S02 – The Antinium Wars (Pt.1)

(This book was found by Ryoka Griffon on sale in Celum shortly after she arrived in this world. She purchased it for two gold pieces and six silver and read through this entry before she encountered a cart at high velocity.)

 

Introduction –

Although many accounts of the famed Antinium Wars (or the Incursion Wars as they are sometimes referred to) have been written, and countless [Tacticians], [Strategists], and even [Commander] classes have detailed countless analyses of the ensuing battles, no one singular narrative has as of yet been compiled. It is this lowly [Writer]’s hope that this historical patchwork will serve as a first step for future accounts to be compiled.

Many first-hand reports of the First Antinium Wars are based on hearsay and the often inaccurate recollections of [Soldiers] and [Adventurers] who fought on the front lines. While insightful, these testimonials will be omitted so as to provide a retelling based only on written accounts.

With that said, these brief accounts are by no means to serve as a guide to the lifestyle or nature of the Antinium, or even as a guide from which future strategies and tactics may be derived. It is simply history, which must be remembered.

Issrysil has survived two wars with the Antinium and the tenuous peace we have forged has lasted for nearly a decade as of my writing this. But we must never lose our vigilance. For if the Antinium should feel bold enough to begin a third war, I fear that this continent and those within will be swept away by their ceaseless numbers.

 

—Krsysl Wordsmith

 

The First Antinium Wars –

 

It must first be noted that despite the outcome of the First Antinium Wars, the Antinium’s defeat was not so much due to their lackluster performance or any particular strength of opposition. It could be argued that the Antinium made only one real fault during the war, and otherwise fought to the best of their abilities, displaying a level of organization and cunning that eluded the Drake, Gnoll, and Human nations that almost failed to overcome them.

Yes, if the Antinium made only one true mistake, it was before the war had even begun. It was a mistake that cost them the continent, and perhaps, the world. It was this:

 

The Antinium underestimated the sea.

 

—-

 

The year is 5 B.F., and the world is still reeling from the news thundering out of Rhir. The Blighted King’s armies have been shattered in defeat after defeat, and each of his Walls have been stormed save the final one protecting his capital. Yet, the Demon King has also been pushed to the very brink of his territory, and this new species, dubbed the ‘Antinium’ has suddenly vanished from the continent altogether.

Neither the [Mages] of Wistram nor any other nation can locate the species by spell, and so every country with even a sliver of land exposed to the sea has locked its borders and watches the horizon warily, lest the Black Tide roll across their unguarded lands.

But no attack comes. The oceans are silent, and after several months of waiting, tensions ease. Wherever the Antinium may be, they are not here. And so peace resumes, as news comes that the Blighted King is rebuilding, and his armies already retake his lost kingdom.

That is when the Antinium arrive. Not with a vast army to cover the world, but with only four ships out of the two hundred vessels that launched from Rhir’s shores. Four small vessels that ground themselves on the southwestern most edge of Issrysil in the last month of winter. That is how the Antinium arrive, and they remain hidden for many months. Resting. Regaining strength.

This is how the Antinium lost the war before it began. This is their only folly.

 

—-

 

From the few eyewitnesses who spotted the Antinium leaving, or, as it is now believed, retreating from Rhir, we know that over two hundred greatships were spotted, each teeming with Antinium and their precious Queens. This number is not in error; multiple accounts indicate these numbers are genuine.

And yet, only a few ships ever reached Issrysil’s shores. Given that no fleets reported encounters with the Antinium and the lack of any noted sea monsters, it can only be assumed that the Antinium lost nearly all their ships at sea due to storms and becalmed waters.

Fierce warriors though they may be, the Antinium are poor sailors for obvious reasons. Moreover, it can be assumed that they did not fully understand either the length of time it would take to cross such a body of water as the ocean, or the difficulties navigating, staying provisioned, etc. That led to their near complete annihilation, and it is perhaps more accurate to say it was a miracle any ships landed on Issiysil after all.

We may never know if the Queens intended to journey to this continent or not; nor do we know what they did in those few months, although we can speculate that creating a Hive and replenishing their lost Workers and Soldiers was their main focus. The next documented encounter was with the port city of Nasserous, in which the Watch Captain* details several unusual occurrences nearly eight months after the Antinium left Rhir.

