Categories > Books > Redwall > Pride of Kavazara

Prologue: Exodus

by Forge 0 reviews

An deadly, ancient enemy comes from the Far Northlands, seeking to satisfy a cold, base hunger. The castle of New Kavazara, Bladestone, opposes them... but it may not be enough.

Category: Redwall - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Fantasy - Published: 2006-02-16 - Updated: 2006-02-17 - 1770 words

Gregory P. Wong

Prologue: Exodus

It was long ago, even before the invasion of Cluny the Scourge, that a great fleet of ships set sail from the far Western continent to cross the great sea. A great flotilla, it included eight great battleships, two dozen lesser warcraft, ten supply craft, and thirty personnel transports, not to mention innumerable civilian transports. All of the warships were crewed by the most fearsome of warriors and soldiers. And, at the head of the flagship /Hallowed Sword/, stood the ferret Dritongeru Wraithlord, master and lord of the Kavazaran.
The Kavazaran empire had been indeed huge, but not once had it shown aggression to any of its weaker neighbors. However, once anybeast had dared to injure its citizens, the Kavazaran realm reacted with a power that was at once both awesome to behold and terrifying to witness. The Kavazaran Templars had cut through all opposition with their superior equipment and training, flanked by the Wraiths, warriors who could read minds and catch arrows with their bare paws. Warriors who could allow a weapon to pass through their bodies as if they were made of smoke. Warriors who could walk through walls. Warriors who could survive damage that would kill any other beast. Dritongeru, as his name implied, was a Wraith himself.
Wraithlord was tall and noble. A cloak of deep crimson fell over his shoulders, concealing a muscular frame and a deadly long rapier. He was a dauntless leader, a fearsome warrior, a wily strategist, a virtuous ruler, a wise judge, and a loving father to his two adopted children.
He was the perfect model of a perfect empire.
However, Kavazara met its match in the Dervaga. Hideous... monsters, they had attacked without mercy, butchering any beast who stood in their way.
Tens of thousands murdered... and /devoured/.
The mighty Kavazaran army had met them head on, and the fighting was long and brutal. In the end, Wraithlord and his forces had won through-barely-but now he and his people were possession of a poisoned land. The Dervaga were vengeful losers.
And the surviving Dervaga and their lord had abandoned their own territories and made for the east, over the ocean.
And there was nothing Wraithlord and his subjects could do. They would die.
But, Wraithlord's kindness came full circle. The neighboring territories had rushed to aid the fading realm, remembering the Kavazara's good will.
And thus, Emperor Dritongeru Wraithlord had found himself leading his people into the east, towards places unknown.
The fleet had ruthlessly hunted down pirate vessels, summarily executing the leaders and marooning the crewbeasts on habitable islands and giving the former slaves the captured ships. He was surprised by their reactions. In these waters, weasels, stoats, and the like were regarded as "vermin", as "bad creatures."
He knew he was not "bad", that his subjects were not "vermin", and he was more than happy to show the poor, wretched creatures that there were "good vermin" in the world.
Finally, the fleet had completed its arduous journey, landing in the far north of the eastern continent. The former emperor had released the ships into the capable paws of his naval leaders, trusting them to their own dreams and fates. And Wraithlord had trekked inland, deep into deserts and ice fields, to found a new home.
He had growled when his scouts had discovered that the Dervaga had infested the far northland ice mountains.
And thus the construction of Bladestone Castle began.
After ten seasons of hard labor, where even the lord of fallen Kavazara helped with his own brawn, the Bladestone citadel was erected.
It was massive and set in an unorthodox shape. Pointing directly north, the sword-shaped castle seemed to be aiming a deadly weapon at the heart of the Dervaga's realm. The walls reached nearly a quarter-mile longitudinally, and they were all over thirty feet high. Sheltered inside the four-pointed walls, the main structure rose like a monolith. The town where the civilians dwelled lay south of the main castle, and a small "military town" resided within the walls. Some adventurous souls had even set off to colonize the outlying lands.
Wraithlord had known his castle was not perfect, that it would never hold forever. Yet, he knew that it was the best he could give to his subjects. He had felt his body beginning to flag. Though Wraiths had an immense lifespan-at least 250 seasons-and a gift of near "eternal youth", they were nowhere near immortal. Death, either from age or from enemy steel, still touched them. And Wraithlord had been the oldest Wraith ever known.
And four seasons later, at the age of three hundred and forty-seven seasons, Dritongeru Wraithlord died in peace, knowing that he had provided his people with a safe haven.

