IMW: The Final Altar
Ironmoon War: Subchapter 2: The Final Altar
The Knight Valiant had, had enough of the wolves. They had been a source of unending stagnation in the war and with the return of the missing party of Helians they knew that the wolves were made deep in the woods atop foul altars. The best they could hope was to destroy those altars, and destroy the orcs who were using them. 15 Knight Valiant, 22 Squires all assembled at the southern strikeforce. They had been pulled from both the north and the south and even some from Hyperion. A collection of force that was both awe inspiring and terrifying. Those in charge knew that trying to support them with regular troops was useless, if anything it would hamper the Knights ability to fight, if the actions of sir Michael during the last conflict had been any indication, they were all capable of incredible destructive power that could potentially be indiscriminate.
Their march was met with a combination of cheers and prayers. Some dropped to their knees and prayed to the six that these holy warriors would be successful, and that their power would not reach the pious. Others looked on in disgust at the power gathered, seeing the Valiant as no different than the monsters that plagued them. Priestesses and clerics were at the final edge of the camp, incantations were sung, the voices lifted and haunting as they cast a powerful spell upon the marching Knights and Squires. Every bit of their armor and weapons came to life with power from the chanting clergy. Priestesses cast spells of protection and some were moved to tears by the show of faith and practically wailed the spoken components of their spells.
The army moved with purpose through the wood, speed too great for beings of their size. Taking up the rear behind them were the squires, some on horse but most on foot running with a speed that was a measure less than their Knightly comrades. The first set of altars fell quickly. Their magic was volatile and the disruption of the three altars resulted in large explosions that would have surely killed lesser beings, but the Knights shrugged it off as if it were no more than a harsh wind.
The source of the magic became more apparent as other sets of altars were destroyed, and their dampening effect lifted.
They found the source quickly after the final lesser altar was destroyed. It was a massive peaked structure made of three huge giant bones that were lashed together. It was adorned with strips of flesh and talismans of skulls. It was set into a natural depression in the wood, and surrounding it were caves. It was truly a macabre sight, the ground was stained with blood and gore.
In the center of the altar was a haggard Orc. His body long and lean and his white hair and beard were twisted with bits of bone and metal. Blazen around his head was a halo of pink that bore the heretical symbols of the sect. He roared, his voice went from the guttural scream of an orc to the deep pounding growl of a wolf. He shifted quickly, a testament to his age and power, he was truly massive, fifteen feet of black fur. He roared again and he was consumed in a pink fire. When the flame and smoke faded he was clad in black armor that glistened like volcanic glass and the pink halo it had in it’s orc form had returned.
All around them howl's rang up, first coming from the woods and then coming from the caves. Werewolves poured from everywhere, there had to be more than fifty.
The battle was on. Knights tried their best to counter the cacophony of howls with calls to the gods and calls to war, but their few voices were drowned out by the savagery. They waded into battle jumping down into the depression to fight the wolves below. Squires stayed at the top, those capable of raining down arrows and ranged spells did so. The others went into combat with the wolves in the forest. Unlike their knights it took many of them to fight just one wolf, and already they were outnumbered.
The first knight to clash with the Armored Wolf was Sir Michael, Fists of Heaven. His initial attacks were powerful, enough to blow apart half of the massive altar and send the other half falling to the ground in a cloud of dust and smoke. The attack had no effect on the armored wolf, who retaliated with its own strike against the pugilist Knight Valiant. He had been seen as one of the strongest of the new generation, powerful even as a squire and a walking natural disaster as an ordained knight, but he was put in his place by the wolf who shrugged his offensives and overwhelmed his defences.
The wolf was coming to finish its job on Michael but it didn’t make contact. A late arrival came in and took the blow to his shield and the strike lit up the space with a blinding flash. Standing there was a knight known to them all. A knight who had been so legendary the stories of him had been told for as long as anyone could remember Sir Valiant Ithiel, the Immortal Moon. His arrival was like the arrival of Lorna herself. He swung his blade and it skipped across the armor of the wolf and sent it reeling back but unhurt.
Sir Valiant Ithiel was not large like the others; he was the size of a normal Helian, in black armor and a crown of black glass. His arrival was a boon, not only in moral but in the resolve and strength of the others. His very aura made each blow more devastating, every bit of armor more durable. He charged in, his face calm, almost sorrowful. He waged battle with the armored wolf, who traded blows with the man who was less than half its size as if the two were equals. With the leader occupied, the rest of the knights and squires surged. The forest shook with magical explosions, and the sounds of battle.
The sun had fallen and was only just peaking over the horizon when the battle ended. Sir Ithiel stood over the battered body of the Armored Wolf. He had been victorious but he had obvious signs of the conflict, armor that was scarred or sundered, his crown had long since been lost and blood streaked his pale face. He uttered words and gave slow hand signs and the Armored Wolf was lit in white fire that burned flesh and armor. With the leader gone, the orcs that had been forced to shift reverted back. And a single, sickly orc was no match for a Valiant.
The march back saw them light three knights and fifteen squires. All of them would see the honor they deserved, although none felt victorious when any of them had been lost in the battle. They returned to the camp, but everyone knew they had battled. The explosions and lights could be seen even from where they were at the Southern Camp. It wasn’t until the news of their victory spread that they were met with cheers and celebration. But this was only from those not tied to the church. There was only sorrow and tears from the Cleric and Priestess who assisted with the remains and the wounded. Stories would be told about their battle, by people who were not there, and those stories would carry for generations, but they will not mention the loss of life. One would have to dive into old books to even find mention of the dead..some footnote in history.