*Watch Captains hold a higher position of authority than in Human cities. Among Drakes, the Watch Captain generally shares the same rank as members of a ruling Council and is usually given complete authority in local military matters.

 

From the journal of Watch Captain I’sl

 

“…do not know where they have gone. A second patrol found no bodies, but did mention four shipwrecks along one of the beaches. They thought the vessels looked empty, but I will send more men to scout later. If there are Krakens or some other monster capable of downing ships in the area, we must know immediately.”

 

Several days later, Captain I’sl recorded another entry.

 

“…all missing. Now I am certain something is out there, but I fear to send any more guardsmen to check. My last patrol had five [Guardsmen] above Level 20 in it; a lone [Scout] found no traces of them or even any violence done. I am posting a double-watch on the gates and putting a bounty up for Silver-rank adventurers or higher to investigate.”

 

The Watch Captain did just that, but neither adventurers nor later patrols would find any signs of these mysterious assailants. It is believed the Antinium left their position on the beach and avoided further contact while they journeyed north, into the rocky highlands. There they continued to hide until a chance encounter some two months later.

 

To Guild Master Jekra of Talvasor

 

“I am writing to you to detail an unusual circumstance which has happened in my guild today. Not an hour ago, a Gold-rank [Ranger] entered my guild bearing four corpses on a litter which caused quite a commotion. He says he found these monsters hunting together on a rocky hillside and they attacked him on sight.

I have inspected the corpses myself, and I must confess, they gave me quite a stir when I saw them. These new monsters are like nothing I have encountered either as an adventurer or Guild Master. They are some kind of insect, with black bodies and tough exoskeleton, and yet have four arms and two legs and apparently walk on two legs like Drakes and Gnolls. Their blood is green, and their eyes are multi-faceted like an insect, and they have wicked mandibles with which they might bite.

I have never seen this kind of monster before. I am unsure if it is some new dungeon-spawn or a species of some kind. I am writing to you in hopes you will know their species and know of an appropriate bounty to reward the adventurer with. He claims the creatures fought with unusual ferocity, not ceasing until he shot each one through the head and hacked off their heads. Please advise soonest,

 

–Guild Master Pessia

 

Fortunately, Guild Master Jekra was able to connect the bodies of the Antinium with the rumors from Rhir and immediately raised the alarm with each of the Walled Cities, urging immediate action and mobilization of each city-state’s standing armies.

It is here that multiple written accounts of the following events begin, and so the decisions made by the leaders of each Walled City* cannot be cast into doubt. For nearly a month, authorities debated and argued against the presence of the Antinium within Issiysil. Lacking evidence of the Antinium outside of eyewitness accounts (the bodies of the slain Antinium had long since been disposed of by the time others could verify the claim), and due to the lack of any prolonged conflict, the collected authorities failed to take decisive action.

 

*The famed Walled Cities are not all ruled by the same methods of government. Some espouse an elected official, while others are managed by a body of powerful individuals or, in some cases, a hereditary leader.

 

A few leaders of Walled Cities posted hefty bounties for Gold-rank adventuring teams to explore the area where the Antinium had been sighted, but again the Antinium preferred to avoid combat where possible, and thus the adventurers returned empty-handed, emboldening the claims that this was merely a false alarm.

On the outskirts of civilization near the mountains and in the highlands, further reports of mysterious monsters and strange people moving about at night continued to appear, in growing numbers and proximity to towns and cities. [Strategists] believe that these were the first scouting groups deployed ahead of the main assault.

However, word of the Antinium’s arrival had been kept to a bare minimum of people, as the leaders of the Walled Cities did not wish to start a panic. Only a few other individuals of note knew of the Antinium’s presence, including the young Lady Magnolia Reinhart, Lord Tyron Veltras, and General Sserys.

It is unknown how Lady Magnolia and Lord Tyron learned of the Antinium, but it is speculated that both Humans had access to powerful magic spells which alerted them to this issue. While Lord Tyron knew of the Antinium, he took the view that any conflict would only weaken both Antinium and the Drake and Gnoll populations, allowing the Human cities to easily crush all sides after the war ended.