Many, many seasons passed, and Bladestone still awaited the day the Dervaga would make their bid for total conquest of the area. Lady Ferna Sunear was readying herself for yet another transition... one that would lead her to a more restful night, she hoped.
She drew her broadsword and used it as an impromptu mirror, looking at her reflection. A well-aging weasel stared back at her. With a sad smile Sunear put the weapon back in its sheath. Vell had loved that face so much...
Sunear was grooming her current Arbiter-it had been three sad seasons since her beloved Vell had gone to Dark Forest-Tritan Longspear, a tall, auburn-furred rat, to take the helm of Bladestone when she died. He was a good beast, honorable, brave, and intelligent, though he did not possess the vitality the Lord Wraithlord had been said to possess.
Then again, she wasn't sure anybeast did.
She looked down from the battlements, watching the Bladestone warriors training.
The lifeblood of the Bladestone forces, the Kavazaran Templars, were practicing group formations. Well, at least some of them; the Templar ranks were nearly ten thousand strong.
Sunear was sure she recognized the phalanx formation, where the soldiers would advance with their 60- inch-tall tower shields and assegais-66-inch, long-bladed, close-quarter battle spears- lowered, moving like an unstoppable wall. She grinned.
Each and every Templar, from the day he or she started as a lowly private, undertook intensive physical conditioning, as well as unarmed and armed combat training. However, as individually skilled as each Templar was, they shined not as warriors, but as /soldiers/.
They didn't fight as a collection of individuals, but rather as a single individual. They covered each other's blind spots, aided each other in achieving an objective, and helped the wounded.
In short, they fought together.
And that was simply a huge step up from an uncontrolled band of warriors. Even outnumbered against superiorly skilled troops, their coordination always won through.
It was simple to see why Kavazara had been the strongest realm for so long...
...Until the Dervaga.
Sunear shook her head and caught a glimpse of a unit of elite Templars practicing tracking over in the northern forests. The Pathfinders were expert scouts, trackers, commandos, spies, and marksbeasts with their powerful crossbows. The Pathfinders were only two companies-about 240 individuals-strong.
The Templars followed an orthodox chain of command, from private to general, terminating at the war marshal, who answered directly to her.
Passing her gaze to other sections of the enclosed area, she also noticed that a cohort of Crimson Guard High Templars was also training, executing a complex infantry/cavalry maneuver.
Crimson Guard High Templars were a different story entirely. The High Templars were both Bladestone's cavalry contingent and elite field warriors. They only numbered about 500, plus officers, and their dark crimson cloaks and waist sashes showed their direct allegiance to Bladestone's lord. While they also fought as a unit, they focused on their intense personal skills rather than the nigh unbreakable formations of the Templars.
When deployed on their dustrunner attack birds-a type of "roadrunner" originally found in the western continent-High Templars became a powerful, fast moving, morale-breaking, shock force. Of course, High Templars were just as deadly on foopaws. In that circumstance they mobilized as vanguard, reaction, and shock troops. High Templar weapons, eight-foot corsecas and 55-inch paw-and-a-half swords, were excellent when on birdback or on footpaws.
In any case, High Templars were deadly when on footpaws or on a dustrunner.
And, of course, the Crimson Guard Praetorians could not be forgotten. More prestigious than the already prestigious High Templars, Praetorians were directly responsible for the safety of the Bladestone ruler and the castle. She looked behind her at the silent, elaborately armored Praetorians NCOs shadowing her. One visitor to the castle had made the comment that the Praetorians looked strictly ornamental. She had disabused him of the notion by giving him a sword and letting him try to hit the guard. The blade had ended up forced into the ground in a split second; if the traveling hedgehog had been an enemy, he would have been dead so quickly it would have amazed him even from Dark Forest.
The personal bodyguards had to be highly trained, after all.
Like High Templars, their style leaned more towards personal skill, but Praetorians were deadly when fighting in a group.
As soldiers.
The Praetorians were few in number; no more than eighty warriors stood in their ranks, and there were even fewer officers. In recent times, there had never been any reason for Praetorians to take to the field, but she knew if it ever happened, the fields would be literally covered with the bodies of foes.
Both High Templars and Praetorians had a slightly different chain of command, terminating at the Crimson Guard Arbiter, which was currently Longspear, who had been preceded by Vell.
Lastly, of course, there were the Wraiths. Numbers were constantly in flux, but there were usually thirty of them, and they, of the four military branches, were the most individualistic.
Albeit highly trained and deadly individualists.
Each Wraith was psionically gifted, meaning their internal "mind-powers" were high enough to transfer to their physical abilities. The higher the psionic signature, the stronger, faster, etc, that beast became.
And what other abilities came with that psychic threshold! Limited telepathy, limited empathy, heightened perception... and, most astonishingly, the ability to enter a "wraith" form that rendered their bodies no more substantial than smoke.
They followed an identical command structure, though all Wraiths were at least lieutenant or higher, and they answered to the same war marshal the Templars were led by.
She sighed, and watched the Bladestone warriors train.
It would only be a matter of time before that training was needed...
...When the darkness left its icy cage and came for the south.
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