Chapter Six – The Fall of Asydia
In all of northern Dúnlan, the Guijan Kingdom is the greatest kingdom of free men. Many cities does this great kingdom have; Dorar or Elvothien, the chief city-capital of Guijan, there are also Luijan, the guard fortress, Annandjan, the city by the sea, and Asydia, the island city. Asydia was the smallest of these cities. But did not reflect the splendor of Guijan any less. It is sited far out in the sea, on an island, north of Annandjan, north-eastwards of the Free Villages. The island is small, and the city takes up much of the island, except for the lone mountain that lies north of the island.
Sulith, is the name of this mountain, and tall it stands. To the south of the island is the city’s dock, where the captain of the city and errand riders often set out with news and tidings, and others dock to bring tidings from their southern kinsmen.
The captain of this city is called Galodan, and a mighty warrior he is. Many soldiers does Captain Galodan have, but few wars have they faced, for the enemies of Guijan lives to the west and north, and if they came by the sea, would not come upon Asydia unless all of the other Guijan cities are destroyed or taken. For this reason, Asydia is always a joyful city, and anyone is allowed to enter the island as they wish.
Most of the Asydians are farmers, and uses the lands north of the city to farm. In older days, it id said that the farmers used to farm on the slopes of the Sulith mountain, and then, the mountainsides were green. Now, farming has become less, and more people of Asydia takes to fishing in the sea all around them, and for this reason, Asydia has more and more boats, probably enough to evacuate the entire city, and this was a good thing, for in their fall, this was of much help.
The fastest of ships takes at least three days to sail from Annandjan to Asydia, and thus, since less people are willing to take this journey, very few now travel between these two cities, and for this reason news and tidings are late or never reach at all.
After Lord Vorlund had gone to the south, and recruited with him eighteen servants as he could find among the orc kin, he rode northward on the great road for two days, and then turned eastward. After a day, he came upon the Tower of Eäron, and still he and his company rode on. Before he reached the Shirìsh village, he turned northwards again, following the road. Great hatred he bore for that village, but his army of orcs was too small to yet assail that village, especially since there were a host of warriors of Guijan in that city.
Onward, Lord Vorlund rode, pausing little, for the orc-kind needed little rest, and he himself was in need of haste. Late in the night, he came upon the river, where the bridge was broken, and there he halted.
‘Long may endure the work of my kinsmen of old.’ He said, and then ordered the orcs to fell such trees as they can to rebuild the broken bridge.
‘High and great, must this bridge be.’ He instructed. ‘So great it should be, that it may endure longer than that of my ancestors. And Broad too, for my armies should be able to easily march over when they are ready to assail the Free Villages.’
Throughout the night, the orcs worked, and it was not until the sunset of the next day that they were finished. A great arched wooden bridge they built, and it was high, strong and broad, but hideous, for orcs cannot fashion anything fair and pleasant. Lord Vorlund named the bridge after himself, and using his staff, inscribed on its rails the words: The Bridge of Vorlund, Lord of the Free World.
In elvish letters were these words carved in, and silver did it glow in the moonlight. The orcs dared not look upon the letters carved by their master, for they hated the elvish letters. After all this had been done, the company rode on again.
Here, one may wonder why Lord Vorlund still held his kinsmen, wizards, in high praise, and why he used the wondrous elvish letters to scribe his name. This is so because there were still a hint of kindness in the dark wizard’s heart, but deep it was, and the acts of Ardeth and the warrior Annul had concealed this away even further. An evil deed it was, maybe, but one that caused Ardeth to understand what he was meant to do. Here, some may hope that Lord Vorlund would give up on assailing the Free Villages, but still he did not know that the treasure he earnestly seek was lost in the sea, and greater burnt his hatred for Ardeth.
