Author Topic: Banishedsanni - Forestover  (Read 360 times)

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Offline banishedsanni

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Banishedsanni - Forestover
« on: November 09, 2020, 11:46:11 AM »
Quitting Poppyglade was like finishing a book. I needed some time to be able to start a new game. Then, a few days ago at work someone made a noise that reminded me of Banished and it felt like the game was calling for me. So here I am again.

Rough Facts

Mods



Map



Seed # 28 68 50 83 / Valley no Dirt / Medium Size / Marine Climate / Disasters off

The name of the Town "Forestover" was randomly generated by the game.

Please note

English is not my first language. So if you see any mistakes or nonsense, please feel free to correct me.

Prolog

[...] It started in Olistown. Over the decades, the people rebelled again and again against their rulers when they once again put their striving for power and wealth above the welfare of their people. Corruption and misery have always been the norm in Olistown. But the people of this huge juggernaut of a city also knew boundaries. And so there was an uprising every few years that always saw some people die, a few houses burned, and a new promising ruler taking over. Everything as normal in Olistown.

The last violent change of power took place about 45 years ago when the angry people put a very young man named Hazelmere on the throne of the city. It is said that the throne room had not yet been properly cleared of the old ruler's blood when Hazelmere had already introduced numerous new laws. And these laws pleased the city's residents very. For 30 years the people were extremely satisfied with their ruler. Prosperity also spread to the lowest strata of the population, so that even the poorest of the poor in Olistown could be described as well-off in relation to the lower strata in other cities and regions.

The reasons for the radical paradigm shift that then occurred are unknown to us. Within a few years, Hazelmere's new style of government transformed the thriving metropolis of Olistown into a juggernaut full of filth, suffering and misery. When the people finally rose angry against the once so beloved ruler, the uprising was suppressed brutally, bloody and with unexpected strength. Those who could, who survived, fled the city. After this incident, Hazelmere cut all diplomatic relations and escape routes abroad, then his army began to take the surrounding cities and regions with incredible efficiency, brutality and ruthlessness.

The amount of people fleeing across the sea to our continent is unbelievable and the cities and villages on the coast can hardly cope with them. Both here and in the lands of our allies, the refugee camps are overflowing and, despite the distribution of all refugees across the whole continent, all cities and villages are now reaching their limits with regard to the supply of housing, food and hygiene. And the flow of refugees, even if it has weakened significantly over time, does not stop. From the reports of the refugees we know, that with increasing power of Hazelmere, more and more escape routes are cut and fewer and fewer people survive the escape to the coasts, where they then sail with ships over the rough sea towards our continent. So we are not receiving fewer refugees because the situation overseas has improved, but rather because more people are simply succumbing to the strains of increasingly difficult escape.

From the army, which was sent overseas from Valsoqai, by far the militarily strongest country on our continent, to put an end to Hazelmere's venture, only a few soldiers managed to escape back home. They reported a supernatural strength of the opposing army, which [...]


Extract from "The overwhelming Enemy" by Laranir Sirkusira in "The Daily Wyndmoorcross"



At first he had resented the general that, of all people, he, Heridan, should not take part in the battle. Heridan wanted to go into battle side by side with his comrades and defend the city in a glorious battle against Hazelmere's soldiers. Instead, the general had ordered him to direct the evacuation of civilians from the city (the few who had not yet fled in view of the imminent threat).


But when he stood on the big hill some distance from the city and looked back at the burning ruins of his former hometown, he realized that this order had saved his life. But he didn't have time to linger long on this thought, because he had to bring all these people to safety. But where to? It was only shortly before their departure that Heridan learned that the route north to the coast had been blocked by enemy troops. That would have been the quickest way from here to the distant, foreign but secure continent.
To the east, along the disused railway tracks and through the kilometer-long tunnels in the direction of Wyndmoorcross, there had been no getting through for months. The enemy came from the south and conquered the entire continent bit by bit in quick, bloody and merciless battles. And to the west ... were the mountains. How was he supposed to get all the people, who, robbed of their homeland, owning little more than what they wear, through the high mountains?

