Ranser's War—Wayrest Besieged
Ever since my accession to the throne of Wayrest in that momentous year of 2E 563, the question of who should become my queen consort was ever on my—and my advisors'—minds. King Ranser of Shornhelm had a goodly daughter, Princess Rayelle, and her hand was offered to me by my brother of Shornhelm both early and often. Indeed, my mind was almost made up to accept the Princess of Shornhelm when, on a visit to Sentinel, my eyes first beheld the Princess Maraya, daughter of King Fahara'jad. From that moment, I swore that Wayrest would have no queen but Maraya. Of course, there was another unexpected benefit: as her dowry, she brought a trade agreement between our two states that resulted in great prosperity for all.
King Ranser, alas, was wroth that I had not accepted the hand of his daughter, and he withdrew his ambassador from the court of Wayrest. Although Ranser was invited to my wedding to Maraya in the spring of 566, like the other kings of the Covenant, he stayed, seething, in Shornhelm.
I should perhaps have paid more attention to Ranser's choler, but I was so taken with my new bride and trade issues around the Iliac Bay that mountainous Shornhelm seemed distant and irrelevant. That mistake almost cost me my throne.
For over a year, Ranser had been quietly mustering his troops and emptying his treasury to hire mercenaries. In Last Seed of 2E 566, he led his army out of Shornhelm in a lightning strike to the south. Ranser had marched through Alcaire and Menevia almost before we were aware of his approach. The Shornhelm advance guard reached the gates of Wayrest while the local militias we had quickly mustered were still filing through them. This was a moment when history trembled upon a cusp: if the attacking Oldgate Lancers scattered our militia and took the gate, Wayrest could fall to her attackers within the hour.
Fortunately, I was personally present at the gate, along with my Cumberland Guard. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, I had my bannerman sound the charge. I led the gate guards and my household troops out against the Oldgate Lancers. My men wore full armor, and I, though unarmored, bore at my side the mighty Orichalc Scalpel, an enchanted broadsword of many virtues. The Scalpel, drawn for the first time in anger, flashed and hummed like a blade in a sawmill as we hurled ourselves upon the Lancers. Our enemies, who suddenly found themselves opposed by armored veterans rather than panicky irregulars, were further confounded by the sudden onset of a thunderstorm. Lashed by hail, their horses terrified by lightning, faced with the Orichalc Scalpel scything through their necks and limbs, the vaunted Oldgate Lancers hesitated, then broke and ran, pell-mell, from the gate.
By the time Ranser's main forces arrived on the scene, our troops were all within the walls. The gates were shut up tight, but the King of Shornhelm was undeterred. The city of Wayrest found itself once more under siege, and Ranser, with more craft and foresight than the Reachman Durcorach, had come with siege engines in his train.
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