Under the Imperial Banner von Jens Eppinger

It is a time of dread and fear.
One of the darkest chapter in human’s life.
Torrokul Skullslasher, chief of the most awful ogre clan of Ulbachaka,
launched an invasion on the defenceless north coast of Nyrmillia.
Hidden by a magic fog, created by his powerful shamans
huge parts of the imperial navy got lost and destroyed.
Combined with all ogrish forces under his command Torrokul penetrated
the harmless defence of Nyrmillian knights and occupied large parts of
the careless empire with a very swift stroke.
More than thousand innocent victims were slaughtered until the evil hordes reached
the impregnable walls of metropolitan Kerat.
From here the final battle would secure victory in the struggle of Nyrmillia.
As all survived human troops were shattered all over the land, the ogres expected
a quick and easy annihilation of all their weaken adversaries.
But the cry for revenge winged the unbroken will of the defenders.

Lord Silverheart`s eyes looked sadly to the old map that was spread out of a shabby table in the command tent of the Imperial Army. His quick glance around noticed that all present knights had the same depressed feeling about the hopeless situation. Defeated and besieged by a wild and merciless enemy who had never known any kind of negotiations. 
„How many men do we have lost today?„, asked Lord Silverheart silently as a young corporal stepped forward to him.
His rotten chain mail amour was stained with blood and mud. Sweat ran down on his neck as he breathlessly began to stutter his report.
„It was a trap, Milord. We reached the ruins of Galbhon as we were suddenly ambushed by a great number of these damned bastards. Three of our horsemen died before they actually knew what was happening to them. Colonel Moverrick our leader, ordered a close circle, but before his voice reached all riders, another two men were slaughtered where they stood.„ Mournful he pressed his hands for his eyes. His crying was interrupted by a gentle embrace of Lord Silverheart.
„Go on, corporal! Tell us what had happened then.„
The young man swallowed and wiped the tears from his face. „The ogres roared and without any notice to their wounds they killed men and horses. I will never forget this brutish behaviour. With their huge clubs they smashed our men in pieces. During the dishonourable battle some of them even tore the bodies of the dead apart and started to scoff.„
A loud groaning was heard in the tent, as some of the elder knights lost their powers of comprehension. Aghasted they starred at Lord Silverheart, who tried to calm down the growing turmoil. 
„Are there any other survivors, who can testify that massacre?„, asked a fair-haired monk.
His pale face was as white as his plain robe. His fingers played nervously with an ancient amulet made of silver.
„No, your holiness. I am the only one.„ The corporal shameful bowed his head. „I was in such a fear that I denied my mission and my rank. Without any further thoughts about my dead companions in arms I started to run. I retreated like a coward and fled from the battle.„ 
„You escaped by foot?„ The reverberate voice of Lord Hawkeye sounded reproachful. Angry about the foolish behaviour of his soldier the incensed knight grabbed his slim shoulder. 
„Tell me lad, what is the first principle of a cavalryman during a fight?„ 
„To protect and to save the life of his horse.„ 
Lord Hawkeye nodded. „Aye. And what did you do?„ The tall dignified aristocrat clenched his fist. „You left it in the lurch. You deserted.„ 

Feeling guilty the young corporal starred at the ground. „I know, Milord. I am not worth to wear the imperial coat of arms. But my horse was killed during the battle. I could not even took vengeance.„
Lord Silverheart tried to smile. „You did well, corporal. Lord Hawkeye it is enough.„ 
Fatherly Lord Silverheart led him out of the tent to a bench near the blacksmith. As the young man looked up to him Lord Silverheart shook his hand. 
„There is nothing more that you can do. Try to sleep and do not forget that a vivid soldier is worthier to the emperor  than a dead one.„ 
The young corporal tried to laugh. „Thanks Milord. I am still proud to march under the Imperial Banner.„
Lord Silverheart hesitated. Before he turned around he took a last glimpse to the man. „What is your name, corporal?„, he asked silently.
„Umanor, Milord. Fregor Umanor.„ His dark eyes tried to catch Silverheart`s gaze. „Umanor„, he whispered. 