Two days after the building of the bridge, Lord Vorlund and his company came upon the village of Caarb, mostly deserted, for all its peoples were on their way back from the great market. He passed through this village, more for his own pleasure, because the village did not run along the path of the great road, but was northward of it. Lord Vorlund took a deviation to rest in this village, and to learn what he can of its ways. But seeing the evil orcs, (the people of the village did not know what they were) they chased Lord Vorlund out of their village, cursing him and his company never to return.
‘But we will return.’ Lord Vorlund said. ‘And we will reward you for you hospitality. For now I declare that this city will be the first to fall.’ At this many people cower for his voice was powerful and strong, and none answered him, or question him.
But before he left the village, Lord Vorlund tried to persuade many of the people there to accompany him on his quest. Few of the evil hearted men joined him, five of them there were, and the remainder of people of the village cursed these too. These five stole the few horses that the Caarb village had, prized beasts they were, for they were given to the Caarb village by the king of Guijan, so that errand riders may swiftly reach their destination. Onward rode Lord Vorlund and his growing army. They had marched southward until the reached the Great Road again, and rode along it, as they did the day before.
For six days they rode along the great road eastwards, then, at the crossroads of the Great Road and the north road of the Guijan, they turned north, heading for Annandjan; the city by the sea.
But before Lord Vorlund turned northwards, he gazed to the east, where the great road continued, and he was lost in thought. The orcs and men looked upon him and wondered what was eastward, beyond the river that they knew was there, but could not see and beyond that, where it is rumored that the Great Road continues. They wondered what could have held the thoughts of a great wizard, but all the while Lord Vorlund said nothing. Then, at length, they rode off northward; Lord Vorlund was still silent.
Another two days they rode, until at last they came upon the gates of the great city of Annandjan as the moon had just began to climb up the great sky.
High was set the gate, and two towers were set at both its sides. Though he could not see them, Lord Vorlund knew that many archers were in these towers, all with their arrows already fitted in their bows, all already taking aim. The gate was locked and few lights were seen in the city, and none from the towers. Most of the people of Annandjan were asleep, and Lord Vorlund knew that what he had planned was well timed.
Lord Vorlund raised his hand, palm outward, as a sign of peace, and dismounted his horse. He walked up to the great gate and tapped it loudly with his staff.
A creaking noise was heard and a part of the gate opened, like a small window, and an old man’s head peered out.
‘Who goes by?’ The man asked peering from inside the gates.
‘I, Lord Vorlund.’ The wizard answered. ‘I seek refuge in your city, if it be only to pass the night.’
‘But you seemed well armed, Lord Vorlund. And the captain of the city will not welcome guests such as yourself, at least not in the middle of the night.’ The old man said again.
‘We mean no harm.’ Lord Vorlund answered. ‘We have come from a great battle with the Free Villages, and my men are tired.’ He lied.
‘Enemies of the Free Villages are enemies of Guijan.’ The gatekeeper answered. ‘And as such, you will never be welcomed in this city.’
‘You will see things have changed,’ Lord Vorlund lied again. ‘The three chiefs have allied against the Guijan kingdom, and of this I bring news. I must speak to your captain.’ Indeed, news that the allies of Guijan had turned against them are great news, news that the captain would want to learn of. Little did the gatekeeper know of the lies that Lord Vorlund had weaved.
At the mention of the betrayal of the Free Villages, some of the men from the Caarb village stirred uneasily in their seats upon their horses, but none said anything. They all knew that if Guijan was to assail the Free Villages, they could not hold back its strength, for Guijan was strong. Few now regretted ever following the wizard, but all knew that they would never be welcomed in their village again.
‘Make swift your news, Lord Vorlund.’ The gatekeeper said, as the gate began to open. ‘And make sure that none of company raises arm, or he will be shot down before he strikes.’
Noisily, did the southern gate of Annandjan open, and the gatekeeper watched as the host marched inside, suspiciously looking at the orcs. If he had looked more carefully, he would have seen that few of the men were from the village Caarb, and would guessed that the Free Villages were not at war with Guijan, but it was dark, and the gatekeeper was old and his sight diminished.
