Chapter 69 of Quest for the Blue Crystal

The hooves of six thousand horses thundered as their six thousand riders sang the war song. The song had no words, only the feel of each beast’s powerful muscles surging between each warrior’s legs; the night wind blowing hard against their faces; the unending thunder of hooves as it beat out the rhythm. Energy flowed from six thousand wands and the horses drank it up; they had no need to rest, for they never tired, never faltered, never stopped. At full gallop they charged south across the plains.

Lysimachus and Kendelssohn sang a special part of the song; of all the Rauders, they alone had minds so close in nature and inclination that they could form a Circle, and within the Circle weave spells of concealment that tricked the eyes and ears of anyone outside the perimeter of the great horde.

The song cried out for action, for combat, for blood. The Rauders felt the song urge them to Cumao; there were enemies there. From fifty miles away they could smell the blood and sweat. They veered slightly west, and still no one heard or saw them unless their paths crossed; and no outsider survived those few encounters. Outside Cumao, one foolish man in a cart was making his way to Epigash, thinking to make better time at night on the empty roads. The man stopped to look nervously around as he heard and felt a rumble in the ground; then he was swallowed up in a maelstrom of horses, riders, dust and noise. Swords flashed in the moonlight and the man was sliced into a dozen pieces before he hit the road. He was dead before he could feel the unending trampling of hooves, or the pain of severed limbs. The cart was smashed into broken planks, and the planks further smashed to sticks. As the army of death moved on only a stain on the torn ground and a few splinters of bone and wood remained to mark the passing of his life.

The song grew stronger, and the spell of concealment grew stronger with it. It spread out to cover Cumao, cutting its thin links with the rest of the world. The Rauders charged through and no one unfortunate enough to be on the streets survived. Only a few dozen died; the total would have been much higher had it been daylight or had the Rauders taken the time to fully sack the city. But Rangee wanted Kratia, and she was at Hornblower far to the south. And so the Rauders moved on.

But the blood had wetted too many hungers within the tribes, and Rangee could not force the horde to make straight for Hornblower. The berserkers were seized with a blood lust, and they turned to the next nearest target.  At full gallop made for Epigash, a hundred fifty miles away. At their speed they could make it in three hours. The night would still be deep. Ideal for killing quickly and moving on. To the all important goal. To Kratia.

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