Thoughtful Silverheart`s fingers scratched his fine beard. „I once knew an old veteran called Lesrak Umanor. He was one of the first swordsmen who died during the north coast defence. Was he a relative to you?„ Fregor nodded sadly. 
„He was my grandfather. My father was murdered two weeks ago as an ogrish shaman conjured an elemental servant of the dark side.„ 
Lord Silverheart looked to the ready made blades that were put on a weapon rack in front of the blacksmith’s tent. „Yes, I have heard about it. That diabolical demon destroyed some of our catapults and battering rams. Seven guards lost their life as they tried to protect these powerful vehicles.„
Corporal Umanor grabbed a filthy scrap of cloth out of his bag. Wiping off the dirt on his face he suddenly drew a blunt claymore. „This is my grandfather’s sword, Sire. It has once been a powerful scarf blade. But now it is rotten. It did not even kill one of this atrocious creatures. It only tasted the blood of some loathsome goblins.„ Fregor Umanor looked up to his feudal lord, but Lord Silverheart´s mind seemed to be far away. 
As his loud voice sounds a few seconds later, the young corporal stopped wiping his face immediately.
„I think I have a quest for you, corporal Umanor. Have you ever heard of Sir Keilon of Brookvalley?„
The young soldier denied, but Lord Silverheart´s intention was as clear as a crystal. „No, Milord. But he sounds like a heroic knight. Is he one of your warlords?„ 
Lord Silverheart hardly tried to conceal his smiling. „Not yet, corporal. He is truly a knight and a very brave and honourable he is. His code of honour is exemplary to all of us. I am glad to be his trustful friend.„
„So you want me to meet him?„ Dropping the scrap Umanor raised impetuous. „Of course you want me to meet him. Otherwise you would not have told me about him. Is he the one we are looking for? Will he bring peace to our tortured souls?„ 
Lord Silverheart did not smile any more. „No, corporal. Although Sir Keilon gained numerous heroic deeds he still is a mortal human. His Majesty the emperor himself sent him to me. We expect his arrival tomorrow afternoon.„ Looking back to his command tent Lord Silverheart discharged corporal Umanor. „Try to rest corporal! Tomorrow will bring another hard day for us. I will send one of my servants informing you about the quest.„ 
Umanor nodded and saluted. „I will not fail, Milord.„ Tired but proud he turned around and followed the path to the  quarters. 

Mist undulated the numerous tents of the Imperial Corps. Opaque and scary like a demon’s breath enclosing a condemned soul. 
The hoarsely cry of an old crow broke the quiet of the early morning. Corporal Umanor´s bright eyes followed the bird as it landed on the top of an old oak. „You are free, my fellow. You can do what you want. You can escape and you do not know any kind of misery.„ 
The young soldier was already dressed. With his polished chain mail amour, his red coat and his grandfather’s sword on his belt he really looked like a brave imperial knight. His battered helmet in his hands Umanor stepped forward to the group of six guards protecting Elder Helferson´s tent. All of them wore dark blue uniforms over their golden plate mail armours.
Like cleric Helferson himself each of the men was armed with a blessed mace. 
Before corporal Umanor could raise his hand for salutation he was stopped by the prefect of the clerical lifeguard. 
„I am sorry, corporal. I cannot let you through. Elder Helferson wants to meditate in silence. He is weaken by his healing spells last night.„
Corporal Umanor stood back. „His healing spells? I have not been informed about any ogrish attacks last night. Please tell me what has happened Sire."
The prefect’s face darkened. „I am not allowed to tell you anything about that, corporal. I beg you to leave. Otherwise I have to put you under arrest.„ 
Being impressed by the prefect’s answer, Umanor nodded and turned around. „I understand you, Sir. It is not my intention to make any trouble. I just wanted to be blessed by Elder Helferson, before I will be on a new mission.„ 
The six men did not show any lively interest in Umanor´s words. Rigid as a stone the clerical prefect starred straight ahead without taking further notice of the young corporal. 
„So I will wait for Lord Silverheart´s servant.„ Disappointed by the guards behaviour corporal Umanor aimless walked through the huge imperial camp. He passed the blacksmith’s tent and stopped at the field kitchen for a quick breakfast. As Morianna, one of the beautiful maids, offered him a slice of hard bread, he grabbed her hand.
