Fire of CoriolisEdit
The Fever of DiscoveryEdit
It was under the authority of the Counsel of Chroniclers, instated by the Emperor Abylus the Learned, that the miners' guild was founded to investigate ruins uncovered in the plain of Coriolis. Despite some opposition in support of the Karavan interdiction, a vote was cast in favor of a motion to allow miners to dig to reveal the truth behind the dragon of the myth, and the secret treasures or evils that Atys was thought to hold in her bowels. The general consensus was to rather brave the truth than live in falsehood, such is the credo of the Fyros people. But the path to the verity is not always a merry paddle down tranquil waters...
A team was digging in the region of Coriolis, encouraged by the discovery of fragments of a strange material, when they hit upon a vein of acid which quickly set fire to the surrounding parched wastelands. Prevalent easterly winds pushed the fire on swiftly before reinforcements could be called in. The fire devoured the town of Coriolis and blazed a trail like a rabid gingo consuming every form of life in its path. Abylus the Learned sent in an army to combat the fire but worst was yet to come.
The fire had spread across to the Matis frontier creating a firewall and preventing Tryker water supplies from getting through. The Matis king, Aniro III, taking advantage of the smoke screen, whipped up an army to rout our water watcher regiments, take over the water route and were turning their eyes to the Lake Lands. But as the song goes, "as long as breath shall fill our lungs our hearts shall beat bold and true, and as long as the night shall bring the morrow we shall struggle through and through!" For weeks the fire of Coriolis raged. But then better fortune blew our way and the clouds thickened and broke into heavy rainfall to take care of the fire as if by magic. Not wasting a single moment and though the troops were fatigued, Pyto, the son of the aged Emperor, set out on a heroic campaign to reconconquer our vital link to the lake lands.
— as told by Apocasus Menix, a Fyros chronicler
The Siege of KaraviaEdit
Karavia, the Matis fortified city built on the site of the first Karavan-Matis encounter, had fallen to barbarian Fyros forces during the reign of King Noblis. Situated at midpoint along the water route linking the Lake Lands to Fyros territory, the city had become a vast garrison town providing armed cover to Fyros outposts running north and south. Three generations had not sufficed to quell our deep-seated humiliation wrought upon us by the infidel invaders that continued to grow fat on the holy land, our land.
But at long last, out of the ruins of our revolt-stricken dominions, came a new hope in the guise of the valiant warrior-king, Aniro III, second son of Danido the Decrepit. Aniro set out on a campaign with a contingent of faithful knights to reconquer the hearts of the people and to forge a new army to fight under the one banner against the common enemy.
One of those knights was Gioni di Tylini, a sure-handed colossus of Karavian stock, and a fervent believer in Jena. Tylini went on to distinguish himself in the battle of Thormes where he converted his tribal prisoners into loyal subjects. His return to Matia, the Matis capital of the old lands, was marked with great pageant and no sooner had the fanfare died down than he was summoned by the king. Time had come for the spurs of Matis knights to drive the heathenish imps from the holy land.
Moreover, victory at Karavia would open the road to the sea shores further west as well as giving a virtually unhindered passage to the proverbial riches of the Tryker lake lands to the south. However, the walls of the fortified city were strong and high, the occupants could hold out against a siege at least till Fyros divisions of relief troops brought support, which would reasonably take them a little over forty days.
"But, my liege," said Tylini, "by the time we have taken up our positions the Fyros will surely have sent the full brunt of their army from their homelands to Karavia to relieve the city. We shall be outflanked and caught between two armies..."
"Worthy Tylini, you would acquiesce that an essence to victory is knowing how the land lies. You shall be the bait to lure the Fyros to a battlefield of our own design!"
"With all due respects, my Lord, we shall be unable to maneuver and our strike force shall be reduced to half..."
"You would believe your King would lead you knowingly unto the jaws of death, Gioni di Tylini?"
"No, my Lord!" protested the knight.
"Then hear me out." The king rolled out a map on the long syre wood table. "You shall lay siege to the city of Karavia. Our informers tell us there is a permanent contingent of but 5000 spears. But even if you outnumber them, remember, you will first let time wear down the enemy's spirits, no Matis homin must be needlessly lost, wounded or even fatigued by futile raids. Our force of strike will depend on their good condition and by consequence the outcome of the greater battle. Now, you conclude as will Abylus that the Fyros shall have no choice but to rally to their defense taking the long march south from their northern homelands or face losing their vital water link to the Lake Lands. But your king shall be lying in wait in the forest set well back from the road. Our scouts shall watch them as they pass..." As the King's leather gauntleted finger traced the route over the map Tylini began to fully take in the king's plan.