After the company marched through the gates, the gatekeeper closed it behind them. ‘I trust that you know the way to the captain of the city, or do you need a guide?’ The gatekeeper asked.
‘Would a friend not know where to find his comrade?’ Lord Vorlund asked as he looked upon the towers. ‘I need no guide.’
‘Don’t stray.’ The gatekeeper warned, looking at the towers too, and guessing what the wizard had known: that many archers looked over them from the towers. ‘Or you will be shot down.’
‘Hyah!’ Lord Vorlund shouted, paying no heed to the gatekeeper’s last remarks, and off he rode. Silently did the company passed through the city, except for the frequent growl from the orcs. The city had many towers, especially along the main road towards the captain’s halls. And although they looked empty, Lord Vorlund dared not stray off the main road, for fear of being shot by an invisible arrow in the dark night. Near the center of the city, the towers lessened, and they were far spaced, and between then, when no watcher could see, an orc or a man of Caarb would slip off the road, and not to be seen in the darkness, this continued until Lord Vorlund was the only one left, riding along the road.
Instead of heading towards the hall of the captain, the company who strayed away kept going northwards, towards the docks of the city.
Now, most of the city’s inhabitants were asleep, and none saw them, except in sleep, as they passed to the docks. At the docks, there were many towers, but all overlooked the sea, and none saw the company. They stole two ships and into these they packed their weapons and horses, and waited for Lord Vorlund to return, for he had gone to the hall of the captain.
‘Greeting Captain Mihad of Annandjan.’ Said Lord Vorlund, entering the hall of the captain. ‘I bring tidings from the west.’
‘What is your name, news bearer?’ Captain Mihad asked, sitting upon his high seat.
‘I am Lord Vorlund of the wizard folk.’ The wizard answered.
‘Then it was you!’ The captain exclaimed. ‘You visited Dorar. I heard news from my cousin, Annul, that you have visited, and many ill things you have told him. You are no longer welcomed there nor are you welcomed here. Be gone!’
‘Would you not hear of my tidings?’ Asked the wizard.
‘I would not listen to your lies, if my gatekeeper did.’ And with that the captain stepped down from his seat, and drew his sword. The many soldiers in the hall did the same. ‘Do not return, or I’ll have your head.’
With this, Lord Vorlund spun around and was gone. He leapt unto his horse, which was still outside and rode away. But he did not leave from whence he came, he too went northwards, to the docks, and there he met his servants, waiting for him. Unto the two mightiest ships of Annandjan, they set sail, and though many towers overlook the sea, none expect their enemy would be inside the city, and so none realize that the two boats contained enemies of the Guijan kingdom, or that the boats were stolen.
Lord Vorlund and his crew were far, when word came from the hall that the wizard has stolen the captain’s prized vessels, so far away they were that the cannons from the towers, and the arrows from the archers were unable to reach their target. A great cry came up from the towers; the wizard had stolen Sorion and Nion, the two fastest ships of the Guijan kingdom. A great loss has the kingdom suffered.
When the firing from the cannons had stopped, Lord Vorlund ordered that the flags of the Guijan kingdom be lowered from the ships, flags which bore four stars, representing the four cities, and the great scepter of the king along with his sword below the four stars. Then the wizard ordered that new flags be raised, flags bearing the orc blade along with his staff, representing the wizard and his army that he yet has to gather and below that he wrote in the same elvish letters as before, the words: Lord Vorlund, Archmage, Lord of the Free World.
The title Archmage is only given to the greatest wizard of the land, and few had held the title before. But this title was not bestowed upon Lord Vorlund, and now, would never be, for quite often, a wizard is overcome by his pride and power, and becomes evil, seeking all knowledge and power for himself. These wizards are cast out of the council of wizards, though Lord Vorlund was not yet cast out. He and his older brother, Lord Dergathd, were exiled to the north, out of the great council, and there they dwelt for some years, in the caves of Fergathd. But that tale is told elsewhere.
