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Short Fiction: Battle of Orahn Gate (Excerpt)

Ser AlexMay 28, 2021, 8:52:04 PM

Battle of Orahn Gate

By Alex Serea

"Gathered brothers!"

The ten thousand strong Aexanen army stood at attention at the hearing of the Lord-Millen's words. Each Laxenor man turned to face their commander, leader, and fellow dead-man-walking.

It was no secret that the Empire did not expect any of them to survive this skirmish. Army chaplains had already gone about the encampment, converting cynics and saving sinners from their punishment in the afterlife.

Sacrifices were made to the Lord-Elahi. A feast had been held before today. And the men had been encouraged to write letters to their families. Everyone already understood by now that this was suicide.

Actually, no. Martyrdom would be more appropriate. They were sacrificing their lives for a cause greater than any individual Laxenor – so that was something to be proud of, at least.

The Lord-Millen continued to speak into a giant cone, amplifying his voice across the whole makeshift fort. "Today we stand at Orahn Gate," he said, adding a dramatic pause.

"Lord Reggae would've made a fantastic actor someday." Arduan thought. If they were to make it out alive after this battle...

Just beyond Reggae's elevated platform, there laid a great hillside and fields of shrubbery with some ancient, ruined buildings from millennia ago. At the center of that scene, there was a great – but tiny compared to the background – mechanical relic of strange alloys that stood still.

Mostly harmless, save for the massive horde it would soon transport to Aexan's eastern border. Scouts who had been sent through the portal gate had warned of a grand incursion force marching toward the gate of Orahn.

Orahn was a desolate, and harsh world where the sky choked little moisture under the stranglehold of its two suns that assaulted its surface every single day-night cycle. A horrible place for any Laxenor. Only a Bassarl could even conceive of such dryness and heat as hospitable.

Speaking of which, that was precisely what the men were up against. A Bassarl species that answered to the moniker "Threkkes". Apparently, that stood for "hardy-man" in their barbaric tongue.

Arduan hated those barbarians. Pathetic excuses for thinking lifeforms, barely civilized themselves. Even Aexan's northern enemy, the infidel people of Kary, were more civilized than these Threkke brutes – for at least the Karytes were Laxenors themselves.

While the Karytes might pray to demons masquerading as nature gods and goddesses, the Threkkes were much worse. They did not pray to gods proper, instead they worshipped the very dirt they walk upon, venerating that dry, hardened ground as their birthplace from which their false gods carved their images into.

They rebuked the clerics of Elahi and spurned any chance of redemption decades ago. Their tribes bickered and blundered between one another, arguing over fickle matters and killing each other for sport rather than necessity.

Uncivilized brutes. And now, a great warlord amongst these brutes had arisen - an amazing achievement, considering the fact that Threkkes are almost incapable of any sense of orderly behavior. One who planned to lead his army of loyal followers into battle in search of new lands to plunder and pillage.

To the world of Mattiem… To Aexan. To murder, plunder and destroy Aexanen civilization and enslave Arduan's people. That was why the ten thousand men army had been gathered at the Gate to Orahn.

To buy time, assess the enemy and study for any weaknesses in their strategy and weaponry. It had been nearly half a century since the last Threkke warlord had spilled over into Mattiem, and the Military Lords had deemed it necessary to update their current scrolls on Threkke tactics and battle armor and weapons.

In spite of the astounding force Aexan collected here today, it was likely that all of them would either die or retreat by the end of this slaughter fest. Threkkes were mindless, violent brutes with no concern for thinking life, bred for conflict and excelling at nothing but the sword.

Laxenors, on the other hand, were not a war-ready species. Laxenoric biology is mostly geared toward social cohesion and retreating from larger predators – and boy were those Threkkes big, nearly three adult-Laxenors tall.

They were monsters. These men were all going to die… And Arduan was proud to serve alongside them. Brave spearmen, crossbowmen, catapult crews, shield bearers and more.

