The Book of Kendring
Heortling freemen must attend musters of the fyrd, the clan militia. Usually half the male population is available for common defence, plus a few women warriors. Note that the fyrd rarely leaves the tula, as its purpose is defence, not raiding or conquest.
The actual warriors are fewer and are the best trained and equipped. These include the Chieftain, his weaponthanes and men and women making a name for themselves.
When raiding or conquering, the clan will muster a warband usng Vingkot’s ceremony. This will mostly be from the ‘professional’ warriors and whatever young men and women can be recruited.
Much of a war is spent marching, waiting, building things and burning down other things, being hungry and rushing to new places for no reason whatsoever. A Heortling army on the march covers its flanks and vanguard with warbands that have movement and perception magic. Scouts and marauders try to keep columns away from ambushments.
Battles tend to occur only where there is surprise, where one army cannot get away, or where both commanders will it to happen. Otherwise it is hard to force a pitched battle. Campaigns between armies are cautious games of alynx and mouse, trying to get an edge on each another.
Ambushes are the normal practice for Heortlings. The rugged hills and thick woods of their land are conducive to ambushments, traps and surprises. Clans always have an advantage on their own tula and a sudden surprise can either set an enemy to flight or net some quick captives.
Battles between clans usually have four stages: the Champion’s Battle, Warriors’ Battle, Fyrd’s Battle and Pursuit. At the beginning the fyrds line up with the ‘professional’ warriors just in front.
- Champion’s Battle. The clan champions step out and engage in single combat. Success emboldens one side and demoralizes the other. Sometimes battles can end with the defeated champion’s clan acknowledging defeat.
- The Warriors’ Battle. Now the warriors engage each other, aiming to drive their opponents back on their fyrd. The fyrd forms a shield wall to provide a safe haven for warriors but otherwise keep out of this fighting. Magic is often employed in the Warriors’ Battle and flying skirmishers and wind daimones may fight each other above the throng.
- The Fyrd’s Battle. In many battles the warriors of one side win the Warriors’ Battle and begin to pelt the fyrd with missiles or rush the shield wall until they break. However, if they do not break then both battle lines will close and engage. This is close-in pushing and shoving and pummelling. It continues until nightfall, or until one side surrenders or flees the field.
- The Pursuit. This is the time when most of the slaughter is done. Not necessarily against fleeing fyrdsmen, but to those who leave it too late to run and find their flanks gone and enemies on all sides of them.
At various stages of the fight there may be no melee combat at all. Just exchanges of arrows, javelins, slingshots, or magical winds and hails of flints. Missile combat is common in a battle.
Magic contributes in many ways to a fight. Individual warriors may have heroic magics they can use in single combat. Weather magics may be used to conceal a force or clear the fog of war. Perception magics detect ambushes and surprises on the flanks. Some magics may affect whole units, such as where guardian beings inspire a band of clansmen to fight or make their javelins strike true on the first volley. Some magics are used to coordinate, support and inspire armies, and the Lunars are particularly strong in these subtle but powerful kinds of magic.
Then there are the extraordinary kinds of magic. The kind capable of raising mountains, shattering cities and laying waste to whole forests. Such magics are rare and are mighty endeavours that must be heroquested for. A band of heroes or a Lunar College of Magic is required to contribute these.
Where outnumbered but undefeated a unit may surrender, though usually where it has accounted itself honourably. If possible it asks for quarter from a respectable and honourable leader. Most people respect ransoms and pay promptly.
The Lunars do not respect ransoms, at least not always. They have been known to sell captive foes as slaves, or execute them as rebels. How do you tell an honourable Lunar from one who is not?
Heortlings, of course, generally accept surrendering foes in order to earn ransoms. However, those without means to pay a ransom become slaves, perhaps sold to a slaving clan.