to be in position when the main army approached the city and the message was delivered to the Castle. Surprise would be their only ally until they were successful in releasing some of the prisoners. If they were successful!

Before they got to the base of the wall and while still concealed in the forest Frederick explained what was to be expected. “At night there are about a thousand troops that are in the castle area however during the day most of them are gone into town. There are less than a hundred that remain behind to take prisoners out on work parties or stand guard as sentries on the walls. The ones on the walls are archers and are our biggest threat. The wagons for the work parties will be down near the gates over 300 feet from the prison entrance. There will be several men waiting there for the prisoners to be brought out. The door will be unlocked after they take the wagons down to the gate. When they are moving the wagons is when we make our move. The sentries on the walls will be facing outward until the prisoners are brought out. We will be inside and should be able to overcome the guards before anyone becomes suspicious.. There should not be more than 8-10 guards and they are spread out. Most can be taken by surprise. Any noise we make won’t be heard on the outside or inside the main castle area. We can then free the prisoners and move through the castle. We must be quick. There is a rope attached to a bell on the outside that can sound an alarm from the prison. It will be in a room where the guards sit and wait for their work parties to be removed from the cells. We must not let anyone reach the bell. If we are lucky, we will take out the guards and can move through to the castle. We will capture the Duke and use him as a shield to escape.” “And if we are not lucky?” asked a scout. “We kill everyone who fights us and hope no one sends an alarm to bring the troops back from the city. We have 10 archers here and that should be enough to clear the walls. We should have close to 200 prisoners and half of them will be armed. So, our chances seem to be pretty good. Any more questions?” no one answered. “Then let’s move!”


The Evolution of the Barbarians

-by Cactus (pen name)

Chapter 13

"The Castle is Ours!

The forest was damp from a shower during the night. The day was going to be a little overcast which would help conceal their movements. Their climb through the forest was steep and slippery. More than once several men lost their footing on the wet pine needles and slid a few yards down the hill. The forest was perfect cover and was close to the walls of the castle. They were completely hidden from the eyes of the sentries. No one had traveled along the outside of the walls for years and erosion was taking its toll. The area of the wall that has been partly eroded away was quickly found and they began clearing the dirt and stone away. A few minutes later. Frederick went through to the other side. He grabbed a handful of stones which he would toss one back into the hole when it was safe for more men to pass through. Another stone would mean to hold up. There was about 15 feet between the wall and the back of the stalls. At least five feet were in view of the guards on the walls at the end of the courtyard. There was no sun and the grey walls matched the grey sky offering less chance of detection. Frederick moved to the stalls and surveyed the courtyard and the guards on the walls from a position inside the stalls. No wagons had been hitched yet but were parked in front of the stalls. The teams of horses had their tack on them so it would be soon when they were hitched to the wagons. He went to the back of the stalls and tossed a stone. Four men came though the opening and made their way to the rear of the stalls. There were a group of guards walking along the wall, so he tossed another stone. No one came through the opening. It was just their luck that the guards were being changed. After two guards had been changed and the backs of the marching group was towards the opening, he tossed another stone. More men poured through the opening which was made wider during the lull. In less than a minute all twenty-two men had entered the castle grounds and hidden themselves behind the stalls.

While they waited, the teams of horses were hitched up to eight wagons. Frederick said, “that means at least eighty to 100 prisoners are being prepared to go on work parties. As soon as the wagons are past the end of the stalls we move.” Ten of the men would be carrying the extra weapons and ten would be free to overtake the guards. The door of the dungeon was hidden from view from anywhere on the walls. The wagons were moving, and the last wagon passed the end of the stalls. The small invasion team moved toward the door. Frederick pulled on the door. It was still locked. That meant someone would be coming soon from one of the wagons to open it. The team lined up along the space between the castle walls and the prison. The shrubbery there gave them some protection from being seen. Frederick and Bentz stood next to the prison door with their backs to the courtyard and the stalls with swords in hand and hidden to the front of them. Soon they heard the clinking of keys from around the corner. A single guard came around the corner and was startled at the sight of two men standing there and said, “Wer bist du?” which means, “Who are you?” Both men quickly spun around and held their swords to the man’s throat and Bentz said quietly and firmly, “halt die Klappe und lebe!,“which means, “shut up and live “. The guard froze and an immediate flush of fear washed his face. Frederick grabbed the keys as Bentz spun the guard around and struck a blow to the guard‘s head with the handle of his sword, knocking him unconscieous. As Frederick pushed the key into the lock, two men grabbed the guard and drug him into the bushes to tie and gag him. “We must hurry,“ he said, “it usually only takes about tem minutes for the guards to start bringing out the prisoners for their work parties.“