"To defend our families, our people, our Empire of Aexan!"

He turned to face the gate – still looking insignificant and small. "There is where the enemy shall approach! When they do, when," he enunciated the "when", as if it was not clear enough to all of them that this was a battle-to-be, not just some on-edge patrol. "We expect them to arrive in full force! The Gate will open its maw, expanding to take in the size of the approaching Threkke barbarian warbands!

"Before then, archers shall take aim and fire a single volley of arrows just in front of the gateway! As they breach the barrier and rush toward us, remember your arrows earlier and target accordingly! We mustn't waste any resource we have available. All our heart, mind and soul have to be focused on the task of holding back the invasion!

"If we do, then by Lord-Elahi's Will, we shall never have to see the likes of the Threkke ever step afoot on our lands ever again! Once they are sufficiently beyond the barrier, I ask that you men hold your ground, and lure them toward the valley!

"The ground is soft and muddy there; they are big and bulky! Their thinned-out numbers will do battle in the slippery ground and get pummeled by our agile warriors – you! Not all of you will make it!"

"None of us are going to make it." Arduan thought. He was not naïve. He knew what was being demanded of him.

"So, Elahi-bless you all, may we meet in the Garden!" He then raised his sword toward the army formation, eliciting an approving roar from the warriors.

"Elahi-bless you too, sir." Thought Arduan again. An hour passed. All men had been brought into formation by then, with archers trained at their targets and artillery loaded.

Orahn Gate Hill had a light breeze blowing from the rising sun's direction. They would approach midday in another few more hours. Luckily, it was cloudy, so the light would not be too intense.

The valley below the hillside was damp from a whole night's worth of raining. It was cool to the touch and slippery to all, thankful Laxenors were a swampy bunch, used to mud and slick.

Tall, archery post towers and ballista platforms dotted the opposite hillside – which was nearby where the Lord-Millen gave his earlier speech. They were prepared and ready for their enemy.

And vice versa.

When the Threkkes breached into Mattiem, the portal relic-thing suddenly sprang to life. Its gears turned, lights glared and then a grand wall of distorted colors formed at its sides. From that wall was where they came.

Black skinned brutes materialized seemingly out of nowhere and marched out of the wall. Likely plenty more where those came from.

At first sight, the archers opened fire, unleashing volley after volley of arrows. Unfortunately, the Threkkes were prepared.

They carried shields atop their backs, which took the brunt of the volleys, protecting them long enough for them to charge down the hill.

The ballistae noticed this and launched their oversized arrowheads at the threat, missing most of them - as the bastards basically skied down the muddy hill. Catapults launched too, more to divert them and break their formation than to seriously cause any real damage.

As they slid down the hillside, they did the unthinkable. They threw down their shields onto the muddy ground, using it as a makeshift floor to run on. It was insane.

"Since when did Threkkes think before they charged?" This confused Arduan. Never before in Aexanen – dare say, any – history had they shown this level of tactical planning and effectiveness in executing these plans.

Who was this warlord of theirs? Was he a one in a million Threkke military genius? Who didn't order his men to blindly jump into the fray – promising beer in the afterlife?


Arduan tensed up, as did every comrade of his. It did not matter how smart this warlord was. It did not change the plan. It did not change their goal.


The Threkkes charged at the phalanx troops. Their alien skin became even more crusted and dry than usual, one of their natural born instincts.

When the Threkke barbarians threw themselves at the long spears of the Aexanen warriors, parts of excess skin chipped and flaked off, covering the sharp points of the spears. They used this to their advantage and smacked the warriors with crude weapons.

Apparently, it had only just recently occurred to these brutes to use their hardy skin in such a manner, for Arduan had never heard of Threkkes making use of their own biology like this. “Just who was this warlord who led them?”

The Lord-Millen saw that the standard defensive phalanx was not as effective as he had hoped. He then ordered his men to abandon their spears and charge for close combat.

"CUT LOOSE AND CUT THEM UP!" Things were about to get messy.

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