After the reunion with Ragnar’s daughter, Myra, they return to Thir, the last stronghold of the Nords. From there, they are ready to fight back the intruders at Hrus Castle and send the Vaegirs back where they came from.
Reunited at Tihr
Myra and I arrived at Tihr, accompanied with what was left of Sargoth’s garrison and Ragnar’s army. Judging from the people’s faces, I could tell that they learned in detail what had happened in Sargoth. But my mind was not thinking about the people. My thoughts were with one person I needed to see. Caitlyn, the wife of Fendrel.
The cortege stopped in front of Cailtyn’s inn. I sighed deeply and went in. Upon seeing me see, smiled, and hugged me. I could see in her eyes the sadness, but it was not because for the loss of her husband. She didn’t know yet.
“I learned what happened in Sargoth… Terrible things! I hope you and Fendrel are good. Speaking of whom, where is he?” she asked.
I refused to meet her gaze. Tears started to form in her eyes.
“Where is my husband, Tharon?” she asked, with a trembling voice.
“Fendrel, was killed in action, against Harlaus. I am sorry”.
Caitlyn fell on her knees crying. A child came at her and hugged her from behind. She hugged her child and cried even louder. Then the young one looked back at me. In its eyes I saw question and sadness.
I couldn’t take it anymore and stormed out of the inn. I was furious. Thoughts were racing through my mind. Names, villains… And at the end I the names of dead comrades… Fendrel, Oliver, Merek, Carac… All good men, now lying beneath the ground. And for what?
I screamed so loud; I could feel my lungs coming out of my body. Why were these things happening to me? What had I done to deserve suck punishment.
The Hrus Castle
For a couple of days, I was devastated. But in my absence, things in Tihr became worse. Someone was needed to step up. At the third day, Myra came to talk with me. She helped me realize my duty to the people. During the next five days, I rose up to the situation and took control. And not only that, but me and Myra became intimate, in a way that only two soulmates could become.
By that time, Vaegirs took control of Sargoth, Curiz and Jelbegi. Only one major city was left under Nordic influence, and this was Tihr. In order to lay siege on us, Aldwin and his army, should first take Hrus, to completely shut down the supply line with Chalbek castle. Otherwise, their army would melt in front of the huge walls of Tihr.
Hrus was one of the most difficult to siege castles in all the six realms. With both manmade and natural defenses, a good tactician could hold it with only a handful of men. So, we prepared. We wanted to lay an ambush. That’s why I only smuggled a minimum of soldiers to Hrus, for the Vaegirs thinking that we had our main force there. While an elite force of thousands was hiding at Hrus Castle and the area around.
The next day, we woke up to the sounds of a Vaegir scouting party, just outside Tihr. They were not there to fight, but to wreck fear to our hearts. They had Rothgar with them. When they realized that the people of Tihr were watching from the walls, the general took his helmet off, revealing himself to be Aldwin. He then drew his sword and decapitated him. Then he rode off, laughing, while many Nords were shocked that they had just witnessed this event.
I ordered my elite troops to head out and retrieve the body of the slain king. When the night came, we buried him. Over 50 thousand people followed him to his last possession.
Although I wanted to honor Rothgar’s memory, we did not have the time, nor the resources. After all, I think the good king of the Nords, would have wanted to beat the Vaegirs first. This was our priority. So, the next day after the funeral, Myra and I called the lords and generals in the hall, to discuss our battle plan.
“The Vaegirs don’t know we are amassing our troops at Hrus Castle. Scouts report that in a week they will be outside of the walls” I started.
“When they arrive, we must meet them on the battlefield! Clash with them and defeat them once and for all!” said Furnhard, one of the lords.
“Good sir, I disagree with you” I replied. “If we face them head-on, we shall be defeated. They have too many men for a head-on attack”.
“You clearly don’t know what Nordic honor dictates!” shouted Jarl Olaf.
“Maybe, but I understand the situation we are in” I replied.
“Why should we listen to you? After all, these events are your fault!” shouted angrily another lord.
There was a major danger for the room to erupt into chaos. I could feel everyone’s hands on the heels of their swords or axes. Just then, Myra took the stand.
“Jarls of the Nords, hear me! During the last year, we all made mistakes, that eventually led to our lands being taken! But all-in-all, I have faith in general Tharon. And as the successor to the throne, after my family got slaughtered in the battle of Sargoth, I expect you to follow me… and my husband!”.
The Land of Hrus
It was true that I was shocked myself. But it worked. The jarls, without enthusiasm, accepted my plan. Myra and I also got married the day after. Our first day as husband and wife, we spent getting ready to march to Hrus Castle, with the last troops, in order to join forces and set up the ambush for the Vaegirs.
It took two days to finally move from Tihr. I left 5 lords with ten thousand men and the civilian guard. The rest of the army was at Hrus. It was a beautiful location.
“It would be a shame to lose it all…” said Myra with sadness, while riding decide me.
“That is never going to happen. We will win!” I ensured her.
“But if we lose?”.
“Then we will not be alive to witness the catastrophe”.
We arrived 3 days later, during sundown. I knew Aldwin was 1 to 2 days away, so I ordered the troops to sleep early and well, while I gathered the generals to the palace. My plan was simple. According to Atieno’s Art of War, we would use the Stranglers Grip, in order to eliminate our most powerful enemy. We would use the land features of Hrus to our advantage. Also, the Vaegirs come to Hrus as conquerors, thinking they have the Nords on their knees. This arrogant stance is going to cost them dearly.
