The Alliance of Roost and Raben
Mafic and Felsic sent a runner to meet up at the dome. The fighting was thick but we had secured weapons and supplies for the Fate clan. The Wardens and Scouts were laying in wait in dozens of positions and chaining off hallways to slow us down. Narr couldn’t meet up but evacuated guarding the Natives with the Fate Clan’s Knights. I got a few cuts but nothing serious. Felsic opened the main tower hangers, and Mafic has the Dome opened. The two we sent to get out any from Warden returned but wounded. Their tribe is not as divided as we hoped, dissent is punished and they are being officially ordered by a Nacht Knight to pursue Fate tribe personnel."
-Personal Note: Marshal Verner-
Avisland: Robin Territory, Roost Barracks.
The great ravens and keepers made the exodus out from the desecrated fort. The wounded were centralized in the group, keepers brought up the rear to assist any flank. And a front line of spears held it with caution. Raben and Roost still lingered on Gold’s mind.
Raben is not about to play by any rules so an ambush against the wounded is a blatant expectation at this point. The woods are an easy hiding place. But not for us. We need to move into them but we’re sitting ducks, Raben can’t provide air support for our survivors when we’re under a canopy. And our Keepers don’t give us any advantage in there. So we only have a few options. Open plains in Robin territory where the keepers and the great ravens are mobile but so are theirs, and we are vulnerable form harassment from the woods
The plains or through the woods to the Festung?
Gold discussed his position with Raben and Roost operatives there.
Narr and Verza were the highest Raben authority among the forty members. “Sir, if we move through the forest, we’ll expose the wounded and the center to ambush, they’d scatter us and pick us off. We need to go around.” The Rabens agreed. Verza seconded it.
“I’m well aware. But that leaves us in a brand new problem.” Gold replied.
He was stumped. In his mind, he played out the advantages.
“We cannot divide up into small groups to move faster. Which is a Raben technique. We cannot move a a large group in the open, which is a Roost formation. Raben isn’t built for that. We’ll need Raben in the forest on our way to shelter and Roostmen outside of it where keeper speed and power can be used. The wounded directly in between.”
“We can move closer together and use our best advantages. It forces any ambush to combat one group in that group’s advantageous area or stretch into another group’s zone. Either way, they have to come to us on our terms.”
With Schutz unable to advise Gold, Verza, Stark, and Narr were the only reliable aids. Stark was eager to see Gold back from the Corvus castrum, and Gold’s absence gave him a promotion. A quick hand shake into a brief hug was all that Gold need. Just a reminder that Stark and Roost as a whole had faith in Gold.
A Raben for every six Roosts defined his force. Ten squads of seven would be the default. Lord Schutz was relying on his suit to move and his battle wounds were severe. He was counted among the wounded and moved with the groups to echo the lead squads from behind. The main lead was the heavy armor. A fully geared Roostman can weight one-hundred pounds in armor alone. Raben claws needed precision to even weaken it, let alone harm it. More often then not, they bounced off if they don’t have a jezail.
There was still one variable Gold could not account for. The dark wood hid birds. Hundreds of crows masked the trees. They stared with an eager malevolence. Only the numbers of crows have never reached a count this high for this region.
“My lord, it’s not an ambush!” The Rabenite Narr shouted. “It’s my clan!” A gathering of crows flocked to Narr. They perched on his shoulders and along his head, neck, and arms. Eight figures sprang and moved with the branches. Two moved from the dark with a rush of sound and loud steps. They wore the crows as camouflage
“My Lady, Armina.” Narr shouted. At the call, a woman walked out in full armor. Each step pressed ferns and grass into her prints. Raben’s Cataphract gear was lighter than Roost’s but it was still heavy enough to crumble rock and earth beneath their feet.
“Who are you Rabeness? And where do your loyalties lie?” Gold shouted and drew his sword. The woman in armor opened her helm to him. Her red eyes greeted him. Despite her feminine looks and posture, Gold’s blade did not lower. His experience with Wren had shook him on a fundamental level. The women and children of Raben were far from helpless. Gold would never entertain notions of damsels.