When he informed his soldiers and the civilians that they had no choice but to flee west into the barren, rocky area of the high mountains, they reacted with horror and despair. But hope dies last and so they set off.


Many, too many, did not survive this trip. Before they even reached the mountains, they repeatedly encountered smaller, scattered groups of the enemy. Although Heridan and his soldiers were able to push the enemy back again and again in the end, they couldn't prevent civilians too from falling victim to the enemy. Why was it so damn important to the enemy to kill every one of them? The enemy soldiers seemed to have gone mad. Angry and roaring loudly, they fought ruthlessly and relentlessly. As if they were no longer in control of themselves.

When they reached the mountains after a few days, rushed and emaciated, they had already lost a quarter of the group, soldiers and civilians, to the enemy. In the mountains themselves, they would probably no longer be pursued. Here the barren and rocky landscape would be the enemy.


After a march of a few weeks through the hostile environment of the mountains, less than half of the people with whom Heridan had fled the city were still alive. He never thought about it much. He couldn't. Some things are easier to bear if you suppress them.


For several days they had been marching along a narrow river valley. It was a little more life-friendly than the high mountains, but bordered on both sides by high, steep rock faces. This left them with only the choice of following the course of the valley or returning to the mountains and looking for another route. Heridan hoped the valley would not end in a dead end.

After another week of walking, they reached a point where the gorge opened on their right and gave a view of or (more importantly) the path into a lush green valley. In the distance, Heridan saw two huge red towers, the architecture of which he was completely unknown.


He sent two of his few remaining soldiers to investigate the situation. Neither Heridan nor anyone else in the group had the slightest idea where they were. Just as they had wandered through the mountains over the past few weeks, it could just as well be that they ran straight into the arms of the enemy. He prayed to all known gods that their journey would finally come to an end.

The two soldiers reported that the two red towers appeared to be part of the city wall. The city wall, on the other hand, was neither in particularly good condition nor occupied by soldiers. There were no people to be seen at all. But the two scouts hadn't dared to go all too close to the wall, let alone walking through the city gate. In the look of all the refugees, Heridan saw that they (just like him) were tired of watching others die. For this reason, and because the report of the two spies did not suggest that one would be hostile to them, Heridan ordered the march into the valley.



Banishedsanni presents
Forestover


It turned out that they had ended up in the small settlement of Forestover. They were welcomed warmly, quartered in the inn and provided with food and drink. Here in Forestover nothing was known about the dramas that took place behind the mountains. Nobody has come across the mountains to this region for ages.

The residents said that the two red towers once formed a temple complex that was dedicated to the gods. A small group of very devout people lived here withdrawn to devote themselves  in seclusion to their faith. Over the centuries, the temple complex gained prominence and importance. It was considered a tradition to undertake the long and arduous journey over the mountains at least once in life to make a pilgrimage to Forestover and pay homage to the gods. The One or other pilgrims decided to settle down and so over time some secular buildings were built around the temple complex. A village was created and the temple complex was integrated into the city wall. But at some point the belief lost its importance, fewer and fewer people made pilgrimages to Forestover and the temple complex was forgotten. When no more pilgrims came, the small religious community gradually died out due to a lack of young believers. And the village, once so big that it could almost be called a city, died out with its inhabitants. This extinction began centuries ago and now Forestover consisted only of three small houses, a forge and an unused inn.

When Heridan lay down in one of the beds in the inn that evening (the first real bed since the start of the escape; no grass, moss or even bare rock), he almost instantly fell asleep. He woke up to the smell of scrambled eggs and fried bacon the next morning, knowing that their terrible journey was over.

