The following is a first hand account of the Battle of Maribor by a Garresh militiaman named Eador Mallorie which was recorded and dictated by Scribe Thelia Lorel.
“My name is Eador Mallorie, and I was at the Battle of Maribor, though massacre would be a more fitting term. I was conscripted along with both of my brothers, Jerall and Clydus, from our homestead just along the Maribor outskirts. We were assigned to the Stormsend Regiment, and we trained for just a week before the eve of battle.
“We were positioned in the trenches outside the city walls. The first line of defense against the Hazon legions. My brothers and I had standard weaponry for militia, a spear and dagger each. Our commander, Captain Mandel Clairmont, gave a speech before battle was to be joined, but I didn’t hear what he said. There were no cheering among the ranks. None of us wanted to fight a fight that we were sure to lose.
“The Hazon did not bother with pleasantries. We stood in those trenches for hours, hearing the timed march of the northerners iron-shod boots, just waiting for them to come at us in earnest, in range of our catapults and archers. Yet little did we know that the damned Empire had new weapons that hurled clusters of alchemical bombs from great distances. The mortars rained down upon us, incinerating many of our number, causing the earth to shatter and explode with deafening sounds.
“By the time the Hazon artillery had stopped, over half of the regiment was completely devastated. There were gaps in our lines filled with burning bodies and broken defenses. The screaming and crying of men resonated everywhere. Jerall had been slain during the chaos by a stray metal shard propelled by the Hazon alchemies. Clydus fell to the earth in despair, like many others, but there were some of us that kept to their resolve and stood fast.
“It was then, shortly afterwards, that I heard the thundering of horse hooves. I looked over the trench, and saw a thick column of Hazon knights galloping across the field, but not towards our lines. Rather, they rode parallel to the trenches, just out of range far over in the distance. And at the head of that column was a red glare, as if their leader was a bright shining beacon for the knights to follow. They kicked up such a storm of dust in the dry dead grass that I could hardly see anything when the cavalry passed…which was exactly what they planned.
“As the Hazon knights rode past, they covered the movement of their infantry regiments, who charged forth through the smoke and dust at us. Some of our archers let loose their arrows at the enemy, but many did not even see the Hazon until their commanding officers ordered retreats. Captain Clairmont, however, had different orders. Stormsend regiment was charged with holding the trenches for as long as possible.
“Before us was a wall of swords and shields rushing towards the trenches. A solid unbroken line of Hazon regulars, with many many more behind them. I calculated my chances and decided that I would have a better chance of living if I turned around and ran. Most others in our regiment thought likewise, and so by the time the Hazon got to the trenches, more than three quarters of the Stormsend regiment was either already dead or running away.
“The trenches had paths leading from the first line to the second and then to the last one. Yet to go from one line to the next, you had to run through a narrow trench meant to bottleneck an advancing force. Unfortunately, it also slowed our escape. In the rush and confusion I lost Clydus, simply running through the dirt along with the others, hoping to not get crushed by them, which was the case for many of us. Generally it was the young boys and the old men who fell and were trampled upon in the stampede.
“When we reached the second line, manned by Coldfury regiment, the officers there ordered us to stand with them and fight, organizing our ranks in front of their soldiers. There were some who tried to defy their orders, but were promptly executed on the spot. That convinced the rest of us to stay and fight.
“The few that remained in the first line must have fought bravely, for it sounded like they died very painfully. But we felt more confident in the second line. We had trained soldiers behind us, some of them possessing magic to bolster our defense. And the catapults were hurling rocks at the Hazons. Yet more and more of the rest of our people were attempting to rush through, but the trench was truly narrow, and it seemed as if the Hazons were cutting down our comrades as they tried to escape, for the shouts of terror echoed broadly across the battlefield. Those that climbed out of the trenches risked being caught in the alternating waves of arrows that volleyed between both sides.
“Yet the closer the Hazon army advanced, the farther the range of their arrows extended. Soon, the arrows started to hit our ranks. The Coldfury regiment were mostly armed with shields, so they had ample protection, but us Stormsend boys had no such luck. The arrows fell all about us as we held our lines, slaying many. It was my luck that the man in front of me stood a head taller, for then his corpse became my shield against the arrows. A bitter advantage from the thinning of the lines though, was the creation of a natural barrier in the trenches to further hinder the Hazon soldiers, for they climbed up over the piles of corpses with much difficulty, making them easy targets for our archers.
“This setback to our enemy was temporary, however, for they soon reorganized and marched forth in a turtle formation, their iron shields locked in perfection, blocking every arrow that hit. Still their advance was slow, giving the Coldfury magi enough time to conjure spells of destruction that struck through Hazon shields, tearing into their tight ranks. Yet it did not matter. For the Hazon knights that had rode past us as a distraction struck the western flank in the chaos and broken through. Scimitars flashed in the air and blood splattered the earth as lamellar clad knights struck our people down.