“I’m Lady Armina of the fate clan, Raben Tribe, and a Nacht Knight. You are wise to pull your sword, we have traitors in the land. The people here are my clan. We evacuated earlier from the Corvus Castrum. The knights brought up the rear and the Fate Clan escaped. Only our operatives in the field were cut off from our communications. Our channel was meddled with two days ago, and we didn’t catch on. It is likely an Arbiter caravan was lost,with a tribe and half of of the scouts turning on us.”
The horror in Narr’s eyes rattled him till he chilled and shivered. His claws tensed up and he flicked his knife fingers only to keep himself from choking on what he hears.
“Our patrols are just abandoned? We have at least two thirds of our members divided among their tasks. My lady we need to send out messengers to them or a rescue party.” Narr pleaded.
Armina replied back. “We don’t have the range, and they might be threatened by the Warden and the Scouts if they’re listening in. We made for Roost, we know Kaiser will give us shelter. And it seemed we have a common foe and have found a familiar face as well.” She looked over to Gold again.
“I hold nothing against Raben from last time. Trust me. There is no quarrel on my end anymore. Only whoever is leading the attacks on Roost.” Shame lingered, but it as no more than an embarrassing joke now.
“Good, because our secrecy had its cost. Even the Corvus Castrum was struck. We were tipped off though, several warden’s like Mr. Kass, Verza’s husband were quick to not betray Raben.”
“Are these woods safe though?” Gold asked, thinking back to his men, women, and wounded. "We sent ahead two Raben’s to scout. You might have encountered Nadel.”
A second suit of black armor approached Gold and Armina. “Yes,” The newcomer said. “Our forces have a perimeter, and your vanguard was unarmed. They were quick to kneel. They saw children and our birds. Apparently not all of Warden was in on the revolt.” A second knight stepped in. “My Name is Diener, it is good to meet a new High Guardsman.”
“I’ve met more Raben Knights in one day than I would have liked but I image most would consideer it a privilage to still be alive.”
“Very true.Your trial by fire was no feat any Roostman of your age or rank could be prepared for. I am a Nacht Knight of the Fate clan. You are the friend of our new recruit, pardon the interruption. Armina, the children and kin are safe and accounted for. Our rearguard held firm and our forces sent to the armory returned as well, it was contested but a fair portion was recovered.”
Verza was loading her revo back up and Narr was adjusting his helmet.
“We lost three murders in the Corvus Castrum, Marshals and all. It was Verner and his Murder thirty three with the escorts. He held while we escaped.”
Verza was troubled. “Where is Verner?”
“We last saw the marshal holding out with Dee at the armory with his squads, our quickest teams were shuttling weapons and the last of the rations were with the Clan. Frem was a part of his unit, I know Verza. Thirty Three could still be out and about. “When we moved to give them the all clear, there was no one there. He went dark in the Corvus Castrum, the enemy can mess with our communications and they can mess with our ability to track each other.” Diener said. His face regretful and weary despite his eagerness to discuss the situation.
The two scouts Gold had sent out returned.
“My Lady Armina!” Nadel said with a smile. “Good News Goldfuast. I’m seeing some Great Ravens scattering from the Corvus Castrum, someone inside released our birds they’re traveling left and right. We should have dozen’s on there way here.” Nadel called out from the tree branches around them.
“Verner! It has to be Murder 33. The armory was very close to the Bird bowl.”
Verza stepped forward to the center of attention. A Warden within Fate would be an insult after such an ordeal but Verza stood regardless. The weight of shame and suspicion sowed the threads of her noose but her humility brought out her best qualities.
“Verza Raben Kass, why is a detachment of this many murders with Roost?” Armina said.
“Forgive me, but not my clan. Our orders were to strike Roost, and their trust fell to me. A second squad had orders were to kill any in Raben who did not strike at Rabens you see here. So I knew about the attack only thirty minutes in advance but I could not warn Roost without endangering the forty Rabens.”
“And why is Nadel here?” Armina looked to her.
“I was not assigned a mission today, I would have helped with the evacuation but Warden didn’t tell anyone they were going to attack anyways, so I used my day off to go meet with Goldfuast.” She said with a giggle.
Verza continued, “Instead we turned on Warden. I sent a last minute message to anyone who would listen as the attack began, to turn on the Wardens.” Verza testified.
“Verza and Nadel fought at the side of Roost.” Gold came to their defense.
Nadel’s mood and attitude flipped to her erratic nature.