By contrast, Lady Magnolia took the news of the Antinium most seriously out of all the three, and immediately began contacting other prominent lords and leaders of the Human city-states. Her actions would later impact the course of the war, but at the time, even the word of a young Reinhart failed to sway all but the most cautious of listeners in the north.

On the other claw, General Sserys of Liscor was imminently poised to deal with the situation when he was alerted to the Antinium, and he took decisive action. This is also the first instance where General Sserys’s personal diary reports meeting the Antinium, on a routine guard mission with the Liscorian Army*. He records an unusual patrol and the losses taken by his men.

 

*The army of Liscor is renowned as being one of the strongest forces on the continent, and most notably for selling its services to any nation who will hire them. As such, the soldiers and commanders seldom stay near their city and instead fight constantly on battlefields for pay.

 

From the Diary of General Sserys of Liscor –

 

“Today marks what would have been an uneventful day in our patrols around the city of Ussls. Our subjugation of the local Goblin Lord’s forces has been bloody and hard-won, but I now believe we have stamped out the last of his Chieftains and scattered the few remaining Goblin tribes to the wind. All things being normal, I would not expect more than a few encounters with local monsters, but one of my patrols has been attacked and now six of my soldiers lie dead after facing some unknown enemy.

To summarize: a patrol of twenty Drakes and Gnolls met with a group of fifteen black individuals in a forest, busy harvesting trees with crude weapons. Upon realizing they had been discovered, this strange group immediately attacked my soldiers before an overture could be had. Before they retreated, they killed six of my soldiers – running into the barrier of spears my soldiers had formed to hack apart the front rank. Thereafter, the black creatures retreated, carrying their dead. The patrol leader declined to give pursuit and immediately reported back to me.

I have sent out three forces of sixty warriors each to work with patrols to locate these creatures again, but they have turned up empty-clawed thus far and I am not confident they will find any trace of them. These creatures seem to disappear easily, and had it not been for this chance encounter our army might have passed them by completely.

I am deeply troubled by this. Equal losses against a numerically inferior foe is not acceptable, given the strength of our soldiers. Moreover, the willingness of these strange enemies to throw themselves on our spears and then their desire to remove their fallen brethren is also concerning.

 I will see if more work can be had for our forces in this region, even if it means less pay. My commanders will not like it, but my instincts as a [Strategist] tell me this should not be ignored.”

 

General Sserys did indeed remain in the area for several days afterwards, and his worries would soon be proven extremely prescient: it was five days after this encounter and nearly six and a half months after the Antinium had landed when fifteen villages and a small town were all destroyed in a single night.

The attacks occurred almost simultaneously, and left no survivors. Merchants, adventurers, and a patrol from one of the Walled Cities found the deserted buildings and raised the alarm. Every settlement within a hundred miles was put on alert, and that allowed several survivors to escape when the next wave of attacks began.

Over thirty small villages were attacked two days after the first attack, and several high-level adventurers and groups of soldiers managed to hold back the Antinium long enough for civilians and Runners to raise the alarm. But when a retaliation force arrived, all the villages were found deserted, and both bodies and Antinium were gone.

However, multiple eyewitness accounts confirmed the worst fears of the Drake leaders. Although magic could not locate their hives, these attacks matched the first ones suffered by the Blighted Kingdom in Rhir, and the previous reports of Antinium sightings only confirmed this fact.

Faced with the inescapable realization that the Antinium had landed on their shores, the leaders of the Walled Cities reluctantly began discussing the formation of a coalition army, although several held out hope that teams of adventurers would be able to root out the Antinium by themselves. The lack of any serious attacks meant that negotiations bogged down until spring of 3 B.F., when the Antinium launched an all-out assault on the cities of Ys, Beresslars, and Washaven.

Every city had been put on alert and soldiers and the local Watch vigilantly manned the walls. However, at this point the Drakes and Gnolls had little experience battling the Antinium and made preparations as if they were in danger from a conventional force, rather than the Antinium’s unique style of tactics.

