The Ruins of Baldairn Motte

Art by Ben Thornton

Hem stands against the horde – by Ben Thornton

The fighting is ended now, but I have remained here at the site of battle to help those I may. The destruction here is beyond description. I think even you, having witnessed the battles of King Dermid, would pale and sicken at the sight of so many wasted lives. The injured number in the thousands, and the dead even more. You once asked me if I would ever weep again, after what I had witnessed in Liraeus. I told you then that I didn’t know… I know now—I have not wept, and if the madness here cannot break a man down to tears, nothing ever will.

In any case, my first task was separating the injured as you taught me. The leeches at first were hesitant to leave dying men unattended, but when I directed them to help those who could still be saved, they obeyed. Even so, there were more injured than we could help and with all the local flora trampled to death by so many feet and hooves, there was little in the way of herbs we could gather—the best we could manage was to bind wounds, set bones, and amputate ruined limbs. Even the reflexive healing techniques I learned from the elders of Lireaus proved useless to such mass destruction. For food we have been left with nothing to do but eat the hobbled warhorses left behind. Some of the leeches resisted at first. It is no likable chore to kill an injured horse in the first place, but to then butcher it and roast it on a spit proved too much for some of them. In the end, hunger won out. It always does.

These last few days we have turned our attention to burning the dead, before any pestilence sets in and the smell of decay becomes overwhelming. The weather is turning for the better, and while it is a boon to those injured, the heat turns corpses rancid all the more quickly.

As the injured regain their strength and faculties, I hurry them away to their homes with as much haste as possible. Though there are no gentry here to command them, this war has bred hatred between the northern and southern folk. More than one scuffle has broken out among them. It seems foolish to me—they have more in common with each other than any of the lords who have abandoned them here—but such is the way with common folk. They are set in their ways, and superstitious, the whole lot of them. The southerners have been telling of ghosts that haunt the ancient motte here. This is not the first battle to have been waged here it seems. I hope it will be the last. Our land already has seen too many needless ghosts.

Your Servant,
Basilides

The leech, Basilides, encounters the ruins of Baldairn Motte in the aftermath of a great battle, as part of the mosaic novel, The Roads to Baldairn Motte. The novel, written by Garrett Calcaterra, Ahimsa Kerp, and Craig Comer takes on three different viewpoints of the same epic confrontation.

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