This is the backstory for my upcoming event. It is told from the perspective of my longtime Yewian, and really the only character I've ever played to any extent in Ultima Online since he joined in 2001, Veis Driance.
The fight for Yew
Chapter I, Blood and Iron
Rain pelted his helm, his bones were stiff and tired as he climb the ramparts slowly. He had fought this war for longer than he cared to remember, and he was beginning to feel his age. Torches guttered and flickered dimly along the walls, it was quiet, almost dawn.The only sound to be heard was the rain falling softly on his helm and the leaves below. He removed the tattered steel dragon helm and slicked his greying hair back, tying a tattered bandana tightly around his forehead. He scanned the forest as he walked, approaching the outline of a figure huddled under a tattered cloak, looking cold and miserable. "Evening soldier. Fine noight we're 'avin eh?" He said as he nudged the figure with his boot. A face appeared from beneath the cloak, startled and groggy. "Aye... uh. Beg yer pardon Major." The young man said, standing quickly to attention. "Nothin loik cold stone ahn near freezin rain tah pass the time." The soldier said, forcing a grin. The old man chuckled. He tore a heel of bread in half and tossed it to the sentry and moved on his way.
He was not concerned that the soldier had been sleeping at his post. There had been no reported sightings of hostiles this far north, although news from the south was troubling. The undead and orcish horde had grown. They ran unchecked throughout territory once governed by the Baron of Yew and protected by the ancient order of the Yew Militia. Resources had grown scarce in the wake of their pillage and murder. The Militia had been forced into a defensive position, controlling only the area closest to Empath Abbey, the Town Center, and the Court of Truth.
WIth the southern guard towers fallen, all access to the sea ports of Skara Brae and the narrow mountain pass to Britain had been shut off. Growing bolder, the Horde had moved steadily north, securing the Yew Cemetary as their northern stronghold, leaving a solitary farm as the last source of food the soldiers and citizens clung to. With no access to reinforcements, supplies or provisions, rations had been cut to quarter share, and people were starving. Tired and weak, the meager garrisons clung to hope.
Rumors of a lone ship out of Trinsic had spread throughout the ranks some weeks past. Supposedly a trader, circumnavigating by way of Jhelom, Skara Brae and Yew. Then on to Vesper, Britain and home again to Trinsic. A long voyage, but a profitable one no doubt. With access to the outside world cut off and winter on the horizon, it was quite possibly their last chance. The council would have to empty the treasury, hoping the ship carried meat and grain rather than silks and spices.
He brought his attention back to his surroundings. A patrol was coming in. He counted thirteen men. Ten Coremen, two Rangers, one officer. He took the stairs slowly, his knees complaining with each step. He nodded at the sentry as the portcullis was raised, walking to greet the patrol. He preferred to hear his reports in the field, he was not one for stuffy offices and second hand reports. He was a soldier, and would hear the news directly from his men.
"Morning, Major." The officer said with a lazy tap of his forehead in salute. He was tall, clean shaven, with long blonde hair that fell around his shoulders. They had fought and bled together for most of their lives. The salute was more for the men than anything else. Veis nodded. "Morning Noxus. Anehthin' ter report?" The officer shook his head and bit into a half rotten apple. "Nay suh. Naught else out thar but trees ahn rocks. All is quiet. We ranged tah perimiter as far as weh dared with our tin cans 'ere. Sent Rehsif ahn Sarn't Hawthorne tah do a bit o pokin closer tah the cemetary. Does seem they been fortifyin 'at area ahn everethin South as weh expected, nothin ter indicate an offensive North 'owever. May be the Rangers will 'ave some more tah report when they git back." He said with a shrug and tossed the apple core into the woods. The Major nodded. "Vereh well. The lot o yeh git some chow ahn some ale. I want the lot o yeh..." His sentence was interrupted by the unmistakeable sound of an orcish warhorn. Low, heavy and ominous. As usual a single, bellowing note. AROOOOOOOO. "RAMPARTS!" The Major yelled at his men, drawing his spear from his back with one hand and donning his helm with the other. He nodded to Noxus, who for the first time did not have the easy, ****sure grin on his face he wore before battle. He was staring past him, over the Major's right shoulder to the woods behind them. The Major turned as two figures dashed from the woods, emerging from the treeline as the blast of the warhorn faded. Dressed in boiled leather, his senior Rangers Rehisf Ap Lioc and Blake Hawthorne sprinted before a hail of arrows and stones.