The Walled Cities nearest to the three cities received a panicked [Message] spell just past dawn, and then nothing. Although a force of riders immediately rode to the aid of the cities, it was too late. The Antinium attacked and withdrew before the cavalry reached the city, and the [Captain] in charge declined to give chase.

In less than two hours, the Antinium managed to kill or maim over 80% of the population in each of the cities. The walls and conventional defenses that make the city-states so difficult to take by conventional siege fell within seconds of the attack.

Recorded testimony by the few survivors reports a horde of black Soldiers and even Workers swarming up the walls, building living ladders and overwhelming the adventurers and City Watch by sheer force of numbers. So fierce was the assault, half of the city’s forces were caught in their beds and slaughtered there.

This was the beginning of the war in earnest. The city-states immediately declared a state of emergency and began raising as many soldiers and warriors as possible. However, each city preferred to raise their own armies and retain former alliances, rather than join together.

This was the second mistake made by the Drakes. Initially, the Antinium war force was outnumbered by the numerous Drake armies on the continent. But the separated armies and reluctance of the cities to work together allowed the Antinium to attack with local superiority and quickly overrun countless cities around their Hives.

While the Drake cities had existed in a state of enduring war and skirmishes with each other, one of the factors that prevented most of the cities from being conquered was the difficulty of taking the city before reinforcements could arrive. Even the largest of forces would take time to breach the walls and other magical defenses that guarded each city, in which time another army would surely launch an attack on the attacking force or their home city.

In this way, a city-state could easily remain autonomous or at the very least, retain much of its independence by forming alliances with nearby settlements and Gnoll Tribes. However, the Antinium’s style of attack was to overwhelm the walls by sheer numbers and relentless speed. Relief armies would find the cities already full of the dead or find the Antinium had already retreated by the time they arrived.

In less than a week, eight cities had fallen and the Drake city-states had realized the magnitude of their error. But while all agreed a coalition army was needed, no city wanted to send their armies past their walls, for fear the Antinium would attack while they were undefended. And while they hesitated, the Antinium swarmed over their walls and slaughtered them regardless.

Only a few armies achieved any success against the Antinium during these initial assaults. A few city-states with superior forces pushed back the Antinium and General Sserys’ army achieved several definite victories before retreating in face of overwhelming numbers.

A Drake [Tactician] recorded several initial observations after one battle, which he immediately passed on to every city-state via mage spell and Courier. She describes the Antinium as an extremely dangerous threat, despite their apparent lack of high-level warriors and magic:

 

“…While these ‘Antinium’ do not appear to have any individuals within their ranks with unique Skills, I believe their warriors are the equivalent of any Level 15 [Warrior], and are perhaps even stronger when fighting in tandem.

There are two types of Antinium I have observed: the massive Soldiers and the smaller Workers. Of the two, the Soldiers are vastly more dangerous. They fight hand-to-hand and charge into pikes and magical traps without regard for their lives. They will continue to attack even when mortally wounded, and they are capable of bludgeoning even the most well-armored warrior to death given time.

Their shells are as tough as any leather armor and the Antinium fight and move together like a professional unit. Our army was only able to achieve victory by using our superior vantage point and numerous area of attack spells to decimate their formations. Our elite soldiers carved through many of the Antinium, and it appears the lack of magic and any high-level warriors is their only weakness.

The Antinium have no mages, and their ranged weapons are primitive bows and crude stone arrows. Nevertheless, their numbers and efficiency more than make up for this gap. It seems even the “Worker” class can use a bow to fire arrows, so their ranks of archers are capable to matching even our best divisions in terms of sheer output of missiles.

Be warned however: our warriors found themselves under attack from behind our lines at multiple points, and our group of mages found themselves under attack as the Antinium burrowed out of a tunnel. I recommend posting sentries to watch for these surprise attacks, and to fight on hard stone or in marshland if at all possible.”

 

The most troubling advantage the Antinium had over both Drakes and Gnoll species was their ability to tunnel. Entrenched positions with vulnerable elements such as command headquarters or areas with high concentrations of [Mages] or [Archers] would find themselves under attack by teams of burrowing Soldiers and Workers who would inflict as much damage as possible and then retreat.