"Mmm, and once they are past, your highness would send me word, close in on them from the rear and push them on to where we would most desire them." The king gave the great knight a comradely pat on the back.
"Have our battleground carefully prepared by your engineers, good Tylini, and the rest shall make noble reading in our history books!"
There was one major obstacle to the king's plan, the march to Karavia would reasonably take two months meandering between the great trees, clambering through the dense vegetation; a march that would leave nothing of the benefit of surprise. However, Tylini, renowned for his resourcefulness, enrolled an extra company of two hundred craftsmen. Then, instead of heading northwestward straight for Karavia, the king and he took the three day march east to the great falls of Ria where the vast river widens out. In little more than a week, working day and night, engineers and crafters had felled over seventy tall bolka trees and turned them into fabulous rafts for transporting the army smoothly down the Ria. Between the vales of Bero and Ronda, riverside tribes stood amidst the luxuriant foliage in marvel at the awe-inspiring fleet of 300 vessels floating over 30000 homins, provisions, mektoubs and 150 trained ragus tranquilly down the Ria to war.
Within the week the army had arrived at the confluent of the Darone where they were forced to disembark because of the rapid waters there. The king, at this point, led his army north, Tylini headed west. The forest from there on became less dense and barely two days later Tylini had his army positioned at but a day's march north of the holy city. The whole journey had not taken twenty days!
Outposts and villages on the water route going south were surrounded, neatly silenced and razed in short sharp night attacks. Any enemy fleeing to the woods was systematically tracked down by ragus and executed. It was vital that Abylus did not get wind of the extent of the army that was awaiting him, else he would deploy double the force.
Before coming upon the holy city Tylini split his army into three divisions each consisting of upwards of five thousand homins. Moreover, Tylini was careful to display only a portion of the force, just enough to encourage the Fyros to stay put. At last, standing on a flat hillock where his tent had been pitched, Gioni could cast his eyes upon Karavia, the grand wooden towers, the elaborate edifices, and the massive living wall of prime roots that had so often played on his mind as a boy. All was as his grandfather had depicted and portrayed in landscapes on the walls of the family residence. That is, with the exception that the ground immediately surrounding the city walls had been cleared of vegetation and that the road leading into the main gates lie straight as a bolt. To preserve the city, and so as not to attract needless curiosity of the Kami things, Tylini decided that no fire lancers would be used for the assault. When the time came the city would be overrun by stratagem and pure force! Engineers devised siege engines, crafters began felling trees while soldiers set to work preparing the stretch of turf land leading some way beyond the city walls to the north. Thousands of spears were planted in the ground devised to spring up at a forty five degree angle to meet the Fyros relief warriors from the north in their course of attack.
The besieged Fyros in the fortified city were at first content enough to bide their time believing that an army would be sent in as soon as the administrators saw that the water convoys had ceased. But on perceiving the battle ground being carefully prepared as aforementioned they began to realize the extent of our determination. Underestimating our forces, they began making forays which they came to quickly realize could only result in mass suicide. Though the harassing ceased, many a Fyros was captured endeavoring to get through our water tight ring with the aim of making for Fyros homelands with tidings of our preparations. The culprits were invariably sent back to the city gates tied to a mektoub with their heads set in their laps!
It should be said that at this epoch the Fyros, having manifested disobedience as to the given Law, had fallen out of favor with the Karavan. Thus Tylini knew there would be no chance of any teleportation unit within the city. What is more, Jena, having given all homins of Atys the freedom of thought, her disciples had no right to interpose in homin affairs.
By the second week of the siege the battle field preparations were finalized, the homins were growing restless, news of the Fyros army was expected any day. But a twist of fate was soon to change the course of events.