Armina took in the information. “Its unfortunate to see how it came to this but your Clan was not alone. We knew there was tension but we had no reason to believe this would go violent. And Schrieklich is not the brains of this move. He is merely unleashed on us by another.”
“Raben, move and reinforce the natives of the tribe, we have non-combatants, pregnant, and elderly.”
Gold protested immediately. “But Armina, I have several Rabenites of several clans I need under my command, I request their enlistment with my forces for the duration of the conflict, I can even have Roostmen replacements sent to bolster your forces.” Gold rushed back to the problems at hand with his own wounded.
“Bolster us, with Roostmen?” Armina smiled, amused by the concept.
Diener sighed, fully aware that the ego of Armina had just cost her precious trust and resources.
“Know your place Armina, don’t let your hour of need become your undoing!” Diener shouted. “You speak to a High Guardsman!”
“How can I trust anyone but my own in a war of traitors?”
Gold was not a man who rushed to anger. He was a lawman, he poured and measured out the correct amount of anger required, enough to motivate him against something. His suit of armor downsized and he pulled himself free of it. His face reddened and his golden feathers expanded out and arrayed themselves in a puff. His arms gained the illusion of a greater size, and his muscles tensed up, a vein on his jaw expanded.
Gold lost his cool, with the complete irony of the situation, “Whose blood is on Roost’s swords? Whose blood of your kin is on my blade Nacht Knight!” Gold pointed an armored glove at her. “Because I know very well. I tore the hand of your Nacht knight Schrieklich. I harbor the survivors of such treachery. Each man and woman in my force has drawn the blood of their own clan. And Roost does not look after its own but for others. Walk to the center of our group and count the Raben wounded if you can stomach it.”
Verza and Nadel were taken back, never had a Roostman talked to a Nacht Knight so forcefully or with such authority from outside the tribe, even border-lining a blatant outburst. Gold was not a politician, there was no agenda, only his goal, clear as daylight, and his request.
“I suppose fleeing my home with my loved ones and the betrayal of all I trusted was not overlooked.” Armina replied.
“The bodies of Raben are piled in a heap with the bodies Roost. Roost swords killed many of your Murders in the betrayal, countless more have died throughout Nest Reacher and more still throughout Avisland until our forces can rally and bring our heel to their skull. I ask you again: Will your talons die alongside Roost shields?”
Armina closed her helmet off. And walked to her tribe.
Diener took control. “Those of Raben within the forces of Goldfuast… You answer to him now, effective immediately. I will serve Avisland forever.”
“Forever...” Armina said through her helmet. Within her helmet, she hid her tears. She hung by a thread like the rest of the refugees. The clan’s casualties had yet to be counted, but she could imagine the blood within the Roost halls.
Diener signaled his clan to move off and Gold’s force brought up the rear. He stepped back into his suit and the machine readjusted to him.
Gold hand signaled four of his units to move to the fort trail, Raben provided cover in the pine trees, and the parties from the Fate clan move out. Gold stuck to his wounded and Verza and Nadel.
They lingered in the shadows for this long in total secrecy? The sheer resolve to isolate and cut off your families and friends, the drastic efforts to conceal and craft such an illusion beneath the Corvus Castrum. They stumbled upon a ghost story and decided to move in.
Nadel walked right in front of Gold as he marched forward.
“Give me a lift up.” She demanded. Her tone was casual, but minimalistic in words.
As any gentleman with a request from a young gal would, he folded his hands and bent down. Her thick boot landed square on his palm and she stepped with a quick hop. Kneel, then laid down atop his massive armored cataphract.
“Yeah, I’m tired. Your shoulder’s look like a safe place and I just thought, you’re not really doing any of the work in that suit since it runs itself.” Nadel held a laugh back.
“You two have some history don’t you?” Verza asked.
Armina moved from her group towards the center of Gold’s wounded. Her forces moved as one column with Diener.
Even in the dark, her eyes could see stained faces, eyes behind bandages, and lacerations in plenty. Like a gore soaked circus of yellow cloths used by Roostman, only turned into hammocks for the wounded. The rich banners of the Roost tribe torn and tightened around Jezail wounds.
Men and women wincing and trying not to scream. Tears, blood, and moans covered the group. One of the Rabenites had passed away in the journey. One of her own, a Fate.