These surprise attacks led to a diversification of valuable soldiers, and a standing policy among Drake armies to never have more than one Level 30+ soldier stationed in a squad at one time. This policy is still enforced within all Drake standing armies to this day.

However, even with their mages hidden and protected, there were never enough with levels high enough to turn the tide of battles. The Antinium gladly sacrificed thousands of their Soldiers and Workers to kill even one high-level individual. Slowly, the mercenary armies retreated, forced to abandon their client cities as their forces were gradually worn down.

Sserys made several overtures during this time to local cities, sending requests for their soldiers to join with his to repel the Antinium’s advance, but he was rebuffed and eventually led his soldiers far to the east as cities fell around him. Thanks to his slowing of the Antinium’s advance, several cities evacuated all their civilians and soldiers, but in terms of the overall map of the war, the Antinium were barely slowed as they continued to rampage across Izril.

One month after the start of the First Antinium War, the Antinium paused. It is believed they spent a week replenishing their lost troops and reinforcing their armies, and perhaps, digging and constructing more Hives. No army dared to launch an assault, and the few places where the Antinium had been stopped remained locked in semi-constant combat.

The Black Tide of the Antinium began to march once more, sweeping east, south and north with such ferocious speed that any hope of mobilizing a response force was lost. In an instant, the Antinium had captured nearly thirty percent of the southern half of Issiysil and seemed to be poised to sweep across the rest. However, they met their first obstacle as they encircled and began sieging the Walled City, Zeres.

The Antinium had successfully bypassed four of the Walls built by the Blighted Kingdom in Rhir, but they found the superior construction of the Walled Cities a different challenge*. A huge army began to lay siege to Zeres, but after a week of day-and-night warfare, the Antinium found themselves rebuffed with extreme casualties on their sides and virtually no losses by the defenders.

 

*The famed Walled Cities bear an entirely different type of fortification than smaller Drake cities. Their origin dates past recorded history, and the magic that allows the three-hundred foot walls to stand hardens the stone and even allows it to repair itself given time. No army has ever taken a Walled City by siege, although several coups and betrayals from within have seen the famed cities fall over the millennia.

 

The living ladders the Antinium used were far too short to reach the battlements of the Walled City, and the defending archers and mages could rain down fire with impunity, as the Antinium found that it was impossible for their arrows to reach the defenders from their superior vantage point.

One of the Lords of the Wall in Zeres jubilantly recorded the Antinium’s failure in his personal diary:

 

“They cannot break our walls, nor destroy the fortifications underneath! Their sappers may be strong, but these foul insects lack the magic to destroy the enchantments protecting the Walled Cities. We are safe, so long as they find no way to climb our walls or build a siege tower large enough.”

 

Indeed, the ground around the Walled Cities was impenetrable by conventional tools or equipment due to the magical enchantments radiating out from the walls. This frustrated the Antinium, and several watchers from the walls observed the Workers digging at the ground until their limbs broke and their digits were bloody and raw.

Zeres stood, and the Antinium were unable to abandon it lest the army fall upon their backs. This, along with the sieges of several other Walled Cites occupied a large part of the Antinium’s army, slowing their advance.

If there was a disadvantage to this situation, it was that while the Antinium took heavy losses in their initial assaults, they quickly retreated out of range and maintained a passive siege, hoping to wear down the Walled Cities’ supplies.

This would take years, given the massive stockpiles each Walled City maintains and their ability to grow produce and even herd animals within their massive confines. But so long as the Antinium maintained their siege the armies of each Walled City were forced to remain behind their walls, leaving the smaller city-states to fend for themselves.

The Antinium legions might have swept across the entire southern half of the continent unchecked, were it not for two groups which threw back their armies in unprecedented defeats.

While the city-states slowly evacuated and fell to the Antinium, another force entered the swamplands and grassy plains belonging to the Gnoll tribes, burning and killing everything in their path. However, the Gnolls of Issiysil built no cities like the Drakes, and unlike their scaly rivals, their opposition to the Antinium was far more successful.