After two days upon the sea, the island of Asydia appeared before them, on the horizon, the Sulith Mountain rose high above the city. They sailed into the docks of the city on the afternoon of the third day of their journey.
At first, the people of the docks cried, ‘Lo, the ships Sorion and Nrion are come. The captain of Annandjan, or our king have come.’
Then, as the ships got closer, they saw not the flag of Guijan, but the wizard’s flag, and they thought that the Annandjan city had been taken, and its ships seized. For a while the ships were not allowed to dock, until the captain of the city was brought, along with many archers of the city. All the cannons were loaded, and pointed at the two ships. While the many towers overlooking the dock were filled with soldiers of Asydia.
‘Who are you?’ Captain Galodan asked, standing upon the tallest tower overlooking the dock. ‘And what is your business here?’
‘Are the friends of Guijan no longer welcomed in the city of Asydia?’ Lord Vorlund asked back. ‘I am Lord Vorlund, friend of Guijan, and I have sailed here to perform tasks, by leave of your king.’
‘How is it that you are friend of the king? What proof do you have of this?’ The captain asked again.
‘I was given his two most precious ships. If that is not a sign of friendship, nothing else is.’ The wizard lied.
After this, Lord Vorlund was allowed into the city, though many were suspicious of him. None trusted him because of the foul orcs that he had as company, and for this reason, Lord Vorlund went north, and he and his army dwelt in the mountains for a long while.
As months passed, Captain Galodan became more and more suspicious of Lord Vorlund, for none had seen him for the entire time of his stay. Also, the farmers of the city complained that the evil men, orcs, roamed the mountain, and they were no longer able to farm far from the city, for all were afraid of the orcs.
‘Great blades they carry.’ Some farmers complained. ‘And their walk tramples the earth, making it impossible for green things to grow.’
In the months that the wizard went north, new fire rose from the peak of the mountain, and everyone became afraid. The mountain was swollen and its grounds no good for the planting of green plants. More and more orcs were seen traveling along the north of the island. Later, the smoke from the mountain turned to fire, and whenever the mountain roars, the entire island shook, and people cower from fear.
The two great ships that were docked in the city were later taken away by orcs, and many wished that Lord Vorlund had gone away with it, but orcs still dwelt on Asydia, and many knew that Lord Vorlund still dwelt there.
Many complaints came from the people of Asydia, and the captain became tired of the doings of Lord Vorlund, surely the king did not order such chaos in one of his own city, he thought. ‘Sail,’ Tórion, the greatest of councilors in Asydia, and close friend of the captain said. ‘Sail for aid. Ask Captain Mihad of Annandjan of this Lord Vorlund; for I do not trust him, and neither does anyone else. I believe that most he spoke of were lies. Seek aid, and declare open war upon Lord Vorlund and his folk, if needs be. Drive him out of our precious home, that he may never return.’
Eventually, the captain gathered his councilors and they set out to the Annandjan city, to question the authority of Lord Vorlund. Kador, one of his greatest knights, he left to command his army, though he wished that there would be no need to do so.
They arrived in Annandjan four days later and found that the person known as Lord Vorlund was the enemy of the Guijan kingdom, and thus found out that they have been deceived. Everyone in Annandjan knew his name and hated it, for he had taken two of the city’s greatest prizes. Knowing that Lord Vorlund was a wizard, the captain of the Annandjan city, Captain Mihad, had left the wizard alone. The lost of his two greatest ships were a small price to pay for the removing a wizard, though men did not truly know how powerful wizards were.
‘But what mischief is this wizard up to now?’ Captain Mihad asked.
‘He’s been unseen for months. Some great devilry he is conjuring up.’ Captain Galohan replied. ‘I fear for the safety of Asydia.’
‘Your soldiers will not be enough to take him and his foul folk on.’ Captain Mihad said. ‘As such, I will gather my best knights, archers and swordsmen and set sail for Asydia. Together we will overwhelm this wizard, and hope for victory.’
