|Hi all I’m delighted to announce book 5 in the Sundered Crown Saga- Heroes of the Sundered Crown. I’m working away on the book and am hoping for a release sometime in the Autumn of this year.|
|The fleet of Yundol longships powered through the water towards the shore. On the clifftop, beacons burst into life as the approaching invasion force was sighted by the enemy. Standing proud at the bow of the lead Yundol ship was Ricard of Champia. His greying hair and beard blew in the wind, and his green cape fluttered wildly behind him. His eyes were fixed on the beach. |
For too long he’d been exiled from the Kingdom that was rightfully his. After his defeat and escape from Bison, he’d spent six months overseas seeking aid to strike back at Danon. He had travelled across the continent of Yundol, the home of Delfinnia’s once most feared foes to find support for his war. Most of the Yundol chieftains had scoffed at him; some had even threatened to kill him. Many of the Yundol warlords bitterly remembered the defeats Ricard had inflicted during their failed invasion decades earlier. Despite that, the promise of gold had proven too appealing for some, and before long, he’d mustered a formidable force of mercenaries.
The cost made him wince; his treasury was now empty; he’d gambled everything on taking the Sundered Crown for himself. Yundol horns blared across the choppy black waters, and the warriors that had once spilt blood across Delfinnia prepared to do so again. The warriors roared, their savage voices carrying in the wind. A thousand men to take the Marble Shore, a thousand of the most dangerous men alive. He adjusted his sword belt and took the helmet offered to him by his squire. He looked back down the row of burly oarsmen and nodded to his trusted lieutenant the elderly Vizar. The fighting men of Champia were packed onto the ship’s deck and bristled as they sighted the stunning white beaches ahead Marble cliffs shining in the early spring sunshine. It was the first time many of them had seen the mainland in months and signalled that they were returning home. Vizar caught his eye and gave Ricard a reassuring smile. The older warrior walked over to him.
“The men are eager for battle my lord. Let us hope these Yundols are just as good at killing as I remember.”
Ricard nodded before putting on his helmet.
“Today we take the Marble shore, tomorrow the Kingdom.”
The horns sounded again signalling for the fleet to increase speed. The warriors hastily strapped on their armour and prepared their weapons. With every oar stroke, the Yundol warriors shouted their battle cry.
“Death! Death! Death!”
The longship surged forward, and Ricard drew his sword from its scabbard. Behind him, his warriors prepared themselves. Ricard frowned as he spotted figures appear on the clifftops. There were thousands of them!
Arrows suddenly lashed down like hail onto the vulnerable ships. Ricard swore. As they drew closer, the figures became more apparent. All wore black armour, and each was armed with the lethal Sarpi composite bow and barbed arrows. The deadly projectiles struck the ship eliciting screams from warriors and oarsmen unlucky enough to be struck. Just as quickly as it had begun the arrow storm stopped. Then, with a sudden jolt, the ship struck the beach using the furiously rowing oarsmen’s momentum to skid high up the sand. It was the favourite tactic of the Yundols and one that often took a foe by surprise. Ricard leapt over the side of the ship, raised his shield, and roared for his men to follow. The sand was deep and challenging to traverse. Warriors disgorged from the beaching ships, and the Sarpi unleashed another arrow storm. Dozens of warriors fell to the Sarpi arrows. Ricard’s eyes widened. On the cliff tops, he could see catapults being rolled into place. He watched in horror as the Sarpi quickly loaded the weapons and launched pots of burning pitch down onto the beaching ships. One Yundol longship took a direct hit, erupting in flames that engulfed the warriors on board. Burning men fell screaming over the sides only for their heavy armour to drag them down into the churning sea.
Ricard rallied his men, and they rushed to him to form a shield wall. He crouched under his shield as another volley of arrows struck. His arm shook under the impact. All around the air was filled with the screams of the wounded and dying, but the Yundol warriors pressed on up the beach. They continued their war chant using their shields as cover from the maelstrom raining down on them. A horn blared from the cliffs causing Ricard to lower his shield. His eyes widened and a knot of dread wormed in his guts. Massing at the top of the steep incline at the top of the beach were hundreds of heavily armoured horses. Their thick black armour covered the animals from head to hoof and sat astride them were Sarpi warriors clad in thick plate armour the colour of darkest night.
“Spears!” Ricard bellowed.
The Yundols sheathed their swords and axes and hastily formed a phalanx of spear points. With expert skill drilled into them by Ricard, the warriors grouped together until they were three lines deep. Each wielded a long spear and lapped their shields over their neighbours. The Sarpi cavalry surged forward like a black tide to sweep down the dunes. Sand sprayed in all directions, and the ground shook.
The first of the horsemen thundered closer, lowering their long lances, and picking targets to slay.
With devastating impact, they hit, the Yundol spears having little effect on the charging enemy’s thick armour. Men were skewered on lance points by the dozen, Vizar among them. Ricard was battered to the ground, but he quickly rolled to escape the stamping iron shod hooves of a Sarpi horse. He came up from the roll, threw his shattered spear aside and drew his sword. Despair filled him. All along the beach, the cavalry swept aside the army he’d spent months and the last of his fortune gathering. The dead lay in the now blood soaked sand and bodies floated on the grisly tide. Several of the longships were ablaze to send smoke drifting high into the sky. The lucky ones had managed to force their way back into the sea and were now desperately turning tail to flee back into open water.
“Niveren no,” Ricard despaired. More horns sounded, this time from across the water. Ricard spun to see a small fleet of Sarpi warships round the headland and move to cut off his forces. The Yundols were trapped. He watched in horror as fire arrows launched into the dull sky and fell like rain on the beleaguered Yundol vessels. The ships caught alight, the screams of the doom sailors drifting on the breeze. All around him, his men were being butchered the cavalry charge having smashed any semblance of disciplined resistance. All of his hopes and dreams of liberating Delfinnia and taking the crown had been extinguished within moments.
In his heart, he had always known it had been a fool’s dream but seeing his men cut down the realisation of all he had done dawned on him. The thunder of hooves came from behind him, he closed his eyes. A broken man.
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