The Gnoll tribes of the plains and swamps reacted to the Antinium threat swifter than any of the factitious Drake city-states, and over a hundred tribes sent their warriors to form a massive army – the same kind that successfully repelled even the greatest vanguards during the wars between Gnolls and Drakes of previous centuries.

In their first major engagement with a vast force of nearly eighty thousand Antinium, an army of twenty thousand Gnolls managed to route the entire force in a bloody battle that lasted only a day. It is suspected that this army was not comprised of normal Gnoll [Hunters] and [Warriors], but rather of elites chosen out of every tribe.

Casualties were high on both sides, but the Antinium army was nearly completely destroyed and a much larger force of over a hundred thousand Gnolls assembled over the course of the next week. This main army, supplemented by several ‘hunting packs’ of tens of thousands of Gnolls, successfully fought off every Antinium advance into Gnoll territory.

The Gnollish resistance likely had much to do with the Antinium’s inability to overwhelm any one front later on in the war. They continued to fight the Gnoll Tribes in increasingly costly battles to both sides, but never penetrated further than fifty miles into the Gnoll heartlands at any time. Nevertheless, the Gnolls never sent any armies out to attack the Antinium in retaliation, preferring instead to guard their scattered tribes and holdings.

Given time, it is possible the Antinium could have taken the Drake settlements and encircled the Gnolls with overwhelming numbers, but their advance east was stopped at the Shivering Falls Pass by the first coalition army formed during the war.

General Sserys had pulled back the Liscorian army far east, looking to rally the cities. Initially he found no help, as the cities distrusted the mercenary nature of his army and feared betrayal. But as it became clear the Drakes would perish alone, more and more soldiers and high-ranking officials began to engage in private communication with Sserys in direct defiance of their city’s governing bodies.

As the sieges of the Walled Cities began, the Black Tide separated and sent a massive force towards the Shivering Falls Pass, one of the strategic locations separating the eastern and western part of the continent. This vanguard army numbered over a hundred thousand, and every city in its path evacuated, fleeing towards the Walled Cities which found themselves swamped by refugees.

Only one [General] refused to retreat. Sserys believed that the loss of Shivering Falls Pass would allow the Antinium to establish a foothold which would be impossible to shift. He  instead called every [Commander] leading an army of over a thousand soldiers in the area to join him to defend the pass. The reputation of the Liscorian Army and Sserys’s own high level persuaded countless mercenary groups and smaller armies to accept his gamble and join with his forces which engaged with the Antinium in the center of the pass.

Sserys spoke briefly to his soldiers as his smaller force prepared to repel the Antinium advancing down the pass. He spoke to his army minutes before the armies clashed:

 

“There is no time for speeches, no time for mighty oaths or solemn vows. Here is the enemy. Here we stand. I will not take a single step backwards. Who will guard my tail?”

 

General Sserys’ coalition army met the Antinium in the center of the pass, fighting in the narrow confines of the rocky canyon while the Drake [General] led his soldiers from the front.

He personally led fifteen charges against the Antinium. True to his word, General Sserys refused to retreat. Instead, he set up forward lines in the center of the Antinium formations, pushing their numbers back rather than allowing them to regroup.

His overall strategy consisted of forming heavy ranks of soldiers with defensive classes with [Tacticians] and [Strategists] assigned along each column, using their active abilities to reinforce their position. Archers dueled with Antinium at range and mages blasted the clustered Antinium, who had no way to return that kind of destructive power.

Forewarned by previous battles, Sserys actively collapsed tunnels that appeared behind his lines, but his success was also due to his relentless advance; the Antinium never had time to dig underneath his forces as they overran their formations, much as the Antinium had done so effectively in previous engagements.

Using kill-teams of high-level warriors, Sserys sent them in to devastate Antinium lines and retreat with few or no casualties while lower-level warriors pushed the Antinium further and further back. While each Antinium Soldier was stronger than the average freshly recruited [Soldier], Drakes and Gnolls above Level 20 were able to slay countless Antinium before being forced to retreat.

After nearly two days of continuous fighting, the larger Antinium force retreated with less than a quarter of its original numbers. General Sserys’ forces took very few casualties by comparison; the extensive quantity of healing potions, [Healers], and skills of [Commander] classes combined with rotation of wounded soldiers saved thousands of lives on the battlefield.