 


Offline banishedsanni

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Re: Banishedsanni - Forestover
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2020, 05:32:40 PM »
Spring 1

At breakfast, which the villagers had prepared for the newcomers in the large dining room of the old inn, the current situation was discussed. Since the refugees were tired of fleeing and the villagers saw the newcomers as an opportunity to let the village flourish again, an agreement was quickly reached. They would stay here and form a community together. In addition, everyone felt protected by the mountains. At the moment, Heridan found it unlikely that Hazelmere's army would move across the mountains to a region that was considered completely uninhabited.
First of all, the most important thing was to get enough food. In addition, the inn would not be a suitable place to stay in the long run. The refugees downright piled up in the rooms of the inn, privacy was out of the question (Not that there has been a lot of privacy in the last few weeks during their escape). So living space had to be created. It was therefore decided to convert the two towers. With little effort, two people on each floor and a total of eight people could be accommodated in the towers. By building another small house that offered space for two more people, the remaining refugees could distribute themselves to the rooms of the inn so that always two people had a common place of retreat. Heridan shared a room with Imaniel. She was one of his soldiers. The two had grown closer on their journey and both longed for intimacy, which was finally possible. The other refugees must have felt the same way, Heridan was certain.

Summer 1

Heridan soon found himself in the role of village chief. At first he didn't like this role. He was perhaps not an ordinary soldier, but a captain (he had been told the youngest captain ever appointed in his hometown), but not a mayor. But he had led them for weeks, they had followed him and they wanted to continue to follow him. They looked at him with expectant eyes full of hope and he did not want to disappoint them. So he complied and did his best.
They had put together a group to look for something to eat in the surrounding forests. There was plenty and the storages were filled quickly. Nevertheless, Heridan arranged for the small fields behind the old houses to be enlarged so that there would be plenty of harvest in autumn. A very good decision as it turned out to be at the end of summer. Almost all families were expecting a baby. Heridan and Imaniel would soon become parents too. Apparently everyone had intensively used the regained possibility to retreat into their own four walls. More food will be needed soon.

Winter 1

The winter was snowy and quiescence returned to the village. Heridan stood at the window and gently cradled his daughter Chrystle to sleep while Imaniel snuggled against his shoulder. And when he stood there, full of felicity, his two dearest people at his side, it almost seemed to him as if the horrors and hardships of the past were just a bad dream.


Offline angainor88

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Re: Banishedsanni - Forestover
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2020, 08:50:09 AM »
Really enjoying the story so far! :D

Offline Nilla

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Re: Banishedsanni - Forestover
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2020, 12:19:21 PM »
I´m looking forward to see more, too.:)

Offline banishedsanni

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Re: Banishedsanni - Forestover
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2020, 02:42:26 PM »
Spring 2

The existing old fields were enlarged in the spring of last year indeed, but that would not have been enough in the long term. In addition, the fields lay between mountains and houses and therefore could not be enlarged enough anyway. That is why the fields were moved to the west.

   

Summer 2

While food was not a problem for the moment, clothing was in short supply. The group of gatherer did not find enough flax or other vegetable material to make fiber from. Presumably the soil or climate were unsuitable for flax and cotton.
Nobody knew anything about hunting wild game. The old-established villagers had simply fed on fish from the nearby lake and were therefore rarely out hunting. That is why leather als was in short supply. Nevertheless, Heridan had a high seat built and posted one of his soldiers there, who was at least a good archer. Of course, there was more to hunting than just being a good archer. Heridan just hoped his man would grow into the job.

Winter 2

While part of the community lived in their own but very old and small houses, the other part had to arrange themselves in the small rooms of the old inn. So that everyone could live equally comfortably in the future, plans were made to build a new residential area further west of the settlement. The planning was completed by the beginning of autumn, but it would take some time before all the necessary building materials were available.

Conference on the construction site


Offline banishedsanni

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Re: Banishedsanni - Forestover
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2020, 05:26:52 AM »
Spring 3

And then another peaceful year began. They had moved the chicken coop and created a small apple field. The clearance of the area in front of the city wall proceeded a bit slow, but the construction of the first houses of the new housing estate could soon begin. Heridan could hardly wait for the latter, because he and Imaniel are expecting another child and then their room in the inn really would be too tight.


Summer 3

Summer arrived and everything was peaceful. Too peaceful, thought Heridan. He had a bad feeling about the dilapidated city wall. It would hardly withstand even a small attack. So he directed to restore it. This decision was met with incomprehension by many, because one felt safe here. In addition, this would delay the construction of the new residential buildings. But Heridan had so far led the community well; he was trusted. So some of the resources that were earmarked for building the houses were used for the city walls.

