The King's Son
The Erathians could no longer deny the strength of Tarnum's forces or the danger these escaped slaves represented to the Erathian way of life. So King Gryphonheart sent his own son, young Prince Niven, to deal with the matter.
Tarnum must defeat all of Earl Rambert's troops while showing the King's son the evils of slavery. Tarnum and his two best Captains will transfer to the next scenario, but will be limited to level 22.
|Day 1 - day 1|
|With the death of Baron Paglon, Mad King Gryphonheart couldn't ignore us any longer. But instead of marching on the swamps to take care of us himself, he has sent his oldest son, Prince Niven.|
Niven is rumoured to be an excellent tactician even though he is barely sixteen years old. He's received all the best education, and with the well-trained forces of Erathia behind him he will be a formidable opponent. That is, unless I can remove him from this conflict before he has a chance to do any harm.
|Day 7 - Day 7|
|I sent the bulk of my forces under the command of the Gnoll, Brellick, to watch over the considerable number of women, children, and invalids who have come under my protection. I also warned Brellick to remain off the beaten path and watch for ambushes. If Prince Niven were any tactician at all, he would know that a well-orchestrated ambush is the best strategy in the swamps.|
Despite my warnings and my hope that Niven would concentrate his attention on me, Brellick walked right into an ambush. Most of his soldiers were killed in the attack. To my surprise, however, Niven refused to execute the noncombatants even though Rambert, the Earl of these parts, begged for it.
Instead, my people are locked within the dungeons of Rambert's Castle awaiting the decision of the young Prince.
Or my arrival - whichever comes first!
|Day 12 - Day 12|
|I received a note this morning asking for a private meeting in the middle of the swamp well off the beaten path. Of course, I expected a trap. Why else would an Erathian want to meet me? But I took a chance.|
Using Serpent Flies, I scouted the surrounding swamp thoroughly before I approached. If the enemy attacked, I should have plenty of time to escape.
"Are you the leader of the rebels?" the well-dressed man asked. His clothes were too expensive for him to be anything but a noble.
"We're the Mudlanders - freemen! Not slaves, not rebels," I corrected the man.
"Oh! I apologize."
"Accepted, and I am Tarnum. I lead for now," I said. I didn't want this man to know that if I were to die, I suspected the rebellion would collapse and the Mudlanders would return to slavery.
The noble explained that not all of Erathia supports King Gryphonheart. In fact, if he weren't so powerful there would've been a coup long ago.
"So, you don't have the courage to rid yourself of a King you don't even like! What does this have to do with me?"
"Everything! King Gryphonheart has sent his own son, Prince Niven, here to face you in battle. I have it on good authority that he fully expects his son to fail."
I felt the bile rise in my throat. Gryphonheart became more disgusting with each passing day.
"Why would he kill his own son?" I asked.
"Because Niven is soft on slaves. Because he knows that Niven has the support of all the nobility and he could be used to raise Erathia against him," the noble said.
I've seen Niven's compassion toward slaves first hand. He's the first Erathian I've faced that hasn't slaughtered every escaped slave he can find. He's even removed the bounty on slave heads, replacing it with a single bounty for me instead. A smart move, trying to cut the head off the snake.
"I still don't know what this has to do with me," I said. What else was this noble willing to reveal?
"Please don't kill the Prince! If you can't turn away, at least spare his life if you should ever defeat him. We would pay a healthy ransom for the Prince, if alive."
This was interesting, but I couldn't make any promises.
"I have no interest in acting as Mad King Gryphonheart's assassin," I said, "but if the good Prince gets in my way neither will I risk the life of even one of my people to keep him alive. Understand?"
"Yes," said the noble.
|Day 22 - Day 22|
|I took Droglo with me as part of his instruction. The boy's combat skills were coming along nicely, but I wanted him to know that there were ways around battle and that you should take those paths whenever you could. No reason ending lives when you can avoid it.|
That's why I didn't mount a big expedition to capture Prince Niven. Late at night, Droglo and I slipped into the enemy camp. We moved slowly, covered in mud from head to toe. We each wore only a loincloth, carried only a dagger. Droglo's small, wiry frame was made for this kind of lurking, and although I was considered large by any standards, I had more years experience than I dared count.
We only had to kill two guards on our way to the Prince's tent, where I clubbed the young royal unconscious and threw him over my shoulder. On our way out, Droglo killed another guard who stumbled upon us.
We then vanished into the swamp.
|Day 23 - Day 23|
|We rejoined our forces with no trouble thanks to Droglo's knowledge of the swamp. He found a nest of Wyverns and quickly tamed them so we could use them as mounts and return to our own camp even before the enemy knew their Prince was missing.|
Only after I locked Niven in a cage did Droglo speak.
"You've been talking a lot about honour lately, Tarnum," Droglo said. "Was this honourable?"
Younger even than Niven, Droglo was a wise boy. He never missed much.
"What we do is for the best of our people. As long as we keep that in mind, then whatever we do is honourable."