The men entered a long sloping hallway that had one torch at the end for light before it turned left. The last scout locked the door behind him. Reaching the turn they could hear voices. Frederick peered around the corner into a dimmly lit assembly room. There were only three guards. One was putting chains on the ankles of prisoners while two stood on either side of him. All three were facing away from him. He counted fourteen prisoners that were facing the opposite wall and all had chains fastened to their ankles. That was something new since he escaped. He signaled for three of the scouts to take the guards prisoner, or kill them if they had no choice. The scouts aproached silently in the dim light only the prisoner who was getting chains attached to his left ankle saw the men coming and he just smiled at the guard who was attaching the chains. One of the guards said in German, “what are you smiling at, idiot?“ The prisoner said in english, “Well I am not the idiot here and you will soon learn what it means to be a prisoner. Now is your chance boys!“ The three scouts lifted their swords and tapped the German guards on their shoulders. The two that were standing turned quickly and seeing the swords pointed at their throats, froze in thier tracks. The guard that was putting on the chains wasn’t paying attention so the prisoner raised his foot sharply hitting the guard uner the chin and flipping him on his back. Looking up, the guard viewed the blade of a sword through crossed eyes just three inches from his nose and he swallowed hard.

Bentz entered the room and instructed the guard on the floor to chain the other two guards together and then chain their wrists to a ring in the wall. After that had been done he told the guard to remove all the chains from the prisoners. He said to the prisoners in German “if you like your life here in the prison you can stay a prisoner, but if it is freedom you want you can choose to fight with us against the Duke and earn your freedom“. They all chose to fight and were armed with swords. He asked the guard how many more guards were down there. The guard refused to answer until Bentz drew a dagger and cut a slice through one of his ears. “Zehn! Zehn! Bitte nicht mehr!“ Bentz translated, “There are only ten more guards down here. Lets get them.“ The three guards were chained together and gagged before the raiding party moved on.

The prisoner that spoke english said he was glad to seen them. He was one of the captive scouts from a mission sent last January. His beard was ragged and Frederick barely recognized him in the dim light but said, “Mark I am glad you are still alive.“ Mark replied, “I am glad you made it Frederick. Things got a little tight around here since you left. Thanks for coming back! And thanks for bringing more friends!“

Bentz asked the guard a few more questions and was able to gain the exact location of the rest of the guards. Federick said, “We have about eight more minutes before the drivers of the work wagons will wonder why the prisoners are late coming out.“ Bentz looked at his men and after a moment of thought he said, “Our mission is to capture the Duke or kill him. If we fail thousands of people may die, if we are successful, this war will end before it starts. There is no turning back. Be alert.“

They walked up a passageway that had cells along one side. The former prisoners stopped at each cell explaining what is happening and the choice each prisoner needed to make. Fight for freedom or remain behind. The cell doors were opened one by one and each cell had eight to ten prisoners, some of whom could barely walk let alone fight. But they knew they had no choice but to go with the other freed men. One of the men in the third cell started to cry out when the cell was opened. “It is not my turn; I can’t go, I won’t go! I can barely walk!” Two prisoners grabbed him and gagged him as they tried to explain what was happening. This calmed him down, but it was too late.

A guard was coming down the passageway and shouting ahead, “Halt die Klappe, du Dummkopf. Ich werde das Leben aus dir schlagen!” Bentz said, “Quickly! Get in the cells and wait. The guard said he is going to kill the idiot.”