Autumn 3

Gradually, they also got a grip on the problem of clothing. His archer had grown quite well into his job as a hunter, and at least for now the game he hunted would provide enough leather and fur to make enough clothing for everyone in combination with the few amounts of flax and cotton that the collectors found.


Offline banishedsanni

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Re: Banishedsanni - Forestover
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2020, 04:40:35 AM »
Spring 4

Snow fell very late in this winter and so the residents of Forestover had enough time to replenish the resources for building their new homes before the first snowfall. When the first spring bloomers stretched their little colorful blossoms out of the grass, construction could finally begin.

Summer 4

The first houses could be occupied at the beginning of summer. The cattle got a new, larger pasture. It was planned to increase the amount of cattle through breeding in order to be able to supply the growing population with meat and milk in the future. At the lake, the animals should also use the mountainside for grazing in the future.


Heridan's wife, Imaniel, had complained that their two daughters, Chrystle and Randee, were growing up between blueprints, scattered throughout the house, and village meetings, that were constantly going on in their home. To appease his wife (also because he knew she was right) and because it would simplify the planning and organization of the community, a community hall was built. It contained a plenary hall and several offices for the various affairs of the settlement.

A small monument was erected at the main entrance of the community hall. It was a bell made of stone to commemorate the people who died during the trip to Forestover. Their names were engraved on a stone tablet on the floor in front of the stone bell. Heridan would have liked to mold this monument more magnificent, but they lacked the resources to do so.


Winter 4

His daughter Chrystle was already three years old and in a few years she and the other children would be old enough to start school. The problem: the settlement had no school building at all! So the winter was used to plan one.

Offline banishedsanni

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Re: Banishedsanni - Forestover
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2020, 04:25:19 PM »
Spring 5

Footprints! Since Heridan had been elected head of the village, he daily had two people at a time stand guard on the city wall with a view on the mountains. This duty was not always undertaken by his trained soldiers. He had lost many good men and women on the arduous journey through the mountains 5 years ago. But he made sure that the city wall was manned by trained soldiers at least twice a week. On such days, the two guards on duty were to travel east to the mouth of the valley from which they first saw Forestover back then, and scout for signs of further refugees or the enemy. But so far they had found no trace of any kind. So far.


The gorge.


Spring had a hard time displacing winter this year. It was unusually cold and snowy. So Heridan spent the day in his office in the community hall. Imaniel and the children had come by in the early afternoon and together they all drank tea and ate cookies. Chrystle was sitting on Heridan's lap, spreading cookie crumbles all over the papers on his desk. Imaniel had Randee in her arms and with her watched the snowstorm outside the window. Sarionna, his youngest daughter, lay peacefully in her wicker basket and slept with her tiny thumb in her mouth.

Suddenly the office door was thrown open. It was the two scouts. Excited and alarmed, they reported that they had discovered human footprints at the mouth of the valley. It was briefly quiet in the small office. Sarionna sighed in her sleep and switched thumbs. Half an hour later the village had been informed and Heridan slipped into his armor. Together with the two scouts he set out for the mouth of the valley. However, he had the uneasy feeling that when they got there they would not find any more tracks in this snowstorm.


No footprints to find anymore.

And so it was. The two scouts swor to have seen the tracks and Heridan had no reason not to believe them. Did these footprints belong to an enemy scout? Did this scout turn around when he saw Forestover to report to the enemy on the other side of the mountain that there was still a village to burn down here?

Back in Forestover he ordered that no further excursions to the valley mouth could be made until revoked. This harsh weather and a possible enemy; double danger. Over the next few days, they observed the mouth of the valley from the city wall with particular attention and kept the children away from the city gate. But there were no other incidents. When spring finally arrived and the weather allowed it, Heridan set out again with three soldiers. They even walked both ways along the gorge's small river. Nothing.

Back in the village, now nobody questioned the renewal of the city wall. And Heridan's proposal to give the civilians basic military training also met with overwhelming agreement. He hoped his recruits would never have to use their newly learned skills.