A bloody sun was rising and gradually cracking its ruddy hues upon the leafy high boughs above Tylini's tent and upon the vast green and brown sward yonder where the battlefield lay in wait. A rude hullabaloo was rising from the citadel where the pagans, peculiar to their inferior station, were giving themselves to summer solstice festivities as if to mock our heritage further. Tylini was contemplating the skyline and the thickening clouds when there came a galloping from behind accompanied by some commotion. Gioni turned to see a mounted mektoub give a heave of the head and collapse in shear exhaustion. The messenger, who had leapt off the mount just in time, true to Matis breeding, straightened his green and crimson tunic, gave a bow before stepping over to the great knight handing over a scroll whose seal was embossed with the flower of the baylona and tagged with a crimson silk ribbon. Tylini took the royal billet with slight agitation which visibly increased as he perused the contents. He then looked around at his entourage of knights.
"Sirs, by the love of Jena, our King sends us word: Today Karavia shall regain her dignity! Today we unsheathe our blades; today we ride on the winds of fortune!" He then pointed to the northern sky at the confirmation of the king's message: thick trails of smoke carried by the warm summer solstice winds were straggling over the sky from the northern frontier. "Fyros lands are raging with a conflagration of castigation! Providence is on our side today!" vociferated Tylini.
Indeed, what came to be known as the great Fire of Coriolis was raging over the Fyros wastelands, had cut off the water route and by consequence impeded Fyros troops from reaching Karavia. The great battle, for which the ground had been laid, would come later. Meanwhile, the smaller poultry was fatigued and cornered, now was the time to roast it!
Tylini sent in a mock siege engine force early that evening to hassle Fyros archers while a company of knights with trained ragus managed to get close to the wall where Tylini knew from his grandfather of a shallow part in the prime root foundation. The ravenous hounds dug away the shallow soil making a gap under the prime root wall. On the given order they then poured out on the other side creating havoc while the knights crept in and cut down the great wooden drawbridge.
The battle horn was sounded, the drums rolled in the dimming light and the Matis army charged down in a colossal, dark and glimmering wave to take the city by storm. Tylini spear-headed the surge hacking and thrashing his way perilously, boldly through the milling heathen mob which all night long put up resistance to the last. But by the light of the misty morn, once again Matis colors flew high and proud over the holy city of Karavia.
Standing triumphantly upon the steps of the keep, Gioni di Tylini turned his face to the heavens in thanks to Jena and large drops began to splatter upon his forehead. A deluge then broke the silence, he turned his bloody palms upward to cleanse them as all around heathen blood that swamped the holy city was being flushed away in rivulets. Tylini's heart swelled in the knowledge that these lands were now his as his gaze wondered south over the road to the Lake Lands...
— as told by Pergio Vasti, a Matis military-chronicler
The Compagny of LoriaEdit
For many a year our people prospered in the ancient lands of Trykoth in the force of the peace that our alliance with the Fyros procured.
The original deal was we'd supply Fyros cities in the north with water for their expansion, and they'd provide us with protection against our Matis neighbors who'd been blatantly casting their greedy eyes over our lands. Incidentally, this was about the time that the Matis had dammed the great Munshia river that takes its source in their territory and rolls on to the Fyros wastelands. So as it happened, not only would we be running a route through a sliver of their land but also nudging them out of the water business, hah... Still, I say it served them right for overtaxing their water in the first place. Just like the Matis to spite their own noses, no sense of commerce...
More than ten thousand free homins, Trykers and Fyros alike slogged away four and a half years solid carving a twenty foot wide aqueduct through 500 miles of flat bark along the Matis coastline. Thirty great mills along the way churned the water along feeding it in an endless flow from the Trykoth lakes to the Fyros desert dunes in the north. Settlements sprang up along the way many o' which grew into protection outposts or trade towns, it was the beginning of a whole new way of life.
The North-South water route paved the way for new trade, anything from silverweed sap and moon linen to auberwood resin and prakker grease. Those were the glory days as old pa used to say, bless his soul... Oh, no doubt it weren't all glad-rags `n' lily-paddlin' everyday, I grant you. There were some troubles, in the shape of the Matis mostly, as green as a sap-pickled toad, they were, and biting their fingers for being so greedy! But all in all folk lived a merry enough life; plenty of food `n' drink, dancing and dallying and not to mention bags of work all year round, what with upkeep, repairing and peddling...
Yep, everything was swell as a clam in a shell when the Fyros - never happy with their lot - as per usual went poking their noses where they shouldn't and inadvertently set off a huge fire stretching from Coriolis to Destranon.
Well, to cut a long story short, the new Matis king, Aniro III, took advantage of the Fyros being all caught up in fire and swept through the city of Karavia at midway on the water route killing everything that so much as raised an eyebrow! Everyone dead, gone, all in one night. Horrendous, it was, unthinkabubble... I get a lump just thinking about it...