Everyone ducked inside the cells, pulled the doors closed, and waited. There were two guards, not one, walking by the cells. They passed the third cell and stopped by the second and peered inside. They soon realized there were more men in the cell than there were before. They looked at each other and turned to run only to stop abruptly as two swords were less than 6 inches from their throats. Again, the guards were bound and gagged. “Two more down and eight to go”, said Bentz. “Let’s move”.

Another minute had passed as they were reaching the end of the passageway from where the last two guards had come. They heard voices and some laughter. Listening for just a moment, Frederick said, “This is it! The rest of them are just up ahead. Remember! Don’t let them reach the rope to the bell. It will be to the left.” They crept silently through the darkness of the passageway as far as they could when, Bentz heard one of the guards say in German, “Schultz, go see what is taking Claude and Jon so long. We need to go or we will be late to the wagons.” Without translating, Bentz said, “Now! Rush them!”

Within seconds the room was filled with men swarming like ants out of their bed to attack their prey. One of the guards near a door shouted, “
Shultz! Alarm! Alarm schlagen!“ Schultz turned and was dashing toward the rope connected to the alarm bell but just inches from the rope an arrow pierced the back of his neck and came through the Adams apple of his throat dropping him a foot short of the rope. The rest of the guards were overcome and only two had to be slain because they drew their swords to fight the overwhelming odds. Such fools never learn. They only die.

The remaining six guards were taken to one of the cells and bound and gagged. The keys were taken by some of the unarmed prisoners down adjoining coradores where many other prisoner were still in cells and explained what was happening. In all one-hundred and eighty prisoners were able to join the raiding party. Frederick opened the door which led to the Great Hall. He motioned to four of the archers where he knew there would be four guards and sent them to seek their targets.Moments later all four returned having been successful. A dozen men were then instructed to go to the main entrance and bar the main doors. He said there was a smaller door that must be barred as well. They needed to stay there until the Duke was captured and brought down.

The raiding party and the mob that joined them moved through the castle like butter melting over mashed potatoes. Every room and passage way were searched and many visitors and guards were captured and only a few had to be killed. The long stair case was ascended by Bentz, Frederick and their twenty comrades. Fifty of the stronger armed former prisoners soon followed and began searching the upper levels of the castle. It was hard to believe that so many men could move so swiftly and silently that none of the guards on the upper levels heard them coming. All the guards were quickly overwhelmed and removed to the dungeon In all about eighty people were imprisoned in the muck and swill of the Duke‘s dungeon.

The chambers of the Duke and his wife were approached and the two guards were eliminated by arrows for there was no way to take them by surprise. Frederick and Bentz with four men burst into the Dukes chambers and were met with a noisy and annoying scream from a woman standing near a large bed with tall bed posts and shear curtains surrounding it. The men started laughing for the Duke was sitting in a tub of water and bubbles taking a bath. Bentz told the woman to be quiet and she would not be hurt. He then said to the Duke,
“Steh auf, du beschmutztes Schwein! Sie kommen mit!” and he spoke it again in English for his men to hear. “Arise you soiled pig! You are coming with us”. The Duke started to protest but was promptly hit in the face with a robe thrown by one of the men.

Clothed only in a robe and humiliated the Duke was forced out of the chambers and toward a balcony overlooking the courtyard. He was prompted at the point of a razor-sharp dagger to order his men on the walls and in the courtyard near the wagons to lay down their arms and assemble in the center of the courtyard. Reluctantly the men obeyed their orders, for to disobey would mean the post and a whipping for disobeying the Duke. The hoard of freed prisoners escorted the captives to the dungeon where they were all imprisoned with the rest of the captives. “The castle is ours!” said Bentz. He called to two of his men, “Make haste to the General with a message, tell him we have the Duke and are holding the castle awaiting his orders. The men went to the stalls and saddled two horses. Their horses were too far away in the forest at the bottom of the hill. They left by the main gate, which was promptly closed behind them, and spared no time speeding toward the main army which was now surrounding the town of Werfen.
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