‘But then who would guard your city?’ Captain Galohan asked. ‘If war came upon it, it will lay in ruins before you return.’
‘But war has not befallen us for many years, and I think that the Free Villages still hold all of the west, for I know that Lord Vorlund hates them. Enemies of a common enemy are allies, I say. We will sail in a week.’
‘Let us hope that when we reach all is well.’
On five ships they sailed, as they left the ships of Asydia behind, for those of Annandjan were faster and stronger, and equipped with cannons, thus better suited for war.
In the months that Lord Vorlund has been in the mountains, he had his orcs carve a cave into the mountain, but its entrance was from the north, and none in Asydia has seen this. He awoke the fire from the mountain. And with this new fire, he started to breed orcs, and in a few months, he had an army of hundreds, enough to destroy the city of Asydia, but his mind was still on the Free Villages.
Also, may more orcs came form the south, though they circled around the island and came to the mountain from the north, thus avoiding being seen from the eyes of the soldiers of Asydia. A dock they built here, and northwards it too faced. Lord Vorlund had worked in secrecy, for so was his strength. The enemy would not know what to expect.
Lord Vorlund let loose his orcs, few of them, to witness the fear they instilled into the hearts of the Asydians. He slowly drove the Asydians back, and farmers no longer farmed far north, for the orcs often marched there.
One of the councilors of Galohan was under the wizard spell, though none knew this, and the wizard forced this councilor, whose name was Tórion, to convince the captain to leave Asydia. This he did, but unknowingly and innocently.
When Captain Galohan had gone to the city of Annandjan, Lord Vorlund let loose his army. Through the city they went, burning all in their path. The soldiers tried to fight as they could, being led by the knight Kador. But as neither he nor they had fought any wars or battles, the greater number of orcs overwhelmed their strategy. They fought, and many died, until the soldiers held the towers by the docks at the south of the city. The knight was still their leader, but he was unable to lighten the hearts of his fellow soldiers against the endless waves of orcs they faced.
So great was the army of orcs that many Asydians died, soldiers, women and children. The surviving civilians were sent away, by orders of Kador, to Annandjan on the remaining boats, while the soldiers kept to the towers. Many soldiers of Asydia still lived, and the towers were held for a long while, while everyone prayed for the arrival of the soldiers of Annandjan, if any would be coming, for none knew what counsels Captain Galohan took.
Six days after the assault began, the ships of Annandjan came, bearing the flag of Guijan. Cannons were fired, and archers fitted arrows in their bows. The ships had met with the fleeing ships of Asydia, and they knew that war was on hand, and hoped that all was not lost. From far they saw the fires of the city, and the hearts of the soldiers of Annandjan were down. But now they saw that their friends held the towers, while the orcs made new weapons to destroy these. The cannons of the ships chased the orcs back, while the archers and swordsmen were unloaded. The knights of Annandjan led their company into battle, with the archers first, who drove back the orcs farther. The orcs had only swords, and thus, they realized they had to charge into their enemies to destroy them, and this they did. But the swordsmen were ready, and very well skilled.
It seemed to the men in the towers that victory was at hand, for the number of orcs became fewer with every wave of orcs that charged. Kador ordered that they come out of their towers and joined in the battle from the ground.
Captain Galohan was glad to see his knight Kador, still alive, and leading his army well, given the strength of the enemy. ‘Well have you fared, Kador.’ Captain Galohan said. ‘You may make a great captain yet, if your time comes and Asydia is saved.’
Side by side the two captains, Mihad and Galohan, now fought, and no orc escaped their wrath. Through the fiery city, the two captains led the remainder of their army, chasing back the orcs, and it seemed that they had won.
To the mountains, the orcs fled, and the captains chased them no longer. The mountain roared and was silent.
The armies went about outing the fires of the city, trying to save whoever and whatever they can. They began to realize that never could Asydia be rebuilt to the glory that it once was. Great smoke filled the skies, and darkened it, Asydia had already fallen, but men still defended it, and the two captains knew that Lord Vorlund would strike again.