"What do we do with him now? Kill him?"
"No," I said. "If I was going to kill him, I would've done it in his tent."
"I'm going to teach him a few things, and hope he's a good student."
|Day 28 - Day 28|
|Earl Rambert has sent several warnings for me to return Prince Niven. I haven't responded because Rambert can't possibly know for sure yet that I have him.|
Rambert's latest threat, however, has me worried. Locked within Rambert's dungeons are hundreds of Mudlander women and children, and the Earl claims he will start executing them one at a time until Niven is returned. If it comes to that, I just might have the let the Prince go.
|Day 31 - Day 31|
|"Greetings, Prince," I said. It was the first time I met with him since the capture. So far, he seemed to be holding up well.|
"What do you want with me?" Niven asked calmly.
For a young man of his age, he was extremely composed. It showed courage. I just hoped he had the courage to change as well.
"I'm not going to kill you, if that's what you mean. I want you alive to see what Erathia has become under the leadership of your father," I said.
"I'm not interested in your lies!"
"All I ask is that you look and listen, Prince, not believe. If by the time I am finished you still think I am a liar, I will set you free."
"That is all you want from me?" Niven said suspiciously.
"That and one more thing," I said.
"Oh, what is that? Do you want me to reveal my troop numbers and strengths?"
"No, I can learn that on my own," I said, letting that sink in. Niven had to know he wasn't dealing with a fool here.
"Earl Rambert holds in his cells a large number of my people. Now, I wouldn't be so naive as to ask you to set them free, but Rambert threatens to kill them all until I free you. If you are an honourable man, Prince Niven, then order him not to touch these people. Since I have given my word that I will release you one way or the other, you have nothing to fear. Just don't let your man kill my people," I said.
After several quiet moments, Niven nodded and said, "Give me pen and paper. I will make certain that they are treated civilly."
|Day 34 - Day 34|
|I escorted Niven, arms bound behind his back, to the edge of camp. Droglo was with me as a guard, holding a spear to the Prince's neck.|
Together, we watched as some of my troops helped some recently freed slaves into the healing tents. All of them were hunched from exhaustion. Many had fresh whip marks across their naked backs - even the children. I let Niven see them all before I turned to speak.
"Sometimes we see them in worse condition. Some won't even survive the night," I said.
"Convenient," Niven said after some time.
"What does that mean?"
"I have never seen slaves in this condition before. I have never even seen one whipped; yet here you are marching a horde of them before my eyes. A bit convenient, don't you think?"
"You think this is fake?" I asked. Was he that blind?
"I'll bet the only slaves you've seen have been house slaves, slaves who have soft hands because they never do any hard labour," I said. I could tell by Niven's expression that I was right.
|Day 36 - day 36|
|The personal stories of torture and pain by more than twenty slaves still didn't change Niven's mind, and now the Prince was asking for me to hold up my part of the bargain and let him free.|
Niven refused to believe me, but could he ignore his own eyes.
"I want to show you one more thing, and then you're free," I said.
|Day 40 - Day 40|
|Once again, Droglo was guarding Niven. This time, Niven's arm were free so he could scramble up the steep hill that would give us a good view of the small camp on the other side.|
"Take a look, Prince," I said. "You can't deny your own eyes."
The stench wafting from the slave pens below stung my nostrils even from this distance, and I could see moisture collect in the corners of Niven's eyes as well. Then he saw the pits. Dozens of slaves were crammed so tightly in the holes they could barely move.
In the centre of the camp, at least of score of corpses hung from bare, dead trees as a warning to others who tried to escape. Somehow, a Lizardman child managed to get away from her pen and clutched at the dangling heels of a Lizardman male who had been hung by the neck.
"That is a slave's life," I said.
Niven's breath caught in his constricted throat. Now, he was crying real tears, not just responding to the smell.
"The only thing we have to be thankful for is a short life," Droglo added bitterly.
"I didn't know," Niven said. "They were just beasts. We were supposed to be giving them order!"
"You call this order?" I asked.
|Day 43 - Day 43|
|"I fear we broke the Prince," Droglo said one evening over dinner.|
"We had to show him the truth."
"Would it not have been kinder to kill him?"
"We didn't show him that for his own good, Droglo. We did it for us, for the Mudlanders! His own people say they would follow him if he just raised his sword against his father. Imagine what we can do with Prince Niven, heir to the Kingdom of Erathia, on our side! I'm just trying to turn Niven into a weapon!"
|Day 49 - Day 49|
|One of the Gnolls rushed into my tent to tell me that someone was letting Prince Niven free. I snatched up my sword and rushed to the cages only to find Droglo dragging Niven from his prison.|
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"You said you would free him," Droglo said. "Well, I'm letting him go!"
Niven looked worse now that he had gone without food for a few days. Depression had consumed Niven so totally that I feared he would go as insane as his father.
Looking into the Prince's dark eyes, I said, "Of course, you're welcome to go. I can even have you delivered to the border of your lands, if you want."
