The Battle That Never Happened

Started by Jubal, August 26, 2015, 11:45:33 PM

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The Battle That Never Happened

There is a place where the earth is red, and where the trees grow tall. It is a hill-country, a sun-baked land. There lived in that place a governor, a very cruel man who beat the people he ruled over and took from them their crops and livelihoods. He was known for many a mile, and much hated, though few felt they could do anything to take revenge upon him.

Tammin was at that time passing through those lands, and he saw the cruelty of the governor, and decided that something ought to be done. He gathered some local villagers together, and spent a few weeks causing all sorts of havoc for the governor; stealing his wealth and giving it out in the villages, breaking his fences, setting his horses loose, and all manner of punishments for his cruelty.

Eventually, though, the governor decided that enough was enough; Tammin and a few of the villagers who had helped him were chased out of the villages and up into the hills, until they were trapped upon the peak of one hill – one tall, forested hill. There were (though the governor did not know this) only four of them – Tammin himself, a woodsman, a carpenter, and a stonemason. It was getting close to nightfall, and the governor's men were making camp, with guards posted so the four men could not get away. The four men were afraid – for they knew that a search party would be sent up as soon as the day dawned. A battle, and a battle they would surely lose, seemed inevitable.

So first Tammin turned to the woodsman. "This," he said, "is what you must do."

Come morning, ten of the governor's men walked into the dark woods. Tammin stood at the top of the hill and shouted down at them.

"I am Tammin! I am one of the greatest heroes to walk the red earth, and beneath these trees I have an army waiting for you. "

And sure enough, in the gloom beneath the trees the men saw the flickering lights of campfires, up and down the hill – carefully laid so that they would not burn out too quickly. It was hard to see in the dark beneath the tree canopy, and there were only ten of the governor's men, so they took no chances, and turned on their heels.

They fled – all ten of them, back to the governor's camp.

And on the second night, they were afraid, for they knew that the governor was coming and would kill them all if he could. But Tammin turned to the carpenter and said "this is what you must do."

A hundred of the governor's men walked into the woods. And Tammin stood at the top of the hill and bellowed down at them.

"I am Tammin! I am one of the finest orators ever to speak a word, and I can persuade even the trees to fight on my side"
Sure enough, they looked around – and the trees had mouths and eyes carved upon them, and they glimmered with the little fires that burned again in the gloom below the forest canopy. And the men stumbled back, amazed and terrified, and they turned on their heels...

And they fled – every man, back to the governor's camp.

On the third night, the four men were more afraid than ever – for the governor had become enraged, and the cruel man would surely come up himself to try and fight them. But Tammin turned to the mason and said "this is what you must do".

Five hundred men, led by the governor, marched into the forest – and Tammin roared down at them.

"I am Tammin! I am one of the wisest magicians ever to conjure a spirit or cast a spell. And beneath these trees even the rocks will obey me and fight for me."

The governor's men marched into the forest, blinking in the gloom. They saw the trees, with faces more monstrous than any devil they had ever seen. They saw fires flickering in the far darkness, and shivered in fear of what men might be waiting there. And then, Tammin and his companions released the piles of rocks they had collected overnight. Rumbling down the hill, the carefully smoothed boulders and pebbles thundered into the dark forest.

"Yesterday was bad enough," said the men who had been there the day before. "Today even the rocks are against us." The noises thundered louder, and rocks began to roll down around them - and they turned, and the rest of the five hundred men turned, and at last even the governor turned and all of them ran out of the woods.

And they fled – every man, and the governor did not stop until he had gotten all the way back to his palace.

And so the battle never happened, and Tammin snuck away safely, for he who knows exactly when to call upon his friends cannot be defeated by even the mightiest of foes. And if you are ever in a land where the earth is red and the trees are tall – a hill country in a sun-baked land – then have a careful look at the trees around you. You might just find that one of them is looking back.

Tellers' Notes
This is probably my least favourite of the Tammin stories to date and as such I haven't told it yet, I think it would work better if I was doing a full session of Tammin tales whereas on its own it lacks punch a bit. It's nonetheless another good and very simple demonstration of part of Tammin's "heroic method" - knowing when to use the skills of others. One aspect I do like is the physical nature of the story; it relies heavily on the hill as a part of the tale rather than just a pretty backdrop, which roots the whole thing rather more.
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