Account of the Victory by the 3rd Bywater Expeditionary Army over the Forces of the Yazak Khanate of Liara
Recounted by Anson Adams, Bard Extraordinaire
The recent victory by the 3rd Bywater Expeditionary Army over the forces of Khan Rivtoff at Liara indicate that the Army is prepared to carry forward to battle the forces of evil assembled at Tovag Bargu. Normally led by Baron Elrich, the Army is most famous for its legendary 1508 march against Lord Soth’s Dargaard Keep. The Army now faces a no-less-difficult a task -- to march to Tovag Bargu to face the plainsmen armies of the Whispered One, and whatever other creatures, natural or unnatural, that he might have there assembled. Between the borders of Southold and Tovag Bargu lie some dozen clans of nomadic Yazak warriors, which the Army must pass through by negotiation or by battle in order to reach the stone circle of Tovag Baragu and foil Vecna’s grand plot. If the victory over the forces of Khan Rivtoff at Liara are any indication, the Army is well prepared for the trial that lies ahead.
The responsibilities of leading the 3rd Bywater Expeditionary Army weighed heavily on acting-general Sir Greylin Lofalkin as he planned on the eve of battle with his unit commanders. The parting words of Baron Elrich, “don’t lose my army!” did not inspire much confidence in the untried Sir Greylin, but the commanders were supportive. “You’ll probably do fine, sir,” said Sir Feldernak, commander of the Knights of the Silver Hand. A report from Quartermaster Percy made it clear that Liara must be subdued to maintain the integrity of the Army’s supply lines as it advanced farther into the plains. It was not enough to simply bypass Liara -- her armies must be defeated in battle.
To avoid the difficulties of fighting a river crossing, the commanders conceived a brilliant plan to bring the 3rd Bywater across the river unopposed. An unnamed mage constructed a bridge across the river upstream from Liara in the early dawn, allowing the army in its entirety to cross by mid-day. This was far faster than would have been possible had Quartermaster Percy’s engineers built their two portable bridges. These bridges require a full eight hours to assemble or disassemble; time enough for the Khan to bring his armies upriver to attack the 3rd Bywater in mid-crossing.
As the 3rd Bywater Expeditionary Army closed in on Liara, scouts brought back the additional bad news that the towns’s fortified tower had a powerful ballista mounted atop it. This made the advance of the mostly-unmounted Southrons even more difficult! A quick council among the commanders decided that Scout Hernando would scale the tower and attempt to kill or distract the ballista crew while the main body of the Army closed on the town.
General Greylin arrayed his infantry in two columns, with his cavalry poised in the middle to support either flank, or to exploit a breakthrough anywhere on the battlefield. On the far left flank, Greywolf led the 24th Royal Southold Archers. To their right, the hulking figure of Captain Cameron Gaunt led the elite Flaming Fist halberdiers in a double rank. The Knights of Anorien (various Anorien nobles and their retinues) and the Knights of the Silver Hand (the elite Nuadan knights), the Army’s most powerful and valuable units were sheltered from the ballista in the lee of the forest, in the center of the battlefield. To their right, Captain Alphonse led the 1st Anorien Archer regiment, in the famous Southron Arrowhead formation. On the right infantry flank was Captain Creose’ famous Crusaders, veterans originally from the Urml militia, and the newly-formed 3rd Anorien Foot, led by General Greylin himself.
Against them, the Khan had massed a formidable army. On the far left, a unit of elite archer scouts was arrayed on the opposite side of the river, safe from the Bywater infantry and cavalry. In a long, single line across the bridge was a unit of archers. The 2nd Yazak foot continued the line to the wall of the fortified tower. On the other side of the tower an elite unit of the Khan’s Household Troops equipped with heavy Banite armor stood next to the 1st Yazak foot. Anchoring the far right of the line was the town inn. Two units of the famous plainsman cavalry, highly mobile and skilled in archery, were arrayed in front of the main line. A third unit of cavalry, this time medium lancers led by Khan Rivtoff himself, were held in reserve behind the tower.
At General Greylin’s signal, the 3rd Bywater Army moved forward. Cameron Gaunt led the Flaming Fist forward at a jog, flanked by Sir Greywolf and the archers. On the right flank, the archers and infantry also jogged forward, while Sir Feldernak led the Knights in a gallop toward the light woods in the center of the battlefield. All watched the fearsome ballista on top of the tower -- who would be its first target?
