No matter how long I live, the time I spent with the heroes of the Greenbelt will be remembered with deep sobriety.
I met them at the nadir of my existence. I was a man adrift, seeking but not finding – serving like a dog – to a man who was worse than one. For years I had lived amongst thieves and brigands, slavers and killers. Like the land itself, they were wild, and I was wild too. I lived unrepentant, little more than a sword, a tool of those who would use me. I can never repay those on whom I preyed in those dark times. But it is my sincere hope that I may be judged mercifully for my later actions.
The Heroes of the Greenmarches shook the land, wrenching it from petty squabbles and the misery of misspent years. I sided with them against the Stag Lord, though to my shame I joined the fight when it was all but over.
I like to think I became a better friend to them as time went on. I accompanied them into the realm of the lich, Vordakai. But that is a tale that can be told better by others….and not the purpose for which you have assembled.
But the moment, of which I am most proud, came later. The heroes of the Greenbelt met upon hearing that the city of Tazleford was under attack. It was barely a fort, but occupied by hundreds of folk, it being a place of respite for the sick and weary. They set off on horses of pure magic, tearing across the open land in order to reach the city in time.
The Heroes arrived as the sun began to crawl down toward the horizon, setting up what defenses they could, traps they had collected years before, pits and barricades. Then, with but two score soldiers, they set to defend the city against a barbarian horde, numbering over a thousand.
The horde was led by Aemon Trask, servant of Zon-Kuthon, who rode a demon creature into battle. With him were fifteen trolls, each carrying a siege weapon, designed to batter the walls of Tazleford. Behind him was the horde, Tiger Lord barbarians, the tribe that turned back Taldan regiments, the fiercest empire of the day. They arrived at the outskirts of Tazleford at sunset. The barbarians began the demonic yelling, their drums beats with a sound that filled the vale. With a single command they set upon the city on a hill. They swarmed up to its walls, setting up siege ladders, as trolls used uprooted trees as battering rams.
Lyrice and Sam rained down arrows. The Good King directed his troops as Devon and Derrick bolstered the troops. Orman released torrents of fire as if the very hells themselves had been released. Hundreds of barbarians fell as the Heroes of the Greenbelt held their position.
As the sun came over the horizon, the Heroes saw that many of their comrades, the brave gnomes who fought along side them, bearing brittle bows in frightened hands unaccustomed to war, were injured, exhausted, or dying. Hoping to find some way of protecting them, Devon went to Aemon Trask to beg for parley and for the lives of these innocents. Aemon offered little but bitter words and sent Devon back.
The battle would be won by force of arms rather than by reason.
As the sun rose fully above the horizon, the horde fell upon them again. The walls of the city were breached, and Aemon Trask, who had previously been cravenly commanding from the rear, rode up into the breach.
Six trolls flanked him as they filed into the breach. Aemon stood, the sun behind him, his black laquered plate shining in the brilliant morning sun. He slowly unwound the chain binding his right arm, as horns grew from his head.
Cruel arrows and the Good King’s summoned companion tore two trolls apart, but not before they nearly rent the cavalier priest in two.
Sam, seizing the initiative, charged the evil general. His blade sliced through the evil creature’s armor, but the stroke was not fatal. The mount, a cursed lion, conjured from the hells, fell upon the ranger first. Its claws pulled Sam toward the ground, but he managed to stand. A troll also tried to batter him into submission. Sam still stood. Aemon released the fury of the Abyss, he gored the ranger with his massive horns and drove him to the ground with his shield. His cruel whip lashed around Sam’s neck as arcane disease wracked him. Nearly lifeless, Sam fell.
Derrick, driven by courage and the principle that no comrade of his should die to so horrid a man, rode over trolls as Lyrice and Orman felled them. But Derrick also fell. The lion nearly unseated him, and Aemon’s cruel whip brought another Hero low.
Patichka, loyal servant of the Good King, charged in, following the path others had plowed. She grabbed the cruel chain, wrapped it around Aemon’s neck and throttled him until he fell.
The trolls looked ready to end the battle, to lead the horde, in waves, over the Heroes, whose only protection lied in shambles.
But the Good King and his advisor, Derrick, had planned for months to raise an army. Before they had left, they instructed me to bring them to the field of battle as quickly as I could.
As Aemon fell, the leading line of the Greenmarch calvary crossed the river. The barbarians fled before us. Our horses trampled them as we charged upon them. We threw caution to the wind. Trolls fell before our lances and the barbarian horde, previously a thousand men strong, battered by the spells and arrows of the Heroes of the Greenmarches, fell before us. I will never know a time as proud as that ride. Not until I crested that hill did the full favor of Erastil fall upon me once again. Not until I gave control of the army over to my king, did I feel I had earned my position.
But today is a day of remembrance. Not for the heroic actions of a few. Not for the fifteen that survived the assault, that held the city. Not for those proud men, of whom our beloved King is one. Nor is it for our brave soldiers, even though today we recount their story. But rather, today is for those brave gnomes who stood amongst heroes. Who stood against a force much mightier than they. Who stood until they could do so no longer, their wounds stealing their last breaths. Who cause us, today, to stand taller because we knew them and count them as countrymen. Today we remember those who no longer stand beside us.