“At the head of the Hazon knights was one shrouded in armor crimson and gold astride a flaming nightmare steed, whose helm was in the likeness of the face of death and eyes that glowed like the pits of the lower plane. His curved sword gleamed in red heat and was wreathed in fire. I had heard tales about him before from the older soldiers. They called him “Death’s Headsman” and it was said that he used to be an honorable knight of Dragon’s Peak before being tempted by a Fire Demon with evil powers. Powers that he used to burn our people to ashes.
“The Death’s Headsman carved a swath through the trenches, immolating and beheading every Garreshian in his path. The archers and mages redirected their attention towards the incoming Hazon knights, which allowed the Hazon shield wall to charge forth into us. And so I fought. The first one to come at me looked to be a man of similar age to myself, but his eyes were colder. His movements more purposeful. He had seen combat before. He had killed people before. This was his reality, and he shared it with me the moment I stabbed him in the gullet with my spear.
“There was no time to take in the moment I first took someone’s life. There was another immediately upon me and as he swatted my spear away with his sword, I rammed my body into his shield, drew my dagger, and felled him. The trenches were absolute chaos. There was no longer any semblance of rank or formation. All I knew was that I needed to survive.
“I quickly grabbed the nearest sword and shield I could find. A wooden shield with the Thorn emblem and a curved Hazon sword. I was very inexperienced in using such a foreign weapon, but a shield I could use to protect myself.
“Arrows fell all around the battlefield, both Hazon and Garreshian, raining death upon anyone unlucky to be in the wrong spot at the wrong time. I held the shield over my head as I ran through the throngs of war. Every now and then a thump would sound as another arrow hit the shield. Alas, I trusted in it too much, for one of the arrows pierced through the shield and into my arm.
“I collapsed in pain. That was when Clydus found me. He helped me to my feet as chaos raged all around us. We shambled out towards the third trench line, which was already beset by Hazon knights on their flank as well. As Clydus and I trudged through, we were joined by other men both wounded and scared.
“There were commands shouted over the noise of battle. A call to retreat, but only for the healers, battle mages, and officers. The rest of us were expected to hold off the Hazon advance for as long as possible to cover the retreat. A death sentence for sure.
“Those of us wishing to escape, but not permitted to do so, had to find other routes. That meant climbing out of the trenches and risk being easy targets for Hazon archers and artillery. But to stay was even more dangerous. So great masses of us ran out into the open fields with no particular direction in mind except away from the battle.
“We got a good two to three hundred feet away before the Hazons started bombarding us with arrows and alchemies. Clydus’s leg got caught in a frost bomb. The next step he took with it shattered his leg into icy shards. I tried to stay and help, but then a cadre of Hazon knights gave chase after us, led by the dreaded Death’s Headsman. I ran like I had never ran before in my life as he trampled over my brother’s body, decapitating many as he went.
“My head would have been cleaved in twain were it not for a random alchemical explosion that hit right in front of the Death’s Headsman, making his nightmare rear back on its hind legs. The knights stopped giving chase at that moment, but the barrage of arrows and bombs didn’t let up.
“It seemed like we were running forever, with the screams of anguish and haze of battle all around us, but eventually those of us that survived made it to the forestline, where thick trees protected us from the worst of the Hazon weapons.
“Little did we know that a number of officers fled alongside us and had just then regained their resolve. The arrow and shield were removed from my arm, and it was quickly bandaged up, as were many of the wounded. Then our lines were reorganized. Our commander was a woman I had never seen before, but the other officers deferred to her judgement. Clearly she had their respect.
“Not all of us stayed. Many ran away as far as they could, but the rest of us were instilled with a sense of honor. A duty to protect the people of Maribor from the Hazon onslaught. We marched back through the forest until we saw the flaming ruins of Maribor, with war still raging within its walls.
“Our lines advanced towards the Hazon flank, hoping to strike a devastating blow against them, but we were met with a pikemen square. Each Hazon spear must have been twelve feet or longer, far longer than any of the weaponry we possessed. So when we charged into them, the first couple ranks of our number were instantly skewered.
“That fight is all but a haze to me. So much pain, agony, and death. There was no glory. No honor. All around me young men and women were slain in the most painful and gruesome of ways. I do not know how many I have killed, but when the dust finally settled, mounds of corpses littered both the battlefield and the city. One could hardly see the ground underneath the dead and pools of blood. In their battle frenzied rampage, the Hazon army killed their way through the Garreshian forces and into the civilian population.
“Only a few Garreshians and I survived our fight with the Hazon pikemen. But we had not won, for the enemy was already redeploying and leaving a ruined city in their wake when we came upon them. What was left of us merely numbered fifty or less. We searched the city and the battlefield for any survivors. There were none.”