„Wait a minute, please. What is it about a fresh piece of bread for an old fellow like me?„ Looking in Morianna´s bright blue eyes Fregor Umanor smiled in a mischievous way.
„The other soldiers do not complain. It is quite difficult to get you satisfied, corporal.„ Morianna´s hearty laugh made him grin. „Why do you always complain about everything? Do you think I am happy to work hard every day? Well, the number of soldiers descends every day, but we poor maids are busied until midnight. Sometimes I think we women are tougher than you, without wearing swords."
Umanor nodded and let off her fine wrist. Morianna´s  long brown curls and her seductive body in mind he offered her a silver coin.
„This is for you, Mori. I like your way. I hope I will see you when I am back." Discouraged by Morianna´s twinkling eyes and her twisted lips Umanor looked at the ground.
„What did you say, Fregor? You leave? I think your unit of cavalry men has been destroyed." The young soldier sighed and with a wave of his hand he made her sit down. 
„Listen Morianna, Lord Silverheart has planed and secret mission for me and a famous knight. I do not know when it will start and even what we are going to do. But I think it is a second chance for me to show my abilities. Yes, I am proud to be chosen by Lord Silverheart himself and I hope not to fail again." 
Morianna´s pretty cheeks went red. „My prayers are with you, Fregor. I hope you will survive this mission and come back to me. You know that I still feel sympathy for you."
Umanor stroked her hand. „Thanks, Morianna. I will take you out of here, when this terrible war is over. We have suffered too much pain." 
Morianna leaned forward. Kissing Fregor´s cheeks she said goodbye. „May Golum bless you, Umanor. I will wait for your return." With tears in her eyes Morianna turned away and left him alone. 

„Corporal Umanor?" The young squire with his out standing forehead scraped his nose unsure.
„That is me. What do you want?" Astonished by the well dressed man Umanor laid his canteen down. Sitting on his bench in front of the quarters he surely expected one of Lord Silverheart´s servants. But the well wished aristocrat really sent his loyal squire for informing an inexperienced corporal.
„I have been sent by my master, Lord Silverheart to pick you up. He awaits you in the command tent. Follow me, if you are ready." The unarmed young lad stepped back. 
„I am ready. We can go." Umanor grabbed for his sword and his helmet. Being impressed by the well kept imperial uniform he followed the squire expectantly. 
As they reached Lord Silverheart´s command tent a few minutes later Umanor hesitated nervously.
„You may enter, corporal." Pointing his finger on the entrance the squire waited for Umanor´s decision. 
„I see no guards. Where are Lord Silverheart´s men at arms?"
The squire shook his head. „You better ask Lord Silverheart himself, corporal. Enter please, I have got work to do." 
Feeling strange Umanor stepped into the big tent. Like the day before Lord Silverheart stands behind his massive table.
„Greetings, corporal Umanor. I am pleased to see you fully armed. Take a seat and wait for Sir Keilon´s return."
Before Umanor could salute Lord Silverheart looked back on his scripts that were spread out on his desk. „Do you wish a cup of tea?" Umanor agreed.
„With pleasure, Milord. It is cold outside."
Without raising his head Silverheart signalled one of his servants to offer Umanor a cup of hot black tea. Wondering about the three servants who stand behind Lord Silverheart´s back Umanor took the beverage gratefully. Without burning his lips he carefully tasted the aromatic drink.
„I have never drank a delicious tea like this. It makes me feel strong. Are there any magic ingredients in it?" 
Lord Silverheart looked up to him. „That is correct, corporal. Elder Helferson brewed it that morning. He said it would be more helpful than any healing potion he knows." 
The young corporal looked around. Except him, Lord Silverheart and his servants the immense command tent was empty. „I have tried to visit Elder Helferson, but the guards did not let me pass. The clerical prefect mentioned something about healing spells. Was there an ogrish attack last night?"
Lord Silverheart remained silent.
Before Umanor had emptied his cup of tea a strange noise caught his intention. Turning his face to the entrance he suddenly discerned a feeling of oppression. Breathless he starred at the tall impressive warrior entering the tent with great steps.

