Sci-fi / Fantasy

The King is Dead by Al Burke

The Great War

The war between the kingdoms was long and bloody, but the skill and organisation of the Etruvian army always gave them the edge. The surrounding kingdoms endeavoured to form temporary alliances against the Etruvian might, but the country’s geography, with the massive Great Forest and the dreaded Waste to the south, and the primitive Trumani lands to the north, made it difficult for opponents to combine their armies in one force large enough to take down Etruvia.
With the army able to fight on its own terms, the other invading kingdoms were soundly beaten and sent home to lick their not inconsiderable wounds while stewing in their jealousy of the fantastic resources that Etruvia enjoyed. The Kingdom celebrated briefly, then went about the business of forming agreements with the other nations to ensure such conflict would never happen again. These pacts, facilitated mostly by trade, ushered in a brief golden age in Etruvian history. Even so, the great King Cedric felt it unwise to disband the army, and history would prove him to be right.
At the northern border, the Trumani, long considered to be primitive savages, began to attack border towns with increased regularity and, as it seemed to some, design. This kind of thinking was generally shouted down, but within months, the King decided it was time to build outposts along the Trumani border. While the attacks quieted for some time, soon the garrisons fell under attack, and the army was losing troops at an alarming rate. Something had to be done. Instead of sitting on their hands and allowing the increasingly frequent attacks to continue, the Military Council decided to march into Trumania and settle the matter once on and for all.
This was a high risk-high reward situation, but with the nation still recovering from the war with the other kingdoms, the Council did not believe that combating protracted guerrilla warfare was the answer. Not a lot was known of the Trumani, other than they had a tribal culture. They had spent more time fighting each other than looking towards their neighbours, but something had changed. Perhaps they had unified.
The land was known to be mostly flat with scattered woodlands, with mountains to the east and west sheltering them from their more civilised neighbours. Little was known of their battle tactics, apart from the brief skirmishes with border patrols, but they were fine warriors and surprisingly respectful of their opponents. Despite long- held rumours that they ate their dead, the Trumani lined up the corpses of their rivals and left the wounded alive, sometimes even helping them. The attacks on villages and homesteads rarely saw any deaths, as the tribesmen seemed more interested in taking livestock and food stores.
The hope of the Council was, though none made it clear, that a mere show of force would send the Trumani scurrying back to their villages, never to be heard from again.
A fine plan, at least in theory.

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