"They aren't going to make it." Noxus said grimly. "Rehsif took an arrow." The Major squinted and saw that he was right. Rehsif was still moving faster than the Old Man ever could, but he was failing fast. Blake Hawthorne, the Ranger Sergeant, was moving slowly too. Running, drawing, dropping to a knee, and firing. He took an orc through the throat, another in the shoulder. He was doing all he could to keep the horde from over taking them, but they were gaining fast. Veis nodded to Noxus and shouted for the rest of the patrol to follow them. The two Veterans sprinted towards the Rangers as the horde fell upon them. The Major hurled his spear, slamming it into the chest of an orc as it prepared for a savage two handed cut at Rehsif that would have undoubetly split the Ranger from shoulder to hip. Noxus whirled as his hammer exploded into another orcs skull, spraying bone and blood in every direction. The Major retrieved his spear and barked a command at the Coremen as they arrived a moment behind. "Sig, Sinkin. With us. The rest o yeh, inside." He had barely gotten the command out when they fell on them again. His spear counted for little against such overwhelming odds. He hurled it overhand again, cursing as it caught an Undead Bone Magi in the arm but did little to slow its advancement. He drew the broadsword hanging at his hip and waded into the fray. He hamstrung a charging orc, whirled and slashed at the face of another, giving him a moments respite. He glanced to his left. Noxus was cutting the enemy down like a man possessed. Silent, efficient, terrifying. His hammer dripped blood and his armor was covered in gore. He looked to his right. Sigilbal and Sinkin were doing as they had been trained. Shields raised, two men fighting as one. Smashing his shield into the oncoming orcs, Sinkin opened up the mid section for Sigilbal to cut them down. Shouts of "Huah!" and "Fer Yew!" Could be heard faintly above the din as the soldiers pushed them back. Veis caught a devastating overhand attack from a double bladed orcish axe with his sword. He cursed and stumbled backward as the orc pursued, heaving the axe upward for another blow. The Major ducked as the blade came down and whirled, spinning in a circle with a vicious two handed side cut, burying his sword into the orcs midsection. He struggled to wrench his sword free as the orc snarled and wrapped its hands around his throat. The sword was buried too deep. Still fighting, the orc dropped to its knees, bringing the Old Man down with him. He fumbled for the dagger in his boot as the world began to turn black. He heard a soft "thrum" and felt the life go out of the hands around his neck. A steel arrow head had emerged from the orcs forehead, severing the brain stem and killing it instantly.
He cursed and untangled himself from the lifeless orc, wrenching his sword free and wiping the blaid on his boiled leather leggings. He removed his helm and saw his old friend Rehsif kneeling about twenty paces back, a half grin, half grimace on his face. "Damn et ter 'ell Rehsif, 'ow maneh times 'ave ah told yeh not ter do 'at? One o these times yer goin ter miss ahn foch ahp meh pretteh face." He said with a grin. The Ranger smiled and rose shakily. Hawthorne, the Ranger Sergeant, hurried and hooked an arm under his shoulder to steady him.
The orcs were the larger force, but the Yewians were professional soldiers. Bodies lay strewn on the ground in front of them, the dirt drank in the blood. Sinkin had just buried his sword into the collar bone of the final orc, driving it to its knees. The soldier put his foot on the orcs shoulder and wrenched the sword free. He came down again with an arching side cut that took off the beast's head with one smooth cut, and the woods grew still again. The Major nodded to his men and retrieved his spear. The sun had risen and the morning fog had dissipated. The fight for Yew had begun.