When I was still talking, one soldier from the scouting party came in.
“Aldwin is only a couple of hours away, sir” said the scout, barging in the room.
“Alright soldier. You are dismissed” I said.
When the man left I turned to the commanders.
“What are you waiting for? Gather the men! The battle is upon us!”.
Our army started to gather near the main gate of the Hrus Castle. I was nervous. I could understand it because my hands were shaking. Myra saw me and came near me. Upon seeing me shaking, she just took my hands in hers. Immediately, I wave of affection and calmness washed over me.
“They are ready to hear you, my dearest” said Myra, holding my hand affectionately.
“I think you should speak to them. You are their rightful queen after all”.
“And you are the man that led them here. To this point. You gave them hope and a reason to fight for. For this and many more that you did for this nation, you are the one that needs to inspire them right now”.
I nodded in agreement. I took and climbed the short stairs. Below my feet, around fifteen thousand soldiers were looking at me. Desperate. Hoping to hear a word or an announcement of hope.
“I can understand your fears. I recognize your worries. And that’s because I’m one of you. A simple man, who have lost friends, family. I am a human being, far from being unflawed! Many of you rightfully believe that I am the reason we are here today. If I may say, good Nords, it doesn’t matter what we have done. The only thing that matters, is what are we going to do about it! Are we going to sulk about our fallen ones? Or avenge them and kill every last of the Vaegirs to honor their memory?!”.
Cheers erupted from the army. Soon enough they were chanting my name.
“On to the battlefield men! Let’s greet the bastards with a proper bloody welcome!”.
The Battle of Hrus
I ordered to my men to stay still and silent, so the Vaegirs could walk in our death grip with a greater force, so we could inflict maximum casualties. Everyone was holding his breath. The Vaegir army was marching confidently, with Aldwin ahead, singing hymns and praises. We were hiding in the tall bushes, so no one from the enemy army could see us. After about the three fourths of our enemies, I gave the signal to attack.
“Now!” I shouted.
Thousands of arrows fell on the enemy forces, killing a ton of them. Vaegir soldiers panicked, some started killing each other. Me and the elite Nordic Vanguard attacked at the rear, cutting the body of Aldwin’s army in two. Our archers kept firing, killing many of their horsemen, resulting in them not being able to create ranks and attack our formations. My organized infantry troops, had infiltrated the Vaegir positions, making it impossible for them to deploy in shield wall.
Blood was spelt and thousands were killed in the conflict, that was going on for some time now. The Vaegirs, although the heavy losses we inflicted at the beginning, had regrouped, and were fighting us back. In a couple of hours, due to their numerical advantage, they could overrun our position. I had to act fast. If I killed the head of the snake, the body would die.
And then I saw him. Barking orders, trying to bring order from the chaos I had created, Aldwin was standing at the front of his troops.
Duel of the Fates
“Aldwin!” I screamed and started running towards him, my eyes full of hatred and rage.
He must have been scared because I could see the fear in his eyes. At first, he might have thought that I am a demon. My armor was covered in mud and blood, making a contrast with my eyes, which were red from the rage and filth of the battlefield. But he quickly found his composure and stood ready to fight me, shield, and spear at hand. He expected me to attack with my longsword, but instead I went all in. Without hesitating, I grabbed him and dropped him in the mud. The spear fell from his hand, and I twisted his arm, with which he was holding the shield.
I heard a crack and Aldwin growled in pain. His arm had been dislocated and fell motion less at his side.
“No hesitation” I thought, while I started punching him in his face, filled with anger and hatred.
Just then, I felt a sudden pinch in my side. I looked down and I saw the hand of Aldwin, with a small knife in hand, which was covered in blood. My blood. I was blinded by rage. I slashed his wrist, after I snatched the knife from Aldwin’s hand. Then, I stuck it in his throat. Blood started squirting from the wound and it went all over my face, as I was close to his face. I wanted to see his light fade away, in agony and pain. He then closed his eyes and breathed his last. He was dead, but I wasn’t finished. With the little knife I mutilated his face so badly, that no one could recognize him. A fair punishment, for all the suffering that he caused.
Hrus, the Castle that Will Go Down in History
She saw me coming through the mist and smoke of the battlefield. I think she was scared seeing me like that, emerging like a demon from darkness. But she came to me. Just then, rain started pouring down from the skies, washing away the filth from my face and armor. Myra came closer and kissed me passionately.
“We won” I said to her, with my voice cracked, soaking in mud, blood, and water.
“I know” she smiled back at me. “Your brave warriors are waiting for you. They are waiting for their leader”.
I held her in my arms for a little longer before I let go. I arrived at the castle gate and took a deep breath. This was it. We had won. I climbed the stairs and reached the walls. Below me, I could see the battlefield. Thousands had died in the conflict. But my men were the victors. I smiled as I saw 12.000 men laughing, drinking and smiling, after this achievement.
“Men!” I shouted at the army, who still couldn’t believe the victory we achieved. “This was not just a win, another battle that helped the Kingdom of the Nords. It was a statement. A message to all those wanting to destroy us. But we will not be intimidated. From now on, while our enemy still licks its wounds, we shall strike! We shall take back our homes and what’s rightfully ours! Let’s make them pay men!”.
12.000 voices in unison shouted the Nordic war-cry. And then they chanted my name, countless times. Myra then stood beside me and took my hand. The soldiers went silent. Then she raised my hand, a sign for the victor.
“Long live the Queen!” shouted the soldiers.
In this day, the Nords stopped the Vaegir invasion in their land.