T'was indeed sad times that befell our fathers. Well, after ploughing his way through water route villages and outposts, razing everything in his path, the dark Duke, Gioni di Tylini sent an ultimatum at our mountain gates for us to lay down our arms or have our wives and children cut to the marrow. Well, true to our life-loving spirit and always quick to adapt to a tricky situation, the Tryker tribal chiefs thought it best to stay with the livin' so as to fight another day!
That notwithstanding, though, many a Tryker took their chances in the hills that backed onto the great impassable wall of the Zorai. But once the Matis closed in on them they were like sitting game for the picking and the Matis made examples out of most of them.
We were herded off like yelks in our thousands, driven to the Matis territories where we were divided up and dispatched over the lands. We were set to hard labor making arms and general skivvying for over fifty days and fifty nights till the answer to our prayers came, not from the sky but from underground : Loria and her company of intrepid Trykers were to change our way of thinking, and bring out our true colors in a way that we would never have dreamed...
Loria was the daughter of a beachcomber, a slight built but hearty maid who knew the underground caverns better than any who ever lived. Legend has it that before beginning the forced march under armed escort out of the lagoon region of Trykoth, one night she slipped out of the stockade, unshackled a burly bunch of beachcombers and led them clean past the Matis watchmen into the hills south. But no sooner had the sun began to rise and dissipate the summer mist than the Matis chief got wind of the escape and sent out a search party twenty strong on mektoub-back, spurred on by the incentive of reward if they brought back every head before nightfall.
Despite the Trykers wading up and across streams whenever possible to avoid leaving tracks and dropping their scent, the Matis were soon on their tails. By late morning, whenever the breeze lifted and shifted inland the unmistakable sounds of steady mektoub canter and Matis tongues came into earshot, meaning the pursuers were but an hour's ride behind! Still Loria pushed her company on keeping true to her initial course south by southeast, though not without having to give the company some reassurance. "Mountain to the left, Zorai wall ahead, Matis behind, to my mind we'd stand more chance heading west!" said Bodley Shaines, a stout fella who Loria knew from childhood.
"No, our only sanctuary lies where the Matis dare not tread," she replied, "where you see the great root springing forth yonder from the belly of Atys. From there we follow the galleries east under the great mountain into Matis land, to free our brethren!"
"We'd be more help to our brethren if we saved our own skins first, I say!"
"No, Bodley," said Bremen Layley, "Loria's right, the west of Trykoth is riddled with Matis gingo handlers hunting down runners." As if to second Bremen's reasoning there came a sickening howling echo from a hunt somewhere afar in the west.
"Well I'm stickin' with Loria," said Ticker O'Flaney.
"So am I," seconded Binney Torly.
"Trust me, Bodley, another hour's march and we're safe!" Loria insisted.
"Oh, well, I s'pose I ain't leaving you now. Besides, someone's gotta look after you, little princess!"
"Good, now let's save our breath for striding!" Without further ado Loria dug in her heels, lengthened her stride and fixed her sights on the high plateau yonder followed by Ticker O'Flaney, Bremen Layley, Binny Torly, Jeffy Payne and last but not least Bodley Shaines keeping up the rear. On they trekked, threading through the dense bushes and shrubs of the lowland forest, over grassy ridges and down slopes in the early summer sunshine that warmed the magnificent irin flowers deliciously enhancing their fragrance. T'wasn't always an easy thing to concentrate on escape and murder and such like in a land blessed with such natural harmony. At one point, Ticker O'Flaney couldn't help a whistle but was then rebuked by Loria when he broke out into song, you can't blame the fella, such is the Tryker love of free living, is it not?! Another time Bodley Shaines got a good scolding for picking scrath berries and general dawdling.
At last they found themselves at the top of the plateau in the middle of which was a deep cleft where the great stalk reached down into the forbidden bowels of Atys. All six Tryker homins stood in wonder at the great root that weaved its way up to the canopy, then they turned in unison to take in the view of the blue lagoons shimmering in the distance like silken spreads `neath the midday sky.
"Look yonder to the sea," observed Bremen Layley, "looks like our salt vessels are on course for Karavia."
"Maybe our folk are fleeing to Fyros lands..." added Binney.
"To join them to wage war against the invaders!"