This victory was the first major defeat of any Antinium army on the continent. News instantly spread to every city-state and with it, both Drake and Gnoll populaces experienced a surge of morale. The Antinium could be defeated. They could be stopped.

The defeat at Shivering Falls was not a significant one for the Antinium hives in terms of either soldiers or strategic importance, but the loss did surprise the Queens commanding the war. Even in Rhir, Antinium had seldom suffered defeat until their departure, and this decisive loss must have alarmed the Great Queen.

Although several additional armies could have joined up to engage Sserys’ army a second time, the Great Queen declined to do so. Instead, she sent additional armies north to assault Liscor while the rest withdrew to maintain their sieges and hold over claimed territory.

This proved to be an error, as Sserys’ victorious army began attracting support and new recruits on an unprecedented scale. The [General] rallied the east, reaching out towards the two Walled Cities not directly in line of the Antinium’s advance for support. Desperate for a leader capable of defeating the Antinium, they sent all the arms and soldiers they could muster.

Sserys’ communications with the leaders of both cities is largely of a diplomatic nature; his reassurances to both leaders are mainly personal and it is likely he avoided any references to his overall strategy save one exchange. Initial requests from both cities were for Sserys to act defensively and hold off the Antinium advance, rather than move to attack as he wished.

Faced with mounting pressure both from correspondence and from officials sent from the Walled Cities, Sserys sent a curt response by mage letter that reads as follows:

 

We will not retreat.

Victory can only be won by meeting the Antinium face on. Cowardice will only doom us faster. We will assault them and rally our kind or die fighting. This is our only chance.

Do not try to dissuade me from this course again. Drakes do not run.

 

–General Sserys of Liscor

 

The next day the First Coalition Army of Liscor launched a full-scale counterattack on the Antinium forces laying siege to the Walled Cities.

 


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25 thoughts on “S02 – The Antinium Wars (Pt.1)

  1. This is the first part of the May monthly Patreon side story. It’s only ~5,000 words or so due to it being split up into two parts. The second one I’ll post tomorrow.

    It’s interesting in several ways. For one thing, this is a different style of writing than I’ve used before, but more importantly, it reveals some interesting information for readers. Patreon people read this a long time ago, but the other readers might look back on certain chapters with new eyes after digesting some details.

    Anyways, hope you enjoy, and the next monthly side story should be out on Patreon tomorrow…I hope.

    • The continent is misspelled sometimes. And in the end the short fom is used, which is no mistake as you have already established, but to me it feels odd that a [historian] would do such an incongruous thing.

    • One paragraph bothers me, a bit

      There are two types of Antinium I have observed: the massive Soldiers and the smaller Workers. Of the two, the Soldiers are vastly more dangerous. They fight hand-to-hand and charge into pikes and magical traps without regard for their lives. They will continue to attack even when mortally wounded, and they are capable of bludgeoning even the most well-armored warrior to death given time.

      The problem is that when you decscribe why the Soldiers are more dangerous than the Workers, you mention that they keep attacking no matter how injured they are.
      This implies that the Workers don’t act like that, which isn’t true at all. Every Antinium, regardless of their suitability for war, would attack their enemies, no matter in which state they are.

      So, I would add that characteristic of the Antinium when you keep speaking of them in general and not referring to specific castes.

      • One more thing, how did he even come up with the name “Worker”?
        Shouldn’t he view BOTH of them as Soldiers/Warriors, as both of thme were fighting and not just one of them, and that one group is superior than the other one.
        It was just mentioned that the Workers were using weapons, but that doesn’t even mean that they were the ones who built them. Only ONE time was it mentioned that they built something (“..Workers swarming up the walls, building living ladders …”), but that hardly outweights the times when they were seen fighting.
        So, in my opinion, IF you plan to revise this side story at one point, you shouldn’t use the word Workers, at least not when mentioned by people who have no knowledge regarding the caste system of the Antinium; when it is done by the narrator than it can stand.

    • “While the Drake cities had existed in a state of enduring war and skirmishes with each other, one of the factors that prevented most of the cities from being conquered was the difficulty of taking the city before reinforcements could arrive.”