Sir Keilon´s squeaking knight’s armour looked scratched and battered. The former magnificent plate mail was covered with clotted blood, dried sludge and sings of rust. Only his deep blue cloak concealed further wears and tears. Even his long riding boots seemed to be outworn and holey. 
Lost in thoughts the impressive knight passed corporal Umanor without taking any notice of him. A smell of death drifted to the soldier’s nose, as Sir Keilon started to speak. 
„Two of the men are dead. There was nothing more that Elder Helferson and the medico could do. This strong ogre shaman must be destroyed, otherwise we will lose more and more of our brave men." 
Scrutinising Sire Keilon corporal Umanor stood up silently. As the elder knight noticed the young officer he suspiciously stepped back.
„Who are you? Are you Lord Babec´s courier? Did he arrive finally?" 
Looking straight in Sir Keilon´s green eyes Umanor denied intimidated. „No, Milord. I am corporal Umanor. Once cavalryman under colonel Moverrick´s command, leader of the fourth imperial cavalry regiment."
The arrogant look of Sire Keilon silenced him immediately. „Once?"
Before Fregor Umanor could answer Lord Silverheart stepped between them. „He is right. The fourth cavalry regiment had been wiped out by an ogrish raiding party. He is the only one who had survived that massacre."
„Wiped out? All riders?", Sir Keilon asked doubting. „What a terrible lost." 
„That is not all", Lord Silverheart handed him a little piece of paper. „This is a message brought by one of Sire Babec´s carrier pigeons." 
Turning to the flickering oil lamp on Lord Silverheart´s table the old knight tried to read the tiny note. „That cannot be", he shouted mournfully. „Before we decided to separate us, Lord Babec was protected by a large group of experienced swordsmen.  I can not believe that he is captured. The ogres never take any prisoners." 
„Maybe there is more about it than we know." Lord Silverheart dismissed the three servants and walked back to his table. „The message reached me by sunrise. I have thought about it a lot. Our first step was to kill the ogrish shaman. Now we should plan Sire Babec´s rescue, if he is still alive." 
„I think we can do both easily." Trying to catch Sir Keilon´s attention corporal Umanor stepped forward. Starting his explanation in a self-assured way he bravely looked in the expectant eyes of the elder knight. 
„There must be a secret base in the woods outside. From there the ogres are making their plans probably. This hidden place is well chosen. It must be between our camp and the ogrish army in the north. Reinforcement can get there in a quick and harmless way, before our scouts can report about their arrival. So, it must be a small base."

Sir Keilon did not show any reaction to Umanor´s theory. Indifferent towards the corporal he put the little note back on Lord Silverheart´s table and took place on a dirty armchair. 
Then the battle-tried aristocrat nodded admittedly. „What makes you think that an ogrish raiding party is organised like that? I think you overestimate them. Ogres are only led by their hunger and their hate. They do not know any kind of strategy."
„What is about their invasion of Nyrmillia?", corporal Umanor replied. „Chief Torrokul and his shamans did not leave anything to chance. I think we underestimated them." 
Lord Silverheart nodded, too. „You are right, corporal. I am of the same opinion that there must be a hidden base in the woods outside. The forest is strictly avoided by our patrols. It is to dangerous for a small group to enter this dark and unsafe place."
Sir Keilon looked up to his old friend Siegbert Silverheart. „As a loyal servant in her majesty’s service I am forced to get into that frowning wood. Maybe I can find Sire Babec and this vicious shaman there." 
„I go with you, Sir Keilon. There is something I have to make good."
The imperial knight shook his head. „That is not a good idea, young corporal. I appreciate your brave behaviour, but you are no fighter. You have no experience in things like that."
The proud knight stood up. „I will do it alone, Siegbert. Send your squire to my tent. He shall prepare my food and my weapon. I am going to my horse."
„Wait, Sir Keilon", Lord Silverheart grabbed his shoulder. „I will send my squire, but listen to me at first. Corporal Umanor goes with you, as well as two of my best soldiers." 
Before Sir Keilon could answer Lord Silverheart called for corporal Umanor.