"Three cheers for freedom!" rejoiced Ticker, but Loria held up a hand.
"Look again," she said solemnly, "the royal flags you see are of no tribe of Trykoth!"
"See the water route, see the droves down there being driven away to slavery..." As Loria pointed out the dark masses representing the thousands of Tryker prisoners, her ears were suddenly alerted of the galloping of mektoubs coming up the trail not nine hundred yards on the other side of the plateau behind them. The Matis knights must have spotted them and had taken the bridle track round to take the Trykers by surprise.
"Quick, to the cavern!" cried Loria.
"The slope's too far, we'll never make it in time!"
"To the edge of the cleft, there's a vine we can climb down!" shouted Loria. The Matis were but three hundred yards away as the Trykers grasped the vine, all swung over the ledge and began to slip down the fifty foot scarp, that is, all except one.
"Come on, Bodley! What are you doing?!" called Loria from over the ledge.
"Keeping the Matis from our backs, you follow the lads now, Loria, you'll be down by the time I've cut this through enough!"
"I trusted you, now it's your turn to trust me! Go on now, I'll be alright long as you get a move on." Bodley continued slicing the vine with his penknife as the Matis closed in.
The first knights wielding their swords were but ten yards from Bodley when he turned and threw a pocketful of prickly scrath galls in their road. The mektoubs reared on the prickles and threw their riders giving the bold Tryker an instant to see that the company had touched the ground and that Loria was already two thirds down the scarp, and then he too slipped over the ledge. A furious knight scrambled after him but on seeing the state of the vine turned to his chief.
"The wretch has cut the vine, it won't hold us, sire,"
The Matis chief advanced to the ledge. "Get back on your mektoubs," he ordered and swiped clean through the remaining strands of vine. "They're heading for the cavern! To the path on the other side!" he bawled before making off in a lightening gallop. Bodley was halfway down when the lifeline was completely severed. But the artful little fella kicked from the scarp wall at the last second to fling himself on a leafy flowering irin branch, so breaking the fall, but which then delivered him to the ground with a thud smack in the middle of a generous pile of dung! He got to his feet, pretty disgusted but none the worse for wear amid some laughter and cheering now that the Matis had been foiled. For the slope running down into the bed of the cleft was some three hundred yards on the far side, whereas the Trykers had just thirty yards separating them from the Prime Root entrance, and they all knew the Matis would never go against the Law and venture in after them. But Loria, the only one without a grin on her face, took the Tryker by his dung stained lapel, and gave his arm a sniff.
"Torbak, and fresh..." she uttered with a dark glance to the cavern of their haven. At the same moment there came from within a horrible roaring yawn that numbed their senses.
The Matis were racing across the plateau to the far slope and Loria knew they would be within the arena outflanking them in less than a minute. Bodley sank to his knees as much through moral exhaustion as despair.
"Get up, homin!!" cried she, "we're not done yet, get up, there's a greater battle awaits us. Now swallow your pride and do as I do, all of you!" She took a large Prime Root leaf, smeared it into the torbak dung and proceeded in rubbing it into her clothing. The others reluctantly did likewise as the Matis mektoubs came thundering down the slope. "Now, brace your hearts, remain calm and don't run, the scent you now wear will cover you." Loria then stepped forward as the Matis came charging over swords outstretched with the captain crying: "Only their heads!"
Unperturbed by Matis cries of slaughter, Loria continued her sure and steady progress towards the dangerous Prime Root haven with her company close behind all in one block. The Matis were but twenty yards from their heads as they came into the shade of the gaping cavern entrance when all at once, there was an appalling roar and a pack of five great torbaks pranced before them. Even one step from the jaws of death Loria did not falter in her stride, and led her company between the formidable creatures without them giving the Trykers so much as a sniff! The galloping mektoubs stopped dead throwing the first astonished riders into the path of the awesome predators who then lunged their saber-horns into the soft Matis bellies to secure each unexpected morsel before going on to the next in a frenetic binge of killing.
Only two Matis out of the whole party made it back to tell they had been trapped by a witch, claiming that not only had she the power to conjure evil creatures and set them on her enemy, but she dared breach the Law and descend into the forbidden caverns of the underworld!
The Company of Loria didn't hang around for the feast but continued on to meet their heroic destiny through the Prime Roots under the great mountain to the greater battle.
— as told by Derry O'Darren, Tryker chronicler