Autumn 5

Life went on without any further traces being found. The first construction work on the school project began in the summer. On the site behind the housing estate, a large area was to be created that would share a school and a day-care center, with many opportunities for learning and playing together. This year the daycare center was built first. The school, which was not needed at the moment, should follow next year. The first thing that was much more important was the construction of a large warehouse, as the harvest in recent years was so good that the small old warehouses were reaching their limits.


The new day care center and the not finished yet school building.

Offline banishedsanni

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Re: Banishedsanni - Forestover
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2020, 04:02:08 PM »
Year 6

The construction of the school could be completed.
After the actually shy Hatti, a doctor without whose help they would probably never have survived this trip over the mountains, complained very clearly about the condition of her work, barely able to provide reasonable medical care, the foundation stone for a doctor's office was laid in spring. It was placeed near the school. The associated medicinal herb garden could later also be used for education purposes.

The military training of the civilians went well. Soon Heridan would have enough trained personnel to send a patrol to the valley mouth every day.

What remained was the seclusion. They had no information about what was happening on the other side of the mountain. They had no opportunity to trade with anyone. They were far too far from any rivers or seas to be able to send any of them out in a boat. They were on their own.


Cattle are just as suitable for harnessing as horses (which are not available in Forestover). In the background of the picture one can see the large warehouse and a sawmill.


   
The new small military training area.



The Doctor's Office with medicinal herb garden.


   
The school complex with school and day care center. Lots of space to play and learn.
(I really love that archway by @angainor88 ! In 1 - 2 ingame years the vegetation should have had enough time to grow so I can add some blending plants. Will add trees here and there too in the village)



One is happy to meet after work to eat and drink together. The cider is particularly popular.


      
Overview. The village has changed a lot.



Small addition



I realised that bannies take the whole nest to harvest eggs. Poor chickens! What a hassle! New nests have to be built every day.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2020, 01:06:30 AM by banishedsanni »

Offline brads3

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Re: Banishedsanni - Forestover
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2020, 06:08:52 PM »
once upon a time, the bannies broke all the eggs moving the nests.

Offline banishedsanni

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Re: Banishedsanni - Forestover
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2020, 10:34:32 AM »
Spring 7

As the whole village stood in front of the three graves in silence and watched, shaken, as the last coffin, the small one, was lowered into its grave, Heridan realized once more how lucky they had been to reach Forestover alive.

Two days ago a patrol had returned from one of the daily explorations of the area at the mouth of the valley with shocking news. With a few helpers, a cattle and a wagon, Heridan immediately set off to recover the three frozen refugees. A terrible sight. Mother, father and the child that was firmly in his mother's cold arms. They had been so close to their destination, so close to reaching the safety and warmth of the village! They had probably already seen the lights in the distance. It hurt Heridan to see the three refugees and he wished he could have helped them. But the weather had been so relentless and cold over the past few days that he couldn't send anyone on patrol. He would have sent his own folks to their deaths.
Hatti's report did not improve Heridan's mood. She said that the refugees were so emaciated from the trip that no hot soup or warm bed could have save them from death. The child must have been dead a little longer. His mother probably couldn't leave his dead body behind and just carried it on.


Two days after this cruel find, they held a dignified funeral for the three nameless refugees. A small grave site was quickly created next to the old inn. Afterwards there was a big feast in honor of the dead in the old inn.
As if this small family's death wasn't bad enough. The fact that these people had taken the long and arduous journey that ultimately cost them their lives was a sign that Hazelmere's army was still raging on the other side of the mountain. Wasn't there anyone who could counter that?


Autumn 7

While death raged on the other side of the mountains, life blossomed in Forestover. But the increasing number of children slowly became a problem because the number of adults remained the same. Although there was not more work in the sense of many different tasks, more and more of everything (especially food) had to be produced, which took more and more time and effort.
So it was time to make production more efficient in order to be able to produce more in less time. Therefore as a start they built a mill that was completed in autumn.


Offline banishedsanni

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Re: Banishedsanni - Forestover
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2020, 03:50:27 PM »
Sorry for the depressive story in the last post. Here comes good news.