„This is your quest, Umanor. If you will not return, be sure that your deeds are not in vain. Try to do your best and maybe you will become a hero. Release Sire Babec and kill that diabolic creature that is responsible for our sorrows. May Golum go with you, corporal Umanor."

The warm sunlight shone down on Morianna´s curly head. Trembling she waved Fregor good bye. Tears ran down her fine cheeks, as she sadly turned around starting to cry. 
Watching her Umanor tried to rein in his horse, but Sir Keilon pushed him forward.
„Every man, who has to take part in a battle knows that. You are not the first, Umanor." 
Behind Sir Keilon and corporal Umanor two old veterans rode their fearless war-horses. Captain Guy of Elson, a skilful sharpshooter, was armed with a heavy crossbow. He worn the typical red imperial uniform and a flat helmet on his shaved head. Next to him rode major Morne Wolfenheart. He was mute, but an excellent fighter. He used a short hand axe in conflict and a terrible scarf in his face testified his intransigent way of fighting. 
Leading the small group Sir Keilon offered corporal Umanor a little talisman made of silver. „May this blessed amulet protect you from evil. It has been made for me, as I was a squire in Sire Loreander´s service about thirty years ago."
Starring at the little jester’s bauble in his hand Umanor tried to laugh. 
„It is an unusual kind of talisman, is it not? A jester’s bauble?" 
The old knight did not say anything. As they crossed a small brook some minutes later, he looked back to him. „Sire Loreander´s uncle was the emperor’s jester for a long time. He was very clever. He knew a lot of tricks. Watching his performances was magnificent. He even made King Brondel-Glim laugh, as he visited Kerat after the great war against the orcish hordes." 
„The king of dwarf’s was amused by a jester?"
Sir Keilon smiled. „Not only a jester, corporal. I would call him a little wizard. A wizard, who drove your sorrows away." 
„I have to thank you for it, Sir Keilon. It is a great honour for me to be your companion in arm." Umanor put the little talisman into his pocket.
 „Honour keeps a man alive. It reveals your character and your behaviour. So, do not be led by your feelings only. Think of what you are doing. If you do well, honour can be a powerful alley."
Considering Sir Keilon´s words corporal Umanor closed up to him. „This is a fine definition, Sir. I will not forget it."
The imperial knight kept smiling. „I will pray to Golum, hoping that you will survive that clash. Maybe he has something special planned for you."

The little group reached the forest late in the afternoon. Terrifying and gruesome the tall stunted grown trees reached up to the sky. Unshakeable like giant guards they seemed  to protect the dark wood.
Silence and a breeze of coldness came over the four men, as Sir Keilon got off his horse.
 „Be quit now! Send the horses to a safe place and be prepared for any conflict. 
Umanor did as the elder knight said. Then, a few minutes later, he followed major Wolfenheart into the deep forest. Sneaking through the bushes Sir Keilon and Captain Elson made their way silently. Searching for tracks the two men slowly moved forwards. 
„It is simple to follow an ogre´s track. Look here. Broken twigs and large foot marks. Even a blind can find their lair."
Captain Elson draw his crossbow. „Must be two or three. They passed here for about one hour. They went in north direction."
The skilful knight was followed by Sir Keilon, who calmly seized for his broadsword. 
„You better take your weapon, corporal. Can you smell that rancid stench?" 
Umanor nodded. „Aye, Sir. I can remember that stink." Recalling his dead companions he carefully draw his claymore. 
Major Wolfenheart was the first, who discovered the mutilated corpse of Sir Gennek. Talking in sign language he informed Sir Keilon about his terrible find. As the brave knight knelt down at Sir Gennek´s side, he unrestrained starts to cry.
„Your soul is in Golum´s sphere, my fellow. You were a good and loyal knight."
„He was one of Sire Babec´s party." Captain Elson mournfully bowed his head. „I hope we will find him alive. As you see, ogres do not take any prisoners." 
Covering Sir Gennek´s body with some leafs and branches the little group walked on.

„This forest is very scary. I can hear no birds, nor insects buzzing. The entire wood seems to be deserted."
Sir Keilon nodded. „Aye, corporal. You are right. But I think we are not alone in here. The ogres will find us soon, if we are not careful enough." 
