In sum, there are five attacks by fire -

 

The first is called "setting fire to people."

  The second is called "setting fire to stores."
  The third is called "setting fire to baggage trains."
  The fourth is called "setting fire to armories."
  The fifth is called "setting fire in tunnels."

 

 

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

 

In the aftermath of God's Shudder, those sensitive to magic were made aware of the presence of the Sword of Agot.  Counsels were held in the Three Kingdoms, Orris to the north, Draak to the South and Strong Badia to the west.  There was no time for rebuilding, for all the mages and wizards throughout the kingdoms could only talk of the unending midnight that would befall them if the Sword fell into another's hand.  With haste, each kingdom rallied their forces to march upon Ancient's Keep and recover the Sword, whatever the cost.

Tower of Sullivan

Whether by fate or by chance, all three kingdoms reached the base of Ancient's Keep at the same time, only pausing long enough to take stock of the situation.  The air stank with anticipation.

Donut eating fool.

Image Copyright Todd S. Lehman

The time for preparation was over.  Orris, possessing superior numbers, decided to spread out and moved in a number of directions.  One squad started towards the Keep itself, another towards the army of Strong Badia, yet another around a jutting mesa.  Knowing bloodshed was at hand, Orris' commanders ordered troops to take up position within the Tower of Sullivan, which was said to have been constructed by a brilliant fool who simply had nothing better to do with his time.  On the way towards the Tower, one of the Foot Knights spied a mystical container.  Upon picking it up, he discovered a flying carpet that immediately slid beneath his feet and awaited his instructions.

While Orris did possess large numbers, only a few units were able to range quickly.  As a result, the army of Strong Badia remained out of reach while Draak was completely obscured by Ancient's Keep.  What concerned Orris the most was that their Wizard seemed to be unsure of what magic he possessed, perhaps a sign of senility, for what army would march without the aid of magic?

Strong Badia takes first blood by slaying a Dragonwolf.

To the south, the armies of Draak, Land of the Dragon, took flight to the north heading directly to the skies above the Keep and to the west to meet the forces of Strong Badia.  Meanwhile, the ground forces marched toward the west to meet the scourge of peace and freedom head on.  However, one of the Dragonwolves strayed too close and Strong Badia's Slugmen opened fire, drawing first blood. 

Just one of many annoying pixies.

A Dragon Hero, outraged by such a senseless death, cast dragonfear upon a cluster of the West's forces.  This, too, met with failure as the spell was countered by a pixie.  Realizing the battle ahead was going to be difficult, a Dragon Mage cast dragonoil upon the land that covered a large area between the Strong Badia and Draak troops, coating a couple of Slugmen in the process.  While it would be a simple matter for the Mage to have ignited the dragonoil, he decided to bide his time.

The Dome of Blindness did nothing of the sort for this centaur.

Image Copyright Dan & Jennifer Boger.

Strong Badia, realizing just how important magic would be in deciding the fates of all the kingdoms, sent their fleet footed centaurs after magical containers, seizing one right away.  The Dome of Blindness was discovered and rewarded the centaur with an increase to skill. 

Strong Badia has Draak in their sights.

Image Copyright Dan & Jennifer Boger.

While dragonfear may have failed, Strong Badia's units were still very cautious about coming within range of a dragon's fiery breath.  Yet they were less fearful of Orris, sending centaurs racing across a bridge and a squad of Lightning Riders to attack the ground-based army of the north.  Try as they might, Orris' archers were unable to take out even one of the centaurs.

By now, the centaurs had successfully expanded Strong Badia's presence the farthest of all the kingdoms.

Forget the Force, there's a tremor in the ground.

Image Copyright Dan & Jennifer Boger.

Then something interesting happened.  Some may have even call it sinister.  The ground became disturbed, starting from Strong Badia's encampment and thrusted forth both towards the North and the South.  Neither Orris nor Draak liked the look of it, yet there appeared to be little they could do to unveil the hidden threat.  Draak's ground forces began to ready themselves for any possible adversity, happy that there was some air cover provided by a squad of Dragonflies, three Dragon Mages and a Dragon Hero.

Dragonflies begin to take to the air.

Image Copyright Dan & Jennifer Boger.

With some trepidation, Orris decided it was time to press the would-be invaders from the West and headed toward the bridges on the river.  Orris was amazed to see the ground become disheveled right through the river that separated the North from the West.

As if this was not enough to satisfy Strong Badia's lust for tactical superiority, another flavor of pixie enchanted a Dragon Hero and the Black Dragon Mage, reducing their ability to fly by half.  Luckily the Dragon Hero was able to perch atop a house while the Black Dragon Mage was capable of landing on the top of a large tree.

 

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Copyright 2003 by Joseph A. Comeau.  All images Copyright Joseph A. Comeau unless otherwise stated.