Hernando’s courageous action meant that the ballista was taken out of action very early in the battle. As he spidered up the side of the tower, the great bolt-thrower thumped once, then again. A volley of bolts landed among the Flaming Fist, taking down several of their number. But the Fist marched implacably onward, and Hernando fell upon the ballista crew from behind. They took up weapons and turned their attention to defending themselves from their invisible assailant. While sheer numbers meant that the odds were heavily against Hernando, he bravely stood his ground and kept the ballista crew too busy to fire again.
At the end of the first half hour of battle, however, the situation did not look good for the 3rd Bywater. Several devastating volleys by the elite Yazak scouts across the river had decimated Greywolf’s archers, while his return fire had little effect. The center horse archer unit, led by the Yazak Shamen, had inflicted several casualties on the Fist and the 3rd Anorien Foot, and suffered none in return. If losses continued at this rate, there would be little army left by the time it reached the main enemy line! Even Hernando was in trouble, as one of the warrior heroes in the tower had come up on the roof and engaged him in combat.
Seeing the plight of his left flank, General Greylin took command of the Southhold Knights, and led them in a charge at the elite Yazak scouts. An Adaption spell enabled them to charge clear across the river, decimating the surprised skirmishers. After the charge, only their leader still held his ground against the heavy cavalry, but he was quickly dispatched. The Knights of the Silver Hand, meanwhile, charged the light Yazak cavalry that was harassing the right flank. The light horse troops fled rather than meet the heavy Nuadan knights. This allowed Creose’s Crusaders and the 3rd Anorien Foot to move up closer to the enemy line without suffering constant attrition from the Yazak archers. Captain Alphonse’s archers, still in Arrowhead formation, moved up and began volleying arrows at the heavily armored Banite infantry. The Flaming Fist continued their steady march toward the waiting Yazak line, still suffering the volleys of arrows from the elite horse archers before them.
The second hour of battle saw the fight begin in earnest, as the armies closed to melee distance. General Greylin galloped back across the field to join the Nuadan Knights as they levelled their lances at the 2nd Yazak foot. Their thundering charge, in their famous Lance formation, routed the plainsmen, who were not prepared for the impact of the heavy cavalry. However, this allowed the medium Yazak lancers to in turn charge the Nuadan Knights. The Banite infantry also wheeled to attack the Nuadan Knights.
However, on the left flank, a similar charge by the Anorien Knights was broken by massed bowfire. The Knights levelled their lances at the narrow gap between two companies of Yazak archers and thundered at them, but the sheer number of arrows fired at them slew several of their number. Losing courage, the knights turned and fled, and it was only due to the quick healing of several of their number by Sir Greywolf that they were rallied. The Flaming Fist, meanwhile, marched onward toward the same troops that had just routed the elite Southron Knights -- they faced the enemy’s entire left flank alone.
The Fist exhibited extraordinary courage in their final dash at the enemy. Now under bow fire from the tower as well as the enemy before them, their entire march seemed to be jeapordized when a searing Wall of Fire sprang into existence before them. If they were forced to wait for the Wall to dissipate, then the enemy arrow volleys would surely decimate them! “Onward, men! Charge!” shouted Cameron Gaunt, and the Fist marched stoically onward. Through the roaring wall they marched, and finally came
to grips with the Yazak troops before them.
On the right flank, the Knights of the Silver Hand were trading casualties two to one with the Banite and Yazak lancers they were fighting. However, outnumbered three to one as they were, this was not a ratio they could afford for long. Marching in double file from the right, however, Creose’ Crusaders came to the rescue. Squeezing through a narrow space between the town inn and the Knights, Creose led a charge against the Yazak lancers. This final blow proved too much for the Yazaks, and they broke and fled.
As his elite shock troops fled, the Khan of Liara saw his entire army disintegrate around him. Within moments, a mere handful of units still held the line against the 3rd Bywater. They Khan saw that he had lost, and sued for peace. In negotiations afterward, the commanders of the 3rd Bywater magnanimously asked only that the Khan safeguard their army supply lines within his territory. The grateful Khan, who distrusted Vecna but had fought the Southrons to defend his village, agreed to this. He pledged to try to convince one of his fellow Khans who similarly distrusted Vecna, to not oppose the 3rd Bywater. Finally, Khan Rivtoff agreed to sell at fair price whatever supplies the Army needed from his own stores.