Captain Elson tapped Umanor on his shoulder. „Although you are young, corporal you do not show any fear. I am very impressed, but do not overestimate yourself." 
Umanor just nodded. „There was a mission I failed, captain. I think you have been told about it."
The old veteran tried to smile. „Yes, I heard about it. I do not reproach you with that. You just tried to keep alive. Your conscience is clear." 
Wondering about his understanding Umanor tapped his shoulder. „Thank you, captain. But I still feel guilty. I have lost friends and good companions. I hope to become a fearless and loyal knight like you or Sir Keilon."
Listening their conversation Major Wolfenheart starts greening. „He is of the same opinion, corporal. You will be a knight. Loyal and brave. But we have to concentrate on the moment. This adventure is not over yet."
„Adventure?", Umanor asked Elson. „I think this is the greatest quest in my life. I pray that we will all survive that mission and that we will rescue Sire Babec."
„We will, corporal." Sir Keilon looked back at him. „You better be silent now. I feel great danger. I suppose, we will meet an ogrish patrol soon. Be prepared and if there is a conflict, fight for your life."
Umanor stopped talking. Looking to captain Elson he knew that he was well protected. „Three knights and an inexperienced soldier", he thought. „What a pitiful escape attempt." 
Hoping to see Morianna again, Umanor kissed the little talisman. As suddenly Sir Keilon ordered them to find cover, he knew that the elder knight was right again.
They were six. Evil, brutish and greedy. Staggering through the brushwood the fat and stinky creatures moved forwards. Mumbling in their animal like language the big ogres did not take any notice of the four men kneeling down behind some fern.
Umanor swallowed, as he saw their huge clubs. Each of the weapon was equipped with metal or sharp splitters of stone. Typical for ogres the six man-eaters worn no armours but clothes made of leather. Their leader, a disgusting giant with long greasy hairs, belched as he passed Sir Keilon´s hiding-place. 
„Now", the imperial knight shouted. Piercing his broadsword into the ogre´s fat paunch the surprised creature fell backwards. Swinging the bloody blade Sir Keilon stormed forward attacking the ogre next to him. Before one of the creatures could react, the sizzling bolt of captain Elson´s crossbow hits an ogre´s forehead. Groaning he fell over at Umanor´s feet. Killing the next ogre major Wolfenheart threw his hatchet. Umanor watched it flying. As the axe stroke the creature down, Wolfenheart nodded satisfied. 
Three of the ogres were killed, before the others start to attack. 
„Hhhumaan", shouted one of them.
 „For colonel Moverrick", Umanor replied. Fearless he plunged his claymore in the ogre´s leg and pulled it off. The screaming creature tumbled forward him, but Umanor´s swift stroke slashed its unprotected body. As the howling giant broke down Umanor clouted him the coup de grâce.
„Not bad, corporal", captain Elson remarked and dragged his crossbow for another shot.
„Do not let him escape", Sir Keilon shouted nervously. Smashing the head of his adversary he killed his second ogre. The last creature fearfully tried to run, but captain Elson was quicker. A click of his crossbow stopped him from escaping. 
„Is anybody wounded?", Sir Keilon asked. The three men denied. „Well done, corporal. I saw your fight. You are a good swordsman. But you have to use your mind, if you will survive the next task."
Umanor felt unsure. „What do you mean by that, Sir?" 
„He means that we have to plan our next step", captain Elson replied. „We have to rescue Sire Babec. I do not believe that we can do this without any risk. We will meet more of these creatures, especially their shaman."
Umanor understood. „How many ogres will we meet? One hundred or more?" 
Shrugging his shoulders captain Elson looked to Sir Keilon. „Enough to be in trouble. I do not expect an entire legion, but at least fifty maybe less. This forest is not big enough to hide an ogrish army. So, there will be only the shaman and his lifeguard, I think." 
Major Wolfenheart tore his axe out of the ogre´s body. 
„Let us go", he signalled with his head. Following Sir Keilon the small group walked on. 
The four men reached the ogrish base only few minutes later. Hidden in a hollow more than ten tents were put up only makeshift. Decorated with furs and skins of leather the ogrish tents looked poor and shabby. A large campfire crackled in the middle of the camp.