Year 8

The next goal was to build a food production line. A large market hall had been built near the fields, to which all base materials were to be brought. Fruit, vegetable, flour, fish, meat, eggs, milk, etc. - everything was now bundled in one place. From now on, these base materials could be efficiently processed in the adjacent production line and distributed fairly among households or brought to the warehouse on the outskirts of the village. Only next year would show whether this concept would work in the end.

   


Year 9

Next, the production of textiles and clothing should be optimized. So far, this work has been done with improvised tools and inferior machines in unsuitable premises. With the construction of a tailor and a weaving mill, the quality of the fabric would increase considerably. The textile quarter next to the large market hall was completed in late autumn, shortly before the first snowfall.

The food production line was a complete success. The food production could be doubled!
In addition, the livestock was now numerous enough to provide the village with sufficient meat and leather. As a result, game no longer had to be hunted and Heridan was able to use the labor that had become available elsewhere.

   

Offline banishedsanni

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Re: Banishedsanni - Forestover
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2020, 12:29:19 PM »
Year 10

Since the gruesome discovery of the three frozen refugees, the scouts have found footprints time and again. However, not directly at the mouth of the valley, but much further inside the narrow river valley with its high, steep rock faces. Heridan always scolded his people for getting so far from the village and the mouth of the valley. At the same time, he understood their motives. Not being able to help that little family back then had hit them all hard.
They hoped not to be too late next time, to be able to help. But thereby their put their lives in danger - be it through a fall, a landslide or Hazelmere's henchmen. Each scout was armed with a horn to blow to call for help. But so far from the village, the horn would not be heard.

The food production line enabled more food to be produced than expected. So Heridan put together a larger group of his people and sent them on a journey of several days into the river valley. This group was supposed to deposit some supplies and blankets in caves in which he and the other refugees had also sought refuge from the night and the cold on the way to Forestover. He hoped that this would increase the chances of other refugees reaching the village.

 



In the same year a large stone deposit was discovered in the north-west, some distance from the village. This find came in handy. The construction of the food production line and the textile district had completely used up the stone supplies. The replenished stock was immediately used to pave the most important roads, which should further optimize the production chains.

The village was well supplied with leather due to the large number of livestock. But leather is not suitable for the production of textiles such as those required for clothes, bed linen or diapers. This requires fabrics made from flax, cotton, wool or hemp. There were no Sheep in Forestover. Flax, cotton and hemp were only found in small amounts in nature. So far that has been sufficient. But the village grew. That is why three smaller fields were created this year in which the cultivation of flax, cotton and hemp should be tried. Heridan reckoned that the harvest of all three plants would be rather small. But the need for suitable fabric grew and therefore the plant that produced the most yield at the end of this year would be grown on a larger area in the future. They had no choice because they couldn't trade with anyone.



Offline banishedsanni

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Re: Banishedsanni - Forestover
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2020, 02:33:45 PM »
Spring 11

It was still very cold, but winter was almost over. In the valley, the snow was just a thin, sporadic film, through which the first early bloomers were fighting their way and heralding the imminent beginning of spring. But the further one walked towards the mountains towards the mouth of the valley, the thicker and denser the snow cover became. Up in the mountains, in the river valley itself, there was still no sign of the early end of winter. On some days one could sit on a bench in the sun in the valley and enjoy the mild warmth on ones face while it was snowing heavily in the mountains.

 

For this reason, Heridan did not allow his soldiers to go on excursions to the higher altitudes on these days. He had deposited supplies in the caves, in which they once had searched shelter, to make it easier for other refugees to get to Forestover, but also to protect his own people. Only when the weather had calmed down there he would allow patrols there again. Until then, it had to be enough if the city wall was guarded.

It was early afternoon. The sun would soon be about to set. Heridan sighed and longed for the long, warm days of summer. He stood on the small military training area that they had been set up a few years ago and let his eyes wander over the fighting men and women. After the village decided to give military training to every adult, Heridan had divided them into groups. Each group exercised at least once a week so people wouldn't get lost in practice. The motivation was high, but not everyone was a good fighter.