Lord Vorlund realized that his army was beaten in strength, but he was wise. He set orcs to the ships he had built, and with these went Sorion and Nrion, and they sailed far north, out of sight, and circled south until the came to the docks. Three days this journey took, and on the third day, Lord Vorlund came out from the mountain, and charged the men with all his strength. They battled for a long time.
Though the number of the orcs was few, they fought harder, for their Lord was with them, and he was strong in sword and magic. Many spells he used on his enemy, controlling the weak-minded knights, or causing the earth to tremble beneath his enemies. But eventually, he was over powered by Captain Galohan himself, and here, the councilor Tórion, came, his sword high in the air, and struck down his master and lord.
Captain Galohan lay dead, and many from Asydia who saw this became filled with tears. Tórion was then struck down by many arrows from the archers of Annandjan, as he too lay in tears by his lord, for he had loved him. The knight Kador stood and wept, and would have died, had not Captain Mihad come in time. Captain Mihad came upon the wizard and defended the blow that was intended at the distraught knight, but the wizard put away his sword, and lowered his staff. ‘What victory do you wish to gain by slaying me?’ The wizard asked, as the battle continued all around them. ‘Where would you go, if you win?’
‘What?’ Captain Mihad asked, for he was puzzled. He still held his sword in his hand, and was ready to strike.
‘Look!’ The wizard instructed, and he pointed far to the south, where the ships of Annandjan were docked. ‘You see, you have no hope of escaping.’
The orc ships had gone around, led by Sorion and Nrion hoisting the wizard’s flag, and were destroying all the ships of Annandjan. Most were already sunk, or in flames. The anger grew in Captain Mihad, and he turned around to strike the wizard, but he was gone.
Then the orcs came pouring from the ships, new ships that just came from the southwest, and the soldiers were surrounded. As they tried to fight their way out, a loud thunder was heard. Horses came riding down the hill, the horses that were brought over when the wizard first came to the island. Upon the lead horse was Lord Vorlund himself, and behind him were many of the men of Caarb and most of Vorlund’s strongest orcs.
The mountain roared up again, as if angered by the raging horses, and fire came from its mouth, and with it came smoke and ash. This darkened the sky and blocked out the sun.
‘Retreat!’ Captain Mihad cried, and began running towards to docks, through the sea of oncoming orcs. Many of the remaining soldiers ran too, and many were slain even as they ran. When they got to the docks, only but a few remained, one of these was Kador, the Asydian knight. The captain jumped into the best ship there was, and even though it was on fire, he set sail in it with the survivors.
Many orcs climbed on board too, but they were slain, as the ship left the harbor. The remaining soldiers outed the fires from the ship’s sails, and the ships of Lord Vorlund chased them no more. Asydia was lost, and Guijan had suffered a great loss to their army.
The sails of the ship captain Mihad now controlled were all burnt, and they could not steer the ship towards Annandjan, for the tide bore them southwest. But captain Mihad was glad, for he knew that the Free Villages would welcome him and his army, and they would love to hear of the news they brought, though it be but sad news.
Of the sad ordeal of the fall of Asydia, twenty-three soldiers survived. Of these were Captain Mihad of Annandjan and the knight Kador of Asydia. The number lost totaled almost two thousand, including men, women and children, and Captain Galohan of Asydia. Twenty-six ships of Annandjan were lost including Sorion and Nrion; the last to be destroyed was Cudoc, the one on which they now sailed upon.
When they were safely away, Kador looked back upon his city that he had loved. A dark cloud from the Sulith Mountain now covered the entire island, and where he could still see through this, he saw that new fires were lit on the buildings that survived.
‘And so ends the days my city.’ He said to himself. ‘And the days of my lord.’
And Captain Mihad heard this and he came up to Kador and said: ‘Captain Galohan wanted you to lead to city after him, if there were a city to rule. I promise you this, his last wish would come through before my heir takes the high seat in Annandjan.’