Niven took a few steps as if to walk into the wilderness alone, and then stopped. He looked directly into my eyes.
"All these years, I have been wrong. Everything I have done, every battle I have fought, was wrong!"
"Yes," I said. "But that doesn't mean it's too late. Believe me, I know about redemption!"
Droglo placed a calming hand on the young Prince's shoulder and said, "We could use your help. Not even WE can defeat all of Erathia. But then with you in command we wouldn't have to, would we?"
I was impressed. Droglo was already taking command. The Mudlanders were going to be all right, as long as I could get rid of Mad King Gryphonheart.
|0, 14, 0||Rogues jump out from every bush and tree, surrounding the path to the Arena. They've come to collect the heads of escaped slaves, but they don't realize that your troops are no longer escaped slaves but highly trained soldiers.|
|14, 16, 0||You hear the clinking of their armour long before the Erathian soldiers attack, so you have plenty of opportunity to prepare for their attack. What you weren't prepared for, however, was their numbers.|
Contents: Sword of Judgement
|15, 21, 0||Stumbling out of the bushes is a Gnoll who has recently been beaten. He collapses at your feet, trying to draw air into his broken lungs. He's dying, yet he manages to speak one last warning.|
|24, 4, 0||You turn a bend in the road and practically run into a large force camped at the side of the road. Before any commands can be shouted, everyone picks up their weapons and you're committed to battle whether you want to or not.|
Contents: +2084 Gold
|38, 7, 0||Griffins swoop down out of the sky, diving toward your army. You have no time to seek cover, so you order your troops into formation and prepare for battle.|
|39, 8, 0||Two of your soldiers drop, arrows in their chests.|
"Attack!" you shout and charge the ambushers before they have a chance to destroy your forces.
|7, 24, 0||Fortress|
|12, 64, 0||Fortress|
|25, 47, 0||Stronghold|
|27, 14, 0||Castle|
|45, 42, 0||Castle|
|55, 2, 0||Castle|
|63, 7, 0||Castle|
|7, 25, 0||Tarnum the Beastmaster|
|12, 66, 0||Your most powerful hero from By Royal Decree scenario.|
|25, 48, 0||Your most powerful hero from By Royal Decree scenario.|
|27, 14, 0||Adelaide the Cleric|
|45, 42, 0||Tyris the Knight|
|55, 2, 0||Rion the Cleric|
|63, 27, 0||Valeska the Knight|
|3, 6, 0||Rogue||"Ha! We knew our treasure would lure your slaves here! Now, to collect our bounty!"|
|7, 35, 0||Crusader||"Halt!" the lead Crusader says. "You have no right to walk these roads. Prepare for your punishment!"|
|10, 44, 0||Crusader||"Earl Rambert expected you to travel this route! Now, drop your weapons. You are our prisoners now," shouts one of the Crusaders.|
"You assume too much," you say. "We will not surrender!"
|11, 70, 0||Gnoll||You can see a pack of Gnolls jumping around and waving their arms excitedly in an attempt to get your attention. More volunteers.|
|12, 22, 0||Marksman||"This Sawmill belongs to his royal majesty and we are here to make sure that it stays that way!"|
|14, 3, 0||Royal Griffin||Perched above the Gold Mine entrance are Royal Griffins, scanning the swamps for the slightest movement. Not even a mouse could sneak up on them.|
|15, 18, 0||Swordsman||You stumble upon a small force of Erathian Swordsmen. They're all covered in mud as if they have been sneaking through the swamp, perhaps scouting or searching for you.|
You attack before they can flee to warn whatever larger force may be nearby.
|22, 51, 0||Marksman||"This Sawmill belongs to his royal majesty. Leave this place or die!"|
|25, 59, 0||Crusader||"Halt!" The lead Crusader says. "This road can be used only for his majesty's purpose. It is quite obvious you are rabble rousers and need to be put down for your insolence." The Crusader then makes the motion to attack.|
|28, 68, 0||Serpent Fly||You learn today that not all the creatures of the swamp want to join your fight. These Serpent Flies have taken residence in the roof of this Water Wheel and attack the moment you approach.|
|34, 52, 0||Hobgoblin||It looks like you came upon these Hobgoblins at the right time. They're prepared to burn down the Water Wheel and take all the Gold unless you stop them.|
|37, 62, 0||Roc||Perhaps all the trouble you have been causing has kept the Earl from reopening this Gold Mine. All the better for you. Now, it's yours if you can run off the wild Rocs who guard it.|
|40, 67, 0||Cavalier||"This is the King's Stables, swine! It is fortunate that we were here to protect it!"|
|53, 66, 0||Crusader||"Off the King's Road! Throw down your weapons or die, slaves! Now!"|
|42, 0, 0||Tome of Earth||The Tome of Earth Magic has been hidden away here for decades under the protection of a group of Zealots and Monks sworn to protect it with their lives. Do you want to try to take the Tome from its protectors?|