At the end of this training day, Heridan had today's group compete against each other in pairs. He walked slowly through the ranks of the fighting couples. Sometimes he stopped, gave advice or corrected postures. The shy Hatti found it particularly difficult in close combat. She was a reasonably good archer and a miserable swordsman. But Heridan insisted that she also practice with the sword so that in an emergency, if she didn't have a bow at hand, she could defend herself half-decent in close combat. Her opponent was one of Heridan's soldiers with real military training and experience, who tried hard not to afflict Hatti too much.

In the distance, Heridan spotted his wife Imaniel. She came towards him from the direction of the lake across the large vacant meadow and smiled when she saw him. For Heridan, this meant it was time to end training for today. Imaniel and the others had finished their work in the village for today, so Imaniel picked up Heridan to collect the children from school and kindergarten together. He smiled back.


He was about to raise his voice and announce the end of the training when the alarm bell ringing one of the guards on the city wall cut him off. Heridan's smile died away. He spun around and hurried quickly to the city wall, where the guards gesticulated wildly, to get a picture of the situation from up there. And then he saw it. A fight! There in the distance, at the mouth of the valley, there was fighting. And Heridan knew none of his people were out there today. Refugees? Against Hazelmere's soldiers? Heridan was too far away to see the situation clearly.

He directed Imaniel to report to the rest of the village and to take care that all the children were safe. He himself marched towards the mouth of the valley with the two guards on duty and the group of armed men and women he had just trained.
Soon they were close enough and Heridan recognized Hazelmere's coat of arms on the armor of the attackers. Two of the fleeing persons also wore armor, but Heridan did not recognize this coat of arms. According to their fighting style, both the man and the woman had received military training. The man seemed injured and had to stop regularly to catch his breath. That always gave the enemy opportunities to catch up. The two were hopelessly outnumbered but  far more competent fighter than their attackers. They repeatedly succeeded in pushing Hazelmere's soldiers back and they used this opportunity each time to put distance between themselves and them. Until the man slowed down again and the game started all over again. Heridan knew that they would not hold out much longer.

A third person was among those fleeing. A young girl who wore ordinary clothes. She rushed to the injured man, apparently to support him. But he shook her off and motioned for her to flee. So she ran in the direction Heridan and his men were coming from. She kept looking back at her companions, was fixated on what was happening behind her and so she saw Heridan's troop very late. Abtupt and frightened, she stopped, then attempted to turn back, to the battle, to her death. One of Heridan's soldiers, Drakeem, saw her intentions and acted immediately. He sprinted forward and grabbed her arm. But she twisted out of his grip and stumbled in the direction of the battlefield. But Drakeem was faster. He lunged at her and pushed her to the ground to protect her from her own panic. The girl struggled violently and screamed while Drakeem tried to calm her down. But in her panic, she didn't seem to understand. Further ahead, her companions noticed nothing of this. You could see that they were at the end of their strength and would not hold out much longer. At the moment when Heridan and the rest of his troops reached the battlefield, the man with the unknown coat of arms on his armor was badly hit by a soldier Hazelmere's and went down.

 

Hazelmere's superbly armed soldiers fought just as Heridan had experienced on his own escape. Brutal, merciless, delusional, as if intoxicated and without regard for one's own life. Heridan's soldiers, most of whom were civilians with basic military training, were far less well equipped. But he had trained his men and women well and the journey through the mountains had also affected the enemy. It was an uphill battle, but with sanity instead of madness they could ultimately defeat the enemy together. The stranger fighter was so exhausted that she could hardly stand on her feet. Weeping she stumbled over to her companion, whom Hatti was already looking after. He was not dead, but very badly injured and urgently needed better medical care, which Hatti could only get him in her practice. In the distance, Heridan saw that the situation in the village had been recognized and that help was on the way to them with a stretcher. They carefully hoisted the injured man onto the stretcher and supported the strange woman on her way back to the village. The young girl had calmed down by now. She was unharmed, but like everyone who had gone through the difficult journey over the mountains, she was exhausted and emaciated. Heridan had so many questions for the three strangers, but that would have to wait. The two women were supplied with something to eat and given a bed in the old inn. At the moment, Hatti could not say whether the man would survive.