Distant Reaches - “Battle of the Houndstooth Princes”

Imperial Archives / “Battle of the Houndstooth Princes”

“Battle of the Houndstooth Princes”

“Battle of the Houndstooth Princes”
And lo, Iron-Fisted Hald, wracked by anger and an unquenchable lust for blood and bone, brought woe upon the battlefield.

A fragment from the Tales of Gorogorodongorong

Editor’s note: Scholars believe the Tales of Gorogorodongorong are the oldest known text written for entertainment value. While numerous religious, spiritual, and mythological works exist around the Reaches from earlier eras, the Tales of Gorogorodongorong were first recited by the bard known simply as Hiero at the court of the ancient war chief Vigorix. While archaeological evidence points to the existence of Vigorix’s so-called “Great Camp” along the banks of the Boern River — lending credence to the legend that Hiero recited his Tales over the course of thirteen days and nights there — more recent scholarship from Dr. Trevor ‘ja Ferric has questioned whether Hiero was in actual fact an individual, or, as Ferric contends, a composite of several skalds who traveled with Vigorix’s nomadic court. Regardless, the following fragmentary text is considered by many to be one of the most gripping and engaging of the ancient Tales of Gorogorodongorong. The conclusion of the episode between Hald and Cord remains a subject of great debate.

Indeed riseth the blood red orb above the plains of battle where iron-fisted Hald stood firm, his boot upon the nape of Cord, He-Who-Was-Destined-To-Be-Flayed. With a great bellow as of a bull, Hald bashed upon the heads and shoulders of his attackers, and his iron fists struck pure death unto their very souls. And looketh upon the carnage, there, that fleeting shade struck free from flesh by the thrice-smelted fists of the great warrior. Heareth the shrieking souls as they are sucked by a blood-stench wind to quake before the Bone Gates of acrid Hell.

And forsooth, looking up from his place in the mud, that worm of a human, Cord, He-Who-Was-Destined-To-Be-Flayed, spake out words that cut Hald to his very core. “Why do you rage so against the peoples of the world, these soldiers who have wrought no evil apart from the allegiance to those shell-dyed banners ayon, an allegiance of which, having had no choice by birth nor circumstance owing to the love of their parents, they were born into? Thine anger is with me and thine heart bleeds still with the knowledge that your love, the diamond nippled and well-muscled Tylos, forsook you for my arms not five eves hence!”

Hearing these things, Hald’s mind strayed like a sheep upon the rocky hills of Sindar that wanders into a thicket or a dark crevasse then cries out, bleating for aid, for a rescuer to draw it free with a crook. Yet there was no rescuer for him and the darkness and anger and fear overtook him. And iron-fisted Hald, Brand-Marked, lifted his boot from the neck of Cord, He-Who-Was-Destined-To-Be-Flayed, and drew him up from the mud. “Though I will destroy you as utterly as the floods of the river destroyed the Gardens of Blue Light, I will do so against a fighter, that I may have glory after death. Choose your weapon.”

And Cord, He-Who-Was-Destined-To-Be-Flayed, drew his sword and gnashed his teeth like a starving wolf in winter. And Hald reared back, muscles bunched and springy like the gnarled branches of a willow, and struck true with his iron fists, brands upon his forearms glowing the white hot light of magic. Those fists struck true, yet Cord, He-Who-Was-Destined-To-Be-Flayed, was crafty and [….]

The warrior belched blood and fell upon his knees. And where that blood spattered sprung for that army of legend, those reborn Houndstooth Princes, coalescing into [….]

“My son, my son,” she shrieked, and her tears spattered the battlefield, that ancient mother of kings.

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