Armina found Schutz barely conscious, as he was a massive man, and still walking in his armor as it did most of the work.
She talked out of distraction.
“Hello Schutz, your upstart’s uniform was a perfect fit. Stubborn, but he clings to his ideals. Roost raised him well.”
“Of course he’s stubborn, he’s a Roostman. But he has a heart. And if I were you I would not yank on his heartstrings. Even with your talons, fighting him is not wise. He has known defeat at the hands of Raben and he will never allow it again. He will kill you if you cross him.”
She shirked, “How was it that you managed to repel Schrieklich? It is unlike him to let you go alive.”
“Wasn’t me… Gold took the Nacht Knight’s arm off his shoulder. He jammed his gears, broke his gauntlet, then stuck his sword through his hand, straight through to his shoulder.
Armina was silenced. No confirmation of her own biases, merely precise proof against them.
Alongside Gold and Nadel, Verza walked to their right.
“What just happened?” Verza asked Gold. “We’re one tribe and almost three clans, and they obeyed orders like this?” She clenched her blades around a piece of dry soil as the pressure crumbled the packed earth into dust. She stomped into the ground with anger.
“What’s going to happen to the new bird?” She asked.
“Verloren just received her first mission. Who gave her an assignment?” Said Nadel, riding Gold’s back as he trudged down the trail.
“My lord Diener, Lady Armina!” Verza shouted out. She ran back to The Nacht Knights.
The two rushed back. “Not so loud, what’s wrong?” Dierner asks.
“Who gave our recruit her assignment?”
Armina reached the discussion, “What? Oh, I did. We had communication lapses and she should be with your squad. If we’re lucky her squad will bunker down and dig in on the boarder. We might get a few of our squads on a relay to get our patrols back. We will have to wait until we get to the Festung, our current equipment is not safe.”
“Trish and Volker are scouts, I trust them but who are they going to run into out there?”
“Oh hell, we scrimmaged with scouts on our retreat! We can’t Trust scouts! But we have scouts that fled with us too. They must not be unified in the rebellion. Do you trust those two with your life Verza?”
“The new bird… is that Wren?” Gold asked. Worry hung about his face like a plague. “Is she even aware of what happened?”
“She’ll be fine, Trish and Volker are with her. They’re heading into the north mountains right now. The worst they’ll get is a couple of fiends, my worry is once their patrol is done. We can’t let them return to the Corvus Castrum.” Nadel responded. “Hang on. I almost forgot!”
“Gold, if she handled you pretty well, she’s not as bad as I was but that’s nothing to underestimate. By now she’s been handed her revo, her combat knife, her talons, and some mild body armor. If she dies out there, it’s on her.” Nadel spoke out from Gold’s shoulders. He stopped suddenly providing Nadel a queue to right her wrong.
“Oh, I love her to death, I would never wish harm on her Gold, just don’t tear yourself apart. You’re not responsible.”
“And where is Frem?” Verza’s stone composure was crumbling under the weight of concern and disaster.
Nadel hopped off of gold and walked with her tribe. The trio reached the wood’s edge as high walls and golden banners come into view, as well as a main road and ten keepers on patrol. The Fates were being led to safety inside the fortress of Roost. The Eastern fort, otherwise referred to as the Festung.
An old fortress. Ramparts, thick gates, and firing holes protect the walls. Two layers, each two stories taller than the next. With fifty meters between walls, the defense of the fortress would not be difficult. A central keep stood higher up and grounded heavily. The stone was reinforced on a solid foundation with tunnels going underneath into stored food and fresh water, one of the few exceptions Robin allowed Roost. Seeing as how the food surplus was for Robin’s use anyways should the land fall under siege.
Verza worked past her troubled thoughts. She ran to Gold and Nadel.
“My husband was still back there. He’s from Warden but he’s a medic. I don’t know if he’ll make it through. Frem would never betray Raben. He’s saved too many Fates in the field to ever want to harm them. He was a Robin, he’s not like everyone else.”
A crack echoes out. As Gold and Nadel twisted their head around. Verza glanced behind her and Gold being the slowest missed it on account of his armor.
“It’s a Robin distress signal. It’s a fast flare, pops quick. Armina! My Lady! It came from the farmlands, Robin Territory. They’re under attack” Nadel called out.
“Or it’s a trap.” She responded.