Before the Darkest Hour

The Battle of Snake`s Mouth

9th-13th of Ches, 1374DR

On the 9th of Ches, High Chieftain Renoz of the Seven WInds gathered the Arkaiun Clans on the banks of river Talar, just south of the Wyrmbones. Not waiting for the chiefs that were looting the countryside of north Halruaa to return, he ordered his youngest son, Uthmal to remain with 5,000 horsemen in the Swagdar, and started his advance across the Bandit wastes with the bulk of his vast gathering. The horde was well spread out in several waves in order not to drain the scattered wells and pools of melt-water.

The force numbered over 120,000 riders with over 360,000 horses, strung out in 12 groups of 10,000 each, each with camel-drawn baggage carts and all linked by fast moving messengers as the Arkaiun army crossed 250 miles of barren gravel plain. There would be no storytelling of this outstanding feat beside the clan fires, for nothing went wrong. It was the way of the Nar-rider, that were used to the harsh conditions of the Swagdar – to an Arkaiun audience , eager for personality and anecdote, it would have been routine.

On the 12th of Ches, the horde spilled into eastern Lapaliiya, and prepared to cross the Dun Hills. As the forces of Renoz approached the Sheir Pass known as the “Snake`s mouth” that led to the Talar shallows, the Lapal commander of the hastly assembled army of the cities of Lushpool and Shiertalar ,Kyasur the Prince Royal, made a fatal mistake. He had a chance of launching a surprise attack when the Arkaiuns were on a rampage of looting. Instead, perhaps to win time, he sent a satrap – Yalal`tar of Lushpool`s Elemas tribe, to discuss peace terms with Renoz.

Yalal`tar promptly defected with the information that Prince Royal`s forces were waiting at the far end of Sheir Pass. Renoz sent a third of his force led by his eldest son, a Crinti named Nekyal the WItch Born, across the goat trails and ravines of Dun hills to surprise his would-be ambushers. There, the Lapal cavalry, packed between ridges, was overwhelmed by arrows and a massive Arkaiun charge. Lapal horsemen turned and trampled their own foot mercenary companies and city militias. When the dust of battle settled – bodies “piled like logs” lay scattered for 20 miles along the valley that drops to river Talar shallows.

On the 13th of Ches, Nekyal brought Kyasur`s severed head before Renoz, pronouncing his victory and saying that the way to Sheirtalar lays open.

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