Hey, so final post for NaNoWriMo. Fell way short of the 50,000-word goal, but got a lot of groundwork laid down for the story, so I’m calling it a partial victory. It’ll be back to my regular updates this weekend.
As my character Captain Vola is based somewhat on the ancient Sarmatians, I thought it best to have her bring a number of Sarmatian-style cavalry tactics to the Tollesian army. One of those tactics was to train cavalry to function in multiple combat roles, depending on the situation. Thus Vola’s cavalry squadrons are trained to charge or skirmish, depending on the army’s needs in a battle or campaign. All of her horsemen and women are accomplished lancers, flankers, javelineers, and horse-archers. Their armor is mainly bronze-scale with bracers, greaves, and open-faced helms. Depending on their role, Vola’s cavalry pack a kopis, cavalry bow and quivers, and either a spear or set of javelins. Each rider carries two shields, a large, hoplite shield for melee and a smaller forearm shield that doesn’t impede their bowmanship.
Keep in mind as well that line-breaking cavalry charges like those performed by lance-toting knights or Byzantine cataphracts are not possible given the assumed Iron-Age technology level because the stirrup hasn’t been invented yet. With nothing to brace their feet against, a rider is more likely to be dismounted by a high-impact charge than slay their opponent. Thus while I’ve written flanking charges and cavalry-vs-cavalry melees, there won’t be any Gawain-style last-ditch, formation-shattering cavalry charges. The following excerpts come from First Empress’s final, climactic battle scene against the encroaching barbarian horde. Having specifically targeted and devastated the barbarian cavalry camps over the course of the campaign, Vola’s squadrons have whittled down the barbarian cavalry to just a few hundred horse remaining to counter her thousand elite riders.
As before, these scenes are still very much in the rough-draft phase, so any feedback is welcome. Thanks for reading, folks!
Poor stupid fuckers, Vola smirked without pity as her thousand cavalry charged the ill-trained Vedrian horse-warriors on their scrubby ponies. The past weeks, her skirmish cavalry had whittled the horse-warriors down enough that they had barely six hundred assorted horse to counter her bands of badass, mounted motherfuckers.
Vola shrieked one of her people’s battle cries as she led her squadron of lancers straight for the enemy. Her archer and javelin cavalry broke to each side of the enemy horse. Holding her spear in an overhand grip, Vola thrust it through the chest of the first horse-warrior she encountered. The fucker shrieked as the spear took him from his mount.
Drawing her long kopis, she let her armor deflect an enemy javelin, thrown at short range. Smirking, Vola rode the thrower down, lopping his arm off as her horse passed his. Her shield deflected an across-body spear attack. She struck out with her shield as she passed the enemy spearman, slamming him from his horse to be trampled by horsemen on both sides.
Her cavalry skirmishers continued to punish the enemy flanks while her lancers shattered the center of the enemy formation. Wheeling right to the east of the battlefield, her cavalry regrouped out the other side of the Vedrian formation.
Vola cackled aloud as she surveyed the damage her ballsy bastards had inflicted on the enemy horse. Barely a hundred Vedrian cavalry remained mounted, with fewer than thirty casualties among the Tollesian horse. The remaining horse attempted to flee, wheeling to their left and searching for an avenue of escape.
“Let’s wipe ‘em out, lads!” she ordered her squadron, spurring to intercept their retreat. Last thing they needed was for the hairy shits to grow their balls back and try to cause trouble later.
* * *
A few dozen riderless horses were all that was left of the Vedrian cavalry. Undertrained and underequipped, the barbarian riders had been no match for the elite Tollesian cavalry.
Some war chief in the rear echelons of the Vedrian horde apparently had his act together enough to defend the rearguard, however. As Vola’s cavalry regrouped, about two hundred Gannic spear-warriors formed two ranks of spears and shields to discourage cavalry charges to the rear. Behind them, bow-warriors and javelin-warriors readied their projectiles, daring the horsemen to come into range.
Vola chuckled at their prudent but amateurish efforts. If her boys were one-trick pony-riders like these Vedrian horse-warriors, their defense might have worked. Sheathing her kopis, Vola slung her larger shield across her back and strapped on her archer’s shield. Her lancers and javelin cavalry did the same, drawing their cavalry bows from their sheaths.
“Circle up!” she ordered her riders. “Let’s see how well the motherfuckers can hit moving targets!”
Riding in a wide, constantly right-turning oval, her cavalry readied their bows for action. After a couple of circuits, they expanded their oval to bring the charge within bow range. Drawing three arrows from her quiver, Vola held two in her bow hand and notched the third as her horse passed inside arrow range.
Accelerating into an arc parallel to the Vedrian spear-formation, Vola loosed three arrows into the Vedrian spear-wall or into the unshielded archers and skirmishers behind the wall. Arrow one wounded a javelin-warrior, arrow two thudded into an enemy shield, and arrow three took a spear-warrior in the shoulder. To conserve her horse’s stamina, Vola slowed to a trot once the arc hat taken her back out of enemy missile range.
Vola smirked at the clear uncertainty in the postures of the Gannic spear-line. Having no familiarity with horse-archer tactics, the poor dumb bastards had no idea how to counter her circle. A band of even light cavalry to ride in and disrupt the rotation might have done the trick, but with no horse left, their only real option was to increase the number of arrows and javelins and hope that the concentrated missile attacks might drive off the pesky horse-archers.
After a couple more circuits and a slowly dwindling rear-guard, it was clear that the barbarians hadn’t figured this out.