      I think ‘the city’ should be ‘them’.

    • “First-hand” means the storyteller was actually present. You should emphasize a difference by putting “supposedly” or another appropriate adjective in front of it. Option b is to use the appropriate term “second-hand.”

  2. “It’s raining ants!” A historical account, how wonderful! Accomplished! First Blake, then this. I have your tail – haha! Only the beginning was unclear, why they left Rhir and stopped fighting there in the first place? But who can understand an ant, right? I have this habit of watching ant streets in the sun…

  3. You certainly hit the tone perfectly. I’m not a massive fan of historical texts (boo, GCSE History memories) but this remained fairly engaging nonetheless.

  4. Question for the author: as you haven’t commented on the map posted a while ago on the main page I’m wondering which level of accuracy it provides in your opinion? Because I use it as reference since discovering it a few days ago and it gives me a certain amount of enjoyment.

    And a funny thought: as I embarked on this journey here, I couldn’t get enough of the story, and fast. Nowadays I’m more content to wait for another chapter. But it is not because I’m getting bored, but on the contrary, the story is so rich that I’m spending the time inbetween thinking about it and trying to sort all the details, and emotional turmoil that it provokes, out.

    • Oh–I think I did respond to the commenters, just in a post in one of the chapters. In terms of accuracy, it gets some things right like where Liscor and the mountains are in proportion to the rest of the continent and in others, not so much.

      For instance, the walled cities number six, and they’re spread out all over the southern half of the continent. Not the artist’s fault; it hadn’t been revealed yet in the story.

      Like I said, that’s one of the things to do on my list, and I’m actually debating putting it up instead of a side story. Semi-detailed maps, but I’m just not sure if I can do them justice.

      Glad you like the story so much to give them thought! Once I finish today’s side story, next week’s bonus chapter (since we’re going to hit $800 on Patreon by then), and put up the next voting incentives and get done with the guestbook entries…

      Maybe a map?

    • As the “artist” who made the terrible thing you call a map, allow me to say that it is by no means accurate – For one thing, apparently the name of the southern continent is not Semaris (which I swear I read in one of the chapters, as I wrote the facts down as I found them), but rather. “Izryl” or “Issrysil”

      Furthermore, the location of both the new and old locations of Erin’s inn are unknown, as the direction/distance from liscor varies from chapter to chapter (truly a wandering inn, eh) – for example, when they rebuild the inn in a new location, they state that it is roughly twenty minutes walking distance from the inn, however in a recent chapter it was said to be only ten minutes away.

      Also, the Blood Fields, while hinted to be near both the High Passes and the Floodplains, are probably not *that* big – In hindsight, I suspect (although no textual evidence) that the passes are diamond-ish shaped – starting from a very similar point, seperating, and later meeting at two very close areas.

      Unfortunately I am not pirateaba so everything I know is guesswork from what is repeated often in the text.

      • Top right is a search field. I typed “Semaris” in there and it didn’t find anything. I think you thought of Chapter 2.07
        “Yes. This one, for instance was colonized by Drakes and Gnolls. They each gave it their own name, and so did the Humans who settled here. The Drakes call it Se—Slys—”(Both begin with “Se”)
        But to pirateabas defends, it happened before she came up with the names of the continents. So, it’s not that she used Izril earlier and then screwed up.

        • As to the different amount of times one needs to walk to the inn, it MIGHT not be a mistake. It depends if those were said by different people. We know that Klbkch and Relc needed much less time to walk to the inn from Liscor( 10 minutes), then Erin did(hour), as they are much fitter. When Erin walked to the city for the first time, she noticed the inaccuracy their statements

          “They lied to me.”(1.12)

          Or maybe they just walked really fast. Erin could actually see the city Klbkch had called Liscor in the distance. It was still small, but given how close it seemed now compared to before and multiplying her velocity by her legs and given energy divided by her willingness to keep walking…

          “Thirty minutes. No; probably an hour. Yeah, that sounds about right.”

          So again, it depends on who said it, if they were mentioned by the same person, then it’s lkely pirates mistake.

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