About twelve hungry ogres were sitting around the warm flames eating their abominable meal. Animal carcasses and even two broken up human bodies laid on the ground. Grunting and belching the awful creatures celebrated their victory. Near to them piled up on a heap, the imperial defeat was testified by broken weapons, helmets and armours. Two more ogres were standing by the loud group, guarding a maltreated prisoner. Both of them were armed with huge axes and their muscular bodies were protected by rusty chain mails. 
„The shaman´s lifeguard", Sir Keilon whispered in Umanor´s ear. „Look, there he is." Pointing at the fattest ogre of the group Sire Keilon discovered him finally. 
„Dear Golum, what a terrible creature, he is." Umanor watched the shaman, as the spiritual leader rose up. The ogrish shaman was the biggest ogre Umanor had ever seen before. His bald head was covered by a crown made of feathers. Runes and magic symbols were painted on his naked body and his face. He worn a short loincloth and bracelets of bones around his wrists. A golden necklace dangled on his fat paunch, as he trudged to the unconscious man. 
Sir Keilon starred at the prisoner. He recognised the battered plate armour made of brass. He saw the two-handed sword at his feet and he saw Lord Babec´s torn banner in the mud. 
„He is the next. We will have to hurry up. Captain Elson this is your chance. Try to kill the shaman. Corporal Umanor and major Wolfenheart you both will distract the guards. I am going to rescue Sire Babec."
Without any further notice to the men Sire Keilon tried to descend the hollow. „Quick, captain! Do not let him cast a spell."
Umanor looked at him. Captain Elson shot the bolt. But it did not reach its target. One of the guards grabbed on his neck. Then he broke down. 
„Damn all." Captain Elson dragged his crossbow again, but major Wolfenheart was quicker. His thrown battle hatchet hits the shaman’s breast. Surprised by the unexpected attack the second guard reacted to slowly. Sir Keilon´s sword cut off his head from his shoulders. 
„Die you evil bastard. May your soul burn in hell." The following stroke crushed the shamans skull. „Come on, Sire Babec. It is me, Keilon."
As he pushed his companion desperately Sir Keilon starts to cry. „Oh no. Not you."
Looking back to his men he saw captain Elson killing another roaring ogre. Major Wolfenheart got on his side. Dragging his dagger he tried to cover the lifeless body of Sire Babec.
„Get him out of here", Sir Keilon shouted. Pulling Lord Babec´s shoulders the mute veteran tugged him out of the hollow.
„Is he dead?", Umanor asked anxiously.
„Not yet. I do not believe that there is much hope.„
Captain Elson and major Wolfenheart carried the heavily injured knight through the undergrowth. Defending their flight Sir Keilon fended off any ogrish attack. Five ogres were slaughtered by his broadsword. With an ear-splitting howling the remaining creatures escape in the deep of the wood. 
It was late in the evening as Morianna visited Fregor Umanor. The young corporal sat on a bench in front of the blacksmith’s tent. Polishing his claymore he sadly looked up to her.
„He is dead, Mori. Elder Helferson could not bring him back to life. Lord Silverheart ordered to embalm him, so that he can be interred in the Hall of the Heroes."
Morianna took his hand. „I am so happy that you returned. I prayed for Golum to protect you."
Umanor nodded. „Yes, Mori. I am happy, too. Lord Silverheart and Sir Keilon are going to plan an attack. They try to break the siege around Kerat. I have to leave you again, Mori." Morianna looked into his eyes. „I do not let you go. Not again. You have been escaped one time. Do it again and come with me."
Umanor tried to deny, but Morianna´s warmth kiss made him consider. „Your war is over, corporal. Come and let us go to a safe place." 
„I cannot go. I am not a coward anymore. Sir Keilon wants me as his companion. I am loyal to him and to the emperor."
The beautiful maid turned back. „You have to decide, Fregor. Me or them. You will be another dead soldier on the field. I pray that you will do the right thing."
Corporal Umanor watched her. Without looking back Morianna left him alone. Undecided he stood up. Walking to her tent he tries to find a solution for their problem. As he came closer to her tent, Umanor already knew the answer.